Archive for the ‘Relationship’ Category

The Mom-Heart Connection

Caryn: So a couple weeks back, I became That Mom. You know, the one who gets screamed at by another mom because she did something horrible and irresponsible and caused a huge commotion? That one. That was me. I’m still reeling from what transpired. Here’s the story:

Our dog hates other dogs—or most other dogs. And our dog escaped the back yard by slipping past my son who was closing the gate and she ran down the driveway. My son caught her, but she ended up seeing another dog across the street and slipped out of her collar and went after the other dog. A dog that was being walked by a nice couple and their two preschoolers tucked into a jogging stroller.

We discovered this all happening when the entire neighborhood erupted into screams. So, my husband and I busted out of the house (yes, we were inside while the kids played outside) and dashed across the street. Rafi tried to grab our bitch by her scruff and I somehow remembered learning once that to break up a dog fight, you grab a dog by its two back legs and pull. I did that and it worked.

My husband took our dog back to the house while the other mom screamed at me: “Why would you have your dog out without a leash?” “Why would you let it be out there with the kids?” All these sorts of things flying my way.

I stood there and kept saying “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” And tried explaining that the dog escaped, etc. But she didn’t care. It was terrifying. Her kids were scared. Her dog was potentially hurt (she wasn’t thank God. My dog apparently just likes really rough play). And I got why she was screaming at me. I would’ve been screaming at her had the tables been turned.

After she finished screaming, I did something weird: I hugged her. It was either that or ask her if we could pray and I thought hugging was the least weird. She hugged back and I could feel her heart racing against my chest. I’m sure she could feel mine too.

It turned into an actual sweet moment shared between two moms. It was like—at least from my perspective–our hearts beat together, almost understood each other.

Maybe that’s too dramatic, but after the hug and after my husband went out to help find their dog (who had run away, of course), and after we paid for them to take their dog to the vet to make sure he was okay (totally fine, just shaken) and after I wrote a big apology note and sent flowers, we’ve now had a couple of nice email exchanges.

We’re not friends now or anything, but I like what’s transpired—we both related to each other as mothers—understanding each others’ mom hearts and we’ve come to a place of peace out of chaos.

Anyway, it sort of gave me hope for the future of the world—if we put moms in charge and all try to solve problems from our mom hearts. Maybe some day we’ll find it, the Mom-Heart Connection? The lovers, the dreamers, and me…. So to speak. Whatcha think? Ever had this weird connection?

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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.

Livin’ La Vida…Amiga

Caryn: So a couple nights ago I did one of my favorite late-night things—running to the grocery store for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. Lame, I realize, on the “favorite thing” scale, but since becoming a mom, this tiny escape totally recharges me and I love it. Mostly because I get to be in a store alone and because I think music is best heard loud, at night while alone in a car. Something I first realized at 16—like 10 minutes after getting my license.

But anyway, on the way back from my little outing, I had Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” cranked—and I mean cranked! Windows down, me singing, me dancing, me smiling….

Carla, you know why this song makes me smile. Not only is it one of the darned happiest, poppiest, shakiest songs ever, and not only did I have a married-woman crush on this gay man, but it brings back memories of one of my favorite times of life: the years spent editing magazines and laughing with you (I’m talking to Carla, here) and Lori and Dana and Cheryl and Ron and Mickey and a zillion more great people.

Specifically, the Ricky Martin memory is not of shaking it in those hallways (though it wouldn’t have been beyond us) but of the “Little Ricky” (a xeroxed paper cutout of the man) perched on my office bookshelf. Something that made me laugh then (and now) but also something that in a weird way symbolized these office friendships for me.

Alrighty. Here’s the point of this: What struck me about my happiness upon hearing this song was that the last time I heard it randomly—probably a couple years ago—I felt really SAD. I was in this weird, dark, lonely mommy place where I missed everything about my “old” life so much and felt like I none of the same great connections or friendships in my “new” life.

I wasn’t—as we say in Christian-ese—living in community.

And it sucked—not having regular people to laugh with, gripe with, connect with, be myself with. It was a really hard time of life. So hard, I couldn’t listen to a song that brought back what were once happy memories.

All this to say, it feels so good to be back. To have found and remade connections. To be able to smile at my old life because the new one is smile-worthy now too.

I totally thank God fro this. He heard my “I need friends” lonely prayers and answered them in big, crazy God ways: through Facebook, through new flesh-and-blood friends, and through the Mommy Revolution, baby! I no longer feel like a fish out of water—but realize I’m swimming among some awesome other fish.

Carla: Little Ricky makes me laugh out loud! Those were such golden days–a bunch of girls and a couple of willing-to-put-up-with-a-bunch-of-girls guys.

What’s ironic is that, for me, those were also intensely lonely years. I remember feeling like I had no connections with people, even people I truly loved and enjoyed–that would be Caryn, Kim, Lori, Marci, etc. Now I know that I was at the beginning of a journey that would take me through some incredibly difficult seasons of figuring out who I am and–as dumb as it sounds–finding myself.

But at the time, of course, I didn’t know that. I was still trying so hard to be perfect, to make sure everyone liked me. I had no idea who I was so I had no idea how to connect with anyone. You (Caryn) and I have talked about this, how sad it is that the friendship we had could have been even deeper if we had just known how to let down our guard and be ourselves.

But like you, I am in such a better place now. It took all kinds prayer and work and struggle and pain and therapy to get to this place, but it was so worth it. I finally have the kinds of friendships I always prayed for–the ones where we are honest and vulnerable and no one pretends to be anything other than who she is. It is seriously so much more life-giving than trying to act like we have our crap together. We might never fully revolutionize motherhood, but I think that the women who are gathering here–and hopefully in Minneapolis in October!–are finding that they aren’t the only ones to feel lonely or disconnected, that they aren’t the only ones who struggle to develop meaningful friendships, and that there are women out there who will value them for who they are, failures and uncertainties and flaws included.

Caryn: Speaking of old and new friends–and Carla mentioned “October”: We’re totally hoping you can join me and Carla in a couple of cool events we’ve got coming up: 1. a FREE webinar (details to be announced soon) and 2. a Mommy Revolution Mom Hall Meeting (and probably food and drinkie thing) at the Christianty21 Conference in Mpls, MN, in October. How cool would it be to see each other for reals?

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.

The Revolutionary Manifesto

For the three of you who read our pre-Christmas post I will be repeating myself here, but for the rest of you who apparently found celebrating with family, eagerly anticipating the birth of Christ to be more important than The Mommy Revolution, this’ll be some fun news.

This Tuesday (Jan. 13), Carla and I will be on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection at noon (CST). The Revolution has made it to Moody, people. This is big. You need to listen. You need to call in. And then you’ll need to report back to us.

But anyway, we thought in honor of our big, national Revolutionary radio debut, we really ought to officially publish the core values that the Mommy Revolution holds near and dear.

Up until this point, we’ve sort of alluded to them, but never really outlined them. Well, we outlined them many months ago at La Spiaza coffee shop in Wheaton, Illinois, while simultaneously irritating patrons because we kept switching tables as ones with better access to outlets became available. But, we’ve never made them public.

So, without further ado, here they are. What the Mommy Revolution is all about and what we believe—at least about motherhood. We want to know what you believe, too–about what it means to be a mom, about what you wish could be different, about your visions of motherhood. So please throw in some of your revolutionary ideas as well.

We believe that:

  • Both mothers and children should thrive in the parent/child relationship.
  • A women doesn’t stop having dreams when she starts raising children.
  • Women need emotional support from other women.
  • Mothers can do anything we want to, but we don’t have to do everything well.
  • There is something good to be found even in the most difficult parenting stages.
  • Motherhood is not as all-important as we think it is. We are one of the many factors that shape our children. We need to be the best moms we can be while recognizing that we are not the centers of the universe.
  • Parenting is collaborative, not competitive. None of us can—or should—do it alone.
  • Life is not all about you, but it’s not all about your kids, either.
  • Only mothers get to define what our motherhood looks like.
  • Motherhood changes who we are, but it doesn’t define who we are.
  • There is more than one way to parent well.
  • Motherhood is just part of a whole and integrated life.
  • A good mom provides food, shelter, clothing, love, support, encouragement, and all the honesty, wisdom, and kindness she can. Everything else—rides the to mall, attendance at soccer games, participation in endless rounds of Pretty Pretty Princess—is gravy.

We want to create a culture of motherhood in which:

  • Women make decisions that feel right for us and our families.
  • Good fathers are part of the parenting equation. That means they get credit for the work they do and the unique presence they have in the lives of our children. It means we stop believing they can’t parent as well as we can. Being revolutionary moms means making room for revolutionary dads. 
  • Women support each other instead of critique each other.
  • The fact that we have children doesn’t lead to assumptions about who we are or what we do.
  • Our decisions are driven by the emotional and physical well-being of every member of the family–not just the kids and not just the parents.
  • Our children are one of the many gifts we give to the world.
  • It’s okay to miss the way we lived before we had children.
  • Women are encouraged to figure out what we are passionate about and supported by our families and friends as we live out those passions.

Whatcha think? Agree? Disagree? Worried for our very souls? Please discuss.

Mr. Moms and the Daddy Revolution

Caryn: This is hard for me to write, in a way, because I SO love the movie Mr. Mom. I saw it when I was probably 10 or something with my grandmother, who laughed and laughed the whole time. Since my dear hard-working, hard-knock-life-sort-of-life Swedish grandmother NEVER laughed, you can see why I might love this movie. Plus, I love their house. Plus, it kicked off me wanting to work in advertising (which I did for a stint) and wear big-bowed blouses (never did. I think I wrote about this in an earlier post). Plus, it was funny.

That said, I hate “Mr. Moms” or to be more precise, I really hate the TERM “Mr. Mom.” It totally p—-es me off. Excuse my hyphens. I hate it because it implies all sorts of idiotic things:

1. That when a man cares for his kids—feeds them (LOVE that scene where Michael Keaton irons the grilled cheese!), bathes them (even with Sesame Street slippers on), and drops them off (now I’m laughing at that Mr. Mom carpool drop-off scene)—he is doing a mom’s job.

2. That a mom is simply a role—not a relationship—that can quickly swapped out by someone else doing those jobs.

Okay, so that’s just two things that I can think of right now. But, still, isn’t a “Mr. Mom” in all reality just a Good Dad? Isn’t this just as stupid as when a dad says he “babysitting” his kids? Or am I nuts? Or both?

 

Carla: You might be a little nuts, but I am still with you here. This is another one of those areas where it seems like today’s parents have inherited ideas and language that don’t relate to the way we really live. I have so many friends who parent as partners, not as two separate people with separate roles. They both do what needs doing, both arrange their work lives to fit their family life, both nurture and feed and bathe and tuck in with the same commitment to parenting well. I honestly don’t think men and women worry about this kind of stuff as much as the media or the culture or previous generations did.

That’s not to say I think men and women can or should parent in exactly the same ways. Jimmy is far more physical with our kids than I am. I am a more patient listener than he is. But he snuggles with the same delight and reads with the same enthusiasm and never blinks when there is a diaper to be changed or a meal to be made. He expects to be part of their lives and I can’t imagine what it would be like if he didn’t.

My dad has often commented that he wishes he had known how to be the kind of dad Jimmy is. My dad is a wonderful father, but he wasn’t on the floor wrestling with us or coaching our teams or climbing into our beds to read at night. Fathers of his generation just didn’t do that kind of thing. But men today not only do those things, they enjoy them. I think today’s fathers want to be more invested in their kids than their dads were in them. And that’s good news for moms.

The Mommy Revolution is all about encouraging women to live out their dreams. But I think we all know that it’s impossible to do that if we don’t have a partner who is willing to be a present, active parent. So the Mommy Revolution carries with it a need for a Daddy Revolution, one that encourages men to be the fathers they want to be.

Caryn: Totally need a Daddy Revolution. (Maybe a Grandma and Grampa one too.) Because one of the core values of the revolution is that parents are able—equipped and supported—to parent and raise kids and live lives as God intended them to, with gifts God gave them. Again, Carla, well put.