Just a Mom

Both the Scrivener and the PhotoAddict have argued that one need not be identified only as “someone’s mom”. They are worried about losing themselves in motherhood and point out that there is life beyond it. I get why they feel that way. I do not share this concern.

Everyone’s approach to motherhood is different. Many factors go into it; your personality, your child’s personality, your childhood experience, how involved your spouse is, whether you even have a spouse, how many kids you have, your age, your support system, financial circumstances, etc. There isn’t a “right way” only what’s right for you.

I had a “full life” before becoming a mom that included career, travel, hobbies and hanging at the bar with friends. I had my own office with a window that was 3 blocks from the White House and an apartment near the subway that overlooked the Pentagon. It was an exciting time. But as someone who struggled to have a child, I do not find myself wishing to be someone separate as I’ve moved on to the next phase of my life. I love being a mom. Just a mom. That is my career for now. I embrace it.

Enjoying motherhood

Enjoying motherhood.

There are some who have judged me for not seeking out daycare/preschool so that I could do more for myself. I should’ve started another career or worked towards another diploma or haven’t I been wasting my degree, my time and talent? And aren’t I bored just being with a child all day? It is almost always other women asking these questions. Usually other moms. Some are just curious but others seem truly to disapprove. Why are we so hard on each other? We really should be more supportive of each other’s choices. I respect that some women need more time away from their kids to rejuvenate and get the mental breaks and adult socialization they need to be better moms. I also sympathize with women who don’t have a choice in the matter.

As for me, it has been a privilege to stay home and watch my child grow. It’s not forever,  just for a few short years. I truly don’t mind being with him most of the time especially since he’s old enough to share some of my interests. My husband helps out when he’s home, he and Rocky spend time alone together and I have my classes at the YMCA; I don’t hurt for me time. My single friends are few and far between as most have followed the path of parenthood but us mothers plan an occasional get together here and there that’s just for us. Even with our children in tow, I still feel connected when spending time with other moms. It’s always a relief to know I’m not alone. And now that Rocky is starting kindergarten, I’ll have another 4 whole hours a day for whatever needs doing. Or to hide away with a good book or watch tv all morning. You know, because that’s the perception of what stay-at-home moms do with the extra time! I wish. More likely I’ll be that mom at the school doing all the volunteer work that other parents don’t have time to do.

I know who I am and I do have longer term goals for myself. It’s important for Rocky to see that. But for the time being, I don’t need to “have it all”. My role as a mom is enough for me and I don’t feel guilty that I’ve given up myself. I’m sharing myself. As my son grows and needs me less and less, there will be plenty of time for focusing on just me once again. My life is still full and I’m counting my blessings. Identity intact.

The Librarian

The Gen X Moms Group – Monica's Story

Today’s post was contributed by Monica, founder of the Gen X Moms group that inspired our blog.

So here I am a new stay-at-home mom with my new baby! What a glorious feeling! Not to have to get up with the alarm, trudge into the office and sit at the computer all day in the glaring fluorescent lights, falling asleep in the afternoon at my desk, staring at the clock, waiting for it to turn to 5. I do have a different sort of alarm now and it tends to wake me up all night long. But I don’t mind that because when I do wake up, I can stay in my pajamas and usually I can even stay in bed. During the day, I can hang out and watch what I like on TV. My house is spotless because I am able to clean since my little one sleeps so much. And many times, I get to nap while he is napping. Oh the fabulous life of staying home!

Fast forward six months. I don’t know if I can face another day with nothing to watch and no one to talk to except my gurgling infant! I wish my husband could stay home and keep me company! All of my friends work and can’t talk while they are at work. I spend far too much time at Target, chatting with the checkers and spending more money than I should. They are nice and they compliment my baby, but it’s not the same. My mother visits me once a week and I am grateful for that, but I need some real companionship! I need an adult female, preferably also a mom, who I can share the joys and sorrows of my everyday life with. This is a situation I have never been in before! I have always had plenty of friends and people to talk to and gotten plenty of accolades for a job well done. Now I am lonely, cut off, cooped up, and in need of some advice about what to do with this baby that wakes me up all night long. And I mean real communication; real-world advice from a living, breathing person, not some internet article that tells me not to co-sleep and above all stop breastfeeding your seven month old! I need some mommy friends, and I need them fast.

Ok, so what does a smart, previously gainfully employed, college-educated woman do when faced with a problem she’s never had before? She “googles” it of course! Ok, get on the computer, bring up the home page and search: “kids activities”, “Mommy and me”, “fun things to do with your baby”.  What is this? Playgroup for young moms? The description reads, “Whether you are a mom who is young or young at heart, this group is for you”. Well, I’m no spring chicken, but I do FEEL younger than my 34 years. I guess I fit the demographic. Yay! So I join up and RSVP to some events. I attend one or two. The first one I went to, no one else showed. I pathetically asked every lady I saw with a young baby if she was with the mom’s group. No, no and no were the answers. I went home dejected. But, I was determined to try again. This just had to work! Next, we’re off to story time at the library. A few moms this time, and they are all very nice. We talk about babies and sleeping schedules, feeding schedules, diaper schedules and anything and everything pertaining to babies. But when I inquire, “what did you do before you had your baby?” I find that many of these moms got married young had families young and are still very young! Way younger than me anyway. They may have had a job or two, but does working at Target for a year count as a career? They haven’t traveled; they haven’t almost married two different times before finding the right guy. I have at least 10 years on these girls and no experiences in common other than the babies. But, it’s better than nothing. So I go along this way, joining some other groups and getting myself out there. I’m not nearly so lonely now and we have fun. I have since had my second baby and enjoy getting all of us out of the house. So I have some mom friends now, but still, no one I really connect with. Wait a minute; I’m starting to get an idea……

Stroller Skating Gen X Moms

There have to be other moms out there in my situation. Moms who had careers and went to college and traveled and lived their lives before settling down to have a family. Where are these moms? I guess in order to find them; I should start my own group! If I start it, they will come, right? The demographic should be moms over 35 with kids under 5. No, that might be too exclusive. I met a few early 30 something moms who fit the bill. Ok then, moms over 30 with kids under 5. That ought to do it! So I formed the Gen X Moms playgroup. My description reads: “Ever feel like the matriarch of your playgroup? Want to hang out with other moms your own age who have young children? We are the Gen X Moms and are a group of mommies who have had our children later in life.” And one by one, they did come! They flocked in fact, and now, almost a year later, I have over 120 members! I remember the very first play date I scheduled. It was at a local park and I had four people RSVP. I was a bit nervous, after all, now I was the organizer, the one who had to introduce myself and make sure everyone met each other. Well, only one person showed up and it was the Librarian with her little Rocky. I was thrilled, just to have one other mom to talk to and our boys had a blast together. I found that she was the same age as me! She had had a career and went to college too! We had subjects to talk about that didn’t involve just the kids and that was fantastic. The Gen X Moms was on its way. I have made so many friends in this group, and a couple I have really connected with. I see at play dates the way the moms interact with each other and know that others have made connections too. It makes me so happy to know that my group is helping moms to find each other and friendships are being forged. After all, we women need other women whether we like to admit it or not.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Monica!

Give Yourself a Break

Has this happened to you?

Since I became a mom, one of the reoccurring themes I keep hearing from other moms is the constant worry of failure. Am I good enough? Why does every other mom seem to have a better handle on things than me? Why can’t I keep the house cleaner? Why can’t I get my kid to behave like the other kids? What if my fears rub off on my child? Will my mistakes scar my child for life? Should I feel guilty for not wanting to be with my child every second? The list goes on. 

No amount of schooling prepares you for parenting and you don’t get glowing peer reviews to reassure you of your worth. For anyone who had a successful career before staying home with children, this is a particularly difficult adjustment. I know what I am missing and even though I am happy with my decision overall, there have been days of self-doubt. One former career woman I know jokingly remembers that she was “a god” at her company. People came to her for the answers. She had them and it felt great. When you are up to your ears in poopy diapers or dealing with a sassy toddler on a daily basis, it is all too easy to lose confidence and long for the days when you really did have the answers. 

To all of you who feel this way – give yourself a break. Just as everybody plays the fool, every mom makes mistakes. Swap stories with other moms (or dads) and you will see – there simply is no exception to the rule.  

Please share one of your mishaps so others will see that this is true. (If you are on our homepage, you have to click on the big black quote mark next to the title to leave a comment.) One of mine was when I left my toddler alone with the diaper bag. He found some Tums and proceeded to chow down. My doctor made me call poison control (yikes, there is a record of this somewhere) but, fortunately, it was nothing to worry about. Funny but my mom remembers me doing the same thing with Bugs Bunny vitamins!

The Librarian

On Skipping Preschool

I decided not to send my child to preschool. This is an unusual choice among the moms I’ve met. I always thought that when Rocky turned 4, it would be the right time to put him in school. I changed my mind.

Learning about metamorphosis

It started with the fact that Rocky was not fully potty-trained by his fourth birthday. I tried everything in the book to motivate him but he just wasn’t ready. I dreaded sending him to the preschool I had chosen and having him get kicked out for having too many accidents. It’s in the contract that this behavior really would result in expulsion. Some parents assured me that if I called his bluff, he’d likely get it together and go along with the peer pressure. But the more I thought about it, the less convinced I was that he even needed to be in school yet. He is going to spend the next 13 years and beyond in a classroom, why rush him now?

There are many reasons for putting a child in preschool. Maybe both parents must work. Maybe there are other babies in the house who need the one on one time with mom. Some moms really do need the break. Some kids really want to go. I talked to other moms and one of the biggest rationalizations for it was “kids need the socialization”. Well, okay, but need I pay for it? My circumstances are such that I am home for him anyway, preschool doesn’t change that. With my husband’s encouragement, I decided to seek out opportunities for him to mix with other kids sans school.

Playing with a team

First, I joined a mom’s group. It is true that Rocky tends to be one of the oldest kids in the group but he doesn’t seem to have any big issues as far as getting along with others. Second, I found some great classes at the YMCA that take place just after preschool hours. This gives him a chance to mingle with kids his own age and introduces having to follow the directions of an instructor and team work. He has also made some wonderful friends through his frequent visits to the gym’s kid zone and we plan play dates with them.

What about the academics? I teach him things, informally, as we play and it works. He is eager to learn and can read, write and do basic math. We spend a lot of time discussing what things are called and how things work. He and his dad share a passion for maps (Rocky knows all the states) and love watching science shows and doing little science projects together. He also has an interest in musical instruments so I signed him up for piano lessons. I really didn’t know what to expect putting one so young in a piano class. Surprisingly, he has stuck with it. After nine months of lessons he sight reads some of the music, he practices on his own (admittedly sometimes in exchange for computer time but it counts!) and he was very excited to perform in his first piano recital recently. Cross stage fright off the list, I think the applause was his favorite part! I always told him if he starts with piano, he can play any instrument he wants. He tells me he wants to be “the best piano player in the world”. Not long ago he said he wanted to be the floor sweeper at KFC so we’ll see! 

Visiting a farm

How do I not get bored being with a kid all the time? It was a bit challenging when he stopped taking naps regularly. It is still trying when I want time on the computer and there he is pressing the keys. But mostly my secret (other than I waited a long time for this kid and I want to enjoy every minute with him while he’s still young enough to need me) is in the planning. We go to parks and museums and the beach. We do activities with my moms group where I can talk to other adults and he can hook up with other kids. I look for special story times at the local library and even found a few free programs at other cool venues like the arboretum. We paint and do crafts. We planted a garden. I take him to shows and out to lunch (with money I saved from not sending him to preschool!) and we hang out at the mall. We talk about what all the signs mean and, of course, the importance of emergency exits.

Rocky is now potty-trained and looking forward to starting kindergarten in the fall. I went into a bit of a panic when I read that California will likely be moving the cut-off date for kindergarteners up by three months (from Dec to September) in order to save a few bucks. He would fall into the category of being slightly too young to start this fall if that happened. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found this wouldn’t be implemented for a couple of years yet. Whew. I believe he is ready and hasn’t suffered a bit by staying home this year. Homeschooling my toddler was the right path for us. Stick with us, dear readers, and I’ll let you know how it goes when Rocky enters the classroom later this year.

The Librarian

Myspace Layouts

Sprouts Storybooking will be giving away a FREE 5×5 storybook credit (a $34.95 value).  To enter, post a comment for the following:
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5.    Post about Gen X Moms on your own blog and include a link in the comments
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7.    Join the Sprouts Storybooking Meetup group if your in the Orange County area and let us know you joined.

Mean Mommy

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

Most of my days are filled with affection and accolades from my son. “Mommy, I love you ALLLL the way to Pluto!”, “Mommy, you are the best, most BYOOTIFUL Mommy in the WHOOOLE world!” But every once in a while, my job as rules enforcer puts me at odds with my subordinate. On these occasions I get, “YOU ARE A MEEEAAANN MOMMY!”  Sometimes I get the door slam. Sometimes I get a toy chucked at me and that look of defiance. Typically he’ll say something like “If you don’t let me do what I want, I am NOT going to listen to you.” Sigh.  It was so much easier when I was just Fun Aunt Ruth to my nieces and nephews.

Let’s face it, being the disciplinarian is a drag.  And yet it’s so necessary.  We parents only get one shot at shaping this little being into a productive citizen of the world. Our job is to give them the tools they need to do the right things and be good people. Hopefully happy people as well. This is an awesome responsibility.  

I am fortunate enough to have a spouse (aka Bad Daddy) who backs me up when I lay down the law. This doesn’t stop the child from trying to get a different answer from the opposite parent. Guess you can’t blame a kid for trying. I can’t help but smile inside at his brutal honesty about his motives. “I asked Daddy if he would give me computer time and he asked me what did Mommy say. I didn’t want him to ask me that, I wanted him to say I could!”

So I saw this episode of a show called “Intervention”.  Not that I make a habit of watching such crapola.  But this family struck me as a perfect example of just how badly you can screw up the parenting thing if you and your partner are nowhere near the same page. The couple had 3 children. The dad was only interested in being their friend and did nothing to discipline them. The mom overcompensated to the point where the kids resented her and chose to live with dad when the couple got divorced. Dad remained clueless and also happened to be a workaholic so was never home. He gave the kids absolutely no boundaries. Can you guess where this is headed? Long story short. All three kids ended up hooked on drugs. Two of them eventually died of drug overdose in their 20s. The third kid still did not get the wakeup call about the hazards of drugs and seemed doomed to be the third victim. This is an extreme case but the message was clear. You cannot simply be their friend, you have to give them rules and enforce them. In a loving way, of course. 

Like it or not, being mean mommy is an important part of my job.  I don’t relish it but it will be worth it in the end.

The Librarian

Single Friends

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

I’m a mom, I think by now that goes without saying.  I am also married to a wonderful man, in fact, we just celebrated 6 years of wedded bliss this past Sunday.  We love to entertain and host parties, which usually consists of our married friends, not all of them have children, but most do have significant others.  I do miss one thing about these parties/get-togethers… my single friends.

Yes, I am 34, married and I have single friends.  Some of them over 10 years younger than me!  Why are my single friends so important to me?  Let me explain.  As a mom, sometimes you get a little relaxed.  You know what I’m talking about, maybe you’ve worn your hair back in a ponytail for over a week, the t-shirt stained with baby spit-up seems to be your daily uniform and your average conversation always seems to come full circle back to your kids.  I live in that reality everyday, and while I love my children and my family, it can get a bit, well… monotonous.

Now, my single friends on the other hand are on the prowl.  They keep their bodies tight,  their clothes oh so fashionable, and they could care less about children.  They don’t truly care whether or not little C is behind in his speech, or if Big E is doing well on his transition between elementary school and Junior High.  And to be honest, I find it very refreshing and humbling to be around people like that.  I so enjoy my nights out with my single friends.  It keeps me on my toes, I make sure I have the trendy outfit so I don’t stick out like a sore thumb and scream that I’m the married mom of the group.  It makes me remember to wax my eyebrows so that it doesn’t look like I have those black fuzzy caterpillars growing above my eyes, to cover the gray hair that started back when I was 25 and to dust off the cute high heels I once used to wear to show off my butt.  In a nutshell, it keep me on my game, which essentially keeps my husband a happy man.

I think every mom needs single friends.  And I’m not talking about the single, stay home and love their cats single girl, I’m talking about the single, hot, friday club going friends that keep you young and in-tune of what is cool.  I am pretty hip to begin with, and maintaining my friendship with my single friends keeps me there.  Just because they’re single doesn’t mean when you go out with them you need to be worried about other guys.  A good friend knows your taken and wont make you feel uncomfortable.  I have the best single friends in the world, and to be honest… I just might be sad when they get snatched up and hitched!

So lets all raise a martini glass and say cheers to those friends that are NOT plus one.

The Photo Addict

Rambling Thoughts

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

What’s up with the few (ahem) gray hairs standing at attention every time I get out of the shower? I am trying to resist putting chemicals in my hair but they are not helping!  This is perhaps the one and only time I’ve ever wished to be a natural blonde.  I mean, it’s got to be less noticeable if you are blonde than if you have dark hair, right?

Why does it take me so long to get anywhere these days? Like the Scriv, I’ve only got one child.

I swear I was never so absent-minded before I had a child. Does this wear off ever?  I always start with the best of intentions, organizing my day and getting everything I’ll need ready. Yet somehow when I get to the place where I’m going to return something, I inevitably neglect to bring that very something. Or I lose the coupon I so carefully printed off the web that morning that was the reason for me visiting that particular store. Twice I’ve forgotten to take my child’s mitt to t-ball practice. And I never seem to have whatever club card I need. I try not to switch purses much for this very reason!

Where did my 4-year-old learn how to charm me into giving him what he wants? He makes things sound so reasonable.  “How about if you just let me spend a little while on the computer and then when you tell me it’s time to get off and do something else, I’ll do it right away AND I’ll eat that fruit.  Does that sound good, Mommy?”  Aha.  Wait, what did I agree to?  I know darn well he’s probably fibbing.

Ugh.  Bedtime.  Another typical battle with a boy who hates to fall asleep.  “No, I will NOT close my eyes because I am NOT sleepy!”  Snore.

Napping at Disneyland

Disneyland - One of the few places my boy still naps

I used to like Star Wars until I was forced to talk about it twenty-five times a day.  “Do you like the part when Anakin Skywalker turns into Darth Vader?  Did you know that Luke and Leia are brother and sister and Darth Vader is their father?  Did you know that, Mommy?  Anakin used to be good but then he turned to the dark side…”  Thanks, Daddy.  Couldn’t you have waited until he was older?  I have to confess I kind of miss the Wiggles.

Okay, I force myself to go to the gym for about an hour at a time and it does feel good to have some energy and stay trim BUT I still don’t love to exercise and there are these super toned women (moms even) taking several classes a day plus gym time that seem to eat it up. Is there something wrong with me or is it them? And forget about the dieting part. There are simply some things I won’t give up unless the doctor says so.

Why does every other kid seem to love veggies but mine? Are these moms lying to me? And how about the moms who say the kid potty-trained herself in 3 days at age 2? Or the ones whose preschoolers take long naps willingly, go to bed on time AND remain in their own bed every night?  Did I miss something? 

Ah well, here’s something to brag about. My son taught himself to write at 3. Ha. No joke. He loves letters/words. TAKE THAT, MAMAS OF VEGGIE EATERS AND GOOD SLEEPERS!  Who cares if he took 4 ½ years to potty train?  He can write his own random thoughts.  Take today’s tidbit.  “I make chairs”.  Brilliant, eh? (I just got back from Canada, can you tell?)

The Librarian