Archives for posts with tag: mothers

Having my first born start kindergarten next week is bringing out all of the ugly in me. I’m so conflicted and resistant and upset, not because I’m going to miss her or that I don’t think she’s ready, it’s because I am being forced to confront some truths about myself. I am a firm believer in public schools and I have no qualms about seceding my everyday influence to a teacher that I haven’t yet met (ok, maybe not ‘no qualms,’ but very little qualms). Many of my friends and family work in public schools and that is precisely the reason I am not concerned with the kind of people she will have as role models. And it’s because of this fact that I, and my husband, believe that schooling is the most successful when parents and teachers are a united front. No undermining one another. Keep the child’s best interest at heart. Get through the school year with dignity and grace. But, I am having cold feet about such a big commitment. The way I see it, when she gets on the bus, we are committing to 13 years of backing up teachers’ rules, a school calendar, curriculum, and all that goes with it, whether we agree or not. Granted, most of the time we will align, but there will be times when we won’t. I feel like this is when parenting will get even harder. Ugh. This transition is a tough pill to swallow after being home with her for 5 years and making all of the decisions on her behalf. But now, we’re on someone else’s radar, and schedule. Gone are the days of impromptu day trips or moving on from an activity at our own pace. Gone are the days of hand picking who she will take classes with and with whom she spends most of her time. I know, that’s what weekends and summers are for, but it’s absolutely not the same. The overall time that she is out of the house will just barely be less than when she is in the house. I’m happy for her because she will have experiences and learning opportunities that she doesn’t get at home, but I will miss that freedom to do as we please and to answer to no one.

I know she is ready for kindergarten and she will love every minute of it. There are so many positives and things to look forward to her in her school year, but I am just not there yet. I am crying over the mere mention of the word. Next Tuesday, she’ll be shepherded into a well-run machine with little more than a card around her neck stating her name and homeroom. She’ll have some hard lessons right up front. As will I. We’ll learn that what is best for her personally, may not be the best for the whole class, or the school, or the district. It’s a great thing to learn, to change one’s perspective, and to see oneself in relation to others, but there is definitely a part of me that mourns for her loss of individuality. At home, she is the center of my universe. At school, she will share that center with 19 other children, and several hundred more. I see the importance of this life lesson, and I am excited to see her grow among her peers, but I am just not ready to accept that she’ll be lost in the sea of children sitting in the lunchroom or bobbing on the playground. I seek comfort in knowing that she loves being around people and this will not impact her in the least, but for me, this transition is huge.

I am not ready for this. And worse still, I can’t slow down the clock. I’ve been told to wear sunglasses at the bus stop, so she can’t see that I’m crying, but I already know I’m going to ugly cry, and there aren’t sunglasses big enough to hide that.

Last week when I read about the comments to female Bernie Sanders supporters by Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright to fall in line behind Hillary Clinton, I was surprised that their message was one of judgment and derision. I always thought that feminists tend to raise women up, not tear them down. Right? I initially shrugged both of them off as bitter and out of touch. I read an article today about Adele’s Vogue cover photo, prominently displaying a tattoo of her son’s name, and how she touts motherhood in ways that other famous women have not been able to get away with. I believe the author of that article suggested that perhaps she is not a feminist if her family has higher priority than her art. Really? So, naturally this got me thinking. Am I a feminist? Can someone like me be a housewife and a feminist? This is not a new question. I have struggled with this personally over the past 5 years, as have many others. I have always considered myself to be a feminist, I believe in equal opportunities for women, and yet I gave up my career to stay home and raise my children. When I first decided to stay home, I was deeply conflicted about living on someone else’s merits. I always considered myself to be an equal partner, but once I gave up my earning power, I felt inferior in my relationship. I put that pressure on myself, this was not coming from my husband. Feminism is about achieving equal status as men in work, in politics, and in life. Feminism is deeply rooted in the notion that procreation is not the end-all for women. I understand what the movement was rejecting, but now that I somewhat embody those rejections, I have to say that I don’t think I am a feminist.  And I’m ok with that. However, I still believe in the basis of feminist principles and I’ve modified them according to my situation.  I don’t know if there is a word for this yet, I’m sure it’s somewhere in the post-feminist movement, but there has to be a place for women like me, women who elect to put others first and are equally contributing to society. I really do wonder if the movement is dead. It’s fascinating to me, that at a time when biologically I am the most feminine that I have ever been in my entire life, having given birth, that I feel the least feminist. Is that really the intention behind this movement? I guess I always saw feminism as advocating for myself, and making elbow room for my career, and not being willing to compromise. I never extended those principles into motherhood. Is it even possible? These days,  I have taken on a more holistic and conciliatory approach to my life and family in that everyone plays a unique role, and yes, sometimes it is gender normative, yet we are all equal and appreciated. I still advocate for myself, but the difference now is that my career is not in the public sphere. I know, a big feminist no-no.

When did I make this switch? I’m really not sure. When I first became a mother, it was a jarring transition: physically, emotionally, and in my marriage. Up until that point, my husband and I shared the load, and I had every intention of continuing that equality into our growing family. Something changed though. Carrying a baby in the womb and giving birth is a completely female experience, there is no equivalent for men.  That experience was my first clue that the balance of power shifts sometimes and it’s not something to fear, but rather embrace. It is not and cannot always be equal. And that’s ok. If anything, having a baby was the first time, that as a woman, I felt superior to men. Yup, superior. That is a pretty awesome feeling.

So where does this leave me? I’m not sure. I feel women should have equal say and equal compensation and equal rights, but also that we should be open to different interpretations of what it is to be a strong woman. I don’t feel like I am a subordinate for making the choice to put my family first. In fact, I feel the opposite. I find empowerment in bringing happiness, love, and order to my household. While I am home, I have also helped other working women by caring for their children, and I feel that I am helping them achieve their highest potential. I’ve elected to take on these roles because I thoroughly enjoy them, not because I was told that I should enjoy them. What would Madeleine or Gloria say about that?!

I started a post last week over Labor Day weekend, but never got around to finishing it. I read this article today on NPR and said to myself, ok, ok, I’ve got to pick this back up.

Any Masha and the Bear fans? It’s fabulous. I love the episode when Bear teaches her to play piano and she says something along the lines of, “I never knew how much music was missing from my life”. As I was painting my daughter’s room over Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t help but repeat those words over and over in my head. I was rocking out and dancing and it seriously brought me back to my childless days of music, concerts, weddings and parties. I miss those days. I can clearly remember moments in my life and what songs I listened to at the time. Some of my favorite memories with my husband are centered around music. I can’t believe we used to go to concerts on weeknights and still get up for work the next day. That is a foreign concept in my world right now. On more than one occasion, we’d wind up in a really bizarre venue with a not-so-great band and we just rolled with it and had a good time. Imagine this: we used to throw awesome parties with dishes we slaved over for hours or days, like our homemade pizzas and tamales, and we meticulously perfected our playlist to go along. And then there were weddings. We danced embarrassingly bad at many of our friends’ and families’ weddings. Sorry that everyone had to see that, but we had such a good time, especially at the wedding playing all 90’s music. I felt so old and so young at the same time.

All of this talk makes me realize that I haven’t listened to any new music in years. Kids music doesn’t count, except for Father Goose. That is pretty good music. Anyway, this situation is not good. I want my kids to see how music moves people. I want them to create memories around music and not just know all the words to whatever soundtrack Disney is churning out. I want them to feel confident to sing and dance however they please to whatever strikes their fancy. I have decided I am not going to play kids music anymore when they want an impromptu dance party. My husband decided this from the get-go, but I thought it would be good for them to learn easy nursery rhymes, so we could sing together. I was also trying to avoid obscenities or inappropriate topics for my toddler, but easy music is boring and it doesn’t challenge you. I need to get back in the game. Anyone else feel this way? Anyone have advice on how to find the time to seek out new music and incorporate it into family life?

We NEED to stop shaming mothers who are not able to breastfeed. This morning I gave my 7 week old son his last bottle of breast milk. I’m not happy that I have had to switch to formula, but it is the right decision for me and my family. I successfully breastfed 2 children until they were each 13 months. I would consider myself a pro and yet my third child was having great difficulty. I consulted a pediatrician and lactation consultant and I pumped religiously for five weeks while I tried to work through the issues. I cried a lot. I felt shameful. I was so focused on figuring it out and pumping that I lost sight of the main goal of breastfeeding, which is to give the baby nourishment. It shouldn’t have been about me and my ego. Had my son been born last century, he may not have made it. Failure to thrive.

I met with a friend today and she confided that she, too, is having difficulty breastfeeding, trying the same things as me and she, too, felt shame in not being able to give her child the best nourishment. We talked about this article that we both read last week.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/08/11/429392544/im-an-obstetrician-and-i-failed-at-breastfeeding

Initially when I saw the article, I screamed ‘YES! She gets it!’ and I wanted to write a blog post about it, but then I thought that it isn’t really anybody’s business how I nourish my baby. But the next day I went in for my six week post partum appointment, and there I was staring at a poster on the wall that brought all of my feelings and insecurities right back. It said breastfeeding is instinct, it is natural, it is easy, it is beneficial to both mom and baby, it is Best. Yes, I believe it is best, but it is also unrealistic for some women. Seeing my friend today made me realize that many of us carry this shame and even guilt and it needs to stop. The last thing anyone needs, while they are hormonal and sleep deprived with a hungry baby, is judgment from others that what they’re feeding their child is inadequate. I don’t feel shame anymore. My baby is growing and thriving and I have two hours each day of my life back, now that I am not pumping. So, to all the Moms out there who struggled to give your child the Best, but had to settle for the bottle, I salute you, don’t beat yourself up about it, you are a great Mom in my book.