A wonderful post on motherhood and contentment from Karen at Beating Myself into a Dress reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago. So I revamped it..
Happiness was something I never considered as my hands shook looking at that thin blue line back in 1992. I was going to be a mum, and I just got on with it, and the job and the running, and the marriage and everything else in between. As you do.
But along the way, I’ve learned a few things, and noticed how much has changed over the years.
Many parents, especially mums, seem to invest far more time and emotional energy in their kids than my parent’s generation did: most of my interactions with my Mum and Dad were on family outings, plus board games and cricket with my Dad. At home we were sent out to play, and even meal times were spent reading books and newspapers, with The Archers on the radio. Very middle class, I know. Today we seem to spend many more hours with our children, especially if we are full time parents in the home. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who didn’t realise all the demands that would be made of me as a mother. So many life changes, and I’ve not always accepted them with good grace.
Anyone who believes they have given up a lot for their kids could feel some of this, especially if motherhood does not live up to their expectations. And then if most of your time and energy has been invested in your children, you could well feel depressed and even betrayed if they turn around and disrespect you and take you for granted. Which some do, especially when they hit the difficult teenage years. But if you do everything for your children, isn’t there a danger that this will happen naturally? Sadly it seems to be a human trait not to value the everyday quiet loving care that is provided by the stay-at-home parent. Else why does the one coming home from work usually get a rapturous welcome?
Would it make a difference if children think the stay at home parent is happy in their role? I think perhaps it would. I’m not talking about ecstatic happiness, but contentment, cheerfulness and positivity. Not at all times, obviously. They need to see all the emotions: grief when someone dies, anger at injustice, hurt when someone is cruel, but I think our children need to see that we are happy to be their parents. If they see us looking sad every day, they may think it’s their fault, even if we tell them that our happiness is our responsibility, as I do, they may still blame themselves.
Perhaps, like me, all stay at home parents needs to work on their own happiness. To help themselves, and their children too.