A Mom Like You

April 1, 2009

"Should have been a mom more like you"...Betsey's comment on our recent fossil hunting trip is stuck in my head tonight. For the past two weeks we have been meeting/interviewing various property managers and real estate agents in our quest to make a decision regarding our housing situation and our upcoming move. The benefit: our house has been cleaner and more organized than it has ever been. In fact, the morning after I got our bedroom in shape Camille came twirling into the room and announced: "This is the most beautiful room. You make the bestest house, Mama!" It felt good to get such positive feedback but also made me realize she's probably never seen our bedroom floor free of piles before. The negative: my kids are spending way too much time plugged in...Noah to Wii and Camille to Dora. Even though things are in fairly good shape after all of the big work, I still find myself running around in the afternoons before these meetings frantically wiping down counters, vacuuming, and doing dishes. And once the meetings start the electronic entertainment continues.

So the core of this post is just like some of my other recent posts. Appearances can be deceiving and comparisons suck. Yes, the fossil adventure was good. It was a much needed antidote to the excessive wii/tv in the past couple of weeks. I don't like how my kids can get sucked in so easily. And I don't like how easily I can slide down that slippery slope of turning things on so I can get more done. I am working hard to adjust to having our house on display. It feels weird to have people walking through and making judgements about our house/about us. And in some ways this blogging thing is similar to that. Putting parts of us, parts of myself out there. Editing, de-cluttering, cropping, recording, commenting, etc. And then to add in the comparisons. I understand the need to compare/evaluate our house against others on the market, but it also makes me think about all of the comparing and judgement we do as mothers.

This was actually one of hardest things for me to deal with as a new mother. Everyone has plenty of advice for new parents....always happy to share their thoughts on sleeping, feeding, burping, etc but no one ever warned me or gave me any guidance on this whole comparison thing. I remember feeling pretty lonely in Noah's first year because I found it so difficult to be a part of any new mommy groups since most of those conversations centered around comparisons. How many hours is he sleeping? Weight? Height? etc. It drove me crazy because there were times when I allowed myself to get caught up in it all and ended up feeling so inadequate. And even now I read other blogs or see other moms in action, and I sometimes find myself wishing to be more like them.

When I first read Betsey's comment I thought "A mom like me? Not today. You wouldn't want to be a mom like me." But that is the problem with this whole idea of comparisons. I look at the print-outs of the other houses in our area (square footage, number of bedrooms, etc) and the estimated value of each house, but it doesn't tell the whole story. It can't measure the character, the neighbors, the hard work, the failures, and the good times etc. And the same with us. I'd love to be the fossil hunting beach mom every day, but that was only one day out of this week. The other days have been rainy with too much wii and tv. And yet maybe that is it. We don't value ourselves and our mothering enough. I am not proud or happy about the recent electronic excesses, but I am also trying not to beat myself up about it. Betsey is a wonderful mother and I can only hope that one day my children will grow up to be as confident, talented,and compassionate as her teenagers. Isn't that ultimately what we all yearn for as mothers? Despite our different backgrounds, different approaches, and whatever else gets thrown in for comparison we are all headed in the same direction, right?
Francesca said...

I already wrote my thoughts about the appearance part, especially in blogging. Regarding the comparison ... I'm just not sure. I think I like comparing, and I like to think that I do it free of envy. I compare to get ideas, and to try and see through the lense of someone else's experience something I may improve in my life. And you are right, we are all headed in the same direction, and we are all doing it giving it the very best we have. (there's so much to say about this whole issue you've raised! Good topic)

Dawn Suzette said...

This reminds me of my mom. She has always "marched to her own drummer" She often says... "it takes all kinds to make a world" and other little gems.
She is a reminder for me live the best I can... Take what other people do or say... use what I can to improve my life and leave the rest for someone else to use... or not!
Thanks for sharing!

Tara said...

Yes, we are all moving in the same direction, parenting in the moment, meeting the needs as they arise.

For all the rainy days inside with electronics your kids will have outdoor adventures and rich, interesting afternoons spent immersed in some new topic.

As for comparisons.... I remind myself that people's opinions about me are none of my business!! It helps!

Tisra said...

Amen!!! (although, I fall trap to it, too- the comparing)

I absolutely hated having our house poked through, and I hated even more to keep everything non-stop clean. That's a hard thing for kids and it places a weight firmly in my shoulder muscles to coax them to care about it like I do. Ugh. But, it will soon be behind you and you'll be exploring ITALY. Can't wait to read those posts. Wow.


Karen said...

hmmm, no wonder you got nominated for a 'thinking blog'!

Now I'm going to go 'plug in' to a little HGTV, my guilty pleasure! It's only AFN 1 hour 3 days a week, btw! hee hee.

Anonymous said...

SO true. We all just want our kids to grow up to be well adjusted, positively contributing members of society. It's hard not to compare. But I've learned to appreciate where each child is in comparison to where they started. In other words, only compare them to themselves. Sawyer works twice as hard to get half as far sometimes. But boy is he making great gains. It makes me proud. Turner is making great strides compared to where he was 6 months ago. Same with Ansley and Judson. It's hard not to get caught up in the whole comparison thing, whether it be house or accomplishments, or whatever. In the end, I try to live in 'my world' and not compare my world to someone elses world. When I catch myself, I usually give myself a good scolding and try to get back to my world. It's a tricky path, isn't it?

I totally understand the electronic babysitting blues too. It seems the only way I can get my stuff done is to put on a video or something. I feel very guilty. I also try to balance it with other things whenever possible. This weather is making it difficult though.

Good luck on your balancing act. Don't let the guilt get to you though. You're a great mom and it shows in the smiles and giggles of those little faces.


lisa said...

You are always so inspiring. Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you and I don't think you should feel one iota of guilt for resorting to the boob tube. I've really been struggling lately because I feel like I can never get "on top" of things and so Mac gets relegated to her swing and Nathan gets a show. And then I think about in the big picture of life just how quickly time is going to pass (especially with the baby!) and would I rather spend it making silly faces at her or doing another load of laundry? The problem is the laundry still has to be done, piles need to be gone through, and I can't quite figure out how to make it all balance. And the part I've been having a hard time with too is where *I* fit into all of this....I feel like there is never time to sew or read a book without someone needing a diaper change, someone spilling something in the kitchen or some chore to be done. How do you make it all work?

morninglight mama said...

I can't be more eloquent than you or the other commenters have been here, but I just wanted to chime in to say that this was a thoughtful and thought provoking post. I have such self-questioning issues that I never think I'm doing quite enough-- and I've fallen into that blogging trap that you've discussed before by thinking that everyone else has it SO much more together than I do. I think it's the same issue that so many of us women have on several fronts-- in our relationships, about our own body images, etc etc-- that we're just never good enough. Thanks for the reminder that none of this is a competition! I think you're a wonderful mother, and the love you have for your children and your family is evident in every single post you write!

Betsey said...

Thanks for giving my name such print space :) !!

In my defense :), upon reflection, I do regret that I did not take my little children out and do some of the wonderful things you do (or some of the fun things I wanted to do) when they were really young. I had too many anxieties. I did do the best with what I had and who I was at the time. I have learned and grown. (I think my kids are amazing, too. Thank you. They are an inspiration and strength to me - sometimes a challenge.) It's because of them and because of friends that I think maybe I can do things or that I should do things that otherwise I would avoid because they do it and make it look feasible or attainable or simply make me face my fear and acknowledge it as such and press on.

I simply meant to commend you on your excellent mothering skills and creativity. I just admire those things in you.

I do understand the comparison trap. It is a tough one, and I appreciate your thoughts and the comments following. Being beat down by the comparisons is a difficult and depressing experience.

sara said...

This is so timely for me. I was just saying to Korum last night that things are going so much more smoothly in terms of mothering Garner than they did with Calder, and I think a big factor is that I am not in any sort of mom's group this time around. I was in two groups which met weekly during Calder's first year or two and though they were intended to be "support" I usually went home feeling bad about my parenting skills or worried that Calder wasn't measuring up to everyone else's developmental milestones. I think one of the major reasons I am more confident with this second child is because I don't have many friends with babies right now, and don't really have anyone to compare myself to. It is so sad that we (especially women, I think) do this to ourselves. I really appreciate your post, and thank you for keeping it real:)

Corinne said...

Lucia, you do such an amazing job of putting into words the things that I've been thinking. You've already read my thoughts on this before but I appreciate reading the take of other women, especially because it makes me feel like I'm not alone :)

Kellie said...

Here I am late as usual, but thanks for this post, Lucia. I could write for pages and pages on this very subject, as has been said, but suffice it to say that the times when I feel the most inadequate are when I'm comparing my worst to someone else's best. Looking at ourselves and others as whole beings, not just the small sliver that we choose to focus on, can help to keep perspective. It helps me at least.

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