Friday, August 31, 2012

The Mommy Wars

I've been hearing this term more and more... "Mommy Wars"... and its implication is intriguing. After much (about .25 seconds) investigation, exploration, and deliberation I've formulated a pretty elaborate definition of the term "Mommy Wars."

Drum roll please......

Mommy Wars [mom-ee wawrz]: noun  A battle between mothers of different parenting styles and philosophies in order to maliciously yet ineffectually prove that the other mother is, in nearly every way, inferior to themselves.

I have to admit that through a process of looking inward and reflecting on some (not so) distant conversations I came to realize that I am a frequent combatant in this battle of words. In fact I would be willing to bet that if many of you mamas out there are as well. It starts with, "well, what works for ME is...." followed by rambling about our tried and true method that is the answer to every problem ever, and then is completed with a, "But that's just ME." However, if we were to look deeper into our carefully articulated advice, past the misleading pleasantry, right there where the true motivation behind our "guidance" is left exposed, you will find that it was nothing more than a switchblade shot in our own personal "mommy war."

Now I know why I feel like I have the right to wage mommy battle against others who clearly have no idea what they are doing. I mean, I'm in the process of raising four children. They are practically perfect in every way (near-perfection is not just reserved for Mary Poppins). I am always well put together. My house is always clean. I sleep a solid 9 hours every night. And to top it all off I have dinner on the table at 5 o'clock sharp every day. I really just have it all figured out and want every one else to be as amazing as I am. (Hopefully all of you who know me also know that I'm joking. OR maybe you know that I'm being serious... dun dun dunnnnn)

But I don't understand why, ya know, OTHER mothers feel its necessary to war against everyone else. I think its pretty safe to assume that not every family is the same, right? So then why do we also assume that one particular method will work for the rest of humanity the way it worked for us?

Parenting is one great big adventure of trial and error. And its through that trial and error that we become the parents that are perfect for our own family. Frankly that's why I keep having kids, I screw up less and less, and figure things out a little bit more with each child (mostly joking... ok... kinda joking...but seriously). I really want to encourage the new moms, or even the seasoned moms. It's not bad to ask for advice. Its not even bad to heed this advice. However, be confident in your abilities as well because the advice you receive just might not work for you. You have (more likely than not) been given an instinct that is far better than any other mothers anecdotal remedy to your personal situation.

I sit here writing this and, really, I'm writing to myself more than anyone else. I have personal struggles with wanting to be right and being critical (that is an entirely different post for an entirely different day) and I often find myself forcing my philosophies on others under the guise of trying to help. There is research to support all different sides of the parenting table, and no method/style is more right then the other. So mama's reading this, will you put down the proverbial battle ax with me and accept the fact that what works for one isn't going to work for the other? And that we are no better than the next mom who is just trying to figure it all out?

Let's offer advice in love, not war. (hehe)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Blessing?

"Man you have your hands full!"

"Don't you know how birth control works?"

"Are you DONE yet?!?!"

"Just wait....."

On any given day my family will hear at least ONE of these questions/statements. I think we've all been there: walking through the aisles at Target, basking in our baby-free-ness, and we see a young mom. She is frantically pushing a shopping cart, has one baby strapped to her, another child trying to climb out of the cart, and still another child hiding between in the clothes rack (probably doing some messy business). We look at her and instantly feel sorry for her. She's clearly having a hard time. Obviously she is in over her head with all of these children. Why didn't she just wait for her husband to get home so that she could run her errands in peace? We stare, catch her eye, give her that pitiful look and approach her. "Man you sure have your hands full!" The words flow out of our mouth like verbal vomit that can't be caught and returned to where it came from. She looks at you, trying not to cry and/or scream, offers up some nervous laughter, and hurries passed you praying she doesn't run into you again.

Being that I AM this woman, can I just offer a little insight into EXACTLY what is going through her mind? She can see you approaching and knows exactly what is coming. She prepares her arsenal of witty comebacks to the intrusive/rude comments regarding her family size and age of her children. In a split second she wonders if she should just turn around and run, leaving her unruly brood to fend for themselves, or if she should continue to wrangle her "angelic offspring" and deal with yet another awkward confrontation questioning her parenting choices. "Maybe I have it all wrong," she thinks, "maybe they will just tell me how cute my children are and then move on." And then, you open your mouth. The maybes and hopeful thoughts fade. You just stated the painfully obvious. Inside her head she exclaims, "of course I have my hands full JERK!" But instead of being a bad example to her children she laughs, and hurries by gripping her poopy child with one hand maneuvering the shopping cart with the other, careful to not jerk it too much so her pint sized dare-devil doesn't fall out of the basket in her haste.

I said before that my family hears at least ONE of these comments/questions every single day. And it's true. I have 4 children ranging from 6 years to 6 months so people feel bad for me on all sorts of levels. I've started coming up with fun little "shocking" comebacks when people start to offer up their opinion regarding my reproductive choices.

They Say:                                                                  I Say:
"Man you sure have your hands full!"                      "Better full than empty!"
"Don't you know how birth control works?"             "No! Can you please explain it to me???"
"Are you DONE yet?"                                               "I don't have enough for a baseball team yet..."
"Just wait...."                                                              ::looks around nervous:: "For what?!?!"

Most of the time these "comebacks" are met with the nervous laugh that I used to offer up when I didn't quite know what to say, other times the people smile, and sometimes I get dirty looks.

Even though I have all of these pieces of wit to combat the idiocy of passersby, deep down I get sad that they will never understand. God has chosen to bless me with 4 amazing children. He has decided that these specific little beings would be a great fit into my family and that my husband and I might just do a superb job at raising them. I welcome any blessings that He sees fit for me to have. Because I know that, "Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him."

So what do I say when I see that mom juggling her little gifts from God? "Wow, you are so blessed!"