Well, I really don’t know how to go about this, but in short, I bought a convection toaster oven. The idea was that between the toaster oven and my electric grill, that I was going to refrain from heating up my kitchen all summer (maybe even putting them on the deck). I cook everything, and summer meal-making is challenging when you’re running the AC.
I’m not really sure how this epiphany happened, but somewhere in that reasoning, I decided that I didn’t deserve it.
I didn’t deserve a $40 toaster oven.
Just stop and think about that for a second. I don’t have to list the things that I do for my children and household to even begin to justify how that notion is backwards.
I began processing the pro’s and con’s of this contraption that I bought (and put an entire month’s thinking into, by the way, before purchasing yet ANOTHER kitchen appliance). My list of cons was a fraction of the pro list- which was limited to “I just got rid of a bunch of things” and “It will take up more kitchen space”. But that is not the point.
The point is that I had to make a list of pro’s and con’s.
What it boiled down to, actually, was that somewhere in my development as a person or adult person specifically, is that I had learned that self-deprivation is part of what exemplifies a good mother, and that martyrdom and going without goes right with it. This toxic mentality had spread to other areas, which is why I had fallen into the aforementioned slippery slope of never updating my wardrobe, never taking time for myself, or even cleaning out my home. DOING things for MYSELF…made me a bad mother.
Startling as it seemed, even being cognizant of this issue still did not break the anxiety that I had surrounding breaking the habit. After all, what would it mean if I suddenly took time to do my nails instead of getting around to making those felted farm animals for my son, or buy myself a present instead of buying the children yet ANOTHER belonging?!
Further still, the popular mentality is even more perverse, in that the majority of woman nowadays put themselves at such a high priority that their parenting duties and morality fall to the wayside, with their children carried along like parcels from daycare to babysitter, or school to sport, and their parents eyes glued to their social media instead of on a bedtime story. There has got to be a happy medium.
I am far from perfect, but it’s really easy to slip into this realm of martyrdom that demands more and more perfection through deprivation within the competition that women create amongst their peers. But am I actually *more* perfect because I neglect to buy myself shoes? Does it make me a better mother?
And so, to examine what MAKES one a good mother, it’s easy to extrapolate that doing for oneself is not only crucial, but a component of what one should exemplify for their children.
What is the perimeter? As a consumerist egocentric society, do we have the answers to that?
I feel I do. So as having been a child and now a parent, I’m going to write my thoughts on what it means to be a good parent.
First and foremost, give your child the gift of faith. The gift of faith is something that no one can take away, and will be their leaning post when you are no longer there.
Secondly, treat your child the way you would like to be treated. If you don’t want to go a day without brushing your teeth, don’t neglect to brush your child’s. If you’re, cold, so are they. If you don’t want sandwiches for lunch every day, they probably don’t either. Don’t spend your money on beer or cigarettes when your child doesn’t have a raincoat.
Thirdly, don’t shame your child or break their spirit. Emotional abuse hurts more than physical abuse.
Fourth, give your child stability. This can be defined in so many ways, but if you are one of those people who go with the breeze, consider that your child needs consistency in their life to feel safe and in control. Your child’s needs are different from your own. Before making changes, consider how they effect your child’s development.
Fifth, teach your child to love outside of themselves. It is so easy to love your self (or not) or your mother, but it is much harder to love all of humanity. Compassion is a core value. Don’t limit it to humans either.
Sixth, empower your child by fostering their interests and creativity. A child’s hobbies should not merely include “facebook” and “video games”.
Seventh, model a positive inner dialogue. Stop shitting on yourself because it is a learned behavior that you are modeling. You are good enough. If you don’t think so, ask your kids. They think you’re great.
Eighth, teach children to question and investigate.
Ninth, spend quality time with your children. Take them places, even if it’s free, like the park. Turn off your damn cell phone and tv. Ask them what THEY would like to do. PLAY with your kids.
And last but not least, speak the truth out loud. Make it known that you love your child. Children have an innate sense of knowing but they need to hear it, often. Tell them when you’re sorry, wrong, imperfect, or sad. Share your happiness, your success, and your learning curve. I’ve never once lied to my kid, which is why we don’t have the tooth fairy.
So. Do I deserve a toaster oven? Of course. But why? Well, because I’m a good parent, and it’s not defined by what I’m giving up, it’s defined by what I give.