I Have Kids, But I’m Not A Mom

 

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Who has time for this? Not me!

I have two kids, but I’m not a mom.

Don’t get me wrong. I love them to pieces. Like, I could sit there and sniff their heads for days love them. But I’m not a mom.

I strive hard to parent my two kids to the best of my ability, and to help mold them into thoughtful, caring little people. But I’m still not a mom.

Let me explain. I don’t define myself as a mother. I’m a person who loves to write. Who has a career I find fulfilling. Who chose to have children. Who loves her family beyond measure. Who has a strange addiction to bleu cheese. Who is way too into 90s R&B. Who screws up. All. The. Time.

I’m a person who has goals and dreams of my own beyond children.

My children are a huge part of my life, but they’re not my life. Admitting our children are not the center of our universe is hard to do in the society we have created, especially for women who are mothers. Society does not place the same expectation on men as fathers.

We as mothers are expected by society to be “mom” all the time. To sacrifice every comfort and indulgence in the interest of our children. To bake flawless goodies for school bake sales. To throw amazing birthday parties every year for each of our kids with Pinterest-perfect decor.Have a job? No matter! Stay up as late as you need to to finish those cupcakes. Of course, if being “super mom” makes you happy, and you like defining yourself as a mother, that is your respectable choice and right. But being defined as “Mom” is not for all of us.

Lets be honest. The only truly acceptable Facebook status updates for women who are mothers are professional-quality photos of our kids and grateful musings full of “#blessed”. And make sure in any and all photos your children have carefully coordinated outfits that appear to be handmade.

Our Facebook feeds are full of the status updates that are the most popular, and kid pictures are most popular. Just try to post anything else, and watch it be ignored. We are rewarded for being mothers, and punished for trying to be anything else once we have children.

Parenting magazines geared towards women are full of time-consuming craft projects and impossible to heed advice.We don’t have time to read those magazines, let alone do half of what they suggest! A stack of wrapped parenting magazines do make a decent drink holder on a nightstand, though.

Men, regardless of whether or not they are fathers, are encouraged and expected to have interests and hobbies and ambitions of their own. To take weekend trips with friends. To join clubs. To be leaders in the workplace. It’s a bonus if men happen to be great dads, too.

I believe not making my life all about my children will benefit them in the long run. They will have a well-rounded mother they can look up to as a role model, and not only because I’m a good mom. They, in turn, will grow up  as people who don’t feel pressured to define themselves in narrow terms.

We raise our daughters to be articulate and goal-oriented. We teach them they can be anything they want to be in life. But we don’t afford ourselves the same privilege. Our parents worked hard to raise us to be the amazing, multifaceted people we are. We owe it to them to not just be mothers.

We are women who happen to be moms, and so much more.

 

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Why Our Kids Deserve Our Time Now, Not In “Just A Minute!”

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Mom! Mom! Mom! Mooooommmmmm! Look. I’m a Ninja Turtle.

“I’ll be there in just a minute!” I yell to my preschooler for the 50th time today.

He wants to show me his Lego creation. A slight variation on the one I already got up twice in the last 10 minutes to see.

I summon all the enthusiasm I can muster on a Tuesday afternoon and go look at what he built. Again. It looks like the ruins of a house that’s been in an earthquake. At least a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. One that caused massive structural damage and resulted in Lego people stuck to the crumbling roof of their house.

“It’s awesome!” I say.

See, I’ve learned it’s important to be present for our kids now, not when it’s convenient, because it’s never convenient. Even though we’re tired. Even though we’re busy. Even though there’s 100 things we’d rather do than look at a Lego house for the millionth time or watch his Ninja Turtle and dino puppet routine again.

Fighting the urge to tell my son “just a minute” is something I wrestle with everyday. Of course, there are many situations where it’s unavoidable. I’m cooking dinner and can’t leave it alone. Ha! Just kidding. I don’t cook. OK, my husband is cooking dinner and he can’t leave the water  boiling unsupervised. Or I’m in the middle of an important phone call.

Kids having to occasionally wait for our attention teaches them patience. But it’s too easy to brush them aside over and over again for our convenience. Because we’re in the middle of a TV show. Because we’re cleaning the bathrooms. Because we’re just not in the mood.

No one tells you at your baby shower when they hand you the adorably gift-wrapped onesies that kids are exhausting. They don’t say “little Katie is going to have massive poop blow-outs that will probably ruin all these precious outfits I’m giving you. And when she’s done pooping, she’s going to want all of your attention. And then more of it after that.”

No one tells you that as your kids get older, they only get more demanding of your attention.

That they often try to get your attention in the least-appealing ways possible.  Like screeching really loud. Or yelling inappropriate things. Or hitting. Of course, ignoring the more positive calls for attention just make these negative ones worse and more rampant.

No one tells you “kids are annoying”. But they are. They’re super cute and squishy, but they also grate on your nerves. Hearing “Mooooooommmmm!” over and over isn’t exactly easy listening.

It’s so tempting to tell our kids “just a minute”. But when we do that, inevitably something truly important pops up that we have to take care of. And that minute with our kids is lost forever.

Maybe we just lost the chance to see that slightly altered Lego house for the zillionth time. But maybe we missed the chance to demonstrate our support of their creativity. Maybe we lost the opportunity to have our kid legitimately beat us at Zingo and gain some much-needed self confidence. Maybe we lost the chance to snuggle and tickle and tell jokes, if even for a few minutes in between laundry loads.

Minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days. Let’s give our kids the best of our days.