The very scientific research continues and you are my subjects

Posted on Sunday~March 8, 2009

Many moons ago I did a little experiment here on the EO. If you were around here back then, I'm sure you remember me asking two questions of mothers. One was what they feel they're doing really well as a mom, and then the next question was "in what ways do you feel that you're failing?"

It didn't surprise me that it was much easier for people to think of the ways they feel they're failing than it was for them to list the things they're doing really well. But it did keep my wheels turning so I then had people write posts about what they're doing well. I LOVED those posts. I learned from other moms and especially loved playing a small part in someone realizing they aren't half bad!

As I've read through the answers to those two questions in the comments on this post and this post, I've started to see some themes. I've been thinking about those themes and trying to articulate how to share some things.

If you did not answer the two questions in the past, please stop reading right here and take a moment to either answer the two questions in the comments, or if you're not a commenter, grab a piece of paper and answer (hint: keep your answers so you can follow along in the future.) The questions were:
1) What do you think you're doing well as a mother and
2) In what way(s) do feel you're failing?

Read on AFTER you've answered...

(Thank you!)

(If you answered the two questions in the past and you can't remember what you said, I'm guessing your answers today would be the same (it wasn't all that long ago), so go ahead and think it over for a moment, or if you're really ambitious take a look at the two links to those posts above and search for your comment so you have your answers fresh in your mind.



OK then! Moving on.

(Do you feel like you're taking an on-line course right now? GOOD! Now don't be a slacker!)

Lately I've been thinking about another aspect to this whole thing. But before I share all of my very scientific results, I have one more question. I think the answers will help me make some final conclusions. And then I'll be able to release the top-secret results.

Your final question (you can comment or just use your paper):
When you take a look at where you think you're failing, what obstacles do you think there are to improvement?

For example, one area where I feel I'm failing is that I really struggle with being fully present with my boys. My mind is always on to the next thing. I last about 3.4 seconds when playing cars and although I LOVE hide-n-seek, I have trouble playing for longer than five minutes because something life-altering like folding laundry inevitably gets in the way. I get really down on myself, but I can't seem to change it.
The obstacles to my improvement that I can see are: I'm pretty sure that I have something beyond "mommy brain." I've always had MAJOR trouble focusing or finishing things, so I guess it's likely I have ADD. And secondly, Ryan being out of town for work often=fatigue and very long days=trouble sticking to playtime and working up the energy to do something that doesn't come naturally to me=guilt=shutting down=more not being present.

There's your example. Now it's your turn. (Even if you feel like the obstacles are simply excuses, please still acknowledge them, knowing that maybe there's more to it than you think-like I said, I'm on to something...I think. And it's EARTH SHATTERING!)

Thank you so much for your time!

(If you answered my questions last time in email form, go ahead and do that again if you'd like. The address is in the right sidebar.)

(Moms rock!)

(Oh! And thank you for the encouragement on my last post (in which I pretended that I'm a poet without meaning to be a poet). I loved trying that "style" of writing and it means MUCH that you appreciated it. Thank you.)

37 clicked right here to comment:

Kristina P. said...

I look forward to reading everyone's responses.

Brooke said...

Well, I think that the things that I do well for my children is that I make them feel loved. I also provide well for their physical needs (dinners and such) and I am very much a part of school work.
The one main thing I think I'm failing at is that I don't PLAY with my kids. I've tried to change that by teaching them some things that I really enjoy (board games and such), but I get so bored so easily doing other things.
The obstacle in my way is my laziness. Honestly. I just don't WANT to do some of the things they think are fun. I don't want to go outside in the middle of the winter and play in the snow. That doesn't sound fun AT ALL.
I also worry if I'm positive enough. I feel like I'm failing at building my daughters self esteem. She needs it more now than ever, I just don't know how to do that.

Kimberly said...

The first one that comes to mind for me is the one you cited - and I don't have the same obstacles as you but I struggle with the playtime issue. I'm a little selfish in that respect, BUT...I'm better than I used to me. I make more time than I used to. I've made progress and I need to remember that.

LexiconLuvr said...

I haven't done those things yet. I'll have to sit down and try and answer those questions.

I'm interested in the earth shattering conclusion. =]

That Girl in Brazil said...

Thing I do well: Hmmm. I think I LOVE MY KIDS really really well. And by that I mean SHOW my love. I hug them. I kiss them. I ruffle their hair and tickle their bellies. I tell them. I show them by word and deed. I praise them day in, day out - really real praise, not just a lame, "good job, honey" without even looking at the picture. I think hard about what I love about my children - and work hard to make sure they know.

My failing: Probably my patience/temper. Those days where EVERYONE is crabby and I didn't get enough sleep and lunch is late and there's a thousand things to do and my two-year-old pushes THAT BUTTON and I lose it.

I will say that I'm loads better than I was. I now only "lose it" once or twice a week - when it used to be once or twice every half hour. Back then I think my biggest obstacle was depression. Now that I'm better, it's probably the fact that I need to just stop and think. Snap decision. Not thinking - I just open my mouth and scream.

It scares me, because I feel awful afterwards and I feel so out of control. How to fix it? So far - prayer, trying REALLY HARD to count to ten (and remembering to), and now - your EARTH SHATTERING BREAKTHROUGH.

Guide us, O Wise One.

Hel said...

I think my obstacle is laziness which could also mean that even though I feel guilty about it, it works for me. I don't really want to change the fact that my child watches too much tv, because if I did I would have to engage in more play with her and that means less time for me...

So obstacles are laziness and selfishness.

Jami said...

Snuggles -> Good
Well-balanced meals -> Not so good

Many more things come to mind, but mostly I just want to read the rest of your post.

Mama Zen said...

My obstacle lately has been exhaustion. I've had some health issues, and I feel guilty about not being more . . . well, just more.

wendy said...

Wow, should have thought of those questions many years ago when my kids were still home with me ----now they are grown with families of their own and YA KNOW WHAT --I ask myself everyday what I could have done more of as a mom. It is haunting at times.
p.s I like the new photo of you at the top of you blog

Elizabeth said...

I'm just going to be totally honest, and for some reason I'm commenting rather than e-mailing. This is ridiculous for me to say, but I think one of the biggest obstacles in my mothering right now is the blog world. I hate to say it, because I love reading blogs and I do learn so much from other moms. But I inevitably feel like I'm not good enough after I read certain ones. I don't usually read those blogs, but occasionally I do and then the cycle starts again. And sometimes even my favorite mommy bloggers write something that triggers the mommy guilt in me. I know it's more about me than it is about them, but it still stinks.

Another huge obstacle is my health. It's been a year since I've been pregnant and I still don't feel normal. I've been to the doctor. There's no good explanation and I can't take medicine while I'm nursing, so I'm just muddling through. I'd write more about it on my blog, but I just don't know what to say. It's weird.

My obstacles are not really excuses and I do have some control over them. But they still feel insurmountable sometimes. Ok, most of the time.

Lara said...

I think that my most major obstacle to being the best mother I can be is the same as yours. I have ADD, it's so hard to focus on playing Barbies or even reading books. I try and try, but I feel so guilty when my mind is everywhere else. Along with that, I have great difficulty managing my time well. I have been working on it, but I still don't feel successful at all.

The funny thing is, that some of the things I feel I do really well as a mother also stem from my ADD, so I don't think it's entirely a bad thing. Just something that brings me difficulty. I think we all have to find a balance with whatever obstacles we're dealing with....that's the same for everyone.

Mammatalk said...

Interesting post. I look forward to reading more.

Good mommy? Lots of kisses, lots of enrichment activities. I really work with them and I am pretty involved...VP of MOMS Club etc...

Bad mommy? Too much bloggy blogging! Not enough patience when they whine.

Kazzy said...

That's funny that you mentioned the 3.4 seconds thing, because even though people talk about kids having these short attention spans, I always felt like I had the problem when it came to playing little kid things!

Becky said...

I think my obstacle is similar to yours. I feel guilty that I'm not the ideal super-mom. Guilt tends to paralyze me, so I just sort of check out while my kids watch too much tv and beat on each other. It's a constant struggle.

Part of the obstacle is the nagging feeling that even if I could get past the guilt, I wouldn't ever be good enough to achieve super-mom status in the first place. So why try?

Sue said...

I have to work, and that sometimes makes me feel like a failure. I don't have a choice about it, and I'm lucky in that I get to work fairly flexible hours (and all from home)but I still feel a lot of guilt about it. Guilt over things you can't change = stupid.

I try to spend time reading and actively playing with my kids every day, and spend a lot of time talking to them and interacting with them, but sometimes I think we give ourselves too much grief over the whole thing. How many of YOUR mothers spent hours every day playing with you? Not mine. She was busy cleaning and taking care of kids and running errands and doing mom things. She very rarely got down on her hands and knees and played Barbies with me. (Actually, I can't think of a single time when she did.) But I still knew she loved me. The thing is - Barbies are kid toys. Kids enjoy playing with them, not moms. So I would play with my sisters and my friends - I didn't expect that from my mom. My mom always used to say that a little benign neglect stimulated the imagination, and I think that's very true. Sometimes as a kid I NEEDED to be bored, just so that I had an opportunity to use my imagination.

I'm not saying don't play with your kids - I play plenty of Candyland and hide and seek and all kinds of other stuff - but I'm saying don't have unrealistic expectations about a) how much you should enjoy playing hot wheels, or b) how many hours you're spending actively playing with your kid. You might only spend a little time actually playing with them, but you're spending time taking care of them, and making food for them, and kissing their owies and talking to them - that stuff expresses love too. Kids need to learn that the world actually doesn't revolve around them, but that they are a very important part of your world. That you share that world together and you each have your own roles in that world.

Of course, the flip side of that guilt is taking it too far in the other direction - justifying too much time on the computer, or phone, or whatever - there has to be balance, and sometimes I think parental guilt is a pretty good indicator of when the balance is off.

Sorry, that was an absolute book.

Blessed said...

I think I'm failing in certain areas of my role as "mother" because of mental and emotional exhaustion.

My life has been stressful lately - Hubby is working again now but was laid off for two months, I'm pregnant and he isn't overly happy about that, we were concerned that there were problems with the babies heart (just had the echo on Friday and everything looks great!!!!!) and I work from home and always feel the pressure to earn more... so I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted, wondering how much one woman is supposed to be able to deal with and I know that it affects my level of patience with my little girl. She is 18 months old now and is learning so much right now, developing her own personality, showing that she is strong-willed, inquisitive, determined and outgoing - I'm so proud of her, but there are some challenges that we're having to start working through and I just don't seem to have the mental energy to do it. It's easier to ignore her misbehavior or manage situations so that she can't misbehave than it is to start constructively disciplining and teaching her. Unfortunately if I don't work with her and start teaching her now I know life will just be more difficult later so I'm working on pulling myself out of this mental and emotional, probably partially pregnancy hormone induced funk to interact with her properly.

Debbie said...

I'm pretty sure I answered before but I have lost my mind several times over since then! I love reading everyones responses.

MidnightCafe said...

Heather, I haven't participated in your research up until now, but I've thought about it quite a bit.

I feel like I'm successful in providing good food (read: organic & nutritious) and a comfortable home for my children. I love them more than words could ever say, and I tell them that all the time. I know them well enough to know the things they like and don't like and the things they really LOVE. I admit mistakes and apologize.

I fail an awful lot in the patience department. I get snippy and crabby, and my words are too sharp.

What stands in the way of having more patience? Well, sometimes lack of sleep, sometimes bad PMS, and winter blues. I'm more patient when there are other people around (not because I'm being watched, but because I feel better), when it's summer and sunny, when I've had enough sleep, and when I feel ok about myself. I feel that it's also a matter of self-control. I need to practice patience. I need to write the reminders on index cards on my wall, just like the scriptures about anxiety.

So, there you have it. I can't wait to hear your conclusions!

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...

Wow. You like ot make people think Hmm?? :)

I think I excell in appreciating my kids and loving on them. Ever since we experienced the loss of J.D. and the very fragile life of K, I knew I would never take my childrens life for granted. Every breath they take is miraculous to me.

Now, fast forward six years and there have been moments I have been awful close to taking those blessings for granted. Add two more kids, add a busy life, being tired, etc...

I battle selfishness, laziness, and a lack of structure. I am working on all of that, but it does affect my mothering - negatively.

I do love those kidos though. Oh do I love them!! I snuggle, hug, kiss, and giggle with them. They are my world. They are my teachers. They have the capabilities to frustrate me to my wits end, but they have brought many a joyful tear to my eye as well.

Good stuff to think about!!!

Sara@i.Sass said...

AH ha ha haha. Do you know what kinda of weekend I had?! You probebly DO. ANyway, I'm going to go back and read what I wrote on this I am pretty sure I need a refresher. as for my obstacle: (again creepy laughter) is it wrong to say my mother? Comparing myself to her and NOT wanting to be like her.BLAH!
Oh an funny note, hubby and I went to this concert last night to see Dave Barnes. He was good. the opening act was a married couple. And I sware that wife looked like Blond you. I couldn't see after the basketball team came and stood in front of me but the glimpses I did catch...she totally could have been you and I'd say Wow Heather can really sing! And Rob would say who? Oh I keep forgeting that isn't Heather her name is ELLIE.
Are you SURE you weren't out singing last night?

Growin' with it! said...

that statement about being fully present....ugg. it was seriously on my mind last night. especially when i'm on this addicting thing here. how i need to just click the _ button and turn my body & FACE around to give anyone asking my attention and help. better yet...set limits and strive not to be on the computer when they are home!

Mrs. Naz of All That Naz & Becoming Me said...

I have a very nurturing, loving gentle component to my mothering style...but lately I am really struggling with burn out

Jenn said...

What I do well- Tell them I love them and shower them with hugs, pats and kisses

What I fail at- Spending quality time with them. Even though we home school and we are with each other 24/7 I still feel that I am lacking in this. Sometimes we just go through the paces of the day and at the end I feel like we didn't really interact as much as I hoped for.

Jenn said...

The obstacles to my spending quality time with my children (like playing with them, having deep conversations with them, spending one on one time with each of them)are...
1) I really dislike sitting down and playing. Big excuse, I know, but I have never been good at this.
2) My day is over before I know it even started
3) There are always chores to do around the house
4) I really crave alone time and get selfish about it at times
5) Most days I feel like I don't have any more of myself to give- I'm pooped!

Tooj said...

Pssst - I can't email you while I'm at work...something about blocked from personal email sites...blah blah blah. Just wanted to give you a head's up. :) Oh, and I already FOUND you on facebook! LOL I didn't know if you'd think me weird for doing a friend request...I have only added my one friend I knew who knew I knew she was on there...make sense? Oh, and my brother and sister. LOL

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Forgive me, I'm going to skip first two questions and hop to #3. Any area where I feel I am failing has one common denominator as an obstacle: Laziness. The laziness is a combination of two things in low supply: energy and self-discipline. The energy part could probably be remedied by eating better, exercising better, and getting more sleep. Not rocket science, but I struggle nonetheless. And the discipline part just takes practice; practice keeping my own rules with some modicum of consistency. I keep trying, though, and I hope it will move me in the right direction. If nothing else, it makes me meet my goals on occasion instead of not at all.

Jen said...

This is an really interesting this to think about. I am semi-new here so I did not play the first time. Here are my answers.
As a mom, I think that I have done a good just instilling self confidence in my kids. I see it more with Hayden b/c he is older but it is starting to come out with Jake, Quinn and Claire too. They are not afraid to try new things or explore the world. b/c they know that I am always there.
As a mom, the thing that I am not so good at is 'play time' or coming up with things for them to do. I watch my husband and he gets down on the floor and plays with the kids. I don't do this. I take the easy way out by turning on a video or letting Hayden play computer games.
I think this is just laziness and exhaustion on my part especially at the end of the day. I am aware of the problem and going to work on it.

T & T Livesay said...

I answered the first time around.

My obstacle to improvement?

Numbers. This is simply a numbers game. We left man-on-man defense long ago and our zone defense has never really taken flight. I cannot possibly do better until there are less of them (or more of me????)


Jennifer said...

Oops--I went back and answered on your old thread!

Pink Ink said...

I'm like you...I feel like I should be more fully engaged with my kids. But it's hard with my "projects". My antidote will be BALANCE.

MommyTime said...

This is fascinating, and I can't wait to see what conclusions you come to. Here are my answers to all three.

Do well: creative projects and reading with the kids

Needs improvement: lack of patience with their monkey-shines, shennanigans, procrastinations, and inability to hear what I ask them to do.

What inhibits the patience? Scheduling issues (we're always getting ready at last minute to go somewhere, which suggests I need better prep & lead time); my own distractability: there are other things I would much rather be doing.

MommyTime said...

I meant "rather be doing" than repeating for the 1000th time that "it's time to put on coats, which means come out from behind the couch and quit wearing your pants on your head."

Deb said...

what i am doing right: i am good at, and willing to, apologize to my kids when i goof up or make mistakes or treat them poorly or simply, when i am wrong. when i was growing up, my parents NEVER said they were sorry, even when they were wrong. that never seemed fair to me and always made me feel like i didn't fit in or my opinion or feelings didn't matter.

what i am doing wrong: i am often insensitive to my kids' feelings and not searching for how they are feeling BEHIND the words they are saying. if they are hard on themselves or upset about something, sometimes i react by yelling at them to see things "the right way" instead of just giving them a hug and trying to be empathetic. and i have a temper.

the obstacle to correcting the wrong is myself and me allowing my emotions to control my words and actions.

this was interesting. leave it to me to make everyone feel better about themselves!!!

Peanut said...

My area of difficulty was also in being present with my kids. I'm still struggling with that even when I set my goal for the day as "Today, I will do nothing else except be present with my kids".

The biggest obstacle is that I have a lot to manage. I'm not just mommy. I'm wife. I'm friend. I'm housekeeper. I'm cook. I'm budgeter. I'm nurse. I'm....
I have so much stuff going on that there's no possible way I can do it all well. So I easily gravitate to the things that make me feel like I've accomplished something. Like knocking something off my to-do list. The kids always want to play more, so that one is never done. And I get bored easily with their play... especially my 3 y.o. because she is so BOSSY in her play. I don't want to just do what she says all the time!

Eowyn said...

I do well at reading and teaching. Not so good at keeping my temper--especially when things get stressful for me. And not so good at the laundry.

Eowyn said...

So on my failure to keep my temper--it's a control issue. I fail to keep control of myself. I fail to let my children be them instead of who I want them to be. I also fail to understand them fully, I think.

Mariel said...

I hope that I am good at being a soft place for my kids to fall. Someone that they can come to when they are sad, upset, or whatever. I try to be approachable and be a good listener and not immediately lecture or try to solve their problems.

I lack in the area of getting too overwhelmed by housework, errands, and I often feel too tired to play or just relax with the kids.

Great post! You'll have to stop by my blog. It's www.oneshetwoshe.blogspot.com

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