I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Where do I F.I.T.?

On the weekend I read about two new acronyms. The first, coined by American Helen Kirwan-Taylor, in this article, is SMUM: Smart, Middle-Class, Uninterested Mother. Essentially it describes mothers who aren't all that into parenthood - they'd rather be out with friends and doing non-parenting stuff rather than be with their kids. The title of her story says it all, really: "Sorry, but my children bore me to death." Needless to say there has been a backlash to this (of course requiring another acronym): SCAM - Smart, Child-Centered, Active Moms (term coined by Erika Schnickel in this article). I read the descriptions of these parents, which are:

Example of a SMUM: "blowing off birthday parties to get her highlights done, text messaging friends through Disney movies and using work as a means of escape from {children}..." (Helen's description)

Example of a SCAM: "superachieving moms who hand-letter birthday invitations, spend their days in imaginative play with their toddlers, bake from scratch and joyfully embrace each moment spent with their supergifted offspring." (Erika's description).

Since I'm sure this issue has been Mommy blogged to death, I'm not really going to enter into the fray. The question I AM going to ask is, where do *I* fit in with these? Would I blow off a birthday party to get my hair done? HELL YEAH. Would I text message through a Disney movie? HELL YEAH. Do I often want an escape from my children? HELL YEAH. Do I hand letter birthday invitations? HELL YEAH. Did I spend days of imaginative play with my toddlers? HELL YEAH. Do I bake from scratch? (Excuse me while I just laugh at this one.) Do I joyfully embrace blah blah blah? HELL YEAH. I won't ask if they're supergifted. Hello, people, they're MY kids. 'Course they are.

So, then, what am I? Truth is, kids were never part of my original life plan. We all know that, right? So as a result, I don't find Barney enthralling. I fall asleep during Blue's Clues. There is no worse torture for me than attending kids' birthday parties (and I include my own kids' parties in that.) Sometimes the noise and chaos and plain ol' stress of being a parent means that when the kids are not home, I sigh an enormous sigh and think, "OH THANK GOD!" My time at the gym is my selfish time, when I don't have to listen to kids asking me for stuff, or getting in my personal space. I adore them - but I'm glad to have my time away from them. So clearly I must be a SMUM, right? Heck, we all know I'm smart, I'm pretty much middle class, and I'm a Mum. There are definetly times when I am completely uninterested in my children.


I hand write invitations - shit, I even GLUE stuff on and fold them and decorate them and do stickers. Stickers, people! I make stuff from scratch. Like as in ALL THE TIME. I play imagination games with them, I get excited for and about them, and in general I try to be as attentive a parent as I can be. Why? Because I'm only going to have ONE SHOT at this parenthood biz. ONE. That's it. I made a very distinct choice to have children - it wasn't a natural decision for me, it wasn't an extension of the usual married/house/kids pattern. On top of all that, DH and I paid a FORTUNE for the kids. I endured no end of medical poking, prodding, and PAIN to have them (and this was before I was even pregnant, mind you.) Now while the above parents may or may not have gone through what we did, they still MADE A CHOICE to become parents. So if you choose to bring another person onto this earth, why in heaven's name would you then choose to ignore them, or not bother to enjoy them? Seems like such a waste of effort .

So where, dear blog readers, does this leave me? I'm an actively involved baking-from-scratch parent - who will gladly trade playdates for hair appointments. I'm BOTH of these parents, but without the extreme bits which go crusty around the edges. I'd venture to say that MOST of the women I know (and men too) are a mixture of these parents - which is to say, totally, 100%, completely normal. Why do women insist on beating one another up for the choices they make? Why do we have to come up with some bullshit acronyms to justify our parenting style? Can we not just agree that everyone does it differently, but most of us end up with happy and well-adjusted kids?

This reminds me of the ONE piece of advice I give to parents of new multiples - or really, parents of ANY kind who ask my advice, or say things like, "How did you cope?" My answer is actually two-pronged. First, I say, you have to only do TWO things every day: LOVE THEM, and FEED THEM. Then, I say, you need only do WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Parenting is not a cookie-cutter skill. Parenting each child is SO different - hell, I'm parenting 3 at the same time and can safely say that I parent them differently. Very differently, because they are different people.

Maybe Poppet's Mum is right. Clearly, I'm a SMUCCAM:

Smart: Often. Check.
Middle Class: Pretty Much. Check.
Uninterested: Sometimes. Check.
Child Centered: Often. Check.
Active: Absolutely. Check.

Mum: ALWAYS. Check.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm also damn proud of it. To celebrate I'm going to go bake something from scratch with my trio of overachievers, then take the snacks and the kids to the playground. While I'm there, I'm going to send text messages to Poppet's Mum while the trio play. Know what that is? It's called real life parenting. (or RLP, if you must.)


Anonymous said...

you do have a way with words!!!

Loved that post!!!
And hell yeah you should be proud of it!!!!

oh btw how are you feeling??? I think I missed the update from the doctors?

Anonymous said...

what did you bake?

needing ideas to cook with kids!!

The all time fav comment from people is "how do I cope"

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Hi Chelley,

I'm not feeling any less tired, but I am getting a LOT more exercise and shedding some kilos, so hopefully that will help! The doctor and all the blood tests say I am as healthy as a horse - absolutely everything is just fine, I'm just knackered!

...and I didn't bake anything yet! :) I will post a good recipe for baking with kids though! :)



Weinraub Family said...

Round of applause for you.
I read that article awhile back and it totally pissed me off. Yes I get VERY bored with Blues Clues (seriously both Steve and Joe are dying to be made fun of), Bareny is NOT allowed in our house, and I know every word of Lion King. I think any adult gets tired of kids stuff, HELLO, we are not kids anymore, why would that stuff keep our attention?

But what is important is that unlike the author of that article, we find our own joy in the joy that these thingss bring to our child. Although I want to beat up Steve, I love to dance and sing along with Leah when she watches Blues Clues because I like to see the laughter spill from her when mom acts silly with her. That is what is important about these things. Sharing experiences with your children, and doing things to make THEM happy. I can't imagine NOT enjoying these times.

I think most of us need time away from our kids in order to recharge our batteries and be better FOR our kids. I think I was a better parent when I worked part time rather than now that I am a SAHM. I appreciated my time with Leah more. Yes I know I am lucky to be home with my girls everyday to see them grow and learn, but the 5-10 hours a week they are at daycare helps me enjoy it even more.

I fall somewhere in the middle too. I think my kids will benefit from their time away from me just as much as I benefit from it. I cherish my time with them and without them. Also, by the time my 5 hours are up, I am dying to go get the girls, hear how Hannah did, and what Leah has to say about her day at school.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

I think what annoys me most about this whole thing is the extreme nature of it - it's like you can't be in the middle. You have to be at either end, slinging play-doh at the other side!