Discover more from Disco Dialogues
Keep calm and call your Mom
Did you know? More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.
Join hundreds of other curious folks that enjoy reading our weekly reflections!
It's mother's day this coming weekend (surprisingly a holiday not originated by Hallmark).
While we celebrate all of those who have chosen to become moms, we'd like to stand with those women that may be forced into it because of the politics of this country. We've both had to make very difficult choices at some point in our lives and have gone through dark periods but if it wasn't for the privilege of choice that is rightfully ours we would be living very different lives.
“...If this is how the Court rules, American women and other people who can get pregnant are entering in a new, dark era…It’s going to open up a whole circus of restrictions, court battles, and pitched fights. And in the meantime, thousands and thousands of women will be forced into motherhood against their will. Some won’t live through it.”
- Bad First Drafts, Jill Filipovic
"How did she do?" I asked while picking up my three yr old daughter from a drama class taught by Tina, a dear friend here in Bombay. "She was fabulous. Much louder and more engaged compared to last week!" Great, I thought, feeling proud of little A and myself for helping her get settled on our short break here in India, until I heard the next thing that came out of Tina's mouth. "But why did you not have her wear panties?" Huh? Was she still wearing her diaper from her afternoon nap? I raised her dress to check…nope no diaper, no underwear, absolutely nothing. I was so embarrassed and felt SO guilty. I had assumed she was dressed and ready to go when I took her to class but somewhere between my mom and the nanny, my husband and me the underwear had been left off after the post nap diaper removal. Sigh #momfail
My daughter is the joy of my life - she's sweet, funny, caring and at times (many times) dramatic and absolutely adorable. However, she will probably never be the perfectly dressed child - neatly groomed and well brushed - at any event. I am always in awe of the moms who can do that - get their kids in trendy outfits looking tidy and shiny and on time. These are the same moms that throw their kids Pinterest-themed Insta-worthy birthday parties. I wish I could do all that…but I can't. Why do we get so caught up in comparing ourselves to other moms instead of giving ourselves a break?
Few years into motherhood, I've made my peace with it. When I experience mom guilt about not doing enough for her, I pause and think about all the things that I am passing on to her. Every parent will relate to this - when our children arrive there is a shift in how we make decisions. Every decision is viewed from the lens of how it will impact the lives of the little ones we're caring for. Even before little A was born I had been working on cultivating presence, but her arrival accelerated that desire. To me, the biggest gift I can give her is my presence... everything else - engaging conversations, love of song and dance, the best education etc - are born out of that.
“...EVERY child has a legitimate need to be noticed, understood, taken seriously, and respected by his mother. In the first weeks and months of life he needs to have the mother at his disposal, must be able to avail himself of her and be mirrored by her.”
- The Drama of the Gifted Child, Alice Miller
As parents I believe we try to give to our children what we feel we didn't get enough of in our childhood. Perhaps, if we were lucky, also the things passed on by our parents that we valued highly. I received a lot of love as a child but wasn't taught self-discipline. This is something I still struggle with and I know the only way my daughter will pick it up is if it's modeled for her. She has become one of my biggest reasons for standing up when I fall down again and again and again. I know she is watching and observing and internalizing. I know that through my actions I can show her how much I value myself - whether that’s personal retreats, girls trips or challenging career opportunities.
"On the other hand, children who are truly loved, although in moments of pique they may consciously feel or proclaim that they are being neglected, unconsciously know themselves to be valued. This knowledge is worth more than any gold.
…This feeling of being valuable is a cornerstone of self-discipline because when one considers oneself valuable one will take care of oneself in all ways that are necessary…If we feel ourselves valuable, then we will feel our time to be valuable, and if we feel our time to be valuable, then we will want to use it well... Self-discipline is self-caring."
- The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck.
"The days are long but the years are short" - this was sage advice shared by other moms. At first I had no clue what they were talking about. But very quickly my little baby was one and then in a blink of an eye she turned two and she's now three. So yes, I'm soaking up every single minute. I'm terrified of losing her to the teenage years where the relationship between mother-daughter is often fraught with raging hormones and a need for control. I hope to build a strong foundation with her now, one that can weather the storm of the tumultuous teens.
"With her good hand she touched her daughter, ever so lightly, as though the girl were fragile, her anger made of glass. They used to be so close; in the past they’d had their own codes. It was hard to believe now that this was the same girl who used to shake with laughter at her silly jokes and hold her hand when a Disney character shed tears. That sweet child had disappeared, leaving this stranger in her place. The transformation – for she had no other word – had caught Peri unprepared, even though she had read scores of articles on how puberty came earlier and earlier – especially for girls. She had always been determined to have a far better relationship with her daughter than the one she’d had with her mother. In the end, wasn’t that the only real aspiration to be fulfilled in life: to do a better job than our parents, so our children might be better parents than we were? But what we often discover instead is how we unwittingly repeat the same mistakes as the previous generation."
- The Three Daughters of Eve, Elif Shafak
If I am honest, I was a little disappointed the day I found out I was having a second boy. I had lost one pregnancy after my first child. We were grappling with the unknown when my first born was diagnosed with verbal apraxia, a speech delay, at the age of three. All I really cared about was having a healthy child but a small part of me did wish for a girl. As a girl raised by a strong feminist successful doctor, I had learned lessons that I thought could only be shared with a daughter. That was just a passing thought that didn't have time to take root. I instead embraced my role as a mom of two boys.
We all put various labels on ourselves as we grow up - labels projected on us by our parents and our teachers, labels we embrace as we go through high school and college and into adulthood, many of which we try to reject or shed later in life. When we give birth we are bestowed with a label by virtue of having our hearts now live outside our body. Over the years this meant that I adopted even more labels - boy mom, special needs mom, working mom, founder mom.
“...in popular culture, at least in America for the past forever years, what mothers do is seen as so unremarkable it’s not just an unimportant story but not even a story at all…The truth is that motherhood is a hero’s journey. For most of us it’s not a journey outward, to the most fantastic and farthest-flung places, but inward, downward, to the deepest parts of your strength, to the innermost buried core of everything you are made of but didn’t know was there.”
- I’ll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein
But we also make a choice about what type of mom we want to be. What does it mean to me to be a mom? Besides nourishing and nurturing my two growing humans, it has also meant thinking deeply about what I am choosing to pass onto this next generation. I recognize the responsibility of raising two strong boys to become kind, generous, caring individuals. There are values that I hope they will learn from dinner table conversations and activities we choose to do as a family - compassion, curiosity, independence. I may not have a daughter to raise but I still have the task of raising two confident boys who will hopefully support their partners one day in pursuing their dreams.
Kids pay more attention to what we do than what we say. So as a mother I make a conscious effort to be more mindful about the choices and actions I take. When I saw my older son struggling in school, I chose to take a three month personal leave to prioritize my family. That meant getting my son evaluated and diagnosed by professionals so that we could find and fight for the right services to support him in school. Years later, when I made the decision to leave my job and prioritize myself, I hoped that my actions would show my children the importance of putting yourself first. That it was as important to take care of yourself physically and mentally as much as it is to build a career and support your family financially. Now as I choose to go on a founder’s journey, I hope to show them what it means to pursue your passions and to find your purpose and meaning through work.
“..One grown son of a full-time working mother described parenthood to me as “sliding weights from one end of the scale to the other; family to work, work to family, with rare times in perfect balance.” A perfect balance is wonderful when you can strike it. But periods of imbalance are healthy and necessary, too. They demonstrate to children that the burdens and sacrifices of caregiving should not be a mother’s to bear alone, and help them understand why mothers can’t always lavish them with undivided attention.”
There are days when I wonder about the choices I have made. The guilt is endless, the mistakes are many, the frustrations are scream worthy. Cleaning poop off the walls of my kid's room from my eighteen month old's explorations with texture…Being called by my son's daycare because he bit another child on the cheek…Driving around the neighborhood desperately searching for my son because he took middle school independence to a new level with his bike…the trials and tribulations of being a parent are real. But hearing my son say "I love you" at the age of four after not saying anything for the first three years of his life…waking up to tight bear hugs that squeeze the air out of me from my oldest who is a teenager…brainstorming with my youngest about crazy careers like becoming the first ever roller-skating rapping coder comedian…these are the simple joys that make being a parent worth it.
As for that daughter, I got the better deal when little A was born - to step into the role of the strong feminist aunt instead.
Here is some thought provoking content I consumed in the past week related to this topic -
How To Lean In Without Burning Out - Vanessa Loder (finance executive turned executive coach) shares her story and helps women discover new life tools for the inner game of leadership, mindfulness and sustainable success.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (sounds like a day in the life of a mom 😀) I loved this movie and found it entertaining to see the comedy that ensues when a mother morphs into the role of a superhero in the multiverse.
I recently reread this article Why Women Still Cant Have It All from July 2012 by Ann Marie Slaughter (lawyer, professor, policy analyst and author of Unfinished Business) and realized that many of the issues that she outlines still remain today.