Mom Shaming

 

I was recently mom shamed.

 

I have heard of this before, but have never been a victim of it myself. Maybe it's because I never felt the need to shame anyone else. I don't feel that it's my place to tell someone else what to do with their own child. I learned this a long time ago when my best friend had her first son. I just wanted to be the best “aunt” and was right behind him every step. We went out to eat one night and he dropped his pacifier. I picked it up and asked my friend if she wanted me to go wash it for her and she gently explained to me that she would let me know how she wanted things done and that by assuming and volunteering to do these things that were not part of her child rearing I was unintentionally mom shaming her. So I've always been aware that everyone has different ides on raising their children. When I was pregnant with Jay I had the privilige of joining an online birth club where I met moms from around the country who were all due at the same time SW me. This allowed me to witness all these different parenting styles and also help me to make decisions for my own parenting. I was a BF but not EBF, schedule feeding, not on demand, baby food making, not store bought baby food, not a baby wearer, but used a sling when convenient, CIO mom. But I have never imposed these beliefs on another parent. I may encourage others to do these tings, go, but don't think I ever shamed someone for making a different decision from me. I am very aware that there is no right or wrong parenting style and even celebrate the fact that I was FF and I turned out pretty fine, thankyouverymuch.

 

So here's the story. To set it up it was a sunny 50ish degree day. As usual I ws rushing my four year old to get ready for her dance class and as usual she was taking her time. I have discovered that time is just a relative concept for four year olds. Our house has a carport and my car was Parker less than twenty feet from the back door. I rush her along to get in the car, shoeless and get to dance class. We get to dance class, still no shoes. I snag a parking place right in front of the door. I grab the shoes, pick up my daughter and go into the gym where her class is held. Literally less than ten feet this time. As I enter the room I hear another mother comment to everyone in the room that my child has no shoes. It was really all I could do to not come back on this chick. I have seen her at the class before. She's a first time SAHM of a daughter who I have noticed does not like to share. I simply ignored the comment and remembering the mantra of the ever fabulous Jinkx Monsoon, “water off a duck's back,” I continued to prepare my little ballerina for dance class. Now, more than a week since the incident, my daughter did not catch pneumonia from her time outside with no shoes, now did she even acquire so much as a sniffle. But I have continued to think about this mother and my shaming. I can't say for sure she wasn't doing this for a feeling of superiority, maybe it was to reassure herself of what a gear job she does as a mom. Who knows. But I have now been mom shamed and it didn't feel good.

 

Not long ago I read a blog post about how moms should stop shaming and start supporting. This is so vital. I would have never made it through my pregnancies and kids without people like my best friend, my sister-in-law and the online birth club. They were the ones I could ask questions and get advice from. These women made my life easier simply by supporting me. Why do we spfeel the need to shame each other, can we not respect that others may have different parenting styles than we do? Can't we just all get along?

Getting the message across: The group of moms want to inspire others to embrace the same line of thought

 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (or the kind of kid you DON’T want to raise)

I’ll be upfront about it. I am the Ugly in this case. Because I do not have kids and I am being REAL ugly about someone else’s kids (really just one in particular who I will call GingerBad) that I spent some time with recently.

See, last year (2011) one of my goals was to learn the guitar and I had a friend teach me enough to give me confidence that this was something I could learn. I had previously had no musical experience of any kind and was worried that this would involve some long-atrophied part of my brain and I simply would not be able to do it. I loved my lessons with Megan, but wanted to add some formal training along with it, leaving my guitar / champagne / Jeopardy sessions with Megan intact but still building a solid musical foundation.

So, after searching around and getting recommendations from my musical friends, I was convinced to sign up for a beginner’s class. The class was not only guitar but also piano, bass, ukelele and …. one little girl with a flute. She was maybe ten years old.  Before the class even began I could tell she was going to be one of “those kids.” Whenever the instructor went to tune another person’s instrument, there she was, loudly talking about her flute. She told every perfect stranger in that room (there were 20 of us, kids and adults alike) that her flute was made of “real silver!” Most of us just stared blankly, but one nice older lady seated behind GingerBad indulged her and complimented the beautiful instrument. Still, this attention didn’t satisfy her. She insisted throughout the class on demanding the instructor’s attention at each turn. He would be instructing the guitars on making a chord, and she would repeatedly hold her flute up and make him acknowledge her finger placement. The instructor got so frustrated that at one point he even told her she was talking too much and that he was working with another group and that she should wait her turn. Her mother even urged her to behave from the sidelines, a maternal warning which she blatantly disregarded. In the middle of class, she turned and asked her father to videotape her. Loudly.

Now, as I am sitting there, I am wondering why the parents think it’s OK to let their child behave like this? Don’t they see how obnoxious that is? Don’t they know that this kid is never going to have any friends, just bully victims in that mean girl way that girls have to be her friend because they are afraid of her? Don’t they want to teach her better? I was this close to asking that the girl’s parents pay half my class fee because half of EVERYBODY’S class time went to her. Ugh!

I would have been totally not into kids at all had it not been for the GOOD, who I will call CurlyGood. A little curly headed boy who sat next to me and was so polite, but still had personality and good socializing skills. This 7 year old asked to share my music, politely corrected my left hand work (apparently, I was doing D7 wrong) and we chatted during the times the instructor was busy with someone else. I was encouraged about the state of the American Kid until I heard CurlyGood’s mom. British. Typical.

All in all, I think private lessons are for me. But more than that, private lessons are for GingerBad, at least until she is fit for public consumption. Maybe folks will get onto me about how I don’t understand and I don’t have kids, so I shouldn’t criticize. Maybe that’s true. All I can say is that I most certainly know and respond to well mannered kids. They are the ones I can see turning into adults I would want to hang out with. And me and Curly could grab a drink in like 20 years. But not so much with Ginger….

I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough and Doggone it, People Like Me!

Now that we’ve made it through the “eating season” (Thanksgiving through Christmas), the time is upon us for regret, followed by the time for resolutions! I’ve had a lot of friends who have mentioned their resolutions. There is a common theme to most of them. Most people want in some way to change themselves. Lose weight, exercise more, become a better person. People have asked me what my resolutions are and here’s the thing. I don’t make them. For me, the period of resolution leads to the unmet expectations followed by resentment or disappointment in myself. I just don’t need that kind of pressure. Every day I can resolve to get up, face my day with a smile, make better choices for myself and treat others well. Some times this can last all day, some times I don’t make it to lunchtime! But I don’t let it get me down because I can start over tomorrow. I don’t have to wait another year to make a new resolution. 

 

Overall, the theme of resolutions to me are to change something about yourself. I have to admit that I think I’m pretty good the way I am. I could be healthier, I could exercise more and make better decisions when it comes to eating, but overall I’m happy with who I am and it has nothing to do with my outward appearance. My five year old tells my I’m prettier than a princess, my two year old loves to brush my hair. My husband loves me just the way I am with no mention of the fact that I have expanded my midsection. Sure it would be great to lose weight both outwardly and inwardly, but I can’t let that consume my thoughts. If I dwell on the things I am not and obsess on ways to change what I am, I miss everything else around me. I miss time spent with my friends and family. I miss out on everything around me and expressing my own self from within. I learned a long time ago that before I could expect anyone else to love me I had to first love myself. 

 

We’re all clear by now that I was not the prettiest or the most popular in high school. I had a cloud of low self esteem that followed me around wherever I went. I had great friends and a loving family, but I can honestly say I didn’t think much of myself. I sought out attention from wrong places and hung around with people who we not the best role models. But something changed around my senior year when I realized that I didn’t need anyone else’s approval. All I needed was to love myself the way I was.

 

Now I can say that I like myself and that I accept myself for what I am. A mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a Music Therapist, a clarinetist, a knitter, a sometime homemaker and whatever else I feel like that day. What are you?

 

Yes I Can!

It’s official! I am running for President.

Not because I want to be President, mind you. In fact, given the current state of the country, I think I’d rather have a job cleaning Porta Potties at AT&T Park. And not because I have any great ideas about how to fix things (luckily, given some of the current presidential candidates, that doesn’t seem to be a requirement).

No, I’m running just because I can. Yes, I can! I am over 35 (it’s none of your business how many years over 35). And I am a natural-born citizen, born in a hospital in Griffin, Georgia (no exotic, mysterious origins for me. I’d happily hand over my birth certificate, although I guess that would probably give away that whole how many years over 35 thing). And according to the Constitution, those are the only requirements, other than having been a resident of the United States for fourteen years. Woo-hoo! I’ve never lived anywhere else. See how qualified I am!

So I’m running because, other than running for president, there aren’t many advantages to being over 35. What else do I have to look forward to, birthday-wise? The arrival of my Modern Maturity magazine? Appearing on the Today show when I’m 100?

You don’t have to vote for me. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t (see paragraph two). But I do have some good qualities. I’ve never taken money from any major corporation or lobbying group. Not that they’ve offered me any, but still… Plus, I have absolutely no political experience (unless you count my position on the PTO board of my son’s school, but this is my first year doing that). So I am definitely not a career politician.

I am a mother of two children, which means I’m used to hearing demands and complaints all day long, and dealing with constant bickering. I even have a two year-old, who can be as intractable and unreasonable as any Congressman, but I still manage to get her in and out of her car seat several times a day. I do my best to try to meet the needs of both my kids, and listen to their concerns and requests, without giving in on anything that would compromise their health or well-being. I make sure they have enough to eat, and a good education, and I take care of them when they’re sick. My seven year-old has to do his homework every day, and feed the cat, and do other odd jobs I need help with. He doesn’t get any special privileges just because he, say, made me a picture frame in school last week.

Since I can’t count on any endorsements from the current political parties, I’m creating my own. I’m calling it the Cocktail Party, because after a couple of drinks, a lot of our problems will at least seem a little less dire, and everyone will be a lot more relaxed and friendly (no angry drunks allowed).

Let’s see…What’s my political platform? Hmmmmmm…. I’ll start with things I like. Roads, for instance. Big fan. Not a big fan of potholes, which I’ve been seeing a lot of lately out here in the Bay Area. Let’s do away with those. I love parks and natural spaces. I’m also a huge fan of libraries (okay, I’m a librarian, so I’m a little biased). Hospitals? I haven’t had to use those a lot, thank goodness, but they can come in handy. Same with fire departments and police.

And schools! If I were to be elected President, I would make sure we have the best-funded schools in the world. Because I am tired, so tired, of class-size increases and teacher lay-offs and cuts to the arts and PE. Let the banks and mortgage industry execs sell gift wrap and cookie dough when they screw up. All my bailout money is going to the schools.

If I were President, teachers and principals would all be paid like CEOs, and there would never be more than 15 kids in a class. I’d hire John Williams to lead school band programs, and Stephen Hawking to guest lecture in physics, and Jane Goodall to help us understand teenagers by living amongst them. I haven’t a hope (or desire) of being President, so I can dream big. And what I dream of is a country I can be proud of again, where we have the best schools and the best teachers and the best opportunities for absolutely everyone.

So there you go. That’s my platform. Please don’t vote for me. But I’m running. Just so that when I get my spot on the Today show someday, and they ask me what I remember about my 100 years on earth, I can say that I ran for President way back in 2012.

The Finder premiers tonight!

You know, people made fun of me for needing two DVRs.  They said, “Mai, you watch too much television.”  Well, that may be true, but it’s nights like these that are the reason.  I mean, of course I am watching The Big Bang Theory – it’s an Amy and Sheldon-centric ep and those are my favorites!  Additionally, 30 Rock premiers tonight, THANK GOD.  I mean, totes happy for Tina Fey and her baby, Alec Baldwin is always better with other people’s words coming out of his mouth, yadda, yadda, yadda, but I needed me some Donaghy with a Lemon twist, know what I mean?  I am also ready for Parks and Rec and the Office.  It’s the only hour in  the week I get to see both my TV boyfriends: Ben Wyatt and Jim Halpert. 

So, if this were a regular Thursday, I would already be psyched and my DVR would runneth over with NBC and CBS goodies.  BUT, tonight there is another premier I have really been looking forward to.

 

Please click through to Watch With Mai to read the full post.

http://watchwithmai.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/the-finder-premiers-tonight/

If I can’t be a leader, I will be a follower…

I am hardly the first person to rave about the PBS Masterpiece Classic, Downton Abbey.  I am sure your Facebook newsfeeds have, like mine, been peppered with mentions of this English pre-World War I period drama.  I never paid it much attention, except when they kept winning stuff at the Emmy’s last year.  But even then I kept thinking, “Don’t they mean Downtown Abbey?  Is this some, like British affectation thing?”  

I mean, on the surface, it totally has all the makings of a successful British miniseries.  Maggie Smith as aristocratic and acerbic? Check!  Highclere Castle with its rolling lawns and splendour? Check!  Every single “Hey!  That British guy from that other thing?” Check!  But, I was a little weary.  I mean, they weren’t adapting something reliable or anything.  Nothing written by Jane Austen or a Bronte.  This was NEW.   But, then again, it was by the same writer who penned Gosford Park and I love that movie. Gosford Park had everything.  Maggie Smith as aristocratic and acerbic? Check!  Splendid English country home?  You see where I am going with this…

Continue to Watch With Mai for the full post http://watchwithmai.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/if-i-cant-be-a-leader-i-will-be-a-follower/

Posting vacation

For those who may have noticed, we haven’t had a new post in a while. We’re all just taking the time this holiday season to focus on work and family and plan to begin again in January! See you then!

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