Do I have your attention? “You don’t like kids?!” you ask. “But you’re a homeschool mom! You’re Mormon! How can this be?!!”
Here’s my dirty little secret….I don’t naturally and instinctively love kids. I don’t hate them, but I’m not a “kid person.” I love my kids, but I’m not overly fond of other kids. I’m okay with them in short doses.
If truth be told, my own kids took some getting used to.
I became a mother at nearly 39 years old. I had spent years working in a career in which I excelled. In an industry I found interesting and exciting. And then I had my oldest son.
Don’t get me wrong, he was desperately wanted and planned for. We tried for him for years. When he was born I felt an almost overwhelming love for him. And then I was at home, alone with a newborn baby and it was hard. More than hard, it was emotionally exhausting in a way I’d never experienced. I’m 10 years in, staying home with 2 kids all day and straight up, it’s still hard.every.single.day.
In my working life, I’d dealt with deadlines, long hours and stress. But as a new mother the emotional demands were something I’d never experienced.
You see, I am not a natural nurturer. I can nurture, but it’s not really my default position and it’s not overly comfortable.
Now as a Mormon homeschool mom this can be perceived as a problem. It’s also a bit of a surprise to most people who know me.
You see, I’m fighting two stereotypes. First the Mormon woman stereotype. We’re all about our families, we’re naturally sweet, nurturing and super service oriented. Well, I’m kind of snarky, a bit sarcastic, not overly nurturing, and while I’m always up for helping out a friend (and often a stranger), I find contrived “service opportunities” well…contrived.
Second I’m fighting the Homeschool mom stereotype. It’s kind of a combination crazy helicopter parent/Mother Teresa/religious fanatic thing. None of those descriptions come close either. There’s also the assumption that since I like my kids and I homeschool my kids, that I must like other kids and want to teach and take care of them as well…not so much.
At the moment I lead a cub scout den at my church and a teach a homeschool astronomy class at a co-op we participate in. Each of these requires me to spend 1 hour a week with a group of around 11-14 kids. And overall I enjoy that, or at least cope with it fairly well.
But, ask me to do child care for you? The answer will be no. Look I’m happy to watch your kid for an hour or two here or there so you can make an appointment or catch a movie. I can cope with the occasional play date. But, everyday afterschool or really any type of set schedule and I’m not your gal. Really, I’d rather go scrub toilets everyday at a truck stop to make money than babysit on a regular basis. Sure the toilets are gross but they demand nothing of me emotionally and mentally. They don’t whine or complain, their parents don’t show up late to pick them up.
My kids know and understand who and what their mother is. They understand that after 3-4 hours of schooling them, doing projects with them, reading aloud and all that, Mommy needs a break. My kids know that they need to find something to do and leave me alone for a while. They go play Legos, ride their bikes, play in the backyard, make some art or whatever. But they give me an hour to read my book and have a break. The only time I hear complaints about a need for me to entertain a kid, it’s someone else’s kid.
My kids know that if they bug me with complaints of boredom, I’ll happily assign them lots of chores to do. Oddly enough I never hear cries of “I’m bored” unless it’s from someone else’s kid.
My kids know that we’ll eat when its a meal time and we’ll have a snack in the afternoon. The only time I hear incessant whining about constant hunger and begging for snacks every 30 minutes is from someone else’s kids.
My kids know that if they hit their brother, odds are he’ll hit back and I won’t be overly sympathetic. So tattling to me won’t accomplish nearly as much as keeping one’s hands to one’s self. Other kids don’t seem to get this concept and often seem to spend and inordinate amount of their play date time running over to tattle about some real or imagined infraction. It wears me out.
I used to watch those love radiating, super nurturing, kid loving, earth mother types with a wistful envy. For a while I even convinced myself that if I went through the motions and faked it long enough I could morph myself into one of them. But alas, no joy on that front for me. I am what I am, and that’s okay.