Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Different Kind of Mom

I want to be a different kind of mom.

I had such a narrow view of my parents when I was a kid. They were teachers, singers, church types, and most of all, my parents. I didn't realize they had hopes and dreams, or whole lives beyond what I knew of them.  I don't want my kids to think of me that way.

Of course, I was wrong about so much. Like that surprises anyone.  My parents are actually much more interesting than what I thought when I was little. But I still want my approach to my kids to be very different than theirs.  Interestingly, my parents have watched enough Dr. Phil at this point that there are things they wish they'd done differently, too.

Looking back to how I had it all planned (you know before I had kids and knew everything nothing about it), I had some great ideas and some ridiculous dreams. My ideas about my kids as individual people deserving my respect as well as guidance, is still one that I'm proud of. My dreams of things like...walking through a nature center with my children and pointing out different plants and what they do? Being that kind of Wise-Mom?  Well, that might have been less than realistic considering how much I know about that kind of thing.

My parents were more than who I assumed them to be, and not everything I wished they were.  Which is how I usually feel about myself. If I'm ever the person walking along a path and naming flowers, it's not going to be soon.  Right now I'm just not that outdoorsy and I don't have the time to learn.

I can't be Betty Crocker, Mrs. Brady, and Samantha Stevens all rolled into one 21st Century Mom. Not only is it not practical, it's just not... me.  To be honest, I'm kind of sick of beating myself up over who I'm not.  Though I am pretty good at.  Years of practice and all.

So who or what can I be instead?

I will be the mom that is willing to talk about anything. I will be the mom that my seven year old daughter felt comfortable enough to ask if boys can be lesbians (very interesting conversation, by the way). I will be the mom who thinks the big adventure for the year is taking the kids to a Sci-Fi convention. I will be the mom who's not afraid to let her kids explore themselves, their faith, their world.  Who knows, maybe I'll be the mom that their kids friends feel like they can talk to.  I don't know.  But I do know that the sum of who I am cannot be put into how many hours of TV my kids watched this week, or any of the other arbitrary standards we put on ourselves to decide who's a good mom and who isn't.  Equally it can't be based on the standards I set up for myself when I didn't know jack about being a mom.

I think it's possible to be the mom who knows her own limits, and instead of crying over what she can't do, enjoys what she can. A mom who's resourceful enough to know that if the kids want the low-down on Physics, I have a friend for that. If they want to learn to sew, I've got another friend for that. If they want to know what it's like to live the life of a writer, I have several friends for that.  If they want to dance the Sun up on May Day, well, I have a whole group of friends for that.  I'm pretty sure I've even got the friends that will happily take them to get pierced and tattooed.  Though I think I'd like to be along for that ride.  And I'll be the mom who's there for them always and who they can count on.

My kids are still going to be kids. Ciaran punched his brother in the nose yesterday (drew blood and everything) and then asked me if I thought his shirt was pretty. They are all individuals.  They're going to screw up, make mistakes, do things that irk the crap out of me, and sometimes they're going to be just plain wrong. At the same time, if they see that I'm strong enough to accept myself, working out the things I want to improve on, and accepting the parts of me that are really just fine the way they are, maybe they'll learn to do the same.

Of course that begs the question, can I really do that?  Be that person who's content with who they are while still trying to improve themselves?

What if we don't have to be just right (not even the ever-popular perfectly-imperfect) to teach our kids? What if we can just be ourselves, knowing that who we are isn't static, but is always changing and that we're still growing up?  I think it's possible.  I just have to step out into that knowledge with a little trust in myself and a little faith.


  1. I have faith in you and trust you to be able to do it! And if you need a reminder, call me, I will HAPPILY go on and on for hours about how much you rock as a mother! ;-)

    ((Which brother did he punch and was his shirt pretty?)) heh

  2. See, that's why I lurve you. ;-)

  3. BTW, he punched Quinn, and his shirt was lovely.

  4. That was so beautifully said. It really does "take a village" to raise our kids. We can't be all/do all and the fact that we know people who can help and are willing to ask for it can only help our kids.

    I need to bookmark this entry and read it when I start beating myself up about not being the "perfect" parent. :)

  5. You know, I'm really interested in this lesbian conversation...something tells me I'll get similar questions from my baby one day.

    I think you definitely have the right idea. You go, mama! ♥

  6. I just recently found your blog and began reading it. So much of what you say applies to the life I'm living right now. Trying to be a good enough mom for my kids. Trying to deal with the rules and expectations placed on us as parents to de every little thing (Not more than an hour of tv a day, no video games, hope that they behave all the time, convincing people that it's ok that my kids are homeschooled, and that I can provide what my possibly autistic child needs even though I'm not an expert at autism) You have been a great inspiration in realizing that what ever kind of expert I am not, I am an expert on my kids. It means so much to hear that doing everything I can for them every day is enough. I hope one day to be as wise as you are. Thanks.

  7. I'm glad you liked it, Jenner!

    Stacy, I find the first part of these conversations focus on figuring out what they know. Then I have to fill in the rest in a way they can understand. Her daddy apparently made a joke about being a lesbian, and so I had to explain. This is not the first such conversation I've had with one of my kids. Hopefully I'm teaching them what they need to know along with respecting others.

    Roxy, you *are* the expert on your kids. You *can* teach them at home, and your kid (while being autistic) is first and foremost your kid. So, you will definitely be an expert on that. Thanks so much for checking out and reading my blog. It's nice to know that someone is enjoying it.

  8. This post was so beautifully written and I could feel the determination straight from your heart and soul. We as mom's dont always do the right thing or say the right thing, but if our love for our children and best intentions are there, then thats all that matters. You are such a good mom Anne :)


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