Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Mommyhood Myth

I was recently at a party with other non-children-like beings that are often referred to as adults. Of course, the children were nearby (because let's face it - I'm not lucky enough...er, it's not convenient to be at a party without them). As the respective parents of these children congregated in the kitchen, while the kids scampered and played, I found myself talking shop with another mother. This particular mother is what I refer to as a mommy. In my experience, there are two kinds of mothers - there are "moms" and there are "mommies". Mommies are the ones who save toilet paper rolls by the bagful because one day, they will want to make toilet paper pilgrim crafts for Thanksgiving. Mommies never forget early dismissal days at school. Mommies always make sure their kids have a healthy, balanced organic breakfast every morning, as opposed to dry cereal in a Ziplock baggie as we're running out the door. Moms are....well, moms are like me - flawed.

I always thought of myself as a mommy....until I actually had kids. As a child, my dream was to grow up and be a stay-at-home mommy, making homemade dinners every night presented on a perfectly set dining table, with two children - a boy and a girl. Upon growing up, getting married, and actually having my first child, I was shocked by how much work it was and how no one - and I mean no one - warns starry-eyed, optimistic, soon-to-parents on how much work children really are. I had read all the parenting books before I was pregnant, during my pregnancy and even after I had my children. None of them really prepare you for what is the hardest career you will never get paid for. It was a matter of months before I found out that I wasn't a bad parent - I was perfectly normal, but I wasn't a mommy. I was just a mom. Now I think I'm a pretty good mom and I like it well enough that I even had a second child...and once I got over the guilt of not regularly doing crafts with my children, I came to respect and admire my own type of parenting.

Back to the party - as I was talking to this mommy, she and I were discussing the public school system (she and I both have kids at the same school it turns out) and how much we adore the school. She mentioned it must be very challenging to work outside of the home full-time at the library and be a parent to too. I leaned in a little closer and said, "yes, and you know, everyone thinks that we have to be perfect all the time. I guess that's the unspoken rule of motherhood, right? How we really can't be perfect and we can't talk about it either." She stared blankly at me for a few moments and just blinked her mascaraed eyelashes. After a pregnant motherhood pause, we changed the subject. But there was something in the way she looked at me after that conversation that made me think she understood. Underneath that mommy facade, I could see she knew from which I spoke. Perhaps we're not all that different after all? I'll try to remember that sentiment the next time I'm desperately searching the contents of my purse for my cell phone to order take out.

Allison Beasley
Head of Adult Services


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