Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Enough With the Mom Labels, Already!
I feel that it's time to address a trend that I have been trying my damndest to ignore. In the sixties, seventies, and eighties kids played outside for hours unattended. This used to be called "life". Now it is called "free range parenting" and if you are in fact a free range parent you will either be seen as a strong confident mother who is fostering a sense of dependence in her children, or a lazy irresponsible borderline negligent parent depending on who you talk to.
Are you a tiger mother? Not the giant cat with strips. If you are a tiger mother you push your children to excel at all things. you are very strict, sometimes a harsh disciplinarian and you want your kids to be all they can be. You are either seen as a narcissistic killjoy or a vigilant hero depending on who you ask.
Are you a helicopter parent? Do you literally hover over your kids at the play ground? Do you gasp every time they trip? Do you fear kidnappers are lurking around every corner? Do you worry about your children's safety? Are you typically within an arm's reach of your children? You are either a major buzzkill in need of a Xanax prescription or a responsible in tune parent depending on who is watching.
Are you a from the couch parent? I recently learned that this has nothing to do with actually sitting on a couch. I mean really, when is the last time your ass and couch met? I bet they wouldn't even recognize each other anymore. No, couch parenting is the philosophy of not running to your child's aide every time he or she needs something important like a fuzz removed from his sock. If you are a couch parent you tend to let siblings work out their differences with minimal intervention from you. You do not cook more than one dinner, and you ignore your children when they are entertaining themselves. If you are a couch parent you are either a lazy neanderthal or a ground breaking genius.
Are you the most modern parent of all? Are you a (GASP!) cell phone parent? Do you look at your phone while in the presence of your child? Has your child ever told you to stop reading your phone? have you ever pushed a swing and checked Facebook simultaneously? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are either a parent who has found a way to spend every moment with your kids while still staying connected to the world, or you are a checked out technology junkie in need of a detox program. Also, you are missing the magical moment of your child sliding down a slide. It may not happen again in the next five minutes.
We have all heard about the "mommy wars", a term that makes me cringe in and of its self because it sounds so unbearably patronizing. Truth be told, most of us have pretty strong convictions about what works for our own children/families, and not a whole lot of time left over to judge what works for the children/families of others. If you ask me, the concept of "mommy wars" is a little over blown. Since when did working/staying home, breastfeeding/bottle feeding, co sleeping/cry it out become so political? As if those issues weren't anxiety-inducing enough, now moms should fit into a specific parenting camp, and these labels can spark more debate than a campaign speech.
Also, what is with all of these judgy open letters? Dear Mom On The iPhone, Dear Mom Who Yelled At Her Kid, Dear Mom Judging Me for My iPhone, Dear Helicopter Mom..... enough already! Aside from the fact that no such labels seem to exist for dads, since when is motherhood such a dichotomy? If you are like me you probably have a little bit of every mothering type in you. It reminds me of that old song "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks. I'm a little bit of everything all rolled into one. I play with my kids often but sometimes I need to do laundry, cook dinner, or take a mental break and troll other blogs. If they are arguing I offer some suggestions on how they can work it out and then I wait and see if they can. If my two year old is whimpering during the night I can tell the difference between a cry that requires instant attention and a cry that means he will settle himself back down. I don't hover at all; I encourage my kids to climb, get dirty, and explore. Unless we are in a crowded place, the pool, crossing the street, or at church. Then I require them to remain close to me. Usually, I feed them healthy organic balanced meals. Sometimes I feed them Chick Fil A nuggets and Dunking Donuts (but not at the same time - that would be a diaper change nightmare). My six year old was in under pants before two and a half; my almost two in a half year old finds the concept of doing his business outside of a diaper traumatic. I don't lean towards tough love or corporal punishment but both of my kids have received the occasionally swat on the hand for reaching for and outlet or hot oven. You get it. I am none of those moms listed above, and I am all of them - all rolled into one. Motherhood is confusing enough without having to chose a political party. As long as you are a loving mother you're okay in my book. Now, can we stop with the labels already?