Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Home Truths and Mothering


Talking to someone today, I was hit with a home truth.

No, not hit. More like whacked across the head, out of the blue.

I was asking for help with discernment re the extra Kumon work issue.

Out of (seemingly) nowhere came the comment. The home truth.

I said that I was lucky simply because I homeschool and spend a lot of time with my kids, they come to work with me, are involved in my work.

The comment?

"Quantity time doesn't necessarily mean quality time."

My reply?

"Ouch, that hurts."

It does. It hurts. And maybe it hurts because there is veracity in that statement. I spend a lot of time with the kids and, to a certain extent, with dh, but am I fully engaged? Is it quality time? Will there be quality time if I take on more work?

I looked for a definition of quality time online, at Dictionary.com

Found ~
quality time
–noun
time devoted exclusively to nurturing a cherished person or activity.
[Origin: 1985–90]

And ~
quality time n. Time during which one focuses on or dedicates oneself to a person or activity: "When you decide to turn on the TV, you decide ... not to spend quality time with your family" (Steve Tschirhart).


I'm not sure if I ever really give this sort of quality time to my family. ( Insert sad face). I am a queen of multi-tasking, I tend to nearly always do two or more things at a time.

So, I need to think about this . ( Insert an expletive, insert "Far Out!" ).

Writer Sonia Taitz says, of mothering that What children take from us, they give…We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply.

Very true.

12 comments:

Beate said...

Hi Leonie - while that is true, it isn't true that quality time makes up for lack of quantity time. They've actually done studies on that one here in the States ;-) So yes, we need quality time with our dc - but, we need time with them period.

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

I agree with Beate - the thing that stikes me is that when I was a young girl (age 13 and under), my mom stayed home with us. After my dad left us and my mom needed to go back to work, I felt her absence dramatically to the point where I felt completely insecure....granted, a lot had transpired to concrete those feelings, but her absence was one of the top 2...

Leonie said...

Beate, I have often thought that kids need both qntity and quality.:-) Where I am at is knowing I give quantity but is it necessarily quality, am I other wise involved ( yes, have another biscui, she says absent mindedly while on the phone or at the computer...That sort of thing).

Maria, I understand what you are saying. But I also see that my experience as been different. I know my mum always worked and for us it was a positive thing - we had times together when she wasn't at work,we had more money so we could eat and pay the rent! ( she was a single mum and before she worked we were hard up), she was a good role model for us,we learned independence..Now, my mum and I don't have a great relationship but I put that down to her anger issues and not her working ) I pray to God I don't go thee wrt anger issues!).

Thanks for your thoughts, guys, very helpful for me.

Beate said...

Ikwym - I have to be constantly aware of my tendency to become totally distracted (self-centeredness). I wrote in my journal not too long ago that self giving doesn't come naturally to me I am pushed, shoved, and dragged into it ;-) Still, I don't think if I were home less I would give more, as some would argue.

Leonie said...

Beate - I wonder the same - does more time at home equate to more quality time...Its p to me, really...

Sabine said...

Hi Leonie - I was really thinking about this. We don't know when quality moments will happen, so quantity helps. That being said, the work you are doing directly relates to what you are doing with your dc! Also, imo, while older children can be hurt by their mothers working, it is not the same as being absent when they are very young. Otoh, my teens need alot of time, they sort of demand personal time, where a toddler is happy to share your company with others.

I am very sure, knowing you through your posts and blog, that you will make the right decision for your family. While we can offer, hopefuilly, helpful words, it's your discernment that counts.

Leonie said...

Very true - thanks for your thoughts...

Jacqlyn said...

I heard Doctor James Dobson speak about this a few years ago and it has stuck with me. He told this story.......
A man went into a classy restaurant and ordered the most expensive item on the menu....fillet steak! As he sat waiting for his meal to arrive his mouth was watering with expectation. Suddenly the waiter appeared and on the plate sat the smallest piece of fillet steak the man had ever seen. He was furious! After paying top money for his meal it was a huge disapointment. He called the waiter back and asked why the steak was so small. The waiter replied, "Sir, it isn't the quantity that counts........it is the quality"
I have never forgotten that saying!and personally I think that our children need both quantity AND quality.......however you can manage that!

Cindy said...

Great discussion, all. Leonie, I hear you- and know you will make a good decision.

I ditto what has been said. This is very helpful for me, as I am in the same boat. Dh and I are talking about me going back to work. What does this mean? Can it co-exist with homeschooling?

Leonie, seeing how you have made Kumon work as a part of your life has been very instrutive for me as well. I think working can be done well, or it can be done badly. It is all up to the attitude of the mom and how much she is able to integrate work with living with the family.

I, too, think you can't draw a line around 'quality time' and have it substitute for quantity. We need some quantity. Have you heard of the book "Margin"? It is about not schedueling every minute of your day, but having 'margin' in it,to live, relax, be with others and enable you to have spontaneous moments.

I also think even 'unbusy' moms, who are not scheduled up with work, etc can be distant and not spending 'qualtiy' time.
And busy moms CAN be more connected to the kids. It depends on how we approach.

Also, though, I think we can 'be' with our kids but also be busy. Often this depends on the personality and the needs of the dc. But for example, my boys are independent and like it when I am busy. I think they feel like they have 'their time' and it empowers them to have their own lives. Then when we do come together to touch base or do something, that time is sweeter in a way. (My boys are older as you all know)

Honestly Leonie, I am discerning the same thing here. Considering taking on work that would be a minimum of 24 hours a week. Once we discern the oppotunity, then we are looking at how it will affect our daily life.

The dynamics will have to change. More housework, bill paying, errands, cooking, shopping, etc will have to fall to dh and ds. Boys will have to take on more with their learning- this is beginning to happen, but I still am orchestrating a lot and following up. They will need to reserach and plan on their own and report to me, me not chase them down.

Many other facets, too, which I am sure you are considering.

At first this seemed just un-doable to me...! My model was broken, but with prayer, I am opening my mind. Maybe this is a postive? Provide dh some relief (long overdue) and also it might be good for the boys to move a bit out of their comfort zone.

Have you been able to get a handle on how this new work would change your home dynamics?

Also, perhaps it will make you more aware of how you manage your time, and be more tuned into your boys when you are with them, or neat them? Thinking out loud, as I will be thinking of the same things as we consider this...

Rambled- hope this helps.

Cindy said...

Believe it or not I thought of something else to say! lol

Sometimes a busy household, all with our own projects, but being together is the most joyous time. We are happy-busy, waving hi and bye, but then making sure we do have connecting time when we need it. That sounds like a joyful house...:)

Leonie said...

Wow, CIndy, so much to think about and comment on thank you. I am going to ponder some more tonight....

JoVE said...

I think the difficulty with the term is that it makes a lot of people think of arguments for and against mothers doing paid work outside the home.

What I understood you saying was something about whether you were present and engaged with your kids when you are spending time with them. The kinds of things Lissa has been talking about lately. And I think Willa had some good reflections on that, too.

I agree with you that it is easy for us to think our kids are getting the benefit of being with us but do we really think about what kinds of interactions those are and if they meet our own expecations for them. Being whacked about the head with revelations like that from time to time is probably good for all of us.