to Boost Your Momfidence
mom was full of wise sayings when I was a child, like "Nobody
said life was supposed to be easy" and "Always wear clean
that I'm the mom (four times over), my favorite saying is "Make
way for momfidence." What's momfidence? It's the confidence
that comes from worrying less and winging it more. Trusting your
instincts and common sense (no matter what the popular wisdom says)
and daring to be mellow about childrearing in a tensed-up world.
seven maxims can make life easier and happier-for you and your child.
CRY OVER SPILT GUILT
All mothers hear voices. Actually it's just one voice, as insistent
as it is irksome. That would be your momologue, your internal running
commentary on how it's going as a mom. But it's never saying, "Good
job, Mom!" Brilliant navigation of that sibling rivalry incident!
How fine and upstanding your child is! Pats on the back for that
quick save of the ice cream cone!"
These momologues are not about praise and positive reinforcement.
They're about guilt. They hector and nag. They fret. The voice in
your head recites an endless to-do list and whispers comparisons
to everybody else's kids. It's never satisfied.
goes with mothers like spit-up and shoulders. It's a myth that you
can wipe it away like a window shot with Windex. It's just there
no matter what you do (or don't do) or say (or don't say). Instead
of letting it make you miserable, tune it out. Tune in to the more
realistic voices at your feet: "Moooom!"
MUCH ADVICE SPOILS THE CONFIDENCE
Because we live in an expert culture, it's easy believe there must
be a "right" way to navigate most aspects of raising a
child. Never mind that professional advice-givers all have different
advice (and most don't have kids underfoot in the house).
experts' advice as mere suggestion, not gospel. It's not like generations
of the human race weren't brought up just fine without Drs. Spock,
Brazelton, Sears, Phil, Laura, et. al.
matter how many authorities weigh in, raising a child will always
be an art form, not a science. It's like piecing together a crazy
quilt, stitching together random bits of silk, velvet, and scratchy
wool in ways that look right to you. I'm always on the lookout for
scraps that might work. But I've learned to toss plenty aside, too.
OREO NEVER KILLED ANYBODY
Was it just half a generation ago that "cookies and milk"
was a nurturing image rather than a derelict one?
am all for good nutrition. Yes, I am a pro-nutrition kind of mom.
I absolutely believe we should nourish our children. No starvation.
No stuffed pigs. Equal opportunity for all food groups at every
meal. But beyond that? Super-obsession about what kids eat usually
only results in kids who are super-obsessed with food themselves.
I'd rather put my energy into making sure everyone is sitting up
at the table and not kicking anyone underneath it than having a
power struggle over "one more bite" of tofu.
Moderation in all things and all things in moderation.
IS FOOL'S GOLDEN IN A HOUSE WITH KIDS
This adage is aimed at moms who worry that the wild banshee noises
in their homes-i.e. anybody with more than one child-indicate they're
doing something wrong. Like fool's gold-the mineral that twinkles
like the real thing, but isn't-kids at play who are quiet as churchmice
should not be mistaken for a sign that all's well. It's noise and
chaos-yes, screaming included-that are the sounds of happy children
usually means somebody's up to no good.
BE A SPOILSPORT SOMETIMES
The whole definition of "play" has changed since we were
kids. It used to mean thinking up things to do on your own, inventing
games, arguing with friends over the rules-messing around unsupervised,
and not bothering your parents. Now "play" means two things:
Youth sports or video games. Youth sports have been taken over by
the grownups, and videogames have been completely abandoned by them.
twice (or three times) before starting the crazy youth sports treadmill
before age 10. A kid gets more exercise digging up worms in the
backyard than he does playing center field. Or by having his X-Box
turned off and being turned out in the yard to think up something
to do on his own.
YOU CAN'T JUDGE A MOM BY HER MIDRIFF
So you still have those last post-baby pounds. So your baby is in
kindergarten. It doesn't mean you're a lousy mom, only (I hope)
that you're still working on the self-love thing.
AND SMELL THE CRAYONS
Goodness knows a single hour with a colicky baby can drag like an
entire day. A day with a toddler can feel like an eternity. Funny,
then, that they whole mommying part of life goes by in a blink.
Make time to enjoy it: Hang out. Color. Share French fries. Tickle.
Spencer is the author of Momfidence! An Oreo Never Killed Anybody
and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting (Crown, 2006). She also writes
the "Momfidence!" column in Woman's Day and is a contributing
editor of Parenting and Babytalk. She runs www.momfidence.com