Thursday, October 17, 2013

Welp, it's official. I am a failure at homeschooling.Baba’s MSP (state tests ) results came in. While she tested at high school level when it came to reading, she was only one grade level ahead when it came to math. And as anyone who homeschools knows, one grade level is like way behind. So naturally, I freaked out. Which then caused great consternation for the father figure.  He was not impressed with my frustrations nor with my announcement that I am a complete failure on the homeschooling front.  He is still new to homeschooling so he didn’t understand my comments about being on the wrong end of the bell curve. He also thinks that throwing in the towel might be a slight overreaction.

It’s been quite the couple of weeks on the mommy internets.  Some guy wrote a post singing the praises of his stay at home wife. Apparently, if you say nice things about your wife and her life choices and how she cares for your children, you are insulting lots of other women. Or something.  I am waiting for the blog that sings the praises of stay at home mothers who don’t actually stay home all that much and homeschool, but apparently not well, and also work from home, teaching math, which is ironic because it’s not taking so well with the offspring.  But I don’t want it written by some guy I don’t know. That’d be weird. I mean, who wants affirmation from some random guy on the internet? Apparently lots of people.

And then there was the fit mom fiasco. Now, I have a couple more children than this lady. And I don’t really look much like her. Well, I too have arms and legs, but I most certainly don’t have her torso.  And apparently many women do not and their feathers were rather ruffled.

 I don’t know what this gal’s life is like. She says that she doesn’t have nannies and she plays with her kids to keep active. She’s also a personal trainer, so there’s that. I know that playing with my kids certainly doesn’t do that for my postpartum belly and I’m going to tell myself that she has housekeepers and cooks. Or something. It’s not excuses, it’s how I keep myself sane.

I can tell myself that I would look like that if my job required me to work out as well. I can tell myself that if Cinco would stop playing and crawling all day long, at least long enough to eat something, then she would sleep at night. And then I could sleep at night. Instead of being the metaphorical fridge that Cinco continuously raids. All night long. Maybe then I would get up the morning to work out, much like I used to. I should probably lay off the chocolate covered raisins as well. But baby steps.  But she’s right, I have excuses, I prefer to  think reasons, but excuses as to why I don’t look like her.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, often it seems difficult for some people to celebrate the successes of others without feeling as their choices are invalidated. In this day and age where equality seems to be misunderstood as sameness,  diversity isn’t always celebrated or appreciated. The fact that one mother manages to rock a six pack eight months after giving birth isn’t a slap in the face of those of us who are still gelatinous. She should be proud. I’m certainly proud of the super beautiful children I have and I had less to do with than she did with her rocking body. Being proud of that is not saying that other mothers are failures or weak or less successful.

But that being said, Ms. Kang….may I call you Maria, there are other angles to this to possibly consider. I’m got a couple of years and kids on you. And, I have girls. This doesn’t make me better but it does give me a slightly different perspective.  I am trying to set a good example for my daughters, I want them to see me exercise and heaven knows I run them across two states for physical activities.  I try to teach them healthy eating habits but they get treats as well. I am searching for a mean (not a mean girl just a good middle ground). And part of that mean is teaching them that it’s what’s inside that counts. Trite, I know, but there’s truth there.  A well maintained body shows an  internal peace, which is what I desire for them. But a well maintained body doesn’t require cuts, a six pack. They might have bodies that are soft and feminine, bodies that look life bearing, nurturing. They might end up with stretch marks, from growing life within them. And if they do, that will be beautiful.  It will be natural. It will be womanly.

Look, I get it.  I really do. I too am proud of how I handled most of my pregnancies. I’m proud that I lost  the baby weight immediately after four of them (that darn third child…..). It’s not that. It’s the wording you chose.

Perhaps the reaction would have been different if instead of asking “What’s your excuse?” you had said “You can do it!” Because, you clearly show that it can indeed be done. Maybe even “What’re your priorities?” Because often mothers don’t make themselves a priority, ever. And that’s not good or healthy, especially for their kids to see. But it’s the implication is that to not look like you is a failing that requires excuses. And honestly, that’s not helpful. It’s harmful.

Mothers are excellent at beating themselves up. They don’t need a reason to. They can create all sorts of reasons. Like your kid only testing a year ahead in math. It’s hard enough raising children with a loving support system around. It takes a lot of love to drown out the doubts that start shrieking the moment you wake up in the morning.  We, as mothers, should have each other’s backs. We shouldn’t  say “Hey, you’re not fit, why not?” We should ask, “How can I help you? What do you need? Are you taking care of yourself?" Because sometimes moms choose between running and reading a good night story. Sometimes moms choose between exercising and working. Sometimes they sacrifice their gym time for the carpool lane.  There are so many hours in the day. And after the cooking and the cleaning and the bathing and the working, there’s just time left for crying. Mourning the lost moments, the failures , all the things you so desperately want to give your children.

Moms don’t really make excuses, they feel guilty. And Maria, the backlash that you experienced didn’t stem from jealousy, at least not all of it. I read those comments, and I heard women hurting, told again they’re failing. It’s a reoccurring refrain, heck I was just informed by ESPN that Ican’t be a good mom if I have a large family. Too many kids. Just can’t be done.  So if you see an area where a mom is falling short, don’t judge her or pity her. Reach out a hand. Because if you haven’t been there, you will. Some day. And you’ll need that helping, uplifting hand yourself. From a woman who has walked in your shoes before.

So Maria Kang, you are remarkable and I respect you. You are motivated and successful and have beautiful children. Well done. I hope you are able to help other mothers achieve the success you’ve found.  And I hope that you are able to reach those women in gentle and compassionate manner. Because that’s what they need.  It’s what I need.  And I’m sure it’s what you need sometimes.  True, a gentler caption wouldn’t have garnered the attention of CNN but CNN will never understand the fierce love and passion that drives you. Drives you to succeed and drives you just a little crazy.

And this blog won’t write itself. That’s not an excuse,  it’s just a fact.

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