Separation Anxiety

Anyone else have trouble putting down your phone/computer/magazine to pay attention to your children? I’m realizing how much parenting time is spent just hanging out with my kiddos. Watching them, exclaiming over their small accomplishments (remembering those feel HUGE to them), responding to every plea to “Look at me!”

Honestly, it’s a lot of down time for someone used to high-speed productivity and detailed to-do lists. I find myself reaching for my phone to catch up on email and Facebook. Partially to multitask, but mostly as a desperate grasp for adult interaction. And then I realize a smallish person has been talking to me and I brushed her off with a “Mmm hmm” while reading the latest Facebook status updates. It doesn’t take much hurt on a toddler’s face to make me feel ashamed of myself.

It’s a dilemma. My kids deserve my undivided attention, but they also need to learn to share me and wait their turn. Being present in the moment with them can be the most wonderful thing, but also the most exhausting when it’s been an endless series of moments all day long. For multiple children. How in the world can a parent meet all those needs? Often, by dinnertime, my brain and body are so overtaxed from too much multitasking that I can barely put two coherent words together. Bedtime “should” be sweet bonding time with my kids, but often I count the minutes, rush through the routine, and breathe an elated sigh when I finally walk downstairs.

I’m starting to realize that time away from my kids is critical to both their and my sanity. This might be cliché, but the old sayings “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Familiarity breeds contempt” are true! And they need separation from me as much as I need it from them. Every time I go away to pursue my pre-children passions and reconnect with the parts of me not labeled “Mom,” I return as a better mom. More patient. More content. And much, much more in the moment with my kids. The miracle is that they seem to pick up on my mood, and are also more patient and content.

I don’t know why women have such mom guilt or think others can’t take care of our kids as well as we can. But do we anyway, when we’re exhausted and have lost touch with our better selves? Even as toddlers, our kids are learning from us about what kind of adults to be someday. Let’s think about our highest hopes and dreams for our kids, and make sure we’re living them for ourselves too!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sara W.
    Jun 03, 2010 @ 13:21:29

    Just what I needed to hear today… I just joined the YMCA for a little me time and to attempt to shed my extra baby love:) And wouldnt you know it, I woke up today feeling that mommy guilt and was ready to go back and void my membership! I think this blog was perfect confirmation why I need to excercise for my own health ~ and theirs;)

    Reply

  2. Lynda Olsen
    Jun 03, 2010 @ 13:33:02

    Abby,
    Thank you once again for sharing your blog(s) with me (and others, of course). I love reading your thoughts/ideas/frustrations etc. You certainly do ‘hit the nail on the head’ in so many ways. The reading is interesting and adds ‘comic relief’ to my day. I truly do remember feeling many of the same things that you are experiencing now despite the 30+ year difference.

    Keep up the fine work. It is amazing that you can find time to do this but then, you have always been amazing to me in so many ways.

    I treasure our memories and all the time we spent together in ‘the office’ over those four years. Our ‘tea and scones times’ were the BEST.

    We shall work on a time to have some face to face time together one day soon.

    Your friend, Lynda

    Reply

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