motherhood

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A few weeks ago I attended a workshop organized by the South Philly Parents Resource Center called Minimizing Motherhood Madness. The workshop was facilitated by Cristina Higgins from Strategic Mama whose tagline is “Less angst. More Joy. Simple Strategies to Reinvent Modern Motherhood and Thrive.”

The workshop was interesting. We talked about how our expectations and reality as moms differ, what “the perfect mom” is to us, what we want our children, friends and spouse to say about us on our 80th birthday, how our pre-baby self and our post-baby self differ (or are the same).  It was an interesting way to analyze ourselves and our expectations and to strategically construct ways to make things a bit easier (even if it’s just a matter of letting go of that unrealistic ideal). Anyway, you can sign up for Cristina’s mailing list on her website at strategicmama.com. A couple of weeks ago I received one of her email updates and with her permission I wanted to share it with all of you.

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“Last week I went to the Museum of Motherhood conference in New York City.  For 6 hours, I listened to academics from all over the world share their fascinating research on how the experience of motherhood impacts women’s lives. There was Prof. Patterson (New Zealand) who spoke about the experience of single motherhood and Prof. Tropp (US) who discussed the marketing of pregnancy and Laura Tropp (Canada) spoke about the theme of Mompreneurship just to name a few.

The presentations were great but it was a brief conversation I had with the Russian professors that really hit home.

Over cocktails, I asked Prof. Bagirova and Prof. Shubat (Russian Federation) about the role of guilt in Russian motherhood. They shook their heads and said it wasn’t a big issue.  What??

Then I asked them about how the role of experts (sleep experts, parenting experts, etc.) play for Russian mothers in terms of learning how to mother? They said, well, we mostly just learn from our own mothers and friends.

And, then, and this is the million-dollar question, I asked them about this idea of being a good mother. “You know”, I said, “what does it mean to be a good mother in Russian?”

They looked at me a little funny and said something like: What did I mean good mother? We don’t think about good vs. bad mother, just mother.

Wow. Just mother.  Can you imagine? If just by being the woman and mother that we are, that is enough.  Revolutionary idea I think for us in the US.

Now, I know there are more complexities to the role of mother in the Russian Federation.  But, for now, I am mulling over this idea that being Mom might be enough.  Not good or bad, just enough.

So, this week, as you go on with your life, I invite you to consider this idea that you, the Mom that you are, is neither good nor bad.  You are simply, Mom. And everything you are as Mom is enough.”

For those in the Philadelphia area, you can join Cristina for her next workshop on Wednesday, June 12 from 7:15 – 8:45pm at Mama’s Wellness Joint.  I’ll be flying to Illinois that day to see my actual mama so I won’t be able to attend, but I’m sure it will be an insightful workshop.

As moms, it’s important to take care of ourselves and sometimes that means taking a few hours out of your day to connect with other moms who understand how you feel.

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The in-laws are in town visiting so I took yesterday off work. During our visit to Philadelphia Zoo, Adelaide demonstrated the sound a tiger makes.

It’s so easy to have a pity party for yourself. If only Tim had a better job. If only we had a better/bigger/nicer house. If only we could afford X, Y and Z (Definitely Z. Z would make things so much better). But really, when I pause and truly think about it, I’m reminded of just how lucky, how blessed I am.

I have the most amazing daughter. (Seriously, have you met this girl? She’s ridiculously awesome.) I have a supportive, loving husband and parents who love me unconditionally. I have in-laws who I enjoy spending time with and such incredible friends and family. Heck, I even have a job I only hate on the worst days, and actually like on most days.

It’s so easy to say that the grass is greener on the other side. “If only…”

But today, today I want to work on cultivating my own garden. If my grass isn’t green enough, perhaps it just needs some fertilizer. What can I do to work with my current situation and help it grow, help it bloom?

Sometimes we need to step away from the blogs, the Pinterest, the house and job envy, and just focus internally on the amazing hand we’re dealt. Really? I get to be this girl’s mom? I get to be this man’s wife? Shut up. That’s pretty darn cool.

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First Week  |  http://nextlifechapter.com

Adelaide’s first week at home.

I used to never cry at movies (My Girl being the one exception). I prided myself on it – I just didn’t get that emotionally attached. Then, I met Tim and fell in love and it all changed. I remember crying during The Pianist so much that I couldn’t finish it. I literally could not watch it. I made Tim send it back. Over the years, Tim has learned that there are certain movies he can watch without me.

And it’s gotten worse since my friend Amy died of cancer and since Adelaide’s been born. I don’t want to watch movies about children dying or a parent dying and leaving the child alone. I don’t like to watch movies about spouses cheating, or children missing, or really anything about death in general. (I did not do well with The Descendants.) I like comedies and action movies. And that’s about all I can handle right now.

In some ways, the issue I have with sad movies makes me feel totally lame. When we were in LA on vacation last month, I had brunch with old friend from college who was an acting major. He had recently moved to LA after a successful acting career in another large city out west. He said he had done about as much as he could do acting-wise in that city – that the people there produced good plays but took out anything that would be controversial or make anyone feel anything. I got the sense that he moved to LA to take risks and make artful productions again.

Now when I have a hard time watching a movie, or just avoid it in the first place, I hear his voice in the back of my mind. What? You can’t feel anything? You don’t want to watch anything that makes you have an emotional reaction? It’s art. What’s wrong with you?

Motherhood has changed me in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I think differently about family now. I think differently about the world – I think more about what’s in the food I eat, what’s going on with our public school system, gun control, bullying, the environment. The list goes on and on. With the birth of my little girl, I became a mother (and some might even argue before that). My heart has spilled open. My insides ache with love. I cry tears of joy and tears of fear and worry. I am vulnerable to the world and all the things that are out of my control. I have so much to lose. I think the reason I don’t enjoy such highs and lows when watching movies is because I am already feeling so much.

I am still discovering the ways motherhood has changed me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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