This weekend my family came and we had some great chats. My brother, sister, and I all lead very different lives. And this weekend I think we got to update each other on what's been going on, what's happening over the summer, and it gave us all a glimpse at what each other's daily lives are like.
My brother is not married. He does not have children. He does have a fabulous, fun, fashionable girlfriend who adds so much fun to our family get togethers. He is a professor that means he needs to be challenging himself to write and publish - which is pressure that is always in the back of his mind. Being a professor leaves his schedule somewhat flexible to bake lots of bread, bike, and enjoy many hobbies. He also gets to travel Europe for two months this summer. To my sister and I his life is incredible. So different from ours. We envy that freedom and time. We always wonder if our brother understands our life at all. And this weekend my brother did an incredible thing. He noticed and he shared that what he sees my sister and I doing as mothers is tough.
He admitted after following Eli around the horse races for a good 20 minutes how hard that was. He shared how he wished he did more creative stuff with the boys when he was with them but he honestly is just exhausted being around them because they are needy and nonstop. He noticed that as parents it is hard to take the time to be selfish, to take care of your own needs, and give time to passions and hobbies that interest us.
My sister works a job that has her running from one end of the hospital to the other during the day. She sometimes deals with distraught and crabby cancer patients who don't want to hear that they should eat this or that. She has to present in front of large numbers, consult with doctors who can be intimidating. And these are just some of the things I know she deals with. Her sometimes 10 hour days leave her exhausted. But yet she returns home to cook dinner, bathe a cranky boy, fit in some playtime, throw in a load of laundry, clean up the kitchen, go through the mail, and throw in there a run to the post office, bank, or Target for groceries and you can just imagine how little time she has to exercise, watch a show, read a book, bake a treat - and yet, my sister manages to fit those things in too. My brother admitted that he can't imagine living so that his weekends were the only time when he could take care of some of the home business, errands, or hobbies.
Me - I am a stay at home mom. I have my kids 24 hours a day. My environment, for the most part, doesn't change. My boys need me all day long whether it is for a glass of water, a snack, a butt that needs wiping, a t-shirt that needs changing, a book that needs reading, a ride to some activity, a band aid to be applied, a channel to be changed, the list goes on and on. I admitted to him that I feel a little checked out lately. I feel like Ed catches me not hearing my boys more often lately. May has been a month where my desire to escape has been a little more pronounced. My brother also can't imagine doing what I do on a daily basis.
My brother said he feels guilty sharing about a purchase he has made or the trip around Europe coming up - some for work and some for pleasure. I told him he shouldn't feel guilty. His life choices are allowing for this once in a lifetime adventure. The choices he has made are different than ours and he should be proud and excited to share his excitements. I am so impressed by his life choices and what he does and how his life allows for his passions these days. I want him to know that I envy a two month trip to Europe but I also am in love with my life and can't imagine doing what he is going to do this summer.
My point. When my brother shared how impressed he was with my sister and I for being mothers. Being unselfish with needs - it validated and felt good to know that he realizes.
I think moms, whether we work to balance being a full time mom while also working outside of the home or whether we are at home for this time in our lives and strive to find fulfillment in the role as "just" a mother, while taking a break from other parts of ourselves...we like to be noticed. We like the pat on the back. We like for others to say, "wow, How do you do that?" It makes that hefty weight that often settles on our shoulders saying we aren't doing enough, we aren't succeeding enough, we aren't good enough...it makes that weight lighter. It makes us throw our shoulders back and realize that the lives we lead, the choices we balance, the roles we play - they matter. They are hard. And we are good enough. We are doing it - day in and day out. We GET to be mothers. We GET to have less selfish time these days. We are noticed and validated - whether anyone tells us or not.
I am not sure if this is coming out correctly. I am summing up some nice things my brother said this weekend...but probably summarizing them all wrong. But, as the last two days have passed I wanted my brother to know that his thoughts on being a parent gave me a boost. Thank you.