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April 20, 2006

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Women are born mothers and are ready to sacrifice their lives for their kids.

Moms stand by you through thick and thin but where are you when they need you mots.

I read that book last year while pregnant with my son (who is 6 months now). I am glad I read it beforehand because it made me realize how badly things could get out of hand if I let them. Because of that, I try very hard to just cruise along, not plan too many activities and not try to stuff my son's life full of what I like to call those Perfect Childhood Moments. My philosophy is, Memories Happen, They Are Not Made.

Thanks for this! Right on! I stayed at home the first 9 months. I think the first 3 months I never went anywhere without Moomin other than the grocery or drugstore. It wasn't good for me, for him, or my relationship!

While I was working it was especially hard to connect with other parents and moms. I'd be out at the toddler playground at 6pm feeling wistful and super lonely.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It's funny to me now that I used to look at all of my Mommy friends with such envy, wanting nothing more than to be a part of the club. What I didn't realize is that for every amazing, supportive woman out there, there is another waiting to build herself up by knocking others down. Such a travesty that we as women will allow ourselves to funnel our amazing energy into such negativity. I guess the only remedy is to seek out and surround ourselves with those who understand that in the end we all have the same goal: raising our kids to be healthy, happy, and loving. That being said, I'm moving the baby monitor to HIS side of the bed, putting my pillow over my head, and gonna get as much of a full nights sleep as I can! (After I send the few I know over here to get a breath of fresh air!!)

First of all: thanks for a beautiful post well written.

Some thing I'd like to add: who said that only mothers can raise children or make sure they're well? I opt for a couple of people rasing children together. Mothers, fathers, relatives, caregivers...

Maybe then our children would learn that the world is a big place with lots of caring people in it.

I'm a WAHM with a WAHHusband and a helpful MIL, and kindergarten. It really helps not to feel responsible for every thing my son will turn out to be. (As if I were if I were SAHM. With absent husband.)

I love this post! I hope you don't mind, but I featured it on BlogHer.org Thanks for letting me share you with the world. ;-)

Me, too MOTR, me too.

Thanks for your thoughts everyone. I imagine we have some level of guilt now and then, and but my new mantra is that we do what we have to do to make things work.

Some of us (kvetch...) have to do a lot more to pick up the slack. Perhaps, however, other moms will be more willing to help out and do what they can. Even if it's just making a phone call and rescuing you for 10 minutes from a screaming baby or TEEN :)

Very well said. I'm so glad there's someone like you out there speaking out for us moms. Not that there aren't others, but you have a way with words that gets right to the point, that makes it all clear. I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, I may just have to talk about it on my blog today!

Great post and thought-provoking comments, as usual. Sometimes the sacrifices are necessary - and sometimes - you don't have a choice. Sometimes you don't like making those sacrifices, but you do it anyway, and lovingly. I do not "blame" my children or hold them responsible for the sacrifices I have to make, but I also do not have many choices. Options experienced by my peers and friends and outlined here are all sound great to me. Just not how my particular life works. I know. Suck it up!

Well said Kristen!

I totally agree with you that moms should try not to neglect themselves and their own needs. I think that if you do, your children could suffer. My mom did that a little and that is partly why I'm so screwed up!

Great post! I actually did the sacrificial mother thing, though it wasn't purposeful, it just kind of happened. Then, suddenly, my kids went to school and I realized I had nothing to do and no idea who I was outside being a Mom.

Like you, I don't regret my choice to stay at home. I never felt demeaned or like I was wasting my time and talent. But I do wish I had given more thought to what would happen when kids were not my sole focus in life anymore.

And yes, there were days where I felt I would go out of my mind if I didn't get away from my kids and do something more challenging than crashing Percy and Thomas together over, and over, and over again.

It was those times that I envied and admired working Moms.

The thing I love about the blogs I read (most of which show up on your links) is that they all seem to have a pretty good balance going. If it wasn't for you guys, I'd still think I was a "bad mother" for letting my daughter cry (a lot), for drinking wine while breastfeeding, for plopping her down on her playmat for extended periods of time while I blog, etc, etc, etc. Not that I ever felt too much guilt about those things--but I assumed that most mothers out there were more diligent in their application of motherhood than I was. Happily, that's not the case.

I would go absolutely insane without a little me time. I have to be creative, waste time watching mindless tv and work out. My daughter and husband are very important to me but I am painfully aware that if I do not take care of myself they suffer.

oh, precisely. PRECISELY.
We have to be happy to be good moms. And while I love my pumpkinpie, I would not be happy staying at home full-time. It's simply not for me. Some people thrive on it. Then it's a great choice for them. For me, I love my work, and I love having something that is mine outside of the home. So I come home happier and ready to give her my attention and have real time focused on her. And meanwhile, she loves daycare, so I feel like it's good all around.

I think it helped me, too, that my own mom worked and I went to daycare, so I knew it was okay for the kid, which helps remove some of that potential guilt that plagues plenty of moms who do or might want to go out to work.

Thank you for saying this, Kristen! I am actually writing this right now as PBS Kids plays in the background because I need an outlet. I admit that after giving all of myself 24/7 I have a tendancey to go a little wacko sometimes, which is no good for anyone. And I agree with Mom101--the lack of societal support is a huge problem.

I loved this post and applaud you for speaking out to support this kind of mompowerment. I have to believe that not only does a happy mom = a happy kid, but also that little boys growing up seeing their moms take care of their own needs might have more respect for women when they are older and little girls might learn to not self-sacrifice to the point of losing themselves . . . [I'm not a mom and this is just a theory so take it with a grain of talc ; )]

You meant sacrifical parenting right? ... no judgement.. and I do wanna ask have you got to Miriam's book yet? I would love to know what you think.

It is highly underrated:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580051294/qid=1145561583/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-5448601-2334269?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Finally how timely to the angst du jour over at my house

Slow hand clap. Standing O. Thunderous applause.

But, dude, I need you to slow down on the irresistably thought-provoking posts because I. Can't. Keep. Up. My must-post-on list is getting seriously backlogged because you keep raising issues that I have to go work over in my Bad Mother lair. Today, I was almost finished, and I come wandering over here during a brain-fart break and gah if you haven't said stuff to send me careening madly off in more directions.

But. You did give me a powerful go-to-Blogher argument.

Big kisses for that. And for making me/us think, as always.

Great post. I have gotten a lot of crap in the last 4.4 years for things I did or did not do with my kids. I loved your points.

Good for you for figuring out what some Moms never do. One thing I've learned is that I really don't need to put alot of stock into how other women parent. It's just not my business. I've carved out my own little parenting style and except for the yelling, rocking back and forth and drinking, it works pretty well. (Okay, I don't do all that too often, but we do what we've gotta to get by, right?)

Moms are human though and there will always be judgemental Moms. Moms who sacrifice themselves for the sake of appearance. Moms who play into the competitive nature of motherhood itself. I think we just need to take ownership of our own style and go with it. At the same time offer support and validation to those we are friends with. It so rocks when we do that.

i am standing here doing the cabbage patch dance right now. "go, K, go K, go K..."

this all fits so well with the feminist discussions going on with mrs fortune and mom101 right now.

ok, this has given me the final push to do that dr sears post (just not had the time). i think so much of that sacrificial mother stuff can be located right in the pages of his Baby Book. (a book I took as Bible for about 4 months until EXTREME sleep deprivation got the better of me. AND SAVEd ME)

A couple of things your post brought up for me:

(1) It is interesting to me that (given the big stink we have all made over Katie Holmes' "silent" birth") that so many of us will do ANYTHING to keep their infants from crying.

(2) I completely agree that we need a little more love for ourselves and one another. This is a hard job. For many of us who have left demanding, stressful, exciting jobs, it is natural to put our all into parenting, but it is too easy to forget that even at its worst, our paid jobs had vacation, sick days and the occasional slow day for cleaning the desk.

Reading your post had another impact for me - it actually made me feel lucky. I have a husband who does a lot of the baby care and entertainment; having a colicky baby got me used to her crying, which made letting the girl cry herself to sleep once in a while much more bearable; and I've got an incredibly flexible part time job in my chosen field. Hey, I even shower daily!

Thanks for posting on this. Thoughtful as usual.

"I realize that being a mother is not about giving up yourself."

Could I love you any more right now? No, not really. Unless you wrapped this post around a box of Teuscher truffles and mailed it to me.

But the truth is, we will continue to feel conflicted (if not guilty) because we WANT to do it all. I want to work. I want to stay home. I want to go out with my coworkers for martinis after work. I want to be home to tuck her in at night. I want to feel that flush of excitement when my boss says, "great job" and I want to feel that flush of excitement when Thalia says "bababababba."

What we really need is not judgment, but a little help. Affordable and accessible childcare would be a start. Manditory vacation time would be another. We can't do everything but we could do more if only someone would help us prioritize.

Hey, maybe it will be you? I wouldn't put it past you.

I thank you for identifying a common thread in all these interesting posts. As moms, we set such a strong example for our kids -- we want to show them how we can be happy in life, make the best of the events that are handed us (whether we work or stay home), treat others with respect.

Some days I struggle with this -- we all do -- feeling like I'm sacrificing too little or too much. All I need to remember is that I want to teach my girls how to be a happy, fulfilled woman. They will learn that from me. I want them to model acceptance, tolerance -- I don't want them to model sacrificing all aspects of themselves for someone else, whether it be husband, workplace, or children.

Ive wrangled a long time with teh sacrifical mother role - its part of the reason I started my blog . I wanted to do something just for ME ME ME! I'm getting better at saying - you handle it.

United front! United front! :)

You could start a revolution, Kristen. Or run for office. You've got my vote!

Exactly! Thanks for putting words to our thoughts and feelings.

*claps*

Extremely well said!

Your last sentence pretty much says it all. And that goes for all women everywhere, not just moms, although I suppose it is much more apparent and there are far more opportunities to tear one another down over our mothering choices.

I heard a news story recently about one of those fancy science experiments that come to no-brainer conclusions: basically, "depressed mom = depressed kids," and, shockingly enough, "happy mom = happy kids." No kidding.

Of course, giving mothers the acceptance and support they need to do what makes them happy would mean - oh, I don't know - changing some of our cultural attitudes about women, and maybe treating them as people?

Hmm, I think I woke up on the feminist side of the bed. Another great post, Kristen!

I think lots of moms put way too much pressure on themselves to be the perfect mom, just like you said. That's why kids are so overscheduled these days, that's why people are so highstrung about education that kids are in tutoring sessions and afterschool-school and so on--all because we are so intent on being the very very very best mother in the world. (And don't get me started on all the crap that we buy our kids.)
I'm making a real effort to have confidence in my kids and my love for them--they are going to be fine, I am going to make mistakes and they are going to survive them. It also helps that I conciously do NOT want them to be the "best" at anything--to me, it would be very limiting if my kid was a math prodigy, say, or an Olympic athelete.
All that just to say: of course, I agree with you!

Well said! Why can't we all just get along? Wether you stay-at-home, choose to work or need to work, we, as women really need to just try to support each other.

A happy mom is a good mom. There have been times I've made a joke to people about how when I drop my child off at his "children's day out" I feel 30 pounds lighter." This has been met with a dirty look. But I do. Why NOT be honest? He needs his time to play and have friends and I need my time to be "Lisa", the woman I was before I had kids and the woman I will be when the boy grows up and moves out. When I pick him up, I feel refreshed and happy to see him.

Thanks for the love. I've been a SAHM and a WOHM, with a job I loved and with a job I hated, and frankly I'm happier when I work. That's not to say that I might quit my job and pursue other interests, but the SAHM gig is not for me.

And while most of the time I merely shrug at those who scorn my choices, one point really does rankle - when other mothers say, "Oh I can't possibly imagine letting someone else raise my child."

That is so offensive on so many levels that it just renders me speechless. And so ignorant as well.

Because not only has our family developed close relationships with our girls' caregivers, both here and back in NJ - who in turn tell our girls every day how much they love them, and a little extra love is a GOOD thing - but I've BEEN one of those caregivers. I loved the kids I cared for. I wiped noses and applied band-aids and kissed cheeks, just as I do for my own girls. It's insulting - to WOHMs and to professional caregivers - to assume that they don't love their kids as much as SAHMs or that they are doing them a disservice. But it's the ignorance that I just can't stomach.

How. many. times. have. you. had. this. conversation. with. a military. "WIFE"?????

UGH. It's as if the mere mention that I may want to work after having a child (IF that ever happend) has litterally burned their ears, and they recoil instantly as if I still held pot from which the boiling water came!

Judgement is inherent, I think. I don't know that we can help it. I just wish people would be a bit more INFORMED before passing judgement on others.

What's that old saying, "Walk a mile in someone's shoes"???

What ever happened to that frame of mind?

Great post, hun.

Oh!! And I also think it's totally OK to leave your daughter with your husband for a couple of weeks while you visit your firend in England...

I'm just sayin. =)

I think everything you said is all stuff that we intuitively know but find terribly hard to put into practice. It's good to be reminded that it's okay to think of yourself without guilt.

And even though I'm sometimes bored stiff with being a SAHM/WAHM, I don't regret leaving my full-time job one bit.

vern and i have talked about this so much.

she is the best mom. i hope we raise our children to be as grounded and 'centered' as Finance. she is truely a role model.

and her big secret?

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILDREN. They will tell you everything you need to know. LISTEN. Be available. Spend time with them.

As for the rest? Seems like a very slippery slope to get caught up in what the mainstream has to say about the job of parenting. You have to define that one on your own, and to hell with the rest of it.

but what you said was important. about that study. the happy mom is the best mom. kids pick up on everything.

have you seen that TLC commercial with the mom and daughter in the car? shes talking on the phone. rather...screaming...and they come to a stop behind a guy who isn't moving at the light. daughter gets out of the car to 'handle this one'...and starts screaming at the driver. very poignant in my opinion.

take care of yourself FIRST. take care of your marriage. the more whole you are the more you have to offer your children. you are a reflection of what they will value.

i hope to exude confidence, serenity, patience, and tolerance. but its all a learning process.

good topic. once again.

I agree! Finally someone is saying it! I don't regret leaving my job either, but I recently had an argument with The Boyfriend about how he claims my job at home is "easy." He said when he stays with her on Saturdays so I can go to my mother's to dry laundry he can get EVERYTHING done (cleaning, taking care of her). Does he realize I work from home, too? I challenged him to watch her, clean the house, take his own shower, get dressed (all the stuff us mommies try to do every day) AND that I would be calling him giving him work-related tasks to complete. (i.e. Boyfriend, can you type up this 6 page letter, by today, which means you are going to have to do it with Leah up- and try to keep her from shutting off the computer so you don't lose all your unsaved data!) He couldn't do it.

What Jaime said!

I am a working mom and I feel no anger/guilt/subservience/smugnesss about my status as a working mom versus that of a SAHM. I see huge benefits in what they have and I don't - just like I see huge benefits to me and my kids for the situation I am in. Being a mom is hard ass work and we all deal with juggling lots of things all day whether we are doing in an office or a mini-van.

And Krista - the daycare planning.adjusting guilt sucks, but you will soon find out that there is a wonderful guilty little pleasure called "Lunch Hour" and "right after I dropped the kids off I stopped for coffee, alone" that helps assuage that daycare guilt. Good luck to you, and trust your gut.

Acceptance. Support. Choice. Here here!

Well said. One of the best things I've done for myself and my marriage was to set up date nights with my man and hire a babysitter. We come back more connected and refreshed and better for our little guy. Girls nights out are important too!

Kristen,

My favourite part of your post was this sentence:

It's not about being so run down and trampled over that your semblance of self is totally enmeshed with the people around you. It's about doing what you think is best for your kids while still being a human yourself (with good balance and the health and safety of your child in your mind, of course).

That is really what causes all the drama. What some people need to do to be human theirselves, and what others need to do are different. Some people need to sleep train so that they can be human and better parents, some parents have their guilt eat them silly if they let their child cry and therefore they can't be human and better parents.

It's all about personality, and about what we require as people to do the best we can.

Maybe the people who are so ridgid about thier beliefs on topics like "sleep training" are really just insecure about their own philosophy.

The idea of being totally emeshed with the people around you is the most dangerious aspect of motherhood I think.

If you put yourself in that place, you have lost yourself, and your individuality, and you will be miserable, and judgemental.

On personal note, I am going back to work in September full time, and I am in the process of looking for daycare now. The guilt is eating me alive.

Why do I have to feel guilty about going back to work?

Agh.

Totally.

I've been trying to live that balance since I had Cordy. Luckily, I had friends with a child who were excellent role models, and taught Aaron and I how to be good parents without sacrificing all that you are.

We went out on our first "date night" after baby when she was 3 weeks old. It was only for a couple of hours, but it was needed. We still try to get a night out as a couple once a month, and we try to give each other time to pursue our interests sans child.

Besides, we don't want Cordy to grow up thinking that the world revolves around her. We want her to feel loved and secure and know we'll be there for her when she needs us. But we also plan to teach her that mommy and daddy are also people who deserve to have their needs met as well.

I think being a well-rounded person is a great role-model image to present to a child.

Well said Kristen, and you're damn right. I'm a mother, but that's not all I am. It's a large part of who I am but it's a component of who (and what) I am. There are other areas of myself that I need to tap into and keep in check, and I make sure I do that. And you know what? I don't feel guilty about it at all. Because it's what *I* need to do to be happy, on a whole. You know?

You rock!!!

I am a working mom and so I am coming from a diferent point of view. But ultimitly, we are all the same. We want our babies to be happy and healthy. We want them to adore us and we want them to be the best children ever.

Mothers make choices based on what is best for themselves and their families. No one choice is right or wrong; its just what is best for that particular woman and family.

I applaud SAHMs b/c I am not sure I could handle that life. But then again, I secretly wish I had a choice on whether to work or not b/c I am not sure that I would!

How about we call accept each other for what we are, make friends, and show our babies that just b/c someone makes a different choice doesnt make them wrong!!??

I am in the middle of reading the infamous "Mommy Wars" book so stay tuned for a few ranting posts of my own!!!

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