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?

2 Comments:

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. Hmmm....how 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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