Tag Archives: motherhood

My 2 cents on Miley, Kate, and My Daughters’ Self Worth.

From Kate Middleton’s tiny tummy and Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, to articles and opinions all over Facebook and twitter, my head is spinning with everyone’s idea of women and what their body roles and social expectations are.

I read an article posted by a friend, where the author of the post discusses why a mother should only talk to her child about her body on the technical issues and to tell her she’s healthy.  Granted, there were many good points in the article, such as how we women talk about ourselves and each other, affecting how our girls view themselves.  My main issue with the article is that each one of my four little girls will have friends, TV, and internet, among countless other venues including social media everywhere they turn.  I cannot fathom the damage I would have done to myself worth as a teen if I didn’t have a mom and friends to talk to.  From worrying about my “bubble butt” and hearing my friend call it a “Slammin’ backside” to talking to my mom about why cigarettes seemed so cool in the ads growing up and having her talk to me about long term–not so pretty–effects, it helped just as much as wishing my boobs were bigger and my tummy was flatter might have hindered.  I knew everyone else wanted that too.  It wasn’t just me.

Jealous Girls

Women compare ourselves to what we see.  I don’t know why we do, but I have yet to find another woman who doesn’t.  I want to be there to talk to my girls about what they are seeing and what that means for them.  With their own bodies, each one of my daughters have differences in appearance. Just between each other, and they notice.  All of them are beautiful, but different.  Kind of like chocolate. It can be shaped, colored, and proportioned differently and anyone with an ounce of honesty can say each one of these is desirable, purely based everyone’s love of the food in general.

Now, after listening, reading, watching and judging this past week, here’s my soap box rant.

Our bodies are what we make of them.  If you walk up to the most beautiful woman you can think of, she can rattle off ten things she’d change about her body if she could.  There isn’t any thing wrong with wanting to be more healthy or beautiful, but as with every other part of life, moderation is key.

My theory is that if we walk the walk and talk the talk of the kind of woman we want to be, we become that very thing.  Women who carry themselves with class and dignity, who treat themselves as if they are naturally beautiful …are.  We other women sense it, believe it and tell ourselves we aren’t that at all and simply wish we were.

Honestly,it wasn’t my cup of tea, but I don’t think Miley’s performance was that big of a deal.  I’m grateful that Miley’s performance is getting bad hype, though.  It gives me a chance to talk to my girls, who heard about it at school, about how we present ourselves and how having something to prove (like “I’m not a little girl anymore”) can back fire.  We can talk about how Miley is beautiful, but doesn’t always portray that.  My daughter noted she didn’t look like she felt good about herself.  I love that Kate Middleton looks great postpartum and I am so glad that she has the ability to feel the joys of motherhood.  I was able to talk to my girls, who heard it on the radio in the car, about how our bodies change many times in our life and every baby Kate has will add smile lines on her face, inches on her waist line and even if she doesn’t melt those inches off, she will still be stunning because of how she presents herself.

I talk to my kids about how working out to be healthy and have the energy to chase after your kids, or giving up a diet to really enjoy baking brownies with your little girl (or any other body altering thing), is a personal choice every mom has to make when trying to balance herself with her nurturing nature and other hats every woman puts on.  I talk to them about the wonderful women who never get married or who can’t have kids and it opens their minds to the many options and situations that are both a blessing and a curse, depending on the woman.  All of them have body issues.

We all want to be beautiful, to be complimented, to be graceful and charming.  We want to look like what our generation sees as beautiful.  It was something else many times and whether it is curves, or rail thin, or long legged, or plump, there are always other women wishing they felt like people looked at them the same way.

I worry that in our “You don’t need to diet, you’re perfect just the way you are”/”Eat healthy or you’ll get fat” society, it is confusing.  We need our mothers, sisters, aunts and friends to be there and talk about it.  In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a single womanhood issue that doesn’t have opposing opinions being shoved down our throats.  There are so many mixed signals we send each other:

Screenshot of Audrey Hepburn from the film Charade

Screenshot of Audrey Hepburn from the film Charade (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stay at home/work and provide.

Keep a clean house to be a good mom/let it be messy if you love your kids more than cleaning.

Don’t judge looks/that girl should never wear skinny jeans.

Natural healthcare/Professional healthcare

Be YOU! … Just not like THAT.

Be Grace Kelly AND Marilyn Monroe AND June Cleaver… ready go!

Going back to the idea that our self worth and sexuality starts at a very young age, sends my mommy instincts a whirl, wondering what my girls are going to tell themselves.  But I really don’t have to wonder.  They have the best source for their own well being right here.  Me.  –no pressure right?  But for me, I feel that everyone can be like their ideal role models–or at least aspects of them and I want my girls to talk to me about it.  The way my husband and I address these issues will effect so many parts of their self esteem and sexuality growing up.  I want them to see the good things and recognize the bad for what they are.

DAUGHTERS TALKING

What we should do is let our kids talk to us.  Ask our daughters what they see as appealing to them in their idols or role models.   Talk about why they feel that way.  It may surprise you that it is less her Prada or size 0 tag, or partying habits and more that she just seems… beautiful in general.  She has a quality… a confidence. So, ask if it is the way her idol looks, or if they want to feel like that celebrity or model must feel, being that confident or beautiful.  We can all feel confident and beautiful if we treat ourselves like we are, and act as if we are.

Marilyn Monroe

I am not built exactly like any woman I admire, but it doesn’t matter.  I have danced clumsily with my husband in the kitchen and felt like Grace Kelly.  I have had a meal baked, kids looking cute and had everything in place when my husband walked in and felt like June Cleaver… even though it was a little crispier than it should have been.   I’ve finally fit into that cute vintage dress and felt like Audrey Hepburn.  I’ve been on stage, looking great and felt like Marilyn Monroe.  But I’ve had pretty much ever insecurity a girl can have as well, and perhaps more frequently.

I believe we have these insecurities to be constantly trying to improve ourselves.  No, that’s not a bad thing.   If we stop growing, we lose out on so much.  It is why we are here, to get smarter and better and kinder and… well just insert the thing you desire of yourself: creative, strong, outgoing, or more quiet and reserved, etc.

Talk to your kids about what they see and think.  They’re smarter than we often give them credit for.

I want to note that I am not a perfect parent, and who knows what kinds of therapy my kids will need someday from my particular style, but I do know that I want my kids to be able to use what they see as a tool to feel better and strive to be better in a productive way.  Complaining forever more that society is evil won’t help them.  Admitting it is confusing and helping them figure out what works best for them might just work.

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by | August 28, 2013 · 4:51 pm

Mom Ideals–The Inner Battle

No one ever tells you as you are swaddling a new bundle of joy, that the first few years of feeling utterly clueless, just keep going… and going.  Well, maybe it is just me.

I had in my mind –pre-baby, mind you– this picture of a hot but tasteful soccer mom who danced with her kids in a sparkly clean kitchen, baked cookies, rocked out a bit when she needed to and was very active in school life.  Granted, I have come close to a lot of those things, but never in the same day, week or sometimes month… fine.  Year.

The first rude awakening was the hot part.  That for some reason, maybe because I was 19 when I had my first baby, seemed like a surreal Nancy Kerrigan moment.  “WHY ME???” The stretch marks added up and my metabolism decided it hated me and the cookies I wanted for breakfast.  –Honestly, like Chips Ahoy are that much worse than pancakes?  In my head, I still feel like the pre baby me, which means I’m holding myself to my 19 year old expectations of life, thinking what the heck happened to my curves?  They reversed!

I did bake cookies quite a bit, so that one I have down, but my kitchen wasn’t sparkly.  It was all I could do to have any clean dishes by dinner, sometimes.

Cooking was fine. As was baking. I could creatively mom my way in and out of most situations. I totally broke out my fantastic spazzy mom moves and hoisted my kids around, singing into spoons to anything from Broadway to Bell Biv Devoe while we tried, often unsuccessfully, to make that kitchen shine.

The first child into Kindergarten was interesting.  She patted me and told me everything was alright while I fought back the tears and hoped I weren’t making my face blotchy.

Now I have two in school and I feel like I’m dating again, only it is other moms and I don’t have that trusty teenage “It’s okay if I’m a total dork, because they think I’m cute” thing.  Instead, the witch cackle breaks out, or the “Holy crap a grown up is talking to me” ramble on about things that likely don’t matter to anyone but me.  I’ve made a couple of really good friends, and I have a lot of people that smile and wave, but overall, the problem lies in that I’m pretty hard on myself.

Turns out I am not the PTA mom.  I love parties, people, and helping out. You’d think I’d be great at it.  Yet, between being a care taker, having teeny tiny little siblings that will rip a classroom apart given the opportunity, and a brain that is always on 50 different wavelengths giving me a minuscule attention span, well, it doesn’t pan out. I’m lucky to remember the date. It shouldn’t be such a big deal, right?

This past year, we found out I suffer from depression.  Weird.  While it isn’t clinical and isn’t constant or manic, it still doesn’t match the stigma for me.  I rarely hate life, or feel like I hate my self or anything, really. But this year, I’ve had a hard time finding energy, and my temper is worse.  I find that touchy, girly side of me is larger than I want it to be and I take things way to personally. I’ve been unhappy and unaware of it.  It took quite a few dramatic trials in a short amount of time to surface the reality of the situation.  Apparently, the stuff it down and suck it up, thing is a no-no.  It turns into a dark ball of emotions that rears it’s ugly head at the worst moments isn’t quirky, but is that inner, I wish I were better thingy I stuff down, rearing it’s ugly head.

I’m far from alone.  So many of us hike into the school, some dressing up like for a date, others defiantly in sweats, or hair wet from the nap time shower we finally get to wash that spit up or snot out of our hair and line up worrying that our kids will fit in while telling ourselves we don’t.  Some of us go back home, comparing ourselves to others, but I personally am still stuck in my own ideal from before I met reality, wanting to be that Vision of Mom.  Motherhood has this weird aspect to it that leaves us all trying to find the balance of “Mom me” vs. “Actual me’ and where they are the same.

I want the clean house, the perfect temperament and to be the cultured, sophisticated, domestic diva, room mom. As it is, my nature is to share.  I talk.  About pretty much everything. I am easily excited.  It is something that I am proud of and also one that mortifies me.  How many times do you have to think “Geez.  Did that really just come out of my mouth?”  But I’m genuine, if very flawed.  My therapist did a great job of helping me to see that I beat myself up more than other people ever would, and it makes sense.  Some of the best people I know do that.

I only hope that as I stop kicking my own butt down into the dumps and start kicking it up toward some semblance of confidence and feeling like me again, that I’ll be able to help instill a better self esteem in my kids that doesn’t rely on lack of stretch marks, a perfect kitchen, and time and energy to be a PTA mom.  Perhaps, my spazzy mom moves and cookies will sink in and when I realize it is okay not to be everything at once, they will too.

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Filed under Family, Motherhood