April 25, 2012

Mothering by Choice

Back when my friends were planning college and careers, I wanted a family.  Long before I graduated in my cap and gown, I dreamed of a house full of children.  (Ironically, those who thoroughly enjoyed single life in their twenties still became mothers before me.)

Despite the fact that I always wanted to be a mother, I quickly found that I was not very good at it.  Faced with the daunting task of parenting, many women reach back to the example of their own mothers in action.  They replay scenes from their childhood like YouTube tutorials in order to solve mothering dilemmas.  Sadly, I discovered that my playlist was empty.  So for five years I've been making up this mommy stuff all on my own.

Of course I've read a lot of books and observed how my peers parent but that's not quite the same as having learned from experience.   I'll tell you right now it's very hard to give away something having never received it in the first place.

That's where choice comes in. 

Not the kind of choice in SMC.  Yes, I'm a Single Mother by Choice.  It was an important decision--not a quick one but certainly not a difficult one.  I am referring to the daily choice I make to try to be who my children need me to be.  Many mornings I do not feel like starting the endless chores that come with being the one and only head-of-household.  The requests, complaints,  tears and tantrums begin at 5:45 am and end approximately one hour after official "lights out".  (Show me children who stop calling out as soon as you tell them goodnight and I'll show you a well-soundproofed room.)

Being a single mom is difficult even if you have a "village" to offer respite.  Being a mom of two young, rambunctious boys without so much as a cul de sac of support is a  formidable challenge.  Often I am too tired and overwhelmed to deal with the aforementioned requests, complaints, tears and tantrums.   But what choice is there?

Several, actually.

One can choose to simply be a legal guardian, providing food and shelter to offspring.  One can choose freedom over family.  Self-preservation over sacrifice.  One can choose to go through the motions while desperately wishing to be elsewhere.  One can count the days, weeks, years until a child is old enough to fend for herself.  In reality, there are lots of choices a parent can make. 

When I am overwhelmed by my responsibilities, it helps to remember that I can choose to act like a good mother.  Just for that one moment I can choose mothering even though I want to lock myself in the bathroom or hide under a pile of unfolded laundry.  I can choose to look into my child's eyes and give him a hug even though he's been a terror.  I can watch Curious George with my sons during an 11 pm thunderstorm even though I haven't had a millisecond to myself since dawn. 

It is a conscious choice to access reserves of strength during a mothering marathon.  Somehow, knowing the choice is mine to make helps me get through the challenging times.

I first came across this on Pinterest and although I took my inspiration from the first seven words, the rest is quite meaningful as well.  Come to think of it, it's been more helpful than YouTube.


  1. So well said. I think sometimes we get overwhelmed with the bigger picture and forget that we can make small choices, each moment, to be a better parent.

  2. Beautifully put. Love that quote, too. This is much better than my occasional mantra, "I had kids on purpose, I love my kids".

  3. Very nice,and very true. Great post. And hot mama - I like your occasional mantra too!!!

  4. Just beautiful!! And I love that quote. I need to find a way to frame that. And my friend you don't need YouTube videos or an experience with the Leave it to Beaver mom to be the awesome mother you are. Some people come into this world meant to do something grand...you were meant to be a mother. And though I don't 'know' you I am 110% certain of this.

  5. A refreshing look - a choice not only to physically be a mother, but a choice of how and what kind of mother to be! Love the quote, especially the end, about forgiving ourselves for our mistakes..

  6. Great post!! i was having one of those days yesterday and all I could think was I wish there was someone else at home to hand the kiddo off to. Then I summoned the energy and started playing with my daughter and when she blew me a kiss, the day turned around completely.

  7. I love the soundproof room quote. I always enjoy reading your posts. You put things into perspective.

  8. I love this!

    And, based on other things you've written, on this post and others, I'm pretty darn sure youre very good at this whole mom thing. You don't have to be perfect to be a good mom. :)

  9. Love, love, LOVE this!!
    Great post. For what it's worth, I think you're a FANTASTIC mom. And I'm pretty sure your boys would agree :)

  10. Great post, so well said...ponder this, you say you don't have great examples to draw from & are figuring it out along the way & when I am struggling you are one if the mothers I look to for inspiration so in my book you're doing pretty darn awesome! Thank you, sincerely.

  11. I think you are a great Mom. The boys will surely appreaciate all that you do when they are older. Believe me when I say that not everyone has good examples to follow. Much of what I do is basically winged. Keep up the good job.