Thursday, August 26, 2010

Being Nice Is Destroying My Family!

I know I wrote this before. I can't remember when or where --I'm guessing in March? If you find it, let me know and I'll give you a virtual fist bump. Yo'.

So, here it goes. My sister told me how a friend of hers (very busy musician, teacher, etc.) with one child said to my sister (who has three kids): "You are such an amazing mom! You are so good with your boys. How in the world do you have the time to do all the amazing things you do with your boys??"
My sister shrugged and said: "I don't do anything else."

That, my friend, is the truth. When one does nothing but be mother, than one tends to have time to do the mothering kind of thing.

[Now, although my sister stays home with her boys and is mother-extraordinaire, you have to understand that she has been a working mom. Full-time working mom. She knows the difference. Plus, our mom has worked full time for 33 years. So, I don't begrudge any woman doing what she knows is best for her family. That's the little caveat, here, in case people freak out.]

So, I've noticed something. Mothering isn't just about clean houses or clean kids. It's also about homework supervision, service teaching, socialization, spiritual guiding, emotional reaching, meal planning, future seeing, and massive-organization-so-the-whole-thing-doesn' It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy to be a mom.

A lot.

When I take a lot of time away from my kids for either pleasure things (blogging, GNO, writing, book clubs, volunteer work) or work things (, I have less time to be a good mom, and I actually tend to be a somewhat bad mom. Well, maybe a little-less-than-great mom. But when I focus on the mothering and limit the other things, then I become awesome at the mothering.

I know. The logic is just out-of-this-world mesmerizing.

But it takes effort to do it. Like my sister. She spends a lot of time planning her life accordingly so she can be an awesome mom. And she is. An awesome mom. Now, that's not to say you are a bad mom because you do things differently --I have no idea. You could be spectacular! But for ME --me, me, me, me, me --this is how it is. I have to focus on the kids more to be the best mom I can be. Again, the logic is astounding!

This reminds me of a painful thing. Which sort of relates. But not really. But enough that I'm willing to chance it:

I once had a friend tell me she understood exactly what it was like to be me. Married, with kids, etc. even though she's never been married or had kids. I reacted badly (very badly) to this assumption, and it pretty much destroyed our friendship. But looking back, I don't really regret my reaction. Perhaps in the delivery. It's all about the delivery. And yeah, I could have delivered it better.

Or not at all.

Anyway, my reaction was raw because telling me a person does not have to actually experience marriage or children to know exactly what it's like to be married or have children is basically dismissing my entire decade of experience. And my current life. It's a slap in the face to what I've lived. It's mocking the pain and the joy that are mine. I would never, could never, assume to know what it's like to have a chronic disease. Or to be a single woman in her 30's. Or a full-time missionary for the LDS church (or any church, for that matter!). I could never claim knowledge of adoption or of military life. Sure, I could sympathize --I could imagine. But I would never claim I know. There is only one Person who knows about it all.

Another friend once told me that we shouldn't compare trials. Ever. NEVER. We can't. We shouldn't. Because we can't possibly win that game --we all come out losers (wallowing in our supposed victory of being the one with the worst trial. Rah, rah, sis-boom-bah). The only thing we should learn to adopt are the following:

1. Charity
2. Sympathy/mourning
3. Kindness
4. Empathy

And you know, empathy only applies when we have, in our hands, the same trial. For example: My Depression. I have another friend (look at all these friends! Yay!) who told me she has no clue what it's like to be Depressed. No idea! And she doesn't try or pretend to understand. She's very compassionate about my Depression --she's sympathetic, kind, and full of mourning. But she doesn't empathize.

Anywhosers, what does this have to do with me, my mothering, my experience? I honestly have no idea. It's just another conglomeration of where my brain has been going the last couple of days. School started, and with it came neediness. My kids need me more. They need my time, my efforts, my brain, my heart. It's delightful and frustrating all at the same time! In fact, here's this morning's little ditty:

Me: That's it! No more! No more! You children are getting up at 7AM EVERYDAY. You are going to bed at 8PM EVERYDAY. You will not stop at so-and-so's house after school; you will come straight home! You will practice your piano and do your homework! Movies in the evening are reserved for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays! Scriptures and prayers in the morning are at 8AM and are non-negotiable! We will no longer have these late mornings and these last-minute scrambling to finish homework because I let you have snacks and play with friends and watch movies on school nights! No more! We will be responsible! I'm DONE being nice!

In fact, as I told my walking friend this morning: Being nice is destroying my family!
Mean moms always get things done, eh?

There you go. Not that any of it connects, but whatever. Just remember this! Motherhood is hard, it takes one to know one, and being nice will destroy your family!

That is all.


FluffyChicky said...

That is my new motto...being nice is destroying my family. So, the meaner I am, the better off my family will be. I like it! :)

Alison Wonderland said...

So freaking true, every bit of it!

When I'm on the computer, whether I'm facebooking or doing my homework, I'm not paying attention, certainly not full attention to my kids. So I can't give them what they want from me. The other side of that is that I think it's good for kids to learn that the world does not in fact revolve around them and if they have to wait or figure it out for themselves or what have you that could be a good thing. Or a bad thing.

We all just do the best we can.

Mean moms UNITE!

Emily & Co. said...

The logic is truly astounding...funny that it seems I keep learning that same lesson over and over again!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

True dat.

Valerie said...

Being a mom, even when you're a stay-at-home mom who really concentrates on her children, is definitely hard work. I never understood a fraction of how hard my mother (of six children) worked for us. Having my own children has definitely helped me appreciate my mother and all her efforts and struggles more than I could have understood any other way.

Michelle said...

I DO understand. And yep, this mothering (especially if you have a handful or more) is a double-time gig.

flip flop mama said...

The other day I went outside to find my daughter riding her scooter in the street. I told her if she couldn't obey the rules she would have to come inside. As I was walking back in I heard her friend say, "you're mom is kinda mean". I took that as i must be doing something right.

Cardalls said...

I equal mean mom with good mom. Too many "nice" moms out there who give in to every whim or tantrum of their child. You don't have to be mean...but firm and sticking to your guns is good.

My #5 is now 4 months old and boy howdy is 5 a whole new bag of tricks (especially this baby...he is super high maintenance). Motherhood is HARD and there is NO way to know what it's like until you've been there. I even had a Mom of 2 tell me she knew how hard it was because her #2 was a hard baby...sorry but having 2 and having 5 is NOT the same AT ALL!

Jared said...

So does this mean that I'm going to be taking your place in going to China.

Becky, I have 2 cats said...

Oh I totally know what you mean! The other morning I had to clean up a hairball before getting ready for work. That mothering thing, man, I KNOW, y'know?

heheheheeeee......... ;)

Didn't we have that conversation once that some days you'd rather take my 3 job, 70 hour work week. And I said I'd keep that over being a mom of multiples and on call 24/7. Yeah. I still stick to that. Love ya woman! It takes a lot of guts to do the mom thing and put it all out there for the world as well.

brenbot said...

I guess it depends on what definition of empathy you use but I like to think you can still empathize even if you haven't been in the same situation as another person. My favorite definition:

Empathy: The courage to enter into the world of another in a manner that does not judge, sympathize, or correct, but in a manner where the goal is creative understanding.