Sunday, May 18, 2014

Motherhood

I know that this is like really 3 months ago, but I was thinking about Gwyneth Paltrow's epic attack on all mothers the other day and it got me to thinking about all of the different mothers in my own life.  

As a 21 year old mother, I had this idea in my head that the moms who loved their kids the most, were the ones who didn't work, who stayed home with their kids. 13 years, another coast, and a sort of job later, I don't believe that any more. Here in Vienna Virginia, I am surrounded by all types of mothers. Working moms, stay at home moms, single moms, married moms, religious moms, moms with lots of kids, moms  few kids, moms of kids who go to daycare, moms of kids with au-pairs, home school moms, PTA moms, moms who like kids, moms who don't like kids. Did I leave anyone out? Now, I assume that the mommy war is alive and well. The battle of opinions about what is best for kids, but I am lucky enough to be living in a mom bubble right now. The mothers in my community want no part of that battle.  We have come to the same conclusion that it doesn't matter who you are, if you are a mom, you probably go to bed feeling guilty about something every night, so you should help out and cut slack. It really is wonderful here. There is a mother up the street, who knows that I have several children and a husband who works all the time, she doesn't care that this is a choice I have made, she just does what she can to help, Her au-pair drives Jonah to swim practice every day because it makes my life easier, In turn, every so often, I take the neighbor children to the bus stop every once in a while when their mother has an early work meeting. The moms in my pre-school group, have just as many children and busy husbands like I do, but they routinely bail me out of my poor time management mistakes. I want to make sure that I express my gratitude for the mothers who surround me who are kind and selfless toward me and my children, when they could easily make me feel more guilty about my choices than I already do. My life is full of friendships with other moms who consistently give each other the benefit of the doubt and look for ways to help one another when it would be easier to just take care of themselves.

  That's not to say the the mom community on the East Coast is perfect, it has it's flaws. I am routinely given unsolicited advice about the things my kids do in public, which is a charming trait of many high-strung D.C.-area-ites. Yes, ma'am I know that my child is sweating profusely. Yes, my son does always smell like this, yes I know that I shouldn't buy a 1 year old a churro at 10AM. No I don't know how my son got to school and realized that he forgot his shoes. But you know what? I have been surrounded by such great people who have given me the benefit of the doubt when I didn't deserve it, that I have learned to give others the benefit of the doubt too. Do you know what I've learned? That when I  assume that silly advice comes from a place of well meaning, I am much happier.

  Now, I know that my bubble is probably an exception, and that there are other moms who's own mom guilt is piled on top of with more guilt from other moms. There are comments made, pressures exerted, blogs posted, and looks given every day that deliberately intend to make other mothers feel guilty about their choices, and you know what? I mean, my whole blog was started because of a strong visceral reaction to mommy bloggers passive aggressive utopian posts. The battle is stupid.

 I have noticed something recently in the stores, when I see a child having a meltdown, I feel for them, I do. There is nothing worse than having a shopping trip ruined by a screaming kid. It is embarrassing, it can come without any warning, it makes you feel like a failure. I always try to catch the mother's eye. If the exasperated mother looks at me, I say, "I've been there sister, Hang in there!" and then look for some way to help. But you  know what? These moms never look at me. They keep their head down and avoid my gaze, because they feel alone. It makes me sad, but I get it.





 This clip is very near and dear to my heart for so many reasons. First, in high school, I had a huge crush on a boy, a basketball player, who was nicknamed "Shooter McGavin" because he spoke of himself in the third person, and because of the 'shooter' sign he did with his fingers every time he made a shot. I call him, the one that got away . . .  but I digress. I also love this clip because when I hear Adam Sandler saying, "I was on this tour for one reason, money. But now I got a new reason, kickin' your ass!" I think that there is a lot we can learn. Often times, we go through life doing something because we've been told it's the right thing to do, and then something happens, a switch flips inside, and all of the sudden, even though the end goal is the same, our motive shifts and we want to do it better. So maybe that's how it is with being a citizen of motherhood. We are civil to the other moms around us because it's the right thing to do, but maybe we could all try a little harder to not only cut each other some slack, but to make a lighten the burden of another mother.

1 comment:

Sarah d' said...

I love this so much, Angela. You really should get it published (even though that might ironically shoot the purpose of your blog in the foot). So many women need to hear this. You might think about Seagullah (minus the video clip at the end. . . unfortunately. That happens to be one of my fav parts of that one). Thanks for sharing this insight. I need it and I keep needing it and it seems like I can never be reminded of it enough.