Monday, June 24, 2013

Are fathers reading mommy blogs?

I rely on "Mommy Blogs" to uplift me when I'm feeling like a crappy mom, enlighten me to the struggles of other parents, and invite me into a community when I'm feeling alone. They're hilarious, touching, and most importantly, honest.

These blogs hold valuable insight into motherhood for mothers AND fathers. Unfortunately,  men are not typically the target market. I am not suggesting that mommy bloggers change their approach to entice male readers. On the contrary, women-only spaces are crucial for sharing and mentoring among women which leads to empowerment. The raw nature of the messages in these blogs needs to be preserved.  It also needs to be shared with men, especially fathers.

I read a blog post by Rage Against The Minivan that closely mirrored my stress over keeping up with holidays. I am creative by nature and love to share my talents, but I just can't be "homemade" all the time.  Trivial stuff, I know, but it was undermining my confidence to be a "good mom". It occurred to me that my husband probably never thought about this stuff. He wasn't feeling pressure from other dads to get creative birthday party ideas from Pinterest or make Hallmark quality Valentine's Day cards for my son's preschool class. That blog post empowered me to reject that pressure I was feeling.

I wanted to tell my husband about it all, but feared that it would sound silly to him...which, on the surface it does.  However, my emotions were NOT silly. As my partner in parenting, I needed his understanding and support.  I emailed him the link and he read it. He saw why his relatively practical wife was stressing about cooking and crafts.  Now when he catches me trying to do too much, he'll say, "you know, you don't HAVE to do that", and he is right. I need that external voice of reason.  It forces me to stop and question my motivation. Sometimes I keeping working because I'm having fun on a project, but sometimes I put down the glue gun, frosting, or needle & thread and go to bed instead.

I invited my husband to share in that safe space typically reserved for us awesomely flawed mamas. He engaged and learned something new about what it feels like to be me. I hope the readers of mommy blogs who are touched by their messages will share them with other mothers and fathers. They need to be engaged in this hilarious and honest portrait of motherhood. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Courageous

“We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” Gloria Steinem


Patience.  Endless patience. Everyone tells you before you have children that you'll need to learn patience.  I worried I would not acquire patience quickly enough.  It took about 3 1/2 years of being a parent to find a level of patience that allowed everyone in my house to find calm.... most days.

Courage. This took me by surprise. I didn't realize how much courage it would take to be a parent. I find myself struggling with this idea even more so than patience.

Having lunch with a friend we discussed gender norms among children and, specifically, how to teach daughters to hold onto the self esteem when there are so many imposing messages trying to strip it away.  Obviously, I have no daughters to teach this to, but I don't take lightly my position as mother of two boys. Hence the Gloria Steinem quote above.   I first heard that quote in college and it has never left me.

The strengthening of women in the fight for equality has produced an unnecessary burden on women to be more like men, while still being just as feminine. You must be super-mom, super-wife  super-CEO, super-entrepreneur , oh, and super-skinny too. Every time I hear "Girl Power" I cringe.  Does it ever feel like we're trying to emulate the gender that created all this oppression in the first place?  I want all girls and women to be strong - emotionally, politically, professionally, physically - but I just as desperately want boys and men to be vulnerable, sensitive, empathetic, caring, compassionate, selfless, and nurturing. How else are we going to truly stop oppression, violence against women, and discrimination? I want gender freedom. Not blurred lines, and unisex bathrooms. I want boys to become nurses without be called a "Male Nurse" and women to be CEOs without being called a "Woman CEO".  I want little girls to be girl scouts who build robots and boys to take classes to be babysitters - and I want all of this without any stigma attached. I want it to just be normal. I want people praised for being exceptional human beings based on achievements and contributions, not in spite of or because of their gender. While this goes way beyond parenting, that seems like a good place to start.

My wish for all parents: 
Find time to stop and ask yourself,  am I teaching my children how to "be a man" or to "be a woman" - if the answer is "yes" - stop.  Then, find the courage to just teach them how to be human beings.

This song says it much better than I do...