Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Priorities (the Mom Snark Manifesto)

I read a variety of Mommy Blogs and various forums about babies and children. There is at least one forum I participate it because I genuinely love the people there, but there are some that I read largely for the fun of judging people.

One of those, however, recently made me think about something, and think hard. It posed the following question:

I was just curious about how other moms feel, do you put your DH/SO first or your kids. It seems like a hard choice to make but my vote is for my kids. I do believe that if I am happy my son will be happy, but I feel as though I will always be a mom not necessarily someone's spouse.
The poster then continues to offer a poll which allows people to rank what order they prioritize the elements of their life. In the comments below that, the general consensus is either that paying attention to one's spouse is important, but anyone who says that they put anyone other than their children first is clearly so selfish that they don't deserve to have children at all.

All I can think of, though is the old saying "if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Ignoring the double negative there, it is true. If I don't take the time to be right with myself, how can I take care of my child or my spouse? If I'm strung out, unwashed and still in my PJs at 6pm who does that serve, even if the Bug is bathed, dressed, and entertained in the scientifically proven best way for her developmental stage? I'm not saying that I plunk her in front of the TV while I have a spa retreat, or hand her off to the homeless while I get a bikini wax, but I do try to take time for myself every day. I look at taking time to renew myself as my responsibility to her: if I am refreshed, I can be fully present to being her mom. If I am fulfilled in my own being, I can have the energy and love to give to her.

Furthermore, if she sees me being a fulfilled individual apart from her, she will have an example of what it is to be a well-rounded adult, which might lead her to aspire to be many things, not only a mommy. I want her to be a great mom someday, but I also want her to have a career that challenges her, friends she enjoys, and a sense of self-confidence. Also, I would like to be more than a husk of my former self as I see her off to college. While being a parent doesn't really end, it will certainly be less time-consuming when she's 30 (I hope).

So I take care of myself. I do this because it is the only way I can have something of myself to give to my daughter, my husband, and my friends.

(Next time, the lighter side: non-mom uses for mommy products)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Things I Swore I Would Never Do

or Famous Last Words

Before I became a mother, I swore that there were things I would never do, ways I would never behave, things I would never say. Some of them, I have stuck with. I would like to imagine that my conversations are not 100% about the Bug, and I would also like to imagine that I have never said "well, you aren't a parent, so you can't understand."

But, here is a list of the things I never thought I would say or do that I do, in fact, say and do.

  • Sniff at my child's bottom to determine the status of her diaper. It looks full on nutters, but really, it is easier than peeking in after pulling around her clothes.
  • React strongly to stories about harm coming to other people's children. I saw this episode of Oprah the other day about children who were starved by their adoptive mother and I almost cried. On the weather channel yesterday, they had a story about a 5-month-old (the same age as the Bug) who was left in a hot car while his mother went to work and died. The mother said that anyone could do it, and I was outraged. 
  • Get hyperactive about food additives, and the latest chemical scary stuff. I would like to say that I have become the BPA avenger, attempting to remove anything containing BPA from the planet. Seriously, I would shoot it into space if I could. Except then it might hurt Martian children, and... well, see above.
  • People who ask how old my son is, when she's in head to toe pink. Dang that peeves me more than I thought it would.
 Things I thought I would have a strong opinion about that I just don't:
  • Co-sleeping. I understand why sometimes it is the only way for everyone to get some sleep. That said, when we do it because the Bug is having a bout of night-time fussies, I don't get a good night's sleep, so I would rather not. Who knows, I might feel differently after we move and get our king-sized bed back.
  • Stroller v. Baby wearing. Do what works. Share with people who ask for advice. I use both. 
  • Cloth diapers. I wanted to use them, the DH didn't. Said he wouldn't handle poop, wouldn't help with the washing. I'm not as irritated by disposables as I thought I would be. 
Things I may yet change my opinion of:
  • Separate meals for toddlers. Right now, I think it is a crime to feed children different food than parents eat. If in 2 years, I am fighting her to eat 2 bites of yogurt, I might change my mind. 
  • Buying a honkin' huge SUV to accommodate 2 kids. With one, my Forrester feels a bit crowded. But, it sure gets better gas mileage than the V6 I used to drive.
  • Moving to another county just for the primo schools. If we stay in our current urban area, I strongly believe that the schools are fine. The magnet schools are better than fine. Why would I move when she could go to one of the country's top high schools?