Oh, That Kind of Mom

I really hate how, as moms, we try to label each other by stereotypes.  You know, the crafty mom, the over protective mom, the party mom, etc.

I really wish there was a way to be accepted for who I am and who I am as a mom.  I don’t feel like I fit into any particular mold, and my guess is, most moms don’t.  But moms try to choose a group to which they closest fit and then try to squeeze themselves into the pre-labled package.

I’ve tried to fit into a mold myself, but it just doesn’t work.  I like to be crafty and cook, I really really do…but it’s not all I live for.  I also like to drink, but I’m not really a party mom, I’m more of a wallflower.  I like to be funny and talk about silly subjects but I’m not much of a comedienne.  I’m really only funny to myself.  I also like sex and I think it’s funny to talk about, but of course a lot of moms frown on it.  They will talk about it in private at ladies night but not in mixed company or around people they don’t know, which I think is really dumb.  It’s not like those people don’t do it too.  So as you can tell, I’m a bit of Martha Stewart mixed with May West and a splash of Felicia Day (who you don’t even know.)

Anyway, I’m curious if other moms have the same problem.

 

Martyr Mommies

I love my children dearly.  I love them and want them to have everything.  I give up many things in order for them to have things I didn’t have when I was their age.  My biggest wish is for them to have more, experience more and do better in their endeavors than I have.

However, one thing I do not agree with is Martyrdom Mommyhood.  There are moms who give to their children to the extent they themselves are unhappy.  They stay in unhappy marriages to give their children two parent homes.  They isolate themselves from adult friendships because their kids cry when they leave or because they are afraid to leave them with anyone else.  They give up their favorite activities, hobbies, or work (in essence sacrificing their individual identity) because they can not find a balance between family time and personal time.  They always go where their kids want to go, eat what the kids want to eat, listen to what the kids want to listen to and talk about what the kids want to talk about.  They sacrifice their individual identity to become MOM.

A mother’s biggest job for her kids is to be a role model.  How can a mom teach a child to be a well-rounded person if they themselves are only one-sided?  How can she encourage her child to explore their capabilities and interests in their lives if she stifles her own?  How can children learn about healthy relationships (marriage and friendship) if their mother doesn’t teach them relationships take hard work and time?

It is good and right to sacrifice for your children.  Just consider how much of a sacrifice you are making and whether it might actually be taking away from your child’s experience.

  • Are you happy in your marriage?  If not, are you working to make it better or just allowing things to happen without speaking up for yourself?
  • Do you occasionally meet friends to talk and have fun?  Do you HAVE any friends?
  • Do you occasionally spend time away from the kids to do things you enjoy such as hobbies, activities or work?  Do you spend ANY time away from the kids?
  • Do you have goals or accomplishments you work towards (other than being a mom) which you are proud of?

If you can’t answer Yes to any of these questions…you should rethink who you are as an individual in respect to your family.  If you don’t know who you are without them…how can you teach them who they can be without you?

Mothers Be Tolerant

One resounding theme which I have been struggling to express on this blog is to clearly articulate the importance, and our apparent loss of the ability to, openly discuss parenting styles and have open-minded dialog about raising children.

I am fairly new to motherhood (a 3 year old and a 10 month old) but I’m not a youngster myself (38).  I was shocked to be welcomed into motherhood with a constant barrage of people’s opinions on how to raise my children.  The advice (almost always un-welcomed and in the form of instructions, not really useful advice) was hurled at me very pointedly from every opposing direction you can imagine.  And it was always with the intent I was somehow endangering or mis-raising my child.  A small snip-it of the many examples include:

  • I was carrying my son in a strap on carrier with his body facing mine.  He had a bad habit of pushing his feet up against me so he could lean his head back and look at the ceiling (ceiling fans and lights are more interesting than mom’s chest) and as soon as I would adjust him back into position, he would do it again.  So I gave up and began using my hand to support his head a little bit and just left him like that.  While I was in a store one time, a woman came over to me and said I was carrying my son wrong and I was straining his neck and literally would not listen to a word I said nor would she let me pass until I adjusted him in the carrier.
  • My son was very hot natured.  I started off like any mom with putting hats on his head and heavy coats when we went outside.  He started getting a weird rash on his head and neck so I took him to the doctor.  The doctor said it was heat rash and I should not put caps on him.  A few days later, I took him out for a walk in 50 degree weather in his stroller with a coat on.  A man who coached a toddler soccer class across the street from us literally yelled at me as I started going down the sidewalk.  “Put a hat on the baby’s head!  Babies loose 90% of their body heat through their head. Here, let me help you.”  And he proceeded to leave his class to come over to talk to me.  I just walked off, I was so mad for someone to think I needed to explain myself and my parenting decisions to them.
  • I took my son to an indoor playground with other toddlers.  He was climbing up on a play area and fell so he started to cry.  I started to get up to pick him up and a stranger touched my arm and said, “Sit down.  If you get up every time they cry, you’ll spoil them and they will cry about everything.” I thanked her for her advice but opted to pick him up and she snidely says, “Your going to regret that some day.”

Instead of having open conversations to learn about different parenting styles, since as parents we are all in this together really,  we treat parenting styles like we do religion and politics.  The fastest way to get into an flaming argument over a small disagreement is to discuss parenting, religion or politics.  Except, it’s worse when you are a parent.  Strangers don’t usually walk up to you and say, “Hey I see you have a Socialist bumper sticker on your car…You can’t do that!  Take it off or I won’t let you leave.”  But for some reason, if you have a child with you…they feel free to say and do whatever they want to with no social stigma attached.  I’ve never had a stranger approach me and offer me advice about anything…except parenting.

Furthermore, it seems to be mainly a woman thing.  Men don’t seem to notice or care how other men father their children.  They will discuss things on occasion (mainly complaining about their wives LOL) but otherwise, they don’t usually get up in arms about parenting.  As women, we do this to ourselves.  We are so worried about being perfect mothers, we are afraid to be honest.  And we are so judgmental about kids being raised right, we can’t see past our own viewpoint to entertain other ideas.  As women, we should be lifting each other up and giving support rather than judging each other and tearing each other down.

My best example…since the time my son was about 9 months old, I have been a member of a mommy’s playgroup.  We work together to put on educational activities, play activities and whatnot for our kids.  The group is actually very diverse, with lots of parenting styles, lots of different races and religions.  We also have differing political views and socioeconomic statuses.  But yet, this group works!  Our numbers fluctuate from around 25-50 due to people moving, kids growing up, new kids on the way, etc. but the same basic group of about 20 women have stayed.  The reason is because we are tolerant and as a result, we are able to openly discuss parenting and how each woman handles each stage of life.  I can honestly say, if it were not for being in a group of women like this, I’m not sure how I would have survived parenting so far.  I have learned and adopted into my lifestyle so many new things I would not have tried on my own had I just followed the way I was raised.  It has truly been a blessing.

My worst example…there is a woman in my life whom I respect, but we have very different parenting styles.  As a result, almost every time we have seen her (about once or twice a month) I hear some sort of derogatory comments about my parenting choices.  They range from, “Mason is so depressed all the time, you are too hard on him” to “You’re going to break his spirit” to something about how I brainwashed my kid to think he is a “bad boy”, which I can assure you…never happened!  It has been very hard on me.  People tell me to ignore the comments but as a mother it is hard.  We always second guess ourselves anyway and to have someone over your shoulder trying to solidify those feelings…it’s really tough.

We are pulled in so many different directions as mothers.  The truth stays true, no one person is perfect and no one parenting style is without drawbacks and rewards.  I just encourage each of us to remain open minded as we discuss parenting and if we disagree, do so with respect and not hatred.

The Un-Perfect Mom’s Anthem

Do you ever feel like everyone around you is judging you as a mom and no matter what you do or what you say, and you are never good enough and never do enough?

They say: My kids have more toys, the best electronics, I give them better parties with polished precision so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: I  am more attached to my kids, attend to their every need, carry them strapped on my body 24×7, and kiss them constantly so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: I work harder, have less time for vacation, no time for myself, and get more things done in a day so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: My kids are more cultured, have toured every museum, read every book (twice), and made 10 documentaries by themselves so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: I pray more, read more Bible, sin less, volunteer more and attend more church so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: I feed my kids more organic, whole-grain, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, allergen free, sugar free, use more disinfectant, recycle more, cleanse more, and exercise more so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: I am more creative, entertaining, energetic, positive and open-minded so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: I am more conservative, more frugal, have more traditional values and am more all American so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit
They say: I am more beautiful, smell better, enhanced my body more, have less wrinkles, less fat, more tan, and better hair so I’m a better mom than you- bullshit

Trying to be your best in everything you do is never wrong, but constant competition is not good either.  Good Moms try their best, admit their mistakes, realize they are not perfect, dust themselves off and keep trying.  Love your kids, try your best and baby, you are just fine in the skin your in!  Those who claim they never make mistakes, are LYING!  You are a good mother, wife, worker, family member and friend and you don’t need the bitches to tell you any different!

Welcome to Mommyhood

I’m sure it happens to every mom at some point…well maybe it just happens to me…but there is time when you realize you are no longer cool, sexy, hip or anything else for that matter, because now, you are just MOM.

The realization came for me when Mason was about 5 months old.  I was not quite in to the swing of being a SAHM (and for those of you who still have a life…the acronym means Stay At Home Mom).  Things were pretty rough around the homestead.  Mason was fussy all the time, I had no idea what I was going, and Dad wanted to run away.

It was about 6 PM and Marc was working late (aka Daddy) and I was tired and a little out of sorts.  The dog started going crazy to go outside.  We have one of those little rat dogs called Chihuahuas and they have very small bladders.  So I grabbed Mason and propped him on my right hip and proceeded to open the front door to let the dog out.  The reason we had to let the dog go in the front yard is because she refused to poop in the back yard…long story and not one I want to go into.  So…I open the front door…and all hell breaks loose.

The dog starts barking and going crazy so I look up just in time to see the a rediculously gorgeous woman…about 20 something…athletic…pink tank top with grey bike shorts with a cropped grey short sleeve zipper jacket…ear phones in her ears attached to an iPod…long chestnut colored hair pulled back in a slick shiny ponytail…tanned skin over lean muscle…well, you get my point.

So here I am in my baggy sweats, with floppy hair I don’t think I washed that day, balancing a screaming and squirming 5 month old on one hip (who has hold of my hair) and trying to grab a yippy dog with the other hand so she doesn’t chase the woman…

And the beautiful woman stops and stands there jogging in place…reaches up to take her phones out of her ears…and the whole time, I’m thinking “just keep going damn it, I can’t hold this freaking dog forever”…and she says to me, “Your dog is pooping.”

WTF?  So I look down and the dog that is now on my right hip is pooping all over me, because the she has a nervous bowl, and what do I say?  “Yeah, thanks.”  So gorgeous woman jogs off.  Mortified, I grab everyone and everything and head back into the house.

I drop the dog and walk into the bathroom to adjust my clothes my kid almost pulled off me in his attempt to get down and I look in the mirror.  Sigh.  No only was the dog pooping on me, but Mason had spit up all over me and it ran all the way down my shirt and I hadn’t even noticed.  My hair was a mess, and all over my head because he had grabbed my ponytail and almost pulled it loose.  Because he was grabbing at my shirt to claw his way to freedom, my post-pregnancy belly was exposed and hanging out over my sagging sweatpants…and…I started to cry.

Yep, welcome to motherhood!  But look on the bright side…it only gets better from here!