Search

mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

Tag

I Don’t Know How She Does It

Hoodies and Lululemon – What We Wear is Not WHO We Are

Just a quick post to share an article I read this morning on Forbes.com.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/04/15/a-working-mom-defends-the-lululemon-stay-at-home-mother/

I LOVE the message I found in it: “We all have moments when we would gladly trade in our day for someone else’s….We each need to eliminate the caste system we have created in our heads based, in great part, on what people wear [or their job title]. We need to understand that clothing means very little. None of us lead the lives our appearance suggests.”

And just for the record, most days I would say that the biggest perk to being a SAHM for me is that I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. to shower and dress professionally for the day before battling with the kids during the morning routine (aside from not having to cover my kids on their many sick days). Then on some days.. oh how I would love to be putting on a beautifully tailored suit and pumps.. but only if the suit was made of comfy Lululemon fabric.

 

“..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!)

I Think My Mind May Be Losing to The Motherhood..

— Or maybe I’ve already lost my mind?!

So, I’m doing pretty well right now at maintaining the “mores” in my life, and I’m steadily working on my goals. The home organization projects are continuing (and being maintained), I’ve read 2 books already in 2012 (that’s a lot for me!); I have some volunteer opportunities in motion; I’m getting back in a regular exercise & yoga routine. Had a great date night with my husband and friends this weekend (lots fun and dancing!). I even managed to make (and keep) a hair appointment, and have lunch with my sister!  {Yo-God, Lunch date with my sister, and a haircut all in one day was like a mini-vacation all in 6 hours! Aaaahhh.}

The point here is that – for the time being – I’m managing to find a decent (though delicate) balance between my motherhood and the “mores” in my mind.

It’s my actual mind that I can’t seem to find. Or at least the part that remembers anything. Some recent examples of what I’m talking about:

  1.  I forgot that I had a pot of red beans cooking on the stove and burned them. Burned — As in, scorched beyond being able to salvage anything. (If you aren’t familiar with the Louisiana/Mississippi tradition of Monday Red Beans and Rice, you can find a good recipe here.)
  2. When trying to sign in for my Yo-God class (Yoga with purpose: an alternative to mind/body classes) and couldn’t find my name on the list. Turns out that the letter M – with which my last name starts – comes after the letter K. Momentary loss of alphabetical order.)
  3. I paid $20.00 for monthly fitness class, but when I logged my payment I wrote $2.00. It had to be pointed out to me by the kind lady that was standing next to me. (I guess that third zero was too much for my mind to handle.)
  4. I lost my sunglasses.. looked for them for at least 15 minutes ALL over the house, dumped out my purse, scoured the car, only to discover that I had actually put them in their case. Where they belong. And didn’t remember doing so.
  5. Forgetting that I put someone on hold to catch another line.. after hanging up the second call, the phone rings back to me and I act surprised, because I forgot that we had been on the phone in the first place.
  6. Conversations with friends have been a bit tricky lately, not due to lack of making it a priority, but more due to the fact that I  have trouble finding the right words and just blank out in the middle of a sentence while my brain tries to reach back and retrieve it.
  7. During a conversation with my husband about a potential volunteer position that would require me to give people tours, he (lovingly) giggled at me and asked if I thought I would be able to regain the ability to use complete and coherent sentences by then.

I’m sure there are many other examples (probably even better ones), but ironically, I can’t remember them. Yep. It’s bad.

I used to have a fairly high functioning brain. I was by no means MENSA – ever – but I was in the gifted program in my early school years, followed by Advanced Placement classes in high school. Although, I will readily admit that I was far too focused on social things and breezed right through school making B’s with little to no effort, so I doubt I impressed anyone as being overly intelligent at that stage in life, either. It’s a shame, really, that I didn’t use it while I had it, because it’s almost certainly gone now.

Over the last few years, I have developed a theory about why this happens. With each childbirth a piece of the brain is sucked out and a portion of the oxygen flow to the remaining brain is cut off. – So the kids did this to me, right? I seem to be on a roll lately with blaming them for things. –  The biggest hole in my “blame it on child-birth” theory is that my grandmother gave birth to 10 children, worked as a pharmacist, owned and ran her own business 7 days a week**, and still managed to speak in intelligent/coherent sentences. I’m certain there were many times in her motherhood that she “lost it”. Maybe even daily. However, when the kids were grown and on their own, and I was in the picture, she always came across as an intelligent, well-informed woman. – So, maybe by the time the kids are out on their own our brains will recover?!  At least, partially? If indeed we are able to recover some of the function in our minds when the kids are grown and gone***, then maybe I am wrong in blaming it on child-birth.

If it is a temporary state (which I hope and pray is the case), possibly the root of the problem is steeped in something else. – Perhaps, it’s overload. We’re overloaded. — Trying to remember the multitude of daily action items and planning ahead, even just the items for the kids.. well, it’s exhausting and overloading our brains.   Add on trying to fit in the “mores” into your motherhood’s massive and constant to-do list; something’s got to give. Apparently, for me, it was my ability to remember to zip my pants, call my kids by the right name, and how to spell my own.

– And have you ever noticed that the Dads, even the best and most involved of them, don’t seem to have this problem? What is that? Not fair.

I had a conversation with my husband and a friend of his along this subject a while back. We sat peacefully in the living room while all 3 kids were out and about playing with friends in the neighborhood. We were in the midst of a real, deep and philosophical conversation. It occurred to me that I almost NEVER get to have conversations like that… and moreover, that they regularly do. It also occurred to me that they were sitting there able to throw their whole mind into that conversation without another thought in the world. And that they had probably been able to think about the topics we were covering before and actually form an opinion based on something other than an initial reaction.

As for me? Not so much. I shared with them that while we are sitting and talking, my brain is also running a million other thoughts through it. It didn’t seem fair that I didn’t have the luxury of turning the rest of the world off. “Because if I did, who would be concerned with the fact that the 7 year old (who has no boundaries and very little impulse control) was running around between the neighbor’s trampoline and the pond, and I needed to be watching and listening. And where is the oldest who rode his bike down to the basketball court with friends? Should I be checking on his whereabouts? And is the third one over-staying her welcome at a friend’s house? And what activities do the kids have tomorrow that will require me to make sure that a uniform is clean? Did I sign everyone’s school planners on Friday and am I supposed to be sending anything in to school tomorrow that will need preparation? And what am I going to feed this house full of people tonight? And tomorrow is grocery day; I haven’t made a list.. do we need toilet paper…”  with each additional item that came out of my mouth their mouths fell open a little more. When I was finished with the list (can it really ever be finished?) my husband’s best friend looked at me with a bewildered expression and said, “You’re really thinking about ALL of that?! Right now? All at once?”

Yes. All of it. All the time. No wonder my brain pushes out the simple things like an insignificant little zero. And it’s this way for Moms everywhere.  (Or at least I like to think so. If it’s not, please don’t tell me.)

A little while back I was in a class at church, and the presenter was telling us about a book,  Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences by a husband and wife team. I have to admit that I have yet to actually read the book myself, so I can’t tell you what this whole “delighting in our differences” business is, but in the brief overview of the book I did gain some valuable understanding of the difference.

The premise of the book is that a man’s brain is very much like a waffle with individual boxes or compartments. In each square of the waffle is ONE and only ONE thing. (Can you imagine that, ladies?!) Each square has little walls like a waffle’s squares, so nothing can seep over into another square. Everything is compartmentalized.

They have a square for work and a square for tinkering in the garage and a square for the TV remote and a square for the house budget. They have a square for each of their emotions/feeling and a square for each of their hobbies and a square for sex (I would bet there are multiple sex squares.. maybe even, every other one), and actually even a square for nothing.

They can actually sit in their “nothing” square and think of nothing. So when they look all lost in some deep thought, and we look at them wonder what is going on in their minds, then ask and get the answer “nothing”… well, while we can’t believe that this could be true, it might actually be the case!?!  All the many times I’ve gotten my feelings hurt and felt that he didn’t want to share his feelings with me.. and all along he really COULD have been thinking about nothing?!   Huh.

On the flip side, this book’s theory maintains that us girls.. well, we have a big blob of over cooked and sticky spaghetti  in our heads. Each strand for one thing, but all intertwined and impossible to separate without tearing it all up. It’s all connected. With buttery glue. And Parmesan cheese.  And extremely difficult to separate. And I would bet there isn’t a single spaghetti noodle for “nothing”.  – The book surmises that this is why we are typically better at multi-tasking than men.  (Overview of the book found here.)

I surmise from this that the most used spaghetti strands are the ones that grow the longest/strongest and have begun to strangle the lesser used  (or lesser significant) ones.. you know the ones that remember that there are three zeros in $20.00 or that M comes after K in the alphabet.

While admittedly, I’m a huge pasta fiend, I wouldn’t mind having a little more waffle in my life – and my head. Waffles are good. Especially all drowning in syrup. (See, even waffles aren’t just waffles in a woman’s brain.)

* Please tell me I’m not wrong in my assumption that this is normal for a ~40 year old mom who is beginning mental-pause!?

** Along with my grandfather, who would tell anyone who would listen that she was the brains and the muscle behind their business. He was the smiling face behind the counter.

*** I will not be sad. I will not be sad. Repeat it with me and just maybe it will be true. I will NOT be sad.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: