get born – Get It!

I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to a book club of truly creative, inspiring, interesting and strong women. Several of the members write and publish a new magazine – get born. It’s a bold, brave, creative look at mothering. Not just the “oh how sweet” parts, though there is that, but the parts you didn’t know were going to happen or the parts that make you a little ashamed of yourself for feeling.

I was touched by the below piece, printed with permission from the editor Heather Janssen, because I could relate so well to Carol Lang’s daughter’s habit of talking back “as if  my equal.” It begs the question, “Is this inevitable, no matter how frustrating and painful, if one is intent on raising a strong daughter? As opposed to the former, girls should be passive and docile and keep their opinions to themselves or just not have any strong opinions at all? Is this a natural progression in the mother-daughter relationship, if we want them to grow up willing and able to express themselves boldly? If so, how on earth are we, as their mothers, supposed to handle it internally?  Because really, sometimes it just sucks to be on the receiving end of it.”

get born is a magazine that deserves to thrive. To do that, it needs subscribers. At only 16.95 a year, for four issues, it’s a great bargain to open the pages and have the divine pleasure of knowing, “Thank God, I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way.”

The Impostor Mother

by Carol Lang

When I was a kid, I didn’t play house. I didn’t play with dolls.  I played kick-ball and climbed trees. I chased boys, rode my bike and roller-skated all over the neighborhood.

I was a Girl Scout, but did poorly in all things “traditionally domestic.”  My mom gave up after a while.

When I was older, I did babysit. The money was awesome and the time with kids short. I didn’t dislike the kids but mostly I liked staying up late and watching Saturday Night Live.

I went to college, studied math, computers, chemistry. Drank too much but got good grades. I met a boy.

Got a husband, and a career with lots of promise.

Husband said he knew I would want a family some day and he was comfortable, and confident, to wait.

I got pregnant. I cried. Husband celebrated. I pretended I wasn’t pregnant, most of the time.

I really wanted to keep working. I knew that was wrong. I planned a long maternity leave.

I became a mother. I wasn’t prepared. I had absolutely no freaking idea what I was supposed to do with the amazing miracle my body had created. So precious. So fragile. A piece of my heart outside of my body (Elizabeth Stone).

I read. I read a lot. Good mothers are smart mothers, well educated mothers.   I spent money — on the “right” toys, “right” foods, “right” products, “right” activities.

All my mother friends seem so confident, so on top of things.  Their babies so perfect. Perfectly wonderful, or perfectly horrible. Mine just are.  We mothers play a game. It’s competitive, ruthless. I am uncertain of  the rules but I play.  A game of extremes:  best or worst; smartest or dumbest; strongest or weakest.  No average. No middle. I compete, fiercely. I only lose.

Along came Baby #2. And, #3.

What am I thinking? There’s no way I can handle all this. What made me think I could serve, protect, love three priceless, precious beings?

Babies are getting bigger, older. Challenges are growing, too. I feel pressure to find solutions.  I keep going.

I get promoted. And, promoted again. I am surprised this is happening. I am scared all the time. I wonder a lot about priorities.

I can organize. I can plan. I am over-protective, control-freaked, and obsessive about every detail.  Babies are active, and involved in many activities, maybe too many, maybe not enough. I can feel things start to unravel, but I must keep going. I must keep them going. Good foods, family dinners, homework in on time, to bed on time, clean bodies and clean clothes. And, myself, I must smile – stay calm, relaxed. My heart pounds out of my chest. I hope no one will see.

I am faking it. Every day I fail to meet the measure, meet the expectations.

I hate you, mom. You’re a bitch. Leave me alone.

Quiet, shhhh – someone will hear you and I’ll be found out.

My oldest son fails geometry.

My younger son lies, a lot.

My daughter is full of sass, rebellious and recalcitrant. She talks back as if my equal.

The paint is coming off the walls and there are more weeds in the gardens than flowers.

I look over my shoulder.  I worry I will be exposed, the imposter mother.   I fear for my babies.  Am I good enough for them?

Subscribe to get born.

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Complaining Adds Up

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Complaining became a big problem in our house when . . . well, since I moved into it.

But, I tried to resolve the issue with the Complaint Free World Bracelet. Which brought to light the fact that nearly every word out of my mouth is a complaint. Certainly nearly every blog is somehow a complaint. We’re too fat. TV and movies are too sexual and violent. Disney Princess Movies aren’t even written by any women – at all, like not even one woman on the writing staff. Sexual predators are stalking children online. Kate Moss must have malfunctioning taste buds. I want to publish a book, but I’m to broke and scared what you’ll think and say about it. Incessant complaining, really. I’m working on it. God is working on it for me.

Do you know what the most annoying thing you can do to a habitual complainer like myself is?

Get a 7- or 8-year-old to follow them around incessantly complaining. For about a year-and-a-half.

I decided to Woman Up and Parent. Oh the hypocrisy of complaining about her complaining was bothering me, sure.

But, hey! I’m the Mom and she’s the kid and seriously, I’m can’t stand to listen to it anymore. So here’s the deal, I told her,

“For every complaint, you’re giving me a quarter. Every time you complain you’re ruining your own life a little. Also, you’re ruining mine. ”

In the first 24 hours she paid me $10.25. That’s over 40 complaints in 24 hrs. and I let a few slide because they were legitimate things I needed to know like Mommy, I stepped on a thumb tack yesterday and now my foot is throbbing and red.

I told her she can earn the money back by not complaining for one single day.

Any better ideas? All are welcome.

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Mother-Daughter Relationship

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Is there a more complicated relationship than the mother-daughter relationship?

Criss-crossing between generations, clashing over the drastically-changing cultural expectations taking place over the last three generations, and always battling the temptation to strive for and expect perfection the mother-daughter relationship bares examination.

Several new books are attempting the feat and they are reviewed at Women’s eNews in Writers Advise High Tech Moms to Power Down.

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My Face/Her Face


by Tracee Sioux

I am deeply struck by this photograph which I found on About Face, a non-profit company which combats negative images of women in the media.

Without taking a right or wrong stance about plastic surgery, this photograph of a mother and her daughters speaks volumes about what self-hatred, self-criticism and self-loathing costs the collective conscience of femininity.

Remember when we found out on Friends that Rachel had a nose job? It seemed like a kind enough thing to do for herself when she was single and a completely autonomous person. But, then she had a baby girl and the issue came up again. It was quite funny to watch her consider, “What if the baby gets my old nose?”

Funny. But, in a practical sense what if she does? What if she gets your old nose? How much harder is it to learn to love yourself if you go through life with a nose even your own mother finds unacceptable?

Who then is responsible for the daughter’s self esteem issue about her nose? While many might come back to a post like this and say, “Well, just give the daughter a nose job.” Sure, eventually. But, she has to hate her nose until it stops growing in her late teens.

My hypothesis is that it’s much more effective to learn to love our own nose, face, and breasts than to combat poor self worth in our daughters, created by our own feelings of self-loathing.

It is also notable that the feelings about my own appearance have become significantly more positive now that I can look at my daughter’s face and see the beauty there. To me, she has not one single flaw. The features she shares with me have become more attractive to me by virtue of being on her.

That said, many women will get plastic surgery to fix what they perceive as “flaws.” I don’t want to argue the moral position that you shouldn’t, certainly you have to make your own decision.

That said, I do think it’s worth asking, what then do you plan to say to your daughter if she shares the same perceived flaw?

Read more about how our feelings about our own appearance deeply effect our daughters feelings about themselves in Self-Loathing Sin Bank.

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Sticky Note Affirmations, Making Bold Dreams Come True

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What do sticky notes have to do with dreaming boldly?  I propose that sticky notes can be a tool for girls to see themselves achieving milestones along their path of self actualization.  Here’s how…

Begin with a sheet of paper and colorful pens or pencils for brainstorming.   Next, spend time with your daughter discovering together her challenges, her successes, her passions, her fears, and her strengths.  When you have a list going, rephrase your brainstorming into positive statements.  For example, with the challenge of learning to swim, you might write, “I am learning to handle the feeling of water on my face, in my ears, eyes and nose.  Each time I swim I am more confident.”

Here are a few more suggestions for creating personalized affirmations:

The more I practice… (piano, soccer, multiplication tables…), the better I am getting.

I am wonderful at….

My (…mom, dad, family, teacher, coach, etc.) loves me, and so does my (…best friend, dog, sister, brother, etc.).

I’m safe and it is ok to (…sleep in my own bed, ask the teacher a question, try out for the play…).

My talent is…

I’m smart and I know I can (…ace the spelling test, say no to bad choices, figure out how to make it practice on time…).

I am saving money wisely, and I will be able to afford to….

Now you are ready for the sticky notes.  Copy your affirmations onto the notes, and stick them in places that have a context for what is written on them.  For example, you might adhere a note about gaining proficiency at playing the flute to the inside of the flute’s case.

This exercise of brainstorming, writing and formulating personalized and specific affirmations with your daughter serves many purposes.  One is to spend time together celebrating her unique mix of traits and talents, another is to bring fears into the light in a way that grows confidence and awareness.  In addition, deciding where to place the sticky notes may open new channels to creativity or help you see connections that you may not have been aware of.

The most important purpose of brainstorming and writing out affirmations goes back to the idea of what it means to get started.  Yes, your daughter may already be on a soccer team, but the intentional and specific  encouragement of the sticky note on her water bottle may cause her to notice her increasing sports  skill set rather than focusing on a win or loss of a particular game

Dreaming boldly is the best way to push the limits beyond the ordinary, and using an ordinary piece of sticky notepaper is a way to make extraordinary dreams come into existence in the lives of our daughters.  Try it and see!

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