November 15th, 2012 — Family Life, Feminine Heritage, Life Coach, Mother-Daughter Emotional Osmosis
Before it’s too late!
Quick! Stop laughing at your toddler girls’ sassy comments.
Stop being amused when she half-rudely, but oh-so-cutely, spouts off.
You’re not raising an empowered woman. It was all a ruse.
You’re digging your own “differentiation” grave.
You think you’re preparing her to be a strong, empowered woman who isn’t afraid to speak up. Which is awesome, when she still believes in your goodness, kindness and love unquestioningly. When this is directed at things you hate too.
It’s a trick!
What you’re really doing is making your own life hell, by giving her permission to “speak her mind” which translates to “dump her crappy attitude all over you.” Rumor has it this could go on for most of adolescence and into early adulthood.
In psychology they call it “differentiation.” When the daughter lashes out irrationally, unreasonably and often cruelly at her . . . MOTHER! They say it’s healthy for her to enforce boundaries “I am Me,” and “You are You!” and I motherloving HATE you! Or at least I hold you responsible for all of my crappy, difficult-to-handle feelings. And my hobby is to speak to you as if you’ve caused every problem ever invented and I want you to fix it immediately.
No, dad won’t be the brunt of this.
No, the sexist misogynists won’t bear the burden.
No, the media and marketing that sexualizes her won’t get the lashing.
MOM shoulders differentiation alone. With no way out, no response soothing enough.
It’s not constant, like something you can predict. It’s random. You’ll be doing every-day stuff like say, cutting an orange for her school snack.
I hate oranges!
What? You’ve been eating oranges for 11 years, and you’ve always liked them.
I hate oranges and I’ve always hated oranges! YOU DON’T KNOW ME!
And then you understand, how your mother turned into a raving, psychotic, screaming, insane woman. It was you. And you weren’t even a bad daughter. Just a daughter who suddenly felt she had the right to “speak her mind” and turned it directly on your mother. Is this payback? you wonder. My own bad-daughter karma?
What fresh hell is this? How can I turn it around? You ask yourself. You ask the more experienced mothers, how do I make this stop?
Then they give you that knowing look, one of pity and resignation. The same look, now that you think about it, as the one they gave you when you described Marriage Shock, Baby Shock and Divorce Shock. It’s yet another secret of femininity, closely guarded and protected.
I never would have spoken to my parents the way my daughter speaks to me, some might tell you.
What’s different? you’ll ask.
Well, I would have been terrified. They would have been the tar out of me, they’ll say.
Maybe I should have beat her. Why didn’t I beat her? Why was I so stupid as to not believe in spanking? you’ll wonder aloud.
Always projected as good mother/bad mother. That happens in their house, I have a great relationship with my daughter, you imagine the other mother’s thinking. You know they are thinking it, because you thought it too. Back when sassy and opinionated was cute. Especially, the ones with little three and four year olds, the ones who are trying so hard to do it “right” and who believe they aren’t making the same mistakes you did, so their daughters will never turn on them.
Last year I was the perfect mother! It’s not fair! I did all the right things! you cry to yourself. Attempting to convince who? you wonder. Not your daughter, that’s for sure.
Abort Mission Empower Your Daughters!
You’re the target! You just don’t know it yet!
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September 18th, 2012 — Family Life
I call my ex-husband my co-parent and my wasband.
Co-parent is the term I prefer over single mom or baby daddy. I’m a co-parent. He is my co-parent.
I don’t like ex-husband. It has a negative connotation to it. It implies that we are in conflict and that really isn’t true anymore. We were in conflict when he was my husband. He was my husband. Wasband.
“My kids’ dad” is too wordy and awkward. It might imply also that he’s not in the picture. He’s in the picture.
His primary role now is not in relation to me, which ex-husband implies. His primary role is in relation to our shared children. In other words, he’s their parent. I am their parent. We are parenting together. We are co-parents. We’re sharing time and sharing responsibility.
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September 17th, 2012 — Family Life
Now that I’m divorced I suppose I could be called a “single mom.”
While I am single and I am a mom, I don’t really enjoy the title “single mom.”
Mainly because it’s not fair to real single moms. By which I mean the women out there who have no co-parent. The mothers who are doing the job singly. The ones who have no one to take their kid to a ball game, the ones who have no one to come get the kids every other weekend to give them some personal time, the ones who can’t just say, “you’ll have to ask your dad.”
There are moms who are doing it on their own. Their baby’s daddy skipped out, their ex-husband disappeared, the fathers of their children died. Whatever the reason, they are parenting alone. Without help.
I have help. I have a co-parent. I have a person who comes and takes the children to his house every other weekend. This gives me a break. I have someone who comes twice during the week to hang out with them.
I have someone who can back me up when it’s Back to School Night and I have unexpected tickets to see Barack Obama live. Someone who I can call and say, “hey I have a thing on Friday night, can you take the kids?” And the odds are good that he’ll say yes. Because they are his kids. Because he wants to see them.
The truth is that I have more free time now than I have since I had my first baby. I have more help. A true co-parent now. Someone who’s actually parenting and participating. Not, just someone who is sort of there but in the background while I handle the heavy lifting. He’s more available now that we are divorced than he ever was. (It’s a shame we had to get divorced to make it happen, but that’s what we created.)
The point is, my job got easier, not harder. A true single mother, now her job is hard. Her job is to be the everything parent. Without relief. Without backup. Without someone else sharing the responsibility.
No, I’m not really a single mom. I’m a co-parent.
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July 19th, 2012 — Family Life, Life Coach, Mother-Daughter Emotional Osmosis
We have taken the year off from extra-curricular activities. Ainsley did tutor a second-grader before school every morning but that was it.
No soccer. No dance class. No after-school play. No summer camp. No after-school program. No vacation Bible school. No school choir.
Our family is in a period of significant transition with “the divorce,” there’s enough stress in all of our lives as it is. We don’t need a packed schedule this year. We don’t need to be busily running back and forth. We need to create as much routine, structure and stability as possible to help each of us adjust to our new parenting schedule.
Also, I loath being a soccer mom. There, I said it. I hate finishing my workday only to cart children back and forth after school several days a week and have my Saturdays sucked up by games. It’s boring. It’s stressful. It’s exhausting.
I’m not at all convinced that it’s enriching my children’s lives one iota. What I am almost convinced of is that it’s inflicting on them the pervasive American disease: Busyness. It trains them to embrace the Busy Bitch, and I have had enough of her temptations. The idea that you must cram as much activity into one day as humanly possible, that every person must be so entirely well-rounded that they lack any ability to say “no” to activities that create more stress in their lives, and the insane notion that to rest and experience creative free time is to be lazy.
During our year of no extra-curricular activities Ainsley has learned to make presentations on PowerPoint; written, produced and starred in several plays, puppet shows and rock star performances; read lots of books; written poems, stories and music; crafted a killer ticket and snack booth for her productions; done a heck-of-a-lot of chores; reorganized her room; entered writing contests (and won); created a webshow and a blog; and a million other creative projects she’s thought up on her own.
Zack has played like a six-year-old boy with his friends; creatively made some serious messes; found every stake marking every power line for miles and dragged it home; learned to clean bathrooms, sweep, mop, vacuum, organize the pantry and his room; and learned to read, sort and do simple math.
We’ve taken walks to the park and to the wild places around our neighborhood, or gone to the pool, daily.
They’ve also watched a lot of television. Which I will not be ashamed of. Go ahead – try to shame me about it. I don’t care. Television is as much art as the theatre. You get to choose which station you tune into, making it either enriching or demoralizing. Television is awesome. If you don’t know this then you read way too many parenting books criminalizing television. Television is like a meditation. It allows your brain to go into “relax” mode. You can learn cool things from it and you can simply allow yourself to be entertained.
Things may change in the future. We may decide that soccer is back on the program, or swim team must be Ainsley’s new passion.
For now, I’m loving the year of no extra-curricular activities. So are the kids.
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May 1st, 2012 — Family Life
I still, after 10.5 years of mothering, can’t figure out which kind of mother I want to brand myself. I’m referring to arguments for, or against, attachment parenting, natural parenting, or Tiger Mothering. But, since everyone appears determined to follow someone’s parenting philosophy, I’m going to brand one myself, in honor of Mother’s Day 2012.
I’m going to call my brand The Girl Revolution Exceptional Mothering,or simply Exceptional Mothering, for short, TGREM. To label yourself an Exceptional Mother, or TGREM, here are the 10 strict rules to which you must adhere, debate, convert and evangelize:
- Love Your Kids.
- Teach What You Know.
- Make Intuitive Parenting Decisions.
- Banish Guilt.
- Be an Authentic Woman/Person.
- Have Fun.
- Leave the Other Mothers Alone,(especially the ones who make different choices).
- Grow Good Humans.
- Apologize When Necessary.
- Do Better Every Day.
If you follow these 10 simple rules of TGREM you are guaranteed happy children, a peaceful mothering experience, and a loving bond with secure humans who will succeed in adulthood. When you follow the Exceptional Mothering parenting philosophy, you will make people who will grow up to have fulfilling careers and promising love lives. Or promising careers and fulfilling love lives, whatever. And when they are teenagers they’ll always speak respectfully. And they will listen to your advice about sex and using a condom or waiting until marriage. And they’ll never do drugs or smoke cigarrettes. Or be mean girls or bullies. Or feel unloved. And they will never, ever turn on you and scream “I HATE YOU!” when you tell them they can’t go somewhere or when you make them clean the bathroom. And they won’t have eating disorders: neither starving, barfing, or binging. Or marry people who are mean to them. Or date boys who don’t call them back. And they’ll never get divorced.
OK. You got me. I can’t guarantee any of that. But, then neither can any other parenting method. At least The Girl Revolution Exceptional Mothering philosophy’s strict rules cut a mother a break.
By leaving a comment, Liking or Sharing this post on Facebook, or retweeting it, you too are committing to being an Exceptional Mother and you agree to follow the 10 simple rules of TGREM. Happy Mother’s Day all you Exceptional Mothers! Don’t forget to convert your friends!
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