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mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

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5 minutes of peace please!

“..She Can Do It All WITHOUT Mixing Vodka and Xanax. It’s Amazing.”

My mom called me (many months ago) on her way out of the movie theater to tell me that I HAD to see the movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It”. She told me that the main character (played by the great SJP) is a working Mom trying to juggle it all, but still thought of me (a SAHM) all the way through the movie, knowing that I would love it.

Fast forward 6 months.

Sunday afternoon: Overcast and super windy with ominous clouds looming. One of those rare days where we actually had free time at the house. My wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband had a late lunch with friends and then they were going to the local NFL franchise’s stadium to choose their season ticket seats*, so I was at home with the kids by myself for a few hours. They were occupied (I use the term VERY lightly) with the electronic babysitting squad. I mistakenly thought this would be a perfect time for a movie that no one else in my house would particularly love seeing, and I purchased ”I Don’t Know How She Does It” ON DEMAND. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did this.. I should have known that as soon as I was engaged in something enjoyable for myself, their superpowers would turn on and they would instinctively know… converging on me and circling like vultures.

I did it though. I finally watched it. Although, the one hour and 29 minute movie took me roughly 4 hours to watch beginning to end. I’m not kidding.

I have no idea how many times I had to pause it, because… let’s face it, I can’t count that high, but I do know that I had to restart the movie no less than 5 times, because those pauses lasted so long that On Demand timed out and went back to its menu. It took me so long to get through the movie that the WAPI husband had time to eat, pick out seats and get home before I finished it. He then loaded up one of the 3 little birds (who all definitely felt like Woodpeckers this day) and went to the nursery to buy mulch, returning before I was more than half way through the movie.

In a moment of frustration, I actually told the Pelican (middle child, older daughter) – with a big sigh, “It’s going to take me 14 days to watch this movie!”  This was triggered by the 643rd interruption, when she came in to tell me that she and her Dad were back and they “GOT 25 BAGS OF MULCH FOR THE YARD!” – She loves to narrate life to me. Every minute (as in, every tiny, infinitesimal, minuscule) detail of it. And yes, dear wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband, I do realize this is a trait that she got directly from me.  I love her little self and admire her passion for living a lot. Although I can’t quite comprehend the reason for her passionate excitement over how many bags of mulch they bought, and frankly I wish she would have toned the passion down for the afternoon, because it was driving me nuts. (Dear goodness, I must drive my husband nuts, too!)

Anyway, my children walked into the room to ask me a question no less than 50 times, really. It felt more like a thousand. I had to pause the movie for all sorts of things. Door bell ringing (multiple times). Phone ringing. At least 9 “I’m hungry”s.  One ball kicked hard into the window right next to my ear – which of course required me to stomp outside. Opening and closing of the back door 1200 times.. each time the blinds (that are broken and not attached to the door on the bottom) swinging back and forth, banging the door multiple times.. loud enough that I had to rewind to hear the dialogue… and on and on.

Is this the appropriate use of the word Irony? Watching a movie that is all about the struggles and challenges of motherhood (titled “I Don’t Know How She DOES It?”) – all while my children purposefully (I’m certain) try to drive me nuts. I think so.

When the yard work was finished and my husband came in and sat down next to me.. still 20 minutes left in the movie.. he comments “Why aren’t you watching this in HD?!” – I may have let an expletive slip at this point. HD?!?! What the hell? I’m just trying to hear the next line before I forget what the last one was. HD?!?! The only thing High Definition about this scenario was the constant noise that my children were making to prevent me from being able to hear the movie.. forget seeing it more clearly. (What is it about men’s obsession with high-definition? Quite frankly I’d rather him not see my wrinkles, etc. in high-definition.)

At the end of the movie, I literally stood up and did a little celebration dance – throwing my hands in the air in triumph, because quite frankly I didn’t think I was going to see the end of it. Not because I didn’t want to or because the movie was bad.. quite the contrary.. but more because I didn’t think the little Woodpeckers were going to allow me to finish it.

When I started the movie, you know, 14 days ago… I intended on writing a blog about it that concentrated only on my thoughts about the movie’s topic. What I ended up with was a blog on one of my own great motherhood struggles. Although, I’m pretty certain this topic resonates with most moms. Sometimes it feels like Woodpeckers are pecking at your head.. like you’ll never get a moment’s peace.  (BATHROOM!)

In spite of the unplanned direction the blog ended up going, I do still feel like the subject matter of the movie is worth talking about. A lot.

I’ve already established that I am waaaay behind on the viewing of this movie. Which also probably means I waaaay behind the curve in reviewing this movie and writing about its subject matter. There are probably about a thousand other mom-bloggers out there that have done this already. Here’s my two cents on it, anyway:

If you’re a stay at home mom and haven’t seen it yet, watch it (even if you have to drink espresso at 5 pm and stay up til 1 am, so you can watch it in peace after they’ve gone to sleep. Which is what I’ll do next time.).. you’ll get a glimpse into some of the issues that are different for a Working Mom than for us SAHMs. And you’ll be able to appreciate the battle that a working mom fights in the working world among men. Or at least, I did. It made me want to go put on my kids’ karate hand-pads and start swinging at certain characters in the movie.

In watching this movie, I  confirmed my notion that there are a lot more similarities than differences between the struggles of a working mom and that which I struggle with as a SAHM. Maybe more than a lot of people in this “great debate” realize, even.  Seriously, who among us doesn’t relate to the quote, “300 presentations last year, and I never messed up once.. It’s not my fault! The pregnancy did something to my brain!”  It may not be a work presentation for us SAHMs, but the mess ups are just as present in our daily lives.  And I don’t know which is worse: dropping the ball while trying to prove yourself in the world of men or dropping the ball while trying to prove your intelligence and worth among the world who sees you as nothing more than a Stepford Wife. I’d say they are both equally frustrating and humiliating. See.. same, but different. Different, but the same.  And that scene where Kate (SJP’s character) is lying in bed mentally writing her crazy child-induced-ADD-brain-List in sharpie on the ceiling?! Priceless. And so VERY me — and probably every one of you, as well.  I would bet that’s common among us all.

I felt some sort of solace in the fact that this stay at home mom could relate exactly to SJP’s character and not at all to the SAHM characters. They were stereotypical and harsh. And while I know they were only characters, behind their judgment, I recognized something of their struggle. I wish, however, that more SAHMs in real life dealt with their mom-struggles better than these SAHM characters did. I’m happy to say that the SAHMs here in my circle of friends are not at all like that. Whew!

If you’re a working mom and you watch (or have watched) the movie, know this – I know VERY few, if any, stay at home moms who are judgemental like these stereotypical ones in the film. Most that I know keep themselves so busy with projects and volunteer work that they are, in fact, just trying to juggle it all.. much like you.  Most of the SAHMs I know struggle more with their peer’s perceptions of them (and probably our self-perceptions)  than they do judging other moms..  But I do know that those judgmental moms are out there. On both sides of this debate. And that’s a shame. Maybe talking openly and honestly more will help lessen that divide that many experience between the two.

Far too often women turn their own self-doubt and guilt – or struggles – into defensive feelings that come out as anger, judgment, and even an attack on  other moms. But we never really make ourselves feel better by judging others or making them feel bad. Modern-day society makes it hard enough on women, we have to practice understanding and supporting each other more, instead of piling on. SAME TEAM!**

To quote myself in previous posts: “Just because my family’s circumstances, needs, and personalities lend themselves better to me being “at home”, doesn’t mean that is, or should be, true for every mom. I know that for a lot of women, working makes them an even better Mom (this was true of my grandmother – even back in the 1950’s and 60’s!), and I love that we all thrive in different environments.  — All Moms struggle.  It doesn’t matter what your particular “motherhood” circumstances look like:  1 kid or 10 kids. Working outside of the home or stay-at-home. Married or single. With a house keeper or a house full of dust. It doesn’t matter what your situation; if you’re a mom and you’re being honest, you struggle. With different things, maybe. But struggle still.”

And yes, Mom, you were right! I did love it!

* See?! We’re both doing a pretty good job of having friends and making time for ourselves.. so that we “both have something to bring to the relationship” as my mom says.

** I’ve said it before, but really.. we should be a united force – all Moms, no matter or work status – coming together to defeat the real enemy. The kids.  (I’m kidding.. don’t freak out!)

“My Bathroom is NOT The Visitors Welcome Center!”

Vent.

Not the one in the bathroom ceiling that is infuriatingly attached to the light you want to use, but don’t because then you have to listen to that annoying humming from the vent fan.

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Just typing this sentence makes me thankful for that third light switch in my bathroom that is devoted solely to the vent fan. And never used. — My house: also known as the land of too many useless light switches (three years in and we still have a couple of switches that do nothing. Or at least, nothing that we see.)

– Okay, sorry. My child-induced ADD just kicked in. Refocusing in 3.. 2..1 –

Back to the word of the day: Vent. As defined by Merriam Webster.com:

1vent

verb \ˈvent\

Definition of VENT

transitive verb

1 : to provide with a vent

2 c : to give often vigorous or emotional expression to <vented her frustration on her coworkers>

3 : to relieve by means of a vent <vented himself in a fiery letter to the editor>

I find it funny that the “her” example implies that she let loose on her coworkers like some sort of hormonal fit, yet “his” example implies that he wrote a logical, yet convicted letter. – Or maybe I’m overly sensitive, and my perception of the definitions say more about me than the actual examples say about our society? Maybe I need to do some self-examination on that point more in a later post, but for now, let me attempt to keep myself on topic from here on out:

The real mistake that the Webster’s people made was neglecting to put a photo of me by the word “vent” in the dictionary. Vent is one of my favorite words. Because it’s one of my favorite things to do. Ask my wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband. It drives him kind of nuts (in a loving way).  Ask my “there’s been some damage” girlfriends – burning up those venting emails for years with me. They know.  And my neighbors at the bus stop? Yep, they get it, too.

I believe in venting. I believe that when we try to pretend everything is all rainbows and sunshine (when in fact we screamed like a crazy person at our kids as we tried to get them to the bus on time), we do ourselves and other parents a dis-service. I also believe that letting it out has the same effect as a great big yoga exhale. While venting might not be as peaceful as a good long yoga session, it makes you feel better when you’re done, just the same.

So, let’s do some of it. Venting time.

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How do they do it? How do they know?

I think it was those disgusting prenatal vitamins that the doctors made me take.. Maybe they weren’t really for nutrition and healthy formation of the baby, but instead they contained some strange magical super power (or maybe kryptonite for moms) that allowed the children to develop this weird 6th sense. You know the one I’m talking about. That one.

That one that makes them come running from the next street over to ask you a question the minute you get on the phone with a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while. Never mind that you were perfectly available to answer questions for two hours, but they waited until the split second you get on the phone to decide they need you.

It’s that one that makes a sleeping baby/toddler wake up the second you sit your butt down and put that first bite of yummy food in your mouth, requiring you to get up and let the plate of food get cold.

It’s the one that sets some alarm off in their bodies and switches them to seek and destroy mode the minute you are peacefully in your bathroom with the door closed. –

Oh, how the bathroom has changed since my motherhood began. Showering? This is when they decide for the first time ever that they need to follow the house rules and ask (and it must be face to face.. never through the door) before they get that snack out of the pantry. And tomorrow, the need to bust in on my nakedness – which isn’t pretty – will be for some other equally as frustrating reason (“The phone is ringing!”, “Did you go to the grocery store today?”, “We’re out of cereal!”, “Do you know where my ipod is?”, “She came into my room!”, “He breathed out loud at me!”, etc.) But the scenario will be the same.  They will fling open the door, ask for what they want (or complain about something), get yelled at, sulkily walk out and leave the door open so all the cold air comes into my warm showering haven.  Every day. — I’ve started taking showers late at night after everyone is asleep, because oh, how I love a nice long hot peaceful shower. And that’s not gonna happen if they’re awake.  I’m fairly certain that any day now there will be some sort of metamorphosis of the super magic powers and they will add the ability to sense in their sleep that I’m in the shower (waking them from their slumber so they can bust in on my shower time).

Sitting on the toilet?  Tattle time, every time. If I go to the restroom, they go to fighting. And one or more of them ALWAYS comes tearing into the bathroom with guns blazing, yelling at me about how they have been done wrong by a sibling.  (Mind you, this means they have to open not one, but THREE closed doors.) I then yell at them.

All logic, reason and calm/consistent parenting that I have ever strived to achieve goes out the window for the entire day as soon as one of my kids busts into my bathroom. It makes me crazy, and then it makes me feel like a crappy mom for having let it get to me.

Much to my relief, I discovered that I am not the only one. Last week I had the good fortune of meeting 3 of my hilarious – and very wonderful – friends for breakfast before we broke for our “work” days (some in offices and some in our homes).  So many great topics came up – but one is particularly worth sharing.  My very favorite quote of the day came about when we were on this topic of venting the frustrations we have with our little blessings. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the passion with which my friend delivered the line: “I just want to yell at them, ‘MY BATHROOM IS NOT THE VISITORS/WELCOME CENTER!!! I’M NAKED! GET OUT!’ ” – in reference to the fact that her children bust into the bathroom each time she’s in there getting dressed.

There’s comfort in venting our own frustrations.. and there’s comfort in hearing a friend vent about the same feelings/experiences you have.  When I heard her share her bathroom frustrations, I wanted to stand up in my chair and scream, “YES!!! ME TOO!! WOOHOO!! I’M NOT THE LONE CRAZY MOM!”  The truth is, I always default to the idea that if I’m experiencing it behind the closed (but never for long) doors in my house, most other motherhoods probably look (and sound) fairly similar. Whether they like to publicly admit it or not.

I have no idea how to strip the kids of their kryptonite-like superpower and keep them out of my bathroom (and phone calls, etc.), but I do know that since my friend’s bathroom confession, I have been much more apt to laugh at the visual of the “Welcome Center” sign that pops into my head than I am to yell at them when they bust into the bathroom. So that’s something.

So, vent it out, and just maybe it will help flip that light switch inside of you, so things become funny instead of completely frustrating.

**And as a bit of a post script, I think I just figured it out!! My bathroom is the only one in the house that has a separate switch for the fan! THAT must be why everyone always wants to be in there!

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