The Domestic Revolutionary

How’s 2014 treating you all?  In highly irrelevant, semi-outdated news that you can’t live without, “Selfie” was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionary.  “Selfie” simultaneously topped the list of banished words for 2013 compiled by Lake Superior State University.  So, 2013 was the year of the Selfie, and you should never speak of it again.  Look, I don’t really care if you take Selfies or talk about Selfies, just don’t say Twerking in my presence, okay?  If you have managed to spare yourself from knowing what these words mean, consider yourself lucky and DON’T ASK.

There is another word/phrase that I wish would just go away: CRUNCHY.

“What?” you may ask. “Who doesn’t like a little crispness to their food? Hmm, do I have any chips in the cupboard?”  Okay, before I lose you to a Dorito run (or Late July organic tortilla chip run if you prefer), I’m not talking about the opposite of mushy.  I’m talking about the word people use to describe those who are health conscious and environmentally aware.  I am particularly not crazy about being called a Crunchy Mom.  I know some people don’t mind the term, in fact, they totally own it.  They embrace it.  They flat out rock it.  Others are like, “Crunchy?  You call me Crunchy and I’ll break your teeth.”  Perhaps I fall somewhere in between?  And do you really want to find out?  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

Okay, so some of you are still confused.  What on Earth would make someone call you Crunchy?  Let me enlighten you, because this is way more relevant than Twerking and Selfies.  Trust me.  Here’s the scoop.  You might risk being called Crunchy if you…

  • Plan for a drug free birth
  • Use cloth diapers
  • Baby-wear
  • Co-sleep
  • Breastfeed past a year
  • Prepare homemade food
  • Grow your own food
  • Homeschool
  • Use alternative medicine
  • Have a parent at home full time

Yada, yada, yada. You get the picture? Why Crunchy?  Apparently it goes back to the hippies and granola.  Because granola is crunchy.  You can tell people put a lot of thought into this, right?  When I explained the term to Danny, he said “Wow, you even make your own granola.  You must be REALLY Crunchy.”

You’ll have to ask him if he still has all his teeth.

Like I said, a lot of people are totally cool with this term.  But I’m not a fan of labels.  It makes me feel like we’re all back in high school.  “Oh, don’t hang around them.  They’re like, SOOO Crunchy!”  (Insert obnoxious mean girl laughter here.)  Or worse yet, “Hey, if you want to be in our Crunchy Club, you’ve gotta use cloth diapers made from organic cotton.  Pampers, like REALLY???  We don’t hang out with Earth haters.”

Look, I kind of get where the animosity comes from.  We Moms are an enthusiastic bunch.  And we also can be a sensitive bunch.  So when one mom wants to ask “Did you see the article from Dr. Mercola about Azodicarbonamide in commercially prepared bread?”, the mom she’s talking to hears “Don’t you know you’re killing your child with that sandwich???”

So perhaps some have given us health conscious types a bad name.  I understand that people can be a little self righteous about their decisions.  But does that mean we have to label everyone who makes those decisions with a texture of food?  I mean, REALLY.  We all put a lot of thought and effort into our parenting decisions.  Entirely too much thought and effort to be lumped into a category described by the mouth feel of an oat cereal.  I prefer “Parenting Non-Conformist”.  Or better yet, “Domestic Revolutionary”.  YES!!!

So, from here on out, we shall not use the CR word.  We will instead use the term Domestic Revolutionary!  (It requires an exclamation point, don’t you think?)  So, you may be thinking “Being a Domestic Revolutionary sounds sweet.  Do I have to do all the things listed above to qualify?”

The answer is simple.  Absolutely not!  You can do some of the things.  You can do none of the things.  You can do all of the things as long as you don’t go bonkers trying to do them.  But there are a few simple qualifications, and while they aren’t all easy, there’s a pretty good chance you’re already doing them.

So here it is!  A sort of manifesto for the Domestic Revolutionary:

  • Know your family
  • Be tuned in to your family’s needs
  • Listen to your mommy gut instincts
  • Never make your decisions based on the status quo
  • Never make your decisions just to defy the status quo
  • Research like a mad woman
  • Never waste one second worrying about what other people think
  • Be The Expert On Your Own Home

When I had my first baby, I wanted to do things the “right” way.  I wanted people to look at me and say “She’s a good mom”.  I didn’t want to stand out.  I never planned to be that lady who loves Frankincense, has a freezer full of wheat berries, brings organic pop corn to movie night, and refers to 1st grade as Core Phase.

I tried being conventional, but when it didn’t work out, I had to give myself permission to become a weirdo.  Okay, forget for a moment that I’m a weirdo.  Because in addition to being a weirdo, I am also an expert.  “Ha!” you may be thinking. “Well, what on Earth are you an expert in?  We know it’s not baking bread, Miss Wheatberry!”  SO, I am not an expert at baking bread.  But I AM the expert on my own home!  And I bet you are the expert on YOUR own home!  See how cool that is?

When we come across another mom who does things totally differently, we don’t have to feel defensive of our own choices or condescending towards hers.  We can give others the benefit of the doubt, that what they are doing is exactly right for them.  Instead of trying to examine their motives or assign them to a parenting style clique, we can say “Wow!  That’s Revolutionary!”  And move on with our lives because ain’t nobody got time for worrying about other people’s decisions.

So, hold your crispy Ezekiel bread with grass fed butter high, my formerly CR labeled friends!  And my friends with mushy white bread because that’s all your kids will eat and it’s not worth fighting over, hold that up high too!  Let’s make 2014 the Year of The Domestic Revolutionary!  Hey, if Twerk was a hot word, I think we have a chance here.

Oh, and if you’re lucky AND good, I just might give you the recipe for my Revolutionary Homemade Granola.  It’s really awesome.  And as far as granola goes it’s more chewy than… well, you know. 😉

 

For Beau, who for 9 years has been teaching me to be Revolutionary.

For Beau, who for 9 years has been teaching me to be Revolutionary.

Chasing Supermom

Have you ever noticed that the words Preview and Publish look almost exactly the same?  No?

Well, neither had I.  At least not until Friday night when with tired, bleary eyes I looked at the screen and clicked “PUBLISH” on accident.  And WHOOSH, there went my rough draft, landing neatly in your inboxes, complete with typos and run on sentences.

Sorry about that. @_@

When I told my Mom about what I did, she said “That’s what happens when you try and do too much!”  Don’t you hate it when your Mom is right? 😉

Okay.  So I have a little problem with The Concept Of Time.  The whole “Time Is Limited” nonsense.  What do you mean I can only do so much?  I don’t understand.  Surely there is a way!  I will just get up an hour earlier!  You can sleep when you’re dead, right?  <- A saying that sounds a lot better at night than in the morning.

I know I need sleep.  BADLY.  I do NOT do well without a good night’s rest.  But, I hate saying NO. I detest compromise.  And worse yet, I can’t bear to disappoint anyone.

I think it is a common problem, particularly for women and especially for mothers.  Have you heard of the increasing number of women who are taking Adderall?  One little problem:  They don’t all have ADD.  These women are taking a highly addictive prescription drug out of desperation to keep up with every day life.  They lie to their doctor about symptoms they don’t really have, buy pills illegally, or even take their children’s prescriptions.  All in an attempt to be Super Mom.

I admit, Super Mom is an appealing figure, isn’t she?  Super Mom decorates her house with flair on a budget.  Super Mom makes Angry Birds Bento Boxes and delightful Fondant Cakes, all with the ingredients pulled straight from her lush organic garden.  Super Mom’s house is immaculate, cleaned with homemade products that cost less than 10 cents a month.  Whew, that Super Mom is one busy gal…

But I think we all know that Super Mom doesn’t exist.  Or she only exists on Pinterest and the blogs linked thereto.  I like Pinterest.  And I like blogs too.  It’s nice to find advice from people who have strength in areas that I am weak in.  But it has to be taken with a grain of salt.  Blogs are like reality TV.  We only see a small slice of the big picture.  But by piecing together a bunch of these small slices (like onto a Pinterest board, per say), we get a skewed view of reality.  It appears that EVERYONE else is busy being awesome, while we’re still in our pajamas wondering whether to take a shower or pay bills.

It isn’t REAL.  We DO know this, right?  So why do so many people have Pinterest Stress? Why are mothers popping pills so they can stay up until 3 am scrubbing baseboards and alphabetizing spice racks?  Why is our best effort not enough?  What are we trying to accomplish with all of this?

This world we live in has some messed up priorities.  People are often looked at as commodities, their value based on their marketable skills and high production output.  Does this view carry over to how we view ourselves?  Do we place all our value on accomplishments that are visibly seen to others?  Do we feel like if we can’t keep up the image, that someone else can do this better?  Do we feel expendable in our own family?

Not everyone has had the experience of growing up in a stable environment.  When early in your life you have experiences that make you feel unsafe or unloved it is hard to ever totally get your footing back.  In your head you know that it wasn’t your fault.  You know you’re in a different place now.  Still, that feeling of being on shaky ground keeps coming back.  If I don’t do enough, if I’m not enough, I’ll be abandoned… Again.

Many of us have grown up with those feelings.  They don’t just go away.  You want them to go away.  You want to feel loved and worthy.  So you keep trying to do more.  And more.  But you just can’t keep up.  And you look online and see what everyone else SEEMS to be accomplishing and you feel inadequate.  Like you are selling your family short because you don’t extreme coupon or refinish furniture.  For goodness sakes, you can’t even keep the floor clean.  It’s always sticky.  And the shower is mildewy.  And you’re making scrambled eggs for dinner.  Maybe someone else could do it better.  Maybe you could be replaced.  Maybe if you could just find something to give you a little more energy, it would be enough…

No.  It’s just not true.

You couldn’t be replaced.  No one else could do it better, because no one else knows and loves your family like YOU do.  And your family loves YOU.  They don’t love you because you are the best gourmet chef.  They don’t love you because you are the tidiest housekeeper.  They don’t love you because you make fabulous crafts out of burlap and recycled straws, or because you can carve sandwiches that look like Phineas and Ferb.  They don’t love you because you’re the timeliest chauffeur who never says no and never makes them late for an activity.  They love you because YOU are THEIR MOM.

Admittedly, I don’t know anyone who has chefs or housekeepers or chauffeurs.  But I do know, with 100% certainty, that NO ONE loves their chef or housekeeper or chauffeur like a family member BECAUSE of the things they do for them.  If they do actually love these people like family, it is because of the relationships they have developed.  You are not hired help.  You are family.  And family is not replaceable.

It’s funny (in a funny-sad way) that we can be so wrapped up in doing things to make people love us, that we are too busy to build the relationships that would actually bring love into our lives. And failing to build relationships is the one sure way to get what we are most afraid of:  Being Alone.

So if you’re feeling tired and desperate and like you can’t keep up, you’re in good company.  But please don’t resort to things that will damage your health or put you at risk to make it better.  It’s okay to ask for help.  It’s okay to say NO.  It’s okay if sometimes people are disappointed because they have gotten so used to you doing everything and forgotten you are a real, live human being.  It’s okay to leave the dishes in the sink.  Really, it hasn’t killed any of us yet.

No one can do it all.  Work hard but don’t be a martyr.  Care for what is most important.  Take care of yourself, because there are people who need you around.  Let some things go.  Make relationships a priority.

It will be Enough.

These are just my thoughts on the matter.  What do you think?  Why do moms feel so much pressure?  Do you think it always was like this?  Has social media made it worse?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

P.S. Supermom could not be reached for comment.  Her publicist says she’s at a retreat in The Poconos, but who knows?  People who don’t exist are really hard to track down. 😉

It was pretty rude of Supermom to leave me here with all these dishes.  Who does she think she is?

I hear Supermom is really good at keeping up with the dishes.  If you see her, tell her to come on over here.  I could use the help!

 

 

 

Off The Leash

Look at this cute backpack I got for Dash.

IMG_2528Awe.  It’s so cuddly and he just loves it.  Here’s another shot…

IMG_2523What?  What’s that strap hanging off it?  Uh, yeah… I’m not sure ?…  It just came with this extra piece…

Okay, okay, it’s a leash.  But we prefer to call it a Snuggly Chaos Management Buddy.

You know, there was a time when I had no idea that a baby “leash” was such a controversial item.  I got one for Beau when he was a toddler and I was taking him to the airport.  I was worried about him running off or getting kidnapped while I was dealing with luggage or plane tickets.  REALLY?  Not wanting to lose your toddler is controversial?

Well, apparently there is a school of thought promoting the idea that children should LISTEN and BEHAVE.  Interesting, right?  Apparently there would be no need to restrain these small people, because just the sound of an adult’s voice would stop them dead in their tracks.  It sounds like a promising theory, but personally I would like to see further research on the subject, particularly in regards to 18 month old boys.

The other objection some have to the Chaos Management Buddy is that “Leashes are for dogs and children aren’t dogs.”  I totally agree that children are not dogs.  I have had both children and dogs and they are not the same thing.  For instance, children climb things where as dogs do not.  They both have about the same risk of running into traffic or biting someone.  So, no, I would not compare my dear child to a dog.  He is more like a spider monkey with a hint of wolverine…

Just kidding!  But joking aside, back when Beau was little, I was a lot more concerned about inviting public scorn for trying not to lose my child, or for making any other unpopular parenting decision.  I wouldn’t want some strange person who knows nothing about me or my situation or my child’s temperament to think I’m a BAD parent!  How awful it would be if they judged me!

But by now I have more or less gotten over that.  (Or at least become desensitized to it?)  I do what I feel is best for my kids because I know them best.  And I know not everyone is going to agree, which is FINE because I’ve seen that things work out okay when I go with my instincts.

Still, being a parent is a lot like wearing a sign that says “Open For Public Criticism!”  Whether you’re the mom running frantically after an off-the-leash toddler, or the one trotting behind an on-the-leash toddler, or the one who is having all the exits shut down because she has no idea where her toddler is, you can be sure there is someone standing idly by, shaking their head in disapproval.

Let’s see… We have the Old School Folks who reminisce about the days when you could just go chop a branch off a tree and beat your kids with it.  Then there are the  Paranoid Vigilantes who are standing around watchfully with CPS on speed dial.  And don’t forget everyone’s favorite parenting critic, The Perfect Mom.  Bless her heart.  She is more than happy to take a break from flash card drilling to tell you in excruciating detail How You Too Can Be Awesome.  She has time to do this because her children are plowing through a midmorning snack of Doritos and Coke.  Awe, Perfect Mom, it’s okay.  Nobody’s really perfect!

They all mean well.  But sometimes it does get old!

SERIOUSLY, if the worst psychological damage my child incurs is because his mother was really worried about him getting lost in a public place, then I think we are going to get away with a really cheap therapy bill.  Thanks for all the well meaning opinions, but we are doing okay.  Everyone is happy, and Dash has no idea his Cuddly Buddy carries a stigma with it along with an small pack of washable crayons.   And the best part:  I didn’t lose any kids.

IMG_2532-001

Wait, there’s only two here… Has anyone seen Beau?

😉

Will Your Kids Be Seeing Ironman 3?

My 8 year old came home from school this week saying (in passing, hint, hint) that ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE except him is seeing Iron Man 3.  He knows Mommy and Daddy are pretty strict about kids watching only kid movies, but you could tell he was hoping…  He REALLY likes Iron Man, probably because the first installment is the only superhero movie he’s seen.  (It was on TV when Grandma and Grandpa were babysitting, otherwise he wouldn’t have seen that either.)  And I am probably one of the only people in North America who still lives under a rock and hasn’t seen any of them, so I wasn’t really sure what we were missing.  But I saw a content guide yesterday on whether Iron Man 3 was appropriate for kids and I was like “Whoa!”  You can read it here if you are wondering:

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2013/05/is-iron-man-3-appropriate-for-kids.html

Now, I’m not here to judge, everyone has to decide what is appropriate for their own family!  Unless you are letting your 5 year old watch Saw.  Then, I’m totally judging you.  But I understand why parents want to take their kids to see movies like this.  It’s fun for families to go out together, and even more fun if it’s something that everyone can enjoy.  But to me, it’s not fun to squirm in my seat while women are prancing around in their undies onscreen, or worry about my kid having nightmares after seeing a child with a gun to their head in a movie.

I miss the way movies were when we were kids.  Sure, the graphics weren’t great and the special effects would probably look cheesy to us now.  But the whole family could watch Superman and E.T. without a big can of grown up world worms being opened as we choked on our popcorn.  I’m sure there was adult content in those movies too, probably at a young age it went over my head.  But things were all a little more innocent back then.  And from what I have seen, a lot of what is rated PG-13 now would have been rated R 20 years ago.

001-001So, for now I’m going to have to stick to my guns and be the strict and uncool mommy.  And Beau will just have to be content with his super cool Ironman shirt.  Maybe we’ll find an old school Superman flick to watch instead.

What about you?  What do you think about letting young kids watch PG-13 movies?