Sunday, April 29, 2012

Being happy with the mother I am (rather than the one I imagined I'd be)



When my kids were little I read a fantastic book by Kent and Barbara Hughes called 'Disciplines of a Godly family'. I do recommend it and if you haven't read it, it's a great read.

But I realized over the last school holidays that there was something in particular about that book that had stuck in my mind. They suggest in the book that you make your house the fun house to hang out at. The fun house for your children's friends to spend time at - a house in the community where everyone knows they can go if they want to see friends. They suggest that getting a pool is great when you have teenagers.

Since we're renting and aren't going to be building a house anytime soon (well, really, in my lifetime), I never envisaged that the pool would be a part of the deal.

But I did always imagine that my house might be that fun place to be.  Especially with lots of kids. And yet it's not. I like having kids over, but I'm not initiating great gatherings of teenage boys to play computer games all day while I bake endless amounts of food for them. I'm not organizing fun craft afternoons for the girls.

What happens is that I get to school holidays (and this is not just a working thing, I felt the same when I was home full time) and I kind of want to hibernate.  I think I want to escape a little from the intensity and frantic pace of life in term time. And my kid's are happy enough too. No great cries for playmates or visitors. Our inner introverts kick into gear big time.

I struggled during the last holidays to be OK with this. This is me and my family and we're not who I thought we would be. We all get peopled out quite quickly. And I wonder sometimes if being in a largish family fills up a significant part of the people energy quota and if you're introverted that quota isn't bottomless (mind you, the Hughes' have four children so not much of an excuse).

My gut feeling is that I do need to make more of an effort and push on through my comfort zone (but, boy do I feel like life is a lot of 'pushing through' at times).

4 comments:

Fiona said...

I've not read the book, but I'm struggling with the idea that to be godly, you have to have lots of people over, and preferably have a pool. It sounds lot more like what you need to be a member of a certain social class in a certain country, actually. There are cultures that don't do home visiting. And I'm not sure that a pool works well in many climates.
I hope there was more to it!
I hope that being a godly family will look a little different in each family. Renters and introverts can both be godly.

Motherhugger said...

I think the point is that if your children's friends are having fun at your place you know where your kids are and they are staying out of trouble. I'd like to provide the home where kids are happy to hang out too. I don't know if board games and LP records will cut it. I can have the retro entertainment house. I have thought, since I've had kids, that I hope my children are building relationships with their friends' parents, and my friends, so that they have a range of people they can talk to if they need help and and don't want to talk to me, and that the other parents will talk to me about what the kids are up to as they get older and aren't so much under my supervision.

Sandra said...

I think in our Australian context it is being hospitable - not necessarily providing lots of bells and whistles of having a show home. Kids don't want you to provide entertainment. So I'm happy to have their friends drop in and I'm happy to drive their friends home from here and also if they've gone out somewhere(mostly). However don't expect to be their friend and some of them have the social graces of a housebrick.
I also read the Hughes's book - I cna't remember the pool bit but I can remember the part where they wanted you to train your kids to strip the bed and put their dirty sheets in the pillow case if they'd slept over somewhere. It must be an American thing - do any Australians do that ??Apart from that it was probaly the only vaguely decent Christian parenting book I read but you had to read it through a cultural filter. On the whole they were depressing and made me feel either inadequate or that I inhabited a different world to what they did. I got much more help from Australian books such as Steve Biddulphs, and in a teenage context there is Queen Bees and Wannabees and also an Australian classic Princess Bitchface.
It's also about what your kids want - if they're introverts thay may prefer home as a sanctuary. Even my extroverts like a place to retreat to.

Melissa said...

A great book for introverts to read and feel validated by is Quiet: Being An Introvert in a World that won't stop Talking...or similar :)