Balance. That’s a word I’ve struggled with since the kids were born. It’s not easy to have as a mom, it definitely takes work. It’s a skill that I’ve developed over time but I’m still perfecting. I’m definitely a mom that loves being with my kids and one that needs my own time, as well. The kids take up a lot of energy and just slipping away to read a book, catch a film or play in the city, taking a long, hot shower and belting out 80s tunes gives me the power I need to march on and be a better mom.
But I also see the value of spending time alone with each child, too. Giving them individual attention and having one on one conversations and experiences together. They need this time just as much as I do, particularly after spending so much time together at the end of the summer like we are now. School doesnt’ start until September 6th or 7th in the Northeast and there is a lot of time to fill and they can start to grate on each other’s nerves.
So yesterday I took a look at my 9 year-old daughter and decided that she needed some time away from the family – with me. Every now and then, the two of us venture out and do something we enjoy and I decided it was time for some retail therapy. She had been dying to go to the store Justice and I had been avoiding the trip out of fear over what I would see in the store – expecting both glitzy, expensive clothes. She jumped at the chance to spend time together.
Our trip to Justice consisted of me telling her to show me anything she liked, and her saying back, “No, you show me what you want me to wear,” sensing my skepticism for the line. We managed to find a new backpack, two shirts, a skirt and a lap desk. She was thrilled. Thank god – I couldn’t buy anything else in the store. It all seemed like very poor quality and incredible tacky. But what do I know? According to her, we don’t have the same taste. She’s probably lucky that it’s different (I don’t have the best taste of style, never have, well, maybe I did 10 years ago).
Unfortunately, while we were out, my son, who hasn’t been speaking to me very nicely lately, was apparently acting out. My husband couldn’t understand it. He didn’t’ want to eat, he didn’t want to go anywhere. He was upset the whole day.
When I got home, I tried to get to the bottom of it all and it was very simple. My son was jealous about my spending time alone with his sister. He was jealous that we’d been to the mall. He was jealous that she got a new backpack and he hasn’t got a new one yet.
I realized that he also needs time with me alone. First I took him into the yard to toss balls around. Eventually, it was a family affair and not very intimate. So, at 7:30, I announced that I wanted to go for a swim. My son was the only one who took me up on it. And it ended up being exactly what he needed – time with me. That was it. We raced across the pool several times. We jumped in over and over, and he watched me dive and studied my posture. We took long, hot showers and used gels and shampoos from the hotels we stayed in last week.
Some of the bad behavior is clearly at the root of my ongoing dilemma of striking a balance. How do I do everything that I need to do for myself, which includes going back to work fulltime, and doing everything I need to do for my kids and husband and living a balanced life? I’m not sure, and I’m still trying to figure it out. It seems to be an ongoing theme in my life lately and I wrote about it recently on Kidzvuz. I’ve written about it here and I’ll keep writing about it until I get it right. I have time.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll go read Lisa Belkin’s Life’s Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom….