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

 

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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?

 

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!

I am a Music Therapist

This is a bit of a follow up to last week’s post about where I work. I thought I’d write a little about what I do and why I do it.

Music has always been a part of my life. I remember my mom sang to me all the time and even taught music at my preschool. In elementary I began my music lessons on piano, then joined the band in fifth grade and played the clarinet. When it was time to pick colleges, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I started going on scholarship auditions at the schools I had been accepted to. Our guidance counselor had recommended that we choose a “safe” school that we knew we could get into and that we could afford. Georgia College (the amper sand had not been added yet) was that school for me. Forty-five minutes from home was not necessarily my first choice! I went on the audition and over lunch heard about this Music Therapy thing. It sounded like what I was looking for. A chance to continue playing music that I loved and help others.

Fast forward a few years and I became a practicing Music Therapist. Working in a large state run psychiatric hospital. There was a long time that I really didn’t think I knew what I was doing! I just played music, had a good time and along the way found that I did make a difference to people.

The American Music Therapy Association defines Music Therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” But here’s what it is. I use music to teach you something or improve the quality of your life. We’ve all used Music Thearpy. Try saying your ABCs without singing them. When you’ve had a really trying day do you put some kind of music on your car stereo to cheer you up? What was the song playing at your first high school dance, at your wedding? Music evokes emotion and enhances memory.

For years I have joked that the one question I can answer without even thinking is “what is Music Therapy?” Every Music Therapist gets used to answering that question because we’re asked it over and over again. But times are changing! Watch this clip from Diane Sawyer’s piece on Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s rehab and try not to cry. “The Music Never Stopped” is a recent movie based on an essay by Dr. Oliver Sacks. There is evidence supporting what we do. This works.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my third National Music Therapy conference. I saw people I haven’t seen in years. Heard all kinds of great things about what Music Therapists are doing in their settings, but it was the last thing I saw as I was leaving the conference that really reminded me of why I do what I do. As I was walking out the front door, I saw a fellow conference attendee standing outside leaning against a planeter and taking her guitar out of it’s case. I thought this was a strange site outside the entrance, but heck, we’re Music Therapists, some of us are a little odd. As I walked by, I turned around and saw her approach a young mother with three kids. She had one in her arms and was trying to keep up with the other two. The Music Therapist knealt down to the child’s level and started talking to her about the guitar and the little girl reached out and strummed it. This person used her talent to help someone else. That’s what we do. We use the talents we were given, the talents we cultivated and use them to make someone else’s life better. Is there anything more beautiful than that?

Wordless Wednesday

Ash’s morning walk

“Saved by the Bell” always took on the tougher subjects.

Some of the best people I’ve met were in institutions

 

Every day I arrive at the building where I work. I enter the lobby and hand my keys over to someone behind a desk and place my items on a table to be searched. Generally this consists of my iPad, pager and name badge. Maybe a lunch, never a purse. I then kick off my shoes and attempt to pass the metal detector without setting it off. I then gather my things and head to a door which is opened by someone behind a panel of plexiglass. When that door closes behind me, the next door opens. I gather my key ring and swipe card and make my way down the hall. I pass a large room enclosed by plexiglass and maybe see people waiting for a doctor’s appointment or having shackles put on to prepare for transport to an appointment outside of the building, the next two doors are again opened by the person behind that plexiglass and I swipe my card to enter the staircase. At the top of the stirs I swipe my card again to be let out of
the staircase and walk to my office.

Hearing this you may assume that I work in a prison or jail. However, I don’t. I work in a maximum security forensic facility for the mentally ill. All the people I work with are mentally ill and have also committed some kind of crime. This ranges from particularly heinous and grisly crimes to things as benign as forging checks or stealing a ginger ale from a convenience store. All the individuals are here to either be evaluated for competency to stand trial, have been found incompetent to stand trial, or are not guilty be reason of insanity. I work with people who you would typically not want to sit next to on the bus, or who may be hanging out on the sidewalks of your community. Many have been failed by the mental health system. They were not perceived as a risk or may have circumvented the procedures in place to maintain them on their medications or supervise them. Many of them also have a history of drug or alcohol use.

There are two misconceptions I want to address about the people I work with. The first is that they are “getting off easy.” While some times this may be true because they may do less time in a hospital than they would have in prison, but most of the time it’s not true. Many of them actually spend more time in the hospital. I’ve had individuals tell me that they wish they had just plead guilty and done the time because they would be out already. There is no release date for our people. They don’t have a date that they can look forward to getting out of the hospital like someone in the prison system would. Many times if the crime is particularly violent the judge gives the “over my dead body” ruling that as long as they are on the bench that person will not be released. It is also more difficult than you think to fake an insanity defense. We have pretty accurate testing to ensure that those folks are weeded out.

Another inaccurate thought is that these people are guilty and should be punished. This is not necessarily so. I like to give this example when someone asks me about my job. Let’s pretend you know for a fact that your next door neighbor is kidnapping and torturing women in his house. You’ve heard them screaming and calling for help. You’ve called the police and told all your family and friends and they say there’s nothing they can do and that there’s nothing going on, yet you still hear them calling for you to save them. Most of us would feel compelled to do something. This is what it’s like. What is going on in their head is so real to them that they have to get involved. They can’t determine that this is not true. They act based on their own skewed sense of reality. They act because of their illness.

In general, society does not recognize mental illness as being an illness like diabetes or heart disease. Approximately 25% of people in the US have a mental illness. Compare that with 41% of Americans who will have some type of cancer in their lifetime, 8% of people who will have diabetes and 12% of Americans who will have heart disease. Many times the only time we hear about mental illness in the news is when a mentally ill person does something to get into trouble. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear about treatment and support? Only about 25% of people with mental illness feel like they have good supports from family and friends. It’s time we took care of those around us who are sick before they end up hanging out with me every day!

Wordless Wednesday

Really Scary Jack O’ Lantern

My Happy Place

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