staying motivated to be a mom

Last week, in the wake of excited fervor that ensued after the Pack won the Superbowl, I watched a number of Packer-related videos online.  Most of them had Aaron Rodgers in them.  Part of me just wanted to watch this amazingly beautiful man (at least that’s what my hubby was teasing me about!), but in seriousness, I also wanted to see how a guy like Aaron Rodgers had withstood so much pressure over the past few years and still managed to become so incredibly successful.  Plus, as I mentioned before, he’s a great guy, seems to hold to good Christian morals, and has a fine character.  How does he do it?

As I watched the videos with Rodgers in them, I was impressed by his talk about keeping his long-range goals in the forefront of his mind.  He didn’t allow himself to be distracted (seriously, HOW does one keep oneself from getting distracted??  I’d love to know that secret!), and he just stayed focused on what he needed to do to be successful in that week’s game.  I wish I had some of that determination and drive.

Of course, Aaron had the benefit of being surrounded every day by a group of people who were also working towards the same goal.  Plus, there’s a certain amount of accountability every week to hundreds of thousands of rabid fans in regards to whether you win or lose.  That accountability and group spirit would keep anyone focused on their goal!

Mothering isn’t like that.  The issue of staying focused, of keeping one’s long-term goals in mind, is a tough one for mothers, especially for mothers who spend most of their days at home.  I know that for me, it’s far too easy for me to lose sight of my long-term goals in the midst of the everyday.

We mothers are alone in our homes, working one-on-one with our children.  We may see other mothers in the course of the day, but many of us mothers don’t see another mother in the course of our day.  If we do see other women, we see them at their “real” job rather than seeing them in their capacity as mothers.  We certainly don’t see them in their kitchens — or our own!  We don’t work side by side with other mothers.  We mothers all work towards the same goal of raising our children well, but we don’t accomplish that goal in the same way as a group.  We mothers do our own individual family’s laundry.  We don’t make the same supper as our fellow mothers.  We shop differently, read different stories to our children, discipline differently.  Mothering is a solo kind of job.

So, perhaps it’s not fair to compare myself to the likes of Aaron Rodgers.  Frankly, if I were surrounded by the support personnel that he has been, I’d probably feel more successful, too.  In fact, I’ve thought that many times before: if I lived in a commune with other mothers, and we really DID do laundry together and cook together (in a large communal cast-iron kettle over an open fire, of course! ;)) and parent together — if all of those things happened en masse, I probably would get a lot more done in a day, too.  Or at least my expectations for what I could reasonably expect to accomplish each day would be different.

But, that’s not the kind of world in which I live.  For right now, it’s me on my own, trying to muster up the determination and sheer grit each day not to slack off but to get some Thing done that, in the long run, I’ll be glad I finished.  Most of a mother’s work is not exciting.  Most of it is done solo.  For a person who craves companionship and feeds off the energy of others, the mundane chores of mothering are very difficult for me.  (I am still so thankful for the headset my husband bought me last Christmas!  At least now I can call someone and chat while tackling a boring, no-thinking-required task!)  And as far as accountability goes, I’m only accountable to three people, my husband and my two girls.  And as long as they get fed on time and have reasonably clean clothes to wear (although that’s not a requirement for my girls!), they don’t complain.

I don’t know what the answer to my lack of motivation is.  I certainly love my husband and my children, but I guess for me, it’s not an immediate expression of my love to keep the house ship-shape and clean as a whistle.  I like to think that I’m emotionally available to my family whenever they need something, whether it’s my husband who has just received an email that he wants to tell me about, or whether it’s my older daughter who wants to tell me some important (to her, at least!) event that happened at school today, or whether it’s my younger daughter who wants to tell me something one more time, because she so enjoys talking about it (like mother, like daughter!) — I hope that what my kids remember most about their childhood is that their mom loved them and cared for them.

Although, if I ever do end up living in a commune, I don’t think I’ll complain too much!

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