Give Your Mother a Break

by Lorraine Esposito on November 7, 2011

in You as a parent,You as a person,You in your community

Not like my mother

How many of us swore a sacred oath to never,  ever be like our mothers?   How many of us are offended when someone hints that we are becoming just like our mothers?    From my experience,  most mothers have had these thoughts.   Why?   Were our mothers really that bad or were we just expecting something else?

The Stay-at-Home Mommy

Perhaps we were looking for June Cleaver or Laura Petrie and instead we just got Mary, or Linda, or Adrienne.   We got unscripted human beings who didn’t have the option of a second take or a laugh track or a wardrobe guy.  We got well intentioned flawed human beings who sometimes got sick or suffered from occasional pettiness.

The Working Mother

Perhaps we were expecting Clair Huxtable or Maggie Malone Seaver;  flawless machines that never ate,  never slept, and never went to the bathroom.  Instead we got Karen, Cathy, and Kathryn.  We got imperfect human beings who had bad hair days,  passed gas  (occasionally)  and worried about the size of their thighs.   We got naturally beautiful women who needed make-up and Lycia and highlights to feel pretty.

Unwinnable Game

Neither representation of motherhood did anyone any good.  The dotting mommy set us up for egocentric expectations and the mother-machine created an unwinnable game.   We expected to be the center of our mommy’s universe;  coming home from school to find our house in perfect order and warm freshly baked cookies waiting on the table.  We expected our mommy to always have the right answer,  always understand,  and always have enough patience.   She was supposed to have everything we needed or wanted, and have the energy to deliver it all (and more) 24/7/365.

Disappointment

Weren’t you at least as good as the Beaver?  I sure the hell was.   Why didn’t I have a perfect home all decorated and tidy?   Why didn’t I have cookies and milk all the time?   Why didn’t I have a mother-machine with all the answers and enough money to buy me a pony?

Blame

First I thought it was me.   I thought I just wasn’t smart enough or funny enough or pretty enough or  (fill in the blank) enough.   I assumed my mommy chose to give,  dote,  and bake for other people.   At first I thought I sucked.

Well, as humans do, I soon grew unable to cope with feeling so sucky,  so I began to think it was my mommy.   Maybe she couldn’t,  wouldn’t,  lacked,  or was lazy.   I began to think that perhaps my mommy sucked.

Well,  one thing is for sure,  the situation sucks.   No one wins here:  I don’t win because I’m disappointed and feel cheated out of a perfect childhood.   How can I possibly be all that I’m expected to be if I didn’t get a pony?   My mother doesn’t win because she misses out on all the appreciation for the incredible scarifies she made,  the gamble she took,  and the dreams she put on hold–not to mention the stretch marks.

Once we become mothers,  we realize that it’s just not possible to do it all,  yet rather than allow this truth to set us free,  we perpetuate the unwinnable game by struggling to win anyway.

So who is to blame?

I’ll bet you expect me to say it was the media, right?   The media is always to blame because it’s an easy faceless scapegoat.  Who, exactly, is the  ‘media’  anyway?   The advertisers who financially support the networks?  The actors who created the characters?   The network executives who allowed us to be misled and duped?   Perhaps it’s the fault of newspaper or radio.   Certainly movies have some responsibility, right?

Shame not Blame

Wrong.   Blame is only a distraction.   Mothers are created by their children,  not by the imagination of a sitcom creator.   Perhaps the writers of sitcoms are simply adult-children still looking for a mommy.   Whatever the reason,  the creators of sitcoms know how to grab our attention,  but that’s all they can do.   The sitcoms,  advertisers,  etc.  can only offer us something;  it’s up to us to accept it.   If we do,  we miss out on our golden opportunity to be something so grand and special as someone’s mother—that’s a shame with no one to blame.

Motherhood Reinvented

I’ve decided to reinvent motherhood.   I don’t mean tweak it as society did in the 70s and 80s when it became fashionable to be a working mother.   I don’t mean to suggest smarter technology as a way to meet a child’s egocentric expectations or win those unwinnable games.   Motherhood needs a complete reboot from the very platform that supports it.   Sounds cliché I know,  but I’m serious.

What I mean to do is to create something altogether new;  motherhood operating on a whole new plateau.  I mean to reinvent motherhood with a perspective based on individual strengths.   As I said earlier, mothers are created by their children.   We hear a unique call to leadership spoken softly by their little voices.   Sure,  the reinvented mother may look the same from the outside;  she sits next to you at the PTA meeting,  takes a turn in your car pool,  and stands next to you on the sidelines cheering all the kids on the team.   The difference between the reinvented-mother and the outdated-mother is unseen because it’s in the perspective from which her outward actions are created.   Her actions are consciously chosen based on the key ingredients that make a happy and successful life.

The Key Ingredients of a Peacemaker Mother:

  1. Knowing what matters most to her – Personal Core Values
  2. Knowing the distinction between possibility and opportunity – Coulds vs. Shoulds
  3. Knowing the short game and long game – Meeting daily needs in such a way as to create a happily independent and successful adult 20 years from now.
  4. Knowing the personal benefit (Yes, her personal gain) in every action she takes – Living a problem free life today and forever.
  5. Knowing that she is 100% responsible and accountable for her actions – Blaming someone else if it all falls apart won’t change the fact that it all fell apart.

This is the way of a Peacemaker Mother

Leading in her own direction

So much to know

If you’ll notice,  there is a lot to know,  but unlike the tweakers before me,  I’m not asking anyone to look farther than her own heart.   You already know all that you need to know to be the very best mother for your amazing children.  Perhaps all you need is someone,  like me,  to start you thinking.

I feel wobbly

It feels mighty risky stepping up with this intention.   I feel at risk of being called naive or simply a bad mother.   I’m doing it anyway because I know that there are so many women,  just like me,  who cringe at the thought of stepping up in the community as a mother who has something to share.   Too many women,  just like me,  afraid to speak about their unique approach to leading their children for fear of being called naive or wrong.   We,  you and me,  regardless of our parenting perspectives,  are right,  and we need to stand up and share what we know—more importantly  share what we think we know.

Start now by sharing your thoughts about my plan to reinvent motherhood.   Share your past hesitations and the bold ideas you have for leading your children.   I guarantee you’re not alone.

Related Articles:  Genuine Curiosity, Paradox of Perfection, Responsible vs. Accountable,

Related Tip of the Week:  Guilt Expectation, Mother’s Day,

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