Oct 152014
 

Dear Momma who wrote the subtly titled, “Dear Stay-At-Home-Moms, Please Shut Up.“,

So many things crossed my mind when I read this.

So. Many. Things.

First the good:

1) At least you said “Please”.

And now… the rest:

While I agree with the sentiment that EVERYONE should be grateful for their blessings, what I take offense to is the notion that Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHMs) should “shut their friggin’ pie holes.”  I am a mom who, by choice, quit my full-time job to stay home with my children, but who, also by choice, sometimes sends my kids to daycare so I can do freelance work… not because I have to, but because I WANT to.  I guess you would call me a SAHM, but I don’t know why we need titles. I am a mom.  I love being home with my amazing children. However, I have also been known to complain about said amazing children.  And I’m sorry, Momma, if that gives you a bad rap, but I have never been one to shut my friggin’ pie-hole, and I sure as hell am not going to start now. So here’s my piehole’s worth…

Being a parent is a blessing, but it is also a job. Some would even say it’s a dream job. The pay aint much and the hours are long, but it has a an unimaginable bonus structure. But here’s the deal: Every single person I know – even those with dream jobs – complain from time to time. Long hours, ridiculous clients, tough bosses, annoying coworkers, or even just run-of-the-mill mental or physical exhaustion. No one I know is totally immune to the siren’s call of a good old-fashioned bitch sesh. Do you know why this is? Because hard work is… well… hard. And sometimes bitching just feels good. It’s a God-given right for every person to be able to bitch now and then. Well, I don’t know if God actually gave us that right, but I am pretty sure it is written in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or the owner/operator manual or something. Anyway, if complaining isn’t a right, it should be. So, just because a SAHM or SAHD doesn’t get paid in actual dollars or have an actual boss – other than a tyrant toddler – does he or she also forfeit the right to bitch about his or her job? I think not.

Just because a parent complains about their exhausting days or unruly children, doesn’t mean they love their job or their children any less.  It means that they are human. It means that their job is tough sometimes.  It could mean that they need a hand or possibly just an ear. Telling other moms to shut up about their frustrations is just another example of the Mean Mom syndrome that plagues our playgrounds, mommy groups and internet boards. And, with baby blues and postpartum depression running rampant, it’s more than just mean – it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

Momma, I love my children more than I could ever put into words.  I am grateful for every milestone I can witness, every boo-boo I can kiss and dirty butt I can wipe. Ok, I could actually live without the butt-wiping, but still.  I know that there are many parents who wish they could be home with their children, who cannot.  I also know that there are many parents who stay home with their children, who long to go back to work, but cannot. But most of all, I know that whether you work outside the home or inside the home with your children, we parents are all working double time.  There is no break from parenthood. There is no rest. There is no perfect balance. There is only doing the best we can.  And while we go into parenthood knowing this, it doesn’t make it any easier. This journey called parenthood is the most amazing journey life has to offer, but sometimes the road is bumpy. Sometimes it even seems impossible. That’s why we need to help and support one another, not tear each other down, and certainly not shut each other up.

So Momma, the next time a friend knocks at your door with her “greasy hair and caffeine withdrawals”, instead of telling her to “just be content or quit your whining” maybe you could try listening. Maybe you could offer some help, or just some sympathy. Or maybe you could offer up some pie for her friggin’ pie-hole. Pie always makes me feel better.

Just a suggestion.

With respect,

Courtney

shut up

 

photo credit: LaVladina via photopin cc

Aug 102013
 

A few days ago, it was my birthday. And I got the most amazing gift ever. It didn’t cost a cent, it made me feel amazing, and it came from a total stranger who had no idea that it was even my birthday.

Perhaps it is childish, but I really love my birthday.  It’s my favorite day of the year.  It’s not really about the gifts, although I do love gifts. It’s not even really about the cake, although I really love cake. It’s not even about having an excuse to drink all day, although (usually) I really, really love my wine. I guess it is just about having a day that is all about me (and everyone else who is born on August 7th). Friends, old and new, reach out with kind words. Strangers, when they hear it is your birthday (and you know I tell EVERYONE it is my birthday), give you a genuine smile and wishes for a happy year. Most of all, I take the opportunity to indulge myself a bit. I let myself eat burgers and fries for lunch, have as big of a slice of cake as I like (or two), drink a bit more than I should, or even buy myself a little gift, spending more than I normally would.

Although usually I love making the day all about me, this year I was actually excited about spending the day with my daughter, Lyla. Perhaps I am finally growing up a bit. For the first time, at two years old, she finally understands that this is a special day. She helped my husband prepare a nice breakfast for me, even picking flowers to give me from the garden, and burst into my room singing “Happy birthday to you! Tanti Auguri to you!” (the bilingual remix of happy birthday.) We then decided to spend the day at the Santa Monica pier. We had gone there for her second birthday, and had one of the best days together that we had ever had. We rode rides, took silly pictures in a photo booth, ate burgers while looking out at the ocean, rode the famous carousel, and spoiled ourselves with giant, ice cream sundaes. Sounded like the perfect way to spend a birthday to me… perhaps I am NOT growing up too much, after all.

It was a perfect day. I was relaxed and happy, and my daughter was too. No worrying about eating enough vegetables, or too much sugar. No getting frustrated when my daughter had an accident, and peed right on the arcade floor… although we did make a quick exit. No temper tantrums – from either of us. It was a day for the history books. Then it got better.

After eating our cheeseburgers and fries, while cleaning up the rather large mess (because my daughter is 2, even on her best days) a man, who I noticed sitting alone next to us, approached the table. He said, “Excuse me. I just wanted to tell you that you are doing a great job. Your daughter is lucky to have you.” I could barely stutter, “Thank you so much” before he had turned and was on his way. I was in complete shock. First, that someone had noticed me and my daughter at all – and not simply to give us a dirty look because my daughter was standing on the chair screaming “You hear that?! That’s a fart!” at the top of her lungs (true story.) Second, that a total stranger had gone out of his way to pay me a compliment with nothing to gain for himself  – a compliment that I have really, really needed to hear for some time now. I really needed to hear someone tell me that I am doing ok, because most of the time I feel like I am failing miserably.

I don’t think I’m a bad parent necessarily, but usually when I analyze my day, it is much easier to focus on all the things I did wrong, rather than the things I did right. I tend to focus on the times I lost my temper, the times I raised my voice, the times I gave up fighting and let my daughter watch tv because I needed some goddamn peace and quiet. I wonder if my daughter slept enough, if she ate enough of the right things or too much of the wrong ones. I question my choices when it comes to discipline, praise, and pretty much everything in between. And when I analyze all of this, my answer is usually that I can do better. That everyone else is doing it better.

Even on those rare, really good days, when my daughter is well-behaved, I am relaxed, and everything goes smoothly, it is through no feat of mine. It is because my daughter is in a good mood, or she got enough sleep, or just pure, simple, good luck. The credit is never mine.

So when this total stranger came up to me and told me that I was ok, and even better than ok, that I was a GOOD parent – it was something I truly needed to hear. Not because I needed an ego boost. Not because a compliment is always nice. Not even because it was my birthday. I needed to hear it, because then I started wondering if perhaps it might be true. Might I be doing ok? Might I even be doing some of this parenting thing… gasp… well? It made me think of how happy my daughter is. How smart and funny and kind she is. How creative and loving. And I started to think that maybe it’s not an accident. That maybe I do, in fact, have something to do with that. And I still think that. Even over the past few days, when I lost my temper or said something I shouldn’t, I kept thinking that even if I wasn’t perfect, perhaps I am doing ok anyway.

I have no idea who this man is, and I guarantee that he has no idea how much that simple act of kindness meant to me. He has no idea that it keeps me going when things get tough. Or maybe he does know, and that is why he said it. If so, he is even kinder than I ever imagined.

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