Why Can’t We be Friends?!

why can't we be friends

I really suck at this whole keeping my blog updated thing.  Again, my apologies for that.  I actually put a sticky note in my day planner so that I am faced with a reminder the same time each week!  I was reading a thread in one of my facebook groups about moms who have no friends and that’s what inspired this post.  As a matter of fact, this is the meme that was shared with that particular thread:

pathetic mom

What do you think of it?  The meme itself made me giggle because I actually know a few people like this, but also because I don’t have this option.  I moved to Virginia five years ago leaving my family a few states north and had trouble making friends because of the whole introvert thing, but then when I became a mom it got even tricker.  Suddenly people didn’t just judge me on my personality alone, they judged me on my parenting style, too.  Then, to really kick it up a notch we moved to a small, traditional, southern baptist town where everybody already knows each other (but the safety rating is awesome and the schools are unparalleled).  So now I’m known not only as the outsider, but as “that alternative mom.”  That’s fine, I am confident in my parenting style and life choices, but it’s damn lonely.

If you surf google for a bit about how to make friends as a mom you’ll find some pretty common suggestions:
– Put yourself out there (I do that!)
– Make the first move (I smile and say “hi” to everybody)
– Get contact info (Hard to do when I don’t get a smile or “hi” back)
– Plan the first playdate (Again, hard to do when I haven’t gotten the previous two steps)
– Be yourself (Ehh…that seems to be what people don’t like)
– Don’t gossip (in this town, I’m the source of the gossip so that’s fun)
– Talk about something other than your kids (which isn’t as easy as it sounds)
– Don’t shy away from moms who don’t parent like you (I’ll be blunt, if we witness you hitting your kid or talking down to them we don’t want to be friends with you anyway, but other than that this isn’t a big deal for me)

You’re getting the gist, right?

Whenever there is something kid-related or family-friendly going on in the area I try to make sure our calendar is open so that we can attend; not only do I want to meet people but I want my daughter to make friends, too.  One of our favorite activities is the library each week; they do a weekly story time so I get to talk to other adults and my daughter (and daycare kids) can play, listen to stories, sing songs, and do a craft.  It’s great for their growing minds and socialization.  Well.  For the first few months nobody spoke to me except for the women who were bringing their grandchildren, which I’m okay with but it’s not like they were jumping to be friends with me, you know?  There was one mom in particular there who was always cold towards me and I never understood why until I found out that she’s the other in-home daycare in town.  So basically I’m the competition and she has big pull here, so other moms weren’t talking to me for fear of betraying her.  On the days she wasn’t there, though, people spoke to me.  Mature, right?

I created a facebook group for the moms in our town hoping that it’d break the ice, we could chat about common things amongst the group and then we could add each other and get to know each other better, you know.  Well the group is doing fair, but once people find out that we do gentle/attachment parenting and we don’t go to church you’d think we were personally here from the bowels of hell just to sacrifice their children.

I have no problem keeping my religious preferences hush hush, I’m quite used to it actually since I’m the black sheep in my catholic family, but because of my daughter’s age (she’s three) it comes up pretty quickly.  I’m often asked if I’m sending her to preschool and “the absolute best preschool in town!” happens to be a catholic-based program.  I mean heavy catholic.  I’m okay with religion and I teach different ones at home, but I’m not going to pay (what I think is a high amount) for my daughter to go to a program that doesn’t teach much outside of the ABCs of the bible.  So I try to graciously explain that it’s just not for us and I’m often met with rebuttals ranging from “There’s a scholarship option if money is tight” to “Ohhh, do you go to a different church?”  I usually respond with, “That’s fantastic, it’s just not something we’re going to do, we really enjoy learning at home and while we’re out and about.”  My answer is apparently a big red flag because I have had two different moms completely stop talking to me because of that.

Another thing that is apparently taboo in motherhood?  Not drinking wine.  I don’t drink at all, but I don’t see why wine needs to be a part of a playdate?  I love coffee.  I worship coffee.  I pray to the java gods every morning.  Coffee is a much more suitable beverage when surrounded by kids (and trust me, I’d know).  I had a mom once ask me, “Should I bring a red or a white?” when I asked her and her sons over for a late-morning play date.  What?!  I can understand a glass or two after the kids have gone to bed, but after breakfast?  No.

You know what else seems crazy to many moms?  Enjoying being with your child.  I schedule activities that I know my daughter would enjoy because I love seeing her have fun.  I love seeing her learn and enjoy herself, it makes me happy.  So when I’m not going to leave my daughter with a sitter on a Saturday to go lay out on the beach with you (one, I don’t even know a babysitter and two, I freaking HATE the beach) that doesn’t make me a shitty person, it makes a happy mom.

I like to use my weekends for family time since that’s the only time my husband has off (as long as it’s not an overtime weekend).  Apparently that’s bizarre, too, because I’ve often been asked to just leave my daughter with daddy so I can go do things with other people.  That’s fine, my husband would be supportive of it, but I wouldn’t enjoy myself because I’d constantly be wondering what my daughter is doing and if she’s okay.  Plus, the only things anybody invites me to are those stupid MLM parties (Scentsy, Pure Romance, LulaRoe, ItWorks!, etc) or to those Painting with a Twist parties.  Those aren’t really my style.

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t like doing things that many others enjoy; for example, I prefer coffee shops to bars, museums to clubs, I’d much rather stay home in my jammies to watch a movie than go to a theater.  I like being home, I like doing things that are free, I absolutely hate being surrounded by tons of people, I definitely don’t want to have to buy things from you for us to have a friendship.

It would just be so nice to have a friend come over for coffee or something that understood the restrictions that come with having a kid, it’d be awesome if they had a kid so all of the kids could play together.  A friend who I could text with about the silly things in life and one I could meet up with after lunch to bring the kids to the park.  We could talk about everything from the kids to the weather to politics to husbands, everything.  I was told once that “in order to have friends you have to be a friend.”  I think that’s kind of a messed up statement.  In order for me to have friends I have to do things they like and enjoy, but nobody wants to do that with me.  Instead I’m mocked for my likes and dislikes, mocked for my lifestyle and choices, but I’m kept around because it’s convenient for them.  No.  That’s not how this works.

I digress.

Morning frustrations have put a sour taste in my mouth so I’m going to wrap this up before I sound too jaded lol.  I hope y’all have a great day!

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I’m a Gentle Parent…Not a Passive One

gentle parenting not passive parenting

I never planned on having kids so, like many non-parent adults, I had views on parenting that I was certain would work best.  Those views were very traditional, strict parenting: spanking, time-outs, yelling, like hell the kid would sleep in my bed, etc.

Then I became a mom.  A mom who suffered from postpartum anxiety and OCD (my post about PPA/PPOCD)) and man, did my views change.  In helping heal my PPA I found that taking a gentle approach to my life truly helped me; I started meditating, I stopped stressing about things I couldn’t control,  I would practice my breathing and control my emotions before I responded to a situation and I found that it worked!  While I still have general anxiety, I’ve learned to regulate it without medication and, for somebody who has been struggling with it for almost 20 years, that’s a big accomplishment.

My daughter was very attached in her infancy; I had to babywear if I didn’t want to listen to her scream because if she wasn’t near me then she was just miserable!  I found that I loved babywearing, though, so it turned out to be a win for both of us.  As she got older and more mobile it became harder to wear her while trying to do things around the apartment so she’d just follow me and scream, out of frustration I’d yell at her to leave me along for five minutes, if she touched things she wasn’t supposed to I’d smack her hand.  Every time I did something like this the look on her face would break my heart but it’s the only thing I ever knew in regards to “discipline” and teaching.  She was a very high-needs baby, but also very sensitive, and that has carried on with her now that she’s a preschooler.

One day we were getting in the car at the mall after a play group and after telling her to wait by the car while I loaded in the little boy I watched my daughter darted into the road and a car had to swerve to miss her!  She thought it was funny and giggled as she ran, but out of complete fear I raised my hand and I spanked her butt.  I hit my child.  I was angry and so scared, more scared than I had ever been in my life, but I hit her.  I buckled her into her seat and I sat outside my car and I cried.  Man did I cry so hard.

While most people will read that and think, “Good, she deserved a pop for that!” I am still feeling guilt because of it.  It broke me.  I was spanked as a child and I grew to fear those spanked me.  I never felt respect for them, I never felt that I learned anything, I grew to be cautious of them; if I stepped out of line or said the wrong thing I could get hit.  I never wanted that for my child but there I was, hitting her in a parking lot.

Something needed to change after that.  I started applying my “gentle life” techniques to my parenting and it was like an instant change in our daughter.  She started listening more, she was more curious about life and was much more excited to show me things that she found in her world, we were interacting on a different level and it was incredible, I don’t even really know how to describe it.

I’ve shared that I’m a SAHM/childcare provider, my husband works long hours and, as a result, isn’t around much so it took a long time for our daughter to get used to him.  For the first year and a half of her life he was active duty but then after he got out of the USMC he took another government job with equally as long hours, often getting OT on the weekends.  Charlotte wouldn’t go to him much, she was wary of him because he has a strong presence; a stone face, doesn’t show much emotion, strong voice, and loud when worked up about something.  He was raised in that traditional, strict home as well and then joined the Marine Corps. where emotion was pretty much banned, so, in a nutshell, the man is far from Mr. Rogers lol.

I’ll never forget the day that he and I reached our breaking point in parenting.  While I had started to filter gentleness into my style, he remained the strict one.  We were packing our apartment to move to our first house and our stress levels were much higher than usual; Charlotte happened to touch something that my husband didn’t want her to and instead of saying, “Lets not touch that, we could get hurt,” he shouted, “NO!!” and smacked her hand and snatched up the case she had touched.  Instantly she came screaming to me, red, puffy cheeks and eyes, shouting, “Daddy scare me!”  He heard it.  As I hugged her and calmly said, “Daddy didn’t want you to get hurt,” she just cried and wailed, “No, daddy scare me!”  He acted preoccupied but I could see that her words were hurting him.

yelling silences message

That moment caused a fight between my husband and I (and in our five years together I can count our fights on one hand).  I described his actions as listening to a TV when the volume is too high: you can hear the noise but the words aren’t clear.  That’s what was happening with our toddler, a tiny human who was still learning how things work – she was exploring and instead of learning why not to do something, she was basically told to fear it because she couldn’t understand the message.

Since that day I’ve noticed an incredible change in my husband.  He is so much more patient with our daughter, he takes the time to show her how things work and explain why we do things.  He even invites her into the garage (his personal sanctuary) so they can work on his project truck together.  We had snow a few months ago and he went outside and built a snowman with her.  He encouraged her walk along side him while he put some chemicals on the lawn last weekend.  She gets so excited when she wakes up and realizes that he’s still in bed and not at work, because it means she gets to hang out with him.

I know that it made him sad that our daughter was scared of him for so long, his family would comment on it, he even made a remark to a friend of ours at a Fourth of July BBQ that our daughter would never want him to play with her the way our friend’s son was playing with her husband.  I’m so glad to say that in under a year that has changed all because of his new gentle approach to parenting.

We are often criticized for our choice to not spank or yell, because we choose not to isolate our daughter in time-out, that we still hug her when she’s sad or hurt or scared, but to those people I say, “Oh well.”  We are raising a child who is confident in her choices, who knows that it’s okay to be wrong from time to time, a child who isn’t afraid of an accident.

be it to teach it

I found this quote recently and I quite like it:

“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.”
– Haim G. Ginott

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  Were you spanked as a child?  How do you feel about it?  Do you spank as a parent?  Have you asked your child what they think about being hit?  I hope y’all have a great weekend!  ❤