Learning What Not to Be

Seems like everything related to the world of being a Mom is complex, complicated, fraught with controversy at every turn and chock full of freely expressed personal opinions. Not to mention the black and white “this is universally wrong” and “these things are universally good” camps.

It can be exhausting. As if just the straight up survival of pregnancy, kids, work and life wasn’t tiring enough. It’s important though so we keep slogging through information, keep digging down to the next layer of reserves and keep searching for any small improvements over where we are.

Lately I’ve been trying to come to grips with what being a Good Mom means to me. And, subsequently, to my kids. I grew up in and run around in a lot of homeschool circles. Along with a lot of very conservative Christian crowds where the definitions and teachings of what constitutes the high and holy calling of being a wife and mother can get pretty close to 100% martyrdom with calls to lay down your life, your sleep, your right to self, and any number of other ‘selfish’ things. Conversely I’ve seen a lot of women who just flat out don’t “get” why their life priorities, bodies or anything else should have to change to accomodate children. Children should simply arrive into their lives with as little discomfort as possible, be scheduled into submission as soon as possible and life inconveniences caused by said children is to be resented to the fullest.

Either end of this spectrum has me squirming in discomfort. It seems increasingly difficult to choose my own path of what constitutes me being a good Mom to our kids. Sometimes my priorities shift on a day to day basis and other times I feel comfortable making a plan and holding the course for weeks to months at a time with only the most minor of tweaks. I am still a very long way from figuring out what I should be…but, I do feel as though I’ve gotten a lot closer to what I should not be.

Our kids need a Mom who is their Mom. As unique as they are. And, if you’ve met my kids you know that is preeeeety far down the scale from normal or average. I should not be like any other Mom who is following a life plan that reads more like a personality profile dictated by a Preacher, Teacher, Politician, Psychologist or the opinionated neighbor down the street.

I should not be guilted into a deferential facade when socializing around parents who’s parenting philosophies differ sharply from my own. Even if they freely express disparaging comments about the very parenting techniques I am choosing to use.

I should never ever be ashamed or embarrassed by our children. Motivated to work harder on problem areas? Sure. Pray they don’t catch some awful disease from the bugger they just consumed out of their nose? Absolutely. But that is a whole lot different than smarting under the shame of a child who has failed behavioral expectations by being ::shock:: a child. Even a precociously brilliant social un conformist of a child.

I should not let my world revolve around our children to the point of my entire being and identity is swallowed up by who and what they are. Or what they are eating. Or pooping. Or saying. Or wearing. Mommyhood may be what takes up the vast majority of my mental, physical reserves and time these days but it should not be what primarily defines me as a human being. My husband married a woman who was not a living incubator, doubling as a milk cow or a drill sergeant attempting to structure a daily routine and work around offspring. He deserves to see a glimpse of the pre-child woman he married every so often and amazingly enough, kids deserve to see that Mom is a whole lot more than *just* Mom. Keeping that woman with interests and conversational abilities beyond what the 2 yo managed to flush down the toilet today alive may mean cutting corners off the idealistic self imposed perfect Mom profile we all keep in the back of our minds to flog ourselves with occasionally. We all know we can’t live up to the Perfect Mom Profile and it’s very existence is merely a tool by which to torture ourselves with yet we hang onto some customized version of it anyway. I should not model self torture to our children.

I should never ever pretend to be perfect. Our kids are gonna fail. Are going to make mistakes. I’m definitely going to fail them and fail myself. A harder lesson than achieving life success is learning how to accept that life is hard. Life is messy. Life contains mistakes. Sometimes a lot of them. Personal responsibility, learning how to apologize and work to make wrongs right are far more valuable lessons than learning how to build a good image.

I should not rescue them from life. Every instinct of my mother-bear nature wants to help them up the ladder at the playground. Wants to intervene when the bully kid walks up and fires off an insult while evaluating if my kid is their next favorite target. Wants to hide them away from the ugliness that rears it’s head in even the most innocent places of the world around us. Wants to pretend that childhood is all lemondrops, rainbows, unicorns, magic and marshmallows (hfcs free of course). There is a time and place for appropriate parental involvement and presence to be made known. But our kids deserve the chance to see if they can figure out how to balance on their own before being swooped down on by RescueMom. If they can come up with a way to deal with the bully and turn them into a friend. To identify and express outrage against the injustices of this world as only the mind of a child can.

And perhaps most important of all? I should not be afraid. Of being different. Of being the same. Of failing. Of getting old. Of being tired. Of not getting enough done. Of doing too much. Of pushing too hard. Of being too lenient. Of being a Mom. Even if childrearing is by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It’s Ok though. One day I’ll actually go skydiving and then childrearing won’t seem scary at all.

I’m off to kiss our sleeping kids. Sweet rosy cheeks tucked away in bed with unruly blonde hair spilling all over the place. I should not allow my heart to actually burst with love and adoration as I gaze at them. On second thought, maybe I can just let that one slide. Just this once.

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