Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mother's Day Manifesto

I've a few things on my mind.

First, let me just say that I firmly believe that mothering is a very individual thing. What works for me doesn't necessarily work for you, and vice verse. As with so many things, it would truly be a dull world if we all were built to the exact same specifications. I'm quite proud to have friends who mother quite successfully in many ways, and I've learned a great deal from them all. In fact, one of the great joys in my adult life has been in the development of my friendships with other women - something which I didn't have growing up, and something which can be directly linked to our common bond as mothers.

The thing about that, though, is that over the last 7 years I've taken quite a few punches for being the type of mother I am. Some of them were intended - such as when a mom on a knitting forum told me I was a waste and a drain on society because I had left the workforce - but often times it's been more subtle.

And so as we celebrate one of my personal favorite holidays, I thought I would take a bit of time to tell you just what kind of Mom I am...and to define what I think my job is.

  • My children are NOT the center of my universe, nor should they be.
  • I am most certainly NOT defined by my children.
  • I once thought that the only thing I wanted in this world was to be a mom...but after I had my second child I knew that I had been wrong. My girls are only part of the equation - a very important part, to be sure, but they are not all that I am. I want more for my life.
  • Yes, being a stay-at-home Mom was the right decision for this family, and in many ways I can't imagine having done it any differently. But it still sucks sometimes and is often lonely, thankless, boring and frustrating.
  • I do believe it is VERY important for my kids to see that I have a life outside of this household and outside of this family.
  • I also believe it is important for the girls to know that they can survive without me - and that their father is fully capable of taking excellent care of them.
  • Taking that a step further, extended families are a good thing. I both want and need my children to spend as much time with all of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and great-grand as possible.
  • While I might not always agree with or approve of everything my family might say and/or do with the girls, I am smart enough to know that my way is not the only way and that there are things which they can learn from our family which they can't learn from me.
  • I resent being told that now is not my time, that I must focus everything I have and everything I am on my children. What kind of lesson is that? I want them to grow up feeling strong and sure of themselves - not believing that they someday must martyr themselves on the alter of their families.
  • I also think it's ridiculous to suppose that any woman must set aside her own needs for the sake of her children.
  • It is most certainly NOT my job to entertain my children. They are bright girls, fully capable of finding something to do by themselves.
  • I can't protect them from every evil in this world, much as I would like to. A few years ago I came to peace with this fact, and life has been a whole lot more enjoyable since then.
  • I need time away from my children in order to be a good mom. I didn't understand this before I became a mother, and I deeply regret the fact that I ever criticized any woman for taking time. My weekly Mom's Night Off has kept me sane, as have all of the times when the grandparents have stepped in to give me a break.
  • I believe in the value of a good public education - but I also believe that it's my responsibility to make sure that they are getting the full benefit of their schools.
  • My job is to give my children opportunity, and to expose them to as many possibilities as I am able....even when it might seem a bit nuts.
  • It's also my job to allow them to fail sometimes - even when it hurts.
  • When they do fail, it's my job to make sure they understand that they are still lovable and that failure doesn't define them.
  • I want to make sure they know that it's ok to make mistakes. In fact, I hope they don't grow up as I did - so afraid of making mistakes that they become bound by fear.
  • I also want to make sure that they remain children for as long as possible.
  • Most of all, it's my responsibility to give my children freedom - be that to wear whatever crazy getup they can come up with or to play outdoors without me. Children can't learn to fly if they are always in a cage.

I believe Mother's Day is about so much more than our own little families. For me it's a chance to honor all of the women in my life - each of whom has a place in my heart, and each of whom has helped me to become the woman I am today. To you all, I would like to wish you a very happy, very blessed Mother's Day.

Thank You.


A Day That is Dessert said...

This is such a great post in so many ways! Happy Mother's Day Kristin. You're doing a great job by your girls, and setting a good example. xoxo

Clefton Twain said... long as you know that I thank you for what you do and that I think you're an awesome mother!

angela said...

I SO needed to read that post. Though I know and feel many of your thoughts as mine also, no one has ever been able to articulate it. Part of what has kept me able to do the home mom thing is that I've had Ravelry for at least a couple adult conversations a day. Now my daughter is starting to talk a lot more, so that time may be limited, but now I have more reason to fight for being myself too.

Paula said...

I hope you print this post out and save a copy for both of your daughters. These are wise words that they need to have, perhaps at a time when you might not be there for them. You are showing them by example but having your own philosophy in writing (and so articulately written) is a real gift.