Myths of Motherhood
I was unloading the kids from the car the other day and a woman stopped me mid-parking lot to ask their age spacing. When I told her, I expected a "You have your hands full!" or "Bless your heart" or for her to tell me she had similarly spaced children/grandchildren.
What she told me, instead, was laughable.
"You really need to wait longer in between kids because it's so important to give them each the time and attention they deserve."
While her advice was 1) too little, too late for this clan and 2) totally rude and unsolicited, I do think it speaks to some of the myths that are out there about families, some of which have caused me to feel guilt and self-doubt from time to time.
I thought I'd explore some of these myths from time to time.
MYTH #1: If you have multiple children, you won't have enough attention or time for each one, especially if they are close in age.
I have found that with multiple children, I naturally became more intentional about spending quality one-on-one time with each child. Over the course of each day, I usually do get alone time with each child as part of our daily routine. Eloise usually comes down from quiet time before the little kids are up from their naps, so she and I will work on dinner together or hang out on the couch; Mimi goes to bed last so she, Nick and I will putter around the house/yard and read books after the other two are asleep; and George, being the baby, gets tons of time with me all day and night.
I have a radar that usually goes off if I haven't had enough time with a particular child recently (which sometimes is set off by bad behavior in the child, or sometimes just because I want to spend extra time with them) so I'll take that child on a date. Last weekend I took just Eloise to the farmer's market, allowing her to wear her outfit of choice (a ballet leotard), and she happily helped me pick out our produce for the week, with the capstone of the outing being a free pickle on a stick from the pickle vendor. She was BEAMING when we got home.
I've also found that because the girls are each other's built-in playmates, they usually keep themselves occupied during the times I'm tending to the baby, whereas when Mimi was a baby, I was still needing to occupy Eloise while I nursed/changed/napped Mimi.
As for the close age spacing, it is of course difficult when they're little, but there are benefits to having them close in age, too. The girls watch the same shows, think the same things are funny, have the same friends. As soon as Mimi turned one they had the same sleep/nap schedule and I had THREE HOURS to myself every afternoon (RIP)! And it's been extremely helpful having them in preschool together, both for ease of having them in the same place and helping Mimi separate from me during her first year since her sister was there with her.
While we're certainly in the trenches right now, we've never really been out of the trenches, and I personally might've lost my gusto to have another child had I gotten a taste of freedom. When we ARE out of the trenches one day, we will be out, and won't have to deal with the readjustment of cycling back into the world of diapers, nap schedules, and nighttime wakings.
I like to assume that most of us know what's best for our own unique families, so if you have multiple children and/or or ones close in age, and are battling any kind of criticism or guilt/doubt about it--or if you desire to but aren't so sure about it--trust that you're doing what's right for your family and that the kids will be just FINE :) Siblings are a wonderful gift we give to our children!
Are there any myths of motherhood/parenthood you deal with in your life?