Sometimes, you just want to write a post to irritate everyone.
Ahem, actually not so much.
Hence this post sitting in the queue for a bit. Then I decided to be brave and put it out there.
I love this new mom movement going around about not judging each other for the different ways we mother. LOVE IT! Primarily because I’m prone to guilt and work full time, and I appreciate you not judging me for what little bit looked like when we returned my suit to Dillard’s yesterday. I didn’t have the energy to redo her ensemble.
I am opposed to judgment.
But I wonder if this whole “no judgment” movement has given us a pass where we should be trying harder.
Here’s a couple of examples I read about or hear in speeches. Example A, I’m a busy mom so I don’t often worry about cleaning my house. I live in the moment and pride myself on sticky floors and legos everywhere because it means I spend more time with my kids than I do worrying about my house being messy. Example B, I’m a working mom so I outsource every possible mom activity I would perform if I didn’t have a career. I order cupcakes, don’t bake them. I have a housekeeper, lawn man, pool guy, tutor, sitter, personal shopper, etc.
Did I just make the entire mom population unsubscribe? Wait! Let me first disclose, my house is regularly a wreck. IN ADDITION, I have a nanny who helps clean my house. See? I’m not judging.
But here’s what got me thinking after talking to a woman who career coaches other women. Do we need to abdicate responsibility for everything? What does that teach our kids?
First thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, we have our kids clean. We clean right along with them. Each one has to make their bed in the morning and put their dirty clothes up and clean the table. In the evenings, they have to clean up the play room and unload the dishwasher and make sure their bathroom and bedrooms are tidied up. I am imperfect about this but want to teach our kids responsibility growing up. If they don’t learn it at this early age, they will struggle against the assorted responsibilities of home and work as they grow. Then we hoist our kids incapable of participating in household duties on some unsuspecting spouse.
When I married my husband, he was tidier than I was. He cooks, cleans, launders, and is entirely self-sufficient. I want clean, respectful, responsible and independent kids. House chores, and living in an environment that reflects we respect ourselves and others, help our children learn those valuable characteristics.
Let’s tackle the outsourcing. Our kids have two parents with full time, often stressful, jobs. There’s no way the kids could have done swim team (or anything) this year had we not had a nanny. She’s been with us since they were born, is like part of our family, and is a practical and financially appropriate decision for a family of five. I am sad thinking about the day we won’t have her anymore.
I do worry we career moms are taking outsourcing too far though. The woman I mentioned told me she recommends her clients outsource everything: for example, the kids will never remember you baked homemade cupcakes for their school party so just pick some up at the store. While I’m not beyond picking stuff up at the store, I beg to differ.
My kids know the time and effort I put into doing things for them. Now that they’re five, they’re in the kitchen baking with me. For the Christmas party, we made festive fruit ka-bobs with green grapes and red strawberries and white marshmallows, and they had fun helping and plating the treats for school. For grandmother’s birthday, we all baked a cake together and wrote (very poorly) her birthday message in icing. I showing them I love them by carving time out to do something for them, AND we’re getting to spend time together while they learn the basics of cooking. Now it may not be cooking for everyone – it could be artfully collaborating on a sign or mowing the grass or fixing up a car or whatever the practical task may be that gives parents time with their kids and teaches them a practical skill.
This is not about judging moms, thank heavens because I would lose, but it’s about drawing a line in the sand on the slippery slope of it being about us instead of them. Each individual mom has to decide what works for her and her family. For me, it means I don’t clean toilets or do laundry which is a huge gift most folks don’t have and which frees me up to bake those cupcakes. Maybe it’s doing laundry together as a family while you listen to silly songs. Whatever it is, it’s important to remember I became a mom for a reason. If we start outsourcing everything about being a mom, what will they remember us for?
I want to teach values of respect for our house and our things by encouraging them to clean up from a young age. I also need to remind myself that being a mom means sacrificing a lot, all the time, which means less sleep and broken necklaces and markers on the wall, but after spending years praying for these three, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.