When a new member joins the family, there are bound to be growing pains. The kids may think it’s fun at first to have someone new in the daily mix, but eventually the novelty wears thin as the day-to-day care of the new addition becomes a reality.
Being a mom to three kids, I’ve lived through the excitement and adjustment that comes when your family expands. I totally expected it, too. What I didn’t expect was that the same period of adjustment would happen when I started my blog last November. To my surprise, my kids were jealous.
Sure, at first they were very excited for me. They were even impressed that this old dog could learn a few new tricks.
Until this point it never occurred to them that I could even type, let alone use a computer.
Heck, I barely had time to brush my teeth raising three children with a variety of special needs and issues that needed daily attention. Never mind spending my time web surfing. Personal enrichment and satisfaction were not high on my to-do list.
My kids knew I had worked in an office before becoming a mom, but I think they thought of that as more of a suburban legend in the once-upon-a-time-the-old-gal-had-a-life vein.
Very quickly the awe and even pride my kids felt at watching me do something new was replaced with cries of, “when are you getting off our computer?”
The cries came the loudest from our daughter Lizzy, whose special needs have always included an extremely hard time with speech and language. Phrases such as “mommy, you sure like that computer,” started to grow into “mommy get off my computer now.”
Always thrilled whenever Lizzy can find her words, I would smile and tell her that it was great she was using her words so well, but we do not speak to people that way. Then I would go back to my blog.
Our oldest son, Tom knew something had really started to change a few weeks later. We were on our fifth attempt at taking the yearly Christmas picture when I uncharacteristically, threw in the towel.
“That’s it guys. It’s just going to be the year without a Christmas picture. It’s really no big deal.”
Then I started to sing that phrase to the tune of an old Christmas special I remembered as a kid.
Tom, newly 12 at the time, was not amused.
“But Mom, you always make the Christmas picture such a big deal.”
“I know honey, but why don’t we give ourselves a year off, it will be fine.”
Then I launched into another round of, “It was the year without a Christmas picture.”
His next statement took me completely by surprise.
“This is not like you… You are only doing this because of that blog… You want something to write about for next week.”
Honestly. At the time, I hadn’t thought about it, but he had a point. It would make a great story. I always knew that boy was brilliant.
Of course, the most heartbreaking reaction came from our youngest, Peter, who was five at the time my blog came into our lives. Since he was used to sharing me with Tom and Lizzy I didn’t think my new passion would really affect him. I was wrong.
“Mommy, I hurt my toe! I need a band-aid.”
I looked up from the computer and gave him my sweet mommy smile. I looked at his toe, which showed no signs of trauma and comforted him with a big, long, hug. Then I went back to the computer.
He asked for another band-aid.
I’m used to Peter’s need for band-aids, but I was in the middle of a great thought plus I had dinner to check. Surely, an unnecessary band-aid could wait a minute.
After several failed attempts to elicit my sympathy and attention, Peter had had enough.
“Mommy, I will see you later. I am going to the nurse!”
Yes, it’s been an adjustment this last year.
Things have changed. Or more accurately, I have changed.
I no longer use the family computer. I have my own. And, I have my own office too. Well, “office” may be stretching it a bit. It really is just a corner in our bedroom, but it’s all mine.
At first it was hard for everyone to realize that mom meant business about her “office” being off-limits. I’ve never made it a priority to have my own space. I was so happy being a mom, the space didn’t seem that important.
But this was different. Funny thing is, once I stood up for my right to have my own corner of the world, the kids, and even my husband, complied.
The one exception to the no one touches mommy’s computer is each Sunday when Joe edits my blog. Little did I know that when I married an editor 18 years ago his skills would become so handy.
The kids really didn’t know what to make of Joe and I working together and spending time on something other than them. All of sudden three people who were perfectly happy playing and not wanting anything to do with dear old mom and dad desperately needed us the minute Joe would start to work on my site.
Now they accept the few minutes Sunday evening when daddy edits mommy’s blog and no one can talk to us. They are also used to the silly exchanges that happen between Joe and I while he gently and ever so tactfully reviews my copy.
Last week was a perfect example.
“Kathy, do you really want to say you secretly read romance novels? It’s not really a secret.”
“Yes it is. I don’t like to publicly buy them. I won’t even take them out of the library. That’s secret.”
“Hmm, I don’t think that’s accurate. You should just say that you read romance novels.”
“No, no, don’t say that. I don’t want anyone to know I’m OK with it. Why can’t I just say I read them in secret? Is it really going to harm your journalistic integrity?”
“Yes, yes it is.”
With that I hear Tom laughing in the hallway.
“What if I say I guiltily read romance novels, can you live with that?”
“Yes, that will work.”
“You two are so cute when you do this” says a soon-to-be 13 year old Tom.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed now?” I say with a smile.
Writing my blog and finding my joy in writing has changed me in ways I never expected.Without even knowing I did it, I had misplaced a part of myself. I was so attuned to my children’s needs that I really let my own slide.
The truth is the real addition to our lives hasn’t been my blog at all.
The new addition to the family has been me. And that is probably one of the best gifts I could give not only myself, but my family too.
Author’s note: I published a blog post on Momster.com last December titled, “My kids are jealous of my blog.” This piece is another look at the same topic and includes some excerpts from last year’s post.