While everyone has their own parenting style, certain styles often get more attention than others. One of the more recent, and sometimes controversial styles, is gender-neutral parenting, which encompasses a wide range of beliefs and behaviors. For many millennial moms and dads, gender-neutral parenting often begins with simply saying no to the traditional idea that “blue is for boys and pink is for girls” and yes to the idea of self-expression.
I’ve heard it over and over again from my single mother friends, “...joint custody totally sucks. I hate not seeing my kids.” I absolutely sympathize with mothers who loathe missing out on 50% of their child’s life. That’s A LOT of time to be away from your trusty little sidekick(s). And I can’t say that I can empathize with you, because I actually have no idea what it feels like to split custody with another parent. However, I do understand what it feels like to be on the other side of the spectrum.
I hate feeling like a fraud. All throughout my 20’s I struggled with this, despite having all the standard prerequisites of a person who should be successful, who could be successful, who was successful. Now, I can see that selling myself was the underlying crack in the foundation of my life. It made me no better than the house built upon the sand. I couldn’t sell myself because I constantly felt like a fraud, and who wants to sell that?
Growing up, most of us were exposed to movies and TV shows that suggested the idea of what the "perfect" family was. Moms stayed home and tended to the house and kids, while dads went to work. Although that still remains true in many families, times are a-changin'. As we reached 2000 and the turn of the century, there was a marked increase in diversity in the household and the role of the single mom also began to rise.
I will never raise my daughter to be a homemaker. Now, before all the stay-at-home-moms freak out and start hurling insults my way, let me assert that I have no problem with those who choose to forgo a career in order to be at home with their kids. I think staying at home is a noble, and insanely tough job! But hear me out...
It all started innocently enough with a casual conversation between a close friend and I. She lamented that since her husband rarely made it home before 8PM each night, she was pretty much “like a single mom.” Having been a single mother in the past, and intimately knowing their struggle, my mind wandered to all the single moms out there who managed to make it six months, a year, a decade! How dare she compare her situation to theirs.
When I was pregnant I had grand dreams of white fluffy coats, pink headbands and bows, adorable little leggings and a room full of baby dolls. I was actually so intensely sure that I was going to have a girl that when the Ultrasound Tech shared the news that it was a boy, I broke down and cried.
I don’t know about you, but I would like to challenge our elder generation when they tell us how great life “used to be” and how horrible things are today… especially in regards to how we raise our children. There is nothing horrible about our generation. It’s just different. And since when is different a bad thing? So please stop mumbling “kids these days” under your breath, while shaking your head in disapproval. Kids these days are just fine, as will be the kids of tomorrow, and the following generation.
It's funny because it's true. All mommies need a little inspiration from time to time. Someone to say, “…you’re doing a great job you beautiful mess, you.” And if you’re like me, some days you need to know that you are not the only mom who struggles just to keep the house from burning down. If you can't make fun of your parenting mistakes and laugh through the struggles, then you need an adult beverage and to chill out. Seriously.
“I’m not like regular moms, I’m a cool mom” said literally every mother… ever. But what really makes a mom cool? Isn’t cool a subjective word anyways? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then cool definitely falls into the same category. And kids’ minds are also easily shaped, so essentially, you can make them believe whatever you want. But being a cool mom is more than that. It means appearing cool to other moms too, not just your kids. And if you so desire this type of coolness, be prepared to do the following.
We are millennials, and we are moms, and some of us choose not to get married (yet... or ever). Choosing to be remain single has less to do with turning away from traditional values and more to do with choosing the freedom to build your own life. So stop apologizing for choosing the path that is best for you. Sometimes, choosing to be happy also means choosing to remain single.
I struggled greatly with writing this post. Not just with the actual content itself, or with telling a story befitting my courageous friend and her tiny angel, but in asking for insight into a topic that, as a culture, we typically shy away from because it is so painful. I don’t think people truly understand how much is lost when a baby dies. And I know I absolutely do not. But if you ask any parent who has experienced something as horrific as the loss of a child, they will tell you that not even one day goes by that they don’t think of them.
I want to have it all. I want to water my grass so it’s greener than everyone else’s. I want to be so busy watering my own grass and sculpting it into the perfect little manicured paradise, that I literally have no time to worry about my neighbor’s grass. And even if I did have time, I wouldn’t nitpick them for the angle at which they mow their yard , or stress that their green is prettier than my green. No, no, no. There is no time for that nonsense!
Let me start out by saying that I became a single mother by choice, not by chance. Does that mean I planned for it to turn out this way? Absolutely not. But you roll with the punches… or in this case, I rolled with a sleek, black, City Mini baby jogger (which, by the way, is an excellent way to appear to be a mother who has it completely together).
When I was about 6 months into being a single mom I was having a conversation with a coworker who casually mentioned that her husband never made it home until about 8PM each night. Thus, she lamented she was "pretty much like a single mom" too. At the time I was incredibly annoyed... how dare she compare her life to mine. We were nothing alike and she was most definitely not a single mom by any set of standards.