This is a touchy subject for moms in general. I believe there’s space in this world for EVERY type of mother. Moms teach us, protect us and even smother us. More often than not, everything they do is out of love! So, in light of this huge aspect of mothering, namely love, I would argue that we are all EQUAL. We all are doing what we think is best for our children. No one can argue with that.
Or can we?
What is “the best” anyway? And what about what is best for us? You know, not as a mother but as a woman or an individual. Or is that supposed to just satisfy the other? What’s good/best for my kids are automatically good for me.
I feel like doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s because I’m going through a phase where I’m “finding myself”. At the age of 31. (I was always a late-bloomer)
Back to the topic at hand: I am not a soccer mom.
What’s a soccer mom anyway?
According to Merriam-Webster, a soccer mom is defined as: “a typically suburban mother who accompanies her children to their soccer games and is considered as part of a significant voting bloc or demographic group”. Add to that idea that soccer moms are heavily involved in school activities, most probably on the Parent-Teacher Committee etc. Basically, THAT mom who knows EVERYTHING about her child’s school, activities etc. She is present. She is active. You KNOW her kids are important to her because well, duh. Her whole life is arranged around her children- from their activities to their moods. They are the dominant priority. They also make it known that their children are very important to them- sometimes in the same breath downplaying your own futile efforts.
Single Mom Drama
In my mind, I always imagined that being a typical soccer mom was the golden standard which moms should be aspiring to achieve. And ever-so-often, I would fall short of this. As one is also aware, mom-guilt can be not only vicious but it can scar. Once you realize that you didn’t quite reach that goal, it typically stays with you forever. I had my eldest son Cayden, at 20 years old. I didn’t the hell know what I was doing. I went from being a shy girl to a popular woman and then a business owner (I owned a dance company). Even though I dropped out of university at the time, I still managed to be ambitious and create opportunities for myself. But, all that changed in an instant. Okay, all that changed over 40 weeks.
I was the one who had to raise Cayden. My parents supported me of course but his well-being was my responsibility. His dad can argue with me if he wants to but I was the present, active parent.
That’s a blog post for another day. #singlemomdrama
All the mothering and instilling of discipline was on me. I had to be accountable. So I went from being an ambitious young woman and someone with great potential, I became a single mother. That was a great letdown because I joined the thousands of women who were teenage mothers. And hardly anyone respects a teenage mother. I was submerged in the murky waters that is: “constant judgment”. As if I needed that. I was already beating myself up because this wasn’t part of the plan, you know?
I didn’t follow the rules or what people (read: everyone!) envisioned for my life. I was a straight A student in primary and most of high school. People had big dreams for me. So did I. And I didn’t envision any children. Go figure. Not even a husband. I just wanted to be alone and successful.
So, I was a varsity drop out AND fell pregnant before marriage. STUPID STUPID STUPID. My pregnancy also was tough emotionally. Every single day I felt like I was not good enough of to be a mother. Firstly, I knew nothing about being a mother the practical sense like, changing nappies or burping AND I felt that I didn’t know what I wanted to pass down to my son with respect to values. They don’t talk about that in the magazines, values. I knew when I was having Braxton Hicks contractions but I had no clue as to what my role was. How was I supposed to make my child feel special? Was that my job or their dad’s? Was I supposed to sing my child to sleep? What if my voice isn’t as soft and sweet as it was supposed to be? It was supposed to be soft and sweet, right?
The fact of the matter was that I did not feel worthy of this role in any way I could define it. This, at least according to what I thought was the alpha and the omega of motherhood was all about.
Going back to university
After I had Cayden, I went back to university. I studied full-time, got involved in many student societies, worked part-time. My life was busy. My life was full and I was successful. Yet, I still I grappled with what defined me as a mother. I recall my mom cleaning out my cupboard not long after I fell pregnant. I had a great body at that age (thanks to being a dancer) and wore lots of short, revealing clothing. My mom took one look at my denim skirt and said, “This is going. You’re going to be a mother now.” I understood then that mothers look a certain way. I miss that skirt.
Right, so I was successful at my second round of varsity but always felt undeserving and I carried much shame.
I decided to switch things around a bit.
I decided to instill values in Cayden that I thought would make him a better person. In a way, nothing to do with me or his father- just things that would not make him an asshole in this world. You know? From there on, what I wanted for him and what I felt what the world needed became a priority. I wanted him to be a great citizen. I wanted him to have confidence, a sense of humour and really great smile. Small things. Big things. Also, I never did the whole baby-talk thing with him and we always liked using big words. Manners were also on the top of the list.
I tackled my vision for him in bite-sized chunks. Let me give you an example.
Every day when Cayden left for nursery school, I would kiss him goodbye, and say I love you. But I would add, “Cayden, don’t be shy. Ask your questions. Ask why. Always ask why.” He would nod and be on his way.
This kind of bit me in the ass later because now he is VERY confident and will always ask why if I tell him to do something. But it’s a small price to pay for raising an intelligent, amazing child like Cayden. Not everyone will understand him or accept him but I know that he is gifted. That being said, we do have issues with teachers and Cayden’s behaviour. And his principal(s)… We were even advised by that he needs to see a psychologist as he seems a little “ADHD”. I contacted the therapist she recommended and he was blown away by the person Cayden is. He warned me that teachers are not necessarily trained to deal with gifted children. I immediately felt at ease. This was a professional saying that I’m doing ‘alright’ in the mom department. I swear it felt like some sort of achievement!
My own mother
Some may ask but what was my mom like? Surely she had an influence on what a mother represents, right? Well, my parents and I- specifically my mom, were never really good friends when I became an adolescent. I love(d) her of course. But it took us a LONG time to see eye to eye or even be comfortable with one another in the same room. Everything was a fight. No one understood one another. It was so stormy in that relationship and it took some big ugly events to occur until we slowly saw the light.
The relationship is great now because there is RESPECT. My mom even said I am a good mother on Mother’s Day this year! If you knew what we went through as a family, then you know this is a breakthrough.
I wanted something else in my own parent-child relationship with Cayden. I wanted a healthy relationship with my child(ren) despite my flaws. I also wanted what I defined as being a great mother to truly be acceptable and well, good enough.
While battling raising Cayden and my undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder, I didn’t know where to turn. My depressive episodes would seemingly come out of nowhere and of course, because no one knew what was going on, they blamed my behaviour and decisions I made on being lazy and/or a bad mother. When I used to cry, I mean SOB, over the phone, my dad would say “why can’t you be more like your mother? She was a good mother.”
Can you blame him?
Bipolar Disorder Depression
I was lost. I was severely depressed. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Cayden was 3 or 4 when he started making his own breakfast. I couldn’t move from my bed. I couldn’t shower, let alone look after a child. You know what was the toughest to endure for me? That constant urge to commit suicide. How could I be so “selfish”? What kind of mother would want to inflict that pain of her child?
Me. Clearly, I want to do something like that. I couldn’t control the thoughts- I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that a medical condition like Bipolar Disorder can be a physical illness which directly impacts on how you do your job as mother or friend.
Looking back, I cannot for the life of me remember how I got through that. What baffles me, even more, was how Cayden still loved me despite my obvious shortcomings.
He loved his damaged, imperfect mom.
I try to hold onto that thought as the years go by. Despite it all, he loved me.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself raising three children. Am I still doing okay of a job?
I realized that I’m still learning how to be a mom to my kids. I learned that just because I hate going to soccer games every day does NOT make me a bad mother, it just means that I’m not into that sort of thing. It has nothing to do with my mothering skills nor does it define me either. Just because I don’t eagerly volunteer for mom duty doesn’t mean I’m a bad mother. I never grew up with my parents doing getting overly involved. I understood that they were working. I saw them at awards evenings- so that was special to me. And I was satisfied. And I thought that this would be okay for Cayden. Unfortunately, though, he is surrounded by children whose parents drop them at school AND walk them to their class. Hug and kiss. I told my mom about this phenomena and she asked me, “Have you asked Cayden what he wants?” I said no. We decided to ask him. In my mind, I was like, “Please no. Please no.”
“Yes.” He said with a smile.
“There you have it.” She said as she looked at me.
He wants what I don’t want to give
He wants what I don’t want to give. And not like it’s a bad thing, but I don’t feel like I’m “me” when I’m doing these things like being at a cake sale. I can do it for him, BUT what about how I feel? I go to some of Cayden’s games and every time I see him play, my heart melts. When he scored a try a few months ago, for example, I cried. No, really I cried. I think that’s also why I don’t like to chat with the moms there because I’m a big baby on the field. I cry because he makes me so proud. I cry because he’s growing up- he was a tiny baby just the other day. I cry because we have been through so, so much together. I cry because I’m the first person he runs to after he plays. Sometimes he even waves to me while he’s on the field. You should see me at his school concerts… Tears galore!
Mostly, I cry because he wants me there.
Sometimes I think, besides the crying thing, that I don’t want to put myself in those “moms-everywhere” situations because I have this inherent need to compare myself to every mother there. “Ah, look how that kid listens to his mom” or “Just check how nicely she speaks to them. They probably don’t shout at all”. And as much I realize these could be untruths, it still hurts to subject myself to that. For most of my life, I have felt that I’m not good enough (especially when depressed) and that ranges from being too fat for a boyfriend during high school to feeling like a failure and attempting suicide to doubting my worth in marriage. Ooh, Ooh! And my favourite: doing what I can to be a mom but falling flat on my face almost every time.
Everyone has their reasons for NOT being a soccer mom. I realize I had to do some soul searching to identify mine. But, I refuse to feel bad. I refuse to feel bad because I don’t enjoy these volunteering jobs- even if it is FOR Cayden. So then, what’s my plan?
I’ll go when I up to it. And when I’m there, I’ll either wait in the car or stand alone on the side of the field- but I WILL cry MY tears. Because even though I hate all the gossip and drama of the mom world, I love Cayden with my whole heart. And I know that he would never hold it against me that I wasn’t always there on the sideline. He’ll know that when I was there, I cheered him on in my heart and all the tears I cried for him counts for much for than trying to fit in or outshine the other moms.