Archive for the ‘Identities’ Category

Honoring Moms, Not Motherhood

Carla: We’re still here! More on where we’ve been and where we’re going in a minute. But first, check out Caryn’s fantastic post on Mother’s Day at her.menuetics.com. I hope she remembers us when she’s on Oprah.

Anyway, we are sorry for our long absence from the Interwebs. After a long season of work-less-ness, projects have been coming my way. I’m grateful to be sure, but it clearly didn’t take long for me to lose the ability to manage my work/life balance. Since I wasn’t all that successful at it in the first place, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

But in the midst of this, Caryn and I have been talking about where we want to take the Mommy Revolution from here. While we have lots of ideas, our favorite is still the e-zine idea we had last fall. But we can’t pull it off alone. So we are asking you to start thinking–and writing–about your own revolutionary ideas. We want to include your voices, to make this a true conversation between friends with different ideas and experiences. So if you’re interested in writing about motherhood, womanhood, childlessness, your job, sex, laundry, healthcare, marriage, or anything else you think would interest our readers head to our “Contact Us” section and shoot us a message. We’ll tell you how to post something and you can have at it!

And please keep in mind that we can’t pay you in anything but love, affection, and admiration.

This really is the spirit of Caryn’s Mother’s Day essay–to honor who we are as people with all kinds of maternal and non-maternal ideas and passions and gifts.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Caryn: Seriously. I’ve missed it here. And am antsy to get this e-zine-ish thing happening. We need it. I also have a new post half-written about me as a bad, bad mom. Look for that soon.

Let us know who wants to write what. And maybe just go ahead and email ideas to mommyrev@gmail.com.

My Kid Can Beat Up Your Kid

Carla: Okay, maybe that’s pushing it a little, but really the competition between moms can bring out the worst in all of us. We asked our wise friend Cindy, who many of you will recognize from her insightful comments on various posts here at the MR, to blog for us this week. So ladies (and Dude), here she is, the fabulous Cindy:

Cindy: A couple of weeks ago I was at a suburban high school to watch my 16-year-old daughter (the cutest one out there, not to mention the best) compete for her high school at the Illinois state gymnastics meet. She was the only one from her team to qualify for state, and she qualified on beam, vault, and the all-around.

All her teammates took the day off from school to attend the event and several other parents joined them. When we arrived, I settled in next to one of the other moms and we began to scope out the competition. As one girl after another had a bad vault, or fell on floor, or missed her release move on bars, my friend and I would say, “Oh, that’s too bad,” then do a little fist-bump. What on earth kind of mother fist-bumps  after some poor girl misses her big trick at the state meet? A gym mom.

Am I ashamed? You bet. Can I change? I’m trying. Is it easy? Nope.  But I am willing to admit it because I am probably not the only one that reads The Mommy Revolution to have this dark secret. I compete against other people’s children. Angie, my daughter, is genuinely glad when others do well. She’s obviously not my biological child. But as I think about it, I realize my competitive streak didn’t start with my kids entering club sports nine years ago.

When I got Tim, my oldest, he was seven weeks old and kind of small for his age. He was born in August and I had a good friend whose son was born in May and had never missed a meal—he was burly to say the least. She started the weekly comparison of weight and height and milestones. I immediately felt inadequate. It was a competition I would never win! And, oh, how I hated it. I delighted (inside, of course) when her son was in cranky and Tim was sweet. Point for me. And I despaired when Tim still had his binky and her baby didn’t. Point for her. Then we got to elementary school. Tim had serious learning disabilities and I lost the grade-race with the other moms I knew.

That’s when we turned to other activities. Gymnastics, track, karate, football, music–I wanted my kids to be the best at something. I wanted to be best at something. I’d never been the best at anything and somehow I thought that if they were great athletes or musicians it would mean I was a great mom.

Do you like the way I’ve put this all in past tense? I’m over it now, right? I wasn’t two weeks ago at the gymnastics meet and probably will never be. This is something I struggle with all the time. I probably lack spiritual maturity and suffer from poor self-esteem. Angie asks me why I’m so competitive. I don’t know. I just am. I’m trying to be better and not put pressure on her with my evil ways. Is there any help for me? Am I alone?

Caryn: WONDERFUL post, Cindy. And oh, so totally not alone. Although I have to admit I’ve never been a competitive person at all (bear with me). I think this totally explains why I suck at all sports (that plus my total lack of any athletic ability). But seriously, in most things, I could care less if I win. Whatever. (So long as a certain former and shared boss likes me better than Carla, everything’s fine.)

And to be honest, I feel pretty secure with the awesomeness and weaknesses of my own kids that I don’t care that some kids may be smarter, cuter, better behaved, or whatever (though, to be honest, very few are). That is, until I sense someone getting competitive with ME about my kids or my mom chops. Then, my hackles go up and I want to take them DOWN.

Like when I mention some quirk about one of my kids and I get a wide-eyed bewildered response of “No. Lil’ Joe never does that!” Or when someone asks me what my son’s “score” in Accelerated Reading is. Honestly, I have no idea. I always forget to check. But when someone asks, I get annoyed enough to lie—to make up some outrageously high score. Say we’ve been invited to the White House because he’s the most Accelerated Reader in the land.

But I don’t—because I’m (as one therapist once told me) “hyper honest.” Which means, my competitive friend, Cindy, that my honesty is more hyper than yours. Game on.

Carla: Ladies, really. You should be ashamed of yourselves. If there’s one thing I know about parenting that you don’t (and I think we all know there is far more than one), it’s that good moms are never competitive.

And Caryn, honey, if you need to think he likes you better, that’s fine. He and I talk about this all the time and we think it’s really sweet how you keep trying to be like me. As we always say here at the MR, it’s good to have a dream.

Alright Revolutionaries, tell us: How do you deal with the competition between moms–the drive to have the “best” kids, the pressure to be the “best” mom? Where does this stuff come from and what can we do about it?


Is Motherhood a Calling?

Carla: We had a great conversation on Midday Connection and it raised some important questions in the comments on the blog. One issue came up in Dave’s set of comments on this post–and we know it will come up again and again and again so we are going to dig into it a lot deeper. And I want to be clear about something. We are not picking on Dave–he is voicing an opinion that we hear a lot and we appreciate his participation in the Revolution conversation. This post isn’t about Dave. It’s about an ideology that we just don’t buy. It’s this whole idea of motherhood as a calling. 

As you can probably guess, we wouldn’t call it that. Not because motherhood isn’t wonderful in many, many ways and not because we don’t believe God led us toward the lives we are living. We firmly believe that motherhood matters–a lot, that it is honorable and godly and worthy of respect and praise.  No, we wouldn’t use that word because we think it’s problematic. Here’s why:

1) It’s not biblical. Seriously, name one Bible verse that says motherhood is a calling. There aren’t any. There are, however, huge chunks of the Bible that tell us what we are called to as Christians–one could even say that’s kind of the point of the whole thing. 

  •  Deut. 10:11-13 is a longer version of something called the Shema (found in Deut. 6:5) which the nation of Israel held as its central calling. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”
  • Micah 6:8 says something similar: “He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
  • Jesus talks about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, caring for the needy. He doesn’t give an exemption for those of us with young children. Jesus includes women in his call to go into the world and make disciples. He never says a thing about calling women toward something else. He doesn’t give women what Dave calls a “proper focus,” he gives all people who follow him the same call–take up your cross.
  • Paul’s letters go into great detail about what the Christian life looks like and he rarely mentions parenting, much less motherhood. In fact, Paul is pretty clear–as was Jesus–that family life can often get in the way of following God. When parents are spoken of at all, it is in regard to their relationship to their children and the importance of honor and respect in that relationship. Paul spends most of his writing time teaching Christians to care for each other, to work together, to overcome their differences and find unity in their faith. He doesn’t single parents out as having a calling that is somehow more godly than others. In fact, he says the opposite–the body has many parts and all are needed. 

In general, parenthood in the Bible is a means to some other end. There are only a handful of specific examples of women being somehow chosen to have children: Sarah, who gave birth only after decades of praying for a child; Hannah who prayed and prayed for a  baby only to offer that child, Samuel, back to God when he was a toddler; Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist; and Mary, who was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. But those stories are not about how those women were called into motherhood for its own sake. Each of those stories is the launching point for the next part of God’s story. These are not stories about motherhood, but about faithful women who were mothers. They weren’t called to motherhood but to faith. The Bible shows us how to live as God’s people–and that impacts our parenting. But the Bible doesn’t say much about how we are to think about parenthood.

2) People keep using that word. We don’t think it means what they think it means. One of the best sermons I ever heard was about this idea of calling. The pastor talked about how blithely Christians use that word when in truth the Bible uses it very rarely. So there’s a difference between the actual sense of calling as it’s used in the Bible and the way most people use the word. Caryn and I both feel like we have followed God’s lead in the lives we have. But I have never felt called to motherhood. I feel called to be a good mother. I feel called to love my children like crazy, to teach them, to care for them, to protect them, to send them into the world as thoughtful, compassionate people who love God. But that is my calling as a Christian–to love the Lord with all my heart and soul and strength, to love my neighbor (which in this case means my children) as myself, and to teach this to my children. The call of Christ compels me to be a loving, caring parent. It doesn’t compel me to be a parent.

3) It boarders on idolatry. Dave made a statement that troubles me to no end. It is just the kind of statement that sends a deeper message to mothers: Dave mentions that a woman’s proper focus is the family. I’m not sure where he gets that. Well, I know where he gets it, but I don’t know what biblical basis he has for that statement. As I said, the gospel doesn’t include specifics about parenting. Jesus didn’t exempt mothers from participating in God’s work in the world. And Jesus wasn’t just talking to the men when he told his followers to feed and clothe and visit the poor and imprisoned. The idea that my three children are more important than other people goes against everything the Bible teaches. It makes an idol of my family. So I can’t justify having tunnel vision about my parenting. I can’t call myself a Christian and then live a life that centers only on a small, select group of people–no matter how much I love those people. And I can’t fathom God giving me gifts and passions and dreams with the intention that I limit the use of those to the lives of three people. There is a huge, hurting world out there and mothers–with our heightened compassion, our deepened sense of justice, our ever-growing longing for a better world–are uniquely qualified to get out there and work toward bringing about the kingdom of God. I could go on and on about mothers who have changed the world, but we’ll save that for another post.

4) It’s a dangerous, damaging way to think about motherhood. If we hold motherhood up as a divine calling, we imply that it is something a woman is chosen for, that she is selected by God to do. So what about those women who long to be “chosen” for motherhood and aren’t? What message does it send to childless women when we tell them that God only chooses some women for this special calling? I’ll tell you what that message is: it’s that they are the problem, that they are unworthy of the call. I know that’s what they hear because my friends who have battled infertility or who are single and long for families tell me that’s what they hear.We can encourage and support  and value motherhood without turning it into something that creates pain in the lives of our sisters.

5) It ignores dads. I find it ironic that the same people who hold up motherhood as a calling rarely talk about fatherhood as a calling. If anyone has a link to a book, an article, an anything that discusses fatherhood as a calling, please link to it in the comments because I would love to be wrong about this. Ironically, it also seems to me that the people who believe motherhood is a calling often hold to a view of the man as the spiritual head of the family as well. In that case, why isn’t the dad the one staying home with the kids? If he’s the head, why is he the one leaving for 40 hours a week? The absence of a father in a child’s life creates a whole host of issues that are far more damaging to a child than having a mother who has a job.

6) Add all of those together and you have faulty theology. Dave is the father of 11 children and I imagine he and his wife are wonderful parents. But the problem with what Dave is saying is something that sits at the core of the Revolution: Every family is different, every mom is different. So when someone suggests that what they have and experience is the best way–and the only real Christian way–to parent or think about the family, they take away the possibility that God might have a different path for other families.

Those of us who feel perfectly content (or not so much content as done) with the one or three or six children have don’t believe we are somehow being selfish or not following God’s leading. It’s possible that we have made those decisions with heartfelt prayer and felt God’s clear leading. Dave and his wonderful, extraordinary wife have chosen a life that is simply not for everyone. They have been blessed with a big, happy family and that’s clearly where they have felt God leading them. But other families are led down different paths. And thank God. Because the world needs Christian people in every vocation, in every walk of life. We need men and women who focus on the world around them and not only on their own homes. That’s the divine calling–to go into the world and make disciples of all nations.

Caryn: Preach it, Sister!

I’m so glad you started this topic. Because yesterday—in a comment back to Dave (and I wasn’t bashing you, buddy. I really appreciate your sense of humor. My toes do feel better!)—I called motherhood a “calling.”

But ever since I wrote that, I’ve wondered if I really believe it to be true. And I think I’m with you, Carla–for the reasons you write. You know the Shema and all (Props to Fuller Theological Seminary in beautiful Pasadena, Calif. They taught you good!).

I do feel called to raise my particular kids. I know God gave me the amazing little creatures to raise—and am eternally grateful (and exhausted) for it. But I have never felt lead to motherhood in a divine sort of way. (For what it’s worth, I do feel lead—divinely so—with the Mommy Revolution. This is nothing if not a God-thing, people. You don’t even know….)

However, I believe some women do feel called to motherhood. I’m thinking right now of a woman I know who without a doubt knew she was meant to be a mother and felt lead to adopt. Can I say this isn’t a divine calling? I don’t think so.  

But it all comes back to this: Whether or not we have kids, whether or not we are “gifted” in the 1950ish sense of motherhood, whether or not we use birth control, whether or not we would cry or celebrate upon learning we were pregnant, a woman’s “proper focus” is on God, not family. I think you’re right, Carla, that a focus on the family (ahem) is idolatrous. I say, Focus on Jesus. (You can start humming “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” for better effect. Love that song!)

Even Dave says God should be our number one. And that means, we look to him (God, not Dave) and to how he made us and to how he wants us to love and raise our kids and how we wants us to use our gifts and our lives. And, as Carla wrote, how he wants us to make disciples of all nations. 

Sounds like that’s what Dave and his big wonderful family are doing.  And that’s what we should too. I’m just glad we can make disciples without literally making them. If you catch my drift…

The Mom-Center of the Universe

Other half-a-portrait

Other half-a-portrait

Big Blue Caryn
Half-a-Portrait

Caryn: I’m loving the feedback we’re getting on the Manifesto. And some people have raised some points that I can’t shake. One is the whole tension between not thinking we moms are the center of the universe and the reality that our kids need us to be—and that often we do want to be—of theirs.

Case-in-point: Before Christmas break this year, I stood in the hallway admiring the family portraits the preschoolers had done. While there, I overheard one of the teachers telling another mom that it’s normal for the mom (or primary caregiver) to be huge in the family portrait as she (or he) is usually foremost in the child’s brain.

So, what does competitive Caryn do upon hearing this—especially since my daughter worships her father and spends easily as much time with him as she does with me (because we both work from home and relentlessly try to integrate parenting with everything as much as is crazily possible)? I race over to my daughter’s picture to study everyone’s size.

And much to my endless delight, there I was: a HUGE, smiling, blue-bodied, purple-haired wonder, holding our pet bunny, no less. In the picture, I am easily twice the size of everyone else.

I love it. I hung it on my office wall because it makes me so happy. I’m looking at it right now and smiling.  But I’m not sure it makes me happy for the right reasons. I’m not happy to be forefront because it means I’m the main shaper and modeler of values and beliefs, but because it was more like a “reward” for being an at-home, hands-on mom. For all the late nights, for all the snuggles when I had so much else to do, for all the folding and washing and feeding. For the writing while she sits on my lap and runs a measuring tape across the screen (yes, it’s happening right now). For loving them all so much it’s made me crazy.

So does this make me a hyporcrite: That I don’t believe we should think mothers or motherhood are the centers (can there be more than one center?) of the universe, every now and again I like being the center of my kids’.

Carla: I always say that when a mom walks into the room where her children are, it’s like the sun and moon have come out at the same time. At this moment I am writing with a preschooler snuggled up to my left elbow and she wants nothing more than to be near me. Well, she also wants me to throw her blue rubber snake through the “basketball hoop” she’s made with her hands, but mostly she just wants my attention. She loves her dad, she loves her brother and sister, but I am her Queen. I am the center of her universe. And that’s how it should be.

But I have two other children in the house, one of whom has just returned home from a sleepover with the girls who are becoming the center of her universe. They are good girls and I am grateful that she has friends I trust because their presence and influence in her life are increasingly important to her. She is in the process of creating her own universe, and while I’m in it and still have a lot of say so about who else is in it I am slowly moving out of the center. And that is how it should be, too.

Manifestos are not good places for subtlety, but our statement that we are not the center of the universe might be more true than we want it to be. When our children are young, their lives do center on the adults who care for them. But as Keri said in the manifesto comments, our job is to work ourselves out of a job. As good as it feels to be the sun and the moon in someone’s life, as good as it feels to be needed, do any of us really want to have 30-year-old children who still bring us their laundry and can’t make a decision without us? Sometimes I miss the little girl my daughter used to be, the one who gazed at me with pure affection when I poured cereal into her bowl each morning. But I love the big girl who sits in her place, the one who starts talking about her friends and the day ahead the moment she wakes up. I don’t want my 12-year-old to gaze at me. I want her to gaze outward as we slowly launch her out of our orbit and into the one she will create for herself.

So yes, for a short time in our children’s lives, we are the center of the universe. But it’s not good for them–or for us–for things to stay that way.

Caryn: Well articulated, oh-you-who-have-older-kids-than-I. Which is not to say I haven’t already seen and even enjoyed this slow drift away from center in my kids’ lives.  It’s first steps look like smiles and waves to friends when the bus comes in the morning or when I drop off at preschool. And that is–as you say–as it should be. It is to be celebrated, even.

Of course, today I’m a tad under the weather (okay, really pukey with some sort of bug, if you must know) and am typing this in bed. And my oldest just came into see if I needed another Coke or some tea. So, I’m enjoying being his center for a bit longer too. Sweet, dear boy.

Revolutionized Medicine

Caryn: No offense to the many great nurses and doctors I’ve visited and known throughout my life, but today—at the Walgreen’s Take Care Clinic—I met my most favorite medical professional ever. “Met” may actually be strong because I don’t think I caught this nurse practitioner’s name, but still, loved her. Loved her. Loved her.

And not just because she called me a “trooper” for being so “chipper” with a throat that looked as bad and “streppy” as mine did. I loved her because when I started to explain why, in fact, it had been “‘uhhh…at least 2 years and 9 months ago” since I’d had my LMP (this little abbrev is to spare our male fans details that could keep them from ever coming back)—and that reason being that I was still nursing my nearly 2-year-old son and things just work that way for me—she said, “You’re a great mom!”

And then she proceeded to tell me that she nursed her kids for 2 or 3 years each and that her family thought she was a “freak” and said, “Don’t you just feel so judged sometimes? I mean, people look at you like you’re a child molester!” 

So I shared with her my fear that my kids were budding addicts or at least bound to have total OCD because they were so hard to wean. She then assured me that her kids were long grown and seemed to be pretty normal.

Okay, so I loved her for that reassurance. But then she did my favorite thing: After the swab revealed indeed I had strep, she started to tell me about the penicillin, about my need for more fluids, and about my need for rest. She started laughing halfway through the word “rest.”

And said my favorite medical thing ever: “Don’t you hate it when people tell you to get more rest? Whatever.” Then we both laughed.

I really don’t know exactly what the point of this rambling is, but I was just SO excited to be in a setting—with a stranger, with an educated medical professional—where I felt totally understood, where someone GOT my life a bit. It was like a glimmer of what life would be like once the revolution reaches the rest of the world. Where people stop giving stock, stupid answers or advice to things we cannot do (or don’t want to do) and start treating us as individuals.

Man, I may have a med school lecture in here somewhere…..

Carla: I love her too! Do you think if I went to see her she could tell me that it’s no wonder I don’t get any exercise what with my schedule and I should stop worrying about it, and that I need to sleep a lot more–preferably in a hotel room by myself?

It does feel so good when we meet other moms who are honest, and who understand the fears that plague us. When they are people to whom we have bestowed “authority” it feels even better. That’s why it’s so frustrating when the parenting “authorities” give us advice that is so out of touch with our actual experiences. The very people we need to pull us through the doubts and fears are the ones creating those doubts and fears.

We have said–at least to each other–that the Mommy Revolution is about wresting conversations about motherhood from the hands of 70-year-old men and putting them back in the hands of real women. We want motherhood to be defined by mothers, for mothers. And we want those definitions to be as varied as the women who create them. 

Oh, and I’m sorry you have strep. There is nothing worse than being a sick mom. Nothing changes, nothing stops. It sucks. I hope you can find a way to get some rest and get better.

Caryn: Thank you for giving my little ditty a point, Carla. I think you nailed why I loved this woman. An authority offering relatable, do-able, real-world wisdom—and offering it with mutual respect and understanding—rocks. And it’s something our mom world lacks. (Oh, I’m SURE she’d say to go ahead and do the hotel-room-rest thingy.)

The Mommy Body

Caryn: There’s really no way I’m going to be able to say this without sounding creepy or maybe even molestery (which I am, by the way, NOT!), but I’ll just tell this little story anyway:

The other day I was walking through the hallway where my kids go to school. One of the middle school girls walked about 20 feet ahead of me. She looked adorable. She had on this cute sweater with stylin’ jeans, and a pair of boots I wanted to yank right off her feet I loved them so much.

As I admired (and envied–oh, to have a mom to buy my clothes again!) her outfit, this zinger passed through my brain: And—oh!—to have that figure!

The girl couldn’t have been more than 13. Probably 12. And I’m jealous of her figure.

Creepy, right? But here’s the thing: While I’ve been a thin (even skinny and “chicken-legged” in the day) all my life, three kids in, I’ve got a bit of yuck around my middle that I cannot stand. Nearly every day I look at it and go, So NOW I get what lypo is all about! While in my brain, I think plastic surgery is an assault on one’s on body (though I understand there are some good reasons), all of a sudden, I find myself spacing out about lypo and tummy tucks. If I ever stop nursing (and my son is almost 2 and we’re going strong, people!), I’m sure the boob lift will enter my mind too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually going to go through with this (even if I convinced myself it as a good idea, finances would keep it from happening)! And I realize getting back on that darned treadmill and maybe a few sit ups here and there would work wonders.

But beyond that, I wonder what we can do at the Mommy Revolution to glorify the mom bod. Do we commit to buying Dove products (especially if they want to send us freebies or advertise on our blog–hint, hint!) because they celebrate the  “imperfect” female bodies? Do we boycott companies who continue to make us feel that the fat and flab that comes with the miracle of bearing and nourishing children is something to be ashamed of?

Do we all go buy new bikinis and fly to Hawaii and discuss this poolside in our mom-bod glory?

Carla: You are kind of creepy. But I must admit some jealousy over the very flat abs on teenage girls. Honestly, we weren’t built like that in my day, not even the skinny girls. And I say yes to free Dove stuff!!

But I digress.

As someone who has always carried a few more pounds than I’d like to, I wrestled with my body image long before I became a mom–I mean, I’ve been on a diet since I was 12. And in some weird way, motherhood has actually made me more comfortable with my body even as it has done a number on it, inside and out.

I remember not long after my oldest child was born, I saw some skinny girl and felt that usual jealousy creep up. But then I thought about the excellent work my body had done in growing and delivering a healthy baby. My wide hips made for a quick delivery. My extra padding made nursing easy and kept me well-stocked with extra resources for my own health. I was actually proud of my body for doing it’s work so well.

Of course, there is quite a lot of fallout–literally. I once said that after keeping three babies alive for a total of four years, the girls deserve to relax. And my various bones are never going back where they started. There are stretch marks in places I’d rather not have them and various other after-effects that I don’t need to go into on a non-medical blog. And while I’d still like to drop at least 10 pounds, I don’t fret about my body like I used to. There is just no getting back what used to be.

But I think there’s more than just the physical toll of pregnancy and childbirth that changes our bodies. They almost become a resource–implements of comfort and help and feeding and carrying and hauling–instead of something to be cared for or celebrated in any way.

And of course there’s the time factor and the whole message of self-sacrifice that can get in the way of caring for ourselves and our bodies. The whole “mom as martyr” thing can, I think, push us to hide behind bodies we might not like all that much because it makes us seem like we’ve given up more for our children.

I would love to hear from moms who didn’t give birth–adoptive moms, stepmoms, etc.–to find out how motherhood has shaped your feelings about your body.

Caryn: As would I.  Do tell.

Nothing to Look Forward to….Really?

Caryn: So not long ago, I spoke to a MOPS group in south suburban Chicago. Incidentally, they had THE BEST brunch of any MOPS I’d ever seen. Like good Lutheran cookbook fare–egg casseroles, stuffed French toast, muffins. Not a healthy thing in sight. Even the fruit either had caramel dip or was dipped in chocolate. I loved this group. Totally my kind of women. I’d say who they were, but I’m about to write about one of the women there, so I thought I need to keep it vague. But seriously, if anyone from MOPS International is reading this, email me. You need to award these women for food.

But anyway, this was a great group for more reasons than just food. So after my talk, I stuck around to join in the discussion (okay, and to get another serving of egg casserole) at one of the tables. Since this was one of my Mama’s Got a Fake I.D. talks, a couple of the discussion questions were identity-tapping ones: What gets you jazzed or all fired up? And what gets you out of bed in the morning?

After we all joked that it was those darned kids who got us out of bed, we went around and spoke seriously of what sorts of things we look forward to in our days. Until we got to one woman. She said honestly, she couldn’t think of one thing that she looked forward to about her day. It wasn’t that she disliked her days—and she said she wasn’t depressed or anything—but that they just sort of streamed together. Nothing great, nothing terrible.

This made me very, very sad. I can’t stop thinking about her. Because I gotta say, as crazy as my life feels most days and as much as I’m NEVER ready to get out of bed in the morning (those darned kids!), on any given day, I have plenty to look forward to (and I lot that I don’t). Honestly, I think my days are filled with a lot of great, a lot of terrible, and some “bleh.” But I like my life like that. I mean, I whine a lot about it, but really I think the wild ride is half the fun. And I guess I figured most other moms lives were like that too.

Now I wonder how many women there are out there who wake up with nothing to look forward to. And how can the Mommy Revolution help?

 

Carla: I can absolutely relate to this woman. I have that same conversation with my hubby all the time. He’ll ask me about my day and I’m like, “It was exactly the same as yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.” There are many, many days when I run to Target or bake cookies or get stuck on Facebook because at least then I have something to do. I kind of like the days when something dramatic happens–the kids have a big kerfuffle, the washing machine freaks out, the dog eats someone’s favorite Hot Wheel–because it breaks up the monotony.

At the same time, that’s just how life is. I felt the same way when I went to work every day. Some days were stimulating and fantastic and productive and other days were all about the “bleh.” But why shouldn’t it be that way? If every day was thrilling, that might get a little boring–or at least exhausting–too.

The boredom and sameness of motherhood is definitely one of those “secrets” that the Revolution needs to uncover. There’s nothing wrong with saying that the wonder of motherhood is often tempered by the dullness of motherhood. Not every woman finds joy in the little things–at least not every day. There is a lot of boring routine involved in parenting and it’s okay to admit that. I think we set ourselves–and other women–up for grave disappointment when we perpetuate that myth that mothering is always amazing. It’s not. (I know that’s not what you’re saying, Caryn). Sometimes the days really do run together and it’s hard to get ourselves through each one of them. But we do it. And before long (at least before the kids are 18) we get one of those days where we are reminded that the boredom isn’t all there is, that there are some astonishing moments along the way, too.

Caryn: Oh, yeah. I didn’t mean to say that motherhood isn’t boring plenty of the time. Honestly, when I talk about things I look forward to in a day….ummmm….I wasn’t thinking about kid-centered stuff. Sometimes, that’s what it is, but usually it’s some worky thing. So I guess I just hope that moms out there have something—a good run, talking to a friend, a work or hobby project, something at church, whatever—to look forward to in their days.

But lest I made it seem like my life is all thrills and frills, tomorrow I’m looking forward to going to Trader Joe’s after I drop my son off at a friend’s house. Whooopeee!