What’s The Big Idea?

So I had this idea.  But to understand why I thought this was such a great idea you probably need to get to know me a little better.

Hi. I’m Annie.

Let’s see, where to begin?  Well, I’m a Mommy, a Wife and a Feminista.

I love that term, Feminista.

I thought I had made it up, but sure enough not only is this a real term, but it’s definition is exactly what I would have given it.  Seriously.  Check it out.  While the titles of Mommy and Wife are certainly ample descriptors, they do, after all, take up the bulk of my time.  My identity isn’t complete without the Feminista.  For it is my Feminist beliefs that insist that I will not be held to someone else’s definition of womanhood.  Whether you think women should be barefoot and pregnant or chipping away at the glass ceiling, I’m utterly uninterested in being pigeonholed into someone else’s limited view of my gender.  You’re a power mom making six figures while still getting home to cook dinner for the kids and tuck them in?  I give you an unequivocal thumbs up.  I gave up a challenging and exciting career to stay at home and raise my kids.  Thumbs up for me too.

A salary is not compulsory to my worth as a woman, any more than playing suzie-homemaker should be to you.   Because any Feminista knows that her value is not determined by her proximity to the labels of mother, wife, career woman, or sexpot, but rather by the quality and productivity of her life.  Because being a woman can define who I am without dictating my choices, and I reserve the right to redefine myself at any moment based on whom I’ve become, not whom you expect me to be.

The thing is, it took me a while to figue out what I expect me to be.

You see, I knew myself well enough to know I couldn’t work my job part-time and be a part-time mom.  I didn’t do balance well, I was more of an all-or-nothing kinda gal.  So when I got pregnant we decided pretty early on that staying home would be our best choice (maybe not financially, but that worked out okay down the road).  I knew trying to split myself between those two worlds would only make me resent either my job or my baby, and neither was an acceptable option.  So March 2005 I became a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom for the uninitiated).  Now I don’t know a whole lotta people who can leave a fast paced, highly competitive job and jump immediately into zen mode.  So I treated parenting as a fast-paced, highly competitive job and I was determined to get an A. I was going to be the perfect parent and raise the perfect child.  Afterall, if I was going to just be a mom, then I’d better be the best at it, right?  Unfortunately for me, and every other mom who’s been through this, Parenting rarely presents us with A’s.

Not ready to admit defeat, I took parenting classes, drowned in countless parenting books, and hung with child development experts of all varieties – ensuring that I’m not only freakishly knowledgeable about random  (and sometimes useless) kid related stuff, I’m also filled with endless reservoirs of guilt for everything I now know I’ve done “wrong”.  Thank goodness for the gentling effect age has on our egos, because as the years have gone by I’ve come to embrace my C-/B+ parenting moments.  For that I must thank my children.  They have somehow managed to flourish and bloom even through the blunders of  my substandard parenting.

But these kids of mine?  I know they’re still little, and they still need me a great deal, but the writing is on the wall.  They are charting a course for independence, and my choices are clear.  I can either become the mom who’s looking over her children’s shoulders, advising them on every decision until they finally leave home, marry someone and I spend the rest of my years resenting them for not picking me and wondering what the heck I should be doing with myself.  OR.  Ooooor I can to find something to gradually fill the void left by children who are little by little needing me less and less.

Welcome to my void-filler.

My Big Idea.

I wanted to create a place where I could get down to the nitty gritty on topics we moms often just gloss over for fear we’ll show our imperfections.  Because you know what?  None of us are perfect, even that mom who you’re just certain is doing every little thing right?  Well I can pretty much guarantee you she’s just really good at hiding the stuff that she’s terrified we’ll see.  And she’s not doing any one of us a favor, because it is exactly this false pursuit of parental perfection which keeps us all from actually finding parental peace.  So it might get a little heated in here at times, cause we’re not always going to agree, which is why I’ve created a set of house rules.  Just two little rules that are easy to follow and will help keep the discussion moving forward.

And as the saying goes…

My house.

My rules.

RULE #1: LIVELY ADULT CONVERSATION IS WELCOMED, INFANTILE TANTRUMS ARE NOT.

Agree with me, disagree with me, either way we can have a grand ol’ time.  However, if you start acting like a petulant child who wants to scream and hit because she doesn’t remember how to use her big-girl words, then rev-up your inner tantrum machine because you’re headed for a time out.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to stay in time-out forever, but just like our children, you must remain there until you are able to recognize the errors of your ways and produce a proper apology.  I don’t need you to apologize for your point of view, that’s yours to do with as you please.  But if you can’t articulate your argument without namecalling, hyperbole and general dick-ish-ness, then may I suggest you take a breather, go for a walk, collect your thoughts and try again?  Personal attacks directed at other commentors will not be tolerated.  On the other hand, personal attacks directed towards me WILL be tolerated in so far as they are either funny or have some merit.  Again, my house, my rules, I will be the decider on that one.

RULE #2: THESE ARE NOT PERSONAL ATTACKS

In this day and age, if we have a civilized bone in our body, we shy away from discussing politics, parenting, religion and sex unless we feel certain we are in a group of like minded friends.  None of us wants to be the one to start spouting our lefty political beliefs at a casual dinner party, only to have the whole evening devolve into a tightrope act where we try our best to trample opposing viewpoints whilst shomehow not making it personal.  Realistically, that simply is not possible.  The more strongly we feel about an issue, the more personal it feels.  Before we know it someone has left the party angry, phone calls are no longer being returned, and people who were once good friends are now sworn enemies… over POLITICS!!!  Now what could be more personal that politics?  Well how about child-rearing and marriage?  In fact, these issues are SO personal that it’s painful to even consider that we might be getting it wrong.  Just read the comments after an article about the virtues of being a Stay at Home Mom vs. Going Back to Work (or vice versa).  Sleep Training vs. Attachment Parenting?  And my personal favorite, women who’ve never had children opining about parenting choices.  So… with all that being said, some of you may be inclined to take these articles and comments personally, as though they’ve been crafted just to take a dump on your doorstep.  But how can they be?  Nobody here knows your story – we are writing about ourselves, our own personal experiences and how we’re processing them into our lives.  So if you’re taking it personally, and feel yourself starting to gear up for a fight, take a moment to look at yourself and figure out why before you slap those fingers angrily across your keyboard.  Perhaps the truth hurts, ignorance is bliss and you don’t want to shatter your fragile emotional ecosystem?  If that’s the case, don’t shoot the messenger.  Get some therapy, get right with yourself, and we’ll all thank you for it.   Or, perhaps, that offending individual has no idea what they’re talking about and needs a little educating?  Well if there’s one thing I’m certain of, a cool clinical head is always a more effective educator than a blazing flamefest of hate. In either case, if you’re filled with fury do us all a favor and re-read RULE #1 before you post.

Now what do you say we get on with it and see what a little honesty can accomplish?