I picked up a new book at the library called Mean Moms Rule, by Denise Schipani. It was appealing to me because 1) I’ve checked out all the books our little library lends in the parenting and homeschool section, so when a new one comes in I snatch it up as soon as I see it, and 2) I’m kind of a no-nonsense mean mom and wanted some support and validation. The trend I noticed in the book is the all or nothing view the author takes on parenting. She only has two boys and scoffs at homeschooling so automatically I saw the judgemental overtones coming my way. The excitement I began reading with quickly turned to disappointment and a vast amount of sticky notes being placed on every other page full of notes and comments I just had to write. And when I read a book and fill it with sticky notes, it means only one thing… there’s a blog post coming.
Honey, if you are reading this I ask that you stop because I am going to write about an upcoming surprise and don’t want to ruin it for you. So, stop reading now babe :).
This book is a list of 10 mean mom manifestos. She begins with the mistake of turning our children into mini versions of ourselves. I agree… I don’t want my kids ending up like me. I want them succeeding in their hopes and dreams, which far surpass anything me and the hubby are doing. I also don’t want them inheriting my personality, my temperament, or my lack of health. She warns against protecting them from bullies because (come on homeschool moms, say it with me…) “How will they ever learn to deal with the real world?” Unfortunately, I became who I was partly because of the public schools. I went to a school known for its sports teams, it’s fairly wealthy families, and its attractive skinny girls. I killed myself trying to fit in. It was only later I learned that most schools were not like the ones in Medford Lakes, New Jersey. I did find my place, with people who accepted me, and we partied to gether. I fit in and made a name for myself by being bad. I was told years after I left that I was a legend in that school. Unfortunately, they didn’t see the pain, desperation, wasted talent and intelligence thrown away, and how bad I felt about myself. I wasn’t legend. I was a very scared and lost little girl with low self-esteem, not a legend. My kids won’t end up like me because they won’t go to a school like I did. The author, Denise, cites her reasons for staying out of the kid’s way in school and with unfair teachers and bad friends because “it’s about them, not about us.” Well, homeschooling is really about them. Remaining hands-on, sacrificing a great social life and putting my school-career on hold is for them. Last night Chris and I talked about putting the kids in school for a while because I have been sick, and I’m not getting better. I’m just so sick all the time. The thing is, the kids are thriving with home education. We may need to improve some of our parenting skills, but that would be an issue if they went to public school. Probably even more so. Letting the kids go to school and letting a 6 or 7 year old handle their own unfair, burned out teacher who picks on them because that what teachers do, seems a bit lazy on the parenting end of things. In the real world, a person is old enough to handle their own problems. They have the confidence and skills and strength to handle real world situations. When a mom leaves those problems to a young child to handle, I call it laziness.
“And why then, when we are stay-at-home moms, do we have to pretend a perfect front, telling anyone who’ll listen that we love spending the bulk of our days with sticky-fingered folks who don’t have all that expansive a vocabulary.” -author Denise. My kids have an awesome vocabulary and it’s because we spend time together enjoying each other and reading. When my kids have sticky fingers it’s because they’ve been finger painting a family tree or they’ve been out collecting soil samples and bugs. It’s not my kids that wear me out, it’s the housework. Housework makes me tired, stresses me out, and takes away from life. Sometimes cooking does too, as I make everything from scratch, but for the most part, it’s just the laundry and cleaning that wear me out. If I dropped my kids off at school and then they went to some mindless afterschool program, I would still have laundry and cleaning. Only then, I would not have the joy that homeschooling and being with my kids gives me. It’s what keeps me going. Sometimes I don’t want to homeschool, but it’s not so I can work. It’s so I can stay in bed and rest and heal. I am so tired all the time and life would be easier if I had complete health and no pain. Unfortunately, no amount of bedrest will take my pain away, so I homeschool because I don’t want to miss these years. When I say I like being with my kids and homeschooling them, it’s not a perfect front. Sorry to tell ya’ author lady, but just because you don’t enjoy being with your kids full-time doesn’t mean other moms don’t too. I could rain down a hailstorm on your working mom perspective. But I don’t need to. My family speaks for itself.
Something I found interesting is that the author, who’s full-time job is an editor and writer and having nothing to do with childcare or education or health, had another opinion I was able to drive my Mercury Sable through this morning. She writes that it’s a “myth” to think that the method of education we choose, how long we breastfeed for, and the smaller choices we make, that those things will matter in the long run. Guess what, they do. She praised her baby’s perfect non-cone head because he had a “perfect” c-section baby. If she only knew that the squeeze needed to move the baby out of the birth canal helps that child to take a good, strong, and healthy first breathe… on his own. If a c-section creates a perfect head, well then a natural birth creates stronger lungs. And by the way, vaginal birth cone heads go away. Not knocking c-sections, just noting that it’s wrong to brag that it’s the better choice just because your baby had a round head.
Parenting is not a test, but it is a God-given responsibility. We can’t just drop it in favor of what’s best for us. Living a sacrificial life doesn’t mean a mother (and a father for that matter) can’t keep the most important pieces of who they are. We need to remain people individual of our children. But, their needs are more important than our “wants”.
The author of this ridiculous book, seemingly only written to ease the guilt of people who feel guilty for working, which she obviously does, tells us that in order to be the mom we were created to be we need to work. Literally, on page 37 she tells us that we need to work in some way to hold on to the person you are. I disagree. I hold on to the woman I am by writing. I enjoy working out and rollerblading, and walking when I’m feeling good. I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and cooking and baking big meals for my family. I enjoy celebrating and making a big fuss over holidays and keeping family traditions. I read and watch teenage movie trilogies, like Twilight and Beautiful Creatures. I play card games.
More importantly I take vacations without the kids. When I lived in Florida I liked going to stay at my parent’s house. We take cruises to hot and sunny tropical islands. I am planning a mini vacation for me and Christ to get away next month. I booked us a stay at a local Bed and Breakfast in the heart of downtown Kansas City Plaza. I have reservations at a Brazilian Steakhouse, as we’ve never eaten that kind of food. I love planning get aways.
I am me first, then a mom. And my kids don’t have to suffer for it and I still get to homeschool. I actually like being with them. My mom wants to take my oldest for the summer and I won’t let her because I LOVE being with him. I don’t “welcome” the new school year starting so I can send them off… I welcome it because it means we get to start new family unit studies, together. I am me, I have my interests and take time for myself, and I am completely into being with my kids full-time.
Thanks for reading.