I'm a Good Mom Not a Great One - Emily's Puzzle - One mom's realization that all of her mommy motivation was out of survival, plain and simple. www.emilyspuzzle.com
Autism

I’m a Good Mom Not a Great One

I had a realization the other night while having dinner with a friend. Although I’m a good mom, I’m not a great one, a simple yet profound realization for me. All this time I thought that all of my mommy efforts, the hundreds of activities that I’ve done with my children were selfless acts of mommy love and that’s simply not true.

During dinner I confessed to my friend that I’ve been feeling completely unmotivated with my children lately. It’s still cold outside, the days are gray and bounce between rain and snow. This happens at the end of every winter, the boys and I are tired of our usual indoor games and activities. We are ready to be outside enjoying the sunshine, exploring new hiking trails and discovering new playgrounds and parks to play in. However, this year is a little different. Instead of being creative and taking the boys outside I’m finding myself giving in and turning the TV on earlier in the day and keeping it on longer than I care to admit.

The last couple of years I had the kids out every day, rain, sleet or shine. In the winter, we’d bundle up and play in the snow. We’d jump in puddles when it rained and explore hiking trails all summer long. This year I’ve been in a funk and feeling unmotivated because I’ve been comparing myself today with myself of a couple of years ago and feeling like I’m not measuring up.

While talking with my friend, I was reminded that only two years ago our life at home was in complete upheaval. My oldest son with autism was extremely sensitive to his little brother’s cries, so much so that any type of noise or movement that came out of his little brother would result in sensory meltdowns of epic proportions. My days were spent keeping the boys busy and separated as much as possible.

I'm a Good Mom Not a Great One - Emily's Puzzle - One mom's realization that all of her mommy motivation was out of survival, plain and simple. www.emilyspuzzle.comThat’s when it hit me, all of those hikes, adventures in the woods and planned activities that took up every minute of our days were not done because of my super mothering skills. They were done as a means of survival. Our days would stretch out before me and I would feel sick with dread. I was afraid to be home alone with both boys for an entire day. A big problem for a stay at home mom. It was impossible for one person to watch both boys for more than a few hours without experiencing one of my son’s horrible meltdowns. There were very few places I could take them. We couldn’t go anywhere the boys would be confined in the same room so I had to get creative. Taking them outside was the only viable option that seemed to help. So we played outside every…single…day.

I had to do it. I had to tire Eli out so he didn’t have enough energy left to fuss or cry and provoke Owen’s meltdowns. I had to tire Owen out in order to use up his manic energy that builds and builds until he’s literally bouncing off of the walls and incapable of sitting still. I had to make sure that he was too tired to escalate into full blown meltdown at the first sound or sight of his little brother. It was survival, plain and simple.

I'm a Good Mom Not a Great One - Emily's Puzzle - One mom's realization that all of her mommy motivation was out of survival, plain and simple. www.emilyspuzzle.comI didn’t know that then. In fact, I’m only just realizing it now. I have to admit it’s been a bit of a blow to my mommy ego. Over the last couple of years I received some very kind compliments from neighbors and even a couple of strangers who would see me out with my boys. They’d tell me how wonderful it was to see a mom so involved in her children’s lives. I’d smile and say thank you, hanging on to their every word. Random parenting compliments are very rare and I so appreciated hearing them. The thing is, after receiving a few of those compliments I started patting myself on the back and feeling pretty superior. I wasn’t like those other mom’s that were too busy with their own lives to spend quality time with their kids. I was rocking this mom job, or so I thought.

Fast forward through a wonderful year of growth and progress in our household. Little by little my boys have become friends. Not only are they able to be in the same room together but they frequently play together and even fight. Something I never thought would happen.

I'm a Good Mom Not a Great One - Emily's Puzzle - One mom's realization that all of her mommy motivation was out of survival, plain and simple. www.emilyspuzzle.comBoth boys, both with varying degrees of autism, have required 100% of my attention every minute of every day for so long that I assumed that that was going to be our life. Then seemingly overnight they’ve begun playing by themselves for longer periods of time even seeming to enjoy their new found autonomy. Owen loves his Kindle and playing with his cars in his room. Eli loves watching cartoons and playing with Lego’s. They both could watch TV all day long if I let them and you know what? I’m letting them! Ugh, so much for rocking the mom job.

It was at dinner with my friend when it dawned on me that, a bit humbly, I’m not this amazing, selfless mom who goes above and beyond for her children. I was an exhausted mom that was in survival mode for a couple of years.  I was doing what I needed to do to get us through each day. Running the boys ragged and leaving no energy left for meltdowns and manic behaviors worked so that’s what we did.

I love that our family is no longer operating in survival mode. I love that my boys are growing in their independence and capable of playing on their own for longer periods of time. I love that one of my problems today is worrying about how much TV my boys are watching.  I love the normalcy of it all.

We are entering a new phase in our home. Things are changing and my old parenting tricks aren’t working like they once did. Some things are easier and some things are harder. All of it is an adventure.

I may never be a great mom but I’m one heck of a good one!

I'm a Good Mom Not a Great One - Emily's Puzzle - One mom's realization that all of her mommy motivation was out of survival, plain and simple. www.emilyspuzzle.com

This article has 4 comments

  1. Ellen P

    Emily, I love reading your blog posts. Even though I’m not a mom, I find your candid and articulate writings absolutely fascinating. It’s a very generous (and brave!) thing to share you family’s journey with the world. You are a gifted writer and, clearly, an excellent mom!

    • Emily Eggleston

      What a lovely compliment. Thank you so much, Ellen. It’s so nice to hear that you enjoy reading my posts and find them fascinating, this little ole life of mine.:-) Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words!

  2. Jessica

    I must say, your blog posts really hit home every time! I also get lots of compliments about how our kids act and how much time we spend with them. But I constantly try to do better.. There’s that drive to somehow surpass your older self’s parenting skills. Another thing I have a hard time with is comparing my mothering skills to another’s.. Which, let’s be serious.. You can’t. No two families or kids are alike!

    I often feel like I’m falling short or “doing it wrong.” I feel like I’m not compassionate enough, engaging enough, teaching them enough.. It’s a mother’s curse. As mothers I feel like our biggest challenge isn’t multitasking, what style we choose to parent or what we feed them.

    It’s accepting ourselves and allowing ourselves to just let go and relax, to stop judging ourselves and focus on the love.

    I’ll let you know when I get there!

    • Emily Eggleston

      It’s funny because I look at you and see such a wonderfully smart and nurturing mom who goes above and beyond for her children and her husband. Maybe its the always striving to be better that makes us good mom’s. If we already knew we were than where would the growth be in that? Thanks for the wonderful comment. I think you have a gift for writing too and would love to read more from you. 🙂

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