And as for the type of mom I am? Well, I’m happy to say that it’s taken some time, and I’m sure it’ll take even more time to progress, but I’m finally becoming content with the mom I am. You see, I’m the snuggle-all-day, flat-tires-are-an-adventure, yes-you-can-paint-on-your-brother-as-long-as-I-have-five-minutes-of-alone-time paradox of a mother. Continue reading
Goodbyes are never easy. At least, not for me. Especially when they’re shared with loved ones, people I’m fond of, places I enjoy being, or blogs to which I feel a connection.
I guess you can see where I’m going here.
It’s my final blog on the Peanut Butter on the Keyboard site. I haven’t been a PBOK mom for very long, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The camaraderie, the shared insight and advice, the comfort in hearing from other women with similar issues. Whether we have kids or not, have toddlers or adolescents or young adults, whether we’re married or single, whether we’re writers or not… we’re all women, striving to do our best, give our best, be our best… in a world that is ever changing, ever challenging, ever hectic.
There are times we want to fix everything, accomplish anything and feel like we’re SuperWoman. And there are moments when we just want to curl up on our couch, cover up with a warm blanket and take a nap.
We’ve shared celebrations, tragedies, family traditions, and posts about ideas or organizations or injustices we feel strongly about and staunchly support. We’ve questioned ourselves, our kids, our parenting, our actions—and in return we’ve received guidance, pats on the back, reassurance, tips, “hang-in theres” and commiseration.
I’m sad to see our time here come to an end. But the rose-colored-glasses, wide-eyed optimist in me refuses to think of this as “good-bye” but rather “FAREWELL!” Until next time. On the next blog somewhere on the internet. On the bookshelves. At a conference. In the grocery line. In spirit.
I wish you and yours a life full of peace, joy, health and love—much much love.
So, in the spirit of my musical theatre-loving family, I leave you with a song, a little dance, a little laughter and a fond, fond farewell.
If you’d care to share what movie or TV show farewell is your favorite, I’d love to hear it.
I watched many sad farewell videos before I selected this one. But seeing as how I prefer to close on a happier until-we-meet-again note, I close with this classic.
Until we meet again my friends…
My daughter is an amazing, unique person. I love her style. I love the way she runs around with carefree abandon. Barefoot. In dresses. In Werewolf costumes. I love her creativity. I wonder what she’ll be. Because there is so much potential contained in her beautiful little self. She is truly fearfully and wonderfully made.
I want her to have dreams, and I want to see them come true. I want them to be as far reaching as the stars. Big, big dreams.
I was pondering this the other day and realizing that I was once someone’s little girl. And my mom had all those same thoughts for me. I know she does, because she tells me.
That got me thinking. Thinking about identity. Identity once you’ve become a mother.
I love being a mother. I love my children. I feel the need to put that out there even now for fear claiming I love anything else might undermine that. Because…so often anything else in our lives is treated like it does undermine that love. Like any other aspiration we might have somehow robs from what has now become the primary part of our identity.
Very often when I tell people I’m a writer, the first comment is: That’s so wonderful! You get to be home with your kids.
I find that interesting. As though the only truly great thing about my accomplishments is how I’ve somehow managed to find a way to get paid to make myself available to do the one thing I really should want to do: be home with my kids.
But that perspective underserves the way our family works. I am not ‘home with my kids.’ I work full time at an office in my home. There are many challenges that go with that. My husband is the ‘stay at home’ (HAHAHAHA) parent. Who puts in so many miles on our car getting them where they need to go, who bears the burden of housework and grocery shopping and keeping us all functional.
Yes indeed, I am flexible in schedule, and that’s a wonderful thing. But…I have a job. A job that requires me to put in full time hours and sometimes LOCK my office door and build a security fence around my time.
My husband is a hard working stay at home parent. He spends a lot of time working on his music. He’s good at it. It makes him happy. It’s part of who he is. Because there’s more to him than ‘dad.’
Though, he’s never asked to justify these things. Often, he’s in that unenviable position of justifying his position as full time caregiver to the kids. People always want to know what ‘else’ he does. (And that’s a whole problem too.)
I find people often don’t want to know what ‘else’ moms do. Too often we’re only seen as one thing. Too often we see ourself as only one thing.
I don’t like it when people justify that I use my time for anything BUT my children. “It’s great because you’re home with your kids.”
I think it’s great because I love what I do. Because it makes me happy. Because me being happy makes me a better wife and a better mom.
Because I am living out my dreams. Because I’ve kept that part of myself that ran barefoot in dresses and let her hair fly in the wind, just like my daughter.
I don’t want her to lose that when she has children, if she has children. Because I prize all of who she is.
I should prize those same things in myself.
We all should.
Once when Princess Galen was 2, I babysat a friend’s sweet 6-month old daughter. It was 3 of the worst hours of my life. The baby was darling. Princess Galen was a jealous monster. At one point, I was on … Continue reading
a SAHM, WAHM or WOHM. (Yeah, kind of kidding here).
I love this “quiz” from The Washington Post. Just goes to show that no mom has it “easy.”
I hosted my sister’s baby shower last weekend. She’s due mid-September with her first baby. It’s been 5 years since my baby shower and there are already new, cool gadgets and baby items out there. I wish I’d had some of them!
Of course, what I thought I needed at the time and what I really needed were not always the same thing. Wouldn’t parenting be easier if we knew what our baby would be like before he or she would be born?
Watching my sister play the party games and open gifts, I was struck by how clueless she was about what was to come. Life will change forever and irreversibly in about 5 weeks. But all she was thinking about was holding the baby and dressing him in cute little clothes and taking pictures of his firsts. She’s excited to meet him and become a mom.
That’s why I love baby showers. They remind me of the time before my daughter was born, when motherhood was a wonderful mystery. When every kick and flutter was amazing. When I was scared and excited all at the same time. All moms need a dose of that new baby excitement once in a while. I went home and hugged my big girl, snuggling her like I would have if she’d let me as a cranky baby.
And you know what I realized? I love her more than I did when she was a baby. All the excitement I felt was warranted. My life has changed in so many wonderful and unexpected ways. The fear was warranted too. Not everything has gone how I envisioned. I love giving my sister the gift of a shower, but she gave me the gift of renewed appreciation for my “baby” too.
Recently I read an article addressing the issue of why so many women leave the workforce after we become mothers. It’s not something corporate honchos talk about in interviews—unless they slip—but you can bet behind closed doors they assumption is … Continue reading
“Hi, this is Danger*. He has autism.”
This is becoming a common introduction in my day. And while ago it’s one I couldn’t have managed to make so easily. But as time and acceptance have gone on its become easier to simply say the words that will help other people relate to my son.
When I think back on the journey I can see how far I’ve come. How far we have all come. For some reason I was always afraid I would have a child with autism. It was the thing I didn’t want to deal with. The thing I prayed I would be spared. I don’t know why, I only know that the idea of it terrified me. That the thought of raising a child with those particular special needs seemed bleak.
The diagnosis came slowly, starting with an evaluation when he was not quite two that left us with the evaluator saying: he shows characteristics in keeping with other children who have mild to moderate autism.
I remember sitting on the floor and holding him, crying. Because I knew then. I knew that this was the path we would walk no matter how much it scared me. No matter how much I had hoped, even before having children, that this would not be my life.
But then I realized that he was still the same child I had held in my arms only two hours before. Before those words were spoken. Before any diagnosis was made. A lot of the fear that I had felt, a lot of the crushing worry over the realization that I did have a child with autism was eased. Because I knew this child. And I already loved him.
I think it’s easy to look around at the hardships other people face and think that we could never endure that. That they must be particularly strong, or brave. But I think what it comes down to is that those of us who can face our fears and come out the other side not only surviving, but thriving do so because of love.
I think of myself as a normal parent. I am a normal parent. A normal person.
I’m stumbling through the same as anyone else, making mistakes, sometimes feeling sorry for myself, readjusting my expectations, readjusting my perspective.
But we aren’t just surviving, we are thriving. Autism isn’t something I have to endure. It isn’t something that has come into my life to steal the joy, as I imagined it would be. I didn’t think I would be up to this challenge, but my perspective on it was all wrong. Like all parenting, like all of life, it is a daily challenge. Sometimes we get knocked down by it, but then we get back up and keep going because it’s all anyone can do.
I look back on the frightened mother that I was, holding her child, feeling like the weight of all her deepest fears was resting on her and I can only be happy that I was wrong about my future. Because it was not something to be endured, but something to be embraced.
I’ve learned that when love crashes into a challenge, that challenge doesn’t stand a chance. Love makes so many hard things easy. It makes walking into the frightening things possible. I suppose this is why the greatest is love.
You all know from previous blog posts that this isn’t always easy, but nothing is. We all have challenges whether they’re small ones on any given day, or marathon challenges the stretch on for months, years. But it is amazing what we can do. It is amazing what we can do with a smile on our faces.
I know I’m amazed at how something that terrified me so much, something I was afraid would destroy everything I had, has become a part of our lives in such a way that I can’t even imagine it lifting out. It’s a part of what makes the shape of our family. A family that is imperfect, but held together by love.
Life presents us with so many unexpected challenges, and it’s tempting to sit down sometimes and cry. That’s what I did. But in the end I got back up. And that’s the important part.
Whatever your challenges, keep moving. Keep going. Keep loving. You are stronger than you think you are.
*the names of the Dangerous have been changed
“I bet you’re looking forward to when the baby comes,” a work colleague of mine said to Leslie, who sits next to me, and is hugely pregnant. “Then you can put your feet up, read some books…”
I must admit that I was somewhat gobsmacked by this statement, having a tiny of my own, and knowing exactly how much intensive, hard work it is to bring up a child. To be fair to my co-worker, I myself had very little idea of what it would really be like until I was caught up in the whirlwind of motherhood. I knew that there would be sleepless nights, and nappies would be involved, but it is difficult to understand the sheer physical relentless nature of having a baby around until you do. Or the way that they magnify all emotions: if they are having a bad day, then odds on everyone else will too. By contrast, when they are happy, they don’t hold back, and you can feel yourself bursting with joy.
There were other surprises too, in the way that I was treated by society, which I had not expected. I felt that people were treating me as ‘Just a Mum’, and hence had dropped about 50 IQ points. Marketers treated me as if I had gone from being a complex human being, with varied interests, to someone who’s world had shrunk to nappies, shopping and the state of my post-baby body. It bewildered me, and made me angry. I started to chat to other mothers from around the world (many of whom I met through blogging), and found that the story doesn’t seem to get much better as our children grow.
So ‘The Milk of Female Kindness’ was born, about a year or so after my bub. Women at all stages of life: mothers of young children, of grown up children, and women with mothers, started writing and sharing their honest experiences of what it is really like. How there are complex decisions to be made, and balances to find. The book came together as poetry, short fiction, essays, artwork and interviews. Twenty-eight brave women have been totally honest about their experiences, and I hope that this will at least broaden the discussion about parenting.
I think that one of the most important lessons to come out of compiling the anthology for me was a simple one: there is no right way to parent, and you can only do the best job that you can. Forget all the media pressure. Buying the latest gadget will not make you either happier or a better parent. In the end, it’s about finding your own way through the labyrinth of motherhood.
Get your copy here
I saw this awesome blog on When at Home about not allowing loneliness to ruin the time you have with your kids when they’re small. I wanted to reblog it, but I’m ashamed to say, I couldn’t figure out how. But I could figure out how to leave a link. I know I was desperately lonely at times when my daughter was an infant. It’s much better now, but it’s still easy to look at people who travel, sleep in on weekends, or go to a movie whenever they want, and feel a twinge of jealousy. This blog is a good reminder about why it’s important to manage those feelings.