Thursday, June 10, 2010

Normal


Yesterday I went to a friend's house so that my litter of children could play with her gaggle of boys. We got a chance to catch up while the kids ran around, made a lot of noise, and wore themselves out.

This friend was a fairly new friend, who I'd met through blogging, but we've met in person before yesterday. However, this was the first time our kids had met each other. I know all her kids faces and names and she knows all of mine. But, this was the first time we'd ever all been collected in one place at the same time.

I must admit that I am always a little bit guarded when I meet a new mom because I fear that my parenting choices will be judged. It's natural - I mean, I do it myself too. While I may try not to do it, to some degree, I always do. Even if I fill my head with criticisms and then immediatly chastize myself for critiquing another person's parenting style, I still do it. So many years of honing the craft of parenting has made it almost like a reflex. My intent is never to make myself feel better for my choices, but rather to keep myself in check with other moms and what they do. Even though what I'm doing is not out of any mean-spiritedness, I am judging all the same.

Why do I judge or critique or {insert euphamism of your choice here}? I think it's so that I can measure myself against some invisible ruler do determine if I'm doing an adequate job as a mother. If so-and-so does this, and she has great kids, then I need to do it too or else I am failing. If whats-her-name only does this much with her kids, and look at how THEY are turning out, then clearly I must do more in order for my kids to not grow up to be criminals.

So, yesterday. There we sat. My kids clobbering her kids over the head with nerf battle axes. Her kids pelting mine with nerf bullets. All kids pounding each other with light sabres and foam swords and wiffle ball bats. It was one notch below mayhem.

I was a little bit afraid of what my friend would think. Had my wild children incited hers to become out of control? Did I need to make sure my kids used their "inside voices" at all times? Should I suggest that everyone just sit down and read a book? Would she breathe a sigh of relief once we left, promising herself quietly that she'd find creative excuses the next time I suggested a playdate? No. She laughed and I laughed and we just talked to each other louder, to be heard over all the crashing and thumping and yelling. And we all had a wonderful time.

When she got out a big basket of snacks to serve all the hungry mouths, I said to myself, Hey, we have a basket like that at home too! When she offered her kids water, but they all begged for soda instead (even though she didn't give in), I thought, Wow, her kids do that too? I thought mine were the only ones. And when she reminded her boys to say "thank you", I was completely relieved that my kids wouldn't be the only ones who needed reminding.

And do you know how that made me feel? Amazingly, blessedly... normal. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when I saw someone else who had happy, successful, well-adjusted children and to know that she does a lot of the same things that I do. To know that my choices weren't sabotaging the future of my children. To realize that this woman, who I'd respected from afar and probably put up on a motherly pedestal, was a lot like me.

Thank you Holly, for a fun day and for being normal.




Texan Mama

9 comments:

Jennifer said...

I promise that I will pale in comparison to you. I yell, I threaten and occasionally one of mine might get a swat on the bottom. I let them run around (inside) in their underwear, I let them get away with way too much, and I've been known to let them eat off the deck (but only once). The beauty about being me is that I don't really care if I'm the best mom. I sincerely believe that I'm the best mom for my kids, and you are the best mom for yours. I think it is great when women can work together, learn from each other and support one another.

And was it Sturgmom, because she seems totally awesome.

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

What a great post!! I do that same thing... in fact I sat at the pool for an hour the other day listening to Essie be (in my mind) louder than the other kids... but I was trying to decide if SHE was really being LOUDER, or am I just used to HEARING her voice so that's the one that stood out to me.

Gosh this mom thing is TRICKY!!!

Sturgmom said...

I remember complaining to a friend of mine that I have to remind the boys repeatedly about procedures and routines that should be second-nature to them. She told me that she made a chore chart for her children to help cut out some of that repetition. So now, instead of repeating her expectations, she has to repeat, "Check the chore chart." Not much difference, huh? It's SO NICE to know "you" aren't the only one. And to feel completely normal. :)

Anna See said...

awesome! we could all use days like that. i've been terrified of playdates since day one.

Gigi said...

I had to laugh at the judging/criticizing other mom's stuff. We all do it - we don't mean to; but we do.

The sad thing? It still happens - even when the kids are much, much older. I still catch myself thinking - I would never. Or - wow maybe I should do that!

The mom thing is hard - and it's great when you come across another mom who seems to do it the same way you do - it does make you feel normal.

Wym said...

I am normal. anyone who does not live to my standards of laid-back yet anal retentive crazyness should just go ahead and wish they could be me.

Bridgett said...

In my head, I judge all the time! And sit there worrying I'm being judged. At preschool graduation, Maeve's poster listed "spanking" under one of the things she didn't like. I don't spank (well, it's been a long long time, once I realized that she responded well to carrot and stick reward systems). But I do threaten with spankings just about every day! STill, I wanted to take the poster down off the wall before any of the "natural consequences" peaceful parenting (read: damned hippies) folks saw it. But then one of the moms pointed to it in front of me and said, "She doesn't like things that are important not to like. My son wrote "dried gum." And I thought, yeah, no s**t."

Maybe she was trying to make me feel better, but I think a lot of parents looked at that poster and worried how it made them look....

Maggie S said...

Love IT!!!! Even though I hang out with a lot of real superwomen who are totally out of my league who do it all and do it well and they just let me be their groupie. It's good of 'em.

The Empress said...

Oh, that sounds wonderful. I'd make you blush with the stuff that comes out of my mouth accidentally.

I think I'm going nuts...
very cute pic!