I have always taken great pride in the life I have created for myself. As a mostly SAHM, I've been fortunate to have plenty of free time to explore my interests and passions. Even when my girls were toddlers and I was overwhelmed and stressed with caring for them, I still belonged to two book clubs, a woman's club and I played Bunco once a month. As my girls grew up and became more independent, I began to work part-time in a job that allowed me to further explore my interest and love of books and reading. I've taken lots of classes in all kinds of topics that interest me - from learning to play piano, knit and tap dance to classes in art history. I have a strong interest in the arts and have season subscriptions to 3 local theaters and I regularly visit museum exhibits - sometimes traveling to Boston or even NYC to see an exhibit of particular interest. In addition to all these activities, I have a wide circle of friends who I see regularly. In other words, I lead a full and interesting life. At least I think it is.
However, last week I had the wind taken out of my sails. Twice. Once by each of my daughters. And each was completely independent of the other. Ouch!
It all started on Monday when Katie and I were in the car together. While making small talk I mentioned that I had had a frustrating day running errands that all ended up being unnecessarily complicated and frustrating. Her response to me was something along the lines of "Well, don't worry about it because soon you'll have nothing better to do than run errands and you'll be happy to have something to do with your time." WHAT?! I managed to remain calm and asked her what she meant. She continued to dig
her own grave herself into a hole by stating that when people get old they have nothing better to do than run errands and go shopping, "like grandma". Wow! Is that really what she thinks of my life? If so, I'm shocked. I did remind her of all my interests and how I've worked hard to be sure I am able to pursue them, but I'm not sure she understood. I decided to just let it go.
Then the very next day, Madeleine and I were in the kitchen cooking and tidying up. I began to mumble about how I'm constantly having to clean up after everyone else. She was sympathetic to that (she is very good that way), but then she dropped this bomb on me. "Well Mom, soon you'll probably be making messes just so you'll have something to do". WHAT?! Really! So it's not just Katie who thinks my life consists of nothing but taking care of them and the house? I'm beyond shocked!
Is this because I'm a SAHM? If I had a full time career, would they think this way? I'm not sure. I hate the idea that my girls think of my life as consisting of nothing but taking care of them and the house and running errands. I always assumed they noticed that I made the time to do things that I love, to indulge my passions and explore my interests. I assumed that they were somehow subconsciously absorbing the idea that it's OK to spend time on yourself, especially if you are a mom. I thought their view of me would include the idea that I am actively engaged in life and learning. That I value self-expression and that I think it's important not to put yourself last. It's shocking and distressing to me that they view my life as one of drudgery and boredom. How sad. I feel as though I've failed them in some way. I thought that I had done a good job modeling a life of engagement. Apparently not. And on top of that, it's a real blow to know that my daughters have a completely different view of my life than the one I thought I was presenting to them. It changes my whole perception of myself as a mother to my daughters. And that's bitter pill to swallow.