Friday, November 6, 2009

There is no "me" in Mommy

Nor in Mom. But there is one in Mother if you look hard enough. And it takes a little work. Some people are pretty successful at finding the "me" in Mother. Some aren't.

**If you are here for the award scroll down to yesterday's post (I know, 2 posts in 2 days is so unlike me!)

**digression here: my son insists that my name is "mommy," not "mom," not "mother," it's "mommy." He will correct people in the store. "No she's not my mom, she's my mommy."
He asked me what I was going to be for Halloween, I told him I was going to be a "mom." The day after Halloween he asked if I was "mommy" again since he was no longer an Astronaut, or whether I was still wearing my "mom" costume. Cute kid.

Anyway, back to the point. Anymommy had this post yesterday that really made me think (OK, she usually comes up with thought provoking posts, so that part is nothing new). She was talking about the fact that she doesn't cook. And she doesn't do scrapbooking, or crafty homemade stuff either and she's fine with that. She realizes, that as a mother of 4 small children, you simply can't do everything. Even if you're a stay at home mom who doesn't work outside the home. And she is so right on about that. Some mothers will think those kinds of things are expected from them, especially if they are a stay at home mom ('cause those mom's have all the time in the world don't they?). But it is one of the most unrealistic expectations.

My mom was one of those moms who had to do it all. We never had a store bought cake for our birthdays. Each of us had a specially baked (probably even from scratch!) and extraordinarily decorated cake. Whatever we were into at the moment was reflected on our birthday cakes. I wish I had some of those pictures! She made cookie monster, big bird, trains, care name it. She was such an artist. She sent us with home baked goods to share with our classes for our birthdays or for holiday parties. In my Halloween post I talked about how every year we had homemade costumes. She also sewed costumes for school plays and concerts.

She was in PTA, she was a homeroom mom for at least a couple of us at a time (there were 5 of us!). She was a den mother, cub scout leader, brownie/girl scout leader, soccer/softball coach... the list goes on. We were involved in absolutely everything and she was usually in charge of it.

Sounds perfect doesn't it? She knocked herself out. She stayed up late at night doing things, sometimes she was up all night finishing whatever her latest project was. There was always too much on her agenda. She never said "no" to anything. She aimed to please. And it was all for us kids. Or was it? Seems pretty selfless. She never did anything just for herself. She rarely even bought herself new clothes.

Once, when I was in high school and messing up royally (staying up late and not making it to school in the mornings), my step-father gave me this huge lecture on how much my mom had done for us kids and how much she sacrificed for us.

And I bought into it. Until many years later when, as an adult, I witnessed my sister being that mom with her children. I say with instead of for, because it's really not for the kids. Mothers may kid themselves into believing that, but it's false. My sister followed in the footsteps of my mother to a "t." She is involved in everything at the school. Her kids are involved in everything at the school. She is so busy doing everything that who gets left out? Yep, the kids. Who's losing out on this one? The kids.

When she's not busy planning and organizing for something at school or all of those athletic activities or brownies/girl scouts/boy scouts, she's busy gossiping with other mothers. Whenever I talk to her it's all about other families, the kids' friends etc... it's like her kids have taken a backseat to all the other things they are involved in and the families that are involved along with them.

I have never seen her just spend time with her kids. They never relax. They are always doing something. The time she spends with her children is when they are playing a soccer or softball game, when they are in brownies/girl scouts, when they are doing some school activity.

I can sit back and judge because I'm not that mom ;) and it's so much easier to judge someone else now isn't it? Honestly, I don't feel bad judging my sister like this. I know that she and my mother judge me for not letting my daughter do everything that she wants. They judge me for the type of parent I am all the time. Because I am not them. I'm not their type of ultra-involved do everything homemade mom.

I'm not saying that involvement is bad. As a matter of fact, I wish I could be more involved at the school. But really it's because I need a social life ;) No, seriously, I think some parental involvement is good. But too much is the opposite of good.

I limit my school age daughter to one extracurricular activity a school year. One year she played soccer, the next year she played softball, this year she wants to try basketball. I will do the same with all my children when they get to school. Children need down time. Why pressure them to be busy all the time? Maybe I just value relaxing too much ;) But why teach them to spread themselves too thin right from the start?

If my child doesn't have a homemade birthday cake on their birthday, I feel guilty, but then realize that I just can't do everything, and in the end it won't make that much of a difference. I really wanted to make their Halloween costumes this year, but in the end I realized that it would mean spending a couple of days working on their costumes instead of spending any time with them. And really, the $10 costumes we got them were so much more cost effective (my sister spent $50 on the materials for ONE of her kids' costumes).

I do what I can and try not to sweat the stuff I can't and pray that they will turn out the better for it ;)


M said...

I liked this post a lot, although I have to admit that I'm not totally in agreement with you. I also found your post to be quite different in nature than the one you referenced over on Anymommy's page. I think it's fine to not be the type of crafty, homemade type of Mommy that you talked about, but I also think it's fine and wonderful to be that, too. I think there are some people out there who do that stuff because it's what they really enjoy, and just like you wouldn't like someone writing you off as lazy and crazy (get it, hehe) because you DON'T do those things, I don't think you should write other do-it-all moms off as self-indulging gossipers. Sure, there are those out there, but there are also the homemade moms who really love their children and who do all they do because they consider it their life's work. And their children never suffer because of it. I totally don't think anyone can do it all, but I think it's important to always try and be the best parent we can be, and if that involves being homemade, great. What really pains me is how we, as women, have so much pressure coming from so many directions to be one thing or another: the perfect Mom, a domestic goddess, the bread-winner of the family, etc. We put way too much weight on each other, and on ourselves, when in the end, we ALL make the world a better place, even if we have to do it with blood, sweat, and tears, literally. So yay for all moms out there, regardless of what type they are, for doing their part to further our species.
M :)

Helene said...

Are your sister and my sister secretly related? I read your description of your sister and she sounds exactly like mine!!

No one can be Supermom...I do believe that some moms set standards for themselves and feel like they fail if they don't do everything they set out to do. Sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the roses and enjoy where you're at...just BEING with your kids, really being with your kids.

This was a great always express your thoughts so beautifully!

Rebecca said...

A great post! I'm not a mom - and part of the reason because I just don't know how I could possibly do it all, I barely get myself out the door on time, thanks for this, it's a great perspective!

Stopping by from SITS :)

Beth P. said...

Stopping by from SITS. Happy Friday!

I wrote a post about the type of mom I didn't want to be a while ago and there are a lot of similarities to yours. I'm a working mom, I probably alawys will be, and while that may not be my dream (I don't know what my dream is!) I can only do the best I can with what I've got. I do know that what I've got is an amazing family and if it comes down to limiting my children to their activities so they can enjoy the family as well, then so be it. I totally think it is personal preference and being home and doing everything handmade vs. working and doing what we can are both right answers.

Lola said...

I fall somewhere in between, I suppose. I'm not one to sign my son up for everything, stick to one sport at a time and his drum lessons. Running around all the time stresses him out as much as it does me, so we keep it simple.

I also learned to limit my volunteering at school so my head doesn't explode ;)

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