Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mother Mind

After my second set of stairs today I was contemplating vanity vs. integrity in terms the body…specifically post-pregnancy weight gain acceptance…as in "you're packin' WAY too many pounds and it's been 4 years already, what's your excuse?" Is this a vanity issue or am I out of integrity with who I want to be?

I thought of my former client. When I came to chef for her, she was a size 12 and her daughter was 5 1/2. By the time her daughter turned 6, she had become a size 4 or 6. Sure she was. Because I shopped, portioned and counted out her Weight Watchers points FOR her, I reasoned. Plus, her nanny watched her kid while she worked out at the gym with her personal trainer everyday. It's much easier when you have help.

Not I, I do it solo. The multi-tasker. I take it all on and then am discouraged when I'm not where I think I should be….weight, career, finances, sex life, what's for dinner.

Got me thinking about that NY Magazine article "Mothers Anonymous" about Manhattan Mothers posting on
Apparently they've got labels for every kind of mom…"crunchy mom," "martyr mom," "sanctimommy," "uber-boober," "IBmom"-investment banker, "spoiled brat mom"-has tons of dough and staff, "celebrity mom." And they rag and vent on each other.

We've got nothing like that here in LA as far as I know except for maybe our Peachhead boards--over 3000 moms strong, probably another 500 since that NY Times article came out on us…The Web Site of All Mothers…mommy mafia he called us….how we have the power to make or break a doctor's or business' reputation with a few critical posts.

The only difference is that for the most part our mom boards are intended to share tips, advice, resources, and build community, not judge and ridicule it, although I suppose that happens sometimes too.

Well, maybe I AM a martyr mom…so what? Maybe I DO do all the work around here since it's just us. I AM a present, hands on mom, no extended family here, no nanny, no daily housekeeper, no trainer, no chef, no gardener. I am all those things and more. Plus I work part time and fit in a creative life as best I can as I attempt to build a business. It's not a new concept. It's a reality for many of us. At least I have a husband who contributes. Many people don't even have that.

But still, I hate labels.

Just because I tried child-led weaning and ended up breast-feeding for 22 months, (6 months was my goal), and held my baby a lot, does that make me "crunchy?" Really?! I don't even own a pair of Birkenstocks…and I DO drink caffeine and alcohol!

The choices I made were driven in part by economics and in part by personal choice. That's just how it is. I'd like to think I was more "conscious mom" than "martyr mom." Still, no choice is without its inherent conflicts. I don't know one mom who doesn't worry she isn't screwing up her kid somehow, or feels like she's lost a part of her own life.

It reminds me that every single thing sits on a continuum spectrum…it's our perspective that places it in some kind of context. For instance, when we were down in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, as we drove by huts and corrugated tin shacks with very primitive (or nonexistent) plumbing that housed entire communities, I was reminded to be so incredibly grateful for what we have. We have so much in comparison. And God Bless a functioning toilet, a shower! "This must be a palace," Corduroy might have said about our 1200 sq ft 1-story house. "A tear-down" would be another LA perspective. Both right.

I was hoping that whatever label you call it, whatever choice we make as parents, we treat our children with love and respect. We show up and be really present in their lives, we make sure they feel loved. Children are an unruly bunch by nature. But give them a structure and let their creativity flourish. We are the ones providing that structure, allowing their ideas to co-exist--where appropriate--with ours. Allowing them to be contributors, co-creators to the big picture. Giving them their place and letting their voices be heard. (Ok, you can quiet down now, I've heard you.)

I was thinking about how the choices we make as parents affect our children, which in turn affects the future generation.

As the weight of that sank in…a cool sharp breeze rose up and slapped at my cheeks and neck, reminding me to come back from the geyser of my thoughts.

"Be Here. Now." It reminded me.

"Focus on what is essential."

Yes. So true.

Never have I been so grateful for a cool breeze and a bottle of water, especially as I work out in these sweltering summer temperatures.

I won't lose sight of the gift--a soul enters, takes a body, becomes a child--and we are the ones who are responsible for their care and well-being. Also, I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to have this personal time to ruminate and marinate on motherhood, as it's clearly changed my life and opened up a door of opportunity for me. It's given me a perspective my individual self never could have known.

As I become more conscious, as a person, as a mother, as a fellow human, it invites others to do the same too. Regardless of staff, lack of staff, body weight, mothering style, label, or if we're wheat, dairy, or sugar-free, we have so much.

We carry the potential of the world one step at a time, one child at a time, one jog at a time. Easy does it. Remember to give thanks and be grateful.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

I've seen that body of yours, and it is FABULOUS! Fire the judge!

Suzy said...

Beautiful piece Tanya. Seemslike you have always focused on what is essential and from your past blogs, your "Be here. Now", has worked like crazy for you.

jennifer said...

every time I begin the "I'm fat" mantra, I put my arms around myself and tell myself that I am beautiful and perfect. I love you, Jennifer, I tell myself.