Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mom Conversations

The above photo is of my friend, Sharon and her youngest daughter, Lauryn Grace. Sharon and I met when our daughters (Josie and Meghan) were assigned to the same preschool class. You've seen photos of Meghan and Josie together on this blog - they are members of the 'preschool posse'.

I should first explain that we call the girls in the preschool class a 'posse' for a very good reason. These little girls are not a clique, they are not 'buddies' - they are truly a group of individuals that acts as a whole, with nothing but loving intentions. I have never seen anything like it before in my life. ALL the girls in this class LOVE each other. When we walk into the classroom they greet each other with hugs - no one is left out. They all light up at the sight of one another. They don't fight, they don't compete. They stick up for each other - ALWAYS. I think this is a huge credit to all of their parents who are raising these amazing girls in such a caring manner.

The Moms of our class are a funny, accomplished group with no pretense. Very easy to be around. The Dads, too, are highly visible - they come into the class to read or to teach the kids about their professions. (Our firefighter Dad was a HUGE hit during fire prevention month!) It's just a really nice place for both the kids and their parents to be...

Which brings me to the conversation Sharon and I had last night. Sharon has 3 daughters. Lauryn will be heading to preschool next year, Megan will move up to the 4's preschool and Caitlyn will be going into the 2nd grade. Sharon is a very active Mom - she's the one who organized the first 'Mom's tea/play group' gathering. She is also a volunteer at Caitlyn's school. She's the Mom that never forgets gift bags for the kids on ALL the holidays, always volunteers, always extending herself to make a new friend. I really admire her.

Yesterday we got the notice that preregistration for next year would be on January 16th. Though all of our children are guaranteed a spot, it's the days of the week that are first-come-first-served. Meaning, the 4 year olds have the option of MWF 8:30-11:30; MWF 12:00-3:00; or M-F 8:30-11:30. Sharon and I were discussing what would be best given our girls level of maturity, other family considerations and preferred days of the week. Both Meghan and Josie are ready for the 5 day program. Heck, If you asked James, he would tell you that Josie is ready to go right into kindergarten! I, on the other hand, want her to be my baby forever!

Sharon's quandary lies with what she will tell Lauryn when she sees both of her older sisters heading off to school everyday and she only goes three days... (she laughed out loud when I suggested, "Um, how about you tell her she doesn't have school on those days." ) It's apparent that I am totally ignorant to the logistical nightmare of getting 3 daughters under the age of 8 out of the house in the morning!!

While Sharon detailed her morning routine, her wish to continue volunteering, and other commitments (CCD classes for Caitlyn, ballet for all 3, etc), I tried to convince her that having Megan in the 5 day program and Lauryn in the 3 day program would give her so much more 'me' time. Time to go grocery shopping, time to volunteer, time to just sit down and read a magazine in quiet for an hour. That lead us to the 'maternal guilt' discussion.

Earlier in the day I had been listening to Dr. Robin Cook on the 'Oprah and Friends' radio station. Her topic was 'self care' vs. 'selfishness'. Dr. Robin's discussion focused on the fact that, for many women, the two are indistinguishable. A lot of women feel 'selfish' if they take that 'me' time. Even though, it has been proven, that just that one hour or half hour a day, makes us feel more energetic and able to give even more of that energy to our families.

I know how Sharon feels. When Maddie was little and I HAD to work, it was a constant internal battle. How could I be there for all the 'important' stuff in my daughter's life when I had to work 9 hours a day? How would she even know that I was her mother if other people were feeding her, caring for her? Guilt, Guilt, Guilt. Taking time for myself wasn't an option. Every spare minute I had was poured into being with Maddie. After a while, it takes it's toll.

I have always been a HUGE proponent of ROUTINE. I believe that routine comforts a child, gives them boundaries and makes them much happier & well rested individuals. What was missing from my earlier routines was that 'me' time. The time to take a deep breath. It was a while before I could incorporate THAT into my routine. It's hard. My friend, Sharon, gives so much to others - I'm convinced that she would benefit so greatly from some personal time.

Sharon & I are blessed with great husbands who are actually great Dads. Both James, and Sharon's husband, Bobby, love taking off with the kids on the weekends or helping out around the house while 'tag teaming' the child care. So, it is possible to take personal time and not feel guilty about leaving the kids behind.

We ended our conversation with more unanswered questions but I promised to help out in any way I can. Also, we acknowledged that how our kids are today is not how they will be 9 months from now when a new school year begins. They will mature, become a bit more self sufficient. Hopefully, Sharon and I will continue to build up our confidence in our ability to balance all the joys and challenges that come our way.

Speaking of 'personal time'... mines about to end as there is a little monkey child pulling on my arm. It seems I must come and play Barbies now.

Take Care.


3 Peanuts said...

Oh Michele,

You really struck a chord with me today! I ahve finally found a sitter that Kate loves and I feel too GUILTY to have her come help me so that I can have a little "me" time. I REALLY want to do Pilates and I really want to do a Bible study but I feel guilty leaving KAte with a sitter. I also just want some time to do nothing ince in a while.


Susan Stevenson said...

Me time is so important, and very few moms value themselves enough to take it. For many moms taking time for themselves is the equivalent of spending less time with their children (which can bring guilt with it).

Many moms here take advantage of the toddler storytime at the local library. While the children are sequestered in a room with the volunteer reader, Mom finds a comfy chair by the fireplace (I love our library!) and catches up on her reading, writing, or socialization with other moms. It's a win-win situation.

I hope you take time for YOU, Mich.