I’ve been seeing a lot of people talk, discuss, complain and rant about the obnoxious attitudes of other people’s reactions to grocery store toddler meltdowns. One parenting friend of mine shared a blog written by a single guy who stuck up for what he called a “mom ninja.” That phrase pretty well describes me, or what I am determined to become.
Chalk it up to a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder or overprotective parenting, but my daughter was born during flu season–and a bad one at that, so I chose not to take her out of the house at all for about six weeks.
I swear to you when I went into labor the weather was warm and sunny; nearly overnight (though I stayed in the hospital from Sunday morning until Wednesday afternoon December 1, 2010), winter sneaked in hidden in tiny drops of rain. The winter of 2010-11 brought one of the biggest “snowstorms” Georgia had seen in the last decade. Many Southerners and I (a not-so-closet Yankee) got a chance to make snowmen. Alright, I admit that I didn’t care to craft a man out of snow after birthing my first baby, but my husband had a blast. I believe it was his first snowman, so he was a proud parent! I do remember rushing him and the baby out into the snow to photograph the moment before it passed, when he only had on shorts! The true hilarity came when we had several inches of snowfall over the next few weeks.
When I did finally breech the doorway and venture out into the world again, my daughter hit the six-week mark, where her doctors said it would be okay to take her out in more public places. Overall, my husband and I just felt it was easier to go to the store alone in those first few months anyway. I remember wanting to print t-shirts: one for my husband and me that said “please don’t touch my baby” and one for the baby that said “keep hands out of the carrier.”
Thankless Job Moms
The point of all that involved how I felt timid and self-conscious when I first started fighting with my daughter who insisted on walking in the grocery store. Again seemingly overnight, she could walk and talk…back. Those mothers who don’t qualify as or aspire to be mom ninjas fit into a category I refer to as Thankless Job Moms. These are the mothers with a glint of perturbation in their eyes; that gaze that says ‘Lord help me’ as you pass them dealing with their toddler meltdowns. The parents who may well regret having children and the ones who claim boldly that “parenthood is a thankless job.”
Well, I never expected a toddler or even a teenager to thank me or act blessed to have such wonderful parents. My husband and I have just enough to live freely and we sacrifice heavily to provide our kids with the one thing money can’t buy. I feel my best when I’ve spent the day chasing babies, washing fingerprints off the television and making a healthy dinner, even when I know every extra hour I spent tending the kids is an extra hour into the evening I will spend editing. As I chop celery and onions I think to myself that recipes–and trying new ones often–are for people who love their families. I’m one of them, and one day I want to be the kind of woman who has time to pin attractive dishes to Pinterest boards. I tell the nagging voice that chides me for not accomplishing enough that I have provided my kids with the time we’ll never get back, a day of play, tired bodies and delicious food. The exhaustion I feel is my thanks because I can appreciate the value in being a stay-at-home mom. I’m technically not a stay-at-home mom, but my husband and I work in shifts to be the ones to care for our kids. We feel thankful that we can afford to freelance the way we do while the kids are young.
I’ve known so many of the thankless job moms who shrug and sigh when their kids act up in the store, then quiet them with candy only to complain later that they have hyperactive kids. These moms buy their kids all the stuff they want, but aren’t actively involved with their kids’ interests. Maybe these moms feel unappreciated and maybe they don’t understand the value of their role, but for the stay-at-home moms on the edge of mom ninja and thankless job mom let me tell you just to wait for it. Handle your kids with care and with compassion, teaching them why knocking cans off the shelf and shrieking isn’t appropriate behavior. They will grow up to understand what an influence you were to them, their lifestyles and their ability to make wise choices in life.
We young parents often don’t have the time to take stock of anything, but try your best not to let the frustration of being overwhelmed steal the pride of being a parent. Be there with your kid and for your kid and trust that you will be thanked when your child grows up to help others, care about the community and actively take a role parenting his or her own children. That’s your thanks right there. Your child will become a self-sufficient and loving human being. Wait for it.