I can remember distinct points during my childhood where I truly believed, at that moment, that my mom was the meanest mom conceivable. I couldn’t eat candy whenever I wanted, I had to do chores, and my parents didn’t let me buy the latest designer jeans (yep, at one point I thought I was the uncool kid because my mom wouldn’t buy me Gap jeans).
In hindsight, my mom is a genius. I can appreciate everything she ever did for us. She was a full-time teacher and didn’t take crap from my sister or me. We were loved and cared for, but not pandered to. If we didn’t like what was offered for dinner, we were free to make our own PB&J. I truly believe that I turned out to be the well-adjusted adult that I am in large part because of my mom’s parenting style.
Recently I had heard some rumblings about the book Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later by Denis Schipani. Knowing that I had a Mean Mom and that I am a Mean Mom, I figured it was worth a read. I found that I really agreed with much of what Schipani writes about, and they are all things I learned from my mom. Here’s a foray into my world as a Mean Mom and what it means to me. I’ll be sharing this over a couple of blog posts because I realized as I was writing that I had enough material to write a small novel.
I’m independent and have been since a very young age (just ask my gymnastics coach that kicked me out of class at the ripe age of 3 years old because I wanted to do, and did do, something different than what the rest of the group was doing). I’m not one to follow the masses and I don’t parent a certain way because it’s cool, in vogue, or because some mommy click told me I should. I’ve always parented in a style that makes sense for me and my family, and in a way that I am certain stems from my upbringing.
Children are an Investment
As a parent and an adult that contributes positively to society, I believe that my children are an investment. They are an investment, and we want to get it right. We only get one chance. My husband and I chose to raise our children in a way that teaches them the life skills they need to be contributing citizens to society once they are adults. My kids aren’t perfect, heck no, but we work to try and teach them that they need to be good people—because it’s important to us.
Reality of Being a New Mom
Every new mom has that scary moment when they realize that they are entirely responsible for the safety and wellbeing of this little newborn life. We all come into motherhood with expectations and hard rules that we have pledged we are going to live by. And then reality sets in. We’re tired, we’re sleep deprived, and even if we have the most complacent newborn on the planet, we still struggle to get a shower in and find time to pee in peace. I swore I wasn’t going to co-sleep with our son. And guess what? We co-slept until he was about 10 weeks old—because it worked. It was the only thing that kept me sane…he slept, and I slept. The experts tell you to nap when your baby naps. My ass. I’ve yet to meet any mom that actually did that successfully. (And if you are one who did, well awesome…you had it easy). But I also recognized the reality of the situation…I didn’t want my son to be in my bed forever. So as soon as we thought he was ready, we worked on transitioning him to his crib. Is your kid still sleeping in your bed? And he’s 4 years old? Hey, I’m not going to judge. But I knew it wasn’t for me and the sooner I kicked him out, the better he—and we—would be for it. (Some people would argue I should have never co-slept at all…but I believe you have to pick your battles.)
Some Things are Non-Negotiable
My child sleeping in my bed indefinitely was one of those non-negotiable items. So was going back to work. I knew I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. It just wasn’t for me. But I knew that, and we worked around it (even the year I had 4 children in daycare when the smart financial decision would have been to stay home). We also have a child lock on the outside of our bedroom door. From the time my kids were big enough to get out of their beds at night, we kept our door shut. I know, I’m a Mean Mom, but our room was our room and that was non-negotiable. It still is. They have to knock and wait to be asked in. Guess what? That’s exactly what happens.
My kids had a clock in their room from the time they could start to recognize numbers. Unless they were bleeding, vomiting, or dying, they didn’t look for us until the clock had a 7 on it. There’s no reason you have to be a slave to your kids. Sleeping until 7 a.m. is not unreasonable. Getting up to coddle a bored child at 4:30 in the morning is. To this day, the kids get up and do their own thing in the morning. Sometimes we have to remind them that people are still sleeping at 6:00 a.m., but not too often. They entertain themselves pretty well.
Just because you are now a mom, does not mean that you aren’t still the woman you were before you gave birth. You are still that woman and you should be. Buy stuff for yourself once in a while instead of for your child. Splurge in a girl’s night out once a month. Get a pedicure. Go to the gym. Do whatever it is that you need to do to enjoy you as you. Being a parent is redefining, but it shouldn’t erase that woman you were before. You have to be able to happy and take care of yourself in order to effectively care for your children. And you shouldn’t feel guilty for it. You deserve to take care of you. You need to take care of you.
Date your husband. Or your partner, significant other, wife, whatever. Just because you are a new mom doesn’t mean that your relationship should take a back seat. You need time to spend with that special person, just as you did before you had a baby. After all, it’s likely that time together that got you a baby in the first place. Just saying. Your relationship should be non-negotiable.
What epiphany did you have as a new mom? What things are non-negotiable for you?