Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WrAHM Wednesday: Good News - You Probably Won't Maim Your Children

First of all, if any of you missed the amazing WriteOnCon announcement, get over there and check it out (hint: a huge writing contest with a cash prize and agent attention!)

I want to start off WrAHM by saying I am a recovering mommy-blogger.    However, earlier this year I realized I had some tough choices to make.  I was blogging for a mommy blog, writing my novel, starting this blog, and being a mom.  Obviously, something needed to go and being a mom is sort of a permanent position, so I opted to turn the mommy blog over to my fabulous writers.  It was a hard decision.  Not just because it was something I built, but also because being a mommy blogger is sort of addicting. I got to talk about being a mom, canoodle with other moms, people sent me stuff.

But then there is the dark side of mommy blogs: the advice.  I will be the first to admit I have written parenting advice (not all of it bad), and I've certainly read my share of it (not all of it bad either).  The problem is that as with a lot of advice, there is a lot of contradiction.  You know what they say, opinions are know.  And I found myself feeling the pressure to live up to the idealized portrait of motherhood I was reading and writing about.

And I can promise you I am anything but perfect.

Now should we strive to be good parents?  Yes.  Should we work on our parenting skills?  Sure.

Should we allow every waking moment of our days to be crippled by the fear that if we don't feed them the right foods/potty train them early enough/cloth diaper from infancy/never yell/read 10 stories a night/expose them to a variety of play groups/eat, sleep and breathe our kids they will turn into juvenile delinquents?  Probably not.

It's one thing to be a lazy parent.  Another thing to do the best you can.  And still another to be a little over-zealous.  I am not judging anyone for where they fall in that spectrum.  I think I've hit both ends.  I try to fall somewhere in the middle now.  It hasn't been easy.  There should be a 12 step program for letting go of being a perfect mommy.  Because, and I can say this with absolutely certainty, eventually you will screw up.

It's ok.

What does this have to do with being a WrAHM?  Everything.  How many of you have felt guilty for taking the time to write?  Have you given up writing to stay on top of domestic duties?  Have you set it aside until the kids are older?  How many of you have seriously threatened to just throw the stupid laptop out the window because you are selfish for wanting to write?  I have.  It was not my finest hour.  Sadly, it's happened twice.  You can laugh.  I am (it's that penchant for the dramatic that makes me a writer after all).

Now I could get all WGST on you and talk about patriarchy and gender roles and blah blah blah - not the point.  I have a husband who cooks, takes over the kids when I go to write, and does laundry.  That does not stop me from feeling guilty about it.  Or from feeling like my kids are suffering because I'm not Suzie Homemaker.  Or that someday they will pen the next great Mommy Dearest novel of their own (And you know, as a mom, I totally get that now.  I mean she probably freaking told her no more wire hangers a hundred times. I've had similar meltdowns over not jumping on my bed).

The fact is that you taking the time to follow your passion is not selfish.  It will not ruin your kids or destroy your marriage.  Everyone will survive wrinkled laundry or dusty baseboards.  You don't have to meet the expectations set forth by mommy blogs, not even this one.  No one will be maimed because you went out for time to write on your own.  I can almost guarantee it.  

I'd love to hold patriarchy accountable for the woes of moms and point the finger, but if I'm going to do finger-pointing, I probably need to start with myself.  At the end of the day, I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to making good on my own needs and desires.  If you have a supportive partner or family member, stop feeling guilty for accepting their help.  If you don't have one, don't feel bad for demanding your own time.  The fact is there aren't any do-overs.  I know it sounds like a cliche classroom poster, but it's true.  There is never going to be a magic time where you suddenly get three hours to write a day, or the kids are self-sufficient  enough or you've finally retired.  Dreams don't fit into convenient time slots during allotted life stages.  We have to squeeze them in, even if that means using a little force.

And at the end of the day, not only will your kids not be maimed, they might even respect you more for it.  Of course, they might also write Mommy Dearest, but isn't there always a danger of that?


  1. Love it! While I do have a supportive husband, it is hard not to feel guilty about missing time with my boys.
    I've concluded that they most likely aren't going to resent me for missing the few hours that they are awake in the morning. And in the end might actually be proud of me for following my dream. Because isn't that what we want for them?
    Great post, it was just what I needed!

  2. Yay! glad it spoke to you this week :)

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  4. You know, I often feel like you may be speaking directly to me in your blog posts. That's either a sign of very good writing and intuition on your part, or a mild case of schizophrenia on mine. :)

    I do appreciate the Mommy Dearest joke, though, both because I fear my children may one day write an unfavorable tell-all, and because I often find myself identifying with the parents in books and movies when I'm meant to be identifying with the young protagonists. It was a terrifying revelation when it happened, but so it goes. Thanks for the inspiring words. I'll definitely be saving this post for those "I give up" moments.