Where is my town? – Why Modern Parenthood Sucks

a bad mother

We love listening to music in our house, from Classical to Metal; Country to Reggae; And everything else. A good jam can lighten the mood, fill the void, and be a good excuse to do some cardio. So when I first heard James Brown’s “The Boss” while he was driving to work; I couldn’t wait to put it LOUD in my living room, dancing with my kids. However, I am learning that children have a way of pulverizing your good intentions. They really know how to shit in your dreams. When you try something fun, you think they’ll love it, but they don’t. Or what they actually take away from the activity is not what you planned…

So I played the song; everyone had fun and had fun. I sang along to my favorite line: “Look at me! Do you know what you see? You see a bad mother! A bad mother.” Great right? Right up until my almost three year old son starts babbling about ‘Bad Moms’ – how they live in the woods, say “Roar” and are generally very scary creatures. Swell! With me I’m already somewhat insecure and too worried about what people think of my upbringing.

So I (seriously) joked about it with everyone. I told them about “El Jefe” and that if they hear my daughter talk about a bad mother, she’s not talking about yours. He he! Nice! Leaving aside my lack of foresight; the situation is a bit poetic. Why do I feel like I’m not doing well enough? -Although when I think about it, I’m doing very well! My children are intelligent, healthy and cheerful. We have a happy and normal family. So why the guilty conscience? Why do I feel like I’m under scrutiny?

It has been a process of letting go of insecurities. I’m learning to recognize and debunk thoughts of impending failure, self-criticism that came from comparing myself to other moms. my children are happy even if we don’t do a crafty project every day. I’m such a good father like who has more time for gardening and food preservation. I definitely can’t cook: but I can learn.

On social media, we want to show our best side, that’s mostly all we see from other moms and dads. Therefore, I am comparing myself to people who do not exist! -They are my ideas of what a ‘perfect father’ would be. While I feel unsafe for these reasons, I am also alone with my children for most of their lives. Perhaps if I had more friends and family in my daily life, I would have more real examples and experiences to base my parenting on. – Not to mention the dead times for me and not just my children.

it takes a town

I know I’m not the only new parent who feels this way; I have a feeling for one of the reasons why: Parenting is much more difficult than we expected, and we have lost our proverbial ‘town’.

Everyone knows the saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” The phrase is widely believed to have originated in Africa; others believe it has its roots in Native American culture. Either way, this well-known proverb comes from a time and a place where people lived in community. It was a world where one’s neighbors were also close friends and family; where everyone played, worked, cried and celebrated together, always together. Today our society is compartmentalized. Most families are islands, as we generally have an “every man for himself” mentality. I feel that the community is very absent and it makes us more and more sad.

I long for the days gone by when families lived and worked together. As an honest kid of the ’80s, he, too, longs for a time not so far past: when neighbors and friends would get together for barbecues and card games. – Before the internet, TV and smartphones ruined everything. Please understand that I’m not against technology – it’s a wonderful thing, especially as a new parent, to have all the answers at your fingertips. Support groups and forums can be extremely helpful. However, it’s no secret that while having these tools has closed great distances between all of us, it can also drive a wedge between people in the same room.

We still need our aunts and uncles, cousins ​​and grandparents. They have been replaced by digital babysitters. It used to be “Come play with Auntie so Mommy can do the dishes.” Now it’s “do you want to see another movie? Okay, I guess so…”

He’s shooting to go see people. I have to plan Dress the kids in cute clothes, bring extras, bathe them and load them. When we come to other people’s houses, I spend most of the visit chasing and berating the children. There is very little uninterrupted sitting or conversation (the kind of much-needed adult). There is chaos. We came home grumpy and exhausted. I temporarily give up leaving my house, until they are in high school. Having a healthy social life is very difficult with many young children…and I am lucky to have more help than most.

All the help you can get.

I am one of the lucky ones: I have an amazing husband. I know many people don’t have that lifeline, as they navigate the unexpectedly difficult waters of parenthood. (To you single parents: hats off.) We are so thankful for my in-laws who live right next door to us. They are always there and ready to help. I am also thankful for my mom: she lives a few cities away, but she will always come to my aid: whether she has to work or is just having a bad day. These people, among others, make up my ‘tribe’.

While I know I have a ton of support, it’s still not enough. There are days I want to pull my hair out. Days I just don’t want -Mommy- for a moment. I mumble: “What was I thinking? I don’t have the patience for this, I didn’t know anything about kids, so I had two of them too close together, I suck at this…” I lost my cool. I yelled. I led her by the arm to the time-out chair. I growled.

So I apologize. Over and over again I ask these beautiful little monsters to forgive Mom. She is doing her best. She is nothing like the mother she imagined herself to be, when she was ignorant. She is asking: “Where is my town?”

Realizing that the struggle is real

I saw a joke that went something like: I used to be the perfect father, before I had kids. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I know the people who judge me the hardest are the ones who don’t have life sentences of their own. I know because I used to be one of those people. “When I have children, they will never misbehave because I will be tough and constant. That’s all, right?” I thought: “People much more ignorant than me, have children every day, we have this!” He didn’t know about the lack of sleep, the last bit of patience that was wearing thin. I didn’t plan on potty training and public disobedience. (I didn’t plan on contracting a debilitating chronic disease, either, but that’s a story for another article.)

Early in my pregnancy with baby number two, I met a woman who also had two girls about 15 months apart. When I told her that she was pregnant again, a worried look came over her face. She told me that she felt overwhelmed. About being so frustrated that she yelled at her children. “OH MY!” I thought: “I will NEVER yell at my babies!!” Ha. Ha ha. Ha

Another close friend had a mild crisis one night: she left her house without saying anything to her children or her husband, got into her car, and drove away. She checked into a hotel room and thus stepped away from life for a minute. It was a difficult time that she has since survived, with great success… But I ask: Where was her town?

I suggest a solution

I think as mothers we are afraid to ask for help because that feels like admitting inadequacy. We don’t want people to know that some days we are in over our heads. We absolutely cannot admit for a second that we are not 24/7 super moms. We get angry: We get sad. Many of us take antidepressant/anxiolytic medications.

I want to do something about it: I’m setting a personal goal to invite a friend over to my house once a week. I used to complain that people never come to see me, until I realized that maybe it’s because I don’t actively invite them. I’m making it a priority to go see a family member as often (as tiring as that is). I am going to start promoting group activities focused on carrying out projects of enormous proportions:

  • Window Wash Parts

  • garden meetings

  • Wood Cutting and Stacking Extravaganzas

  • canning parties

  • Yard work shenanigans

Bring wine and chocolate. Bring beer and sausages; whatever the occasion and the company requires it. Next week go over to someone else’s house and help them with whatever project is weighing on them. Just do it together. Not just “many hands make light work of it,” but meeting with real people to accomplish goals, no matter how big or small, is good for you, your family, and your community.

I will spend less time on social media. It makes us feel like we’re connecting, but we’re not. I will make phone calls and send cards. This is the task I set myself this summer: encourage each other to get out of our houses and do things together. Let’s build a town.

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