Why I’m No Longer In A Mom’s Group

In previous posts I mentioned that I had joined a mom’s group and it was good for me, with my anxiety disorder and my fear of new people and places. It was good for Peyton’s social skills and getting her out and about. I really had high hopes for this working out. I slowly began to really come to the conclusion that in the end, I’m not cut out to be “that mom”.

What do I mean by “that mom”?

The mom who judges every little parenting choice of someone else. The mom who knows exactly the right way to parent YOUR child. Somehow, the manual to your kid popped out of her vagina with her kid. Apparently, you missed the memo, you are doing it all wrong. It’s right here in Chapter Six of “Raising Punky 101”. It’s the mom who thinks that if you aren’t parenting your kid the way they do, you are wrong, your kid will be a sociopath. The mom who is so very nice to your face, despite the obvious differences in opinion, but in a public internet forum, bashes your choices in a passive-aggressive way.

I’m not good at being that mom. And, apparently, I’m even worse at dealing with that mom.

You know, it’s not even that these comments are being personally directed at me. A lot of times, it’s just a general statement about one parenting choice or another. The problem is, it’s hurtful and I want so badly to say something, but instead, I hold my tongue. I’m really not the type to bite my tongue for very long. I’m really not very good at it.

It’s not even that these comments were directly solely at me and in some cases at me at all.

When you go out with a group of moms to relax and have a good time, I notice that all the ladies have a glass or two of wine or something related (unless breastfeeding of course). When one mom thinks it’s ok to call another one a “lush”, joking or not, it hurts people’s feelings and embarrasses people. Why say things like that? Because women are the best as making a ‘joke’ out of something they truly feel to soften the blow and not make themselves look bad.

Articles about car seats really bother the shit out of me. But, I don’t really say anything anymore. Not since I was basically told I was a bad mother (in not so many words) because we followed our pediatrician’s recommendations for Punky and turned her front facing when she turned 12 months old. She’s bigger for her age and frankly, she screamed in the car the entire time we were in there while she was rear-facing. I was happy to turn her ’round.

When I explained this as my experience and my opinion (not once mentioning anything about anyone who didn’t do this) I was slapped with a comment about how I should get a different pediatrician. And another mother, an expert in car seat safety, posted a video about what will happen to my daughter in an accident. I’m sure it’s all well meaning, but at the end of the day, hurtful and just another way to make a new mother feel crappy about herself.

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Let’s not take into consideration that I have an anxiety disorder. My eagerness to turn Punky around had more to do with my anxiety than anything else. When she was rear-facing, I couldn’t see her. I’m forgetful. Seriously. I couldn’t stop imagining that I would be one of those moms who left her in the car on a hot day. Even now, front-facing, I imagine my reaction to finding her dead in the back seat because I forgot about her back there for one reason or another. It’s part of my anxiety disorder, I picture these things the entire time we are in the car with Punky in the back seat.

During posts of seemingly support seeking mothers, especially those with small children who won’t sleep, the claws came out all the time. So, a mother posts about how she’s really having a hard time with the lack of sleep and looking for suggestions. The first time I posted that we used the cry it out method and how we did it and why and how it worked for us. The response I got from the mother was this: “With all due respect, crying it out is NOT an option in our home.” Well, excuse me for giving you a suggestion.

The comments continued with things like, “It’s unnatural for a mother to feel fine allowing her child to cry and not do anything.” “I can’t imagine leaving my child in her room alone and scared.”

These comments weren’t specifically directed at me, but I felt the sting. Wow. I’m a shitty mom because I let Punky cry herself to sleep one night. Let’s not take into consideration that both K and I were exhausted and really ready to shake this baby at the time. But excuse me, ladies, you don’t get to worry about your own well-being. Again, we took recommendations from our pediatrician to put her in her own room and let her cry it out. Not only for her health and need to get more sleep, but our sanity.

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Guess what, no one thought to take into consideration that I was sitting outside her door the entire time she was crying, tears streaming down my own face. K had to practically sit on me, because we knew it was best for Punky and best for our relationship and wellbeing. It was the hardest night of my life. Yet, Punky is the best sleeper I have ever met, mothers are astonished that she goes to sleep at 8:30PM and doesn’t wake up until at least 9:30 or 10AM. I get surprised faces when I tell people that she loves taking naps and we rarely have a fight when it is time as she will clearly say “Nap” and head to her room, when she is tired and usually right around the same predictable time.

But, screw me. I shouldn’t have allowed her to cry it out for one time and apparently, I’m unnatural and not a great mother for allowing her to be independant.

Don’t get me started on vaccinations. I will be real honest here. Do I think it’s weird that there are people who don’t vaccinate their kids? Honestly. I do. But, I have never said anything to these mothers. They are making their own choices and they are doing what they feel is right for their religious beliefs or their family or whatever.

So, why is it that I hear one of my good friends was told she was uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid? Seriously? Someone said that. See that’s the case of the comments not being directed at me, but I have a few choice words I could say in response to that hurtful and highly offensive comment. But, I bite my tongue, instead of defend my friend’s choice, defend my choice. Because if she’s uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid, then shit, so am I. Awesome, at this point, I’m really doing a great parenting job according to these moms.

Other things I have felt while in this group:

  • If you are on the computer and not constantly talking to your kid, you are bad mother and doing your kid a disservice. (Let’s forget that my second job is online, that I am actually making money for my family, while on this computer.)

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  • If you aren’t still breastfeeding your child after a year old, you are not supermom. (Let’s not mention that Punky couldn’t latch and I hated pumping because it caused me mastitis and my breasts were constantly on fire or in pain)
  • If you let your child watch TV, you will rot their brain and toddlers just don’t benefit at all by watching anything that is currently on TV. (Never mind the fact that Punky has learned how to speak from conversations with Dora and learned to jump, clap, and wave from the GiggleBellies).2013-06-29 05.09.28
  • You don’t feed your kid organic food? Bad Mom! (Except, jesus, organic food is expensive and we are living paycheck to paycheck. But, then, you use cloth diapers so you don’t have to worry about not having diapers for your kid. Another strike against me, whoops.) Of course, I suppose I could just get on the cloth diaper bandwagon, except we live in an apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer and can’t afford to wash our clothes as often as I would like, let alone shitty diapers. But, then again, I’m sure these moms just think we shouldn’t have a kid until we are financially stable enough to do this very important things that cost more money.

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  • One meetup I proposed to take the kids to the city hall steps to play in the fountains. I posted a picture of Punky, MY DAUGHTER, playing in the fountains. One of the comments I got was “I don’t know if that’s safe for my child.” For real? So, I suggested an activity that I have done with my own child, but it’s not safe for other people’s children. Way to basically say that I’m putting my kid in a dangerous situation and how dare I put yours in the same boat.

The last straw was about the debate on stay at home moms and working moms. All the instances above, I have pretty much not gotten involved, not since the crying it out and car seat instance. Because if I get involved, I’m likely to get banned and I really did like getting to know some of these ladies and we are still friends on Facebook. So, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say anything.

Then a post about how being a stay at home mom was so much harder than a working mother. Working mothers had it easy because they didn’t have to change diapers and they didn’t have to deal with the constant tantrums and nap fighting and the exhaustion.

Excuse me?

I know how hard it is to be a stay at home mom, I live with one. I also know how hard it is to be a working mother, I am one! Each one of us has a different kind of challenge and hard work in different areas, but the challenges weigh the same. So, while I figured this mom was just trying to get some support for her own challenges, but she took the opportunity to shoot down working mothers in the process.

It brings me to tears every freaking day when I lay her down for her afternoon nap, knowing that I won’t see her again until morning when she wakes up. It is hard to come home for lunch, because she’s awake and when I leave, she thinks she’s coming too. When I shut the door and she can’t come, I can hear her disappointment plain as day in her cry through the door.

To give K a break, she gets to sleep in and I get up early with Punky and take her places before work. Am I exhausted? You bet your ass I am. But, I am helping my partner, the stay at home mom, and I am finding the only time I can get with my kid while I put food in her belly by working and making a life for her.

Whether she did it intentionally or not, I’m not sure. I don’t think she did. However, when someone pointed it out that her comments might be hurtful to working mothers, she got defensive and basically said she didn’t know why her comments could be construed as unfair.

That’s what broke my spirit. If you say things unintentionally that hurt someone’s feelings. How about we just acknowledge that perhaps you hadn’t thought about how things would be perceived.

I promptly left the group. Simply because if I said what I wanted to say on the forum, I’d make ladies cry. So, instead I post it here.

With my anxiety disorder, I take medication damnit, to regulate my mood and my anxiety, this kind of environment doesn’t sit well with me and it makes it very hard for me to function. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m certain I suffered from a small case of postpartum after having Punky and I already felt like a shitty mom, I don’t need anyone to help me think that about myself.

None of us need to have that in our lives. We are all mothers, doing the best we can for our kids.

And frankly, children learn from their parents, mothers in particular. Children teach their friends their habits. I’m not interested in bringing Punky into that kind of learning.

So, while I think that the mom’s group was beneficial for making a few great friends, I am not cut out to hold my tongue anymore about unfeeling comments made about other people’s choices and debates and Mommy Wars. I’m just not built to withstand the drama.

Letter to Christian Working Mothers

Yet, another article that is beautifully written has been marred by comments by the followers of God. The beginning of this article really spoke to me as a working mom and if you are one, you should read it. Here’s the perfect example of having agreements with those who are in the church about other things besides religion. 

However, there comes a side effect of the religious undertones of articles written like this. Marred in the comments are ‘well meaning’ Christian women who think they know what it’s like to be inside someone’s life. They use “God’s words” to make their veiled guilt-ridden comments and they use “God’s words” to throw a little judgement and a pinch of righteousness into an already guilt-ridden and emotional mother’s mind.

My heart goes out to those women who are shackled to the fear that their decision for their family is somehow inferior to those around them. This post is for you.

Dear Christian Working Mother,

I have known that guilt you feel. People tell you the guilt you feel is God’s way of telling you that you may be doing something wrong. Other Christian women are coming forward to tell you how your decision to work outside the home, may not be a good fit – and you shouldn’t ignore that guilty feeling in your gut.

Let me tell you something, ladies, working mothers feel guilt. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian or Atheist. It doesn’t matter if your child is newborn or young adult. A mother’s instinct is to care and nurture her child with her own two hands. To foster and delight in your child’s learning and teach your child the ways of your beliefs or non-beliefs.

We aren’t that different, you and I. The guilt a working mother feels, has nothing to do with religion. At the end of the day, the guilt you feel in your heart, those achy pangs of sadness come Monday morning has to do with being a mother. Carrying a child for 9 months gives you a special bond with that child – it’s a natural psychological response to want to be close to that child and have a hand in their daily lives.

Don’t let people use God to guilt you into doubting your decision to work outside the home. There are some, most likely just like you, who have no other choice.

Think for a moment, what happens if you give in to your guilt and you quit your job.

Will God put food in your child’s belly? Will He clothe your child and keep her warm from the coming winter fast approaching? Now you can hold your child in your arms all day long, but at what expense? Will you have a roof over your head? Will you have a car to drive him to all the playdates you so desperately want to attend?

I’m calling all Christian Mamas out there who work outside the home. I’m telling you that  you don’t have to feel guilty. This world is based in money. That’s an unfortunate fact and no matter how much you try, at the end of the day, your working puts food on the table and a roof over your child’s head.

It doesn’t mean you love your child any less. It doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It doesn’t speak to your greed or your priorities as a mother or a woman, it simply speaks to the necessity to do what is right for your family.

The harsh reality of this world is that it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not. The bill collectors are still calling. The house payment is still due. The medical bills are still calling out to you from when little Johnny broke his arm last year. Those things are going away, it’s not by some miracle of God going to disappear.

I commend the writer of the original article. She has beautiful words for the working mother. All working mothers can relate to the feelings she describes. Her words are written more eloquently than mine are, because now, I’m more interested in giving you a real good shake.

Don’t let people guilt you. Don’t let people doubt you. Don’t let people tear you down.

And to those women who think they are helping by adding more stress and worry onto women who are only doing what’s necessary for their children and their family. Shame on you. You don’t walk in their shoes, don’t presume to know who they are. Just because you have been stirred with what you call the duty to spread God’s message, doesn’t mean you have to put it on the heart of a fellow woman already struggling.

At the end of the day, what does the Bible say Jesus preached? Love and compassion. Not guilt and judgement. Seek to find the same level of belief and standards you hold these women to. Seek to walk in the way that Jesus walked, or don’t say anything at all.

Working moms, of all beliefs and family dynamics. You are struggling. You are doubting. You are heartbroken. But remember this above all. You are important. You are loved. You are appreciated. Your struggles don’t go unnoticed. Your doubting has no foundation. Your heart will mend each time with the happy smile of your child when you walk through the door. Your heart can withstand, your child is learning valuable lessons from you. Teach your child the idea of standing on your own two feet, doing what is necessary, and caring for the lives you have brought into this world and keeping them safe, warm, and happy!

Let’s all give a little more compassion to our fellow mothers. Regardless of our beliefs. Regardless of our decisions. Regardless of how we raise our families. Regardless of how we got here, we are all mothers. Let’s stop this war against each other. Let’s stop the judgement and start appreciating one another. Let’s stop the guilt and start learning from one another. Let’s stop the advice and start listening to one another.

Let’s just be women. Caring for our children. Doing what is in our heart and our soul to do on pure instinct.

Love one another.

Punky Monster is Getting Too Big, Too Fast!

So, Punky is becoming a little person. She is still not saying a whole lot of ‘whole’ words – in fact, I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s a horse. NAY. However, she is independent and pretty darn strong-willed. She knows what she wants and wants it when she wants it. Basically, she’s a toddler that wants things.

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I have heard about the terrible twos, but she’s not even quite a year and a half yet. But, true to form, this kid is all me and I am very certain my mom cursed me to have a child 10X worse than I ever was. So, Punky is starting the attitude early.

But, she she’s sweet. She’s just so darn sweet.

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I have been yearning for the moments when she will stop being so busy and sit with me. When she will just cuddle on the couch with me and watch Bubble Guppies. Or sit in my lap and dance to the Fresh Beat Band. That time has come. She snuggles now and periodically hangs out ‘near’ me for moments at a time. She’s not content to be sitting for long, before she’s tip toed across the living room another activity that strikes her fancy.

She is mimicking more and that’s promising. As soon as I can communicate the potty concept, we are going to work on getting that diaper done. We live in a small apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer. We can pay to wash clothes, which is fine, but well, it’s expensive. So, while I could do the conventional ways of putting panties on her and letting it go, I just don’t have the laundry patience for all that right now.

Punky’s hair is getting LONG. So long, in fact, that people have suggested that I get it cut. That just breaks my heart. I don’t want to do it. So, I am torn. Her hair is all in her eyes and that makes me feel guilty. But, the back of her hair is so cute with curls started and I am afraid to cut off those lovely locks. So, if I cut the bangs and not the back, she will be rockin’ a not so awesome baby mullet. Not really my idea of a good parenting choice.

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In true Punky fashion, she hates when I touch her hair, so those cute little pigtails I have been able to get into her hair? Well, it’s a battle and a pain in the ass to sit through, for both of us. Lots of squealing and hollering … not just from the toddler. So, we have come up with a small compromise.

Barrettes.

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They look adorable and it keeps her bangs out of her eyes. It’s still a battle, but only for a moment and then as long as I distract her, she forgets there’s something in her hair and she doesn’t touch them. Unless something or someone reminds her they are in there.

So, she’s still climbing and she’s still eating like a champ. I just think it’s awesome how much she is growing and it still astonishes me that we have a toddler.

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Now, if we can check eating with utensils and potty training off the list. But, I am not rushing things. I want her to stay just as small as she is now, without the attitude! 😉

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. I know I am. And, now I really need to get ready to attend a Harry Potter themed wedding. This should be awesome!

Rachael

The Roles of Parents In A New Generation

I do realize that being a two mom family out in the open is something a bit new to our society. With the Supreme Court ruling in the US, while our families existed, there are some who are being recognized and for that, I am grateful. However, there are times that I am reminded the typical stereotype of a family cannot be changed overnight. LGBT families have existed for years, they are in history, hidden in the shadows and they are finally getting a chance to come out in the open.

Families like ours are redefining what it means to be a family, but it’s no different than single mothers, adoptive parents, divorced families, or families headed by grandparents or aunts and uncles. Family dynamics are not just black and white. Parents are not simply made up of a man and a woman, a mother and a father.

So, why then, do the first things out of people’s mouths consist of gender specific roles in family. When people see pictures of my family, especially my daughter, this is usually how the conversation goes:

Them: “Are you married?”

Me: “No, but we’ve been together for 10 years.”

Them: “Is she laying on Daddy’s shoulder, there?”

Me: “That’s my partner, yes, she’s laying on her mom’s shoulder.”

**Cue embarrassed look from the other person**

This makes me feel like shit. Why? Because I don’t come out the gate with my sexuality. My sexuality is not what makes me a person. It’s not what makes me a mother. It’s not what makes me who I am. My sexuality is not about anything that affects anyone else. My sexuality has nothing to do with sex, frankly, it has to do with who I love and who loves me. Who has loved me for 10 years and who I have walked through fire with for the last 10 years. And, that person happens to be another woman.

Why is it my fault that that this person assumes there’s a man in my house. I don’t fault them, I’m not offended by the question. I’m offended by the reaction. Don’t make me feel bad because you can’t think about your words before you say them. It’s not my fault that you have not yet figured out that there are different kinds of families.

What if I had been a single mother? What if my child was sitting on my sister’s lap? Or my brother’s? How is it that we have been so programmed in society to think of families in simply one way? The world is changing and I know change is scary – but let’s get with the times. Not for my sake but for theirs. I hope these people who meet me and realize I am not my label will think about their word choices next time they ask about someone’s family.

No two families are the same. My daughter doesn’t have a Daddy. She doesn’t realize that yet, but she will soon. I am not concerned about this because we will teach her about the different types of families and the different way that families are made. She will not feel any different or less important than anyone else she knows with a mom and a dad.

I’m waiting for the day when someone mentions something to her about her Daddy. What will she say, how will she respond. I’m certain this will spark questions for her and we will have answers for those tough questions. We are teaching our daughter to think about things and question things, she’s still too little to make her own choices and decisions, but she’s curious and she has inquiry behind those big brown eyes.

Gender doesn’t matter in this house and in the end, my daughter will be enlightened and more aware of her surroundings. She will not be caught off guard or embarrassed when she asks another child about their parents. She will not be confined to a rigid set of rules that define a family. For that, I am grateful. She really can be anything she wants to be.

So, Punky doesn’t have a Dad. I don’t have a Husband. Before you ask about someone’s situation or family, think about what you say. Change the wording to make it less specific to the ‘norm’, because in the end, what’s normal? Really? In the end, there is only family. Save yourself the embarrassment and uncomfortable silence by choosing your words more carefully. You don’t offend me when you ask these things, but it sure does make the conversation awkward when I have to correct you.