Monday, January 30, 2012

Mama's need playdates too!

The idea of the ‘prefect mother’ is a crock.  I know that sounds harsh, but the further I get into this crazy maternal trip, the harder it becomes to believe that this ‘Wonder Mama’ really exists.  

The setup begins as early.  In kindergarten, we slave over phony cardboard stoves, making the best imaginary mac n’cheese we can muster.  We serve our pretend husbands who naturally, are recuperating after a long day’s work filled with toy block architecture.  We prop our floppy baby dolls up and take immeasurable joy in feeding them from those magic juice bottles.  We are so taken with the satisfaction of playing house that we barely notice our fake hubby has left the table without so much as an air-kiss.  

Before long, we’re working diligently by light of our Barbie dream houses, trying to cultivate the most idyllic family we can possibly muster.  Where do we get this drive to create this family unit? We pull these ideas from all over the place; our family, our friends’ families, television, fairy tales, and those damn Disney movies.  When it’s set out in front of you, this Brady Bunch way of life doesn’t seem too unattainable.  But when it’s your time to really play your roll, things can get a little tricky.

My ideal maternal mold is hard to fill.  My Mother stayed home for almost 17 years, raising four of the most annoying wonderful children in the world.  She was there morning, noon and night,  helping us with homework, eagerly preparing sometimes four different dinners - depending on who refused to eat what, and reminding us to hold the railing while running down the stairs.  
Throughout my childhood and young adult life, I always imagined myself being exactly like she was.  But it wasn't long after having Grace that I realized how difficult motherhood actually was. My Mom made it look easy (thanks a lot Ma!).  She appeared to be totally fulfilled. 

Most days, I love motherhood.  Most days, Grace behaves.  Most days, I'm thrilled to wake up to Grace's big bright eyes and quirky little grin.  But some days,  I am in desperate need of something more. 

The job of "Mommy" certainly isn't easy.  There aren't any sick days, and you never get to 'punch out', and the pay is shit.  The day to day involves an adorable child, who knows not how they annoy, and little adult socialization.  Other mamas might be too timid to admit, but I'll come right out any say it.  Sometimes, being a mother makes me want to SCREAM!!!!

And so, I've decided that as Mothers, we need play dates too.  Not often and certainly not extravagant, but play dates all the same.  My personal releases are tot-free library nights, Krogering, and the occasional night out with the girls.  I should warn you, there is a ton of guilt associated with taking an evening off.  If I can make it out the front door without a self depreciating breakdown, I'm off to a good start.  But most times, this isn't the case.  

If you're as lucky as I am, you have a supportive partner.  Ryan is always trying to get me to "take a drive" or  go relax when he gets home from work.  Sadly though, all of the opportunity and reassurance doesn't negate the guilt of a toddler's "why are you leaving me?" eyes.  

Babysitters aren't easy to come by, and finding ones you trust is an even harder battle.  Luckily, my folks are always looking for some Na-na and Pa-pa time, and Ryan and I are always happy to have a date night.  Sometimes sharing a night out with Ryan is exactly the recharge we both need!  Albeit rare, we cherish these times together. 

The perfect mama doesn't exist and I'm learning to accept that.  I've learned to let go of the guilt a little bit and take time to recharge.  Sometimes 40 minutes of whine free silence, can feel like nothing shy of magical.  I suggest, to those Mama's who are hesitant or on the verge of a toddler induced breakdown, that you take a little time for yourself.  Grocery shop alone, take a drive, or grab a bite with a friend.  Sometimes, a couple minutes of "me time" makes for a much happier Mama and baby.
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