Home » Opinions & Experiences » The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Mother-and-Daughters-Playing-Chess-artist-Francis-Coates-Jones

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.  
Robert Frost

For some women, Motherhood is a dream come true. Keeping a home and caring for a family was all they ever wanted. For the rest of us, Motherhood is sacrifice.  I have not been able to find a way around that fact.

 But how much do we sacrifice?

Where is the line between a well rounded homemaker, a self centered egotist and a self sacrificing martyr?

The last few days I have been quietly treading water. Feeling that my life is being swallowed in a whirlpool that is sacrifice to others, while simultaneously feeling guilt for even having such a thought. There are people in this world, Mothers, Fathers and childless alike who do this daily without thought to themselves. I’m going to say it, I’m selfish. I want things for myself, not stuff, but moments.

When I was a teenager, I met my first kindred spirit. We spent our first few moments together singing the score to The King and I. Every moment after that we created the world we wanted to live in. We dressed the part, served the food and spoke the lingo. What I mean is, we wanted to live in another world and so we did. We were young girls of 14 and although to most this seemed odd, to us it was pure joy.

John_William_Waterhouse_The_Lady_of_Shalott

We acted out our favorite parts from Anne of Green Gables.

We easily drawled a Southern dialect while eating fried chicken and telling Rhett we didn’t give a damn.

We wore pastel toile and tiny floral prints when everyone else thought geometric shapes were the thing.

We spent way too much of our Father’s money at Victoria Secret back when it was pretty nightgowns and not bustiers.

We played the piano and sang almost constantly.

We set full tea services complete with silver, china and linen, while discussing the weather in our best English accent.

We argued over Arthurian legend.

We picnicked on Box Hill as often as the weather would allow.

We lived a romantic life, we created our world and did it quite easily.

box-hill

That was the last time I remember fully being me.

Life became about school, work, boyfriends I should not have had, marriage and children. My love of a romantic living remained and dotted in that real life there were still enchanting moments. Once children arrived, they have been slowly disappearing. This morning as I sat watching my children eat breakfast I flipped through two of my favorite magazines, The English Home and Victoria, that’s when I began to feel the loss and regret that has been central to my doldrums. I realized my down in the dumps feeling was not about being a “bad Mom”, because thanks to many kind comments, I realized I’m not. It’s not about knowing how to be a “good parent”, that really is instinct when you love your children. It’s not about balancing the harmony of rules vs breaking the rules. For me it was about something entirely different.

I realized what was missing from my vision of a well rounded homemaking experience was the  actual woman who makes the home.

I needed to be able to do it all, make a clean orderly home, create healthy home cooked meals, raise and educate thoughtful intelligent children, and still have the life I want for myself. A life of peonies, inspiration, scones with cream, a garden for beauty and food, lazy days to read Thomas Hardy, a comfortable, toddler friendly AND beautiful home.

The fact that I do not have these things is in direct correlation to MY CHOICES. There is no one else to look to. 

tea

Can a women really have everything she wants for herself and still meet her family’s needs?

Is it possible to not sacrifice, or at the very least know when to sacrifice so it doesn’t feel like martyrdom?

So this is the beginning of a new dream. A life where Mommy is not just a maid, cook, educator, nurse and laundress. She’s a whole being with wants and needs of her own that are every bit as important.

carl-larsson-an-interior-with-a-woman-reading-14863

I think it’s worth a try, if for no other reason it’s a path I have yet to explore.

And you know what they say about the road not taken. 

 

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29 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken

  1. Oh, yes, this is right. Take your children on the journey with you. Read the books you love to them, dress them the way you want to dress, teach them to be calm, to help, to fit into your world. You are the artist here, they are entering your world.

    • I read this right as I got back from the fabric store. I’ve decided I want my girls to wear pretty little girl things. Things they love, things that aren’t costly, things that can be covered in raspberry juice and Mommy won’t care. Little pieces of cloth, sewn together and infused with the love of it’s creator, shrouding my girls in good energy and sweet thoughts.

      “You are the artist here, they are entering your world.”. As I read that, I couldn’t help but gasp a bit, that was pulled right out of my heart. As always, you have a way with words. Thank you.

      • Deidre,
        Have you ever seen Posie Gets Cozy? This is an example of a person whose little girl has entered her world and not the other way around. I don’t think we do children any favor by catering to them. This is a recent phenomena. And a sure-fired way to raise self-centered, self-entitled adults. I’m not saying that is what you are doing, I’m saying this in general. I just hope you see that by taking the initial time to teach them to sew, draw, write, read, etc. (whatever you want to do creatively) they can join you. They need (and want) to be members of the family and not just be taken care of as they grow. In the beginning, it will take you more time to teach them how to do something than just doing it yourself. But, eventually, cleaning the house will be a snap with three doing it. This will free up your time…but it will take time to get there. I think it will be more fulfilling for you in the long run and it will certainly be best for them. They will know how to take care of a house and cook, etc. when they go off on their own, they will respect you and be real members of a family. Plus, they will always be grateful to you for opening up the artistic and creative workings of their own minds.

    • I finally had a moment to sit an check out Posie Gets Cozy! Thank you, a kindred spirit in blog form. Her child is her muse, not an obligation that prevents her art. That is exactly where I want to be. Such a wonderful blog thank you for letting me know about it. My attitude and choices are changing slowly, but I’m starting to feel a little more me.

    • I think it sounds so lovely, but I imagine it will require retraining myself a bit. Putting aside my wants is something I do several times a day. Not going to be easy to let go of that and it will most likely come with a heavy does of guilt?

      You say you’ve realized the same things, how are you dealing with it? Is there a corresponding post? I would love to read that!

  2. Again, your writing inspires me! I often feel much the same way and facing an upcoming move to another state, this might be just the outlet for my own “reawakening” 🙂 I hope you find yourself again, and that your family appreciates you all the more for allowing that journey to take place!

    • Thank you, you are very sweet. Congratulations on the new move, I do love change. It is always an opportunity to purge and reinvent. I’m hoping that “finding myself” will look more like excavating myself. I’m hoping she is still there, just waiting in stasis.

      I’m heading over to your blog now, hoping to read about your upcoming move.

  3. This was really refreshing to my soul. I am reading this after I have spent the day cleaning my house. It is 10pm and I am just now finished. I started at 9am. Of course, I did take several breaks to make meals, help the kids do what they do, and take the dog for a run, and so now I am incredibly exhausted! As I am going through my email in a daze, yours came up at just the right time. I was escaping in that 14 year old girl, even though it is completely opposite of what I was doing at 14, I wish I was even exposed to romantic and beautiful characters such as Anne of Green Gables. And then I am inspired to find myself among the sacrifices, however, I don’t really think there is much to find…

    • Oh Esther, if you were standing in front me right now I don’t think I could resist giving you a hug. It’s not too late to expose yourself to beautiful characters and it most certainly isn’t too late to find yourself among the sacrifices. I would say start with something simple that makes you smile. One thing that no matter what will put a smile and your face and do it, every single day. I would make sure it’s something healthy, a whole chocolate cake and Real Housewives is probably not the thing. Although I have to admit, that sounds pretty good at the moment. But regret would follow. The point is Esther she’s there. She never left, she just stuffed herself in a closet so you could give what’s left to your family. It took me several hours to consider that this kind of choice feels honorable in a way, but it can’t possibly be the right choice when any of the participants have a negative experience.

      I don’t know if I’m right, but honestly I’ve tried everything else and it didn’t make me feel better or more accomplished. Why not make yourself the priority? Feed, dress, care for your kiddos sure, but somewhere in there is a half hour to enjoy something just for you. I plan on writing more as I attempt this new mindset. Please come back, tell me what’s going on with you. That last statement put my stomach in knots, women should feel exalted and fulfilled. Not like they’ve disappeared.

  4. I very much like that you are able to identify your own passions as an integral part of this. Its great that you know where you want to go. It really makes all the difference. Continuing the road quotes from classic literature…
    One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was the response. “I don’t know'” answered Alice. “Then”, said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

    • Carroll has such an incredible gift for simplifying life’s questions, and he’s considered a children’s author! Thanks for that quote, fits perfectly. I do feel grateful at least I still know who I am and who I want to be. I know many men and women who’ve lost that entirely in the quest for excellent parenting. Thanks for the encouragement, I always enjoy your comments.

  5. I agree. We all sacrifice as mothers, and so many of us lose who we were before marriage and motherhood and life has drained us a bit of the person we were. You can find a balance, I’m confident. But it is kind of a daily or at least a regular struggle, that balancing between the needs of others and the needs of the self. But if you lose yourself, I believe it becomes impossible to be the mother, wife, and person you want to be. So the fight is a good one. 😀

    • “But if you lose yourself, I believe it becomes impossible to be the mother, wife, and person you want to be.” EXACTLY!

      This is what I’m beginning to feel too. Where my ideals of Motherhood aren’t measuring up is founded more in the resentment of feeling left out. I know it seems odd, that a Mother should feel left out, but it’s there all the same. It was sitting at the table, looking at those magazine,s wishing I had time to create an English garden, to sit down to a full tea or decorate with things that my toddler wouldn’t destroy immediately that I realized I was being selfish, I felt guilty and then slapped myself awake realizing I’m blaming my family for this. Which is horribly wrong. I can have all those things, they might be slightly different, but I can have them. I’m actually choosing not to. I also felt a little silly, my girls would enjoy all those things if I just allow myself the patience needed to include them. It truly was an eye opener and I’m going all in, hoping this resisted path of me as a priority is the right one. I do hope so, I want my girls to see the beauty of Motherhood, not the drudgery and they are growing so fast. I’ve not got all the time in the world.

  6. I am so tired right now. I read your post days back (or was it just yesterday?) & promised myself I’d comment…eventually. I had a baby less than 2 weeks ago & it’s been so hectic even though he is a quiet child. I miss so many things about the girl I was especially enjoying my own company but I try not to dwell on it. Parenting is service. I just have to be able to strike that balance somehow…

    • Congratulations, a new little boy! Babies most definitely are a joy and can really tire you at the same time. I’m envious and glad it’s you not me at the same time. I don’t think I could handle another baby. Of course, only God knows what I can handle.

      Parenting is absolutely service, I’ve never thought of it that way.Let’s hope they return the favor when we are old and withered.

  7. Hmm! THEY. HAD. BETTER! Thanks for rejoicing with me :). By the way, I love the images you use. So lovely. And you are incredibly brave to put words to your feelings and lay them out so.

  8. Great thoughts. I am trying to find the answers myself.

    I know I need to take care of myself. I know that if I am unhappy it is hard to be the mother that I might be.

    But there are so many things I do not know. As I live life daily I try to remember “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways..” (Isaiah 55:8)

    I am trying to let Him lead me, because I know that anything I can think up is NOTHING compared to His genius!

    Thanks for your always wonderful thoughts ❤

    • I think there in lies the power of Motherhood. Continuing to be the woman we were and are, while bringing your children along to experience your world. It’s difficult, to say the least since our world becomes about our children.

      I had two days of doing the things I love to do and my children had a blast and… then I got sick. Hope that’s not related. 😉

  9. A lovely post, Deidre! I myself am treading water right now trying to keep up with kids, house, school and I put what I really want to do aside. I think that it is important to set aside times of the day to focus on YOU. I have been doing much better about it, giving my house and what I didn’t get done to the Lord and repeating, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

    • It’s no easy feat, is it? No sooner had I pressed that publish button, brimming with new energy, than my toddler decided now was the time to start the “protest everything” phase. *sigh*

      I of course got a head cold and the whole family has had a bout of germs in one way or the other since this post, so I have to laugh a little at the obstacles that presented themselves so quickly. Best laid plans and all. But we are on the upswing to health and said toddler has also added the “why?” question to her repertoire. At the very least she is starting to accept a little reason here and there. It’s seems so easy to say, “set aside some time for your self”, but us Mother’s know, sometimes all that looks like is sleep. Even then we don’t get as much as we need. Indeed, it’s no easy feat!

  10. Deidre! I apologize that I have not had a chance to post about Waldorf yet, but wanted to let you know that there is a teacher training course in our state in June. If you are still interested in learning about it, I recommend you join our state’s Waldorf facebook page, if you haven’t already. You will find lots of local information there. I just posted about some classrooms that we have enjoyed. Good luck to you!

  11. lovely paintings. As for housewives, there is a virtual world(blogging) which is their very own. many take a compulsory 2 hours of ‘me time’ every day. gather around old friends, go on women-tours, the world is ur oyster.

    • 2 hours!? That sounds like heaven. My munchkins are 2 and 4, 2 hours without needing something from Mommy happens only when they are asleep. But I agree, the internet does give all Mommies a chance to escape for those moments in between potty training, cooking and cleaning. It does open up a world of new ideas and new friends.

  12. This is beautiful. It might sound silly, but I have been so deep in the doldrums before that I’ve forgotten what it is that gives me joy. I had to go about and do research – “I’m feeling a bit happy and energised at the moment – what am I doing to cause that? How can I do more of this?” It’s important to take care of yourself. If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

    • Kudos for you for educating yourself and being self aware. So many Mother’s I know opt for a pill. It’s definitely not as easy to pay close attention to one’s behaviors, but in the long run I’ve found it makes it better. Joy has a lot more meaning, living in the moment becomes important. I spent a week or so after this post really just enjoying the bits of my life that bring a smile to myself and it worked. Now I’m knee deep in cleaning, decluttering and getting a home ready to sell. Although not as joyous it is giving me a sense of accomplishment.

  13. We share these struggles, D. I have yet to come out the other side of the tired confusion. I serve and take care of my family and write between the rock and the hard place of guilt everyday. Appreciated the heartfelt post.

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