Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Joys and Sorrows of Motherhood

I'm an optimist. It doesn't mean that I'm happy all the time, but I tend to have the ability to reflect on the big picture when life really stinks and get myself out of ruts by stepping back and enjoying what is good about my family and my life. Overall, I think this is a good thing. It is this "big picture" that I most enjoy sharing with others through my websites and blogs.

Sometimes I think I end up projecting to others a life of perfect, even-rolling days, great cooperation and behavior from my children and a happy-go-lucky lifestyle. I even, at times, feel judged as not being able to understand others' scenarios or - even worse - people feel judged just because of who I am.

I see that a lot of moms judge themselves rather harshly and assume that their problems are unusual, or greater than anyone else's - not even counting the extra burdens, stresses, etc. of dealing with homeschooling and a large family. In some ways, this seems better than arrogance or over-confidence, which can be destructive in their own ways. I have found that it's rather safe to assume that everyone out there is struggling. A lot of times life stinks and the world beats you further when you're down. Everyone has "skeletons in their closet" or at least embarassing problems that stress them out and/or depress them - the sort they don't think they can share with anyone.

When it comes to homeschooling, quite of bit of experience and research with various educational theories, situations and outcomes has been really helpful in establishing my goals as a home educator. Getting a few years of actual homeschooling under my belt has further developed my overall confidence in what we do and how things are going. Still, it's amazing how fragile the human psyche is. One day I'll be seeing, quite logically, that things are plugging along well and that we're getting done what we need to do on the whole. Again, I see that the big picture is in the right place. It's amazing how suddenly one event can shatter that whole "bubble" and put me in a worried state again. I guess it's part of the human condition that we can never rest content with our life here on earth.

I've always been amazed at how helpful it is to find friends who are willing to listen and share problems with you. I think it might also be a truth about women that:

  • we need to talk our problems out with other women
  • we need to know that we are not completely weird in our problems or our reactions to them
  • we need sympathy and not just problem-solving-strategies in order to get through our problems
  • (not to mention spiritual assistance)

In the end, while an optimist, I think I'm also very sensitive to what other people think of me. This is an unnecessary, illogical failing on my part in some ways, but something I overcome partly just by being aware of it.

I find that most of my greatest stresses come not from what happens within my home (and I have God, good parents and good upbringing to thank for that in part!!!) but by the pressures and expectations that come from the outside world and the problems of others that I want to help solve.

While I have a tendency to try to cushion others from experiencing pain - sometimes by not revealing things that bother me or sharing my sorrows with them, in the end I have found that part of the human experience is relieving each other's burdens by sharing them and comforting each other.

I guess in the end, I'm trying to say that I sympathize more with other families' sorrows and sufferings than might appear from the positive parts of life that I enjoy sharing with others.


jill said...

Dear Studeo: I too am an optimist; although as I age I wonder if I'm turning more pessimistic-anyway, what I was prompted to reply to was your line of being very sensitive to what others think of you, and how you see that as an unnecessary and illogical failing on your part. I've reread it over and over and I don't see it that way. Maybe I'm misreading it-I'm not sure. I keep going back to yours words of of 'unnecessary and illogical failing'--I just can't seem to get around them. I could say you shouldn't see it that way, but it would be meaningless, unless or until I understood it better. I enjoyed reading your post, it was my first encounter with you and very thought provoking. I'm new to this, so I hope to read more of yours posts in the future.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Hi Jill,

I don't think I figured out exactly what I was trying to say - thence perhaps the confusion! I guess I think that I worry too much about what the world thinks of me. Failing is probably too strong a word and interacting with the world isn't something we want to avoid.

I think I also can have a tendency to try to be a different person for the sake of other people's expectations of me.

Life is complicated, eh? :)

Nancy C. Brown said...

To me, the most important part of what you said is that we need friends; but more than that, we need honest friends whom we can trust.

If you have just one good truthworthy friend, it seems like life is cope-able.

One friend who lies, betrays a trust, or can never hear any honest criticism of herself can make life difficult, and cause more problems than you had before!

And we all do have boatloads to stuff to deal with. Sharing that burden with a friend helps.

2nd grade mom said...

Perhaps you're suffering from some kind of "post- 15 minutes of fame" syndrome. ;) (It was a flattering, but perhaps embarrassing, article.)

I don't care to write about my dirty house or other personal struggles, either. It can be uplifting to others to emphasize the more positive things in life. And I think it is a good approach for sharing in such a public forum.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Nah, true that it was a little embarassing, but it isn't a column about famous people - just all different sorts of ordinary folks. They were just looking for a homeschool mom and I happened to pop up. I liked the picture, though. :)