Tuesday, June 21, 2011
It happened not too long ago. I was invited to a local Mom's group to facilitate a mini workshop for a Mom's night out. As the guests were arriving, the room was filled with chatting, snacking and welcome hugs. In walked one of the most comfortable looking moms I may have ever seen. She was wearing her baby in a wrap, dressed casually and kind of "crunchy". She was pretty without trying. I watched her slink around the room smiling and talking to the other moms. She was so confident in her skin. She was very in tuned with her baby, and seemed to know how to soothe the smallest of whimpers.
She was the type of mom I often refer to as "Earth Mama". The kind of mom that makes the rest of us feel bad, because they do it so much better. She was the exact type of mom I wished I could have been to my babies. She was the exact kind of mom who made me feel intimidated and unsure of myself as a new mother. She had it all together and this vision took me right back to my hot mess as a new mom. My eyes stung with jealousy.
I remember thinking to myself in a very judgey sort of way...what is she doing coming to a night of coaching for moms? She is going to make all the other moms clam up. Who is going to want to confess their imperfections when there was one of her in the room. She looks like she could be the one running the group, I could surely learn a thing or two from her...
Judge Judge Judge
After the mingling, we gathered and sat in the circle of chairs. The women went around one by one talking about what had inspired them to come to the workshop. Some said the wine, others were excited to get away from the kids...but this mom who had it all completely shocked me.
With tears in her eyes this "Earth Mom" began to tell the story of her complicated and painful situation. The room was stunned and silent as we listened to her peel back the layers of what had become years of a stress filled and lonely life since having children.
I was embarrassed of my previous thoughts.
I thought I knew better then to judge another mom.
I am always the one who writes and talks about how we are all struggling in some way. I over emphasis the importance of being kind to each other, and I encourage women to get the conversations going- to be the first one to get real about the challenges of motherhood. Here I had judged this mom unfairly and incorrectly. If she were not a part of this workshop, I would have never started a heart -to- heart conversation with her because I thought I knew her type.
I felt so overridden with guilt that I couldn't go on with the workshop without coming clean to the group about what was going on with me. I confessed my judgey thoughts to the circle. A few other women in the group had the same perception of this mom and apologized for not offering her help and/or their friendship. They thought she had it all together and didn't need anything.
We all came away from this experience with a meaningful lesson. This was a powerful reminder that what we see on the outside isn't necessarily what is going on in the inside. It is not only important for us to speak our truths so others may hear and acknowledge us, but it is equally important for us to ask the tough questions of our friends and fellow moms, so we can support them.
Don't assume a mom is OK just because she looks like she is.
Don't smile and say your are doing great if you are not.
Don't compare yourself to your perception of another mom.
Take off the masks and get real.
It is only through honesty that healing and happiness will come.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
When I was a child, my mom often told us, "You always love your kids, but you don't always like them." I never understood what she was talking about-and never gave it much thought because I figured she was talking about my sister, not me.
I get it mom!
I do not like my daughter right now...at all! She has been rude, bossy, disrespectful, demanding, whiny and downright a PILL! She has been all these things- but also acting helpless, weak and needy all at the same time. It is as if the world revolves around her, and no one else matters. She wants what she wants, and throws a fit when she doesn't get it. YUCK!!!
If this kid belonged to someone else, I would think she was a complete brat, and try to withhold judgement about what type of parenting (or lack thereof) that was going on at home. I admit, I haven't been the ideal parent with her lately, and take my share credit for the negativity in the house. I am worn down from correcting, redirecting and modeling appropriate ways of speaking. So, I am sarcastic right back. I have been short tempered, and have been praising her brother like crazy (because in my house if you aren't being the "bad one" you work extra hard at being an angel because my kids are incredibly competitive).
I can't help it, I just don't like her behavior. I angers me! I don't yell at my kids, I never demean them or disrespect them-and I have zero tolerance when they do it to me, or anyone else for that matter. My husband says he is moving out when she is 16, as he sees this as a preview for ugliness between us that is yet to come.
She is six.
I know this too shall pass, and she is going through some difficult phase that I would rather never repeat-EVER. But there will be other phases-with her and with her brother. All I can do now is love her. Love her through this ugliness, and love myself and my imperfections when I don't respond like I am suppose to. We will get through this, and I will like her again. I know this to be true...
because my mom likes my sister (and me)!