I’ve never been the kind of mum who can’t wait to get away from her kids. I’ve never left them for the night, I rarely go out, and I do everything with them. If I need to go to the shop or the bank, I take them. It may be hard (and it’s gotten harder with four), but I’ve never dropped them off to anyone else to mind while I do things. I’ve just never felt the need.
I thought this made me a good mum. It made me available, and showed my kids I loved to include them in my life.
But it has created a dependence where now I’m not allowed to do anything without them. If I go out on a weekend (because boatman is home, and I want to shop quickly and in peace), someone is always upset they can’t come. If I go out at night, when they’re going to bed, there are all manner of tears and tantrums, and children begging me to give them a kiss and cuddle when I come home. It’s like, if I’m not here, the sky will fall, and the world cease to function. And it has come to the point where, honestly, I am starting to resent the fact that I am being forced to just be mum, and made guilty for being me.
I realise that I am a mum first and foremost, and don’t get me wrong, I love it. But I’m also a person. I have things I enjoy, and friends I want to see, and whilst the needs of my family are my priority, does that mean that if I do something for me, I am a selfish person? Where is the line here?
When I spoke to Taylah about why she wrote that blog, it turned out that she was joking. She sees Boatman stir me about blogging, and so she thought she would tease me too. We had a long conversation about being honest and how the words she had written might have made mummy look to all those people who read it. I explained that it did not come across like she was joking. And I also talked about how we have a different relationship than daddy and I do. We are not friends. Not yet. I explained that one day we would be, but at the moment, we couldn’t be, because it’s my duty before God to be her mum. It means I have to guide her in what is right and wrong, and sometimes provide consequences for negative behaviours or attitudes. As she gets older, and more mature, we will become moral equals, and then will be best friends, but for the moment, that is not possible, because a friend is not what she needs me to be. This means that she doesn’t have the freedom to try and stir me in the same way her dad does. While there is a time for fun and jokes, she needs to be respectful of the fact that I am her mother.
After we spoke of this, I asked her what she really thought of my blogging, and did she think I did it too much. ‘Well, whenever I have my quiet time (on the weekend she gets to have quiet time watching a movie while the others nap), you are always on your iPad.’
‘Ok, but that’s my time isn’t it?’
‘So if it’s my time, shouldn’t I be allowed to use it doing something I like.’
‘So that shouldn’t make you sad should it?’
She then mentioned that sometimes my friends text me.
‘Ok, well does mummy go to school?’
‘Do I go to work?’
‘Who do I spend my days with?’
‘Bailey and Ava.’
‘That’s right. And whilst I love them, it’s important that I have my own friends I can talk to. If I reply to a text message or a tweet, I might ask you to wait a minute, but that’s all, and then I talk to to you. You have all my attention, and when you need me, I put it down. Don’t you think I can have friends too?’
So the issue here is far deeper than social addiction. It’s about the fact that my kids think that I need to be at their disposal 24hrs a day, and anything that stops me from doing that, must be bad.
A very wise woman left this comment on the blog the other day.
So my point (finally at the end of two blog posts) is this: social media addiction is real,and it is a problem. As mums and bloggers, we need to set ourself boundaries, and guidelines, and prioritise our partners, children, and housework.
But we are people too. We are allowed to enjoy blogging and twitter. Our children need to learn that we are people; that we have friends, and hobbies, and a life that is not completely centred around them.
We need balance in every area. It’s not a simple, ‘well I’ll cut back on twitter, and say goodbye to Klout,’ band aid solution. It’s moderation, and balance, and constantly checking in without our families, and ourselves, to make sure everyone’s needs are being met.
Including our own.
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