In my eyes, Broden Andrew Meassick is the cutest thing that has ever walked the planet Earth. He’ll be curiously exploring his little world one second and then will come over the next to grab me around the neck and say “HEY!” just to get my attention again. He gives his dad a high-five and then a low-five proclaiming “YAY!” and he’ll press the tips of his pointer finger against his father’s saying “Booooop” in the cutest one-year-old boy way. He’s got bright blue eyes, a teetery walk, and tufts of curls at the base of his neck. I simply can’t think of anything cuter.
This past Tuesday, I was thrilled to receive an email mid-school day with the news of a three-hour early dismissal. Visions of snuggly blankets, warm mugs of tea and giggles with my cutie danced in my head. In the frigid Pennsylvania January, I scooped up my little guy from daycare and drove home. It started off well, with nap time and cuddles. My vision seemed to be coming true…………
Fast forward a few hours to find a completely different scene. Instead of excited and giddy, I felt anxious, bored (can those really coexist??) and guilty. Why the switch? What happened?
Maybe it was a fierce colliding of dark, cold winter days, mom guilt and my Type A need to keep doing.
As our snowy afternoon progressed, it looked a little less like cozy blankets and cups of tea and more like laying in the middle of the living room floor, buckets of toys dumped all around me, my toddler crawling all over me as he played, cried, laughed and demanded my attention for the next SEVEN hours. (I applaud you stay-at-home moms who do this every day!).
On morning drives in the darkness to work, I dream about days like this. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??” I shout in my head. “I LOVE MY KID AND WANT TO BE WITH HIM!” “BUT I’M NOT LOVING THIS!” An internal battle ensues. A war of opposing forces. On one hand, my overwhelming need to “be productive,” to write all the lesson plans and get more and more and more ahead because, you know, I complain on the weekend about needing to do work and this is my opportunity to do it….I follow that rabbit trail for awhile.
On the other hand, there is this feisty guy who demands my attention and begins crying or banging on my keyboard as soon as he notices I’m doing something other than paying attention to him. I hop on social media because at least I can distract myself from the boredom of staring at my toddler and trying to occupy his one-minute attention span with the next toy that sings “The Wheels on the Bus” over and over and over again. Cue the mom guilt! “I SHOULDN’T BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA! I SHOULD BE PRESENT WITH MY LITTLE CHERUB, playing beside him, ogling over his every moment.” The harsh voice of criticism circles in my head. Frustration ensues. I can’t even leave my house because it’s already dark at 5:00 pm and quite literally -10 degrees. Finally, despair sets in. I can’t be productive. I don’t enjoy hours of staring at my kid (cue more mom guilt). And I don’t even have the ability with this little one stealing my attention, to do what I want to do, or even the energy for it if I did.
[For any of you wondering why moms of littles post a BAZILLION photos of their toddler on Instagram, it is not because we are simply obsessed with them (well that may be part of it) its because, if any other moms are like me, we are fighting in a insane mental battle of mom guilt!]
Today I don’t have all, or even any, of the answers. But to you moms out there struggling with mom guilt, I see you. You are not alone in this journey. I don’t know if I have any of it figured out, but perhaps it has a little something to do with what Paul says in his letter to the Philippians about being content in all circumstances (Phillipians 4:11-13). It also might just have a little something to do with taking time for myself. Maybe it has something to do with being okay with boredom, despite the constant pressure for stimulation that society bombards me with. Or most of all, it could have something to do with not letting the truth that I don’t want to spend endless hours of undivided attention with my little one, this cute boy Broden, define how much I love him.
My word for 2019 is “settle.” For some, the word might be a turn-off. The idea of “settling” has the negative connotation of giving up and giving in. For me, those are not such bad things right now. In our little family, change has been the norm for the past three years and we are ready to settle. Settle into daily, mundane rhythms. Settle into knowing that I am good enough right where I am, that I am not defined by constant working. Settle into the understanding that just because I have free time I do not have to fill it with more doing. Settle into boredom at times. Settle into the fact that the limited love I have for my little boy is just enough. Settle into the love our Savior has for both of us.