Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear Jurl Answers Slackmama

Dear Slackmama:

Is it considered bad parenting to not brush your child's hair every day?

In my house it's bad parenting when I brush my kids hair. What starts out as a simple grooming task turns into a tearful screaming match. Hair brushing is overrated. Consider cornrows and then you'll not only avoid brushing, but washing, too. I'm taking Sam to get her head shaved this weekend so we can eliminate one of the things that cause our mornings to resemble the Apocalypse. Bottom line, brush, don't brush, it really isn't pertinent to parenting skill.

Is it bad parenting to bathe her only once per week because you always use a lot of wipes when you change her and she just doesn't get that dirty?

This is not only great parenting, but good world citizenship because you are conserving water!! Regular bathing is also overrated. And can, in fact, lead to dry skin. Nothing wrong with a whore's bath- tits, pits, and prives. Hey, that's what I give myself sometimes.

Is it bad parenting to let your child eat goldfish crackers off the floor at church when you didn't bring goldfish crackers to church?

It's never bad parenting to feed your kids, even if it's not food you actually provided. And you're helping the church with clean-up! And if you adopt my motto about food on the floor maybe you'll relax a bit: if it ain't sticky, it ain't icky.

Is it bad parenting to allow your child to wear her bathing suit around all day long b/c she really really wants to, even if its January?

Is it bad parenting to buy your kid a pony? I think not. Who says bathing suits are just for summer? The beach Nazis? Kids have to express themselves and hampering her inner bathing beauty might lead to unforeseen consequences like teenage sex or drunken driving or a butterfly tramp stamp! You let her wear that bathing suit or I'll report you to CPS myself.

Most of all, is it bad parenting to continue working full time when your sweet little special light of your life is two years old and learning and growing every day and you are sitting at a stupid desk dealing with stupid people and missing it all?

This question is really not so much about bad parenting, but about you and how you feel about your life. Instead of asking about parenting ask: Are you happy working full time? Does your job fulfill you? Is your job an important part of your identity? There are no bad answers to these questions.

Some moms work because they love their job, most moms work because they need the money, and then there are the moms that work because that's what they've always done and they have a big job that they worked hard to get so they keep on keeping on even when it's killing them. It's the last category of mother that will really suffer because on some level she is ready to take a step down the corporate ladder, but can't find her footing so she hangs on with a death grip, wishing she could just let go.

As you jurls know, I went part time last July, though I had lost the burning desire to be the greatest lawyer in the world almost as soon as that first kid popped out, it took me a long time to decide I could take less money, that I could give up some position of power, that I could live without feeling plugged in to the office full time.

The hardest time was when I spent every moment wishing I had more time for my kids, more time for my husband, yet insisting I remain a full-time professional. All that got me was overwhelmed and over-guilty.

Once my mind let go of the ambitions my heart had long said adios too, I gave up a little work and got a lot of sanity.

Now, I'm not saying you can't work full-time and be a great mom, you certainly can. My mom worked-full time and look how great I turned out! But again, this is really about being happy and fulfilled as a person not about parenting. If you need more time with your daughter then figure out how to make that happen. Decide if you can tolerate not working at all (and there is no shame in either answer) or if you can handle being called a "part-timer." I realize not all firms go with the part-time thing, but you never know until you ask.

But if you consider all your options and decide to keep working full-time right where you are then know that you're making the right decision for your family and stop beating yourself up. You owe it to your daughter to be kind to yourself, to be happy with your life. Happy mommas are the best mommas, you know. (Unless you're happy because you're high or something....)

I know you are a wonderful mother. And there is no caregiver in the world who can take your place. When your baby girl longs for comfort it is your embrace, your sweet smell, your warmth, your heart, that she will seek out. The bond between mother and child is like no other. We carry them for nine months, we tend them in the night, we whisper silly stories in their ears, we kiss boo-boos, we sew the stuffing back in a favorite teddy, we get the stain out of special blankie, we help with homework, we shop for prom dresses, we bake birthday cakes, we pack lunches, we volunteer for field trips, we set their boundaries, we lift them up, and among about a billion other things, we love beyond all reason. We are mothers and only we know what that really means.

I already know you love your child, but do you love yourself enough to give up feeling guilty about things you cannot change and perhaps change what you can? I think you do.



ATLGAL said...

You have defined me: "the moms that work because that's what they've always done and they have a big job that they worked hard to get so they keep on keeping on". Could not have said it better myself. Can't get the SAHM (stay at home mom) possibility out of my mind... But, my issue... bored to tears after 6 months? Impatient and cranky and lazy and not, in fact, doing all the things I quit working to do? Guess there's never a "right" answer, I just wish there was, and wish it was obvious....

Kiki said...

Dang, Jurl, you are good at this. Not that I am a mom or like kids or anything, but it makes sense. I feel for all of you on those mommy / work decisions.

Jen G said...

Totally agree on all counts.

Anonymous said...'re good! Now help me figure out how not to feel guilty about getting my kid out of my bed! I promise to make a stronger effort!