Sometimes I wonder if other people have a better grasp on the kind of mother I am than I do…
Early in our parenting career Marc and I were pretty aware of the kind of parents we were — or maybe the kind of parents we weren’t. From our small circle of parent-friends whom we knew when Madeline was a baby, we knew that we were the easy going (lax!) ones compared to that couple or the strict and scheduled ones compared to those other friends. It was pretty easy to categorize ourselves because of our small circle and our limited experience.
Ten years have passed! Tomorrow is my tenth Mother’s Day! Tenth! In that time we have known many, many parent-friends, now across all of the prairie provinces. (I wonder if parents are “different” in the maritimes or southern Ontario?!) You would think over ten years I would have figured out more of what kind of mom I am. But I think it’s actually become harder to define.
I have learned that my kids are each unique and they each require a unique perspective on how to parent.
I have learned that people can view the same situation in very different ways. (For example, my mom thought I demand-fed my babies, when actually I developed a schedule with them where they would be hungry and “demand” to eat every 3.5 to 4 hours.)
I have learned that some people think I’m the “fun” mom who gets up and goes and does lots of adventurous things with her kids. Yet, I often feel like the hermit mom who has no imagination and courage to go out and do things.
I have found myself as both the “health-conscious” mom and the mom who gives her children excessive amounts of sweets.
I’m the mom who stays home with her kids. I’m the mom who works.
I’m the mom who puts her kids in lots of things. I’m the mom who really ought to get her kids involved more.
I know that to some I am really focused on my kids and to others I am not attentive enough to them.
I’m the thin mom. I’m the fat mom.
I’m the mom who stays calm. I’m the mom who flips out.
What kind of mom am I? The only answer is I am a “Me” mom — a “Dixie Vandersluys” mom. And that means that all of the above is true, even all of those contradictions. But, of course, these are only contradictions because they are put up against other moms; to some I’m this kind of mom and to some the exact same actions make me that kind of mom — because we are all unique!
Is it helpful to compare? Is it bad that I don’t perfectly fit any standard parental categories (attachment, intentional, burnt-out, cynical)? It makes me hard to peg down. But it also means that I am being me.
So the more years of mothering I put under my belt and the, now, hundreds of other moms I have encountered along the way, make me realize more than anything that I need to be me. And, yes, that means that me is going to be different than the other moms out there. That means I will look different and do things differently. And, yes, those categories are often helpful and can give direction and clarity when they work. But those categories can’t contain the uniqueness of who we are as parents, who our children are, and the way those two mix to make us all into our own quirky, fun, and difficult families.
I also know that I have both the ability (and the curse) of being able to see situations from many different perspectives and how each perspective may have validity. This has often made parenting very difficult — so many options; each may work; “what should I do now, in the present moment, when the milk is spilled and the children are crying and one of them is winding up their fist for a punch?!”
I’m hoping that as I take in all of the different perpectives and all of the different ways to parent, that I won’t be paralyzed by choices but rather have a large tool belt of mothering, where this will work for this kid at this time and then I flip that belt around and use a different tool for another time. (Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t be a consistent parent!)
I just hope to be an open parent.
Open to the changes that life inevitably brings. Open to the uniqueness of my children and to the unique way that I mother them. And open to the infinite ways in which I can show my love for them. Open to the fact that I won’t always get it right. Open to receiving and giving forgiveness and trying again.
So, what kind of a mother am I? The exact same as you: unique.