“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Alter Ego

I have a wonderful friend who is somewhat of a mirror image of me -- we both have tons of kids, all pretty much in the same age range. Our children love to play together. If it isn't a sleep over at our house, it's at theirs. Sometimes just the boys get to come over, sometimes just the girls, sometimes it's the whole crew. I always enjoy chatting with her, because we're faced with the same challenges and parenting dilemmas. She's creative, like I am, so it's fun to share ideas.

I have to admit, she is a super dynamo, and there have been times that I have compared myself to her and found myself wanting.

Today, I dropped my boys off at her house, and we talked about how the summer is going. She shared with me how she is off to some new adventure every day with her kids -- nothing too big, nothing expensive, but little things that they had never done before. They'll go to a new park and have a picnic, or head to the museum in town, or find a craft place, etc. She tells me it's wonderful, because the kids are eager to get their chores done in the morning so they can participate in their daily outing.

Ah, how different we are! I have to say, that isn't something I would have done even in the best of health. But, I would have taken her idea and adapted it for us -- maybe make it a weekly adventure. I was just thinking the other day of how I used to be so brave. Even when my boys were just babies, I would pack all six kids into the car and take them on my own to Sea World or the Zoo or the Wild Animal Park while my husband was at school or work. They were always so well-behaved! We never had any melt downs or tantrums, no matter how tired they were by the end of the day. They were simply delightful in every way. I miss that.

Do I wish I could be her? No. Definitely not. I wouldn't trade my circumstances with hers for anything in the world. But, in a weird way, it was kind of like looking through the looking glass and seeing my alter ego, the person maybe I could have been if not for the chronic fatigue.


Dusty Bogwrangler said...

Compare and despair!

I'm just about to be opinionated, sorry. I think kids also need to learn that life isn't one constant adventure story. They can see that is ok just to be - hang out, read a comic, build a tent in the back garden, cook and a hundred and one other things you can do at home.

I never had the resources either financially or energetically to be that proactive. But my daughter has turned out OK and seems to have a good work/life balance.

Give yourself a break, you are doing a great job.

End of opinion.

Lori P said...

Like Jozephine, I'll say to give yourself a break. I understand where you're coming from though. As a HEALTHY mother, I sometimes felt guilty that I didn't participate in the daily adventures similar to a few of my friends. We would do something fun every now and then. Other summer days, they were left to entertain themselves.

Another thing to note: IMHO, kids who are brought up doing things like that become kids who need constant stimulation. Hey, you're doing your kids a giant favor! I'm totally convinced that kids left to their own devices become much more creative. Secretly give it a wink and a nod.

Have a great weekend.

Renee said...

Our daughter is good about having a balance of create your own fun and activity mom and dad plan... and sets firm boundaries with it.
BUT it seems kids turn out fine or with the same amount of baggage no matter what we try to do!
I do get your idea of watching someone who was more like you..and seeing what you could have been and done.... once in awhile I get that sense of what could have been and wonder.....
I have been sick so long it is hard for me to imagine myself well and healthy any more. I am working on that..
I can't think of anyone I would want to be besides myself either if it meant giving up my life as it has evolved spiritually and with my hubby.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog! I'm back & recoverd from vacation and was delighted to read your post ... I, too, sometimes feel like I'm looking at my alter ego in other people. As you said, the person you might have been without CFS, but I think you have a good attitude of acceptance and keeping your own circumstances. Keep your chin up :)

Sue Jackson said...

I could really relate to what you wrote here, Shelli. There are times when I lament all that I would like to do with my kids but can't. Friends of mine will include my kids in trips to the zoo or museum (which is great!) but I wish I could go, too.

I also liked what Jo wrote, though, and totally agree. We've always (even before CFS) eschewed the over-scheduled kind of kid life. Our boys love the downtime of summer - having whole days to themselves to run around with their friends, hang out, no pressure, no cares. And of course with CFS now, that fits our life perfectly.

I did pledge to myself yesterday to ignore the to-do list and computer and spend some time with my kids. Jamie was feeling run-down anyway, so we blew off the entire morning playing Monopoly!

Don't feel guilty - just enjoy your kids as best as you're able to.