A mundane (routine, even) task that escalated quickly showed me how close we all can be to becoming the mom we swore we’d never be.
Little Miss was in need of a dose of children’s ibuprofen. Superman attempted to administer it. This was met by shrill comments of, “Wait, wait, wait!” and tears. Inexplicably, tears. My turn. I attempted to administer the thick, grapey, purple solution and was met with the same reaction. She actually likes the taste of this. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I was growing in frustration. I *calmly* told her to open her mouth, I placed the cup to her mouth, and she pushed it away with her hands, sending the purple goo flying in slow motion out of my hand, into the air, onto her hair and jacket, and all over the tile in the kitchen.
I felt it welling up inside. The complete surprise from this turn of events. The frustration at now being forced to change clothes, rinse hair, and clean up a sticky floor. Frustration gave way to irritation. Irritation gave way to anger. I started spouting sentences that I can’t even fully recall right now, removed from it, about the mess and the waste of time and the sheer nonsense that this entire episode was.
More tears. Followed by a plaintive “I’m sorry, Mama.”
I realized that not even Little Miss realized the why of that situation, but here in its aftermath with me, she, too was looking to pick up the pieces and make it right.
You know the one I’m talking about. You’ve met the one I’m talking about. Likely, you’ve also judged the one to whom I’m referring. Chances are, you’ve been the one I’m talking about.
The mom who loses her temper. The one who allows her child to be openly defiant.
I swore that I’d never use my vocabulary to loose vicious and cruel statements upon her children (so far, so good). That I’d never not make time to play with my children (have you seen Monday’s post about my breaking point?). I thought that I’d read stories to my children every. single. night, without fail, rain or shine (this one’s hit and miss).
For sure, I didn’t want my children looking back on their childhood years from now saying “Mom did it all wrong.” or “I’m nothing like my mother.” Thinking that I just didn’t get it or I was too angry.
It’s too easy to get close to that point, though.
We’d all like to think that we’re the fun Mary Poppins moms, with endless energy and ideas for games, time for making toys and homemade science experiments on the regular. But let’s face it. The chores have to get done, and responsibility is a good thing. Miss Hannigan begins to look like she had a few things right.
In all seriousness, though, wouldn’t it be easy to slip into being “that mom?” Our generation of mommies are more stressed out than any of our previous ones, according to studies, opinion pieces, and social media satire memes, Tweets, and posts. We have this obsession (at least in America) with making our children Renaissance Children (with a competetive edge): be fluent in three languages, be disciplined in the martial arts, be a viola virtuoso, a budding sports star, and a performer. On top of school. Add work, PTA, church, a marriage, and more children, moms are practically wired these days to snap.
It is too easy to become overtaken by it all. Haven’t we all been there?
It’s the Pinterest Perfect mom. Obviously. This is actually a phrase I thought I was clever enough to coin, but upon Google searching…well…I’m not. Not even close. I saw a few blog posts about it, but this one is spot-on.
I know that I am never going to be the mom who makes my own yogurt in the Crock-Pot or the pressure cooker. No matter how easy you tell me it is. I know that about myself. Homemade bubbles? I got that, but yogurt…pass.
You know what else?
I’m not a Supermom. God knows that I have tried to be, but I just can’t. Neither can you, lady. Our friend and #CoolCatholicWomen list-maker Ginny Kochis at Not So Formulaic just wrote about this. Check it out here.
A phrase that has been coming back to me in various forms for two weeks now is this: “You can’t be all things to all people.”I’m not going to be the PTA president, class room mom, backstage mom at dance, team mom at soccer, the leader of a new ministry for my children, a June Cleaver-esque housewife, a doting wife to my husband, and a successful working mom. I’m not going to be that because that isn’t real.
It’s a myth.
I am a human woman. Flawed, talented, hilarious, and limited in how much/what I can actually do. It’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that.
I am the mom who is a little lame. The room mom (since pre-K). I’m the mom that has impromtu dance parties in the living room. One of the co-founders of Park in the Dark (an event that takes place after sundown in a park with glow sticks). I know how to stroke her back when she’s worried and how to fix the waist of her leggings or tights so they’re comfortable.
I’m also the best mom for my daughter (and any subsequent children that come my way). Together, we craft some truly crazy Barbie/Shopkins/Trolls/My Little Pony storylines. They’re pretty awesome and also involve Mother Gothel, Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty, some DC Superhero Girls and some Project Mc² dolls.
She and I are really perfect for one another. On most days, her silly is energizing and my silly is just what she needs. Her hugs are therapeutic and mine reassure her that everything’s gonna be okay.
So be gentle with yourself. You aren’t always going to get it right. Sometimes, you’ll come close to being the mom you swore you’d never be. But motherhood is hard. And I’d suspect that mostly, you’re doing a great job.
Professionally, I am an office manager and the human resources director for my company. When we hire someone new, they undergo an onboarding process that includes a few weeks of a “crash course” in our industry and company procedures/specifics and then they’re assigned a mentoring supervisor to see them out of the trainee period. They also receive a company handbook.
Parenting is not quite as straightforward…I didn’t have a class filled with how to be a mom by today’s standards, including the points of vaccinating my daughter (or not), breastfeeding (or not), the recommended screen time guidelines, or the “proper” age to continue rear-facing her in the car seat. Unless you count What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I didn’t have a handbook, either. There was no mentor assigned to me at her birth (although I do have a fabulous mother who has been a wonderful asset in my parenting arsenal).
There are YEARS of experience there, from both genders and a vast array of ages and abilities. Rachel and I are fortunate enough to be in a wonderful group of women (single moms, new moms, veteran moms, moms with blended families, and spiritual moms) called Moms & Mentors. We meet monthly in our homes, alternating the meeting place.
We’re all Christian women (most of us wives) who are trying to navigate the journey of motherhood without a map. It’s so nice to be around like-minded women, who understand the values I’m trying to instill in my children. It’s like they’re signs along my journey, pointing me in the right direction. It is so valuable!
Sometimes this Mommy thing is fantastic. Little Miss will see something for the first time and her reaction is priceless. Or hilarious. At times it’s inspiring. Or enough to bring me back to when I first saw the same thing. Sometimes this Mommy thing is enough to make you want to scream into your pillow. Maybe it’s the eleventh consecutive Mickey Mouse episode. Maybe it’s the teenage attitude that’s exiting your elementary school-aged child. And it’s exhausting, and leaves you emotionally raw. Then you wonder if you’re giving your child a complex.
Either way, it’s always the best job ever. And you’re rocking it. But you don’t have to rock it alone. Look in the parish bulletin, or call the church office, and see if there’s a mom’s group offered. Maybe there is one, but you’re a working mom and can’t make it there. Might I suggest looking at other local parishes?
The group that Rachel and I attend isn’t our parish. It isn’t Catholic. When Little Miss was small, she attended an amazing preschool program at a wonderful Baptist church. They are such wonderful women, and the director of the program, as well as the music teacher and the children’s minister at the church, are all my friends since Little Miss attended. I’ve gone to special events at the church as well as Bible studies there. Little Miss attends their Vacation Bible School every summer. I wouldn’t trade our group.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. I am a firm believer that it really does. My daughter is influenced by me and my husband, our siblings, our parents, and my extended family comprised by close friends and our parish church family. She has all of those adults to help guide her. And I love it.
So, too, do we need other people to help guide us. To be a springboard for particularly challenging parenting situations. Or to nod in solidarity and offer a shoulder. Or even to call us out when we need to be called out. To hold us accountable. Parenting is, after all, a big deal.
So Mama, we just want you to know, you’re doing fine. More than that. You’re killing it.
We want to hear from you, ladies. Tell us all about your experiences with mom’s groups. Does your parish offer one? What does yours do really well? What do you feel like is missing from yours? How has being in your mom’s group helped you through a sticky parenting situation? Can’t find a mom’s group that fits you yet? Check out Catholic Mom for inspiration until you do.
We know life gets busy (especially with after-school commitments and mom’s groups meetings), so we want to help you get organized in 2017. Comment below with answers to our questions above (if it isn’t working, please visit our Facebook page) to be entered into a giveaway for a large, spiral-bound planner, some fun accessories, an Our Lady of Guadalupe rosary, and a HailMarry custom bookmark. The giveaway closes on Friday, January 6 at 5:00 p.m. CST. The winner will be notified via email by Monday, January 9.
First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS from the HailMarry family!
Rachel and I are so happy you’re with us on this journey, so again let me say merry Christmas!! Christ, the Savior is born! Let us rejoice! I hope that your Christmas Day was filled with love, fun, traditions, deliciousness, and family. Ours was a little extra special this year because it was our first Christmas together. We celebrated on Friday night as a family, then on Saturday with my side of the family, and Sunday with my husband’s side. There was a lot of baking and eating and laughter!
This holy time of Christmas makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. It’s that feeling that you get when you come clean with God about your sins. Or when you happen to steal a sideways glance at your husband when he isn’t looking. Or when you see a squishy baby sleeping. But I digress.
I also get that feeling when everything is going exactly as planned. I’m definitely a list and planner girl, and I like to have back-up plans for my back-up plans. As my daughter gets older, I’m finding that that isn’t always going to happen. Sometimes she forgets to tell me that something was due until the day it’s due. Sometimes I forget to read her folder. Sometimes I request the completion of a simple, mundane task from her and it sets off quite the emotional storm.
When I found that said emotional storms were appearing with more frequency and when we were all adjusting to the change from being an all-girl family of two to a heterogeneous family of three, we implemented a family meeting. It keeps us centered and focused as a family on our goals, our weekly agendas, and any concerns that we have. Because of it, we work as a team. And together, we strive for holiness.
The husband and I decided that, prior to our first family meeting, we’d hash out the ground rules. We wanted it to be a place that will encourage growth and honest discussion in our family, but we didn’t want it to be a total democracy, where we are all equals, either. We are the parents in this family and felt that there should be a distinction.
Here are the five Denoy Family Meeting Rules by which we operate:
After reading these aloud the first time, we all signed the rules, to show that we all agreed to abide by them.
The rationale behind the rules are as follows:
I’ve been amazed by how a topic that usually elicits a strong reaction from Little Miss when NOT in the meeting can be discussed calmly and rationally by her when IN the meeting. We have excellent conversations and we do come to solutions.
These meetings are so helpful. We know, clearly, what the expectations of us for the week are, what events are scheduled…sometimes, we even go over the meal plan (a post on meal planning is on its way in January!). We are better when we have them. We are less harsh, less quick to jump, and more joyful.
From where I sit in these meetings, at one of the heads of the table, facing a crucifix and a statue of the Holy Family, I try to imagine what their family dynamic was like. Like my own family, they were a family of three. With one out of the three people being God, I would initially guess that their dynamic was calmer than my own family’s. But…Jesus was also man, and while I know he was sinless, I know how kids can be. In this moment, I find comfort in the story of Jesus being lost, with Joseph and Mary worried sick, looking everywhere, only to find him teaching in the temple. I kind of feel like they would have had family meetings, too.
These meetings are organic. It’s going to be interesting to see how they continue to grow and change as Little Miss gets involved in more activities and as she gets older. It’ll change again when additional members are added to our family, too. I imagine that there will be years of more laughter, tears, tension, relaxation, and all that’s in between as we continue these. I also imagine that there will be more bonding and memories made, too. And I know that I’ll never have enough of those.
What about you ladies? Rachel and I love feedback and getting ideas from other wives and moms. Do you have family meetings? How do you run them? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to HailMarry so you’ll never miss another post.
Blessings and Merry Christmas!