What Makes A Real Parent?

What Makes A Parent..A Parent?

Being a parent depends on very few things.

Of course, it requires Love. Care. Devotion. Nurturing. And that’s pretty much it. Certain things like DNA, actually don’t matter as much as some would like to think. You don’t have to share DNA to be considered a parent of a child you raise and love.

I have one son. While I do Love him, give him the best of care, devoting and nurturing, I have actually contributed to his DNA. Most days it doesn’t appear so, because he is a carbon copy of his Dad, but I’m pretty sure some genes are in there somewhere.

The strangest comment ever…

I attended a jewelry party not too long back this year (for those that don’t know, they are much like the old school tupperware, or the new school “wrap” parties, but much more fun), and it wasn’t long before I had one of the more insensitive comments about ‘family size’ directed towards me, that I have yet to have trumped.

During a casual conversation that had nearly each woman commenting on how many kids they currently had, and whether or not they wanted more, I replied while sipping a glass of chardonnay that “I already have one, and he’s more than enough right now.”

That’s when an acquaintance looked me directly in the eye, and without any hint of humor (or even a light tone) explained that, “You are not a parent until you have two.”

You are not a parent until you have two.

And she was dead serious and went on to explain. “That’s what someone told me, and they were right.”

“Well, I guess I’m not a parent then,” I laughed into my glass, still trying to comprehend exactly what I just heard. This woman went on to explain that until you have to play mediator between two fighting toddlers, or break up a fight amongst four children over a Barbie Doll, that “…you have no idea what it means to be a parent.”

Defining “parent”…

So being in labor for over 30 hours, to give birth to the sweetest little boy, who made my heart want to explode, didn’t make me a parent. Having panic attacks while watching him sleep at two days old, finding myself in literal fear for questioning my own ability to be able to give him everything I thought he needed, didn’t mean I was a parent. Cluster-feeding a 3 month old with a fever, putting aside my own hunger and sleep-deprivation, in order to do whatever it took to ease his pain, meant nothing. The fact I would give my life for my child was pointless…because I hadn’t done this twice.

It was everything I could do to bite my tongue. Any retort would have fallen on deaf ears. And as the mother of a only child, I know I can’t possibly be the only one who has heard these types of comments. One of my favorites (that this person did later use to me) was, “You don’t want them to be spoiled.”

Well, I can blame his grandparents for that. He was spoiled before he was ever born. So since the damage was already done, I don’t think purposefully making another little human being they can spoil again is going to solve anything.

So the question is then; what am I?

Since raising a child as their mother, loving them unconditionally, giving them everything you have and more, doesn’t qualify you to be a parent-then what does? Is there a magic number of children required to ensure the title of “parent” bestowed upon someone?

Well, I guess there is; two.

Well, right now I have an almost 13 month old. I’m not ready to have another one. And I have no shame about it.

But I would like to think that qualities like compassion, understanding, even just being charitable and uncritical of people, should be a higher requirement of what it takes to be a parent.

But, what do I know? While I might be the only thing that calms my fussy baby at the end of the day, I’m not a “parent.” Not by these standards. But I do know that I love my little boy, and will do whatever it takes to keep him happy, healthy, and safe.

And that should be all that it takes.

How I delt with the offhand comment that "In order to be a REAL PARENT, you must have more than one child..."

Kissing Kids? Return of the Sanctimommy

They’re back…

Everyone has their different styles of parenting, and showing affection. Unless it’s defined as actual abuse, no one is really better than another. That doesn’t stop the sanctimommies from poking their noses where it doesn’t belong, but then again, what really stops them from doing that?

One topic I’ve noticed the Dementor-like sanctimommy focusing on? Parents who kiss their children on the lips.

The judgement…

Now, if you know me, you’ll know I actually don’t do this. And before you judge me for that, first pause, and read on. I’m not sexualizing kissing my son (eww..I’m offended that you might have thought that I was, and that’s my reason for not doing it!). But my long-term thinking is this; I kiss my husband on the lips because that’s my husband, obviously. My son is going to grow up knowing what type of affection that is. He is going to see Mommy kiss Daddy on the lips, and know that’s what people do when they’re in love. He will get kisses on his cheeks and owies from the both of us, and know that is how we show affection for him as his parents. I want him to know that kissing certain places is for certain people. His grandparents give him kisses on the cheek. His aunts.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, I want my child to understand that getting a peck on the cheek is normal. But should he be at a friend’s house for a sleepover, or another situation, and an adult who is NOT his cheek-kissing reative try to kiss him ANYWHERE…I want him to know that, isn’t ok. And he needs to tell me. It’s not sexualizing as much as it’s about boundaries.  Call me a helicopter parent if you want to, but that’s how we choose to face the topic of kissing kids on the lips.

Not to mention the germ factor – if I have a cold, the last thing I want is to give it to my child via the mouth. So no lip kissing, or sharing drinks, or anything like that.

But this isn’t a post about the reasons why I chose not to kiss my kid on the lips. It’s a post about why you shouldn’t shame another parent for choosing to do that.

No one parent is the same…

As I mentioned before, everyone parents in a different way. And if you choose to show affection to your child in that manner, not only do you have the right to parent as you see fit…but I, nor anyone else, really has the right to say anything about it (unless, of course, it’s literally abuse). It’s sad that some people have to poke around and look for something so innocent to get bent out of shape about.

Notice as I did explain my reasoning, that I didn’t put anyone else down? While I have my reasons for doing as I do, I’m certainly not going to tell anyone else why they should or shouldn’t do something. You are the parent, it’s your choice. I honestly don’t care how you choose to kiss your kids goodnight.

And what does someone get out of shaming a fellow parent for doing anything they don’t choose to do? You called that mother “gross” because she kissed her daughter on the lips. Okay…so what did you really accomplish, other than looking like a self-righteous jerk? That mother is probably going to kiss her daughter goodnight anyway…and probably on the lips. As long as it isn’t hurting you or your family, does it matter what another family does?

As I mentioned in a previous post, some people are quite like Dementors – they love to suck the love and joy out of someone, for any reason possible. Don’t let them. You show affection how you want to with your children. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

And in case there are any around now…seriously, each time ya’ll try to comment to me that “well your child isn’t going to think you love them when..” or whatever you think you absolutely have to say to me; I’m gonna cast my Patronus on you. And then eat chocolate.

kissing

Open Letter To That New Mom

Dear New Mother,
First, congratulations on your bundle of joy! Right now, they may not seem very joyful, but trust me, they are.

They may seem like screaming, inconsolable terrors from the depths of insanity. You might feel like nothing you do is right. You probably feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and as if you’ve bitten off way more than you can chew.

It’s ok. Almost every mother feels like this-a lot! This won’t be the last time you feel this way either.

You may even feel lonely and afraid as you adjust to the new weight of the unimaginable responsibility of caring for another tiny, helpless human being. This is ok too. 

Just know that you aren’t alone.

It does get easier…but then it becomes hard again. Just like Life itself. But what you are doing is a Great thing, And believe me, it is worth it. Even at 4am, running on 3 hours of sleep in the last two days, overwhelmed by teething and fevers and God knows what else that could possibly be wrong….it is worth it.

Your baby will look at you and smile. Snuggle up and coo so softly. Laugh at your presence. And all the anger, frustration, stress will (maybe even just temporarily) melt away. And you’ll see.

Don’t let the difficulties get the best of you. I know this is hard. I know this seems impossible sometimes. But we all have times like this.

Don’t let the stories of those “perfect mommies” make you feel like you’re failing somehow. Trust me, that seemingly “perfect” parent who’s child goes to sleep (and sleeps forever), eats all their veggies, hits milestones early, and is portrayed as the picture perfect baby-does something that makes that Fake Untouchable Parent cringe and want to pull their hair out. They just aren’t going to tell you about it. *wink*

But all the messes, meltdowns, and missed opportunities you gave up for your child, are all worth it in the end. They really are. And don’t for one second think that you are the first one to spend the day with dried puke (or pee..or even poop) on their clothes, too spent to think about changing, walking throughout the house with a squalling child just begging for a break. We’ve all done it. And anyone who isn’t sympathetic to that is not only untrue to themselves, but not worth wasting any energy on thinking about.

Find mothers who keep it real to form your tribe. It’ll help you keep your sanity, and you might even learn some things along the way.

Keep trekking. The Journey is long, but oh so worth it.

Sincerely,
Another Mom.

An open letter to all New Moms, from a New Mom

 

Guest Post: When Your Husband Is Trilingual (And You Aren’t)

Today I have a guest post running on Working Mommy Abroad (one of my favorite blogs!) about a very prevalent situation in our household. it’s growing by the day, and it’s something to look forward to.

My husband speaks three languages and will be teaching them to our son. I, however, do not.

So head over there and check it out, as well as other posts!

Learning to Love Myself

People are made in all different shapes and sizes. Diversity is not only a very beautiful thing, but a very common and normal part of life.

I think it’s awesome that we live in a world where everyone looks different, and unique. It could be much worse-we could live within an episode of Star Trek where everyone looks exactly the same, and it’s boring and bland…

I’ve written about the “unwritten mom-wardrobe code” and  body shaming before, but today I’m going to focus on why I’ve stopped putting myself down for my looks, and my plan to learn to love myself.

I’ve been my size pretty much my whole (nearly 30 years) life. Except for pregnancy, and I naturally lost all the baby weight. I’m not a work-out fiend. I wish I were, and I get excited about trying a new ab challenge every once in a while, but it’s always the same; I put it off until tomorrow, and then before I know it, it’s taco tuesday and I’ll start that 30 day challenge next month. I’m lazy. No shame.

Do I wish I had bigger breasts and a bigger butt? Of course. Who doesn’t want their body to look better? I don’t think anyone is completely happy with their looks. We all want nicer bodies, hair, nails, whatever. I honestly hate being skinny. Whoever made up “thin privilege” has never went to the mall with me. I’m lucky if I find anything I like in my size. Although, I think that’s a universal woman problem, regardless of size…

And it does really upset me when I hear stories of people who have felt such pressure by peers, or celebrities they admire, that they began to hate their bodies. It’s a terrible thing to know that somewhere, there’s a 15 year old girl starving herself to look like the model on the cover of Cosmopolitan. There’s a 16 year old somewhere who thinks she needs breast implants and butt injections in order to feel beautiful. And it kills me to know that even a few people I personally know went to extreme lengths to look as skinny as I do (but really I was sitting on the couch eating nachos and not exercising).

When I receive those comments that, “Not all of us look like you!”, I used to explain that it’s always been very hard for me to gain weight. I have health problems that seem like a blessing in disguise to some. But my weight isn’t something I can, unfortunately, control.

But since I can’t control it, I’m not going to downplay myself to put anyone else at ease. I used to say “Oh, I got that dress in a size (3 sizes bigger) because it didn’t fit,” just to make a friend feel better. I’m not going to admit to working out like crazy four times a week, when I know that I spent that time vegging out on the couch once the baby was asleep. I’m not gong to agree with someone’s assumption that I just “Don’t eat a lot” when most days, my plate is bigger than my 250+ pound husband.

I don’t feel like lying is helping the issues that someone else has with their appearance.

We need to teach people, young and old, that health is all that matters. Not striving to be like the cover of a magazine, or comparing yourself to someone you know-but to just try to be healthy. And don’t look to your peers and the beautiful people on TV to be your comparison. Motivation is one thing, but when it becomes dangerous to your own self image, it needs to stop. And by lying, you can inadvertently create an image that may cause someone trying to replicate what they think is real, to spiral out of control.  

Not to mention, it just isn’t fair to me. If I can wear something, I’m going to. If I don’t feel like going to the gym, I won’t. It’s not up to me to be a spokesperson for my type, or to encourage anyone else to strive to be like me. I’m just myself.

And with that in mind, I’m going to learn to love myself. Other’s might not like me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to. I need to learn to love my body (and hair, and personality). Every woman needs to learn to love themselves. Because no matter who you are, someone somewhere is envious of you. Differences are what makes us all unique. And the fact that someone is envious of a quality about you that they wish they had, that needs to be motivation enough to love yourself. And at the end of the day, if all you receive are haters, jealous because of the qualities you have and they lack-then if no one else is going to love you, you really need to love yourself.

So embrace what you have-because I’ll bet you anything that whatever it is, someone else wishes they had it. And the only opinion that matters of how you look, is yours. I will no longer make up excuses, or put myself down for how I look, to appease others. I only need to appease myself.

 Finding the qualities within yourself, and about yourself, and becoming happy with them instead of changing to appease others