I'm THAT mom, and I'm here for it!
Hey mama, need a drink? Me too.
As a Jew I’m commanded to judge people favorably. Always assume the best and give the benefit of the doubt. I’m generally outstanding at this.
I love me a good devil’s advocate.
But then there’s this one person, a woman, a mother, and I just CANNOT give her a break. She’s always slipping up and making mistakes and letting her kids stay up too late. What is actually her problem?!
Naturally, that woman is me.
For whatever reason, I have, what I would call, extremely strong instincts about my children. (Perhaps that reason is that I created them and grew them within my body and birthed them and now watch every moment of every day of their entire life through a magnifying glass).
Or maybe I’m meshuga. Either way…
No one has ever been allowed to place value judgments on food around, or for, my children; or force them to clean their plates; or reserve dessert for after the meal.
And then I learnt about intuitive eating.
No one has ever been allowed to hug or kiss or even high five my kids without their express permission. Offer them a sweet in exchange for the above and I’ll practically have you arrested.
And then I learned about bodily autonomy and the latest techniques to prevent sexual assaults in schools.
I’ve also always let my kids scream it out. I don’t tell them to stop crying; or that ‘this is nothing to cry over’; or ‘if you want to be sad I’ll give you something to be sad about’… Tantrums were an hourly occurrence at our house at one stage but I would always sit calmly next to my son and wait for the storm to pass. This enlisted a fair share of sideways glances when in public or company, and even the occasional (and clearly loaded): “wow, you’re SO patient with him”.
But then I learned about EQ and the value of having an emotional vocabulary and the power of a child with self-esteem.
Now, besides for massively fanning myself up here, what I’m basically trying to say is that whenever I trusted my deepest maternal instincts, I was always rewarded with total validation by science (and wonderfully resilient children KAH).
I love science. It’s fact. Solid gold empiricism. And the facts don’t care about your feelings.
Its harsh but I love it.
Then school happened.
Good freaking lord the pressure. And not on the kids but on the MOMS!
I pretty much came to the conclusion that I have no cooking clue what I’m doing. I mean, for starters, I’m over here like: I want my children to play with each other! I often tell my son: "play with your sister that’s why I made her". I don’t have biological siblings but I assume (and my husband corroborates) that there is no greater friend than a brother.
So ‘play with each other’ I say.
‘Socialise them’ say the proverbial they.
‘Stay home in the afternoons’ I say.
‘Send them on play dates’ echo the external team of moms who know better than I do.
Birthday parties are another entire chapter in and of themselves. We are blessed with a (Jewish) calendar that involves massive sessions of celebrations roughly four times a year – at least.
There’s Chanukah geld and Shalach Manos and Afikomen-prizes and Apples-dipped-in-Honey and Chinnuch Lulavim and oh my goodness I’m exhausted! (Not to mention R5000 in the red).
But still they echo: ‘RSVP by Thursday… useless plastic gifts welcome… don’t forget your going home pack…’
Don’t even get me started on the kids who make my kids, well, nuts. The kids who have good hearts. The kids who play “so beautifully” with mine (until I take a look). And I find myself saying: you cannot play with her unless I am there, or, you may not be alone with him. About toddlers! Am I losing my mind?
Cue Gene Hackman in The Birdcage circa. 1996 exclaiming: “I feel like I’m insane!”
But then there are the moments. Those moments. You know the ones mama…
Those moments when one child is asleep on your arm and the other is gently stroking your hair. I’ts silent. No one is around and nothing is happening and the world makes sense.
I recently read a poem which dissuades parents from striving for excellence. ‘Smell their hair’ the author proverbially whispers to me. Lie next to them. Laugh at their jokes. Get in the pool. Stick to them like glue.
So here I am saying outrageous things like: we don’t do arrangements, and we don’t have birthday parties, and we hang out with each other, and we censor our kids friends but we don’t censor their appetite, and I’m just kind of over here waiting for science to validate me again.
I often feel alone but I don’t think I am.
I’m that mom. Deal with it.