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the role of a mother.

warning: this post is going to reveal some ugly truths about me. maybe we can still be friends?

i’ve recently been struggling with my role as a mother and what that really means.

i know we all have a different journey in parenting. but i’m stumped some days, as to what in the world to do with my littles all day.  i read blogs and pin crafts, but HELLO, my kids are like 18 months old!!

play dough goes in their mouth half the time, they “color” for about 2 seconds, and just when i think i have some great activities planned for the day, we’ve blown through them all and it’s 9:15am and i feel utterly defeated.

 

(this was taken this morning & they played together for about 2 minutes. then they threw the little pieces everywhere and it took me about 30 minutes to find them all, get a baggy to put them all in, and put it up where they couldn’t reach and destroy the game when i walked away later)

THE BACKSTORY.

because Jackson has Down syndrome – he’s not doing the things a typical 3 year old might do – he is more along the skills/cognition of an 18 month old.  he isn’t talking yet, and still requires a lot of TLC when we go out together on outings due to some sensory stuff.

at this point, i essentially have the equivalent of 20 month old twins.  jackson (3) and madelyn (20 months) are the same size. they eat the same things. wear the same size diapers. nap at the same time. bathe together. go to sleep at the same time, etc.

THE TRUTH.

the real and honest truth about the upcoming week (spring break, no beach plans!) is that i’m stressed about my sweet Jackson being home all day and my not being able to provide and be everything he needs.

spending the days with madelyn is easy – because she loves everything we do. the world is a magical place for her: she loves getting ready with me, brushing my hair, and she mimics everything i do. she’s eager to learn and she HELPS me teach her. she points to things and wants to know what they are, and she remembers the things we talk about. the other day, she had been too quiet so i went to find her – and she was in my closet trying on all my clothes! i didn’t teach her to do that! she just DID it!

everyone always says, just talk to your kids! that’s how you teach them!  well, i have spent the past 3 years talking to jackson. reading to him. making the “B” sound a zillion times. making the “mmmmm” sound a zillion times.

but having madelyn has helped me understand the process of learning on a whole new level. i am simply doing normal life and she is picking up on things – and it’s a natural part of her development. it finally makes sense to me.

but jackson? not the same. not the same at all. he has zero interest in animal sounds. or colors. or pointing to things in books. it has been an extreme challenge to know the balance between pushing him along and letting him just BE.

so why does spring break make me nervous?

at school, he gets: Speech Therapy, Music Therapy, Occupational Therapy, sometimes Sensory Integration Therapy . . .the list goes on. they are extremely structured and he knows what to expect in his daily routine.

but here?! at the house!? with 12 hours on our hands?! i’m sorry to say but i am not one of those home school type moms.

i want every minute i spend with Jackson to be intentional in helping him “succeed”.  to learn to talk. to point to things in books. to recognize animal sounds. to play with toys appropriately and not just throw them. but the truth is: HE DOESN’T CARE.

he would be happy playing with my hair for 45 minutes at a time, or simply sitting on my lap snuggling.  he has recently discovered our broom and can literally sit with that broom for 30 minutes and run his fingers through the bristols. he could flip the pages in books all day – without noticing what’s really on the pages. he takes Woody and throws him off the piano over and over and thinks it’s the most hilarious thing he’s ever seen in his whole life.

but i feel guilty when i let him do these things. i make it about ME. i think, “oh no!!  am i the worst mother on the planet!?  i’ve let jackson play with that broom now for 20 minutes straight! shouldn’t i be singing the ABC song over and over with the phonetic sounds so he’ll learn to speak quicker?! shouldn’t i have perfectly planned crafts that initiate his fine motor skills!?”

THE REVELATION.

tonight my {awesome} husband just looked at me and said “babe, Jackson is not going to start talking this week because you work with him on it 24/7. he’s going to talk when he wants to talk, and it’s not up to you.”

hmmmmm. thanks. thanks for that.

so as i was putting on jackson’s pajamas and giving him his nightly massage tonight, i began wondering what the role of a mother is. is it to say “bbbbbbball” a zillion times? to make sure my kids have their ABCs and numbers perfectly memorized before pre-K like all the other kids?

as i was wrestling with this, jax was just looking at me smiling and laughing, and our eyes were locked on each other. he felt comfort that he knew the bedtime routine. he felt LOVED. he felt like he was the only thing in the world right then that mattered. he grabbed my hair and pulled my face down to his face on the changing table — like he always does — and i hugged him tight and kissed him over and over while he laughed till i know his belly hurt.

and i knew that THAT was what i am supposed to do as a Mom.  i buy new jammers when their current ones creep a little to far along the calf. {or when your jax learns how to smear poo all over the crib in the middle of the night and we must revert back to full one-piece onesies}.

i make my kids laugh. i pray over them. i hug them tight tight tight when they get hurt. i make eye contact and celebrate them as much as i can.

i take care of their every physical need: feeding them {somewhat} healthy meals. bathe them. and change their diaper often.

i make sure they can put themselves to sleep and get enough rest every night. i make sure they have clean clothes and tidy{ish} rooms.  i teach them about sharing and how to “obey right away” – and discipline you appropriately.

because little babies can’t do these things for themselves.

so every night we wrestle. we have dance parties. and we brush our teeth. and somehow, i must believe, these things will all work together to create independent little human beings that feel loved and cherished by their mama.

but forcing my Jackson to play with play dough? because it makes me feel better about MY role in his fine motor skills?

nah, i think i’ll pass on that this week. this spring break is about enjoying one another. and lying around nap mats for no reason.

and i just might let jackson run his fingers through the grass for 30 whole minutes if he wants to.

because i simply can’t resist that smile when he’s doing something he loves.

 

 

Show Hide 5 comments

CindyQG - Oh my, you precious friend. I laughed and cried as I worked my way through your blog just now. I can’t imagine your inner struggles. But, I loved how you worked through it while writing your blog…I think you’re on the right track for this week’s activities. What a fabulous mother you are! Though you don’t always feel it. May God bless your week with your babies! xo

Anna Brindley - Lovely–just plain perfect. I struggle too. Recently my revelation came while one of my children was at the hospital. I realized too, that the basics might seem basic but truly the basics are the most critical elements. Love, touch, acknowledgement, any attention etc.

Amanda - Sweet girl, I am so blessed to know you and your story. You are a precious mommy, and as I read I was hoping you would ultimately lean into enjoying watching Jackson have joy in those simple pleasures. What a beautiful realization. While I cannot imagine the daily pressures, I know you are loving him so beautifully!!!!

miabella - my sweet sister. while I also cannot imagine your struggles as tho they were my own, I know YOU. I know OUR mom. I know YOUR love. and i know that jax feels it. how could he not? you spend your time caring, sharing, with the sole desire to teach, and he is learning. like the hubby says, he will let you know what he has learned when it’s time for him. and how BLESSED are you to have madelyn as well, such a beautiful diverse family that will help you all craft your individual communicative skills for learning and teaching and sharing your mutual love in so many different ways! in these humble moments, smile back. :) I love you.

Laura - Hmmmmm… would it help to know that I had the same worries about raising you? I recently found a piece of paper from Way Back Then with lists on it like, “playing in the sun for Vitamin D, playing with other kids for social skills, playing alone for knowledge of self, playing with me for fun!” and a few of those things were checked off… Every time I see sweet Jackson and Madelyn now, they look like kids from a loving, secure, happy family. They coo and gurgle and laugh and smile and give eye contact and interact with the world around them. They seem confidant and alive! You’re doing everything right by just loving them! Those spring break days will fly by; you’ll see! Just remember to make some time when you think they’re safe and out of harm’s way to think about and care for YOU too! Oh, I wish I was there to give that to you… and I wish you could have come here! I love you so much, sweet little mother! ~Mom

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