Friday, June 10, 2016

Stop With the Mom Shaming Already

When I started this blog, I picked the name One Mom's Blog for a reason. I am just one mom. I am not the only mom who's kids came with owner's manuals. I am not the authority on anything kid related. I am just a mom. I am just one mom out of many. The best I can do is the best of myself...but I know that I am just one mom.

My dear friend and fellow mom and blogger Lindsay wrote a piece the other day about how hard it is to be a mom with social media being so prevalent in our lives, and it really got me thinking about how hard we are on one another. (you can read her piece HERE ) None of us knows better than the other, so why do we act like we do instead of lifting one another up? And I don't mean giving props to your friends. We all do that shit. That's easy because we already like them. I mean encouraging ALL the moms to do the best they can instead of coming down on them for the things they do. Even the ones you don't agree with.

I have one key to parenting that I use more than any other key on my mom ring. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. I don't tell my kids to be kind, I am kind so that they see how it works for me. I don't tell my kids to be courteous to others, I am courteous to others so that they learn having manners is a way of life and not something you do because someone tells you to. Why are we not doing this as much with one another as moms? If we think we are doing a good job, we should continue to do a good job. Create generations of good people from these efforts. Lead by example. You think you rock this mom stuff? That is fucking awesome! Keep rocking it! You created a human and now you get to help shape them to be the best person they can be. It's really pretty freaking amazing what our role is in this world now. But seriously, stop knocking other moms down.

Yes, we all have our principals and beliefs, and those are things that we have found work best for us in our lives. Why do we expect those things to work for everyone? Why are we walking around in the world telling moms that what they are doing is wrong? Heck, we tell other moms that what they are doing might KILL their children! I am not talking about things like putting your car seat the right way (I even had to do research on that one myself to see that the laws were right) or not hanging around with crack heads in your home with your kids. Yes, you don't smoke in the car with your kids. That is bad. Yes, you don't leave bottle caps on the floor of your living room because your child can choke (learned that one the hard way with my first born...thank God for his dad having quick reflexes). Yes, do all the things your pediatrician tells you will prevent SIDS because that shit is terrifying. I am not talking about the obvious things. I am talking about the other things.

I refer to moms who tell other moms that BREAST IS BEST like a broken record. As a formula mom, yes. We know this. And you know what? A lot of us COULDN'T breast feed. We didn't not do it because we just didn't feel like it. Many of us were physically unable. We have dealt with massive guilt and severe depression and anxiety over the struggle to make something work that our bodies were screaming at us was not possible. When you have a child, you are supposed to be able to breast feed. It's natural. It's something that evolution has told us our bodies are designed specifically to do. Sometimes, it just doesn't work. No amount of teas or dry nursing or anything else will make it happen. So seriously. Do you want me to breast feed my baby enough to push my postpartum depression to suicide? No. Then seriously. Shut up. I feel inadequate enough. My baby is fed and happy. This does not make me a bad mom.

I refer to moms who are on a crusade to get us all to stop buying store products to bathe our children, treat their rashes, and protect them from the sun..etc. Listen, I like Johnson's. I used their products as a kid. I used them with my son. I now use them with my daughter. Do you know why? Because they fucking work. They smell good. Their NightTime line is a miracle for a fussy, teething baby. They are also moderately priced and within my tight budget. Aveeno makes a great line as well. So does Baby magic. If your all natural, gluten-free, earth friendly bath soap made from the anal secretions of sacred unicorns was affordable and readily available when I am at Shop Rite with my massive stack of coupons, I might be more inclined to use it. But it's not. So just stop. Stop threatening us with rumors of cancer. Seriously. It's fucked up. Our kids are not smoking Newports. They are taking a bath. You act like we are using nuclear waste water instead of soap.

I refer to moms who tell us we are spoiling our children by wearing them everywhere. Listen, I like hanging out with my baby. I like it even more when she is happy. Do you know how she is happy? Strapped to my body. There is ZERO evidence to suggest that wearing a baby will create any kind of attachment issues or psychological damage later in life. Am I saying EVERYONE should baby wear? Of course not. Like everything else, it's a matter of what makes you and your baby happy. If your baby is independent, he or she might not like being stuck to you all day. They want to be exploring or playing or eating the cat hair she finds under the couch. (ok, maybe that is just MY baby)  That's TOTALLY fine too. No one is right or wrong here.Wearing our babies is not sentencing them to a life spent residing in our basement into adulthood.

I refer to moms who actually have the balls to tell moms like me that because we had a C-section, we didn't REALLY give birth. These people are a special kind of annoying. First of all, I had my son the good old fashioned way. Twenty one hours of active labor, a third degree tear from end to end when his shoulders came through my lady bits like a linebacker, hemorrhaging after the placenta was delivered. and then proceeding to vomit. My recovery was very difficult with bleeding and stitches and I can remember the pain of that first pee like it was yesterday. Yes, it was everything I dreamed it would be. It also scarred me. It made me not want to go through childbirth again. I was quite literally terrified when I became pregnant with my daughter. After discussions with my doctor about risks due to my first delivery, we decided on a C-section. It was scheduled, it would be quickly done, and my recovery would be different. In my opinion? It was better. This does not mean that YOUR birth through the birth canal was in any way not as good or special or qualifying for mom-hood. It means we brought our miracles to this world in different ways and now we have great dinner party conversation when we compare stories! So don't tell me I didn't "experience" birth the right way (whatever the fuck that is) because my baby came through my stomach and not my vagina. That's stupid.

What stupid complaints or criticism have you gotten that made you want to scream?

Here is the thing. Somewhere in some other dimension 100 years from now when we are dead and gone and have met up in heaven or hell or Nirvana or wherever, we can compare notes on who did a better job. By then our kids will have lived out their entire lives. We can see who's kids had attachment issues, obesity, and who's kids died from cancer due to our not using earth friendly products. Seriously, I will put that in my date book for the afterlife. Until then though? You know no more than I do. You might THINK you do. Maybe you have more kids than I do. Maybe you had them in a more "eco-friendly" way. Maybe you had your kids decades ago when "things were different". In the end, you know no more than I do. You have no business telling me my way is the wrong way, nor I to you. You do what is right for you, and I do what is right for me. Ultimately it's our choice whether or not we choose to criticize or encourage.

I will encourage. I think you are fucking amazing, Mom!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Forcing Kids To Hug and Kiss People...Why I say NO

I don't know if anyone else remembers being a kid and having your parents tell you "OK! KISS SO-AND-SO GOODBYE!" and we did, because that is what we were supposed to do, and we didn't want to upset our parents or whatever relative that was. And we hated it. At least I did. It made me feel so uncomfortable deep down in my soul to have to force physical affection when I knew I didn't want to. But I did it rather than give my parents or whatever relative that was any kind of an issue. I didn't want to offend anyone. I didn't want to upset anyone. It would be over quick, right? Just get it over with.

The more I think about that reaction that I had, the less and less I want my own daughter to have to go through that.

In adulthood, we are told that our bodies are our responsibility. That we ourselves are in charge of what happens. What affection we give and receive is up to us, they say. In a world overrun with the debate about "Rape Culture" and who is at fault in an accused sexual assault, why are we teaching our kids that they have to provide physical forms of affection to anyone they don't want to?

For some time now, I have thought maybe I was looking too hard into this issue. Maybe it's not a big deal. But it IS a big deal. It's a huge deal. Kissing is an intimate act. Eventually in their lives, it will be something that they use to convey their own very personal affections to another person. It will be the start of an intimate relationship. It's a sign of friendship. It's a sign of love. It's something that no one should be forced to do when they don't want to, and especially to someone they don't want to. I want my daughter to grow up confident and in control of her body and her mind and I cannot with good conscience think that and then in the next breath, tell her to kiss someone.

Puppy smooches are ok

A lot of people don't think this is a big deal. The response I tend to get when this discussion is brought up is, "Well, I did it. I'm fine." or "Do you want to offend (insert relative here)?" I don't want to offend anyone, but more than that, I don't want to force my daughter to kiss anyone. I don't want to teach her that her affections, especially of the physical variety, are something to be commanded from her.

My feeling as a child was that it would be over quick, so get it over with. I think hard about that reaction. It goes deep. I then think about my daughter as a teenager. Peer pressures. Some boy who says she should kiss him, or do something else. Will she feel she should do it so as not to offend him? So as not to upset him? It will be over quick, so get it over with. Yes. That is exactly what I feel I am teaching her by forcing her to kiss people she doesn't want to now, as a child.

My son is now eleven years old, going on twelve. When he was a toddler, I used to tell him "Give so and so a kiss goodbye!" and I could see in his face it made him uncomfortable. I didn't care who it offended. I stopped. I never made him do it again. Nowadays, he hugs who he wants to. He gives a pound. He is NEVER rude, always kind, and he never has to kiss anyone. When I pick him up from his grandparents, I remind him to tell his grandparents goodbye, but I never tell him to kiss anyone. I won't. I refuse.

It's important to me that in today's world of blurred lines regarding physical affections to make sure my kids know that their body is THEIR BODY. No one else's. No one can force them to use their body in a way that makes them uncomfortable. They do not EVER have to allow that from anyone. In most cases of sexual abuse, the abuser is familiar. Family. An older friend. Counselor. Clergy. Neighbor. These are the same types of people we force our kids to kiss goodbye. In my mind, how can I teach my kids not to allow someone familiar to touch them in inappropriate ways if I am telling them to provide affection to familiar people when they don't want to? This doesn't make sense, and yet so many of us were taught it was ok.

Someday, my kids will choose love. They will have someone on which they can lavish their affections. They will know then how wonderful it is to have those intimate moments and what they can really mean. Until that happens, on their terms, I refuse to tell them they have to. Even just a peck on the cheek. No. The answer is NO.

So when my kids are visiting someone and it's time to go, you will not hear me tell them to kiss anyone goodbye. Ever. I don't care who it offends. If they want to, they are free to do so, but that is their choice and not my command. They are the masters of their own bodies, and I want it to stay that way.

Just a Quick Thought about Johnny Depp...

You can't open any media outlet web page lately without seeing everyone's opinion of Johnny Depp. It's a sad situation on so many levels, but the saddest thing of all seems to be that people in this day and age are GUILTY until proven innocent. And even then, they will have a pox on their reputation for decades. We have seen this scenario play out in the media over and over again.

Spousal abuse is real. It exists. It's not just physical. It can also be mental. It can be sexual. It can be caused by stress, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental disorders, or a combination of all of the above. It affects women. It affects men. Worst of all, it affects children. It is never a subject to be taken lightly or casually and speaking as someone who has been in an abusive relationship, it's almost impossible to make anyone understand the complexity of it unless they have been there themselves.

I normally don't have an opinion on celebrity gossip more than just a passing comment or two. I used to love celebrity lifestyle gossiping and I bought all the supermarket tabloids and devoured them every month. It was like that scene in Sex and the City where Miranda's mail finally comes to her new home and she gets her gossip magazine. "It's my thing, leave me alone" she says. This was me, and I TOTALLY got that scene.

However, in recent years it's been less and less fun to watch these folks like zoo animals in their habitats. Maybe it's because I am 37 and have lived too many lives myself to really care anymore about what people who never had to struggle financially are doing. Maybe it's because that world has become saturated with reality TV and you no longer have to speculate about details while reading a magazine with limited information because its all blazing in front of your face on TV every day. Something happened and I lost my love for celeb-life gazing.

But I am still a film nut.

I have favorite actors, directors, cinematographers. I make my husband watch movies so I have someone to talk to about the colors, the imagery, the way the light hits a character's face in a certain scene. My husband would prefer to watch movies with comic book characters in them, but I am sitting him down and forcing him to watch Pans Labyrinth and Rosemary's Baby. Being that this is still close to my heart, I find myself still occasionally interested in what some of these people are up to. Johnny Depp is one of those people.

When I saw the story break about his pending divorce, I read the stories with a casual interest. I knew he had not been married this time too long, and there always seemed to be something going on. The first report I read had a statement from his legal team that he would not be granting spousal support (alimony) to this woman. Well, ok. Something must be going on. An ugly divorce. Cheating? Who knows. I am a divorcee myself and I have been through the legal system. I live in New Jersey though and our laws are probably different than those of wherever they live. (I am pretty certain it's not NJ...)

Suddenly, a few days later, the media EXPLODED with images of a bruised face and accusations of abuse. I would imagine I am not the only person who thought..."Well, that's a funny coincidence, isn't it?" What I mean is...she was denied alimony a few days ago. Now she is screaming abuse. It doesn't mean it didn't happen. It just means it's strange.

As I said above, I have been in an abusive relationship. I have been included on a restraining order (different situations) and I have been through a divorce. I am not speaking from a place of complete ignorance when I say that to me, this is a bit fishy. I would not think this at all if not for the sequence of events. I also know though that if you were not there, you just don't know. I try hard not to speculate on things because of this, and when I do, I have no problem at all admitting that I am wrong - should that be the case.

What bothered me about this whole situation was the fact that most of the media has already convicted Johnny Depp. The pitchforks and the torches are out and they are ready to chase him from the castle and into the woods where he belongs. There are witness testimonies, there are lawyers, there will be a judge. There needs to be proof to convict, and we don't know if that exists. I am finding it hard not to do the opposite of what the media is doing and declare him innocent, despite that being my instinct about the whole situation, because I feel it's unfortunate that any situation should ever come to this.  Nine times out of ten, I side with the woman in these that right or wrong. This just doesn't feel right though.

What do you think?

Does the media jump too soon to convict?

Do we help that along by making up our own decision?

We won't know the outcome for some time on this case. It's terrible and unfortunate for all involved. I hope that both of these people can find peace in their hearts and their minds.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why I Needed a Break From Facebook

I have stayed on Facebook for a lot longer than I should. The truth is, for a long time I really enjoyed having it. It was the only way I stayed in touch with a lot of people in my life. Friends who had moved away or just gotten busy. It enabled me to share pictures and stories of my kids and any adventures we were having with family that I rarely ever saw. It gave me a place to let my brain throw up when I needed to get things off my chest. It allowed me to remain safely in my own world and still feel a part of the rest of the world and the lives of my friends...which as someone suffering from mental illness, it allowed me to straddle both worlds safely. Or so I thought.

In reality, it had begun picking away at me. It was swallowing me.

I was drowning in sensationalized misery.

There are so many good things that come from social media, but it's a fine line to walk. Eventually I had to realize that I needed a break.

Every day was spent scrolling through anxiety triggers. Horrible pictures of tragedy shared over and over again by news outlets, bloggers, and ordinary people. I couldn't handle seeing these pictures and videos over and over again. Having to "Hide This" ten or fifteen times in a day just to keep from breaking down in the bathroom. I'm an empath. I have severe anxiety. All it takes is an image to reduce me to a pile of tears and snot on the floor for two days.

I was inundated with opinions. Things I was doing wrong as a mother. Things I was doing wrong as a wife. Things I was doing wrong as a daughter. Things I was doing wrong as a sister. Things I was doing wrong as a human. As a friend. As an adult. As a driver. As a gardener. As a bill payer. Do I need to go on? What is worse is my need to comment on all of it. The posts. The blogs. The horribly spelled memes.

I was exhausted by how much nonsense and misinformation was constantly shared, re-shared, and made viral. I was tired of feeling the need to comment on that crap too.

I was overwhelmed by everyone's good fortune while I seemed to be wallowing in ordinary life. Did everyone else REALLY have it that easy? They had great jobs. They made lots of money. They never had to choose between paying the electric bill and the rent, or the car payment and the cable, or the insurance and the phone bill. They always had money for vacations and new cars. They always took their kids on day trips and to super fun restaurants. We were eating hot dogs for the third time this week.

It seemed everyone was fit and fabulous, and I am here struggling to get my medication/pregnancy weight to just stay the hell under 200 lbs. People are constantly posting pictures from marathons and mud runs and yoga poses and gym mirror shots and flattering Crossfit shots of jumping on boxes and shit. I am over here sweating my way through 25 jumping jacks every day and hiking up the street pushing a stroller, dreaming of cupcakes and eating salad and my weight is barely budging. Everyone looks fab. I look like a cow. Then a picture of myself from six years ago would pop up, I would remember that I still had those jeans in the closet, and I would sink even deeper.

I was so tired of feeling isolated. My stressful job, my depression and anxiety, my devotion as a mother has kept me as an introvert the last few years. I am not an unhappy person, but I struggle with mental disorders that affect me deeply and keep me to myself a lot. That are hard to talk about and even harder to make anyone understand who doesn't know from experience just how complicated it is. How hard it is to get myself out of the safety of my home. I think I am an ok person to hang out with, but people don't really ask you to hang out anymore after a while. Plus, I am usually with my kids. I am happiest there. But to see everyone you know out and about and hanging out with their friends makes you feel a little...well, diseased. You feel lonely. You feel replaced. You feel a little bitter. Mostly you just feel invisible.

One day you would realize someone had blocked you. I would drive myself crazy trying to figure out why...even if it was someone that I didn't give a rat's ass about. It would destroy me to know that I did something or shared an opinion or a photo or something that disgusted someone to the extent that they could not see any fragment of my existence anymore.

I was really over the vanity aspect of it all. Everyone takes the occasional selfie. I take them with my kids, and struggling with my weight, I would happily post ones where I looked good. There are folks who post them every. Single. Day. It doesn't matter how much I like you, I eventually grow tired of seeing the many versions of your face.

Mostly though, I was just tired of spending so much time and effort in a place that made me feel so bad about myself. A place so competitive. So full of anger, hate, misery...often hidden behind smiles and inspirational quotes. The negativity was draining.

I needed to let my head clear. To remember that I was important. That I didn't need validation from 600+ people, most of whom didn't think about me at all, ever, unless they saw a picture of me as they scrolled their news feed. I have a list of friends who probably don't even like me. Hell, I don't even know if my family likes me most of the time based on Facebook, and I really can't be bothered wondering anymore.

So I didn't block anyone (unless they are harassing you with pictures of their wiener or being a fucking pervert, I think that is childish anyway) or unfriend anyone or agonize over any of that. I just disconnected. I am sure I will go back eventually, but not now. Not for a while.

There is too much sunshine outside. And I don't need to tell anyone about it.