I am going to try to keep this short and to the point, otherwise I might blabble on for way to long. I was reading A Cup of Jo and clicked on one of her Friday links and read this post over on Simple Lovely and it really hit home for me. I have been thinking about it all weekend and really had to share.
The one thing I have found that I have struggled with the most since Rowan was born, was this back and forth with myself feeling like being a mom was suppose to be enough. That every morning you are suppose to wake up and be completely fulfilled that your roll in life is Mom. The truth is that’s not the case for me and that has made me feel so guilty. I get frustrated with myself that I want to be able to put her down and go paint, or blog, or play dress up in my closet. I have so many passions in my life that it’s been hard to swallow that I am “suppose” to put them aside now. I don’t know where this notion came from, no one told me that is what I am suppose to do, but I think as a mom you do that to yourself. That when you have a free minute it would be better spent on doing something for the good of your family rather than for yourself.
This is why this post on Simple Lovely totally gave me a new perspective. I want to copy and paste the whole post here but I wont. I would suggest you go over and read it yourself but here is a little excerpt:
“I heard Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Jason Schwartzman while I was driving to lunch last week and was totally struck by how he describes the environment that his mother (the actress Talia Shire) created in their home, specifically this:
“But, at a young age, what I really did witness, because she never forced it upon us, but I witnessed how movies and music can be nutritional, I guess, to a person. I would come home from school; she would always be downstairs with an old movie on. Every room in our house had a different book open, face down. There would be music on in one room, even though she wouldn’t be in it, and she would kind of just go from room to room and pick up and read and go and listen and go downstairs and watch. She needs that. It’s still the same way. If you go to my house, the same house I grew up in, she’s there with movies on, music playing and books everywhere. And so I witnessed how important these things can be to you.”
After hearing Schwartzman recount that specific memory, I had to pull over so I could jot a little note to myselfâ€¦ Hereâ€™s what it said:
the type of mother I want to be…â€walk the walk”
-From Simple Lovely
1. I love that this was an interview with Jason Schwartzman because he is my FAVORITE! He is in pretty much all my favorite movies.
2. Duh! If I want Rowan to grow up being passionate about life and having a desire to see and experience new things, why would I not model that to her in my own life. Of course classes are great for kids, but what if she came home from school and saw Mommy painting in her studio or making a new craft or cooking a new recipe or planning a trip to some neat art exhibit for all of them? That seems like it would have so much more influence on her than me dropping her off at a class or me filling my time dwelling every second over others needs.
I don’t mean to sound selfish. That is not what this is about. I love Rowan with every ounce of my being and my family comes first before everything. If Rowan or Kev needed something I would stop everything I was doing to help and/or be with them. This was more about the idea that it’s ok to still feel passionate about the things I love. That its ok to still feel like those things make up who you are, as well as being a mom.
I think back to my own childhood. My mom always had a craft room that was FULL of amazing things to play with, create with and be entertained by. I have memories of being down there with her, making my own things as she made hers. Being influenced by what she was making and trying something like that too. She has always been a very creative person and I look at all my sisters and can see how that influenced us. Even my Dad was always doing something, making something, fixing something. Being very hands on. He built everyone of his telescopes and I can see how that molded me and my sisters.
I want to be that. I want to show Rowan what I am passionate about. I want to share that with her. I want to bring her on adventures and I want her to come cheer on mommy as she runs a marathon, or celebrate with her at one of my art openings. I want to be the best mommy to her and slowing I am allowing myself to realize what that means for me.
(haha, ok, so that was no short post, sorry.)
You go girl!!! Becoming a mother doesn’t mean the rest of your life/the person you were before has to come to and end, you just have to add another role to your tool belt:) The more you share your passions with Rowan the better I think.
What a beautiful idea! I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be a Mom (not to mention fit the definition you have in your head of a good Mom) and to be yourself as well. It’s something I know I’ll deal with down the road and listening to your honesty about the experience is heartwarming. My own mother is somewhat of an artist herself, and to this day when we haven’t seen her around the house for a few hours it’s because she’s in her “studio” in the basement making something. It helps that we’re all full-grown now, but I always remember her taking the time to be “crafty” both alone and with groups of friends. She has always stressed to me the importance of balancing different definitions you have of yourself. But it always comes down to the thing she tells me most of all: you can’t take care of anyone else until you’ve taken care of yourself. Filling your own needs (however creative they may be) will help you fill the needs of your family as well. I think it’s something we’re all still trying to sort out. 🙂 I wish you the best of luck!
Thank you! Thank you for being able to put my thoughts into words! I feel the exact same way! This mom thing is certainly a process and you have to take things day by day.
Wow. I am SO GLAD you posted this. I am also glad that I am not the only one that feels this way. When my son was born I actually got very nervous and somewhat sad that I would never see those days again of reading, painting, shopping for myself, or spending hours sorting my closet, sewing, crafting……..it is just lately that I have HAD to release the guilt of painting while he is watching a kids movie or playing with legos. I mean – I have to stay true to myself. It was so scary in the beginning and I did fall victim to not allowing myself to have my ME TIME. Anyway – this is great. Thanks for the post!!!!!!
Is it weird to say that I feel like I am struggling with the same thing, but on a totally different level? I just got married and moved away from everything I know and love (except my husband!) and left a job that gave me a nice sense of fulfillment. I’ve been looking for full time work for 2.5 months now and while I still get to do other things I am passionate about, working out, baking, reading, writing, etc, I don’t do them as often because I’m at home and I feel like my home should be immaculate because… well, I’m at home. It’s a weird phenomenon, but I feel guilty when I write and I know I could be scrubbing the bathroom or putting hospital corners on a bed or something equally mundane but that still needs to be done.
It’s on a much smaller scale than being a mom is, but reading this made me feel better knowing I’m not the only one (but I hope your adjustment goes smoothly and quickly because I don’t like anyone to be unhappy/struggling!).
Great post! This is something that needs to be said- mother’s are people too, and they deserve to have passions and see them fulfilled. I think you are being incredibly UNselfish by coming out and saying it; and choosing to walk the walk as opposed to harboring any regret in the future!
You’re very right! I think these things will be easier as she gets older and doesn’t require as much constant care. I do always think about these kinds of issues because like you, I’m not someone who lives my whole life waiting to have a child to define me, and I do see a lot of people who are like that. But being able to teach your daughter that there is more to life is a really wonderful gift 🙂
That same post had a very similar affect on me. It seems like something so simple, but it is so easy to get caught up in life to not let your passions show through. Baby Rowan is lucky to have a mom who figured that out so early in her life!
First, I have to tell you that every single one of the pictures above are absolutely precious! She is just the cutest! And I think its great that you want to take time to do the things you are passionate about. I grew up watching my mom sew, draw, cross-stitch and do other crafty things, and I think that’s the reason I love being creative and doing little DIY projects. And usually she will help me out, so its something we get to share together.
Absolutely! I think the difficult part is finding the balance. I’ve found that the baby stage is all consuming and I WANTED to set aside many of my own passions to focus on my kids. Now that my youngest is two, I feel better about leaving them with babysitters and family, and having time for myself again. I look forward to working again and modeling creative pursuits now that they are older. When they are little babies they needed my full attention, but now that they are older they absolutely benefit from seeing me taking care of myself.
But some women cannot set aside themselves for a few years. It’s good that you recognize that in yourself Jen. In that case, you need help. You need someone else to care for your children, while you work. And that’s perfectly OK. You have your Mom, there are daycares, and there is Daddy.
One thing I have learned though is that it’s almost impossible to care for children and work at the same time. It will frustrate you because you won’t be working well or parenting well. You will be constantly divided and it’s especially hard because you work from home. I’ve found that it helps to define painting, writing, photography and other things that I might not get paid for, as work too. If it’s for just me, I call it work. And that helps.
But find a babysitter to care for Rowan while you work, it will make things so much easier. And if you are unable to find a babysitter, then just remember that it’s not forever. Setting aside your passions for now while Rowan is a baby does not mean that they will be gone forever. Your time alone will come back, you will find yourself again. You will be forever changed, but you will get back to working and taking care of yourself.
I’m expecting my first baby in a couple weeks (!!), so it was great to read this. I have no idea how my maternity leave will go, but it’s good to know that anything I do outside of caring for my child’s basic needs could contribute to inspiring him or her later in life. It’s definitely giving me a kick in the butt not to be lazy, if nothing else! And to make sure my child’s life is fulfilling by being a good example.
This post couldn’t be more timely. My husband & I have finally decided to try and have a baby. I’ve been struggling with the idea of becoming “only a mom”. I think back to my childhood and it seemed like my mom always sacrificed pieces of herself for us kids. While I’m thankful, it sort of turned me off of the whole motherhood thing. I always felt like I’m too selfish to have children. But then my husband said something very simple to me. “You’ll still be you, just you with a baby.”
Thank you for sharing your feelings on this matter. It helps. It really does.
This was a beautiful post. I am not a mom, but I absolutely agree with you. There is something powerful about seeing your mom “walk the walk”. Much more impactful than learning it somewhere else. Little Rowan could see you at home painting, and a teacher painting in the same way, and it is guaranteed that your example is more influential. What a valuable lesson that I hope to remember and live out when I’m a mom. Thank you Jen for sharing!!
I’ve been wondering for awhile where this comes from- the idea that young mothers feel like they’re supposed to be a mom first, everything else last, if at all. Is this something we have learned from our own mothers? Peers? Will I feel the same way when I have a baby? It’s all very confusing and rife with mixed messages.
I have a very close friend who, as a new mom, does everything she used to, just with a baby in tow. But I’ve also seen friends go into super-mom mode and never go back to the things they loved to do, and I wonder whether they are happy. I guess it can go either way in the beginning- go overboard being a super-mom and get bored, or try to do everything and pare down things that are too much to handle with a new baby. And then figure out which combination works for you. Good luck with your journey!
that was wonderful to read jen and i think that it probably felt good to get it out and write it down and you should in no way feel bad about feeling that way. i think that you’re completely right, you should never have to put aside things you love for other people or things you love as they are both so important. i’m not a mum but i am a daughter and i would much rather grow up knowing that my mum had a passion like art or crafting or fashion or music and that i didn’t stop her from doing those things just because i was born. anyway, you’re doing the right thing 🙂
A worthwhile and interesting article:
I also loved that post from Simply Lovely, it spoke to me on many levels. Thank you for this post.
Aww don’t worry I was feeling the same way and I’m actually glad you posted this because it makes me feel better about myself.
On a side note, those pictures are adorable! 🙂
I think this is really important to talk about. I’m not a mother but I think about what kind of mother I want to be. I totally see how you would beat yourself up for doing things for yourself but your right, it is so important! Having passions and even putting yourself first sometimes, isn’t being selfish., it’s showing her that you value and love yourself. She’ll see that a mirror that from you, loving and valuing herself too. Being a good Mama or wife is about being the best you as well. I hope you don’t beat yourself up too much because you’re doing a great job!
From reading American blogs, I get the picture that all American women get married, work, get pregnant, give birth, quit their job and become full time moms.
I have no idea if that’s actually the case, but I’m sorry to say that it’s difficult for me to even picture such a life.
In my country – the majority of women go back to work a few months after their babies are born and take an active part in providing for their families.
I can’t even imagine having my entire life revolve around my husband and kids alone. Though they are a very-very important part of my life – so am I. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty over it.
I think that our society is still very much entrenched in the idea of maternal self-sacrifice for the betterment of the family. Of course, having a child really does change your priorities completely, as it ought to, but I think it’s important never to lose sight of yourself in the process. You’ll be the best mom you can be by indulging your interests and sharing them with Rowan. I’m sure it will in many ways get easier when she’s a little older and a little more self-sufficient. I can tell that you’re going to be a wonderful mom, and that you’re going to figure it out.
Yes, it is VERY important to maintain one’s identity after having children. You’re a mom, but you are still your own person, with interests outside the home environment.
When I had my little ones , everytime that they would nap or play by themselves I would do something for myself. Or take a break and have a cup of tea with a friend.
I love my kids, and I am there for them but mommy needs her time to do what she loves too:)
The best mommy I can be is NOT the mommy who stays home with Sam all the time. That’s a crazy mommy.
The best mommy I can be is the mommy who wakes up with her baby, puts on pretty clothes, goes to work in a job I love, and comes home to her baby. I am not myself without the things that make me myself–my books, my scarves, my cashmere, my students. I want my son to know the BEST me, and that woman is someone who is other things than just a mom
You are not alone. And you’re a great mom!
This reminds me of the saying, “Happy wife, happy life”.
Happy babies have happy mommies and doing what you love is actually teaching her to do what she loves.
Glad to hear that mothers are inspiring others to be the best they can be.
Great post! I think you’ve got some great perspective here, and all so soon. you are so new at this and it is such a journey, every day, week and month then year that passes we learn so much. It’s wonderful how much you’re learning/ figuring out about yourself and your family so quickly!
These are important thoughts! I’ve found myself experiencing the same questions when my son was still a baby. He will be 2 next month and I’m glad to say that, now, I have found a way to manage all the things that I love doing – including go out for a walk and work full time (almost) and do crafts. I am lucky to have a particular situation (my boyfriend and I are both working at home and our son stays at home with us everyday) and I feel grat about including my son in my lifestyle.
Well, what I’m trying to say is that it can take a little while but soon enough you’ll be able to do more easily all the stuff that you like and, by doing so, you will show Rowan how our world is full and beautiful and SO inspiring!
*** Sorry if my comment doesn’t make sense, English is not my first language!
And also, the pictures of Rowan are absolutely beautiful!
Thanks for this very personal post, Jen. I must admit I constantly sway between ‘I want to have kids’ and ‘No, I don’t want to give up the things I love in order to be a mother’. I think you’ve answered your own question: you don’t HAVE to put your own loves and passions aside for the sake of your children. In fact, you’re probably a better mum if you don’t! Thanks for helping make that a little clearer to me.
I completely agree and understand your feelings. I am contemplating going back to work full-time, and I can’t wait to do so – even though it means my 6 month old son will be going to daycare. I can’t help that I miss working; luckily, my husband is supportive of my decision to not be a stay-at-home mom.
This is a lovely post. 🙂
I’m nowhere (I repeat, no.where.) near being a mom, but as a happy almost-adult child of an active mom and dad I am with this 100%. I agree that seeing your parents being something other than the people who provide you with things is really powerful in shaping your idea of what you want to be when you are an adult. I have really wonderful memories of sitting in my mom’s office (she’s a primary care physician) or sitting at the back of my dad’s classroom (college professor) when I was younger and being in awe at how awesomely they did their work, and they always *made* time for me so I never felt like I was secondary.
My dad is also a tinkerer, as a hobby, and my mom a big reader, and so my brother and I grew up pitching in on projects and being read to until we developed a love for those things ourselves. I always wanted to be just like them when I grew up, and now, about to graduate from college, I think I am on my way! Your Rowan is going to love seeing you be you because you’ll be the greatest person in the world to her.
I am a SAHM of two little girls and they are my everything but I need to do my sewing/crafting/ baking/ blogging / emailing / going out with my friends without them so that I can refresh and continue to be the best mumma to them.
It is a tough job being a mum because it is full time…. But if you are with them every moment of the day doing stuff with them, they won’t know you as anything else.. it is awesome that you want your daughter to see your creative/artistic side like how you saw with your parents. It is an important thing for your children to see that being a mother isn’t just about doing everything for your children. You did so many things before she was born, there is no reason why that wouldn’t continue afterwards… of course it might be scaled back for a while but not forgotten.
Keep up with your passions.. it makes you a well rounded mother. 🙂
This definitely hit home for me as well, but in the opposite way. My mother is an artist but she put her dreams on hold when she got married and had kids. I was her first child and am her only daughter. It is incredible how close we are but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to understand her so much better. Well, a few months ago for the first time since she got married she started painting again. Ironically enough I went to the same college where she and my father attended and met their senior year. She was an art major and the curator of the college’s tiny art museum contacted her about submitting a painting for an alumni show they were putting together this winter. I was so excited for her to start painting again. Even though I’m living abroad right now I’ve called her almost every other day to see how the painting was coming along. The past few years and these past few months especially she has been my main source of encouragement in terms of following my dreams and I want her to follow hers. I still feel guilty that she doesn’t have a studio and spent the past 22 years raising me and my brothers without a second thought or time for her own dreams. She finished the painting yesterday and sent me a picture. I cannot describe how happy I was to see her so happy – to be doing what she loves. And I think now I realize how it was never a sacrifice for her. She was alway so creative and involved in everything when I was growing up. Every holiday she would decorate the kitchen table. She handmade my Halloween costumes. She planned the most unique and memorable birthday parties. She invested her talent and her passion in her children. So, I agree with all of this. No two mom’s are alike, and the best moms are those who remain true to themselves because that is the greatest lesson a mom can ever pass on (by example) to her children…especially her daughter.
I agree! I also think it is much more healthy for the child(ren) as well! I am a SAHM and I still get to do the stuff I enjoy – even during the day when I am with my 2 yr old and 3 mos old. I think it is important for the little ones to learn to play by themselves (even at 3 mos.) for their sake and for mine – so I can “play” by myself – whatever that may mean for that day. I also can include them in what I am doing and create fun memories and new traditions for our family that my kids will hopefully pass down to their families some day. Also, in my opinion, I don’t think it is as good for kids to grow up with the “hovering” mom – independence is a great thing and kids need that.
Oh Jen, we have these feelings all the time and we don’t even HAVE children yet — both about our hobbies and our professional aspirations! I think you’re absolutely right, that it’s so, so important to remember that it’s really a positive thing for kids to see parents who are passionate and fulfilled by the things in their lives — that’s what makes you have energy to give to your beautiful little girl, after all! I know it’s been helpful for me to remember my own experience, and the way my parents’ ambitions, goals and drive really inspired me. When people ask me how it’s possible I wanted to become a lawyer after having been raised in a two-lawyer household, I always look at them and say, “how could I not have wanted to? They made it look so cool!” But seriously — growing up with parents who were both passionate and engaged in the world and who supported each other in those interests made a huge difference for me growing up, so I can only hope I’ll be able to have that same impact on my own children someday. My heart goes out to you fighting against all the mommy-guilt and mommy-wars nonsense out there, though — just remember, YOU and Kev are by definition the perfect parents for Rowan, and Rowan is the perfect child for you guys, and you alone get to shape and mold that experience in a way that reflects your values and dreams.
I read that article when it was posted on Simple Lovely and I bookmarked it immediately. Somehow it ressonated with me, even though I don’t have kids yet! It’s something I’m sure can be hard to practice, but something worth remembering and striving for. I’m glad you found it so influential also. p.s. I loooooove Jason Schwartzman too!! Have you seen Bored to Death?
thank you for sharing your story! as my husband and i grow our family, i want to keep this in mind.
Thank you for your honesty. I have a son (my first) that was born 9/22/10. I have struggled with feelings of guilt about trying to find a balance between being a mommy and still doing things that are “me.” I think it helps women to have open dialogues about the reality of mommyhood and that it is ok to be “selfish” sometimes in order to be the best mother or spouse or etc,
I really appreciate this post. I find myself feeling guilt when i spend time during the day making something or whatever. I recall just the other day a mom from church was over and she saw some of the things I’ve made and said “when do you find the time to do this?, When Anthony’s in bed?” And I simply replied with a ‘yes’ even though I knew it wasn’t true. I felt guilty saying that I sew during the day even when he’s awake. or that i crochet on the couch while he plays instead of playing w/ him.
I think we think our kids / husbands need us to do more for them than they really do. It’s like this need we develope to be needed – mainly because we make that the only way we feel fulfilled. It’s important for woman to be able to find joy in other things. I think the kids need us to lead by example or you’re right, they won’t learn how to be creative or imaginative on their own or independent.
And from another angle I think it’s good for our husbands to see that we’re still the same lady they fell in love with. I don’t think they want us to consume ourselves with them and the kids as much as we do. I know my husband loves to see when he comes home the latest project I’ve been working on, even if it means we’re having frozen pizza for dinner… again.
Hi Jen! My name is Anna. For the last 7 years (up until this January when I got married and moved) I designed Baby and girls clothes for Carters. It really warms my heart to see Rowan wearing things I designed (the pink polka dot cat shirt in this group!) I followed your blog even before you had Rowan and I’m a huge fan. I pray blessings for your new little family and success for your sweet blog.
If you have seen sex in the city 2 Charlotte cries about how being a mom is not enough. It’s absolutely true. I just sorta reasserted in my own life that I need to do more stuff that makes me, just me, happy. It’s funny how things come full circle.
Well said! It’s so true, the moment you become a Mom you begin feeling guilty for wanting to do things for yourself, or anything that’s not kid related for that matter. I think it must be a natural Mom thing, that feeling of guilt.
So great to hear others feel the same way, takes a ‘little’ bit of the guilt away knowing that others think and feel similar.
thanks for this!
I am exactly the same way. I work every second I can get. I am not just a mom and I am an artist as well. Thanks for sharing!
I just that Cup of Jo link a while back, and as a newly stay at home mom myself, I could relate to your post and what Talia Shire did as well. In my case, I’ve had to put plenty of stuff aside for my son, but I hang on to what’s necessary right now (finishing grad school). I have committed to finishing grad school out strong and that’s all I have time for (that and laundry.) My son is 7 mos. old now and he’s requiring much more attention than he did as a newborn. So my world seems to be getting smaller, but any time I put into my son just makes it bigger in the future. Don’t feel guilty about it though. Stick with blogging (obviously, b/c your blog rocks) and maybe put some other things aside as Rowan grows for a bit, or just find time for them when you can. You’ll strike a balance.
I’m glad that you are still passionate about the things you love! You don’t have to “just be a mommy” now, you’re still you! You’re a wonderfully creative person, and Rowan is so lucky to have a mom who will expose her to the world of art and creativity. You’re all she wants in this world right now, so just by being there you’re doing your part =)