Wednesday, August 09, 2006

7-Year Itch for Mothering?

As the fun of summer fades, yet the excitement of back-to-school is not yet upon us, I find myself asking: is there a 7-year-itch for motherhood? I remember feeling burned out as the Mom of a toddler, and now I am caught in a new wave of exhaustion and doubt. I can't tell right now whether it's just summer burnout or part of a larger pattern. I think it may be linked to the length of my tenure as a Mom. My daughter is finding new and exciting ways to test my patience these days. I swear that 6 1/2 is a mini-preview of what it will like to have a teenager. Suddenly there is "attitude." Eye-rolling. Mom is the dumbest person ever. Somehow at this halfway point toward teenagerhood (really? already?) I am getting a glimpse of conflicts to come. She's teaching me that she needs strong limits. Much like our headstrong dog, a Shiba Inu, if she feels that there is not a leader in the house she'll fill the role herself. (No joking, two years of owner-puppy training was excellent preparation for becoming a parent.)

What is frustrating is that when my daughter was a baby and toddler I felt almost eternally patient, in comparison to my currrent state of frayed nerves, yet in the present day I am getting little karmic credit for all the care I gave in those early years. (Karmic credit in the bank of the universe, maybe, but not in my girl's mind!) I can see how mothers end up thinking and saying "After all I've done for you, this is the thanks I get?" I just never thought I'd be one of them.

I recently exchanged notes with Karen Maezen Miller, author of Momma Zen, and I'll have her on the podcast this fall. She reminded me that I myself said that we don't really have a choice but to walk the spiritual path of motherhood. We can quit or opt out of many of life's challenges, but this one requires that we keep growing, stretching. I was a very headstrong little girl myself, and I've been given a child who is surely teaching me many lessons I need to know...but would rather take a break from now and then!

What ages have you found most challenging? Is there a common point where the responsibility piles up and it's natural to wonder, "Did I really sign up for all this?" And when that happens, how can we recharge?


Anonymous Dulcita Love said...

Thanks for the Wikipedia link to Shiba Inu dogs. My first venture into parenting was with our Shiba Inu, which I have since learned is not a breed for novices (which I was).

In The MomsTown Guide to Getting It All, there is a quiz on page 4 to see if "you may be suffering from the stay-at-home itch". Author, Heather Reider, shares her story of when she started to get the "itch" on page 7 (which was with her third baby).

For me personally, I found that when my child was preschool age, a desire began to stir within to begin writing and sharing with others what I had learned about being a mom.

2:55 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

I was a novice Shiba Inu owner as well, and yes, they are not for the faint of heart. Now our dog is 8 years old and he's calmed down a lot. He has certainly taught me a lot about leadership. And now I listen to my daughter working with him. You can learn a lot that way. I have to remind her that saying the dog's name over and over again is not in itself a command. often do I do that to her?

I'll check out the MomsTown quiz. Thanks for the heads-up.

3:00 PM  

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