Apart from what I’ve witnessed at playgrounds, birthday parties, and Thanksgiving dinners, the Mommy Wars rage in my mind. I returned to work only six weeks after my oldest daughter was born and the struggle, the crippling indecisiveness to stay in the workforce or stay at home has remained a constant for seven years.
Parenting outside the box: Celebrating family in all forms.
There are some things you actually have control over when parallel parenting. Sorry, none of these things involve controlling your ex or children.
Many children face invisible challenges. From behavioral issues to physical impairments, the path these kids travel to reach developmental milestones requires immense effort — often by the entire family.
So yes, that is my daughter crying to be rescued from the second rung of a ladder. That is me running to her. But she is brave in ways others cannot see, and I am challenging her in ways they cannot comprehend.
I never know when it will happen. The moments when Time pushes against me. It happened before I had kids, but Time shoves back harder and faster now that I’m watching you grow.
I expect it when we cross the big milestones: Whenever I pack away one size of clothes to make room for another, Pre-K Graduation, birthday parties with Elmo cupcakes, writing the first day of school on a chalk board for you to hold, grinning wide despite your fear of the unknown.
But it’s the moments I’m not expecting that take my breath away.
I am the mother of girls. I cannot speak to the challenges of raising boys in modern America. I admit my bias, but I believe it’s possible to lift women, to lift girls, without oppressing men or boys. Collective rising is the goal.
After having my first baby, I struggled with my identity, a lot. We all do, whether we like to admit it or not. I felt like changing diapers in under 10 seconds was all I was good at. It felt like getting him to sleep more than two hours was my biggest accomplishment. I know that most of us don’t like to admit this, even to ourselves, but it isn’t enough. We need more to be fulfilled, and that’s okay.
There are so many rowdy little boys like mine in the world. Instead of understanding who they are, people label them the trouble makers or tell their parents they need to be put on ADD meds. So, today I want to challenge all of you out there. Whether you are a parent or not. The next time you see a rowdy little boy, do not label him. Don’t tell him he’s bad because he wants to explore the world with his hands and push limits.
Motherhood is a beautiful beast that takes control of you. You learn to defend yourself, to defend your boundaries in a way that you never did before. It’s a new power you possess that you realize you need to learn to control. It takes strength in being gentle with others as you adjust, and like any other exercise, strength comes with practice. And with time.
When will I actually feel maternal, I silently wonder. I am certain I felt it for the ten minutes when he was placed on me. I’m almost sure of it. I remember thinking I created this. Look he’s so perfect. Blue, but so very perfect. This is my baby. Look at his eyes. Those toes, fingers. And after that everything is a blur.
Kids pick up all sort of phrases (and germs) in group care. “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset” happens to be one I embrace. Inevitably, my girls will be at a birthday party where someone else gets the last chocolate cupcake or the green balloon they really wanted. It’s only natural to feel disappointed when you see something you want and receive something else. And for things like cupcakes and balloons, the phrase works well.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be thankful for what you have.
This week, as I’ve watched the fallout from the presidential election, this phrase came to mind.