Being a Mommy

This is one of the his­tor­i­cal arti­cles on the site, writ­ten when I was a full-time par­ent. I’m proud to say that Katie has grown up to be a very intel­li­gent, sta­ble per­son. She has a daugh­ter of her own and is a won­der­ful moth­er in addi­tion to doing well in her career.

I was­n’t a phone-in par­ent. I was at home with our kids every day. I knew what they were read­ing, what they watched on tele­vi­sion, what they ate, if they’d brushed their teeth, and how many hours of sleep they’d had. Our fam­i­ly was the cen­ter of my life. Bal­anc­ing my part­ner­ship with Sam with being Katie’s moth­er and being step­moth­er to Sam’s kids was a del­i­cate process. Blend­ing fam­i­lies was­n’t easy. We had to come to a con­sen­sus on one set of rules for every­body, adjust to dif­fer­ent fam­i­ly tra­di­tions, etc. It was­n’t easy. In fact, it was one of the biggest chal­lenges in our lives. For­tu­nate­ly, Sam and I shared the same val­ues and agreed on the big things.

Per­haps the great­est social ser­vice that can be ren­dered by any­body to the coun­try and to mankind is to bring up a family.—George Bernard Shaw

Being a par­ent was absolute­ly the most won­der­ful thing I’ve ever expe­ri­enced. It was beau­ti­ful, exhil­a­rat­ing, and unique. It was also tir­ing, exas­per­at­ing, and some­times fright­en­ing as hell when I occa­sion­al­ly stopped to think about the fact that I was whol­ly respon­si­ble for the well-being and train­ing of this mar­velous lit­tle per­son, and that what I did would set the tone for her entire life. The respon­si­bil­i­ty could be daunt­ing, but the rewards were worth it. It isn’t some­thing I’d ever do light­ly. I regard­ed every bit of it as an unex­pect­ed gift, though, as I was told I would not be able to have chil­dren with­out fer­til­i­ty treat­ments, and pos­si­bly not at all.

I was very for­tu­nate in that I was able to telecom­mute when Katie was very small (yep, all the way back in 1990–1991), so she did­n’t have to go right into a day­care. That let us con­tin­ue the close­ness we’d had dur­ing the preg­nan­cy. (Yes, I am absolute­ly cer­tain she was a per­son long before her actu­al date of birth). I think that being able to breast­feed her and keep her home gave her immune sys­tem a healthy start, in addi­tion to hav­ing oth­er ben­e­fits. I real­ize that all women can’t do the same, but I do think it is ben­e­fi­cial if there’s any way you can pos­si­bly man­age to be home with your child for at least the first few months of his or her life. I do believe that every fam­i­ly needs to have at least one adult at home full-time as long as there are chil­dren in the house. (It’s eas­i­er to do that in house­holds with more than two adults, which is one of the rea­sons I’m in favor of expand­ed fam­i­lies). I was able to car­ry her around with me while I worked and cooked and did every­thing else. I think that helps to give kids a sol­id sense of secu­ri­ty lat­er on.1I’ve recent­ly been informed that I prac­ticed attach­ment par­ent­ing, but I’d nev­er heard the phrase back then. Look­ing at attach­ment par­ent­ing sites, a lot of peo­ple seem to con­fuse it with per­mis­sive par­ent­ing, so I’m not whol­ly com­fort­able with the label.

Many par­ents seem to still be chil­dren them­selves. That isn’t an age thing, although it is more obvi­ous when teenagers have chil­dren. It is an issue of matu­ri­ty. If you acci­den­tal­ly got preg­nant, despite the easy avail­abil­i­ty of birth con­trol in our coun­try, just how respon­si­ble are you, any­way? I heard some­one say once that birds don’t lay eggs on branch­es but in nests. They pre­pare before the eggs are laid. Why can’t humans do as much as birds? I hon­est­ly believe that bet­ter plan­ning before par­ent­hood would great­ly reduce the num­ber of chil­dren who expe­ri­ence var­i­ous kinds of abuse in our society.

Even the par­ents who are mature peo­ple in oth­er parts of their lives often seem to be going at par­ent­ing in a very hap­haz­ard fash­ion, with­out actu­al­ly think­ing about long-term goals or philoso­phies. My par­ents had this odd idea that the whole point of rear­ing chil­dren isn’t to make them good kids, but to bring up respon­si­ble peo­ple. I share that belief, and I always kept in mind that I want­ed my daugh­ter to be some­body I want­ed to be around. That means it was nec­es­sary to teach her to behave so she was pleas­ant com­pa­ny, to make sure she had a good work eth­ic, to be sure she had a strong eth­i­cal ground­ing, and to make sure she knew how to laugh, at her­self and the world around her. I want­ed to give her a good edu­ca­tion, espe­cial­ly in know­ing how to learn. I want­ed to be sure she knew how to take care of her­self and could live inde­pen­dent­ly, so she had chores and helped around the house since the time she was old enough to imi­tate me as I dusted.

While I won’t claim my par­ents did a per­fect job with us, they raised three peo­ple to adult­hood and all of us are mature, respon­si­ble peo­ple who are sup­port­ing our­selves. None of us has ever been in any kind of legal trou­ble, none of us has ever had a sub­stance abuse prob­lem, none of us have had any unwant­ed preg­nan­cies, and we’re all on rea­son­ably good terms with each oth­er despite the fact that we have very lit­tle in com­mon oth­er than blood. I think they did a pret­ty good job, so in many ways, I chose to emu­late them.

I did­n’t believe in turn­ing over any of my respon­si­bil­i­ty as a par­ent to the state or the church or any­one else, so I home­schooled Katie. I mon­i­tored what she read and what she saw and how much time she spent with whom. If she was online, I was right there with her at a young age, and lat­er I mon­i­tored things close­ly. There are peo­ple we did­n’t social­ize with because they or their chil­dren were poor­ly behaved or extreme­ly big­ot­ed, and I did­n’t want my daugh­ter pick­ing up bad habits or poi­so­nous beliefs from them even if we hap­pened to be relat­ed to those people.

While my pol­i­tics dif­fered great­ly from those of Mar­i­on Wright Edel­man, I found her 25 Lessons for Life an excel­lent reminder.

One thought on “Being a Mommy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top