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Apr 07

The cost of motherhood – or why I don’t usually watch Oprah

I don’t watch daytime television. Mostly because there isn’t anything on that I like to watch, but I think even if there was, I still wouldn’t – because it’s such a cliche, the SAHM vegging out in front of the television all day. Be that as it may, I did watch Oprah yesterday (or I recorded it and watched late last night). The topic was the cost of motherhood, or motherhood’s dirty little secrets. And there were tiny parts of it that were honest and real and amazing, but most of it was just superficial and played for laughs. (which explains why I don’t usually watch Oprah)

There was one segment, there was an actress on and she was talking about how you make sacrifices as a mom. And there are the sacrifices that everyone talks about, like no sleep, and spending your money that used to be for entertainment on diapers… but then there are the sacrifices that you never dreamed you’d make. Her best friend went thru a horrible break up right around the same time she had her first baby, and she wasn’t able to be there for her friend. Not physically, not emotionally, just could not do it. She sacrificed her friendship, in a real way, for her child.

Now I know the theory – that your friends are supposed to understand, and a true friendship will weather thru this. But the fact of the matter is that it’s really hard to understand if you are that friend. Before having kids – you are able to make other people a priority. If your best friend is going thru something, you can drop everything to be there. You can make that the most important thing – helping your friend thru the crisis. And I did that. A lot. I had lots of friends, lots of really close, intimate relationships. Then I had Jessica – and I am nowhere near as good a friend as I once was. I cancel plans if the kids are sick, I don’t like making plans too often that take me away from them. If I’m reading a story to them, or nursing, I don’t answer the phone. And if I do answer the phone, more than likely, I’m going to have to make you hold on while I stop Sam from poking Jess in the eye, or vice versa. They have to be the most important thing in my world, because… well, because. Because I’m their mother.

I’m not complaining, I really like motherhood. I like the sacrifices, I like being that needed, that important. I like the emotional gratification, I even take it for granted now. I’m used to being the only one who can coax a smile from a miserable six year old, the only source of comfort for an overtired two year old. I like being their favorite person. But I used to be a much better friend. A better sister, a better daughter. I can’t drop everything to go help out – I’d like to, sure, but I won’t. And that’s the actual sacrifice of motherhood – you do give up a lot of what made you who you were. For me, I was always about relationships. I had a job that was fun, but wasn’t even close to fulfilling, but I had great friends, a warm close family – tons of people who loved me and needed me and depended on me. And I’ve still got a lot of them… and they still love me. But I’ve weaned them off of needing me. I’m not dependable anymore, not really. But I’ve got two kids who think I’m the bees knees. And right now – that’s enough. That feels exactly right.

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