Dreams or Parenting?

Sometimes I wonder whether I should have had children. I am an introvert and am highly sensitive, so motherhood is hard for me. I constantly have people in my space or wanting to literally sit on me. I often feel like I want to escape. My personality profile and strengths show that I need time to think and to read or research things. That time is difficult to come by in a busy household with a four- and a seven-year-old.

baby feet

We celebrated Mother’s Day on recently. My girls were so excited that they could barely contain themselves. It was equivalent maybe to their own birthdays, which for little kids is huge. My oldest daughter said that she would spend the day ‘praising’ me so she followed me around, trying to be with me from second to second. For someone who is not that comfortable being centre of attention, I found it hard. They kept saying that I could do whatever I wanted for the day. In my mind, that meant spending a good few hours being creative in my sanctuary, on my own. In their minds it meant that I’d be cooking for them, caring for them and cuddling them, all day, every second of the entire Sunday.

I know that there are people who are judgmental of mothers who work and particularly of those who choose to work when they don’t need to. I saw a YouTube video recently when a guy asked a successful business woman why she had children if she wanted to work. Well one answer to that question  is that you just don’t know what parenting is going to be like until it happens. It’s all consuming, it’s suffocating at times and filled with unbelievable joy. It’s hard work to be a good parent. It’s complex and challenging. And I’m in agreement that not everyone should do it. Not everyone is equipped for it but not everyone has that self-awareness in their twenties, or even their thirties.

Recently my grandmother, who is 91 years old, told me that it’s good I’m not working. She said I can focus on me when they’ve grown up. Really? In another 15 years or so? In her view mothers should put their dreams on hold for two decades to care for children. I honestly don’t think I would make it. I would need to be locked away or I would lose my will to live and just die a sorry sad death from broken dreams. If I were to be around my children all day, home schooling and waiting on them hand and foot, I would be a misery and by extension, a terrible mother. I know myself well enough to know that I need to chase my dreams. If I don’t, I’ll implode. I’ll spend my life feeling resentful and that I missed out.

So maybe I shouldn’t have had children. But I’m really glad I did. I love them dearly and they have enriched my life in so many ways. I have gained as a person by being a mother. I have become far more flexible and they have taught me to wing it a lot better than I could before. I benefit from being a mother and of course, I give too. I give love and attention, enthusiasm, help, guidance. I have been covered in a multitude of bodily fluids. I have spent nights awake with them when they were ill. The sleep deprivation – don’t get me started! I’ve worried about them, played Lego on the floor, built towers and castles, painted, got dirty and laughed. Oh boy, the laughter.

I was recently speaking to someone who doesn’t have children and what came to mind was the unconditional love they offer you. They think I rock. They are in awe of me. My shoddy drawings of a unicorn or a dragon are regarded like a masterpiece to them. I never anticipated this enormous benefit when considering having children. The love and acceptance they offer me is something I’ve never really felt before in my life and it’s really special.

I do try my utmost to be a good parent and to give them a happy childhood. Recently my oldest daughter asked me whether she could be president. Of course my answer was that she can be anything she wants to be. I’m hoping to return that love and acceptance that they offer me and to give them a childhood that springboards them to achieve whatever they desire most.

I’m not a terrible mother because I have dreams. I would be a terrible mother if I gave up on my dreams. Children follow by example. They do what you do, not what you say. And I want to show them that they can be a mother, even a good mother and have dreams to pursue too. They can have fun with life, pursue their passions and be a mindful parent at the same time. I’m setting the example. I’ve lived an unfulfilled life where the joy was sucked out of me. It made me sick and it took away a few years of my life. I became ill from adaptation or falsification – that means going against my grain. I’m not going there again. I’m launching a new career around what I love and that’s something I hope will inspire my children.

followdreams

I don’t think following your dreams and parenting are mutually exclusive. Of course it’s entirely possible that being an amazing parent, present and fully invested is a viable dream of its own. I’m not saying that a mother must work. I’m saying that I must. That’s what works for our family. I often wonder how I’d feel if my mother told me she gave up her dreams to raise me. I don’t think anyone wants that of someone they love.

If you have a dream, it’s up to you if you want to put your dreams on hold for decades but I’m certainly not up for that. Not after what I’ve been through. This is my time to shine and I want my children to see me succeed. I’ll be a happier person and a better mother for it anyway.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

1 Comment

  1. I once read an article about a well renowned personal trainer, Nicole Seymour, saying how important it was to her to go back to work after her first child. Not only that, but to take the time for herself to exercise. She said in the end, its not healthy to give up your life and dreams for your children because when they grow up, they will get the shock of their lives to learn that the world in fact, does not revolve around them.
    I agree with her statement 100%.

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