Wine, Judgment and Motherhood

Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers tweeted her latest post and when I read it, all I could do was shake my head. Seems that ABC’s Good Morning America featured this piece and well as you can imagine it got folks to talking. In case you don’t feel like clicking or can’t click the piece was on the growing increase of moms getting together with fellow moms and their kids and well having an adult beverage in their time together. Really? This is newsworthy?

I have a confession. I am a mom, hell I have been one for exactly nineteen and a half years and well I like to have adult beverages. In fact there are many evenings that frankly after I get the 6 year old down for the night that the Spousal Unit and I relax with a bottle of two buck chuck or even some quality wine. See, when we signed on to become parents we did not sign on to stop being adults who well do adult things.

However based off the fact that from time to time I have been known to use my social media while relaxing and sipping my wine, I have actually had a few moms online accuse me of well, being unmotherly…my crime? Drinking wine. Now I admit I thought maybe these gals were just a tad uptight (see that wine can snatch that bug out the ass) but after reading a few pieces on the subject of moms having a drink, it seems somewhere along the line in uber parenting of the 2000’s many of us have missed the memo that motherhood does not mean you stop being an adult.
Obviously if you need that drink or its becoming a clutch, it’s time to step back and evaluate the situation. Also there should be no need to state the obvious that if you are getting blitzed out of your mind on a daily basis well that too is bad. That said, what is wrong with a few moms getting together while the kiddos play? Most play dates last several hours and if food is consumed and mom is only having a glass of wine for most folks in no way will their judgment be impaired. Now I know drinking and driving is an issue but for folks that can walk home or get a ride home, I see no harm. Frankly if the idea is that moms can’t effectively parent while impaired anyway, let’s talk sleep deprivation. Seriously, in 6 years of parenting the girl child, sleep deprivation screwed with my abilities far more than any glass of wine. I did not start sleeping full nights until she was damn near 4! Only in the past year is my body finally in a place where my mind feels clear because I am well rested.

Back in the days of yesteryear both the Spousal Unit and I remember our own mothers getting together with friends and chatting for hours and adult beverages being consumed. Hell, I grew up in an extended family that had many drinkers, some had drinking problems but many did not. One look at a show like Mad Men and you see the days of yesteryear and guess what Mamas drank. Frankly as women when we make judgments on what mothers should or should not do we are no better than the patriarchy that tries to hold us down by putting us in predetermined boxes of what womanhood and motherhood should or should not look like.

In the end it’s about personal choice, if you can’t drink that’s fine but to judge other women/mothers that do, well it’s not right and in the end it’s just another piece of the Mommy Wars that divide rather than bring is together.

As for me, let me get my Merlot!

Mama don’t sweat it!

Yesterday I spent the most perfect day with my son. When I talk about my kids, often it is my almost six year old girl. After all, as a young child who is constantly in motion, she is the one who gets most of my attention. My son though is often what I think of as my experiment child and I mean that with all love. Born when I was only 19, back in the early 1990’s long before Google and internet were part of the common vernacular, I can say I did not obsessively parent him.

To be honest by the standards of mothering today, one might say I was a questionable mother. He was not breast fed, I used disposable diapers, I practiced the evil cry it out method and yes, I spanked him (recently I found myself apologizing for spanking him to which he laughed and said Ma, forget about it). Looking at how his sister almost 14 years younger is currently being raised, there are a lot of days I am racked with bad Mama Guilt. Then I remind myself that in all fairness I was barely an adult.

My son came home a few weeks ago after completing his first year of college and since coming home there are times when I look at him and my eyes just water in amazement at what a fine young man he has become. Despite the mistakes I have made in the past 19 years, the mistakes that keep me up at night, the one constant since he became earth side is love. I did not plan on becoming a mother, I was a rather ambivalent mother at times but I always loved him. My village was dysfunctional at times but even within that village our love for him was evident and yesterday as we spent the day and evening together in Boston, I realized that all the love he received despite many mistakes along the way has played a chief role in shaping and molding him

Yesterday we took a train into Boston and caught a concert and from the time we boarded the train and throughout our journey, I found myself marveling at how well rounded he has become. Of course a year of college changes a kid, but in the past year I have seen him become more passionate, switching majors from political science to philosophy, I have seen him grow in convictions such as his vegetarianism. I have found myself even surprised when he has sought out my Dad who I freely admit I have at times a rather tenuous relationship with

Last night we sat in Quincy Market him eating his tofu and veggie fried rice and I with my gyros and I sat just wondering how the hell did I get this kid? By all accounts as a high school dropout who was technically a teen mom at 19, the statistics say my kid should be a fuck up instead if I had been half as confident in myself at his age I can only imagine where I might be. Yet this is the child who inspired me to better myself, who recently said he understood the choices I made in going back to school when he first went to live with his Dad so I could better myself and therefore his life.

Many of the fellow Moms I encounter both off line and online have younger kids and in today’s hyper parenting world it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to parent “correctly”. Yet I have become in recent days more convinced that it does not matter what parenting philosophy we follow, the markers that we often use to divide ourselves from those other moms are meaningless. What matters most is that we give our babies and kids pure love even when we are messy people, kids see through bullshit. Instead we give our honest and real selves and this is what shapes our kids. In the past six years with my youngest I spent a lot of time trying to be the” right” type of parent yet in the time I have spent recently with my son, I see clearly that frankly none of that matters. My son does not care about the “bad” choices I made when he was young, what does matter is my love, consistency and presence.

So to any Mom that struggles sometimes to be the “right” type of Mom, I say don’t sweat it! Be you, be messy, be authentic, and be loving. Whether you stay in the home, work out of the home, homeschool, unschool, public school, etc…in the end when our babies are grown, they rarely will care. What they do care about is our love; funny thing is in the end we learn more from them about ourselves than we can ever teach them.
So Mama don’t sweat it!

Get raggedy…tell the truth

Despite the fact that we can now communicate with one another 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and build communities with people we may never sit down with, I find myself thinking out loud are we being truthful? As a blogger who likes to read other blogs I split my time reading the mommy blogs, race based blogs and political blogs. Yet despite the fact so many of us are talking, at times I can’t help thinking some of are not being truthful. I think this tendency is greatest in Mommy land where Mommy blogs have exploded in recent years.

Hot button Mama Issues seem to be breastfeeding, healthy food, screen time and the list goes on. Yet with the exception of a handful of Mamas who freely admit that their kids spend way too much time playing on the computer or watching TV and eating foods that might make some of us cringe. Most Mamas only show us their handicrafts, their gorgeous healthy meals and basically without meaning to flame the fires of the Mama wars that’s exactly what happens. Mamas who are at home working hard feel they have to explain themselves to Mamas who works outside the home and vice versa…shit we are all working hard. Why do we need to explain ourselves to anyone? Why can we not accept that no matter how we parent, that it’s hard work and time consuming.

How many times have you sat down to catch a break with your cup of tea to check out a favorite Mama blogger only to get up feeling like a slacker? Here you were thinking you had done good by feeding your kids, taking them out to play for two hours in the snow (when you really didn’t feel like it) and then you see “that” Mama…she did all those things plus baked a pie from scratch, home-schooled her two oldest kids and made a sweater for her hubby. And she’s got the pictures to prove it!

Please understand I am not knocking any Mama but imagine how much richer things would be if that same Mama that you find yourself idolizing because she is everything you are not, admitted she suffers from insomnia. That explains why her 24 hours can pack in so much more than yours. Or better yet, that same hubby she made the sweater for snores like a pack of wild animals to the point there are days she wants to suffocate the bastard for depriving her of much needed sleep. Or that just yesterday she was so wiped out, she took her brood to McDonald’s where the kids chowed down on some McNasties because frankly she didn’t feel like cooking and that pie she showed in her blog was a guilt offering.

I think you get the point. As women we rarely let it all out and show our raggedy selves except to our nearest and dearest and frankly it needs to stop. It perpetuates myths and creates wedges because we are always trying to live up to some bar of perfection that frankly none of us have. Yes, I know that many of us choose to show only that public self and while that’s totally cool and certainly one’s choice I think when we only allow that side of us to show that suggests perfection, it can be dangerous.

By the way this is not just about fellow bloggers, I think many of us even in our relationships with others have a tendency to only share that which sounds good. Oh, we don’t want to be Debbie Downer or it feels uncomfortable. Yet older generations of women understood the value of sharing and exchanging information. For all our connections many of us are living a lonely existence despite the fact we are connected at all times. Our moms, grandmas and aunts used to have a sister circle of women they could get real with…women they could talk to without fear of judgment when they shared that the kids are driving them batty, they wanted to punch their partner for continuously leaving the toilet up or on a serious note that maybe they were going through a phase where maybe they didn’t even like their partner. Nowadays though when we have a raggedy moment we feel like we have to explain it or justify it and believe me I am quite guilty of this.

Just this past weekend, I had 4 days off and for the first time in oh…say 5 years I really cleaned my house. Don’t get me wrong, my house wasn’t a complete pit but as a woman who juggles a family and leading non-profit agency that is growing in leaps and bounds the truth is I don’t generally have an hour a week per room to clean the 10 rooms in my house. In fact I admitted on Facebook to friends that I am actually thinking of hiring a cleaning person. Let me say, that as someone who was raised working class the idea of paying someone to clean my house feels strange, hell even a little wrong. Yet despite my best efforts, deep cleaning and dusting which would make my allergies better, simply is not something I can fit on my calendar on a regular basis. Thankfully I know some great folks as most encouraged me to get the cleaning help, one buddy, a local Mama I know through my work even had someone to recommend.

That exchange though made me think about the other areas in our lives where we fear getting real and another is the area of marriage and commitment. A fellow sista blogger recently wrote a great piece on marriage and wondering what a happy marriage looks like. That too is another area where I think we hesitate to get real, many of us we go into lifetime commitment with a unreal view of what is going to happen. I wonder again how different things would be if we all had access to a circle of women to share with and to get the answers to those questions.

People who know me in real life know that my circle is small due to many reasons yet this year I have been actively working to create that circle in my life. As women I am starting to believe that if women’s circles and our energy and wisdom were valued more in society and by one another it would decrease our stressors in general and create power where many feel we have none.

PS:  I want to share a book that I recently read on the issue of women’s circles, it’s a quick read but really mind blowing.