Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Block Mom

When I discovered that I was pregnant with my son, I thought long and hard about what kind of mom I wanted to be. I wrote down goals, fears and dreams, and ironically the fear list was longer than the other two. As we can all identify, becoming a Mom is a fearful thing. In fact, it is a fearful experience upon the moment that we discover precious life growing within us, or for some, upon hearing the news that a baby is waiting for you to love them. Suddenly you are thrust into a realm of uncertainty, worrying about little things that you never thought possible. Your heart is no longer your own because it is wholly owned by our amazing child and/or children. And despite that fear being overwhelming at times, the joy, love and happiness that is present outweighs that fear and makes this job called Motherhood incredibly beautiful and worth it.

One of my goals about being a Mom was to be that open, outgoing Mom. I envisioned having that chaotic house filled with kids running around, doors opening and closing, phones ringing and laughter echoing off the walls. I want to be that Mom where my children's friends felt comfortable around me where they could just be themselves. I saw myself being that support person for a child should they need a grown up to confide their fears to. But most of all, I want to just be a part of watching my children grow up and sharing in their laughter, despair and fears. I want to be that soft place to fall for my children and their friends.

Moving to Cranbrook last year has thrust us right into the middle of kid haven neighbourhood. Within days, I realized that I was starting to experience and fulfill these goals/dreams. However, that good ol' adage, "Be careful what you ask for", has proven that one must exercise caution when attempting to fulfill their dreams. Our house/yard is inundated with the neighborhood kids 24/7 and I now find myself in the position where I feel at times that I am the Mom to all of these kids. At first it was fun, but now it has grown into frustration and at times resentment. All parents within our neighborhood know that I run a dayhome during the week. They also know that due to provincial legislation, I am mandated a child allowance of the number of children allowed on my property while I am functioning under business hours. However, this doesn't stop them from encouraging their children to bombard my house whenever they see us playing out in our yard or going for a walk. And yes, I said encouraged. Due to children and their innocence, you would be amazed at how much they unknowingly tell you about the family dynamics and conversations that occur within their home. "Allison, my mom said that because she is tired, I could come over here to play with you because I behaved at daycare today" (which I will point out is literally at the house across the street from me).

Now, I do have to be careful because there is that part of me that doesn't mind having every kid at my house. I get to ensure that my children interact properly using manners and respect, I know where they are at all times (because let me tell you, other kids are the same age as my son, 4, and those kids will go for hours running around the neighborhood without a parent checking in on them), and I get to create bonds and friendships with the other kids around here. I don't mind helping other parents out either because I do understand how stressful and tiring working and managing a home, family and life is. But, when does the "open house" policy cross the line to taking advantage?

I am firm with all children when they come to play here. They must play by the rules that my children and daycare children adhere to. They are gently scolded if necessary and are asked to go home if their actions continue to be out of line. I have made every effort to get to know all of these parents, introduce myself and get to know about their lives. And in turn, let them know a little about us. I find it weird though that I am the one initiating all of this when in fact they should be because they are the ones pawning their children off on me. Amongst my next door neighbors, it is the joke that I am the block mom, because children are always, always, always here. Again, to contradict myself, I really don't mind, it is just some days it would be so refreshing to have a break too, you know?

So the question is, is it me having my own pity party? Or, am I being taken advantage of? In the big picture, I guess that I can't have my cake and eat too and live to complain about it right?

How about you? Are you a block mom? If so, how do you deal with the responsibility?


Ellen said...

oh wow! Allie, I must admit, I feel that you are being taken advantage of.. and you totally are entitle to a break!! Do any of these mom's even ask you if you mind watching their kids? cuz if they don't, I find that rude and presumptous.. if I were you, I would figure out some ground rules, because you are totally gonna get worn out!! rules like the kids are only allowed to stay for 2hrs per day, or only between certain times.. girl, I may not be a 'block mom', but my husband does work away alot, I have two young kids, and 3 young daycare kids (not completely full time), if you don't take care of yourself, you will eventually break down.. I was coming to the point where I found myself short tempered, short on patience, and just negative all the time.. my parents have had my kids for the last week (& no daycare kids) and all I can say is it was done wonders for my attitude and for my marriage and hopefully for being a better mom too (kids are back on Fri.).. I feel recharged too.. I understand if you can't afford to take days off because of $$.. but try to make some moves so that you don't loose yourself!! a mom that takes care of herself takes care of her family! (one thing I did for myself was to MAKE space/time for me to start reading again, I used to love reading and haven't in far too long.. but it seems freeing!) I hope you can figure something out that works for you!! :)Hugs :)

Goofball said...

it does sound you are being taken advantage off! Don't turn into a free babysitter that everyone takes for granted.