Raise Strong, Independent Daughters AND Mothers

I am the product of many strong, brave women throughout history. Women no one ever knew toiled day in and out at the most mundane of tasks to get their daughters just that much ahead in life, only to have the pattern repeat for a few centuries more.

Women with names we now laud stepped from the shoulders of those mothers to stand for rights, demand votes, insist on admission to colleges and professions, and to study and alter laws once named ‘fair.’

Although ignorant of the nameless women of history, I am not without appreciation for the starting position they gave me. I only ever felt encouraged to do whatever I set my mind to as a child; encouraged to be myself; encouraged to do anything or dress any way or play any games I wanted to.

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And, for a while, I could do whatever a boy could do. I wanted to, since I have never been much into dress up or celebrity gossip. I determined to live for myself, alone and independent. I wasn’t afraid of snakes and could open jars; I could do anything.

I thought that teaching girls to have limitless goals was a great idea… until I became a mother.

It’s no secret that I didn’t want to be a mother. If it is, then you’ve missed the name of this blog and a few, key blog posts. To clarify: I’m not mad that I’m a mother. I don’t feel the desire to leave my children in a basket on a porch. Not really. I simply did not ever plan to be just a mother and looked/look down on the profession.

I’ve not quite pinned down the reasons for my dissatisfaction yet; otherwise, I’d probably not keep writing. Recently, however, I have resonated with the idea that motherhood disappointed me because of that ‘girl power’ upbringing.

-I was told I could be a doctor and had the intellect for it.

-When I said I wanted to be President of the United States of America, teachers and school counselors cheered.

-At college meetings, no one batted an eye when I registered for engineering and science programs.

-I remember conversations with professors, guidance counselors, neighbors, friends, and family where, when asked about my future, they never mentioned motherhood.

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HOWEVER, life changed. All my goals and plans went out the window. The determined spinster that was me fell in love in high school, married after a semester at college, and started producing babies within a few years after that. No matter, right?

-With what was left of my brain, I told myself I could still do medical school.

-I didn’t actually want to be POTUS; politics were more complicated than people told children.

-I could take a break from engineering courses and finish them up after the kids grew a little.

-Motherhood wasn’t that bad. (Female) people did it all the time.

Suffice to say, I was a teensy bit unprepared for the emotional and mental car crash of stay-at-home motherhood after a young marriage and fairly young pregnancy. I was unprepared for a fairly young servitude of diapers, schedules, and (above all) the whims of my offspring.

I think I’d set aside motherhood as a contingency plan, or maybe as an idea that it would “probably happen.” I had not realized how much of a lifetime commitment the profession was, particularly if one has difficult children. Maybe, like my ultimate life goal of never doing chores, I was simply ignorant.

Or, maybe, we’ve shifted too far away from encouraging what every woman used to aspire to.

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I know the future is brighter for females. I am so happy that we can gain entry and employment to nearly everywhere. I definitely appreciate not being talked down to when I converse with a doctor or a mechanic. As I said earlier, I loved feeling free to do anything.

But I’m afraid that we’ve killed motherhood.

I don’t think I would have minded more sewing lessons in school. What about cooking and cleaning courses? Scheduling? Budgeting? Basic interpersonal marriage counseling? -All good. Overall, though, what we’re really missing is the expectation of families and the support needed to make them work.

Where once there were mother’s coffee groups and communal play areas of apartments, there is social media and day care. Church classes and community events have been replaced with atheism, apathy, and selfishness. People lock their doors, install security systems, and watch any visitors -even their own next-door neighbors- through door cameras.

When I ask my neighbors with daughters about their children’s futures, they do not list family production. It is always college, discovering themselves, and changing the world. Talking to the girls themselves produces a similar answer.

Can’t we have strong females and good mothers? Well-adjusted parents who feel they have societal support? Good children who are raised by responsible and loving parents? Mom groups? Community events that want children around?

Being a mom sucks. I know. But, the only way to change the world is the same way our female progenitors did: raising children for the future.

 

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Weekly Round-up:

Sunday, April 14: “Religion in the Home,” a post about religion in the home.

Monday, April 15: Really proud of my poem, “A House(work) at War.”

Tuesday, April 16: Shared a quote by Ray Romano.

Wednesday, April 17: Offered a Food Tip.

Thursday, April 18: “Reasoning with a Toddler,” a quick thought about unreasonable toddlers.

Friday, April 19: Felt inspired to share some vacation tips with “10 Tips for When You’re Crazy Enough to Vacation with Kids.”

Saturday, April 20: Shared Feeling‘s encouraging tweet.

Sunday, April 21: Happy Easter!

 

Photo Credits:
Kenny Krosky
Eye for Ebony
Zac Durant

Food Tip 2

My children love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s their standard fare for school lunches and snacks.

They are also in charge of making said lunches each morning. In order to help the process run smoothly, I keep all the materials they need within easy reach. In order to help me not have a lot of mess to clean up afterwards, I opt for plastics.

Use plastics!

I’m not referring to BPA-free, recycled, overpriced sandwich and snack containers, either -though we do happen to have those. I refer to the jars of jam and peanut butter.

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I recall a time in my childhood when my mother was bringing the groceries in from the car. I wanted to help. I grabbed a brown paper sack and began the long walk across our cement garage… only to have the edge of the bag rip in my hands. *CRASH!* It turned out that my bag had our newly-purchased jar of peanut butter in the bottom. Yes, it was good that the mess was contained. Yes, it was a waste of money and groceries because glass permeated the contents of the bag.

So stick with plastics! Save the world and your sanity and enjoy delicious sandwiches in the process.

Behavioral Issues? I’ll Take One for Now, Please

My boys are all …fun in their own ways. Torn between delusion and reality; I often decide that, despite reassurances of similar children, other families do not enjoy quite the smattering of personality challenges I do in raising mine.

Only my second son has been officially diagnosed with anything. That was a result of his school planner in first grade. The notes from his teacher began innocently enough: Had some difficulty when he was asked to sit and do his work, for example. By December, however, each week had a major incident or even two. Threw a chair was one. Tried to bite another student was another.

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That was four years ago, so some of the specifics are still repressed memories for me.

Threatened litigation by another parent was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Through an answer to a prayer, a cancellation made it so I was immediately seen by a new pediatrician. The doctor gave me the education and (eventually) the medication we needed. He has been wonderful.

I am not a fan of diagnosing misbehaving children nor of doping them up. My husband is even less so, which is still a sore issue regarding Boy #2. For the sake of keeping this shorter than a textbook, I have our son where he is with what he is taking because it works and he needs it. He takes a pill known as Straterra, and is now on a fairly low dose.

Every year we have a reevaluation with the doctor to discuss whether the medication is affecting anything. It is, in about a 95% positive way. Every summer we try not taking the pill, at my son’s request. Our record is three weeks.

At that point, I am reduced to constant babysitting. Every social interaction needs moderation and ends in meltdown.

Me: Now, remember: we can’t sit on your brother’s head.

Him: You never tell him not to sit on me!

I can tell he’s approaching puberty because he used to tear up and run screaming from the room. Now he clams up and gives me short little answers that prove he’s withdrawing and repressing on his own. *Sigh*

On more humorous notes, the lucid parts of his personality are more apparent during sober times. So is his forgetfulness. All day he asks me where he left his book or his glasses or his brain -okay, not literally his brain. Even on medication I tell him he’ll need a personal assistant as an adult to remind him to put on pants.

Even on medication he is himself and still has the same challenges. What makes medical intervention and therapy crucial is The Point of Meltdown. As a young child, entering meltdown meant I had to physically carry him to a re-direction point (often outside) until he burned through his feelings. It meant his telling me he did not hit a person whom I saw him hit, and getting fixated on how I hated him for forcing him to apologize.

I wrote a glib snippet last week about people wanting a silver bullet or a cure-all for behavioral issues. Wouldn’t that be nice; right?

The truth is that there is a cure-all, and it is love.

The Number One thing I’ve had to learn as my son’s mother is to show him I love him in an over-the-top, but genuine fashion. When he is being a mean jerk, telling me that he does wish he’d mortally wound his older brother, that’s the time I need to say, “I love you so much.” When he is hiding under the table and yelling about whatever ticked him off and that I never care, that’s when I start tickling his back and talking about how much he means to me.

Tickling his back and neck are his weakness, besides the love. Maybe your son or daughter has an Achilles’ Heel like that, too.

Life is not easy with a difficult child or four, but it is what it is. I’ve tried the Hide and Resent It approach; it’s not very effective. With patience, love, and lots of chocolate, taking it one day at a time is the best way to go.

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Silver Bullet

My second son has behavioral issues. Sometimes teachers or other adults ask me ‘what works’ with him.

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Don’t you think, if I knew, I’d be spraying that magic solution all over the place?!