(Warning: Long, rambly post of me thinking through my fingers and enjoying pictures of Caroline as baby…)
Cliff speaking to some of his children on why he built a separate room for Clair from The Cosby Show: Season 8:
I’m going to tell all of you something about privacy. Privacy is.. is being able to have a complete thought and follow it all the way through without somebody coming in “but dad, but dad, but dad.” To this day I don’t know how smart I actually could be because people keep coming in and jammin my thoughts. I don’t know how many inventions I could have created had I been able to have a complete thought. And that’s what I’m trying to give to your mother.
As I’ve been watching The Cosby Show this time, it is the first time I’ve watched it as a parent. It definitely gives you a different perspective because you can immediately relate to some of the scenarios and conversations. The above quote so stood out to me that I took the time to transcribe it.
It resonated with me because it is dealing with what has been one of the most difficult changes for me after having a child. It doesn’t surprise me that this has been hard. I knew before I ever had a child that I would find the loss of freedom and privacy to think difficult. And I was absolutely right.
Now that we have entered our fourth year with Caroline and have (mostly) moved beyond the sleep deprivation and the challenges of an infant/toddler, I now on rare occasion have the ability to almost have half of a complete thought. And it is still very hard.
Part of the difficulty for me is that I need to have complete thoughts in order to do my work. I realized a few weeks ago that I am experiencing a high level of frustration from the lack of ability to actually think for extended periods of time. I don’t feel like I create when I write. I feel like I churn out materials to meet deadlines for clients. They are two completely different things. I don’t feel like I do my best work because to do my best work requires thought. And thinking takes time and quiet and effort. Anyone who thinks that writing is easy probably isn’t a very good writer. In order to do excellent writing, it takes a great deal of effort. Yes, there are flashes of inspiration and brilliance. But mostly it is work.
Thinking is also a big part of my faith. I’m a thinker and a ponder-er. I’m a reader and a thinker. I worship with my mind. Without the ability to think and read and discuss, my spiritual life has suffered since becoming a mother. The mental drain of motherhood has really sapped me spiritually.
I miss having time to think. I miss having the energy to think. I miss having the space to think a complete thought. While becoming a mother had added many wonderful new dimensions to my life, it has also diminished others. To say otherwise would simply not be honest.
I think about this also when it comes to having an only child. We made the decision not to pursue any more children basically the same week Caroline was born. We just knew. We knew. Our doctor knew. And the people closest to us who know us best knew it was the right choice. There have been moments since when I’ve wondered (and they have been moments, not hours or days or weeks). I’ve thought about the fact that I’ll never have a son. I’ve thought about missing out on the amazing joy and privilege of carrying another child (even though my pregnancy was not peachy). I’ve wondered what it would be like to have an “easy” baby or an “easy” pregnancy. But we know we made the right choice. I know my limits physically and emotionally and mentally and one is enough. I cannot imagine adding another person to this household.
I like to read other people’s thoughts about having an only child so I found this piece from The New York Times interesting: What’s Wrong With Having One Child? I’m still reading through the comments, but I find them to be so fascinating, especially the many written by only children who are very happy to be onlies.
The lack of time and space to think also impacts how I view our schooling options. I am a former teacher, but I have been committed to homeschooling for a long time. It has been our default way of thinking since before we were ever pregnant. But I do wonder if preschool next year and private school after that would be best for all of us. I don’t know the answer to that. We’re still praying and thinking. Sending Caroline to school would not solve all our problems and would simply introduce new ones. There are tradeoffs no matter what we choose. But sometimes I wonder if my struggles are an indication that God is speaking to me and preparing me to make a choice I would not have thought I would make.
I’ve received some really great letters from people who read here. I have a whole bunch that I’ve saved because they have ministered to me in one way or another. A year ago I received one such letter that I’ve read many times. I asked the author if I could share part of it and she happily agreed. So I’ll close these random thoughts on motherhood with this (bolded mine):
I wanted to comment regarding how much time do I spend with my children. Let me first say that I married at 30, ( my husband was 38). We had our first daughter when I was 33 and our second daughter when I was 36!! I am now 42!!
I have struggled with homeschool vs private christian school and work and boundaries and goodness……the list goes on. I work outside of the home because we need the money ( we live frugally and below our means ; ). I have worked full time and part time. I now work full time and our two daughters are enrolled in a private, christian school. We have made the choices for our family through prayer and honest evaluation. The decisions that each of us make for our family is personal and different. My older sister was a physician that left her private practice in order to homeschool her seven children. I have felt pressure to do the same…..perhaps it is a middle child thing!!
I adore our girls and see them as God’s gift to our family. Honestly, it is not natural for me to sit and play board games with my children……that is difficult for me to write because I feel guilty that I do not enjoy it. I have found it very necessary for me to schedule time with my children……if I do not schedule that time….then it doesn’t happen. The amount of time has changed and varied through the years. We may go to the park for 2 hours on a Saturday…..after we have done some household chores. The girls work along side of me and that of course stretches my patience : ) When they were toddlers I would have them in the bathroom with me as I cleaned. If we are unable to go to the park on a Saturday……then we learn that we do not always get our way!!
I read to my children every night before they go to bed. Monday through Thursday…..we have homework and piano lessons….it is a work week so there is not long periods of play time. We eat dinner together and the girl’s do have chores that we all participate in. When they were toddlers, I would spend probably about 1 hour a day in 20 minute intervals playing….that does not include reading books. If you added books it would probably be an hour of book reading in small time frames through out the day. I still had to cook, clean, run errands, and worked part time out of the home. I kept a pretty structured schedule ( and still do) when they were smaller. Weather allowing….we went outside every day.
I think children should understand that mommy and daddy must work and then they may have to entertain themselves. I did enroll my children in some Mother’s Morning Out programs through our church. They loved it and I enjoyed some time to run errands and or have some peace and quite.
I do not like to be boxed into any one size fits all scenario!! My sisters do not support pre-school or any kind of Mother’s Morning Out program. I understand their perspective and can appreciate the different arguments. I, however, believe that parents who trust in the Lord are able to discern what their children needs are and what works best for their family. I am so very grateful for a husband that is involved and has been able at times to see what is best for our family. Because of the pressure that I have felt from my own family and my overwhelming feelings of condemnation, (name removed) has been able to discern what is the best course when I have not.
I believe that the Lord had given me a little perspective and some peace when it comes to raising our daughters. I am still very much in the throws of child rearing……I now, however do not struggle with the guilt and condemnation that I once did. God knows that I cannot sit and gaze upon my children every day or play for hours on end. I have dishes to wash, clothes to fold, a wonderful husband to share my life with, bills to pay,…… I guess what I am saying that God knows our hearts and I think balance is the key. At times, my focus has been totally on my children…..when it needed to be on the Lord!!
Your are a wonderful mom to Caroline!! I know that you and your husband will make wise choices. May God bless you on this path……He will guide you every step of the way.
Hope my ramblings help a bit……I am not a writer!!
Grace and Blessings to you, (name removed)