The Great Mom Debate

You can read this study and wonder if you’ve made the right choice, the best choice, for your family.  You can think about the alternatives and long to be in the group that seems to have it all figured out.  You can let the guilt wash over you as you silently tally up the times you’ve felt isolated, depressed, or questioned your parenting skills or choices.

You can do all of that, but that won’t do you any good.

You can watch this upcoming TV segment and become enraged that such a segment even exits.  You can blame Anderson Cooper and lash out at the moms who willingly participated in a show that perpetuates the “mom wars” among us.  You can take to Twitter, Facebook, and Google + to air your grievances against Anderson Cooper, The Huffington Post, and any other “news” outlet joining the “mom wars” bandwagon.

You can do all of that too, but that probably won’t do you any good either.

The segments will air and the articles will be published.  They will say what they want to say and spin it to get more viewers.  As John Mayer once pointed out, “when they own the information, they can bend it all they want.”  That’s the power of media.

The real question is why does such a study even exist?  How did parenting become so difficult that more and more moms (and dads) are reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety and relying on medications?  When did life become so difficult? 

And, most importantly, what can we do to stop this cycle?

We are living in difficult economic times.  That is no longer considered news.  Most families include two working parents.  Many parents work more than one job to make ends meet.  Health insurance is not to be taken for granted.

Social isolation plays a big role in the world of the stay at home parent, particularly when the kids are very young.  Competition among moms is high for a variety of reasons.  Mom guilt lurks around every corner.  So does the financial guilt stay home moms experience when times are tough and the financial responsibility relies on the other parent.

Every parent has stress right now.  Every parent has happiness right now.  Every parent experiences a little bit of both.

The challenge is to find more support for parents everywhere (both working and non-working) so that fewer people experience symptoms of depression and anxiety overall.

Because the people who truly lose in all of this are our children.

Infants and children pick up on stress, depression, and anxiety.  Studies have shown depressed affect in infants of mothers struggling with depression.  Children imitate those symptoms.  They start to experience difficulty sleeping, low appetite, social isolation, frequent tantrums, and other behavior issues.  They don’t deserve any of this.  They deserve to roll down hills, run through the sand, and chase butterflies.  They deserve to experience the unbridled happiness that should be taken for granted during childhood.

If our kids grow up unhappy because we were too busy arguing, comparing, and wallowing in what could have been, then all of this is meaningless.  Our day-to-day lives might be very different, but our goals are probably very similar.  We all want to raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids who will one day go on to do the same.

Instead of focusing on the negative by arguing over who has it the best, who endures the most stress, or who is the “best” mom, I say we all band together and form a unified front against these so-called “mom wars”.

Because, at the end of the day, every mom has a similar story to tell.  Every mom has once been covered head to toe in vomit with a kid in each arm while willing the washing machine to work just a little bit faster.  Every mom has fought back tears when leaving a child behind for the first time.  And every mom has fought to protect their child in one way or another.  We are not that different, all of us moms.  In fact, we are very much the same.

So let’s make a deal:  Let’s agree to stand tall as a group and stop feeding into the “mom wars” frenzy.

Let’s:

Provide support to one another, because #allmomsrock.

Stop judging.

Help another mom in need.

Focus on the positive.

And…

Stand up against the “mom wars”.

We all have a story to tell.  Let’s share our stories and listen to the stories of others.  Let’s celebrate our differences and make every effort to learn something new along the way.  Let’s be the friends that we want our children to be.  Let’s stop this “war” and give the media one less topic to cover.

If Verizon Wireless customers all over this country can, in a single night, stop Verizon from adding extra charges to their wireless plans, just imagine what the moms can do if we really join forces.

And that, once again, brings us back to The Mom Code.

What do you say moms?  Are you with me?

 

Responsibility

Responsibility.

It should be one the most important words in parenting, and yet it often goes ignored.

The other day I took the kids to the park.  It’s a beautiful park complete with an enclosed tot lot for the little ones and an open park for the older kids just a few feet away.  We are very lucky to live just five minutes from this park, and we spend a lot of time there.

On this particular Monday, it was much busier than usual.  Apparently most of the world had Monday off for New Year’s Day, so it was packed.  When my kids ran off in different directions, it was far more stress inducing than an average day at the park would be.

As per usual, I concentrated on my three year old son and checked in with my five year old daughter regularly.  Although she can certainly handle all of the play equipment at the tot lot with ease, I like to make sure that she’s engaged and making good choices.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a little boy (no more than 3 years old) taking sand from the sandbox and dumping it on the ground near the play equipment.  His mother was glued to her Blackberry.  On any other day, I would be the mom who provides the gentle redirect to raise awareness that sand all over concrete is slippery, but on this particular day I was stretched too thin.

I made a mental note to remind my son to walk carefully in that area.

Before I had a chance to provide that reminder, I noticed a girl telling my daughter that it’s ok to climb up the slide.  While this is the preferred method of slide play for our kids in our own backyard, they know that they need to go up the ladder and down the slide at the park.  With that many kids around, someone is likely to get hurt with kids climbing up and sliding down at the same time.  And it’s simply not fair to the kids waiting patiently at the top of the slide.  I walked over to her to remind her to climb up the ladder and praised her for following directions.

Responsibility.

But in that moment (no more than 30 seconds), my son took off running and slid through the sand.  The screams echoed through the park as his mouth slammed into a metal step that leads up to his favorite fire truck.  Blood was pouring from his mouth, all over his sweatshirt, all of his hands, all over the two of us…

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The Mom Code

“My husband and I shared a rare moment out today.  He happened to have the day off on the very day that our babysitter comes for a few hours.  I usually spend that time writing, frantically running errands (while calling all of my friends along my travels), and maybe fitting in some “me” time in the form of a pit stop at my favorite nail salon.

Today was different.  Today we took an extended coffee break together before running a few last minute holiday errands.

As we sat at an outside table enjoying the California sun, a familiar scene unfolded right before our eyes.  A mom of twin girls (who looked to be about four years old) pulled her car right up to the door of the Coffee Bean.  She jumped out of the car, locked the doors, and sprinted in and out of the Coffee Bean at lightning speed.  We had seen her leave with the two girls and three drinks just moments before.

As she ran back into the car our eyes met and she smiled and said, “at least I locked the doors, right?”  I laughed as my husband responded, “we have two at home, we’ve been there before”.  She smiled, looked relieved, and handed each daughter a straw as she got back into her car.

We chuckled as we recalled all of the times we’ve strapped the kids into the car only to find that our son has misplaced his precious “Giraffie” once again.  Often, I pull the car into the garage and run into the house to procure a missing item just so that I can leave them in their seats and avoid the unstrapping and re-strapping again.  Yes, we know about multiple kids and car seats, not to mention a complete lack of time on any given day.

That shared moment got me thinking about the silent mom code that exists out there.  While much has been made about the competition between moms right now (and for good reason), there is also the kinship that exists between moms.  The silent code that manifests as a smile during a public tantrum or a wink when a mom is caught “cleaning” the dropped pacifier by sticking it in her own mouth.

Yes, we’ve all been there at some point…”

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