As a mom of three young girls I am always worried that I’m doing it all wrong. This parenting thing is no joke and with every opportunity to get it wrong I am often found laying in bed at night worried that I could have handled a situation better or that I missed a chance to impact my daughters in a positive way.
Earlier this summer while at a Bunco gathering I became totally engrossed in a conversation that I have yet to get off my mind. We often share parenting woes and triumphs and this group of amazing women have become one of my greatest support groups over the years. So once again, in between bites of yummy dessert the topic of mothers came up and how different we are compared to the mothers we grew up with.
At first it’s hard to see the stark comparison but as the conversation unfolded it was shocking to see what our girls are growing up with.
Think back…what did your mom look like? What did her friends look like? What can you remember her doing? I bet it’s not the same way your kids see you.
Today’s moms are like super humans. They run marathons and do triathlons on the weekend. They go to the gym 6 days a week and wear spandex while dropping off carpool. Mom’s today can grocery shop, hit a cross fit class, drop off the dry cleaning, write a blog post, host a play date, pick up the kids from soccer and still make dinner before they go for a 15 mile bike ride.
Say what!!!! When did that happen?
Looking back, I can’t think of one mom from my childhood who had a gym membership! My mom never trained for a half marathon even once in her life. Her and her friends never woke up at 5 am for boot camp or ever once swapped recipes for green smoothies. And how did I feel about this as a child? Well, to be quite honest, I had no feelings towards the fact that my mom wasn’t a super athlete and I’m pretty sure the majority of my generation would come to the same conclusion.
But here I sit now, raising my own generation of daughters and I have to wonder what this super human mom experience might be doing to them. Now I’m the first to admit I’m not the entire “super human mom” I described above but I will say I’m no longer a triathlon virgin and I have been known to hop on my road bike and ride into the sunset. I go to the gym, I wear spandex and I care how I look to some extent. Holy Crap! What is that doing to my daughters???
Where is the balance? Are we focusing too much on outward appearance? Are we spending too much time on vanity and personal accomplishment? As a society what are are we saying to our little girls? Are we teaching them that the sacrifice of dessert, weekends at races and endless hours of training mean more to us then other important things? Are we showing them that the cost of vanity is measured in time at the gym?
It down right scares me! One of my biggest goals in life is to help my daughters have positive self esteem. Self esteem and self image are totally different in my book but I’m afraid that what we as moms are presenting as example might be super confusing to our own little ones. We are grown women who have an arsenal of life experiences under our belts. We know why we run races. We know that exercise helps relieve stress. It’s not a crime to set a goal, work hard to get there and feel amazing for accomplishing it! I know first hand how healing it can be to cross a finish line but I’m just wondering what our girls don’t know. I’m afraid they might see it as a must do standard. Are we setting them up for body image issues? Are we making them wonder how they will some day fit into this roll?
I’m not saying we should all forget about good health, never lace up our shoes again and give into sweat pants ( spoiler alert: I’m totally in sweat pants as I write this!) I’m just thinking out load I guess. I have no answers. I’m just a mom with three impressionable girls who will one day grow up and be moms too some day. Being a mom is hard. Being a kid is hard too if I remember correctly. I’m just wondering if we can better make sense of this for them.The road through childhood to adolescence to adulthood is already tricky enough. I’m just trying to see if I can help the process a little more.
Maybe sharing more of the “why we do it” then just doing it with little explanation might be a good starting place. If my girls knew that I did my first triathlon to help me heal my broken heart after my miscarriages, that might teach them volumes about the human spirit. If I shared that being on my bike at dusk inspires me and gives me such clarity some times , that might teach them to look for moments of peace. I think maybe we’ve just been missing out on teaching moments…maybe not. Maybe it’s just me. I just don’t want to see a generation of girls grow up and worry about being in enough races and clocking the right amount of hours in the gym.
I guess I’m just wondering what my girls will say when they look back and think of the kind of mom I was to them. Maybe it won’t bother them like it didn’t bother me that mom never became a jazz-er-size instructor! But maybe it will and if that’s the case, how am I going to make my goals and my self image not hurt them in the long run?