Mommy 4-1-1

Mommies 4 Mommies: What We Wish We’d Known

Who Are We To Judge? Friday, September 5, 2008

Filed under: Single Mommas — Heather @ Desperately Seeking Sanity @ 6:41 pm
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As a single mother, I often feel as if I’m being judged moreso than the average parent.

Are they really judging?  That’s a question that I can’t answer honestly, but it’s how I feel.

And since the recent announcement of McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, she’s being judged, too, but not for her being a single parent, but for having a career and a family.

As a single mother, I don’t have a choice.  I HAVE to have a career.  Child support will not support me.  And kids? I’m sure you’re aware.  They are expensive.

Palin has fallen under attack in just a week over her abilities as a mother and a politician.  Politics aside, let’s talk about her parenting.

Is she a bad mother because her teenage daughter is pregnant?

Is she a bad mother because she was back in the office just a few days after giving birth?

Is she a bad mother because she’s chosen to put her family in the spotlight?

What makes someone a bad mother?

Am I am bad mother because I chose to move my children to a city where they knew no one to further my career?

Am I a bad mother because I leave my children with a friend while I travel for business?

Am I a bad mother because I miss my son’s football games because I have to work?

Is she a bad mother?

Am I a bad mother?

Mrs. Fussypants said it best yesterday on Twitter when she stated, “Yep, I do like Palin. Do I agree with everything anyone does? No. I’m not OK with all MY mom choices. :)”

She’s DEAD ON.

We aren’t perfect parents.  None of us are.  Some of us like to appear to others as if we are, but deep down, we know.  We doubt.  We question.

Even Mary and Joseph lost Jesus.  Did you know that?  And if the parents of the Messiah lost their child, why do we think that we can be perfect parents?

It’s time to stop attacking her as a mother.  If you want to attack her views, her platform, her choices in political office, have at it.  That’s what’s supposed to be important in an election, not the way you raise your children.

As she stated in her nomination acceptance speech, her family is like all the other families in America.  They have their ups and their downs.  Just like you and me.

Let’s not forget that before she is the Governor of Alaska, before she is the Republican VP Nominee, she is a mother.  An imperfect mother, just like you and me.

Before passing judgement on her, ask yourself this question, If you were running for political office, what would the critics say about you?

Heather Jacobson is a single mom to Matthew, 11, and Samara, 9.  She’s wading through life in search of sanity in any form and blogs about it at Desperately Seeking Sanity.

 

The Art of Juggling Thursday, September 4, 2008

Filed under: New Mommas — B @ 12:30 pm

“Looks like you should have been more careful what you asked for.”

I looked at the woman with an obviously confused look on my face because she felt the need to clarify that I got exactly what I asked for in my two kids under the age of 9 months.  What I wanted to say to her was mind your own business, but said something more along the lines of, “After what I went through to finally get these two, I’d have taken twice this.” And it’s true.  I did get what I asked for.  Kids.  But what it took was a long time, some tears, a whole lot of pain, and finally the reward.

Being a mother takes skills of all kinds but I never realized that juggling would be one of them.  Toss a baby or two in the air.  Give them company in the form of naps, baths and feedings.  Don’t forget your other duties of cooking, cleaning and that never-ending pile of laundry.  Didn’t you once have hobbies?  Working out, reading, or whatever your gig was?  When it all comes raining down, what will you be able to catch?

I have learned that mothers dread having their kids too close together.  Not because it was my dread but because women seem to openly share their thoughts on my situation.  Either they fear the insanity of it or they fear the inability to catch the right things when they are coming down.  It is a balancing act with one or twelve, old or young, and I’m not sure they understand that.

Recently, I was chatting it up with a couple of women.  The first was a couple of months ago and the lady I was visiting with was due just behind me and our bellies were showing and we were doing our best to be radiant and look brilliant.  I’m sure we leaned more to the side of tired than radiant, but we tried.  We stood watching her little guy while my daughter was with daddy when suddenly she spouted, with tears in her eyes, “I just don’t know how I’ll do it when I have a newborn and an 18 month old who wants so much attention.”  And from there she heaped her fears out in front of us and tossed in a couple insecurities just to be safe.

A couple months later, with less of a belly and two babes, I visited with a woman who had a 20 month old and a one month old.  Our babies had only entered the world a few days apart and I asked her how she was doing.  In about 30 seconds, I learned she had yet to be alone with her two children.  For a month she had the constant companionship of her husband, mother, mother-in-law, or some sibling.  She’d been living in a fantasy world for a month where she didn’t have to do anything for two kids and was quickly going to have to face life with two kids alone in an apartment because she was going home.  You could smell the fear.  Me, I never came up.  I didn’t mind.  I wouldn’t have known what to say to her anyways.

Both times I went home to dump on my husband the annoyance I felt at being used as a dumping ground.  Yes, I said the right things at the time and reassured these mothers, but I didn’t get why they were looking for comfort from a woman who has (or was going to have) a newborn and a seven month old.  What could I say to them?  I didn’t fear the same way they did but I also didn’t feel that it was my place to comfort them with soft words when I wasn’t going to have the gift of having my kids 18-20 months apart and I wasn’t complaining about it.

Accompany those talks with women who see and comment on what I have for company each and every day of my life and they balk at my ability to stay sane.  Mostly I get asked, “How are you doing?” with an inflection that hints that I should be breaking down into tears and confessing that I just can’t handle it.  They are shocked to hear that not only does my husband come home to a wife and two kids every day (yes, he does a head count) but that we are having fun.  My husband was back at work shortly after the birth of our son and I never had someone other than him enter the house to help out.  I pack up two kids and go to the park, walk a half hour to and from the local library, go to the mall or the zoo, and even go out to visit a friend.

There are days I hold two babies who both want and need the loves.  It is true that things don’t always go smoothly.  But when I toss two babies into the air, baths, reading stories, cooking and cleaning, and the other good things that come with my life, I’ve been able to catch the important things.  Two babies.  At times, other things get dropped only to be picked up, dusted off, and thrown back up in the air. But I’ve learned I am capable, if for no other reason than because I believe I am.

 

Motherly Advice

Filed under: New Mommas,Single Mommas — B @ 12:21 pm

It seems that advice, good and bad, are impossible to miss when you are about to have a child, or if you have little ones.  I’ve been offered a plethora of opinions on what I must or must not do with my children and I have to say that I leave way more than I take.  Should we put the baby to bed awake or rock the baby to sleep?  And does it really matter?

Interestingly enough, I got two pieces of great advice along the road that I value greatly and think are worth passing on in case anyone else can use them along the way.  They didn’t come in the words of, “I think you should _____” or anything like that.  Both were simply comments made in passing by women I respected and whose opinion I valued.  Neither of them know I stole these great gems that I will share with you.  Remember, this is a take or leave it program.  If you think it will work for you try it out, if not, leave it behind.

The first piece of advice came from the voice of a friend.  Being a single mom of four young children, she found herself needing to stay calm in situations she typically could explode in.  She found such an aid in the push of a button. 

When her kids got into something they shouldn’t, she’d stop, grab her camera, and snap a few pictures.  Not only did it give her time to cool down and look at the situation differently, but she caught some grand candid moments she otherwise would have left behind.

Take the time that her youngest got into the flour and sugar bins.  He dumped them both out into the corner bottom cupboard and crawled in himself wearing nothing but a diaper.  Being that he had just finished playing in the bathroom he was covered in a nice white paste. 

Or the time she went to the back yard and found her daughter hauling buckets of dirt from their front yard and adding it to the fishpond so she could make sand castles.  She was knee deep in mud and working away. 

She caught another son in the middle of the kitchen table with a nearly full four-liter jug of milk around him and cascading off the sides of the table.  Floating on top was the contents of a box of Cheerios. 

Those pictures and moments were priceless and my friend was able to catch them and laugh instead of react to her children.  Keeping her calm in those situations has made her a better mother in my eyes.

The second lady I stole advice from is someone I’ve known through a friend for some time, but have always thought her to be an amazing lady.  She made a comment in passing one girls night about how she didn’t do any housework after the kids were in bed.  This obviously shocked every mother present since she had three kids and they all knew and understood the fundamental fact that the work never ceases with even one.  All ears, the ladies asked her to explain herself.

Her thinking is that she works all day every day and when the final kid is down for the night it is her time to do something she wants.  Watch a movie, take a bath, walk on the treadmill, or any number of hobbies she had.  She stated simply that if she did nothing but work from the moment she woke until she hit the sack exhausted, she’d be a less happy mother and enjoy her kids less.  During naps and quiet times she goes to town and gets what she needs done around the house so she can enjoy her kids, and dive into her own time when they were down for the night.

These brilliant women and mothers gave me two of the greatest pieces of advice without even knowing they were doing it.  I am a better mother because I follow my kids around with the camera, even though they aren’t old enough to really get into anything yet, and because I take time out for myself. 

After all, who cares if I swaddle left over right or right over left.  It also doesn’t matter if I throw pinks in with the darks now and then.

 

Being married sometimes isn’t any different… Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Filed under: Single Mommas — Heather @ Desperately Seeking Sanity @ 6:27 pm

I’ve stated to many that I’ve been a single parent for 8 years now.  It’s easy for me to know how long, as we separated on our thrid wedding anniversary which was just five days after our daughter’s first birthday.

Happy times, I tell ya.  Most people at that time would be purchasing something leather if they are into the traditional anniversary gifts or crystal/glass if they were more contemporary.

Not me.  I was in a tailspin trying to figure out how I was going to make it on my own making a mere $18,000 a year.

While the decision that day, August 30th, was his, I had plans of leaving long before that.  I was tired of what was going on and I was tired of doing it all myself anyway.  I was young, at just 22.  I had a jaded view of what marriage was supposed to be like.  In hindsight, I probably wansn’t any better of a wife to him than he was a husband to me.

The only difference between being divorced and being married, for me, was the second income that I lost.  The second income that was our primary income.  Yes, I worked.  Like I said, I made $18,000 a year, but my job was the stable job, the 9-5 job, the job that provided the insurance.

We made enough to live.  We spent more than we should’ve and as with the majority of marriages, money was our biggest obstacle as we had varying ideas of how it should be spent.

My plan was to stick it out until Samara was in school, four years in the future.  I was going to save money so that when it happened, I would have a nest egg to get started.  Three months after I had made my mind up, it was over.

I have a very dear friend who is married with three children, however, I often refer to her as one of my single mother friends.  Her husband provides little to no support for the children or for her and she’s working a minimum wage, part time job in which she can take her preschooler because he doesn’t want to put the child in day care.

My friend is enslaved to this man, the man that she is supposed to love, honor, cherish, and obey.  The cherishing, honoring, and love left a long time ago, and while he still expects her to obey, she’s lost any desire to even look at the man, let alone obey him.

I can’t say that I blame her.

I try to help her out the best way that I can.  I see her three children, ages 16, 14, and 4 as my own.  I’m their “adopted” aunt and would go to the ends of the earth for them.

It gets sticky because her husband was my “friend” first in that I met him at a church that I was visiting and he was very nice and welcoming to me in my time of trials.  Eventually, I became very good friends with the family and was clueless to the behind closed door happenings.

As we got closer it all came out and he is nothing to me, or anyone else, for that matter, as he is to her.

Tonight, I had it.  She called me and asked me to pick up her children and deliver them to church.  It’s not really a big deal.  No, they aren’t on the way, but they aren’t too far out of the way, either.

When I got there, he was in the shower.  I found it odd that he didn’t bring the kids, so I called and asked her.

He was too tired and refused to bring them.

If the kids didn’t love to come to church, if they didn’t have all their friends there, I supposed that wouldn’t be such a huge deal.  But they wanted to be there and it’s not like she asked him to take them to a party or to the park.  She asked him to bring them to CHURCH which is two miles away.

So I went to get them.  And I was mad.

Rarely do I get on my high horse about all the things that I have to do as a single parent, but it was a busy day for me.  I had to stop work a little early, get my kids ready early, and drive over there to get them.  Again, it wasn’t that I was doing it more so the fact that he knows that she has friends that will do this for her if he doesn’t “feel” like it.

As we sat in church tonight, as I again prayed for God to take the desires of a husband away if he had no intention of me remarrying, I was reminded that a husband is a title.  It’s what you are, on paper, if you chose to marry a woman.

I don’t want just a husband.  I want someone who is going to love me, be there for me as I am for him.  I want someone who puts his family first and sacrifices for us, just like we would do for him.

It doesn’t matter how much money we make, the cars we drive, or the neighborhood that we live in.  All of those items are inconsequential.  What matters is that we are a team.

For better or for worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health… til death do us part.

Do I still hope that one day I’ll speak those words in front of my loved ones and life partner?  You bet.

But I’m going to stick to my standards because I refuse to lower mine so that someone else can raise theirs.

Heather Jacobson is a single mom to Matthew, 11, and Samara, 9.  She’s wading through life in search of sanity in any form and blogs about it at Desperately Seeking Sanity.