It may not be “Mommy’s way,” but it’s our way.

I loved this excerpt from an article I read today:

“Although we’re doing MUCH better in this regard than we were a few years ago, dads still aren’t taken very seriously when it comes to parenting. In many circles we’re just clueless/unwilling partners who need a whole lot of hand holding to do the job well. Society oftentimes doesn’t trust us to do anything parenting-related (the lack of changing tables in men’s restrooms is an example). Some moms (not all moms) don’t trust us, so they’ll micromanage the hell out us – which in turn, takes all of the joy and discovery out of fatherhood.

Dads aren’t wired with maternal instincts (which leads to a lot of parental insecurity on our end) and we’re still fighting the stigmas and stereotypes society places on us – but at the end of the day, our kids trust us to do the right thing for them. The way we do things may not be “Mommy’s way” or the “best way,” but it’s our way – and if the kids are safe and happy, that’s all that matters.”

I’m blessed with a wondeful, engaged dad, and my husband is equally wonderful and engaged with our daughter. To me this is normal and necessary. In another lifetime, dads were busy hunting wooly mammoths and making fire and whatnot, while mommas focused on child rearing, and that makes sense. But life evolves.

Men and women are still wired differently, and may naturally gravitate to different household roles, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of societal expectations. I think it’s unfair to lump dads into a category of inferior parenting based on gender alone. It feeds a self-fulfilling prophecy, bruising their confidence in something society already suggests they won’t be as good at.

People often comment on my husband’s role with our daughter, expressing surprise that he has watched her alone over a weekend, taken her to doctor’s appointments or put her to bed solo. I get defensive for him. Of course he can do all those things. Isn’t it a disservice to not expect this as the norm?

Every family has unique circumstances and needs, and happiness and balance take on lots of different forms in different situations. I admit it sometimes requires a concerted effort on my end to not micromanage and share “my way” of doing things, so that he can have his own.

Someone sent me this article months ago and I have reread it many, many times, excerpt below:

“We do things differently, we worry differently, we parent differently. He thinks I make the bath too hot, I think he makes the bath too cold. We are technically parenting side-by-side, yes, but sometimes it feels like we’re on opposite sides in a fierce game of tug-of-war. I often feel like we’re each trying to pull the other person over to our own side. The Right Side.

But if co-parenting is teaching me anything, it is teaching me this: there is no “right” way to parent these children when both of us love them unconditionally. There is no right way to make a snack or pour a bath or sing a song or even, much to my dismay, dress a baby. There is His Way and there is My Way, and they are each right in their own way. We do things differently, and that’s okay. We are passionate about different issues, and that’s okay. Our parenting styles are not one in the same, and probably never will be. We are learning to be consistent with rules and discipline, but there is also a lot of grey area that we’re simply learning to embrace.

Maybe that’s the beauty of parenting alongside someone else. Maybe we each make up for what the other person lacks, and maybe our strengths and weaknesses balance each other out. Maybe it’s okay for one parent to worry about preschool enrollment while the other parent diagnoses mysterious rashes. After all—both need to be taken care of, right?”

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everyone was a baby once

It blows my mind that everyone was a baby once. Everyone. The president, my mailman, uber drivers, you name it. We all came into this world with the same level of dependence and helplessness. We were all equals, once. 

When you really think about that — the fact that every adult you know spent years wearing diapers, drinking from a bottle and sleeping in a crib — it somehow levels the playing field. As adults, there’s so much competition to be a certain way, from the clothes we wear to the jobs we seek, that it’s hilarious to consider that as little ones, we were all pudgy schmucks who wore footie pajamas and spit up on ourselves. 

When I watch the babies at Lila’s daycare interact, they are shamelessly oblivious. If one of them happens to have a meltdown, or poops himself, no one bats an eye. “You wanna wipe your boogers on the floor? Cool. I’m gonna eat this block.”

These kiddos are in it to win it with themselves, in a blissful stage where no outside influences have permeated their psyche. I wish some of this freedom transferred to grown ups. Just not the public pooping. 

  

9 months into motherhood 

The funny thing about having a nine-month-old is that you’ve had exactly as much time to bond with your small human inside of you as you’ve had with her outside of you. It’s mind boggling to think that the sesame seed you tracked at six weeks is now a 20-lb magnificent little person. 

Lila, you have truly come into your own personality these days. I think that above anything else, you are remarkably intentional. It’s fascinating to watch you decide what to do next, where to go, and what to pick up. You are constantly on the move — inquisitive and expressive — with little regard for conformity. You never let social graces keep you from shrieking with joy in a restaurant, or taking a nap at a party.

I love watching you crawl around new places, exploring your surroundings as you process the world with boundless curiosity. You take off independently, but then pause and glance back at me occasionally, making eye contact as reassurance that you’re ok to keep going. 

You’re responsive to “No!” and turn when we say your name. You sign for “more” and sometimes clap with us. You are a champ at feeding yourself and still haven’t turned away from anything. Recent experiments have been with grapefruit, watermelon, olives, cherries and scrambled eggs. 

You love: sitting in your high chair, your outdoor swing, when dad flips you upside down to play and climbing all over the dogs. You’re slowly adjusting to your new car seat and are sleeping about 11 hours at night. You have one tooth partially in and make a hilarious pouty lip as a result. You are known as the favorite in your daycare class where your teachers apologize to us for spoiling you (we’re ok with it). 

You were a huge fan of bath time until lately; now I think you’re too tired for it most nights, although you still love splashing. You sleep on your tummy and are teetering very closely to pulling yourself up from sitting. You chatter and shriek all day, and are making all sorts of fun sounds. You do not, however, like going to bed. A Wubbanub helps. 

This month was your first weekend alone with dad while I was out of town and you both did great. Your dad adores you and is hands-on with everything, even when it means using his shirt as a mask while changing your diapers. 
Watching you grow is a wonderful experience. I am thankful every day for the magic you bring into our lives, and the privilege of being your mom.   

Beautifully messy madness 

A friend sent me a sweet compliment tonight, expressing admiration for how I’m (apparently) balancing a career, a family and fitness coaching. And I thanked her. And then I laughed, and told her that she is crazy because my life often feels like legit chaos. 

It never feels like we’re doing it right, does it? Or well enough? But I think we are and we just don’t recognize it. Too busy on the hamster wheel to smell the roses.

Tonight I ate microwaved scrambled eggs and broccoli for dinner. The baby screamed bloody murder for 30 minutes when we put her down. Jim and I are both tired and working in silence. The kitchen is a messsss and I haven’t finished unpacking from my weekend trip. And I had three cavities filled yesterday, so there’s that. 

I looked around skeptically after receiving my friend’s kind words and wondered what I’m possibly doing right. I have a gazillion emails to get through, people I owe calls to and miscellaneous projects to finish. It sometimes feels like I’m trying to swim up a waterfall. 

But this chaos is almost completely self imposed, and few things I feel pressure to do are all that important. 

So tonight I’m going to give myself grace, and accept that unexpected compliment in all its glory. It’s ok to embrace the beautifully messy madness that makes our lives so sweet. 

  

On Mother’s Day 

You squirm when you’ve finished your bottle, temporarily disoriented, before stretching and adjusting to find the perfect position. Once you’re comfortable, you release a deep sigh and I feel your whole body relax. Your fists gradually unclench as you ease into sleep, breaths falling into a soft rhythm. No matter how big you grow, you can always nestle in just right. It’s here, in the quiet darkness, that our connection feels most electric. That I am most thankful for and aware of the magic of this role. 

  

The Day I was Yelled at in the Doctor’s Office

I had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday and arrived a half hour early, as instructed. I filled out forms, provided my insurance information and then I waited, and waited. I’ve spent plenty of time waiting for medical appointments, and typically I don’t mind this unqualified alone time. Have smartphone, will travel.

But on Wednesday I had a lot to do at work, so I was stressed to be away from the office, particularly because it meant I would be staying late, and missing time with baby in the short but oh-so-sweet window between daycare and bedtime. Being a working mom is good, most of the time, but when things interfere with that precious window of quality time, ain’t nobody happy.

After waiting nearly an hour, I went outside to make a work call, asking the staff to grab me when they were ready. So naturally, right in the midst of an intense conversation, I got summoned back in. I was trying to wrap up my call and make mental notes of what I had to do, while stepping on and off the scale and hurrying after a medical assistant.

She showed me to a room and excused herself. Not 30 seconds later she poked her head back in, and when she saw I was still on the phone, promptly shouted at me that she was trying to do her job and I had to get off the phone RIGHT NOW. I don’t do well when people yell at me (…does anyone?), and I was so taken aback, overwhelmed and just tired that she might as well have smacked me in the face.

The irony in this situation that I was also just trying to do my job.

When I shared the experience with my colleagues they asked what I did; if I yelled back. I didn’t – not my style. I was sweating and holding back tears in Introvert Hell after being publicly scolded.

I mean, sure, I had visions of telling her that the jerk store called and was running out of her, but I recognized that I was likely engaging in one of her pet peeves, that she might be having an awful day or enduring hardships I know nothing about. The office delays had nothing to do with either of us, but probably meant that she would be working late and missing time with her family, too. I decided to assume positive intent. Not to excuse her behavior – but because I was still responsible for my own.

Looking back, I wish I’d taken a minute to apologize to her and explain that we were navigating similar circumstances. We probably could have laughed about it. Hugged it out.

Maybe next time.

 

“A luxury is a nonessential item.”

From NYT Motherlode Blog / Allison B. Carter:

Sometimes the language we use to talk about our choices as families can be really grating. “Lucky to have the luxury of staying home” is a common phrase, but Allison Carter, a stay-at-home-parent who planned and sacrificed for that “luck,” resents the implication, at least when it comes from other people who have the same luxury of choice, but made a different one. “A luxury is a nonessential item. An indulgence. What I do is essential, and certainly not self-indulgent.”

I do, indeed, hate it when the word “luxury” is used to define my role as a stay-at-home mom. But not for the reasons you might think. I am not here to argue who works harder: a working mother or a stay-at-home mother. I stand firm on my belief that it is hard for everyone. What goads me are the financial and lifestyle implications this statement carries.

great read on an important perspective.