Moms and their dirty little secrets
Today’s Oprah features a consortum of mothers speaking about the difficulties of motherhood. Guests include actress Cheryl Hines (RV at our house, but also Curb Your Enthusiasm and In the Motherhood, currently airing) author Trisha Atworth and Celeb mommy blogger Heather Armstrong of Dooce fame.
Confessions from moms range from having a favorite, to not wanting sex to using a diaper to avoid road trip pit stops (Mom uses the diaper, not the baby. That’s obvious). They talk about the competition and how difficult motherhood can be. People are wondering where the people are that are talking about how difficult motherhood is and the difficulty of keeping up appearances.
I have a reputation, in my circle, of being a bit of a Martha Stewart type. I make things, that cost more time and stress than it would cost to buy them.
(those are homemade cupcakes with sugared icing and homemade fondant stars. It wasn’t my inital concept, that’s just what happened after I learned that fondant+humidity=no)
In 2005, I went into counseling for my severe anxiety. There was a host of things causing my anxiety, most of them related to the health of my Mother, but part of the smaller tributaries feeding my river of depression was my need to do literally everything.
I made Halloween costumes, decor, I scrapbooked, knitted for charity, sewed, cooked, baked and took all my own pictures too. I made all my own Christmas cards too, by hand. Fifty of them. I did all of this while dealing with a devastating family illness, the stress of Big Daddy’s attempting to run his own company, the financial struggles stemming from that and trying to conceive after a pregnancy loss that devastated me. The counselor I saw was kind, but honest. Who was I impressing? Why did I try SO HARD.
Why did I?
First, I always envied the kids who had moms who had a creative streak. I had a fantastic Mom. She read, she took us places, she created traditions and loved us, but her creative streak? Virtually nonexistent. I envied the kids who got homemade, creative costumes, while mine were bought off the rack (excluding in Kindergarten when I wore the plastic mask with a plastic tie on smock. Those came out of a box). In thinking about it, I’ve always been a creative person and forged to make my own way with the materials I had (I had a disastrous encounter with a handheld sewing machine and success making a braided rag rug).
But it was really more than that. Decking the Princess out in a handmade princess costume, with a custom fitted sleeve (she had a broken arm), faux fur trim, pearl accents matched perfectly to her cast was sort of a big FU to other parents. I had no joy making that costume. Not one speck. And, in fact, I talked the Princess out of a more simple costume because I wanted to wow people (not even her, really) with that one. We won’t even get into the panic attack (probably literally) I had over finding a tiara that would work.
What that time in couseling taught me was that I wasn’t doing things anymore to impress the world. The counselor stressed dong things for me, but I included my family and I took a concept from the Flylady too.. (and let me tell you, that’s the only thing I’ve ever managed to take from Flylady, but that’s a different post. ;o). I stopped doing things that didn’t “bless” me or the ones I loved.
I still sew Halloween costumes. Why? The Princess loves them. She loves being able to pick patterns and fabric and being something that not everyone else is. I find joy making those things for her. She loves them, wears them and appreciates them. Christmas cards? I order them pre-made with my own photos (which I still love to take) on-line. They cost a little more, but I can even have the envelopes pre-addressed and they take about 20 minutes to make as opposed to 20 hours. I’ve learned about the benefits of healthy, pre-made meals (I like stuff from Trader Joe’s) to cut down on the time in the kitchen. I only do things that I’m passionate about.
So, why does this relate to Oprah today? Well, first comes in the end of the big FU to other moms. I’m not trying to be better than you anymore, just good at caring for my own kids. My daughter’s homemade costumes are because that’s what they love and I’m willing to do it. I’m not an over achiever and I don’t have that much time on my hands. I do it simply because it makes me and the people I love happy. I probably won’t sew for you. ;o)
The second comes in urging other moms to go the same path. What are you doing that you don’t love that you’re only doing because you think you should? If you don’t love it and no one cares, it’s time to stop and save your time,money and sanity. Devote your time to things you and those you love care about. Go letterboxing instead of trying to maintain a garden or flowers that no one cares about, but you’re doing to impress the neighbors. Make your Christmas cards at Shutterfly. I guarantee you no one will care and they’ll probably feel less guilt about throwing it away after the holidays.