Coll Writes

You know how I do.


Written By: Colleen - Mar• 07•15

[Note: This one took me a four days to write. I still don’t know if I am quite expressing myself in the way I intend to, but I’ve wasted four days and need to move on.]

I am in that weird place where I am trying to figure out who I am as a mom. I don’t have a problem identifying as a mother. Zachary is the perfect baby for me. (Cheesy alert!) He fits me and Jay like a missing puzzle piece. I was always meant to be Zachary’s mommy. I feel like being a mother came easily and naturally to my own mom. While certain things do come naturally to me, I find it hard to figure out how to be the same type of mommy than my own mom was to me.

For starters, I work full-time and my mom did not go back to work until I was in middle school, and even then, she did not work full-time until my youngest sister was a little older. I am almost ashamed to admit that I like working, and I think that Zachary genuinely enjoys going to “school” (daycare). He gets excited when he is dropped off and is always happy when I pick him up. I don’t feel guilty that he is there when I see how social he is…and then I feel like I should feel guilty about not feeling guilty.

I have my strengths and weaknesses as a parent. I’m great at nurturing and having a conversation with him and the whole food thing (boob and solids). I like singing and dancing like a silly person for him to make him laugh. He’s started waving his arms around now to “dance” just like I do when I dance to music in front of him, haha.

However, I’m terrible at play time. I often find myself so exhausted that I can’t come up with half of the stuff that Jay does when I sit down to play with him – things like stacking his toys on top of each other so he can knock them down. It never even occurred to me to do something like that! I’m more of the “Let’s practice talking, standing, walking, and laughing and then, let’s sit and take a nap!!” kind of parent. Then, when we’ve exhausted those things, I sometimes just run out of ideas and life turns into a 30-minute game of peek-a-boo because that tends to get a laugh. I know that he doesn’t see me as inadequate, but I bet he doesn’t find me quite as fun as he does his daddy. And that is fine! That isn’t what makes me feel bad. Maybe another example will help me get to my point.

Last week, Jay and Jack had to record a podcast via Skype because it was a snow day. I worked the first half of the day while Jay watched Zachary. It was my turn to hang out with him while they recorded. I was so tired that I played with him while laying down until he eventually gave up and laid down next to me and we both took a nap for an hour. Jay came in and said, “Man, kiddo, your mom is a snoozefest – literally!” He was totally joking, but absolutely right. I felt so bad that I couldn’t even provide entertainment for an hour. I don’t ever remember my own mother being like that. She always had the energy to read to us, teach us things and play with us.

I’m also lacking in the developmental department. Sometimes, it doesn’t even occur to me when we play with his blocks that I should be telling him what color and shape they are. My mom does those things tirelessly with him. I do that on some days, but I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that other days, I go through the motions with his “talking” toys. Am I just an average mother and not an excellent mother for sometimes taking the easy way out by trying to make him laugh at night instead of reading to him or working with him on colors? Am I selfish for wanting to work? Do I have any business working full-time when it makes me so tired? I don’t even have a cool trait like playing an instrument. I’m boring and lazy, aren’t I?

This is getting long. I know my son loves me. I know that we have a fantastic relationship and he’s always happy to see me. I get kisses and hugs constantly. I know he loves when we practice standing and walking. I’m just concerned that I’m not as good as a mother as my own mother was to me. I desperately want to be, but I also desperately want to have my own identity as a mother. I want to be my own person while still being just as great as she was. I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

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  1. Sarah says:

    Colleen, I don’t know if there is an easy answer to your questions. I still struggle with my identity and trying to be the mom I think my kids need and deserve, and be still me. My son, who is my 2nd and youngest, just turned 7 yesterday and I’m still struggling. That’s not encouraging for you probably but it’s me returning your honesty with my own honesty. I appreciate your openness with your post.

    I just started working last July when my kids were 8 and 6 years old. Before that I was a part time nursing student and stay at home mom. And even though I was with them almost constantly, I still struggled with feeling inadequate. There were, and still are, so many times when I feel that my husband can be so much more present with them. I may be physically with them but I’m not always mentally there. I thought that it was perhaps because I was with them all day and he was away at work. I thought that when I started working I would be how he is. But that hasn’t turned out to be the case. I think it just comes down to our personalities and our individual strengths and weaknesses as parents. I am grateful that between the two of us we seem to provide everything our kids need. Although sometimes I still struggle with feeling like my husband is a better parent than me.

    I struggle with all the outside input as to the kind of mom I should be, like from family, friends, society and culture. It’s hard to hear your own voice sometimes because the other voices can be so loud. I really enjoy working too and I think it is good for my kids to see me working, but I think my kids need me home more often too. I’ve tried different work shifts and full time and part time trying to find what works best for us. I think every option has its pros and cons. The best we can do is to do what is best for us as individuals and for our own families.

    I wish I had words of wisdom for you but the best I can do is say that I understand. You are not alone in the identity struggle. I think perhaps we are all just figuring it out as we go along and our moms were probably the same way.

  2. Lynn says:

    My friend, you know I have no experience at all in this area so I shouldn’t act like I know anything, but I just wanted to throw my penny in the hat because I don’t think you should be down on yourself. From the moment you learned you were pregnant you have been a great mom to Zachary. I think you have the most important things covered, because you respond to his needs, and you love him so dearly. The rest has to be a kind of learn as you go process. You don’t have to be the mom your mom was, because times have changed now. In order to provide our kids with a good life, it’s often necessary for both parents to work. There’s no need for you to sacrifice your sense of self for your family, because if you aren’t happy with yourself that will affect them worse than you being at work. You don’t have to be perfect, because no one is. I think Zachary himself will show you the kind of mom he needs you most to be, and you will rise to the occasion beautifully. If you have times when you just snooze together, maybe that’s a relief for him too because he doesn’t have to be “on” all the time either. If I had a kid I think we would spend a lot of time just cuddling and talking to each other and just being together. Just be yourself and follow his lead, and I think you’ll all be perfectly fine. <3

  3. Desiree' Bingham says:

    Being a good mother means that your child knows you love him and that you keep him healthy and safe. No too parents are alike and it seems like you and Jay have taken on different roles in parenting that complement each other’s style. My mom was a great mom but I was not like her. But my children do know how much I care about them and that’s the most important thing.

  4. Nicole says:

    So, as I was in the middle of typing a comment, my 2 year old interrupted me with a wonderful potty training accident. lol Not sure how that relates to all this… I just want to say Solidarity! I absolutely can relate to what you are saying. I could just copy and paste much of what Sarah already said. I feel like I’m beginning to be comfortable with my mom identity. I used to really struggle with the fact that I really don’t care for the newborn stage. I would feel so awful when I would hear other moms just gush on and on about how much they love the baby stage. But then, I finally allowed myself to be myself. It’s not like I didn’t love my kids when they were babies, I just would prefer to not be in that stage forever. And that’s ok. I realized too, that I need to limit myself with how many articles and blogs I read about parenting. It can just get overwhelming with all the differing advice, especially when so much of it really comes down to personality differences. But it’s also encouraging, because there isn’t just one way to be a great mom. Thank goodness. 🙂

  5. Melissa McGuire says:

    I read this when I got the email digest from your site and had to come here and post. I’ve a full time working Mom to two wonderful children, ages 12 and 9. I have been working as an engineer since before they were born, and aside from taking off 3 months maternity leave, have been ever since. I felt horrendous guilt leaving them at day care during their first years, but more because I worried that they’d be sad or somehow not loved the way they should have been. Their daycare, thankfully, was a wonderful place with carrying lovely women who loved my children as much as I could have hoped.

    I worked hard to earn my degrees in Engineering and to make my way in a male-domianted field. When I had my children, I wanted to show them, by my example, that women could have dreams and follow them and still be great Mothers and love their children. It was as important that my son see a working woman as my daughter. He will always just assume that women are equal to men as a given and she will know that she is. So far, I believe that I have been success in teaching them both.

    But I still question my ability to be that perfect Mom. There are so many other pinterest blogging Mom’s out there that seem to have it all together: throw fabulous birthday parties, make their children’s Halloween costumes, etc. I try not to judge myself by anything other than what I am capable of doing and being.

    Don’t get me wrong. This is hard. I expect a lot from myself. I don’t always live up to those expectations. But I do believe that my children know, without a doubt, that I love them and would move the world for them.

    Judging from this blog and your instagram photos of his smiling silly faces, I can say with certainty that Zach does too.

  6. Doris Clark says:

    That is something I battled with and still do. I have gotten better and read a lot. Pinterest and Mommy blogs are great inspiration. I am not creative but I can implement great ideas really well. Things like that helped a lot. You are doing great!!!

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