One of my biggest fears as a mother will always be that I will damage my child permanently in a way that she will be resentful forever. Last week, I watched a story on 20/20 about Shirley MacLaine's daughter and how she felt her mother chose her career over her and still has abandonment issues to this day because of it. Now, I am no famous actress. And, I am a stay-at-home mom, so there aren't a lot of parallels in that regard, but there was one thing in this interview that struck me and made me re-examine the time I spend with my own children. Especially my daughter.
The article says:
"In the book, Parker writes that MacLaine was always happy to see her for about four hours, and then suddenly she became a burden.
"Pretty much," Parker said."
My first thought was, "How sad!" Then, I thought of my own daughter. Does she ever feel brushed off, or set aside by me? Does she ever feel like she doesn't get any time with me?
Now that she is in school, she is gone until about 3pm. She comes home, I greet her at the door with hugs and kisses and "How was your day?" I try to pry from her lips any struggles or triumphs she had at school today, and usually get the typical "I don't know" responses. We head downstairs and I hop back on my computer to do my work while her brothers are usually still asleep and she has some time to unwind. She usually chooses to watch TV while I'm on the computer.
Then brothers wake up, I have to get off the computer and work on getting dinner ready, and cleaning up messes upstairs that I didn't want to do while the boys were sleeping. The kids entertain each other. Daddy gets home. She is overjoyed (as every child should be). Dinner is eaten. Homework is done. Baths and then bed. That's the usual routine during the week. Where is my time with my daughter? Truth is, it isn't happening.
Maybe bad mothers can inspire us to be better mothers to our own kids.
After thinking about this routine for a bit, I couldn't help but think that I only get about 4-5 hour with my daughter on school days. Am I using it wisely? Do I take time to focus on her? Play a game? Snuggle? Talk? Paint fingernails? Not usually.
Many days, the kids are entertaining each other, and I'm doing my own thing. Gulp. Am I no better than Shirley MaClaine?
Of course I am. I haven't even read this woman's book, but the interview alone shows that I am better than that. Yet, I can't help but feel like I could do better. And I need to.
One of the biggest challenges of being a mother is overcoming ourselves. Setting aside what we want to do (ie, clean the house, blog, read, etc.) in order to spend time with our children. Quality time. Time they will remember.
I do not have a single memory of my Mom "playing" with me. Not one.
I remember not too long ago when I sat down and played UNO with her. She loved it. And, I was, frankly, a little bored. But, in a way, I had fun because I could see how much she loved doing something with me. I played several games in a row, and then moved on to something else that "Mommy had to do." Was it enough? Will she remember it? Did she feel loved and focused on in that moment? Probably. Is she good for the next week? I doubt it.
I want to be that kind of Mom that my kids will remember as not just always being there but one that is there for her. Always.
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