With my daughter I was the uber-mom — maybe even slightly overbearing. I could anticipate her crying before she even began to whimper — I sat with her for hours and poured over alphabet books reading and quizzing her and stockpiled every Disney princess fairy tale movie available and watched them with her religiously.
Looking back I think my obsession with her was more a result of my own feelings of failure, than the fact that I wanted to be this super-involved and enmeshed with my child type of mom. I suffered with severe post-partum depression for the first year of her life and when I finally came out of my fog I felt as if I’d lost those first 12 months — all her “firsts” were blurred images that I couldn’t truly decipher or recall. And since I could never get them back, I was determined to soak up every single experience left of her baby/toddlerhood. And I pretty much stayed true to my word.
She became the focus of my being, a permanent fixture on my hip, as we spent our days on the mommy and me circuit sampling classes by day and watching Baby Einstein videos by night. When it was time to cut the apron strings my heart bled.
On the other hand my second child, my son, has had a completely different mothering experience. As soon as he was born I was determined to stay focused on myself and not fall into the same trap I’d succumbed to with my daughter. When I wasn’t feeding him or changing him, I was a “work-at-home mom” and always had one eye on the computer and the other on him.
I’m not saying I neglected him — although he did at times tote around a diaper that likely matched his body weight pound for pound — my attention was definitely split. Trying to juggle both caring full-time for a baby and holding down writing jobs is not as easy as my husband, who spent 10 hours of his day working out of the home, believed.
By the time my son was 2 I was more than happy to put him in a pre-school so that I could truly give my entire focus to my career — at least the hours between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Just writing that last sentence I feel like such a bad mommy — a witch, a cold, heartless mother — who admits she readily chose work over her own flesh and blood. I constantly second-guess myself and wonder if I gave my daughter a better mommy experience than my son, since I’ve certainly been more preoccupied with my career pursuits than quizzing and cuddling with him. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not leaving the kid in a cold, wet basement with just a bit of bread — but unlike my daughter he’s not getting as much of my undivided attention as she did.
Do I think that he’s any less well-adjusted than my daughter? It’s hard to say … but he does every so often have to “remind me” to cuddle with him and hug him — which absolutely makes me feel like one of those horrible moms.
So each day I’m trying harder and harder to balance my priorities and soak up these fleeting years. Is there something I’m missing — is it indeed possible to be that super-mom and still have somewhat of a career or does something ultimately have to suffer?
–Melissa Chapman, NYC MOMS BLOG
This is an original post from the NYC Moms Blog (http://www.nycmomsblog.com). Melissa Chapman writes Kids in the City, a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance (http://blog.silive.com/kidsinthecity/).