July 22, 2009

My name is Sarah, and I am a Beta Mom.

There is an unspoken, unwritten rule in the modern "stay at home mother community" that says the image of perfection must be maintained at all times, and at any cost. One must always portray oneself as blissful, calm, in control and above all else, successful. One must follow strict protocol in regards to creating and maintaining a thoughtful and properly planned schedule of daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, yearly and once-per-childhood activities.

One's home, however grand or modest, must always be cleaned, organized, smelling of Lemon Verbena Infused Air Dried Linens, and ready for spontaneous house guests and play dates. One's appearance should always reflect the fact that one is consumed with pleasing one's husband and staying atop current trends, lest one should be labeled "One of Those Ponytail and Sweatpants Moms Who Has Really Let Herself Go."

Children of a "stay at home mother" must always be dressed appropriately (in boutique clothing, or at the very least Gymboree) for the weather and events of the day. They must play together as best play-mates, and work cooperatively to clean up after their developmentally appropriate art projects are finished. They must maintain a demanding and rigorous roster of extra-curricular activities for academic and social enrichment.

And I say: What a diaper-load of crap!

I'm going to wager a guess that this hyper-focus on pseudo-perfection comes from two distinct areas of pressure. One is that stay-at-home-moms still have not recovered, as a whole, from the pendulum swing of feminism. We've come a long way, baby, but we can't quite figure out where we're going. First we could not work outside the home without raising eyebrows, then we had to work outside the home to feel of worth, and now we are (supposedly) finally in the time and place where we have the liberty and social approval to choose to be at home or to have a career, or anywhere in between. Unfortunately, many stay at home moms are hesitant to be proud of their individual choice. We often label ourselves with what we imagine the rest of the adult working world sees; naive, uneducated, idealistic, weak, and old-fashioned. And sometimes we really are labeled by others. I was once (wrongly!) accused by another woman of choosing to stay at home so I could be lazy and control my husband by "forcing him to work" and therefore "trapping him in marriage." Yes, that really was said. No, I am not exaggerating. And no, I did not physically harm her after she made her statement, although I sincerely wanted to.

The other reason we put on the mask of perfection is competition and a craving for approval. We don't want to be the one woman in playgroup who doesn't have her act together. We want to be the best mommy, the best home manager, the best cook on the block. If we're the best, then we'll impress everyone else. And if we impress everyone else, they'll praise us for a job well done. Maybe it'll be through a comment about their envy for some skill we possess, or maybe a wistful look of disbelief as we deftly handle something they don't do as well. And then, only then, can we feel pride in our choice and our ability. When we get a figurative pat on the back from someone else who knows our role and responsibilities well... from someone on the inside. We crave that approval, that feeling of having conquered the task better than anyone else, when we don't have a manager or supervisor to give us positive feedback and a raise.

Well, I am here to tell you that I, for one, am not anywhere close to being SuperMom. And I don't think it's in my heart to even desire that label any more. Being SuperMom requires too much pride. Too much fear in failing. Too much anxiety and conditional approval. Too much being responsible for our children instead of being responsible to our children. I'd much rather be a Beta Mom, as I've heard it termed. I have a friend who wisely says, "I just want to be a happy medium." I absolutely agree. I want my house to be clean enough, organized enough. I want to be pretty enough. I want my kids to get along well enough and to have their time be occupied just enough. That leaves wiggle room for development, change, honesty, spontaneity, real life to occur. And Lord help me to have humility and empathy for others, so that I may see them for their true, unique selves, and not for a mask they might wear. We need to celebrate all the varied and wonderful ways of mothering, and mentor younger moms with a heart for acceptance and authenticity.

It is not within my power to change the views of society, the influence of feminism, or our tendency as women towards self-paralysis without approval. But I can stand proud for my own choices and abilities as well as be humble enough to show my faults along with my strengths. And I can accept the fact that we all do things differently in life, but we have the same goal in mind- to learn and grow as we raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted children and to make our own unique mark on the world in the process. One of my favorite quotes: "There is no one way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one. (Jill Churchill)."

April 7, 2009

Spanish Inversion

Sammy: "Mama! I can count in Spanish! Uno... dos... thrays... what-ro... think-o..."

Me: :)

Home Sweet Home

The town we live in is small and quiet. Most people would call it quaint, artsy, or friendly. Some might call it redneck, but only because they haven't spent much time here to know any better. We love living here and raising our children here and I wonder what it might look like when my boys become grandfathers someday. Here is a view of Palmer in it's golden olden days... Both the brick building and the log church are still standing today. Now it's a thriving metropolis. Well... not. But it's still a great place.

April 4, 2009

Serenity Now! Serenity Now!

I don't know if it would be considered a "quote" or just a simple prayer, but the Serenity Prayer always seems to apply in life, doesn't it? Right now in the midst of depressing news on the state of the world and on those days when everything seems to go wrong- from little things to big things- this calms my brain. If you find yourself stressed out, take a minute to read it and let it really sink in...

Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

December 25, 2008

It's not only Christmas... It's Groundhog Day.

So I haven't written anything for a while because life's been busy... But here's a run down of Christmas eve/morning for your amusement (or sympathy, depending on which end of the child-rearing spectrum you fall):

  • 4:30pm kids begin begging to go to bed so Santa can visit.
  • 5:00pm kids get whiny that they are bored and it makes them think about Santa too much.
  • 7:30pm kids hurry and get ready for bed with NO FUSS!!! I tell them not to get out of bed to wake us until their alarm clock says "7" something. I tell Isaiah, "It has to be a 7 or greater to get out of bed."
  • 8:00pm They're out like a light. Paulo and I busy ourselves with last minute wrapping, baking, etc.
  • 12:30am We're still up and the kids come bounding up the stairs, wild eyed and squealing with excitement, "Did Santa come yet?!?" We intercept on the stairs and send them back to bed. There is much crying and gnashing of teeth. I realize where the confusion lies- the number was greater than 7. I remind Isaiah of how the clock works and that it goes to 1 and then counts up again.
  • 1:30am The kids get up again. I don't get myself to bed until 2:15 with all the junk I'm trying to pull off last minute.
  • 3:15am The kids get up again.
  • 3:45am The kids get up again.
  • 4:30am The kids get up again.
  • 5:30am The kids get up again. This time I stomp downstairs and say (in my quiet scary voice) through gritted teeth, "Do NOT get out of this bed AGAIN until the light on your alarm clock comes on... DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!?!?" They nod yes and I cheat and set the alarm for 7:30, desperately hoping to squeeze in another 30 minutes of much needed sleep.
  • 7:00am The kids get up again. "Mom- it says 7. I see presents under the tree! Santa came!" *sigh*

December 18, 2008

Lately, Especially...

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
"A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic."

November 24, 2008

Christmas Red Cake (ala my mom)


1/2 c. shortening

1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs

1/4 c. red food coloring (2 oz.)

2 Tb. cocoa

1 c. buttermilk

2 1/4 c. sifted cake flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vinegar

1 tsp. baking soda


5 Tb. flour

1 c. milk

1 c. sugar

1 c. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour (or use cut parchment paper) two 8" round cake pans. Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs in a mixing bowl. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring, and blend into shortening mixture. Add buttermilk to mixture alternately with flour and salt. Add vanilla. Combine together the baking soda with vinegar and carefully blend into the cake batter (do not beat). Pour into cake pans and bake 24-30 minutes. When completely cooled, split each layer in half. Prepare frosting by combining flour, milk, and sugar in a saucepan over med. heat. Heat, stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat and cool completely. Cream butter and vanilla together. Add to cooled mixture and mix completely. Frost top of each layer and sides of cake with frosting. Enjoy and repeat every year!