Monday, March 12, 2012

On Happiness {Mom-day}

Monday, March 12, 2012
I don't go to a ton of blogger events, and even when I do, I don't normally blog about them here.  It sort of feels like bragging- you know?  I realize that I happen to live in a really active blogging community and this activity is both a curse and a blessing.  There is the risk of competition and comparison- it's hard when you're a small fish in a REALLY BIG pond. :)  But the reward is that there are many opportunities to meet up with other bloggers and participate in events where you can learn new things and try new products. 

Last week I had the chance to attend a blogging event sponsored by Vicks and their new Behind the Ear thermometer.  No, I did not have to blog about it in order to go, but I was really impressed with the new thermometer and while I'll wait and hope that none of my kids gets sick and has to use it, I'm really excited that when someone does feel warm, I have a new tool to combat their illness.  Thank you Vicks for the thermometer and the wonderful event.

The real reason I'm blogging about this event is the speaker they brought in.  Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician and author.  She has written quite a few books, but the one she shared most with us was The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers.  I have only read the first few chapters, but I think she has some very interesting points.  She mentioned that in her practice she has noticed a trend over the last 10 years where the mothers who are coming in are less satisfied with their lives as mothers and much more stressed and unsure of themselves than mothers she had seen in previous years.  I am really not surprised at that.  I remember being a relatively new mother who was struggling intensely with my daughter.  She was spirited, difficult and stubborn.  Not to mention downright naughty.  She was tough, and I was overwhelmed.  I read books, magazines and watched parenting programs.  I was bombarded with advice and often those pieces of advice conflicted each other.  And most of the advice didn't feel right to me, but I didn't really know what I was doing, did I dare trust myself when all this information was telling me to do something (or ten somethings) else?   Those were a rough couple of years.  But I learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned that even though I am still learning how to be a good mother, I have instincts within me that, when I trust them, help me to be the best mother I can be.

I remember reading a parenting magazine one day and one article emphatically stated that you must do such and such a thing to make sure your children are happy and contented.  Then another article in the SAME magazine directly contradicted the previous article- stating that the exact opposite thing was true.  I threw the magazine away and cancelled my subscription. 

Now add blogging to the mix.  You can go to blog A and see a fabulous birthday party Mommy X threw for her darling 3 year old.  Then you click over to blog B and see how Mommy L makes fabulous lunches for her children every.single.day- complete with printables and homemade bread.  Next in your reader is Mommy M who is single handedly building a house and raising 7 children all on her own, using only duct tape and Goodwill finds.

You come away from your visit to blog land exhausted, overwhelmed and feeling completely useless.  You only let your kids have parties every 4 years starting when they are 8, you make your older children prepare their own lunches which mostly consist of bread and processed cheese slices with punch, crackers and a treat.  Your home is a wreck because your husband who works 12-13 hours a day is finishing the basement with the help of your father in law and only has a couple hours each week and all day Saturday to work on it, so it's taking MONTHS and everything that used to be in the basement is in your living room, kitchen, garage and any other spare corner you can cram it until the project is complete.  Plus you're pregnant with a surprise FIFTH pregnancy that has completely overwhelmed you and knocked you on your butt out of complete shock.  Oh wait, that's actually what I think, but I'm sure you can relate to at least some of those things. :)

My point is this- you  may or may not be Supreme Party Planning Mommy X, you may be like Mommy L who THRIVES on being creative in the kitchen and has carved out lunch making as her very own specialty.  You may be the clone of Mommy M whose thriftiness is innate and thrilling to her.  Or you may be something different altogether.  You may be the simply amazing Average Mommy A who does nothing to extremes but quietly goes through the day just trying to be the best person she can be.  Or you may be Delighted Mommy K who is enamored with each one of her children and thrilled with the opportunity to be a mother.  On any given day you may be one or all of these different women.  And no matter what Mommy you are today- by simply doing your best- you are the BEST mommy to your kids. 

Happiness in motherhood comes not from being a certain kind of Mommy, it comes from being YOUR kind of Mommy.  It comes when you trust yourself and have confidence in your choices and decisions for YOU and your family.  I love a beautifully planned party, flawlessly executed and gorgeously appointed.  But, right now, that is not who I am.  I am about simple, careful and inexpensive celebrations.  I LOVE sewing and creating things for my home and children.  It doesn't make me better than the mom who HATES those things, it makes us different.  And while I can learn from and admire all the other gifts and talents of Mommies everywhere, I don't have to be every kind of mother all the time.  Happiness is confidence in yourself, trusting your instincts and loving your children with all you have.  It's simple in it's concept, but much more difficult in practice.

I share these Mom-day posts, the good, the bad and the ugly, in the hopes that you will realize that behind the pictures and projects is simply a woman who is trying to be the best person she can be.  Who fails miserably at times, but who is fully devoted to her family and doing the best she can.  I hope that by sharing my struggles and challenges, especially when it comes to parenting, you'll realize that no mother has it perfect all the time, that the pictures and carefully edited content you are typically exposed to on the internet and tv is just that- carefully edited.  That you have a place to come and share your own struggles and know they are understood and appreciated.  And I hope that by dropping the facade and getting "real" with all of you, it will chip away at the freshly polished veneer of many of the mommy blogs out there.  Not in hopes of bringing you down, but in the hopes that by being real with each other, we can encourage and lift each other up.  That you will know, that I truly believe, that motherhood is glorious in it's capacity to change us, delightful in it's rewards and irreplaceable in it's impact on individuals and communities.  But, even with the importance of it's role- motherhood is hard.  It is meant to be hard.  The very hardness is what makes it worthwhile.  So on laundry day, when you turn your whites pink, or the basement floods, or brother A punches brother B and gives him a bloody nose (no, that didn't really happen at my house) and you're mired down with the everyday hardness of motherhood- remember you're not alone.  That every mother, everywhere is right there with you.  Take a deep breath, vent a little (please feel free to come here and vent as often as you like), maybe even shed a few tears, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, smile that you're doing the most important job on the planet, and carry on.  And be happy.

Have a Wonderful Monday.
XOXO,
Amy
 

9 comments:

Karen said...

Beautifully said. Love it.

Lorene (just Lu) said...

Amen. That is all :)

Ronda Batchelor said...

Very well said! I needed to hear that type of reminder!! I wish evey mother could read that!

Heather K. said...

Thanks! I really needed that post today! I'm a mother of two little boys with a third on the way.

Samantha said...

Wonderful post Amy! I needed to read something like this today!

Kristie said...

I got to the part about finishing the basement and couldn't help but laugh. Thank you for everything you just wrote, and for all the moms-days. They make my day.

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

"duct tape and Goodwill finds"... Ha! Love it!

Brilliant post, Amy. It's hard not to feel like a failure when you compare yourself to others, but you're so right... it's all how you look at it and what you decide is important to put into it for yourself and your kids.

Michele Pacey said...

Such a well-thought out post and beautifully written, Amy.

Jonie Marie said...

well said my friend. We as women are far to good at comparing ourselves as well as not giving ourselves enough credit for the good things that we do. Thank you for the reminder!

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