Posted by: OHgalinSoCal | May 14, 2013

I’m Not That Mom

First off, I’m going to preface this post by saying, I love my children more than anything. Good days, bad days, one kid’s being a nightmare while the other one is an angel days, I love them. No matter what, I love my boys.

I’m also going to add that this post is by no means meant to offend anyone, especially you moms. This mothering business is a hard job, and we’re all doing the best we can. This post is just to talk about me and the kind of mom I am….or rather not.

Now, that being said, lets talk about how I’m not that mom. We all know them, or have seen them. The mom who closely follows her child around, constantly warning him or her to “be careful” while carrying an arsenal of anti-bacterial soap, sunscreen, band-aids and Benadryl. I’m telling ya friends, I’m not that mom. I come equipped with water bottles- because my kids are always thirsty, and baby wipes. That’s all I got. Oh, and usually a snack. They’re also always hungry. Hungry like wolves.

You can almost always find the anti-bacterial soap/sunscreen/band-aid/Benadryl/becareful Mom (here on out, we’ll refer to her as Fanny Pack Mom- cuz that’s a lot of stuff she’s toting) at playgrounds. Now that mom is very helpful to have at playgrounds. Especially when you’re the mom like me…..whose got nothin’. Thank you Fanny Pack Moms.

I take my kids to the playground on average twice a week. They love. I love it. It gets us all of the house, and it’s a nice change of scenery for them. Plus my oldest son, who’s very social, usually makes friends with other kids his age and gets time to play with them, versus always being stuck with Little Brother. No offense Little Brother.

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A playground can be a very scary place for moms. Upon stepping on that wood-chipped battle ground of twirly slides, swings and monkey bars, you know there are all the other moms about to ambush you with their judge-y stares. It’s true. If you’re not a mom, ask any mom you know, and I guarantee she’ll have a story about how she was made to feel inadequate at a playground.

I try very hard not to be that mom. I have enough battles to fight on a daily basis- like the “please get dressed, and brush your teeth” battle. I really don’t need to get involved in the “I’m doing this mothering thing way better than you” battle. Truth be told, you probably are!

I like to gravitate towards the moms who look just as disheveled and frazzled as I am. Those moms I can relate to! The Fanny Pack Moms, while often very nice, can be rather intimidating. They’re just so put together. I’m the mom at the playground who’s in her sweaty workout gear, with my rat’s nest hair that looks like I haven’t brushed it in days (to my defense, usually because I just got done teaching a class at the gym), and my kids are in stained/holey play clothes. In this family, we do not wear nice clothes to the playground.

I’m also not the mom who hovers over her kids at the playground. I play more of a zone defense versus man-to-man. As long as I can see my kids, and I know no one is escaping (I’m looking at you Little Brother), I like to hang back and let them have fun. My 5 year old is perfectly capable of going down the tall twisty slide. I don’t need to stand at the bottom and high-five him every time he does it. Heck, even Little Brother goes down the slides on his own. And if he needs help, he’ll often time employ Big Brother to give him a hand.

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I see nothing wrong with chilling on the park bench, chatting up another mom, or even checking my phone to catch up on an email or  scroll through Facebook. I can see them. They see me. We’re all good.

Ahhh, but enter that mom who thinks I’m ignoring my kids for my phone. There is this letter circulating around on Facebook called, “Dear Mom on the iPhone”. It’s about, and I’m going to paraphrase here, “I see you mom on your cell phone….not paying attention to your kids”.  It’s a little more poetic and eloquent than that. She writes about how cell phone mom’s daughter is spinning around making her dress twirl, and the mom’s not watching. How as she’s pushing her baby in the swing she’s not staring him directly in the face and absorbing each giggle and smile.

Friends, I think this letter is incredibly unfair and cruel. Moms carry around enough guilt all day, every day. We feel guilty about everything from letting our kids eat too many fishy crackers, to watching too many episodes of Dora the Explorer, to that time we got mad at our newborn baby because we just wanted him to go more than 40 minutes without waking up, so we could go more than 40 minutes without waking up. Everything. We feel guilty about everything. (Ugh, is this mothering stuff HARD!) We don’t need to feel guilty for having, for allowing our children to go play on the playground.

So please, if you haven’t read that letter, do yourself a favor and don’t. And if you have, do yourself a favor and forget about it. Because I know, when I first read it, I felt like the crappiest mom. Oh my goodness, this woman is writing this letter to me, about me! Oh no wait, no she’s not. I don’t have a daughter. Phew! Oh, but it still applies to me. I’m totally that mom who is checking her phone at the playground! Crap, I’m failing again! Where’s Fanny Pack Mom? I think I need some anti-bacterial soap for my guilt.

Well don’t. Don’t let it make you feel crappy. Because after I got over my initial “I’m that horrible, crappy iPhone mom”, I realized, this woman doesn’t live in my home. She doesn’t see me and what I do, all day every day. She doesn’t know all the meals I prepare, games and toys I play, books I read, accolades I dote out. She doesn’t know how many times that day I’ve cleaned poopie butts that aren’t my own, wiped running noses, filled countless sippy cups, rummaged through the pantry for just the right snack and how many un-eaten bananas I’ve peeled until I got that perfect one. Well uh-uh letter writing lady. No way, are you going to make me feel bad for checking my Facebook for all of 29 and a half seconds and taking a mini-break from all the attention I’ve been giving all day, while my kids run and play, and partake in a childhood freedom we’ve all enjoyed. They don’t need me to watch them every second. So there.

As I’ve made clear, I don’t hover around my kids on the playground. I let them be. I let them play. And sometimes that means standing back and letting them try new things. Hard things. Intimidating things.  Things that may seem scary  and dangerous to them. You have to let them do it. You have to let them experience those things. They need to know what it feels like to fall, so more importantly, they know what it feels like to get back up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would never put my babies in harms way. When Little Brother decided it would be a great idea to walk down the slide, I quickly convinced him otherwise and told him in my sternest mom voice, to sit his butt down.

But when Big Brother was not quite 4 years old, and intrigued by the fireman’s pole, I coaxed him down it, offering a supportive and guiding hand. Once he got the hang of it, he was on his own. That’s not to say he hasn’t come crashing down that thing, and landed on his rear-end with a big thud. I helped him up, brushed him off, gave him a hug, and told him he should try it again.

Then that mom, the one I noticed eyeballing me earlier, called to me from across the playground, to let me know that my son, my son, was “clearly not ready to do that on his own”. She was also thoughtful enough to inform me that my Little One was climbing up the stairs to the play structure, and he was “much too small” to be doing that on his own. Holy cow, how was I able to run my household and keep my kids alive on a daily basis without this woman?! Uuummmmmm…..mindyourowndangbusinessthankyouverymuch.

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So if you see me, the gym rat looking mom, at the playground with my boys, please know….I love them very much, they get plenty of attention at home and at the playground, and while it may bring you concern, I’m okay with letting them try new things. Even if it seems they’re not quite big enough or ready to try that new thing. I appreciate your concern, and willingness to help my child cross those monkey bars or climb that ladder, but it’s not necessary. I’d stop them if I thought they were going to get hurt. But if we keep infringing on their eagerness to try new things, we just might miss them doing this little gem of an accomplishment all on their own:

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Crossing the monkey bars on his own!

Crossing the monkey bars on his own!

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Responses

  1. It is so nice to know that I am not the only mom out there who encourages my child to be independent.

    • I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who encourages that behavior. I think it’s very important that our children develop good, strong coping and problem solving skills. And I feel by achieving that is to hang back a little, even in challenging and adverse situations, and giving them a chance to figure it out.

      Thanks for reading! And you can be sure that there will be sequels to the “I’m Not that Mom” post addressing other areas of parenting I don’t participate in. : )

  2. I get dirty looks and sometimes snide remarks for those same 2 things: using my phone at the park and letting my (crazy fearless) girls try things. The way I see it, they are building confidence and I’m getting a mini break that doesn’t involve the tv. Win, win!

  3. I never really felt judged by strangers at the park, but I know my way of letting my kids try things was at odds with in laws!
    Mothers should focus early on learning to support each other and let go of judging. There’s so much that is hard and unpredictable about parenting, we all need a break from judging.


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