Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mommy and the Writer Within

By Danyelle Ferguson

It’s that time of the year again. Sigh.

Yep, it’s Mother’s Day. You probably think I should be more excited. After all, I’m a mom, right? Oh yeah, it’s fun to get flowers and chocolate at church and I absolutely love having my kids jump on the bed early in the morning to wish me Happy Mommy’s day sprinkled with hugs and kisses.

But I hate the guilt.

What guilt? As if you other Mommy-Writers out there don’t know what I’m talking about. For you guys and mommies-to-be, let me clue you in. No matter what religion you are, Mother’s Day is one of the higher church attendance days of the year. In the LDS world, we have the privilege of sitting through not one, but three hours of listening to speakers drone on about the sanctity of motherhood and their perfect mothers who baked fresh bread every day, car-pooled all six kids to soccer, dance, and music lessons, cooked dinner every night, kept the house sparkling clean and still had time to listen to each of her children every single time they wanted to talk.

It all sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? In my case, these perfect mothers are the complete opposite of who I am. For weeks following Mother’s Day, I feel guilty about every little thing I do that isn’t what Molly Mormon Mommy would do. Or at least I did until two years ago.

What a glorious day it was when my Relief Society president told us to stop beating ourselves up and stop feeling guilty for not being the same mom as someone else. We all have different talents and different personalities. Don’t worry if the laundry isn’t all done, if dinner’s not a three course meal. Don’t stress about not showering until after lunch or your kids are still running around in their pajamas at dinner time. Don’t get caught up in the cycle of perfectionism. Give yourself permission to enjoy life, enjoy being a mom, and enjoy becoming the daughter of God you’re meant to be.

Wow. Let me say that again—Wow! I don’t think you can even imagine the sighs of relief heard from fellow sisters that afternoon. That day changed my attitude in the struggle of Mom vs. Me. I learned to balance my responsibilities to both my family and to myself. How? Well, just keep on reading . . .

When each of my kids enters kindergarten, they get to choose one extra-curricular activity. My son chose horseback riding. My daughter chose dance. I don’t make them stick to it for years. If they want to try a different activity the next year, no problem! But I’m not going to run one child to three different activities and another to two. It not only makes our family life hectic, it would drive me crazy!

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit my house, you know first hand it’s not sparkling clean—unless our realtor just showed it. I only do two loads of laundry a day which means there’s always a growing pile in the laundry room. We eat out two days a week. When I do cook, it’s usually something in the crock-pot or a frozen meal popped into the oven. Every night we have family reading time. Homework gets done right after school before the TV goes on. We read our scriptures and say our prayers. Heck, we even sing primary songs while changing diapers. We’re a mad house of kids and young-at-heart adults who love to play chase, tickle, and laugh. Some people think we’re hyper-active, but really we just love having fun and being goofy.

And everyday, I schedule some “me time.”

I write while my kids are watching their favorite PBS or Disney programs. Then in the evening it’s a toss up between writing or taking a nice hot bubble bath and reading a good book.

Now, what does this have to do with your writing? Well, I’m not sure. I think I’m mostly just sharing my experiences so others don’t feel as guilty as I usually do on this one special day to celebrate our most valuable job—being mothers.

So as your Mother’s Day gift to yourself—throw out the guilt and enjoy your opportunity to both be a mother and a writer!

Happy Mother’s Day from all the LDS Writer’s Blogck Staff!

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