Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Friday, January 06, 2006

News Flash! Mom Drops Ball, Family Picks It Up!

I had a revelation today. It was no small thing, really. You see, yesterday I was sick. I won't bore you with details, but suffice it to say that Mr. Flu visited me for the first time in about 15 years. Lucky me. I spent the entire day and night in bed. The revelation is that (gosh this is hard to admit) the world revolved without me yesterday. Yes, without my assistance, my kids were fed, voice lessons were taken, choir practices were attended, the dog was taken out, dishes were washed, most of the Christmas decorations were put away, science reports were finished and dry cleaning was picked up.

I'm telling you, this is amazing, because until yesterday, I figured that I was the only one that made these things happen. Until yesterday, I was so full of my own self-importance that I just assumed that if I fell off the face of the earth, life itself would stop. It didn't and I'm hear to say that this is both reassuring and humbling. On the one hand, I'm so grateful that my husband and my son jumped into action by driving and cooking and getting stuff done, with vague or no directions from me. On the other hand, this really puts a crimp into my whole nagging gig. Could it be that I've been wasting my breath for nearly 20 years or that, gasp, I need to learn to let go?

You see, we moms are notorious control freaks. We often feel responsible for everything in our house. Or, as my friend said the other day: "I never realized how NEEDY my kids are!" This begs the question: Are the kids really needy or are we secretly undermining their ability by enabling this neediness? Obviously, if you have kids under the age of 12, this doesn't really apply to you, but once they pass 12, I believe it's not that they can't do it, it's that we don't let them.

I think this is a particularly sensitive issue for stay-at-home-moms. If our families can get along fine when we're out of commission, what is our purpose? It means that it might be time to address the issue of what to do with our lives when the kids grow up. After years of taking care of others, the time has come to take care of ourselves. That might be the hardest thing we've ever done.


At 8:54 AM , Anonymous Paul Sveda said...

My mom and my friends mom are exactly the same. His mother had just come off of a serious hip replacement surgery when I came over. She could barely move but insisted on fixing us something to eat. It took the two of us grown men to restrain her down back in bed, chat her up and convince her that we would be okay in the kitchen. Even after that we realised the only way to keep her in bed was to go out to the subway to grab a sammich! :) Anywyas, long winded, Michele sent me and I hope you get better soon.

At 9:47 AM , Anonymous Amy said...

My kids are quite young still, so our little world still revolves around me doing it all, however I hope to be able to let go as they get older.

At 10:01 AM , Anonymous Mo said...

Good heavens! I'm glad both of us weren't down on the same day!!!

Hope you're feeling better.

At 10:19 AM , Anonymous Janet ( said...

I'm not a mom, but many of my friends are, and the one that has teenagers, she definitely enabling neediness with her daughters to the point that neither one of them wants to get their license because it's much easier for Mom to cart them around! And ... she. won't. stop. doing. it. She complains about it all the time, but doesn't nothing about it. Drives me crazy (cause I have to listen to her complain about it, or because it interrupts our plans)!!!

Oh, and hi, Michele sent me :-)

At 10:42 AM , Anonymous The Cryer said...

I rung in the new year with the flu too. Still had to nurse the young'un tho, hubby didn't pick up ALL my slack!

Once again, I really like your writing... you nailed it!

Here from Michele's!

At 10:57 AM , Blogger Shannon said...

I have a favorite quote that goes:
"As a mother my job is to give my children two things, one is roots the other is wings."

And as Dr Phil likes to say " we're not raising children, we're raising adults"

somedays are better than others :)

At 11:47 AM , Blogger Zephra said...

I actuallyknow for a fact that the family can not function without me. I was in bed for a week because of my back. My husband got the kids Mcdonalds the whole time. The kids hate it now. The house was a mess, the laundry piled up and bills not paid. It took me weeks to catch back up.

This I blame on the husband. When I am well, the kids share the chores. They make thier lunches and when they make me mad...wash their own clothes. They knew Dad would never make um do it. I don't even think he knows they can. He is such a sucker.

At 11:57 AM , Blogger Joe said...

Great post. I think I'll have my wife read it! lol

Here via Michele today.

At 1:18 PM , Blogger dena said...

I've never lived with the notion that they couldn't do it without me. They CAN! Maybe not as well, but they can certainly do it.

visiting from michele's

At 1:29 PM , Blogger Prego said...

My wife hates getting sick... not just because of the ilness, but because she feels I am inconsiderate and unsympathetic.

There's a lot of illness going around. I am keeping everybody at least 8' away!

Nice to see you. Here via Michele today.

At 4:26 PM , Blogger birdychirp said...

Hi - Michele sent me - glad you are feeling better!

At 4:29 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Sounds like you are dealing with some amazingly "Lightbulb" things...I've often wondered how a mother feels when her job is basially over because the kids are old enough to either be on their own or old enough to do a great deal themselves and FOR themselves...! Your sickness has given yiu the opportunity to address this befire the fact, hasn't it? Very Very Interesting Karen...Like, How will they get along without my help...and they do! As you is humbling!

Here from Michele today!

At 8:09 PM , Blogger Star said...

I think you should find it liberating to know you can take time out for yourself, and you needn't feel guilty. It has been my experience that you get one day off. But try t take another and the grumbling begins. Fell better!

At 10:05 PM , Blogger srp said...

You should feel proud that they can cope without you. Believe it or not when the kids go, at least to college for a while, the quiet is nice. Things you have put off doing for yourself, you can actually do them!!!! Yeah. It's nice when they come back, for a while, but then, you really want them to go away again. They have to get a life too.

Here from Michele today.

At 11:05 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

That must have been some flu to crack through the "Mom Immunity" that it seems all moms have.

The world revolved without you, but it wasn't a smooth ride I'm sure.

Hope you're feeling better. You look great! ;)

At 12:27 AM , Blogger kenju said...

We DO end to think we are responsible for the world, don't we? Sorry you got sick.

At 12:25 PM , Blogger owlhaven said...

I had the same lightbulb moment a few years back when I broke my arm and was glued to the recliner and on pain pills for weeks. Makes you sooo thankful when you get better, doesn't it?
BTW, I've been reading your blog for a couple weeks and enjoying it! Mary's Owlhaven

At 4:08 PM , Blogger Courtney said...

I hope you're feeling better.
Michele sent me.

At 4:10 PM , Blogger margalit said...

I've got two over 12's, and I just had heart surgery, and my kids KNOW first hand that the world no longer revolves around me. They've been cooking dinner (or a reasonable facsimile of) every night with me giving instructions from the sofa. They've done laundry and cleaned up their messes, and gotten off to school every day without a ride, and the world is still revolving.

I believe this is because I'm gone on strike a couple of times when they have been particularly uncooperative. Going on strike worked wonders on how independant they've become. I'm proud of them.

Michele sent me.

At 4:27 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

You've painted a hopeful picture for the rest of us who wonder when that mythical torch of self-accountability is set to be picked up by the next generation.

I'll count the days...

Hope you're feeling all better.

At 4:38 PM , Blogger Tammy said...

Another really wonderful post, Karen. I experienced the same when I was sick recently...altho they did forget to take the trash out, but hey, we survived! :)

Michele sent me!

At 4:54 PM , Blogger kontan said...

i have never been under the illusion that all would stop without me, djembe is wonderful! it may not be done the same way, but it will be done. lately, with him injured i see just how much work we share.

here from micheles

At 11:15 PM , Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Amen to this! I have young kids as well, but I think teaching them independence early on is a good thing. Little things like getting out their things for breakfast, packing up their own backpack for school, etc.

Now, I am VERY bad about feeling like nothing happens unles I do it. I am glad to hear that's not the case in your house and I'm sure it wouldn't be in mine either if I were to be out of commission. Sounds like you have a good hubby there.

Michele sent me!

At 11:19 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I was here earlier and I still commiserate with you being 'dispensable'..That Sucks!!

Here from Michele tonight!

At 6:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michele sent me this morning. Hope you are feeling better. I have left on vacation on my own (yes, I am that selfish) and everything runs smoothly at home. But they forget all they are able to do the minute I cross the door *sigh*

At 6:20 AM , Anonymous mar said...

I can't believe I did that, I always show my name...sorry about that!

At 7:22 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Good to know your family were the to take care of you.

Hope you are ok now.


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