Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mothering in the trenches: Finding time for yourself when your kids are little

In my downsizing quest, I've found stacks of old articles I wrote 15 years ago, when I was in the mothering trenches raising young children. Here's the opening to a story I wrote that was published in Vancouver Kids magazine in March 1999 when my kids were 9 and 6.

"It's difficult for mothers to take time for ourselves. On a recent evening after dinner, I locked myself in the bathroom for a much-needed Calgon moment in a hot bath with soothing vanilla candles, fragrant bath oil, a loofa sponge and a resolve to shave both of my legs.

"Almost immediately after settling into the steaming bath, I was jolted back to reality by my children knocking on the bathroom door. What was I doing in there? Could I pour some juice for Conor? Answer Katie's questions about her homework? Where was Conor's Batman cape? And when was I coming out?"

Ah, those were the good old days!

I'm serious.

Although it's exhausting raising young children, I loved being a mommy. I enjoyed playing with my kids and sparking their imaginations. We built fairy houses on the banks of rivers, read stacks of picture books and created art projects. Visits to thrift stores helped me stock the kids' dress-up trunk so they could pretend to be dinosaurs, pirates, cowboys, fairies, knights and princesses. Even Batman.

Fifteen years later, I'm a single empty-nester. I can take a soothing bubble bath whenever I have a hankering. How ironic that a bubble bath is no longer what I long for when I need to relax.

Now, I most often head for the woods or the river for a hike, call a friend for a chat or make a cup of tea and read a book. When I was in the thick of raising young children, I didn't have the luxury of such freedom.

I have several younger friends who are in the child-rearing trenches at this moment. They're giving every bit of themselves to their families and their jobs. It's brutal being in the trenches.

I hope these women realize what a wonderful job they are doing--and that before they know it, their kids will grow up--and they'll have plenty of time for bubble baths, walks in the woods and reading an entire book from cover to cover.

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