I remember the days in the not so distant past when I was the kind of mummy who wore my babies in slings, breastfed beyond two years, practiced baby-led-weaning, and swore by co-sleeping and never CIO (crying it out). I was the kind of mummy who sat around with her friends drinking tea and talking about the best way to gently discipline without spanking, why attachment parenting is the best way to go, how to prepare the best home remedies for minor ailments, and where we could find fluoride-free toothpaste. I was the kind of mummy who did crafts with her kids, read them books before bedtime, made gorgeous bento box lunches to send with them to school, and took them on playdates to the park with other SAHMs and their kids for some good old fashioned Vitamin D.
I liked being that mummy. I admire that mummy. She was pretty all right.
Now I'm the kind of mummy who forgets to send back signed forms to the school, who runs out of clean uniforms before Friday because she hasn't done the laundry, and who packs pre-packaged food in disposable, non-environmentally friendly bags for lunch. The mummy who lets them watch too much TV so she can catch a break and shouts way too much when they get unruly.
It's so easy to compare the SAHM me to the WOHM me and see the latter as inferior. I idealize the former and remember her as certainly far more serene than she actually was, while criticizing the latter. Here's the deal: I need to give the current me some credit. I need to stop comparing and cut myself some slack.
So instead of dwelling on all the things I'm not doing so much anymore, it's time I look at the bright side of the new WOHM me. Here are five things I am doing right as a mother:
1. I'm modeling feminist empowerment.
This in fact is what I've been doing all along. As a SAHM, I showed my kids that a woman can do whatever she believes is right for her life. I modeled positive feminist values by choosing to stay home with my kids, while my husband supported us, because it was what I (we) believed in. As a WAHM later down the line, I showed my kids that a woman can start her own business and be creative in finding ways to make money and support her family. I showed them that a woman can both take care of household jobs and run a business and be fulfilled in all these activities. Now, as a WOHM, I am demonstrating that a woman can have a career and be a mother, that women can be as successful as men, and that if a woman wants to work outside the home, she should do so. A woman can do whatever is right for her at whatever stage of her life she is in. Whether she is a SAHM, WAHM or WOHM, she can be successful and fulfilled in all she does.
(As a side note, Scott has also been modeling feminist values to our children by supporting and agreeing with my work choices all along the way. He shows our son how to respect a woman's capabilities and personal autonomy, while also showing our daughters how a man can and should respect a woman's capabilities and personal autonomy. My husband is a seriously awesome feminist.)
2. I'm not afraid to say I'm sorry.
When the kids act mean or rude, I expect them to apologize. When I act mean or rude, I apologize too. Often times my fuse can be short, and I react no better than a child. When I blow things out of proportion or throw a hissy fit, I am not afraid to say I'm sorry to my kids. I'm not perfect, and if my kids haven't already discovered this, they will soon enough. Teaching them to apologize by example is a life skill I am able to teach on a regular basis! It is not a sign of weakness for a parent to apologize to a child when the parent is in the wrong; it's a demonstration of maturity and humility.
(Side note. Scott is awesome about apologizing to the kids too. We also say we are sorry to each other in front of the kids anytime we have a fight. Apologies aren't just for children.)
3. I talk to them openly about social issues and current events.
We listen to NPR in the car nearly everywhere we go (and when it's not NPR, it's really good music, which is also something we're doing right), and our kids ask us often about the news they hear. We talk openly about the current events and social issues that are discussed. Whether it's a white police officer who shot a black man for no reason, a gay couple being refused a marriage license, the presidential debates, Syrian migrants, or religious freedom, we talk openly about it. We ask the kids to think these things through themselves and encourage them to come up with their own solutions and opinions. We do our best to make our kids aware of the larger world around them and to see themselves as activists who can make the world a better place. Between our three kids, we have a future President of the United States, a schoolteacher, and a Power Ranger. How more activist could they get?
4. I laugh with them.
All these "I I I"s should really be "We We We"s. Scott is 100% all of these things too. As a family, we make a point of being silly as often as possible. We're a bunch of sarcastic so-and-sos who tease the crap out of each other and play silly pranks on each other and make jokes about everything. Sometimes things have to be taken seriously, but we make a point of being lighthearted whenever we can. Life is short and laughter is free.
5. I read.
They say one of the best things you can do for a child's academic success is have books in the home. We are rebuilding our home library after selling everything, and we make it a priority to give the kids plenty of access to books for themselves. Besides just having books in the home, we aim to actively cultivate a love of reading in our kids. We may not have the same perfect routine we used to have of reading books every night before bed, but reading is still a huge part of our family life. My youngest loves being read to, my middle is discovering how exciting it is to sound out the words and read for herself, and my oldest is never further than arm's reach away from a novel twice the size of her. And besides just encouraging them to enjoy reading, I often have my nose in a book too. Without even trying, I am demonstrating a love for reading. I carry one (sometimes two) books with me everywhere I go, and I simply love to read. Actively instilling this in them as well as modeling it in myself is a parenting win. I may not cook organic meals, but I will read the crap out of some books then pass them on to a kid.
What is something YOU are doing right in your life? When the easiest thing to do is see all the things you're doing wrong, take a minute to jot down some of the things you are doing right, and share them here!