Monday, January 18, 2010

Owning my parenting style...

So here we are, 18 months into motherhood. What have i learned thus far on my journey into parenthood? Quite a lot, actually.

I've learned that
  • there's a 4 am: Seriously? even when i was a party going bar star* i didn't believe that this 4 am thing existed. *i was never a party going bar star, but i was pretty sure that the world stopped after 2:30
  • you get used to the smell of poop: i'm not saying that you enjoy it, or want to create a perfume out of it, but the urge to gag and the OHMYGODTHATSTINKS isn't as bad as it was pre-children.
  • you hear yourself saying things like: "it's just pee.": what is this puddle? Oh, it's just pee. we're fine..... AS OPPOSED TO WHAT!?
  • Routinely picking my child up from playing and shoving my nose into his bum area is just another day at the office: Hey, is that MY kid that smells? Nope? Okay! Carry on!
  • you just get used to being covered in various bodily fluids. It becomes part of the Mom Uniform - that and sweat pants: I've come to decide that any woman who calls herself a mother of a toddler who actually looks put together and is wearing nice lipstick may quite possibly be a space robot, and their children should be avoided as they will inevitably try to suck your kids brains out. beware.
  • I have a lot more patience than i ever thought possible, and conversely, i have no patience. I will sit with Chewie for HOURS (Read: fifteen minutes - because that's currently the extent of his attention span) and colour, or read the same book over five times, or help him put on daddy's boots - take off daddy's boots - put on daddy's boots - take off daddy's boots, and i am sometimes amazed at how i (sometimes) am able to handle the tantrums. However, put me in a movie theatre next to some stupid teenager, or on the road with moron drivers, or GOD FORBID, in the mall... my patience is very slim - and if i am able to be at any of those places SANS baby, you can bet your sweet ass i don't want to waste it in line while you decide, like, which type of frappaccino you want, like ohmigod, did you see becky at that party?
  • it's okay to let go of the 'ideal mom' and just be the mom i am.
the last one is a biggie.
When i got into this whole parenting game, i had such high hopes and ambitions of doing it all 'right' - giving 110% and being the best mom that Chewie could ever have.

Here's the thing, there are a lot of ways to be a bad mom, but there also isn't only ONE way to be a good one.

There are a few things that i'm proud of with Chewie - that i had a doula, who was fabulous on the birth day, that i was able to deliver Chewie without drugs, that i was eventually able to nurse him and sustain him for almost a whole year, that i was able to make all his baby food, that i learned how to soothe him with infant massage.... to name a few.

Mother's to Be have all these expectations, and Mothers that Are have all this advice and ideals and can be pretty judgy and preachy - and it's a lot of pressure. One, to live up to your own expectations, and two; to try to fit yourself into this *MOM* mold that the world thinks is THE WAY TO BE A GOOD MOM

I've learned that i really have to be gentle with myself and to forgive myself those expectations that i didn't quite meet.

I wanted to be a stay at home mom, but when mat leave ended - we just couldn't afford it... so i went back to work. I felt guilty and still do, when i take him to the sitter's and he cries and tries to block the door so i can't leave. It still breaks my heart. But not being a stay at home mom doesn't make me a bad one.

I may have wanted to put Chewie in cloth diapers - but in the end, i couldn't do it. I know myself and how hard it is to keep up with my OWN laundry, let alone the laundry of the new baby PLUS the cloth diapers. I felt guilty about this for a long time before i was able to just let it go, telling myself that i knew myself better than anyone. Yes, i know the benefits of cloth vs disposable - but i just had to let myself let this one go. The fact that he's wearing disposable diapers does not make me a bad mom.

I tried to avoid the loud and flashy baby toys for the simple reason that they annoy(ed) the piss out of me. I had to let this one go when i saw the way Chewie's eyes lit up and how much he loved playing with his little boom box. Letting him play with loud flashy toys does not make me a bad mom.

I admit to, on more than one occasion, plopping Chewie in front of a Disney movie with a bowl full of Goldfish crackers so i could lay on the couch. This doesn't make me a bad mom, in fact - i would argue that those few minutes of solace on the couch make me a better mom, because i'm less likely to murder him if i can sit down for a few minutes. ;)

There is so much pressure on women to be successful in their jobs, to be independent, to keep a spotless house, to be a great chef who provides nutritional well balanced meals for her family, to be a wonder mom who teaches and plays and clothes and launders and bathes her children, and then to top it all off to have the energy and the desire and the GAMS to be a super sexy LOVE goddess in the boudoir... Does anyone EVER achieve this?

Honestly, i haven't shaved my legs in over 3 months.

There just isn't hours in a day to do it all, unless i start snorting coke.

I know that i have been a promoter and a pusher of the things that i have found valuable in my experience (i.e. natural birth, breastfeeding, etc.) and one friend of mine told me, quite defiantly, that she fully planned on getting the epidural and was planning on formula feeding. I told her that i could never judge her for what works for her, and no one should. She knows herself better than anyone. And i really felt awful that she felt that i would think less of her for that. It showed me i need to rethink the way i phrase some things.

and who's to say that had my son been born on time and not 8 weeks early that i might have caved and asked for the drugs. He was 4lb 11oz when he was born, so yeah - it hurt, but not like a 9lb baby would! And as for breastfeeding, well, that almost didn't happen for me - it took a lot of hard work and a lot of will power and a lot of desire and patience to make that happen.

But in the end, if i had HAD to have a C Section, or use drugs, or formula feed... or use disposable diapers, or sometimes let Chewie sip beer, or use the TV as a babysitter so my mind doesn't fly away - this doesn't mean that i'm a bad mom.

So, i've decided to own my parenting style.

To take the pressure stop trying to fit myself into this mold that...well, doesn't fit.
To share advice, but not judge someone else's parenting style.

YES, sometimes i let Chewie eat CrackDonald's french fries - because they're my vice, and i'm also teaching him how important it is to it would be hypocritical of me not to share with him...

But i love my son. I hold him when he cries, i tickle his toes, i read him books, we colour together, i chase him around the house, we giggle, we laugh, we hug and kiss, and i know that i am being a good mom.


Anonymous said...

Eep, I didn't think I was that defiant! I just felt judged before I even got out of the gate (and you know how I feel about not measuring up to your expectations!).


i am the diva said...

well xtine, i'm sorry that i made you feel that way, cuz it's fairly uncool of me. That being said - my experiences were my own, and if you want any advice (judgement free) when your day comes i'll be here to give you my experience from the one time i've done it. sorry again.

D-ad said...

You are a fine and excellently awesom-tastic Mama. Best I ever seen!

You have done-and are doing-a great jorb. I know I put some of those pressures on you, and I apologize, cuz I know how hard living up to it all is, even as a dad.

Love yous.

ps you still got excellent gammage in the boudoir.

parentingBYdummies said...

Oh I like your style. And that Chewie of yours is a cutie. I think I'll follow you as I need all the not-in-a-position-to-judge people as possible around me as possible!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I think you've got everything figured out..."This doesn't make me a bad mom, in fact - i would argue that those few minutes of solace on the couch make me a better mom, because i'm less likely to murder him if i can sit down for a few minutes. ;)" I'm sure all mother's have been there. Honestly, I don't think I could handle more than 1!
Savia's friend

kate smudges said...

You're doing something right ~ Chewie's got the best smile and is adorable. I like the way you've figured out that we each have to find our own way. Definitely could identify with you about the cloth diapers and going back to work. In the end, I've got a 17-year-old son who has somehow survived and thrived. He doesn't seem the worse for having watched a movie or played with flashy toys. (I still cringe when I see firetruck toys with sirens.)

michelle said...

There is no one way to parent! as long as you know your doing your best and Chewie feels loved thats the main thing!!!.

I rant and rave about all my parent expectations and the things I dont want to do, But thats my goals for me, we'll see what happens when the baby arrives :).

I can admit that my too tired to make healthy dinner while pregnant guilt has been a bit of a problem for me......babies can grow good on poutine right?? :).

teeni said...

Loved this post! Sounds like you have really mastered the whole motherhood thing. I'm so happy for you and proud of you!! :)

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