Posts Filed Under self-esteem corner.

37 reasons I’m having trouble “embracing the moment”

by renegademama

Sometimes I complain about motherhood.

Shocking, I know.

And every time I do, somebody somewhere somehow gives me the same sage advice:

Enjoy it before it’s over.

Live in the now.

Soak it up.

EMBRACE IT.

And generally speaking, my urge is the same. I basically want to punch them in the face. Not because it’s bad advice. It’s not. In fact it’s the best advice ever. It’s solid fucking gold. It’s true and real and exactly what I should be doing.

This, of course, makes the advice that much more annoying, since I know they’re right and yet I can’t seem to pull together this much-desired full-moment-embrace.

At least not always.

There are various reasons for this during any given day. I’ve decided to compile a few.

So here you go: 37 Reasons I’m Having Trouble Embracing the Moment

  1. I’m so tired I recently told somebody I had a baby girl. Yeah. My baby has a penis. So until further notice, I had a boy.
  2. It’s tough to really be present when your consciousness is sustained through 12,000-calorie, 25 grams of fat, 40 tablespoons of sugar, 6-shot iced coffee drinks.
  3. No for real, there’s a time each day when I think I may actually die from this exhaustion, but then, like a beam of hope and light and truth, comes the drive-through espresso place and I know I’ll make it ONE MORE DAY.
  4. But then I remember I will never lose the 30 pounds I’ve got attached to my ass if I keep drinking that shit. But I do it anyway because survival.
  5. Speaking of shit, I’m pretty sure there’s baby poop under my pinky nail.
  6. I made eggs for breakfast but my toddler “Only eats eggs on TUESDAYS!” So she screamed and wailed for approximately 30 minutes (even though she has no idea what day it actually is). Obviously.
  7. It’s so damn hot I can’t stand wearing the “quality” nursing bra to support my 15-pound-each breasts – it’s so ITCHY! – but the cheap ass (comfortable) one from Target gave me a clogged duct and if I don’t wear the 6 feet of “quality” material around said boobs (and nursing pads), milk drips out of them and onto my clothing.
  8. So basically, my choices are: uncomfortable, hot and itchy or uncomfortable, wet and milky.

(Embrace that, bitch.)

  1. I’ve been taking my placenta pills like a motherfucking boss but sometimes I wake up and I’m sure I have A.) Ruined my life and B.) Permanently ruined my life.
  2. My toddler just peed on the pool deck.
  3. Sometimes, my 12-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son bicker so long and so hard about something so stupid I actually pack up the insane toddler and screaming newborn and go to the park just so I don’t have to hear their voices for 15 minutes.
  4. When we get there, they sit on the bench beside me and whine that it’s hot.
  5. While my boobs itch.
  6. Then I usually say something horrid like “GO AWAY NOW.”
  7. And feel guilty about it because I know time flies and carpe fucking diem.
  8. I embraced motherhood 15 minutes ago. Now I want to sit on this bench and play Candy Crush and pretend I’m still 21 and hot and living in Barcelona.
  9. I have so many people demanding things from me ALL DAY LONG your voice has just become ONE MORE VOICE in the long line of voices asking me to do things and consequently I don’t hear you, at all.

But really, what part of “join me in the fight against helpful parenting advice is unclear to you?” Why can’t you just say “Yep.” When I bitch about motherhood? Why do you have to give me helpful words or whatever the hell that is because you know what I hear? All I hear is “If you were a better mother you’d be enjoying every second!”

18. Well shit. Now I can’t embrace the moment because you just told me to “embrace the moment” and now I feel guilty for not embracing the fucking moment.

19. And this leads me to think about how my tween will be 18 in 6 years and instead of living “in the now” I’m wondering where the last 13 years went and how come I didn’t “live in the now,” then, when I still had a chance and she was younger and nicer.

20. I’m thinking about money. Namely, the way we have none.

21. I’m wondering how that article that’s due this evening is going to get written when my baby decided that the only palatable life activities are nursing, sleeping against the boob (because I DIE WITHOUT THE NIPPLE MOM) and pooping.

22. I’m crying over nothing.

23. I’m answering questions from my kids about why I’m crying over nothing.

24. I’m making a mental note not to watch rescued-elephant videos ever again.

25. It’s 4pm and I just realized the circus needs to eat. Again. Why must they eat so often?

26. The dog ran away, out the broken fence. We need to fix the fence. He’s a sweet dog. I love that dog. I need to pay more attention to the dog. Sorry, dog. (No worries. We found the dog.)

Hey. Hey you. I AM EMBRACING MOTHERHOOD, just not at this moment. Why isn’t that okay? I ENJOY MY KIDS, just not at this exact second. Why is that a problem? Aren’t all jobs annoying at some point? Don’t all jobs have some aspects that suck? I mean if I were a lawyer and I hated doing time entry would you be like “Enjoy it.” Embrace it. Time flies. Someday you’ll be too old to record your time.” No. Of course not.

But this is motherhood, you say. Motherhood is precious. It’s all so precious!

NO. No it is not.

Sometimes it’s not precious and I really, really think we’d all be better off if we stopped telling mothers to “enjoy every moment” when some moments are really, really (sometimes literally) shitty, full of nothing more than grit and dirt and work and grime (with a hint of cuteness).

27. I was up until midnight writing an article. My baby woke up at 3am and wouldn’t go back to sleep until 5am. At 6am my toddler woke up and bounced into my bed “I’m here to cuggle (cuddle)!”

28. It’s hard to embrace something when your eyes won’t open and your head is pounding and your arms are stuck under an almost-crying newborn and a flailing 3-year-old.

29. It’s 5am and I’m torturing my newborn with that snot-sucking device so he can finally sleep, FINALLY.

30. But I can’t sleep because I’m 97% sure he has whooping cough.

31. Better get on Google and explore whooping cough. What time does the pediatrician’s office open?

32. Oh great. It’s 6am! Here’s Georgia! Toddler cuddle time!

33. My kitchen smells vaguely of vomit and mildew.

34. My voicemail is 90% full. I fucking hate voicemail. Text, people. TEXT.

35. I have 17 flagged emails in my work inbox that need attention and my auto-responder says “Just had a baby” even though it’s been 5 weeks and they hover in the back of my mind like the most irritating buzzing fly you’ve ever heard.

36. My kids are eating mac and cheese again. I can only imagine what the processed cheese-like substance is doing to their brains.

37. We need to go to Costco but the tired. Oh. My. God. The tired.

And this baby.

And these kids.

THEY’RE JUST EVERYWHERE. And it never, never ends.

the haircut in question.

the haircut in question.

 

Eventually I give up, fuck it, park my ass on the chair and watch some 30 Rock reruns. For a minute I laugh, we all laugh, as the baby tries to nurse Rocket’s nose. And Georgia did her swimming lesson without crying. Came out beaming “I was SO GREAT in that pool, mama!” And the dog jumped in the kid pool like it was his own personal Raging Waters and my husband got an amazing haircut that makes me want to, ahem. And the grin on Ava’s face when she got her prize for reading 4 books at the library’s summer reading challenge. Oh, the innocence. It was almost as if she were 6 years old again.

I saw it for a second, just a second. My second, and hers.

As her smile hits my heart, I hear an explosion in Arlo’s diaper and something wet on my arm. I change him in the back of our hot SUV while the kids argue about who sits in front and Georgia removes her clothes, again, because that makes sense. I see my coffee in the stroller like a silent beacon of hope.

So there. 37 reasons I’m having trouble embracing the fucking moment.

And 1 or 2 that keep me trying.

 

Now please, for the love of God, stop telling me to embrace the moment. I’m embracing what I can, as best as I can, along with every other mother I know. And besides, 

Untitled

To all you married people in their 30s “getting ready” for a baby…lemme tell ya somethin.

by renegademama

When I was a kid, I used to say I was going to wait until I was 30 to get married. Then, a couple years later, I was going to have a kid or two, when I was all mature and stable and shit.

As you know, like most of my plans, that didn’t go well. I had a kid at 21 with a dude I had known for 3 months. Score!

So I realize my perspective may skew my understanding of the idea of “planning for a child,” or “waiting until you’re ready,” but I have to say, I find the whole process of “waiting until you’re ready” to be one of the most ridiculous endeavors ever invented, mostly because it’s an impossible task, and creates the horribly misguided idea that one can actually “prepare” for parenthood, or “become ready” for something that inherently negates any possibility of preparation because it involves a real live human baby.

It’s absolutely ridiculous. When was the last time you met a predictable human?

(Your mother DOES NOT COUNT.)

I’m not saying every 16-year-old should have a kid, or people without jobs or homes should be reproducing at random and hoping for the best. UM DUH. That’s way too much work. For them and for us.

What I’m saying is this: If you want a baby for real but you’re not doing it because you think a better time will come, let me be the first to tell you: THE TIME WILL NEVER COME.

You will never have enough money.

You will never have a stable enough marriage.

You will never feel grown-up enough to serve as the guiding light of hope and direction to a small innocent child who’s insane enough to think the sun rises and sets over your pert little ass.

Speaking of pert little asses, you will never be ready for pregnancy.

That’s a LIE! You’re ready now! Your weeping uterus is probably all “I must have baby,” which is precisely why you’re in this predicament in the first place.

But you won’t be ready to piss on yourself and do that throw-your-legs-over-the-edge-of-the-bed thing when you’re 8 months pregnant and need to get up for the 12th time that night, to pee, and your partner’s next to you snoring, undisturbed, and you’re like “Maybe if I smothered him nobody would notice?”

You won’t be ready to not see your toes for a couple months, or the look in your partner’s eyes as your boobs expand like porn balloons. Do those exist? Whatever.

You won’t be ready for the day you can’t buckle your own goddamn sandals anymore.

And friends, you won’t be ready for the body contortions and noises that resonate from the depths of earth and your soul as you push a baby out of a barely participating vagina.

You will never feel “good enough.”

When you meet that baby, you will no longer suspect you aren’t good enough. You will KNOW IT, because how could anything be good enough for the first perfect creature ever born? (Incidentally, that whole “perfect creature” thing will totally disintegrate by age 2, but I digress.)

Your ducks may be all lined up now, honey, but they’ll fly like feathers in a tornado the day that baby enters your world. Try. Give it a shot. Try to wedge that newborn into YOUR schedule and parenthood into YOUR vision of “the way it should be” or “the way I intended it to pan out.” Try to mold your kid into just what you had in mind and your partner into the perfect other parent, and you, chip away at yourself until you carve yourself into The Perfect Mama.

And then find yourself some whiskey, benzodiazepines, and a good shrink, cause you’re GONNA NEED THEM.

Do I sound negative?

Good. I am.

I feel like there’s a lot of misconception about child-rearing, much of it arising from bullshit societal notions that:

a.)    Having kids is fulfilling. It’s not. Becoming a whole person and being true to yourself is fulfilling. Kids only serve as a substitute for self-fulfillment for people who haven’t figured that out yet. There’s a line in a Margaret Atwood book (The Handmaid’s Tale?) where this girl says to her mother: “I am not justification for your existence.” BOOM.

b.)    Having kids is noble. Nope. Not noble. Just reproductive. Saving kids from a burning building? That’s fucking noble.

c.)     Everybody wants kids, or should want kids, and if they don’t want kids they’re a self-centered asshole. The only people who “should” have kids are the people who WANT THEM. How is that complicated? Personally, some of the people I know who have chosen not to have children have done so because they are TOO SELFLESS to bring a kid into what they believed was not the best situation. Self-centered? Nooooo. You know what’s self-centered? Bringing a kid or 12 into the world and then acting like you did THEM a favor by birthing them, like you’re some sort of martyr for a choice you made. Though I feel sorry for myself on occasion just like the best of ‘em, my kids don’t owe me shit and neither does the rest of the world. I’m not special and neither are childless people. Wait, hold on…gimme a minute….okay here we go…

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

d.)    People without kids are missing out on a life with depth and meaning. Well, I guess that depends on how you define “depth and meaning,” but as far as I can tell, a life of depth and meaning is that which a person defines as “deep” and “meaningful.” And parenthood, of all the fucking endeavors of the world, is not inherently “deep” and “meaningful.” In fact, it appears some parents are actually detracting from the good of the world by reproducing. It’s as if they’ve gone out of their way to REMOVE depth and meaning from parenthood. Wait. Sorry. Was that my outside voice? MY BAD.

e.)    A kid is this thing you add to your existing life. Now this one’s gonna get me in trouble, but check it out: You don’t ADD a kid to your life like some sort of really expensive accessory. A kid transforms your life into an entirely new life, whether or not you are participating in this transition. [If you’re confused as to why this will get me in trouble, I’ll tell ya: People, guided by companies making A LOT OF MONEY off the idea, have convinced themselves parenthood is something that can be predicted, controlled and navigated in pleasant ways if you only buy, read, and do the right things. What are the “right things?” The idea that parenthood is a giant shit-storm of ever-shifting ground (LIKE THE REST OF LIFE) terrifies people, so they get really mad when you say things that threaten their fragile construction of security.]

And so, here it is, my dear friends waiting for the day…talking talking talking about kids, and waiting for that glorious moment when all the stars align perfectly and there’s just not a single thing left undone: All the places have been visited, all youth expired, the pinnacle of marital felicity reached along with a near-Yogi state of self-awareness, calm, patience. You’re in the best health of your life. Your 401k has hit $200,000 and your house is half paid off. Your car has an oil change and your diet is totally organic.

Here’s the thing…you can keep waiting, or you can realize the kid you have will be the perfect kid for the mess of your life. The perfect little crazy being to fit like a glove over the glaring deficiencies you were sure would ruin you. Not to fix you. But to hang out with you, just as you are, if you let him in and drop the fucking act. Just BE who you are and see you had everything you needed already, and maybe you were always “ready,” or as ready as you’ll ever be, for this kid, the perfect one for your family.

When I was pregnant, my midwife used to tell me I was the perfect mother for this baby. I believe that to be true, though please don’t ask me to ever raise somebody else’s baby. My kids have grown accustomed to my insanity, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

Like the missing piece you never knew was missing, your kid will just lock in and lock on and turn you into the human you had no idea you could become. And yet you’ll remain exactly the same, cause you are only you, after all, and your job is to love and support and teach until the day you let go again.

And no, you won’t be ready for that either. I sure as hell am not.

But if you want it, the universe is telling you: You’re already perfect for the kid you’re waiting for.

You’re a disaster. You will remain a disaster after your kid comes.

Together you will be disasters, together.

But you’ll be in love, and it’ll be alright, and maybe one day you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

I mean it is, after all, just a real live human being.

renegademothering.com disaster

Maybe my kids should find a new hero….

by renegademama

You know what I find infinitely unfair about motherhood?

My kids idolize me but they lack the judgment to determine who, in fact, is idol material, which means they’ve stuck my sorry ass up on a pedestal, expecting greatness all the time, but all they get is me, and I’m fucking crazy, but they can’t see that because I’m their mom and they have poor judgment.

Okay FINE. I know. They “love me as I am” and shit. They don’t have “expectations.” I get that.

But they don’t see reality. They only see some shell of reality, some air-brushed vision of motherly loveliness. Oh yeah, they hate me sometimes, particularly the 11-year-old female, but in the end, they adore me.

I am Mama.

Woooooo.

My reputation precedes me. My title is so impressive it overshadows my deficiencies.

I know this will change someday, and, just like the rest of us, my kids will one day glance at me and realize, much to their shock, awe and dismay, that mother is a flawed, slightly pathetic human. JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE LOSERS.

But for now, they worship the ground I walk on. They gaze at me adoringly, crave my approval, attention, interest.

If they had any sense whatsoever in their little pin heads, they’d recognize that of all the people on this planet, the particular broad who birthed them is not exactly hero material.

She’s weird, and kinda funny sometimes, but heroic? yeahNO.

And so here I am put on this pedestal by these tiny delusional humans and I’m watching them watch me like the sun sets over my ass (wait, that’s not the cliché, is it?) and I’m also watching myself do insane things on a daily basis and I’m yelling and screaming when I shouldn’t and not doing anything heroic whatsoever and while it’s happening – I mean at the very same moment – I’m like “You know Janelle these kids idolize you. You really should knock this shit off.”

But I can’t.

Every day at least once I do something entirely irrational if not wholly ridiculous and ineffective, and I know it, but I can’t stop.

For example, if I call or text my husband more than three times and he doesn’t answer, I generally lose my mind and send him all kinds of exciting messages such as “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?” or “Could you please for once in your goddamn life answer your fucking cell phone???”

This is irrational because he quite often answers his cell phone. I’d say he usually answers it. But if I call three times and he doesn’t answer, particularly when he just called me or I know he’s at home, I forget that he often answers his phone. Then I he’s a conspiratory asshole purposely avoiding me. Obviously.

Or sometimes I scream at cars that have wronged me (“Are you fucking serious!?”) as if their windows and mine aren’t rolled up and my kids aren’t in the car.

I also eat crap when I’m fat and stressed and feeling sorry for myself, even though I know eating crap makes me feel fat, stressed and feel sorry for myself.

I stay up until 1am because people are not talking to me and I like it.

I stay up until 1am even though Georgia has never in her life slept past 6:30am. Ever. And every morning when her naked self comes bounding into my room squealing, “Mama! Ya gotta get up!” I curse myself and moan and swear tonight I’m going to bed at a reasonable fucking hour, damn it.

It’s currently 12am.

I often read comment threads in mainstream electronic publications discussing breastfeeding in public, gay people and racism, even though I know it’s soul-sucking and would most likely be named the 10th ring of hell, were Dante alive to experience it.

I yell at my kids though it has not lasting benefit and never has.

I always feel better when I meditate routinely, but as soon as I realize I’m feeling better I stop meditating, since I no longer need it, you know, because I feel better.

And so I’m going through life as these kids’ mother and I’ve failed so desperately in ways that really aren’t funny at all, but I’m back and I don’t beat myself up for that shit, because it’s over. And I’m here now. And I’m alright now, and I even have this gorgeous thread of confidence that goes something like this: “Well shit, Janelle, you sure are better than you used to be.”

And it’s always true.

But I’m often not that great at life. I feel a lot of fear sometimes, so much it’s debilitating. Or I’m obsessive. Other times I feel like I just couldn’t possibly care less. Sometimes I’m “ normal.”

Other times I stare at a menu and feel like I might actually die if I have to make a decision, and when I feel the server’s eyes boring into my forehead “Choose motherfucker, CHOOSE!” I have an anxiety that threatens to take my breath away. Then I remember it’s just food, at a restaurant, and it’s gonna be alright.

But that shouldn’t happen to a human being’s idol, right?

I mean if two or three untainted gorgeous children are going to worship somebody, shouldn’t she be able to choose cheeseburger or cobb salad without enduring existential pain?

Shouldn’t she have arrived at some place where professionals and grown-ups hang out?

Sometimes my kids run up to me all proud of whatever it is they’ve made or done or found and I’m impatient because I’m trying to do something else, and there are three kids running up to me announcing “Mama, look!” and let’s be honest, I’m not infinitely interested. I’m just not.

And that, perhaps, is the most insane behavior of all, since one of those kids is walking away, you know. Almost 12 years old. I already miss her desperately.

But sometimes they look at me with a yearning and a confidence and a sweetness of desire that makes me want to run. Go away, kid, I’m not that good. Don’t put me on shit, kid. I’m just a fucked-up human who happens to be your mother.

But I won’t run from that job, I can’t. I won’t. The fact is I am their mother. This is the hand they were dealt. I am the hand they were dealt.

And I’m not that bad. I’m way better than I used to be.

Hey but I’m serious now. Let’s think about this. We’re born, we grow up, we do whatever. One day we birth this child and he or she becomes the air we breathe and an unabashed obsessive fan. The kind of fan who throws himself at the feet of their obsession.

Tacks posters up everywhere. Gets a tattoo of her face. Never misses a show. Reads all her biographies.

But we know the truth of ourselves. We know the dark and fear and grit. We know how we’ve failed and the dark thoughts we’ve thought and we’re a fake and a fraud.

Someday, kid, you’ll figure that out.

But for now, my god for now, you look at me with this longing in your eyes to gain my approval and have me adore you with words and smiles and my whole body. And I want to, all the time. I want to pour it on you like a hero would and tell you everything valuable you’ve ever needed to thrive and live a life of Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Or at least happy people.

And I guess sometimes I do.

Mostly I don’t.

I lay my head down at night thinking of you, kid, my biggest fan, and I wonder if you’ll ever know how hard I worked to be that good, for you. Finally realizing I’m not that good, but I’m still your mama, and someday I’ll ask you to see me as that person, and stick around anyway.

When your judgment is better, and you have a choice, and it’s all in the open then.

www.renegademothering.com

“Work-life balance” and other lies (that can bite me)

by renegademama

Why is everybody talking about “balance” all the time?

“Work-life balance.”

“Work-family balance.”

Balanced marriages. Balanced diets. Balanced checkbooks. Balanced attention to your children.

You know what? Fuck balance.

There’s nothing “balanced” about my life and there never has been. The only thing all this “balance” talk does is reinforce the validity of my suspicion that I am vastly underprepared for existence, or I’m living some whacked-out version of life in my own failure bubble. Both of those things may be true, but whatever.

Yeah, yeah, I know. There are nutjobs out there working 75 hours a week, existing on Jack Daniels and Ambien, working working working, never seeing their families, getting hypertension as we speak (but doing it in a brand new BMW!), etc. But check it out: if somebody is doing that for more than a year or so, they’ve got more problems that a “lack of balance.”

I’m talking about a regular old person just living a regular old life. Kids, work, marriage, social life.

I’m talking about the expectation that at some point things are going to smooth out into a “balanced” routine of kids, work, marriage, and social life.

It’s the biggest crock of shit ever. Life is never balanced. Life is constantly changing. That’s the nature of life.

Or maybe I’m just incapable.

I can tell you, though, after nearly 12 years hitched to the same dude, my marriage has never once been 50/50. One of us is always failing miserably in some department, and the other one picks up that slack. It’s 80/20 and then 20/80 and sometimes 95/5 (depression, anyone?). You know, like sometimes my husband can’t do anything other than work because he’s got some emotional stuff going on, or an early mid-life crisis based on some fear he invented in his brain, or he’s disillusioned with all the things and wants to join the pro-rodeo circuit. Or maybe I’m doing that exact same thing (sans the rodeo thing. But move to a yurt in Costa Rica? Totally into it.)

Or I’m pregnant. I ain’t doing shit when I’m pregnant. I’m growing a baby in my belly and pee on myself when I laugh. YOU CAN DO THE FUCKING DISHES EVERY DAY.

See? Not balanced. Sometimes I need him. Sometimes he needs me. But we never, ever need equally.

The only thing an insistence on balance does is turn my marriage into a giant score-keeping hell. I’m tallying it in my head “I cleaned our room twelve times. He did it once.” 12 to 1.

Mother fucker. I’m the better partner here. Instantly, miserable. (But god help me if he starts doing that: “Janelle yelled nine times today. I haven’t yelled since April.” I WANT A DIVORCE.)

And the work – family thing: I suppose we have a little more control in how much we let our jobs run our lives, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes, your job will run your life.

There will be that project from hell or that new boss that manages to suck your soul out of your body by the time you reach your cubicle. Or you’ll decide you want an M.A. in English and it will be finals week or you’re heading to a conference or you’re studying for the comprehensive exam.

You will miss family events.

You will not have balance. Your kids will suffer and whine and cry and miss you. You will drag your ass to campus with tears just behind your eye balls because it’s the 5th-grade awards ceremony and you’re studying postcolonial theory with a bunch of semi-conscious grad students.

And you do this for weeks, months, maybe a year or two.

Then you’ll open your Facebook news feed and see a helpful handy article “Five ways to maintain work-family balance” and you’ll smash your computer screen with your hardcover copy of Edward Said’s Orientalism.

And please, save me from the idea that my kids are going to get equal attention from me all the time. First of all, if there’s a baby in the family that whole thing is shot. You aren’t spending “equal” time with each kid. You’re spending all your time with the baby while feeling guilty that you’re not spending “equal” time with each kid.

You realize four days have passed and you haven’t spoken 20 words to your tween with nobody around.

You realize it’s been a week since your 7-year-old and you cuddled and read books in the big bed, like you used to.

And when this hits you, you drop your head for a moment and wonder what the chances are that your kids will end up even remotely well-adjusted adults. You give the baby to the husband and dart into the tween’s room, to have a conversation. You read the story to the boy.  Then you feel balanced for a moment. Or two.

But it’s gone again in a week or so, when the baby gets the flu.

And even if there isn’t a baby there’s always one kid who seems to need me more than the others. One is angrier than usual and I can’t figure out why. Ava and I are butting heads constantly.

Rocket isn’t learning to read.

Georgia keeps launching herself off the ottoman at the dog and I’m pretty sure one of them is going to seriously maimed.

Somebody’s sick. Somebody’s struggling. Somebody needs me more than they ever have.

It’s never equal. It’s never balanced.

It’s a giant cluster fuck of shifting ground and changing priorities. Just when I think I have it figured out I get thrown a fast one: my own health deteriorates.

My husband gets laid off.

I fall into a depression.

Or he does.

I realize I’d rather off myself than continue working at same job.

I go back to school, or finish.

My boy gets diagnosed with dyslexia.

 

You know what I think my job is? Respond to life as it happens. Stop expecting balance.

Wake up. See what needs to be done right now. Let go of the idea that my life should carry on in some neat, systematic way and that someday I’ll be meeting all the needs of all the people all the time.

As if someday my marriage will be totally equal all the time and my health will be solid (cause I’m exercising and eating a balanced diet) and my kids are thriving neatly (just as they should!) and my house is put together (but not too put together because one must not obsess) and I’ll go to work and “Leave it there” when I leave (cause one shouldn’t bring that stress home) and I’ll take my “me time” with my friends and husband (because mental health, people!).

Or I’ll realize shit like that only happens in movies and self-help books.

As far as I can tell, the expectation that life will ever be neat and orderly is nothing more than a path to unbridled misery. Life’s not going my way! So I exert myself more and more and more and it’s STILL not working so I try harder and harder and nobody’s responding and I’m getting crazier and crazier, until I’m the dude working 75 hours a week.

Because I need some CONTROL. I need a sense of SANITY. I need to feel SAFE. But it never works.

Or I resign myself to the chaos, the insanity. Burn the Self! Magazine and fucking self-help books from hell. Drop the expectation that things will ever remain stable, “balanced,” controlled. Forget the next approach. The next gadget. The next “helpful hint.”

I’ve got no control. Life occurs as it will, as it should, and the only time I can be effective anyway is to remain unattached enough to respond as it happens, shift in lightning-speed to the new priority, the new need, the thing that needs me now.

It needs me more than it ever has. It didn’t need me yesterday, and yet it’s taking all my time today. Wow. That ain’t balanced!

But I give myself anyway, say “fuck it.” Learn to maybe enjoy the way life just will not hold still. And trust that when I’m really blowing it, things will start to suck bad enough that I’ll change.

I know. I should be a life coach.

But really, maybe that’s exactly what “balanced” looks like (total lack of control) and in the end, we all get exactly what we need in the time and place and way that we need it.

Or maybe I’m just “unbalanced,” totally, in more ways than one…

and just crazy enough to not give a shit.

Is “Lost” a Parenting Approach?

by renegademama


There are some seriously messed-up expectations in motherhood – you know, tummy time, extra-curricular activities, the Wiggles – but by far the most twisted, torturous and baffling (in my opinion) is the idea that I’m supposed to adopt some sort of “parenting philosophy,” — like there should be some voice inside my soul guiding my every move as a mother, allowing me to feel all confident and right in my decisions, so I can hop on parenting forums and websites to proudly announce (as we all bow our heads in reverence): My Approach.

“I practice attachment parenting!”

“I’m a cry-it-out supporter!”

“I exclusively breastfeed!”

“I think breastfeeding is the end of female independence!”

“I’m a VBAC, no Vax, CD, EBF, CS, SAHM mom!”

“I have 2 nannies and wear Chanel and see my kids on Fridays!”

(Ok I realize some of those are ridiculous, but have you read Twitter bios?)

And I’m supposed to stand behind this approach, totally and completely, because I believe in it and shit, and I get all smug when people don’t agree, and I hang out with “like-minded” mothers because they support me in my well-researched, educated, enlightened methodology.

Or not.

With my first two kids, I guess I practiced “attachment parenting.” They exclusively breastfed, on demand, co-slept from birth til 3 or 4 years old, and I picked them up whenever they cried, carrying them in slings and carriers and such.

However, I didn’t do it because I thought it was “the best way.”

I didn’t do it because Mothering magazine told me so, and I sure as hell didn’t do it because all my friends were doing it (um, I was 22 – all my friends were playing pool and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon).

I didn’t do it because I was pressured by family members or the community (I had a Play Boy bunny diaper bag to piss off the yuppie moms in my SUPER YUPPIE town), and I didn’t do it because my husband told me I should (see above re: Pabst Blue Ribbon).

You know why I did it?

Because it felt right. It worked for me.

No, really. That’s it. That’s as deep as it goes.

I’m selfish. I’m not going to suffer through some mothering hell because the ubiquitous “they” tell me I’m supposed to. Ya feel me?

I breastfed because it seemed WAY EASIER than making bottles all the time, and I did it on demand because I couldn’t handle listening to a baby wail. Of course, it helped that my mom was a La Leche League educator who taught me Dr. Spock is an asshole. I co-slept because it was the only way I could get any sleep, and I liked having my babies near me, and felt more comfortable knowing they were right there. I wore them in slings because I found out right away that I could get way more done if I stuck them in there – they were happier for longer, my hands were free, and by breastfeeding and baby-wearing I could leave the house with very little gear, which was less to remember, and I liked that.

Why didn’t I wean my kids? Because I never wanted to. I wrote about that here.

You know why I used cloth diapers? Because I thought they were cute.

I warned you: not deep.

And so I’m going happily on my way, parenting the way I feel like it, when I come across Mothering magazine and I’m all “Wait a hot minute! There’s a name for this? ‘Attachment Parenting?’”

Golly gee I thought it was just called “parenting.”

And though I always felt a little attachment-parent-deficient because we couldn’t afford Waldorf schools or Amish toys, I’ll admit I got a little carried away, a little confident in my “approach.” I subscribed to the right blogs and magazines and read it religiously and felt a bit smug and true and right in my philosophy.

Ah, but then I had Georgia.

My third.

UH OH.

I should have known, given the nature of her birth, that she would always have her own plans, but alas, I’m a bit of a dumbass, and clearly (as evidenced by my 3 kids), I don’t learn very quickly.

Anyway, after using two cribs as stuffed-animal holders, we didn’t even buy a crib or co-sleeper or anything for the third. Obviously she would sleep with us. OBVIOUSLY.

Not gonna lie, I felt like some sort of attachment-parenting ninja having not even purchased a crib.

I should have known then I’d get my smug ass handed to me on a pretty little platter by a ten-pound bundle of crazy.

You see, this kid hardly slept at all next to me. She would like shift her body and twist and turn all night, as if she were irritated, bothered. She didn’t settle against my breast all happy; she nursed and flung herself away from me, as if to say “Thanks woman, now leave me the hell alone.” She woke up frequently and none of us got any sleep.

After about 3 months of this I finally admitted to myself and my husband: “Um, I don’t think she likes being touched while she sleeps.” We bought a $60 crib from Ikea, stuck it in our room and put her in it. She snuggled in and crashed, with a look on her face that said “Aw, FINALLY.”

And to this day, she sleeps in her crib, only coming into our bed occasionally when she’s sick or going through some phase.

As if that weren’t enough to shatter my delusions of grandeur, after about 3 months of pumping two or three times a day at work, to ensure my baby was exclusively breastfed, I found that I just couldn’t take it anymore, and, I guess because I’m selfish once again, I (you might want to shield your eyes) started giving my baby formula as well as breast milk.

Oh, the guilt! The irreversible pain!

I’m joking. It was totally fine.

Pumping every 3 hours and dealing with milk transportation and refrigeration and ALL THE SUPPLIES every day with three kids and grad school and work and babysitters was ruining my life. The formula supplement thing worked way better. Done.

And I used one of those baby carrier stroller things (a mini-version, but still) in addition to slings, because it worked better in some situations with my older kids.

And I let her watch TV occasionally.

And she quit breastfeeding around two years old, but she still takes a bottle. HORRORS!

So I guess all this makes me, what, a practitioner of “detachment parenting?”

WHATEVER.

Check it out. I have an idea. I vote that we all stop analyzing our parenting decisions in terms of whether or not they adhere to some over-arching philosophy we’ve read or heard is The Best.

I vote that we stop comparing our approaches to some magazine or blog or whatever the fuck, and trust that we know how to parent the child that exited our own vaginas, and we are smart enough and strong enough and aware enough (Stuart Smalley, anyone?) to respond to the ever-changing realities of our lives in a way that will meet our own needs and the needs of our kids.

I know, radical shit up in here.

But I mean it. We can be doctors and lawyers and brilliant homemakers and farmers but somehow we need complete strangers to tell us how to raise the kids we know better than anybody else?

It’s crazy when you think about it, right?

So here’s what I think we should do. When we’re faced with some big ass parenting decision (or even the small ones, really) and hear those voices start chattering (“this is wrong, this is right, this violates ____ belief! They say this behavior causes this one horrible thing”)…we just ask ourselves:

IS THIS WORKING?

And if the answer is “no,” we change something – even if it means we practice some whacked-0ut version of “Detached Attachment Parenting.”

Or, as I like to call it, parenting.

 

I’ll come out when my mom adopts a parenting approach.