mothering.

i have had several conversations with various mama friends about the nature of mothering and i feel it’s time to speak up!!!


mothering is not a competition. it’s not about who is better a mother and whose kids are better. instead, it is a tremendously difficult life long commitment. it is a journey that is intimate and deeply personal. it involves all of our senses; all of our heart, mind, body and soul; it uses our physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual selves. it is a job that is difficult and taxing with little relief and acknowledgement. it is women’s work.

my mom and i in china.

we look at our own kids and wonder if the choices we have made are right, beneficial or practical. we worry about how badly we have messed up our kids and if there is hope in all the madness sometimes. often we cry alone in our weakest moments and are scared to share our struggles with others. there is great fear in all mothers, new or experienced, to be seen as BAD. to be a bad mother is the worst label of them all.  but, this is where i think things get tricky, because there is no clear list of what makes a bad mother (or a good mother for that matter). we are judged harshly by others even though we play on uneven playing fields using different equipment and different rules.


but, we are our worst critics.


when we look at ourselves as mothers, we do not or cannot forgive ourselves for things we have done, as the standard is set so unrealistically high. but, who are we comparing ourselves to? first we compare ourselves to all the other mamas in the world. all of them. not just the ones we know personally, but we also compare ourselves to any person who mothers, whether they be characters in books, movies, or anonymous cyberspace blogger mamas who so conveniently edit and censor their entries leaving out the sad, negative and often self deprecating descriptions of their lives.  seems like we will always lose to these comparisons.


i have been a mother for three years now. three wonderful and exhausting years; years that have been very defining for me as i have discovered who i really am. i have come to realize, that yet again, i do not quite fit the mold of “mother” that our society has created. dear hubby and i are attachment parents. for this we,are easy target of snide comments, strident stares and cruel judgements because…

myself with bear three months.

i am a mother who wears and carries her children. 
i am a mother who co-sleeps with her children.
i am a mother who breastfeeds on demand.
i am a mother who cloth diapers her babies most of the time.
i am a mother who lives without a tv.
i am a mother who cooks dinner from scratch most nights.


but, so what? these are my personal choices and do not make me any better or worse of a mother and they certainly do not deserve to be evaluated by people outside of my family.

second time holding lion age four days.

although i feel and believe these choices suit my family best, i feel tremendous judgement and pressure to justify these choices. i am a firm believer in respecting each family’s unique way of living. we have never owned a crib, so this becomes a topic of heated discussion and concern for people. they think dear hubby and i am being irresponsible for co-sleeping with our children. but i have to ask, again, whose business is it where my kids sleep?


mothering is a unique experience for all of us. maybe using cribs in one family works really well, but not in another. maybe cloth diapering only makes sense when done every other day for some families. maybe making baby food from scratch is important to one family, but not another. and when these families have made these decisions, i will bet there has been a lot of guilt for not cloth diapering 100%, or buying jarred baby food or whatever. 


instead of holding our mothering styles and values to unrealistic standards, let’s instead stand proud for doing the best we can with what we know and what we’ve got. 



xo, mama lola

help, i need somebody, help.

yesterday was a long day for all of us.

first bear and i went to buy his fancy glasses. he of course was well behaved as he tried on a few pairs of frames. his criteria for choosing a pair was that they had to be red and beautiful like mine! what a guy! the ones we decided upon ended up being more copper than red, but bear seemed quite pleased and we pick them up next week.



then the four of us went to a friend’s mother’s funeral. it was a beautiful and touching service. this family in particular has endured many tragedies over the past few years; the kind that most people never experience in a life time. i lift my hat to them as i admire their strength and courage while they move through another difficult chapter. i often wonder how much help they have asked for versus, how much help they have actually received.


“how are you?”
“fine.”
“can i help?”
“no, i’m ok.”


asking for help is a skill i have not learned. i suffer greatly from the i-can-do-it-all’s  and rarely ask for help, even when i desperately need it. i suppose i am scared of being judged as a weak, inadequate, incapable woman and mother. this past year has been a true testament to the inability i have to ask for a helping hand. when i was 7 months pregnant we moved cities and into our own home. i packed most of our belongings in the evenings, while dear hubby drove to the then “new house” to paint and do minor repairs. sure people offered to help, but i wasn’t sure if it was out of courtesy, so would thank people greatly and assure them we had everything under control. we moved and our lion was born shortly thereafter. as i was recuperating from his ceaserian birth and as we tried to overcome the trauma of his birth, again i declined help. in the late fall when i had my surgery to remove my pituitary gland tumour and was home but still bleeding from my nose and feeling quite rough around the edges, my mother-in-law came to our house everyday. she cooked and cared for bear, while i hovered around feeling guilty. a week after the surgery i convinced everyone i was strong enough to handle the house and kids alone again. i was lucky though, many of my local friends cooked and brought over delicious meals and treats for us to enjoy. this made a huge difference and i cannot express my gratitude enough.


in hindsight though, i realize i was a fool. it seems so silly to have felt guilty for needing help. in reality i don’t think anyone would have seen me as a weak individual and if they had then screw ’em! 


i watch as some of my dearest family and friends also suffer from the i-can-do-it-all’s. it is a way of behaving that for some absurd reason has become a norm or expectationit is especially pervasive with women and even more in mothers. we think our worth, our self worth, is tied tightly to our ability to do everything. to be the heroine.  truth be told, it is the strong and confident individual who will and can ask for help. 


also, i don’t want to be a bother or a burden to others. people lead busy lives and have a million items on their to do lists, so the last thing i want is to infringe on them. and do people really mean they will help when they offer? from my experience, offering to help is often a cop-out. a way to make the person offering feel better about themselves and most people do not expect to be taken up on their offer anyway. the most helpful help is tangible action oriented behaviour, like arriving at someone’s house with a vacuum or groceries or whatever fits the need. 

bear helping paint the bathroom.

bear helping lion by shoving a stick in his mouth.






xo, mama lola

what a fantastic weekend!

this weekend we were outside getting a great start to the upcoming gardening season. i raked heaps of last year’s mucky leaves and dear hubby emptied, layered and re-organized our two compost bins, while our wee beasts played in the glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. as we cleaned up debris we were witness to the start of new life and the regeneration after winter’s bitter cold. spring really is all about the renewal of life and is such a big part of the cycle.
it is re-energizing.
we have one little, yet beautiful, crocus in full bloom in our front yard. it has many companions just waiting to reveal their bright faces to the sun. my chives are working hard too.
we have lived in this little house of ours for almost a year.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



and now something completely different…


ok. i have to tell you guys about this great event i went on saturday morning. i saw some local friends posting about an event on facebook: “women’s clothing and accessory exchange”. a clothing exchange you ask? well, the way it worked was, all the clothes were donated and if you attended the event and brought a bag of donations you paid $5 to get in, if you donated nothing then you paid $10. then, and this really was the best part, you got to pick and choose through all the clothes, shoes, purses, belts, jewellery and take whatever you wanted. just like that, no questions and NO $$$! the only catch was that all the donated items had to be spring themed, which honestly is not a catch, but logical really. i came home with some pretty home-made mitts, some cute tees, light knitted sweater things, a few dresses, oh and a totally awesome turquoise and red belt! this whole event was so amazing; not only is it affordable for someone like me (no $$$, unemployed hubby), it recycles other people’s goods which is fantastic for the environment, but it also builds local community. there were two rooms, one for the goods and the other where local crafters and artisans had donated things for the silent auction, there were comfy chairs where one could drink the coffee or tea offered or snack on some of the yummy treats, while others tried on clothes and modelled outfits asking for opinions. just writing about it is killing me, the atmosphere was so comfortable, fun and light. 


this was a great way to start my saturday morning. i went alone, without any babies or kids or a husband to herd and watch for. i took my time, chatted with a few familiar and some unfamiliar women, gave some fashion advice (i know, me haha!), and had a chance to re-charge my batteries. 

check the velour pants. sexy mama!
 


and one last question: should i open an etsy shop? this is where my head is at. with dear hubby’s work situation i gotta make some money for my family and working outside the home seems unrealistic at this point. opinions? other income ideas?
thanks.
xo, mama lola
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