Alright, listen. You’re either reading this because you have been wanting to go the capsule wardrobe route, or you are reading it because you are a clothing addict like me and you’re like, “no way.”…
For Moms Only
Okay, before you think I’m either supermom OR that I think my kids are perfect—rest assured. Neither of those things are true.
In fact, I spend most of my days wondering what in the name of Sam Hill I’m really doing. I am most definitely not a supermom, and I’ll be the first to tell you that my kids are not perfect.…
Marriage. It’s the most wonderful and most difficult thing ever. I remember being told that it would be difficult, but I underestimated the weight of those statements. I feel like nothing can truly prepare you for marriage… You pretty much have to rely on the grace of God to guide you through. And each time you make it over a hurdle, you are exponentially stronger. Not only are you stronger, but you come to the other side with more tools in your belt. One of the areas of our marriage in which we are actively jumping hurdles is the whole “how to keep the spark alive” thing.
Do you ever feel like you just need a break from parenting? If so, it’s probably because you do need a break. And let’s make it clear up front that needing a break is not a bad thing. It isn’t a reflection of your parenting, and it certainly isn’t a reflection of your love for your child. It’s a reflection of your very human needs. And those needs have to be met if you want to thrive as a parent. So, moms, let’s talk about why we all need a time out and how it can really help us throughout our day.
If you know me or even if you keep up with my blog, you might know that I have one super feisty little lady. My baby, who is now thirteen months, has been nothing less than a fireball from the day she was born. I shared an article a few months ago about what it looks like to love her so much it hurts. And that remains true for us. I love her so much it hurts. And, I love her so much it hurts.…
Yep, you guessed it. I am a helicopter mom. But before you judge me, let me explain a few things. First of all, I never thought I was a helicopter mom until I recently read an article called “10 Signs You Might Be a Helicopter Mom.” I met 9/10 on the list. And then I thought, “hmm, if these things make me a helicopter mom, then I fully embrace that title.”
Second, I think every single parent has a different upbringing, different experiences, and different motivations. So to say that “these ten things” make you a helicopter mom is a ridiculous blanket identification that is unfair. It also neglects to consider that every single child is different and has unique needs as they are guided through life.
So, now that I got those things out of the way, let’s talk about this a little bit.
The tem “helicopter parenting” was coined in Dr. Haim Ginott’s book Parents and Teenagers in 1969. The term was used to describe parents who hovered over their children like a helicopter. Essentially, it is used to describe parents who take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures. Even more specifically, the term was used in reference to school aged children. Now, I don’t think that means parents of toddlers can’t be helicopter moms (because clearly according to someones extremely scientific blog post— I am one), but typically, this term has more to do with older children.
And I get it. The textbook helicopter mom is one who takes responsibility for a child’s schoolwork, grades, and school schedules, and one who often makes it their responsibility to take care of their child’s conflicts and failures rather than allowing them to learn from those things.
The term, as it was initially coined, is one I agree with.
But the problem is, that term has been taken to mean a million other things over the last thirty-something years.
And it seems that now you can’t protect or guide your child in much of any way without being labeled a helicopter mom.
But what may seem like drastic hovering to one mom could actually be very loose parenting to another. While one mom may be teaching one lesson, the mom next to her could be working on another. Therefore, the parenting styles of each will be reflected in that and could be very different.
So that’s where we have to come to some sort of agreement that being a helicopter mom is entirely subjective. Because, again, every parent is different, and the needs of every child are different.
Interestingly enough, there may be moms who think I am totally careless with my child, while a whole group of other moms think I am a total helicopter mom. It’s just so subjective in nature that, unless we only use the term how it was originally intended, we can’t just go around assuming that protective parents are helicopter moms. And I don’t think we can label first time moms as helicopter moms just because they are first time moms. Everything is so unique to each parent. One mom may change drastically from her first child to her second, and another may be exactly the same.
We simply can’t assume and label people in their parenting styles when we have no idea what’s really going on.
And we need to start respecting that boundary, and stop it with that labeling.
And as for me, if I am a helicopter mom, I am not ashamed.
Because if being protective of my child at one year old makes me a helicopter mom, then I want the hat and T-shirt. And if spending more time playing with her than having her play independently makes me one, then I embrace that. Because these are the good ole days and I don’t want to miss out. If following her on the playground makes me a helicopter mom, then again, I accept the title. Because I would rather keep an eye on her than rush her to the ER for stitches in her forehead (that was me at two years old).
I think there’s room to let your kids get hurt and experience the consequences of things. But I also think there is a line where wisdom takes over and we do what is best for our kids, regardless of how people may label us.
Anybody else out there spend your entire life dreaming of becoming a mom? For as far back as I can remember, I looked forward to having babies. I had very vivid dreams of my life as a mom, and longed for the fulfillment of that dream. Even still, I had equally vivid dreams of other things in the midst of parenthood. While I never wanted a “career” in the conventional sort of way, I knew I wanted to “do something” with my life beyond being a mom. And if you are reading this and thinking that being a mom is doing something with your life, you are right! My point today isn’t that being a mom isn’t enough, or that it cannot be your identity. My point is that too many women lose their identity in motherhood, and it doesn’t have to happen.
You see, when I was a child, I loved all the babies. I wanted them all. I imagined my life as a mom, and I loved everything I saw. I wanted nothing more than to raise children. But I also saw so much more than that. I didn’t see myself as a mom who just stayed at home and cleaned the house all day… and I certainly didn’t see myself folding piles of laundry and ironing my husband’s work shirts all day every day (because that wouldn’t be a dream, it would be a nightmare).
I saw myself continuing to dream even after my dream of becoming a mom was fulfilled.
I saw myself continuing to be my own person rather than living through my children. And I never dreamed I would lose my identity in motherhood….
My dearest Sadie,
One year. 365 days. 8760 hours. That is the amount of time I have known you on the outside. But the amount of time I have truly known and loved you is far greater. From the moment you were conceived, I knew you carried a spark that would bring light to dark places. I knew you. The way you danced inside me was magic to my soul. The way you kicked with such strength and power was such a beautiful indication of the strength and power by which you would live. Before you even took your first breath, I saw you. I saw you, my daughter.
And then you came. And you did not disappoint. You entered the world with such beauty and grace, and changed my heart as you came, reconciling me unto the Lord.
You, my daughter, changed my life. You will always be my first born, and you will always be the one who made me a mom….
This is likely the most raw thing I will share for quite some time. It’s something I play with talking about, but never find the courage to follow through. And while I do often share “personal” things, those things still remain quite vague for the most part. Sharing something like this requires a level of clarity that goes beyond a vaguely referenced yet highly personal concept. So what is it? I want to talk about the one thing I never want my daughter to hear. And I can’t just talk about the thing itself, I have to talk about the reasons why.
But first, let me share a little back story with you. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist. I truly hate admitting that, but I also hate lying. I have a bit of a self critic that likes to thoroughly examine my every decision, my every move, my every everything.
To be real, we’ve become great friends over the years—my self critic and me….
It’s true. I give my baby sugar. I know it’s frowned upon, and I also have never been one to do things the way I am “supposed to.” But before you shake your finger at me, you need to understand a few things. It’s not simple. And at the same time, it totally is. The reasons why I give my baby sugar are endless, but I’ll take time to share just a few….
It’s no secret that being a mom is hard work. And while it’s a well known fact, I don’t think true understanding comes until you have been a mom yourself. Because while you might notice the struggles a mom has in a two hour coffee date or while babysitting for a few hours, the weight of being fully responsible for a child is not something you can feel until you have been there. All the mamas are nodding in agreement when I say it’s just plain hard sometimes. And I bet they will also nod in agreement when I say we wouldn’t trade it for anything. (Except some days maybe I do dream about laying on a beach somewhere without a care in the world). We just love our babies to the nth degree, and they pretty much consume most of our time. And while we wouldn’t change it, it’s true that we still have needs— we need time for ourselves, and we need time with friends. But the truth is, we don’t just need any friends. We need the right friends. Because time with the wrong type of friends can leave us more exhausted than we were before. While every mom is entirely unique, here’s what every mom needs in a friend.
Moms need a good listener. Many of us (especially the stay-at-home moms) spend our days listening to our babies and playing a massive game of trial and error trying to figure out what they need at any given moment. We often have a million things swirling around in our heads, and yet we don’t always have someone to process with. We can easily feel lonely and isolated when are left to our own thoughts. Just hanging out with other people is not enough—we need to socialize with intention. The time we have is so limited that it honestly just cannot be spent on social flares that are not worth it. We need (and even crave) depth that we do not often get while at home with a crying baby. We genuinely need someone to listen and give us the space to process our feelings, share our parenting fears, and celebrate our mom wins. What every mom needs in a friend is someone who will listen, and do it without being distracted. (Because being a mom literally consists of three thousand distractions every single day).
Moms need a giver. Why? Because we give, give, give, all day long. Any other moms out there make it to 3pm only to realize you haven’t finished your morning coffee and you never made lunch for yourself? Yea, that’s real life sometimes. We pour ourselves out and don’t realize how empty we are until we reach a breaking point. I know that I even find myself giving like crazy to my other mom friends and showing up for them as much as I can, without realizing just how drained I am myself. I recently had a friend of mine (she isn’t a mom yet) comment on my friendship with another mom. She said, “Laura, she is a taker. You show up for when she needs it, but she never shows up for you.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. Not because I feel overly deserving or entitled, but simply because it was true. As moms, we need to look out for each other and give to one another. We, of all the people, should never take advantage of one another or have one-sided friendships, because we know all too well what it’s like to be exhausted. I don’t say that to say that we need to demand that others give, but to say this: what moms don’t need is a taker. If you are a mom, and you have people in your life who are constantly taking from you, I encourage you to take a step back and establish healthy boundaries. Find other mom friends who care for you as much as you care for them, or find friends who aren’t moms that do that! What every mom needs in a friend is a giver, not a taker!
Moms need an observer. Have you ever wished that someone would just notice that you are drowning? Me too. I think moms really need friends who are observant. We need friends that we don’t have to remind how exhausted we are or that we are desperate for a cup of coffee. I have one friend who will often just show up with a cup of coffee in hand and it blesses me beyond words. Because sometimes I feel like I am drowning—in both exhaustion and loneliness—and she notices both of those things. Every mom needs a friend like that. A few weeks ago when I had surgery, this friend was as observant as they get. She noticed how hard it was to be on crutches with a 10 month old baby. She noticed that I was lonely, so she hung out with me. She noticed that I was overwhelmed by the mess in my kitchen, so she cleaned it for me. She noticed that I needed to get out of the house, so she helped me get out. She noticed. What every mom needs in a friend is someone who notices.
Moms need a lover. What I mean is, what every mom needs in a friend is someone that loves her baby. It can be pretty overwhelming to hang out with people that are not into your little one. Hanging out with people who are crazy about our babies tends to take the load off of us—at least a little bit. Because when someone is crazy about your baby, they are way more likely to hold them, engage them in activities, play with them, and distract them from their fun-sized frustrations. Having friends that are crazy about our babies is also important because we, as mamas, feel very protective of our little ones. If we can sense that someone isn’t really into our precious baby, it can really stress us out. And a stressful hangout isn’t good for anyone. We don’t want to spend our hangouts apologizing for every little thing our babies do. Every mom needs a friend that is absolutely in love with her baby and shows it in their actions.
Moms need a caregiver. And what I mean by that is that every mom needs a friend who will offer to help out and give mama a little break. Every mom needs a friend who will watch her baby for her to take a shower, hold her baby so she can eat her lunch, and watch her baby during nap time so she can go out and have a moment of peace. What every mom needs is a moment to herself, and she needs friends that are observant enough to notice, giving enough to make it happen, and love her baby(s) enough that the mom isn’t stressed out leaving. A solo shower, quick trip to a coffee shop, or hair appointment (because we need help) is often all it takes to help us reset! We just need the extra hands and loving hearts to help us make it happen.
What every mom needs in a friend is simply for people to care. Listening, noticing, giving, and serving are all bi-products of people simply caring! We are not victims as mamas, but we are exhausted, and we do need a little extra love sometimes!