Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What People Say

Shit-talking. Not nice. Not behavior to model for your kids. But I do it. I try to curb it, but then I find myself talking trash about the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or a neighbor who I think drinks too much.

I was out with a friend last night who clued me into another mom who had been talking about me at a recent party.
"That R. She's going to burn out. She's working. She's doing stuff in the kids' classrooms. She's going to burn out."

It was harmless. It wasn't a horribly mean thing to say. But it was a judgement on how I live my life. It didn't come from someone I am particularly close with or even like for that matter. And I don't find it to be a true statement. I rarely feel like I'm on the edge of burning out. Tired, yes? But breakdown? No. Yes, I juggle a decent amount of stuff in life, but that is all by choice and I am grateful for those choices.

You buying what I'm selling? Good.

So if it's not true, if I do indeed have my shit together, why did it sting to hear that about myself? No matter how much you say you don't give a rat's ass what people think of you...

Well, you know. We all give a rat's ass. Or maybe half a rat's ass. And maybe more than we care to admit to ourselves. That's why we don't walk around naked burping and farting at nice restaurants. We care. That's why we teach our kids not to pick their noses or slurp their soup. We care.

Do I seem crazed? Do I look like I'm losing my shit with too much on my plate? Am I not doing a good job as a mother? Am I not doing a good job in my career?

Funny how just a little harmless shit-talking (that really, truly in my head I know means nothing) sent me straight into thinking, analyzing, evaluating and judging myself.

Because that is really what's underneath all of it: Any shit talking I do about anyone else, I do way more about me to myself.  Another friend of mine recently talked about her need to be perfect. How she is hard on everyone else around her, but 10 times harder on herself.

Ding, ding, ding!

And it's not like I sit there and say "You suck! Try harder!" It's more like "Ugh, why can't you be more patient?" or  "Shit, the laundry didn't get done" or "The kids have been eating carryout three night in a row this week" or "I should have followed up with that client a bit more."

It's not an uncommon trap to fall into. When I was younger, it was called "ambitious." As you get older it can morph into "neurotic."

So, as we come up on Thanksgiving, I am making two promises to myself, at least for today (because you can only focus on the day, hours, minutes, seconds in front of you, no?):

- No shit talking about anyone else.
- No shit talking about me.

Ready, set...go.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Picky, Picky, Picky

A friend told me recently that one of her goals as a mother was to make sure she raised gracious children who were pleasant to be around. It got me thinking...about my own child-rearing ideas.

Any parent would be lying if they say they didn't have some ideas on how they were going to mold their children into good, smart contributing members of society. They are, in essence, a reflection of who you are as a person, right? That is why the term "mommy guilt" even exists. You did a good job raising them, therefore you are a good person. They fuck up? You fucked up. Yes, yes, yes, they are their own people. They have their own lives, their own paths, their own personalities. But still...

As you spend all those years feeding them, wiping their noses, giving them baths, reminding them to say "please" and "thank you," teaching them the good in telling the truth and the not-so-good in lying...the line gets blurred. The line between what you give them and what they eventually choose to take.

For me?  I want my kids not to be picky eaters. Picky eaters represent a number of things to me -- close-mindedness being one. I want them to embrace the world. To know that the world is big and scary and wonderful and exciting...and theirs.

We are a biracial family. I want them to be open to different cultures because they are the beautiful product of what happens when you not only learn to love another culture, but make that other culture part of your family.

To me, food is a huge part of that. You don't want to eat different  types of food? You don't really want to know the world.

And would you believe, after all those lofty ideas and notions...I have a picky eater. A really, really picky eater. I'm talking won't even try stuff. Turns his nose up. In fact, wrinkles it in disdain if what is put in front of him isn't pizza or chicken.

My lot is not unusual. This country is filled with picky eaters. I go to pick up my son at preschool and can easily spend a good 10 minutes with other moms talking about how our kids won't eat jack shit. There are even studies and books about how we are raising a country of picky eaters.

But, I was never, never, never a picky eater (see that halo? I'm shining it extra bright for y'all). How could I have raised such a son-of-a-gun when it came to food?

And there's the rub of it all, folks. We offer the same food to all our kids and two out of three of the kids at least try the food. We give our kids the lessons and options and consequences we think are good and right for them, and they do with it what they will. Even at age four.


We have cut out snacking, which I have to say helps with the pickiness. Extreme hunger wins...even with the pickiest eaters. Oh and my husband was a picky eater.  But you wouldn't know it today. When we travel to Thailand, he goes balls-out. This gives me hope.