Mommy Martydom

Some friends and I were chatting and the the above meme card came up, which has been posted around Facebook, and we discovered that we were unanimously annoyed with the implied sentiment. Listen up ladies, this isn’t the 1950’s! Your goal in life no longer has to be landing a husband so you can spend the rest of your life finding shoes to compliment your newest apron or dedicate yourself solely to dispensing little humans out of your vagina like Pez. Supposedly, the sky is the limit–okay, well the glass ceiling is the limit (wink, wink). You can go to college, and not just for your M.R.S. degree. You can have a career. You can have an active social life and go out with friends. The world is your oyster! That is, until you have a child. At that point, you are only supposed to concern yourself with all things mommy. You are allowed to go back to work BUT only if you NEED the income. I’m sure there is a meme card somewhere that says, “Sorry I quit my job and can’t afford my mortgage, I was busy being an awesome mom!”  If your combined household income affords you material purchases like designer handbags or new furniture, you’re not putting your child first. Awesome moms don’t care if the garage apartment is furnished with fabric covered crates, as long as she can spend every waking moment staring at the fruits of her womb. What do you mean Jane called and wants to have a girl’s night out? You’re a mommy! Unless Jane is wanting to meet up at mommy and me yoga or the La Leche League luncheon, what is the point? Don’t you know, when good mommies have babies, their selfish desires and personal need for things like social interaction not related to children is expelled with the placenta? Everyone knows that any mother that would be willing to abandon her child for any amount of time for selfish endeavors like work or socializing with friends or, dare I even say it, imbibe in an adult beverage with other adults is negligent, if not completely unfit.
Here is my confession: This may come as a total shock to some of you but being a mom, in and of itself, does not always make me feel completely fulfilled and blissful. I know that the sanctimommy handbook says that I shouldn’t want anything beyond birthing, breastfeeding and wiping shit from a litter of baby asses but, for some reason, I need to get away from time to time. As much as one would think that watching the school themed episode of Blue’s Clues for the 14th time today would never get old. It does. I know it’s hard to imagine that explaining to a toddler for the 20,134th time why poop goes in the potty and not in his pants could ever get annoying but, believe it or not, it does. I know when I tell people that the wake up, make breakfast, nap time battle, house keeping, bath and bed time routine can get monotonous and mundane, they stare at me in utter disbelief. Alas, I don’t find it as riveting as other moms claim. Look, I love my children. I’ve never loved anything more in all my life. I would literally give my life for any one of them without a moment’s hesitation. They make me laugh every single day. At times, though, they make me consider which kitchen gadget would be best suited for rendering myself completely deaf. That thought ultimately always leads me to my electric wine opener, at which point I reconsider because it is a bad ass wine opener and I’d hate to ruin it so, instead, I decide to call a friend or two and put it towards its intended use.

Wake up and smell the mimosa! Achieving awesomeness in the mommy department doesn’t require women to sacrifice friends and a social life. I can be a great mother and a great friend. I can be a good mother and still have a social life. If your cup of tea is spending every  moment of every day holding or hovering over your children and your idea of socializing with friends is instagramming your latest dinner creation, who am I to judge? If you aspire to be the “perfect mom”, good luck with that goal. A little secret, though: There is no such thing.  I’ll settle for being a pretty good mom, well, most of the time. Sometimes, I am just an “okay” mom. Whether I’m tired, irritated or, at times, overwhelmed, I have my bad days. Usually, I find it is quickly cured with nothing more than a couple of phone calls or texts to decide who’s providing the porch and who is bringing the wine. I like to spend time with my friends. These nights allow me to decompress. I get to be around adults. I get to talk about adult things. Our drinks don’t need to be punctured with a tiny straw; they need cork screws and everyone can pour their own. A night with the girls is the best and cheapest therapy available. We open a bottle of wine or four and talk, gossip and laugh. Truth be told, very little of our conversation centers around our children now that I think about it. We may tell a funny story or two about something they said or did but then it is on to the other topics like husbands and the latest gossip.  Stories will be told about husband fights and we’re going to tell each other when we we’re on the right side of the fight and totally wrong and acting like a spoiled ass. We drink, we laugh, we curse, we vent, we bitch. Karaoke is often involved, even if we are just singing along at the top of our lungs to someone’s play list. Usually, when I get home, my cheeks are almost sore from laughing and, somehow or another, my children are sound asleep, oblivious to and unfazed by my adults only play date.

Girls night at my house with some of my favorite bitches

Moms: There is nothing wrong with you if you want to spend time away from your children. Being a great mom doesn’t require you to sacrifice your identity as an individual. I am a mother but that is not the only thing that defines me. I am more than just a mom. These times, with my friends, serve as a reminder of that. We support one another through everything; the trials of parenting, fights with our husbands, losing a member of our wine gang and my best friend, Misty, to ALS.  We can’t always drop what we’re doing and meet on the patio but we have all proven our ability to one another to come through in a pinch. At the end of the day, these girls and the time we spend together centers me.  My marriage and my family are my top priorities but I also make my friends a priority. I am actually a much better mother because I have them in my life. Is there really any such thing as having too much support? I am a good mom.  Having and spending time with friends, doing things that don’t revolve around my children, doesn’t change that. I’ll go so far as to say it makes me a better mom.

One of our last girls’ nights all together with Misty

46 thoughts on “Mommy Martydom

  1. Why is it ever necessary for us to say things like this to people and moreso, why oh why do they look at us like we are selfish and totally out of our minds to say we have needs!!!

    I’ve got 5 kids and yes I love them so so so so much and they are definitely amazing… they are my beauteous wonders… but I also need time to be with the girls and out with my husband (dinner and Lowes at the very least!). I had not had a date with him in years and going out with the girlfriends didn’t happen either. The first few weeks I went to coffee with a couple mom’s I would come home crying and sputtering because I didn’t know how to talk in adult language and their calm was just offsetting to me. Now thankfully I’m getting better at it but still oh… the guilt hits like a flyswatter to the ego.

    Thank you for putting it into beautiful words!!!

    • There is no guilt greater than mommy guilt. We are worse than Catholics with the shame and guilt we project on one another. Shed it, sister! You get to unwind and be reminded that you are a person and you have interests outside of Sprout and diaper cream. Grab a glass and have fun with grown ups! You’ve earned it.

  2. Thanks for this post! As a child-less friend of moms obsessed with their kids, I’ve found any remarks I make to this effect are construed as being jealous, dispassionate, or unsupportive. Truth be told, I miss my friends very much, and although I love their kids, an hour or two without them would be SO GREAT. I don’t need much! And my friends profess to want this, too. BUT my last afternoon spent with such a friend focused exclusively on things her son wanted to do, and two chance encounters with other moms she knew resulted in 15 minutes of conversation about their kids, while I sat idly by. This has become the new normal for our time together. I wouldn’t be a big fan of someone who suddenly wanted to bring their husband/partner to every girls’ night out, either. But I feel my hands are tied. Thanks for giving voice to some of my frustration.

    I love your blog by the way, and your terrific sense of humor!! Thanks for writing. And I was sorry to hear about the loss of your best friend, to ALS. Glad to see you’ve got some friends to see you through.

    • I have several friends without children and without any desire to ever have children. Why do people think that this would leave us with nothing in common? I don’t know why women feel like once they have a child, their favorite band has to be The Wiggles and their favorite movies must by Pixar films. I hate the Wiggles but I will sing the shit out of their songs for my kids. When I’m out with the girls, I want to listen to Prince and sing Fleetwood Mac. I don’t want to talk about kids, kids, kids. For some reason, we convinced ourselves and each other that we have to be completely an solely defined by motherhood. If you don’t have children, you’re asked when are you having them. If you don’t WANT children, something MUST be wrong with you! Men don’t have these problems.

  3. Thank you so much for this. As a first time mom i have been subjected to a lot of criticism for wanting some adult time with friends – without Junior around (for example not wanting to take my four month old to a concert this weekend!). Not to mention the feelings of guilt for having to go back to work in four days time!

    This just makes me feel like phoning up my bestie and organising a girls night out!

    • I personally enjoy watching my husband look at me with envious eyes when i’m like “Later bitches!” My job with heritage involves a lot of travelling around the UK so I do have had to leave the bambinos now and then, but it has meant i’ve got to take the family on plenty of days out for free with my National Trust staff membership. You just have to make it work and you’ll be grateful for keeping up with those friendships when the kids reach the age when they want to do their own thing and move for away for university, jobs, etc.

  4. When my sister first had her baby and he was about a year old, I met up with her for lunch and she insisted on bringing her son with. I love the little guy (he’s not so little now, of course), but the whole lunch involved her trying to keep him from screaming or making a mess. I was like, what’s the point of us going out together if we can’t even have an adult conversation without being interrupted every two minutes by a kid who has an unhealthy need for attention? I’m all for moms spending time with their kids and doing ‘good mom’ things, but there is definitely a time and place for that.

  5. I’m stealing the slushie machine card for FB. LOL! My mom friends will love it.

    I am glad to hear that somewhere out there, there are moms who still value their friendships with their childless friends, or who manage to talk about something besides the finer points of baby shit with their friends who do have kids.

    My two closest friends moved out of state when we were still in our 20s, but when they started having their babies, they still made time for me with the occasional phone call. I did learn, however, about the uncanny ability of a three-year-old to prevent a single, complete sentence to be vocalized between his mom and her best friend.

    You bet your sweet bippie it makes you a better mom! For so many reasons. One of them is so forehead slapping obvious to me: You need to model taking care of yourself to the young’uns. Watching you sacrifice every last ounce of biomass, the way salmon do, to parenting is only going to teach them to do the same – or expect their future spouses to do the same. Further, it is a way of demonstrating that the universe does not revolve around them.

    As a former teenager who once dated a teenaged male, I can tell you there is nothing more boring, or alienating, than a teenaged boy who has always had every minute of his mother’s attention focused on him, so that he believes every little thing he does is fascinating for others to sit and watch. This one was so completely self-absorbed, that the one night he invited me over to dinner with his family, en route he told me we had to stop at his friend’s house, where they proceeded to rehearse their little garage band for something like two hours, while I sat on the floor, bored out of my skull.

    This healthy mindset is more important than ever today. I don’t want to turn your blog into a political board, so I am not going to name party names, but there are political forces out there that want to pull women straight back into the 1950s and the Cult of Domesticity, put you under house arrest, and commandeer your reproductive systems to use for conscripted incubation. There is a reason so many “housewives” of that era went alcoholic, and or stark raving bonkers. Fight the power!

  6. this is extremely timely, as i sit here feeling guilty about wanting to go out this weekend. i find again and again that i fall into the trap of thinking that getting my husband to watch the kids is ‘babysitting’, which is absolutely ridiculous.

    of course, i know i’ll likely come home to a disaster, and who knows whether kids willactually be in bed, but what the hell i’m gonna do it anyways. i’ve gone too long without having a night off.

  7. Reblogged this on that precarious gait and commented:
    I like that this blogger offers an alternative concept of what it means to be a “good mother.” As a woman who was, for too many years, sequestered in her roles of wife and mother, this really resonates with me. My post divorce life is full of meaningful friendships that I make a genuine priority in my life, and what a difference they make to my soul. I am definitely a better mother, daughter, employee, and partner when I have the warmth of girl time in my life.

  8. Reblogged this on …BehindMyStunnas and commented:
    I thought i would share with everyone here this blogger’s attitude on being a mother without losing your other identities as someone’s friend, sister, wine pal etc, etc.
    Go on and read her views and maybe you’ll appreciate that motherhood is NOT just about chubby kids in clean clothes…

  9. I absolutely LOVE your blog! I have to admit that I smile anytime I see that I get to read a new post. I’m a mom of 2 and I can relate to so many things that you write about. I worked full time with my 1st and I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to be at home with my 2nd so I understand what it’s like to be a mom in both if those roles. I agree that it is Extremely important to get some adult time every now and then. I know that I need it whenever I find myself singing kid songs with no kids around. Keep up the good work, keep writing, and I’ll keep reading.

    • Ha! On more than one occasion, I have been listening to an singing along to the kids music or had the Toy Story DVD playing in the car and suddenly realizing that I alone and I can listen to whatever I want.
      It is always good to know that we aren’t alone and, for me, it is cathartic to hold out my flaws and shortcomings as a person and a mother an say, “I CAN’T BE THE ONLY ONE! COME ON!”. I’m glad it helps you and it helps me too when others can relate. Thanks for reading!

  10. Just wanted say that I’m sorry to hear about Misty. I would be devastated to lose one of my friends, and the only reason I even care about getting old, is that I know one day they’re going to leave me. Cyber Hug for you.

    • Thank you. ALS is a vicious bitch that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. After 20 years, she was more of a sister than just a friend. While I’m sad for myself and all of our friends and her family, mostly my heart breaks for her beautiful son, who turns 2 in December, that he will never truly know, for himself, how amazing, fun, loving and witty his mother was. Girls night will never be quite the same.

      • Holy shit…that…is just heartbreaking. Her knowing she was leaving her little boy must have been worse than dealing with the ASL. That literally brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
        Wow, things like that just makes a person realize that their own “problems” are pathetic in comparison. I’ve been stressing out about an essay I have to write this week. Poor me. I get to come home to my 3yr old boy and loving wife every single night.
        Excuse me, I need to go give my boy a hug.

  11. “Being a great mom doesn’t require you to sacrifice your identity as an individual.” I’d actually go so far as to say that sacrificing your identity will in the end make you a worse mom. What will you have to teach them? Antics from your former life, before you became a mommy? That humility and self-sacrifice are desirable traits when you are a woman? That parents are your slaves who have to be there for your whim and don’t get to have any needs themselves? Meh!

    Love your views and the way you express them. Keep up the good work!

  12. Love it this is so true. I have said since I had my first 9 years ago it is not good for you or them to be with your kids 24/7 365 days a year. Everyone acts like I am so horrible for thinking that and oh my god to even say it out loud gasp. I try telling the ex I can’t sit here day after day and do nothing but house work and run kids I want to get out. he says there is the park the library this and that. and it is all walking distance so if we don’t have money for gas. I wanted to just choke him and be like you just don’t get it.

  13. So true! A happy mom spends some time with friends and doing things for herself. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but now I am a better mom because I hang out with my friends and have wine nights! 🙂

  14. My parents had a really great social life when I was growing up. I remember looking forward to becoming an adult so that I, too, could have as much fun as they did. A happy adult is a happy parent. “Adult” time is an absolute necessity, in my opinion, to raise a happy kid.

  15. Thanks Queen. A predicament of guilt faced by most moms and “what would they say”? Who would we be if we didn’t care what others thought? Be that person! And your kids will benefit!

    I think I`m a pretty great mom. At least my kids tell me so, and that is the greatest compliment I could ever earn. But I think in part what makes me a good parent is that I have an outlet for my own goals. I work full time at a job that I enjoy and create my own successes rather than building up those expectations within my own children. They will have their own success that I will celebrate, just as they celebrate and reap the benefits of mommy’s successes.

    Oh yes, I have been whispered about many times at my kids` school as the “one of those who works” like it is some strain of the plague, my kids scrutinized for signs of neglect and “surely her kids will be retarded being in daycare all their lives”. Meanwhile, they also make catty remarks about how “it must be nice” that I drive a small, newish car and we take an international family vacation each year where my girls are exposed to a different kind of education. Choices.

    Would I like to volunteer in the classroom? YES! Would I like to be able to take my girls to a birthday party in the middle of the day? Yes! As much as I miss out on these things, (and feel guilty that my girls are not included in midday playdates and the like) I am happy with the role I play in their lives and the things I can teach them as a working mom. Choices. Do I not set an example for other little girls who aspire to be a journalist or work at an art centre or grow up to be anything they damn well please AND be a great mother? Being a mom is the most important job I will ever have but I just wish it wasn’t viewed under a mircoscope with such black and white standards.

    I had the privilege of staying at home with my two daughters for the first five years but knew it was time for me to get back at my job. Not because I HAD to, but because I WANTED to. Before we get all judge-y with one another ladies, let’s be thankful we actually have CHOICES. And let’s advocate for more CHOICES to be available to allow women to have it all, whatever that looks like to each of us as individuals.

    Let’s support one another as WOMEN – as mothers, as coworkers or whatever else we aspire to be. We have both politics and religion trying to keep us in our “place” so why not support a sister and the realization of her dreams even if they differ from your own?

  16. How right you are, ‘achieving’ awesomeness in the mommy department doesn’t require women to sacrifice friends and a social life.’ Of course it doesn’t. But in order to be an ‘awsome’ mummy you need to shift your priorities just a little bit. The awsome mummy fairy doesn’t come visit and confer the title on you just by virtue of having given birth. It takes time and work to earn the title. You give to your children, then one dayin the distant future that you really can’t anticipate or even believe will ever arrive, they give some of it back to you. 🙂 I’m adding a smile to show that I mean well and am not trying to be rude. 🙂 Here’s another one.

    • I’m not sure why you interpreted this to mean that I think that children don’t require one to reprioritize or that all one has to do to earn their Greatest Mom In The World badge is squeeze a human from one’s vagina. That is miles away from the point I was making.

      • I personally like to think that if they’ve managed to make it this far alive under mine and my husband’s care so far we mustn’t be doing too badly! However, i’ve certainly managed to keep up the relationship with close friends and continue with my career in the heritage sector while still having a good relationship with my two daughters. I didn’t spend all those years getting my undergrad and masters to sit at home watching CBeebies all day. I hate to say it, but I found maternity leave boring enough. Anyway I think children, especially as they get older to the point where they are moving away for their own jobs and university, like to know that you have your own life outside the home so they don’t have to worry and feel guilt-tripped into hanging around you for the sake of company.

  17. Thank you for pointing out that mothers can and should have lives apart from their children. My mum is a great mum, but she’s also her own person. Now that my sister and I are older we’re better friends with her than we would be if she had no role other than “mum.”

    I’m glad you don’t refer to Views From The Couch as a “Mommyblog.” I have nothing against “Mommybloggers” but the term used to worry me. I’d think, “Right now I’m a blogger, but I won’t be when I have kids? I have to be a “mummyblogger?” You’ve shown me that isn’t the case.

  18. Awesome, absolutely awesome!!! You deserve quite a few bottles of your favorite wine this holiday season.
    Dumping the guilt is something I didn’t learn until I was almost 40! We need to wash, rinse, and repeat this lesson to our daughters.
    Kudos again on this piece!

  19. dear couch surveyor, please please find some time to update your blog. i’ve been on here everyday for a month and a half, and nada.. no fix of witty authorship while i try to bounce a 3 month and inhale my morning tea while my brain slowly seeps out of my head. Please give me one last morning chuckle before the year-end.
    *really really pathetic puppy eye look, and just in case it works: wobbly lower lip on tiny terror (that would be the child, not me. grown up pouting is just not cool)*
    thank you // Meg

  20. If only a voice of this kind of reason had been around when I first became a mother…
    (20 years later with the oldeset and they’re better at giving me guilt trips than my own Irish, Catholic mother!!!)
    Here’s to ‘awesome moms’: being the BEST mom for YOU in YOUR situation and supporting other mommies in theirs!!

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