I am a stay-at-home mom to my two boys, Finny, who’s almost three, and Charlie, who’s eight months old. I am a teacher and a writer on the side and I try to fulfill these roles as often as I can when I am not doing the very full time work of parenting. One way I do this is by blogging on my site Musings on Motherhood-- www.vanhimbergen.blogspot.com. It’s a gift to my boys.
When do you feel like you're doing your best job as a mom?
When I am present, joyful, organized and rested, I am an awesome mom. I play, I dance, I sing, I join my son in the land of make believe, I tickle, I laugh, I snuggle, I go for long walks collecting leaves and sticks and pine cones and I don’t look at my watch.
You knew this one was coming... when do you feel like you're doing your worst job?
When I am sleep deprived, I struggle terribly. I lose my patience at the slightest glimmer of misbehavior. I sometimes feel out of control in these moments. Mothering is full time. Sometimes there is no break. Sometimes there is no nap, there is no sleep, and the result is a little touch of insanity. I am constantly looking for strategies to cope with these moments. Sometimes Walt Disney is my best, best friend.
What surprised you the most about motherhood?
The guilt and the fear. I knew there would be great, great joy. That’s why we had kids to begin with. Both my husband and I could not wait for the cooing and the snuggling and the loving. But along with that indescribable joy, comes the guilt of imperfection and the fear of losing them, the fear of harm coming to them. I have to turn that off and stay focused on the joy.
What is your go-to activity when you know a meltdown is coming?
If we’re at home and a meltdown is coming, we watch a movie. Meltdowns signal that we’re tired and we need to unwind a bit, so we cuddle up with juice and a snack and Peter Pan, and all is right with the world. If we’re away from home, I might try a game of ‘I Spy’ to try and turn the focus to something else until we can get home.
What have your children taught you?
They have taught me to slow down. Sometimes it’s okay to have nowhere to be at that moment but sitting on the bed in the dark, making circles on the ceiling with the giant flashlight.
What will you miss the most about these years with young children?
The snuggling. Man, do I love the snuggling. I remember one afternoon I had so much to do and instead I just lay next to Finny while he napped and I took in every last inch of his tiny, precious little face. I memorized his soft, little elbow. That was time well spent.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
This is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I have never felt more flawed in my life. It’s so important to have a support network of other moms who aren’t afraid to be real with you about how flawed they are as well. It allows you to forgive yourself and move on. To remember you’re not alone.
You can follow Jill and her family on her blog, Musings on Motherhood.