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Kidding Around

Parenting in the Twin Cities.

'Mom, today we had a lockdown'

Today my first-grader climbed into the car and, before the van door slid shut, proudly announced: "Mom, today we had a lockdown."

She dug in her backpack for her snack without missing a beat. "Mom, do you know what lockdowns are for?" she asked in-between bites.

"Tell me," I say, remembering the kindergarten explanation she'd given me last year. Lockdowns are in case a big dog gets loose inside the school.

"Well, lockdowns are to keep us safe from humans who kill people."

I nearly drove off the road as she continued telling me where in her school they go and what they will do.

"Some humans kill people so we lock down and we have to be silent. Our teacher will just hold her finger in front of her lips so no one hears her telling us to be quiet. It's hard to be silent but we have to do it."

I let her talk and then her first-grade carpool buddy piped in: His class didn't have a lockdown today, but he's had them, too.

Of course, I say.

Neither 6-year-old is alarmed or afraid as they talk. They're just matter of fact. It's a sign of the world we live in, I suppose.

It's not the lockdown drills themselves that bother me. It's the "humans who kill people" part. Her own words and understanding I'm sure. Making sense of what's going on the best she can with what she knows, what she's heard, what her peers have to say.

Note that she didn't say, "to keep us safe from guns" or "to keep us safe from those with mental health problems."

She said "to keep us safe from humans who kill people." 

It's as simple as that. We live in a world where we are teaching our 6-year-olds how to be safe from humans who kill people in schools. What does that say about our society? 

Nearly every day I send my kids out into this world of schools, four different schools between five kids, places that should feel safe and where the biggest worries should be what's for lunch or did they get their homework down. But every day we pray they'll be kept safe from humans who kill people. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Samara Postuma

On the mommy wars that won't go away

Nearly nine years ago now, shortly after becoming a mom, I wrote and pitched an article to a local editor about the mommy wars. "I'm so over the mommy wars," she wrote back. "Send me something different."

And so I did. Something oozing with mommy and love and warmth. I ignored the feelings of angst in my belly and wrote what she wanted. 

We could talk about mommy wars all day, all night. There's the natural childbirth vs. the cesarean moms, the bottle vs. the breastfed, the home-schooled vs. the public-schooled and, alas, the working vs. the stay-at-home mom.

I long ago said I never felt like I fit in any of these categories. Sure, I spent many a year home with my babies. ECFE classes, playgroups and meandering Target trips made the days pass quicker than I would have liked. I loved the gift of time I've enjoyed with my babies. But while I loved not having a boss -- well, aside from my children -- or a workplace to attend each day, I missed working. So I wrote.

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. On blogs and websites and publications. Anyone who'd publish me, I took them up on it. It fulfilled me in a way that my babies just didn't.

Writing was therapeutic for me as I coped with the loss of my mom, dealt with toddlers and the transition to preschool. I worked out all the miscellaneous ideas I had running amok in my head.

Writing and keeping up with professional connections has worked for me. I've been able to "have my cake and eat it, too." Or so I've been told. 

Each and every day is a juggle. Let me repeat: Each and every day is a juggle.


But for me this is a choice I am making and one I gladly make. It's worth it to me. I love that I get to see my kids off to school each morning and am waiting for them after school. I love that I still get to take ECFE with my littlest. I love spending summers traveling and adventuring with them. But I also love that I have a professional life aside from them. Maybe that's not you. Or maybe it is. No matter, I trust that you are making the best choice for your life.

Last spring, after a terribly full week, another mom at a school event said to me, "You're so busy. Do you ever see your kids anymore?" And after we got in the car, I clenched my husband's hand and bawled my eyes out. "People think I'm a terrible mother," I confessed.

But somehow I realized later that the only terrible mothers are the ones saying stupid stuff like that. Kidding. Kind of.

Last week, author Brittany Gibbons wrote her rant about all this on Facebook and it went viral quickly. Clearly, she struck a nerve that lots of moms can relate with. 

"I don't like when people say to me 'I don't know how you can do it,' in relation to being a mom and leaving my kids while I travel. It actually punches me in the gut, and last night, when a woman said it to me, my eyes began to sting. I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders.

But what I should have said was, 'wellll... I guess I just don't love my kids as much as you love yours.' Because that is what those questions feel like. Andy travels to South Korea and I can promise you exactly no one has approached him to ask how he manages to leave his kids, or work a hectic job while balancing a family.

The real answer is, we 'do it' because we have jobs and responsibilities and bills and careers we love, and we have all those fun messy things on top of having three amazing children we dote on and support. I love them seeing us do things we are passionate about. We are proud to show them all our success, and how we stand back up after failing all over the place.

And yes, it kills me to leave them. Yes, it kills me to kiss their faces while they are still asleep in bed and I leave at 4 a.m. to drive to Detroit airport. None of it is easy. But, what makes it harder is feeling like I have to prove it to YOU that it's worth it for us. Support the women around you. High five them, offer a shoulder, buy them a drink, whatever. But just don't do that thing where we degrade what they do just because they're moms. Women can have more than one important thing happening in their lives... men do it every day."

Just so you know, my husband has yet to be asked where his children are while he's at work, in meetings or while traveling. Ahem.

This is what I know: At the end of the day, my children will never question my love. I tell them on a daily basis I will always be their biggest fan. I am a good mom. Those I work for and with will never question my commitment or professionalism, even if it means a chatty 2-year-old interjecting in the background while we chat. I am a good worker.

I will continue to choose to pursue what works best for me knowing the above is true.

Every day I wake up and make the choices that are worth it to me. Please don't make me or any other moms who are juggling prove why their choices are worth it to you, too.


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