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?

 

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!

Thanksgivings in Space

I’ve always been terrified of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. There are too many expectations to live up to, especially because I married into a family of gourmet cooks. And while I know my husband, who is a wonderful cook himself, would be more than happy to help me prepare the feast, I worry that anything I make will be haunted by the ghosts of far superior roast turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and the other table-crushing assortment of dishes we both enjoyed in the carefree Thanksgivings of our youths. Plus it’s just a heck of a lot of work.

So mostly I try to get out of the Thanksgiving responsibilities. Over the years we’ve enjoyed many turkey dinners in restaurants. This is always nice because the food just magically appears at your table, and then just as magically disappears, along with all those dirty dishes, when you’re done.

But this year we decided to go to Disneyland. It was a crazy idea, at least for us. We’re both a little phobic of large crowds, and Thanksgiving in the Land of Mouse promised to be mayhem. Plus I had gone to Disney World when I was 10, and the only memory I had was of frantically chasing after my little cousin, trying to catch her before she vanished into the mass of people all around us. She was two years-old, the same age my daughter is now, and I dreaded the thought of reliving that experience. But of course, as soon as I spoke the idea aloud, my son was beside himself with excitement. So we went.

The first day (a Monday) I was worried that we had made a terrible mistake. There were crowds–big ones–and long lines for most of the rides. By the time we had ridden Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the carousel, we were already tired. My son even asked to go back to the hotel.

But then we stumbled into the Enchanted Tiki Room, where at least there were benches and pineapple ice cream drinks while we waited outside for the show. And then we went inside. The mechanical birds began to sing. My daughter’s eyes grew round. She turned her head to look back at me. And then she smiled. And I relaxed.

The rest of the trip was wonderful. The crowds were much smaller the next day, and by Wednesday we hardly had to wait for more than fifteen minutes for most of the rides. And although my daughter refused to ride in her stroller, she did hold onto my hand in the crowds. She even did okay in the lines, although she insisted on climbing every square inch of railing, and then clinging to it like a kudzu vine whenever I tried to move her. (She also clung to the cart of the Go Coaster when we were supposed to get off, and screamed, “No! I try again! I try again!”)

Occasionally I thought about what it meant to be spending Thanksgiving at Disneyland. It wasn’t, after all, a traditional experience, although we did spring for the Thanksgiving Feast in the Disneyland Hotel, which had every manner of traditional Thanksgiving food and then some. The dessert table alone was a decadence bordering on obscenity. The children’s buffet had a carver waiting to personally slice your child’s pizza. If the goal of the Thanksgiving meal is to stuff yourself like a foie gras goose, Disneyland more than delivered.

But it still didn’t feel quite like a traditional Thanksgiving. And I wondered about tradition, and why it matters. Growing up, my family was never particularly bound by tradition. We once had Thanksgiving without the turkey when I was a vegetarian, and one year we had a bouquet of roses instead of a Christmas tree. But I do have a lot of nostalgia for the traditions we did keep when I was a child, especially making hard candy with my Mom, and playing and singing music around the piano as a family. Those memories are indelible: I think about them and suddenly I am five, or eight, or fifteen again. I am all of those ages at once.

I was worried that this was the one element that was missing from our Disneyland trip, unless we could somehow afford to repeat the experience every year (I was afraid of that expectation too, since the happiest place on earth is definitely not the cheapest). And then I found it, of all places, on the Space Mountain ride.

My husband does not like Space Mountain, so I agreed to ride it with my son. He was chattering nervously the whole way through the Fast Pass line, while I laughed to myself about the Space Mountain signs, which were written in that font that was supposed to look so futuristic and high tech to those of us who were born in the seventies. Now it just looked dated.

We got on the ride, and made that slow clicking ascent that always gives you time to wonder if strapping yourself into this thing was such a good idea (what if it’s not just the font that’s outdated?). And then we were zooming in a fast spiral in the dark through a galaxy of stars that appeared to emanate from something that looked very much like a disco ball. And suddenly I was fourteen years old, screaming in the dark next to a friend who had come with me on our eighth grade band trip to Disneyworld. The cool breeze from the ride felt wonderful after walking all day in the sweltering Orlando heat. I felt alive, and scared, and courageous all at once. It all came back, even though I knew I was two thousand miles and over two decades away from the time, place, and person I was in that memory.

I didn’t tell my son about my trip back into the past, but I was happy that we had come. We all had a great week together, and although he was grief-stricken on our last day of the park, my son was already planning our next visit. I don’t know if we’ll be able to manage the trip every year, but we’ll definitely be back. I think it will be a wonderful tradition, and hopefully some day my kids will be able to ride Space Mountain, or some other ride, with their own kids, and remember a time when they sat there next to me, waiting for the excitement to begin.

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