Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

My best

“Mama, can you help me get down?”

But before I could stand up, she fell. Smacked her head right on the sidewalk, after she’s climbed onto the retaining wall in front of our house. It’s probably only a foot and a half high, and the tumble from it sounded worse than it was, of course. But she’s 3, and this was a doozy of an owie, as far as owies go. So the tears came fast and hard.

As I scooped her up to rush her inside, she started wailing, “Mama, you didn’t help me!”

That’s when my tears started falling fast and hard, too.

Not because I thought it was my fault. Even in three short years, I’ve learned I can’t protect her from every fall and failure, nor do I think I should.

I started crying because she’d just articulated my biggest struggle since becoming a mom of two: that while my heart expanded to love two children unconditionally, it almost always feels impossible to be the mom they both need.

And, for the toddler who is less dependent on me than the newborn, it falls disproportionately on her.

I know all I can do is be the best mom I can be in any given moment. But in that given moment, my best felt woefully inadequate.

It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time. I just hope they know that even when my best is merely good enough, it doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of better.

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This photo is from last fall, taken at a football game of our college alma mater.

At first glance, looking at it as my husband handed my phone back to me, I liked it. I thought it was a cute picture of us making a fun memory with our first kiddo, shortly after we learned we’ll be having our second.

I started pulling up my Instagram to share it on social media. But then I looked at it again. All I could see now were the dark circles under my eyes and the crinkles that have started emerging around them when I smile.

Suddenly, I didn’t like the picture so much. I thought if I shared it, those imperfections would be the only thing other people would see as well.

So I didn’t post it. Instead, I feverishly researched eye creams later that night.

And that’s some real bullshit.

It’s bullshit that instead of seeing those wrinkles and dark circles as signs of growing wisdom and experience, I only saw signs of my diminishing value as a woman.

It’s bullshit that instead of admiring them as marks of devotion earned while my heart overflows for a sweet, tiny human who sometimes just needs her mama to lie down with her on a dark, scary night, I bemoaned them as marks of stress and exhaustion.

It’s bullshit that instead of appreciating them as the wear and tear exchanged for the gift of loving a child in such a way that I can’t remember now what I did during my carefree, wrinkle-free previous life — because the one I have now feels infinitely more rich — I only lamented my deepening crow’s feet.

And it’s bullshit that instead of seeing the beauty in it all, I could only see the flaws.

Well, I’m done bullshitting myself. I’m done falling for the lie that age will inevitably diminish the beauty worth sharing in my life.

So I’m sharing it now, imperfections and all. Because despite the inevitable wrinkles, life is always beautiful.

It’s possible the power dynamics in this house have shifted in the toddler’s favor

My husband started a joke in our house where, in response to our toddler shouting “NO!” when he says he wants to do something (as 2-year-olds are wont to do), he replies “Yes! Dads’ rights!” I recently started co-opting this little witicism. 

Today, when I told her that Mommy was hungry and wanted to eat lunch, too, I responded to her inevitable “NO, Mommy!” with “Yes! Moms’ rights!”

Her reply? 

“No! LILY RIGHTS!”

We’ve created a monster. 

Our Exalted Leader, exercising her god-given right to eat chips on the couch. Who am I to stop her? Hey, at least she shared.

Why I march

I march because, while I don’t discredit my own work ethic and determination for my lot in life, I am also a beneficiary of the birth lottery, having arrived in this world on third base, despite never even hitting the ball. I march in support of those who have to work so much harder just to get to on a level playing field. 

I march because despite my hard work, I’ve still been humiliated at the office by a good ol’ boy co-worker who didn’t think twice about patting me on the ass in front my colleagues.

I march because I advise college women who confide in me when they’ve been sexually assaulted, by men who still don’t understand that women’s bodies are not theirs for the taking. 

I march because though my daughter is smart, energetic, curious and caring, society still values her most for how she looks. 

I march because if I ever have a son, I never want him to feel that he has to hide his emotions behind a mask, for fear that revealing this typically “feminine” trait will mean he is less of a man. I march because I want him — and society — to know that he is just as deserving of emotional richness as any woman is.

I march to honor the trailblazers who laid the groundwork for equality, and I march because we still have miles to go before it is achieved. 

So we will march those miles. 

Together.

I will choose love

My heart felt so heavy today. I cried. A lot. But, when it comes down to it, my white, middle-class, privileged family will likely not bear the burden of this election’s outcome, not like others will. My heart aches for them, and I currently fear for what our country’s future may hold.

But I will not let fear win. I will choose love. I will choose love, even for those who supported him, because I want to believe they made the choice they did because they were also hurting in some way, and sought to feel validated and heard. 

I will choose love because that is the only way I can raise this feisty little girl to treat others with kindness, compassion and respect, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, intelligence, socioeconomic status, education level, physical ability, or the millions of other qualities that make America so robustly diverse. 

I will choose love by treating others that way myself. I will choose love because I have succumbed to the fear in the past, and it was a pretty shitty way to exist. I will choose love because the world I want my daughter to grow up in chooses love, even in the face of fear. I will choose love.

Dear people who were parents before I was a parent: I’m sorry

 

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Confession time: Before Lily was born, I was a bit judgey toward people with kids who seemed to not always have their shit together 100 percent of the time. Not out loud, necessarily, but I’m sure they could see the judgey look on my judgey little face.

I remember smugly thinking to myself “I’m soooooo glad I am sooooooo god-damn perfect and have sooooo many good habits now, like making home-cooked, certified-organic-and-GMO-free-artisanal meals and exercising 800 times a week and getting 20 hours of sleep a night, which I will obviously keep doing even after I have kids, who will also be perfect and never melt down in the middle of the grocery store because I wouldn’t let them climb the paper towel display! I AM JUST SOOOOO AMAZING AND WILL NEVER NOT HAVE MY SHIT TOGETHER!!!”

Well, ladies and gentlemen,  you heard it here first: I do not, in fact, have my shit together. I recently introduced myself (Allison) as “Lily” and my daughter (Lily) as “Allison.” Last week, I took my toddler to the park with her shoes on the wrong feet, and she noticed before I did. Yesterday, I ate an entire can of olives for lunch. Because I was hungry and tired and, well, they were there.

Here’s the thing. When you become a parent, every last cell in your brain is in some way devoted to making sure you keep your adorable offspring fed and diapered and otherwise alive. Couple that with severe sleep deprivation (which may ease up after the first few months but never really goes away), and what little is left of your “mom brain” is put toward only the most essential tasks, like guzzling coffee in the morning. And, if you’re lucky, not forgetting to brush your teeth afterward.

Other seemingly reasonable tasks — such as responding to a text the same week your friend sent it, remembering to fold laundry within seven days of putting it in the dryer, not getting yogurt on your pants, not remembering you got yogurt on your pants and wearing them again the next day, blogging more than once or twice a year, not wearing your shirt inside out, or knowing the name of that one actor, you know, the one who was in that one movie with that lady from that one show? He has hair and eyes and a mouth, probably? — are relegated to the back burner.

Having been a parent for a year and half now, I understand this. But before, I was Ms. Judgey McJudgerson and basically thought moms and dads just used parenting as a lame excuse for not having their shit together. And for that, I apologize. I now know that we’re all just doing the best we can, and we should give each other — and ourselves — a break.

And, if I could go back in time, rest assured that I would slap that smug, self-righteous look right off my smug, self-righteous face.

New life philosophy: Don’t be a dick

Well, I like to think that’s always been my life philosophy, but I know I’ve committed my fair share of dick moves in my life, intentionally or not.

But motherhood has made me soft, and the current shittiness of the world makes me feel powerless.

But there is one thing I can do, every day, that makes a difference, even if it’s small. And that’s to be kind. Or — if you have a propensity for crude language, like myself — to not be a dick.

No matter a person’s perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, intelligence, socioeconomic status, education level, physical ability, mental state, age, upbringing, attractiveness, weight, occupation, hometown, lifestyle, current mood, hygiene, relationship status, parenting style, annoying tendencies, apparent inability to use a turn signal, or recent history of screwing up your lunch order — we are not actually capable of knowing what it’s like to live their life, despite whatever preconceived notions we might have.

But we are all capable of not being a total dick to them. Even if they were just a total dick to us.

Is this oversimplying things? Of course. I might just be a privileged white girl in Montana, but I’m not naive enough to think that if we all just sing kumbaya and be nice to each other, it will magically erase the deeply ingrained prejudices in our country and the excruciatingly real pain so many people suffer because of them.

But is it going make things worse? In a world much too full of hate and indifference, is going out of your way to show kindness to a fellow human being going to make it worse?

Show compassion. Have empathy. Choose love. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. However it resonates with you, make a concious effort to do it, especially to those in our society who need it the most. Don’t be just another person spewing negative energy into the world.

Is it always that simple? No.

But sometimes, it is.

So when it is, make the choice to be kind. Or at least, don’t be a dick.

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