I spend 336 hours a year, on average, cooking meals. This does not include any shopping, meal planning or added cooking requests the children's school and sports are constantly throwing my way. If I were to average in car rides, homework help, ironing, laundry, sweeping, and the myriad of other normal daily activities I accomplish, I can assuredly say I work more than a full time job.
My husband recently took a job out of area which requires large amounts of time away from us. This has been a huge challenge. Seth and I have never been one of those couples who have had to be in each other's back pockets all the time. We are far to busy for that, however we enjoy our time together and have always made togetherness a priority. I miss our good mornings and good nights. I miss having my best friend here to navigate the daily challenges and the chaos that sometimes ensues. I feel I do a pretty good job of holding down the fort while he is away. I have so many friends whose husbands have had to take jobs out of state in this economy. It's a tough choice families are having to make.
I have some wonderful support while we adjust to these new changes. Friends who ask on a regular basis how I am and on occasion bring me chocolate or send me funny text messages. Kid's teachers who are going the extra mile to make sure I am getting all the information I need so we eliminate school hiccups. Then there are those people who have always been a small drain on my family. In this time of adjusting to the chaos of being a sometimes single mama, I am find I am having little patience for this. When one thinks of bullies it is often of those times back in school our minds go to. However I have come to realize there are "grown up" bullies as well and many of us have them in our lives. How do we navigate relationships with these people. Often times they are in our places of work, churches, community organizations, even our children's schools. Many times we have not one but many bullies in our lives.
How do we have "adult" relationships with others when they have not moved beyond the school yard mentality. Often times I find it takes quite an effort to set and maintain boundaries and the harder I attempt to eliminate the difficulty, I come across as looking like the big B Word! There is one place frustrates me the most and it is in the area of parenting. We have become such a society of "know it alls" that even those with no children, feel they know how to do a parent's job better. Oh I've been guilty of this myself . Being the mother of seven I've got some things down pat. I look at how a parent or caregiver is running their family and I judge... I think of all the ways I do it better. I have quite and ego when it comes to parenting, I must confess.
We had the experience of someone undermining our loving relationship with our children for the past several years. We honored that our children had a relationship with this person that brought some good and so we allowed things to go unsaid and in our "silence" realized we erred. Our silence was perceived as permission and we misjudged thinking our relationship with our children was so concrete that another could not cause division. Luckily, as our feelings regarding relationships and our need for honesty with each other led to dialog we realized just because there are some healthy things others people bring into the lives of our children we have to weigh and balance that with the negative and make sure our role as parent is not being undermined or damaged. If it is, we have a responsibility to step in. A coach, teacher, friend, or relative may think they have my children's best interest at heart, however they do not live our lives, with it's unique dynamics. They are not the parent. They have not weighed all that comes with parenting each child within the dynamics of my family.
This being judged and undermined has made me reflect on the times I may have inadvertently stepped on the toes of other parents. I may have judge their situation without walking in their shoes. What I realize is most people I know are trying to do their best. I fall short a lot as a parent, however I believe in the relationship I have with each and everyone of my children. I believe that our status of family will carry us through this learning experience together and when we mess up or fall down we can honor these relationships by helping each other. That's what families are for.
As I hold down the fort, waiting for my sweet one to come home, I realize an amazing gift we have been given; this family which keeps me busy and at times exhausted. Im always learning new ways at doing my job as mother best and I am thankful for the opportunity each and every day. So, please in your daily wanderings, support other parents you know, refrain from judging them, ask them what kind of help and assurances support them most. If you are like me, chances are you know someone who is "holding down the fort" while their family makes sacrifices such as a spouse working away from home. They need your encouragement, support and understanding not interference and judgement. By supporting them you bless the children in their care and show you really care about what happens to them. By supporting their relationships with their parents you honor them and help them be healthy people.