This post is going to turn some heads and/or push some buttons. My intention is to share my feelings and to make you think, not to sway your opinion, change your mind or start an argument. This is simply a conversation that has lived inside my head for a while. One that I’ve had at times with a couple of different women, but most often with my husband.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Active Dad’? I’ve heard it thrown around in sentences like ‘Oh he’s such an Active Dad.’ Instant nails on a chalkboard to me, like instant…Hold up. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Active Mom’? Or was the phrase you actually heard more like ‘Active’ Mom? Any idea where I am going with this?
When I first decided to make this my weekly blog topic, I had a certain narrative in my head that I was going to follow. But before I started writing, I did what every good writer does…I started with Google. I googled (love how that is a verb now) both ‘active dad’ and ‘active mom’. The results in Google were eye opening, but not surprising to me…or maybe they were but they shouldn’t have been.
When I googled ‘active dad’ this is what came up:
When I googled ‘active mom’ this is what came up:
Do you see anything alarming with the difference in results? Anything that surprises you or makes you take a second look?
I see something that takes me back a step. When you search ‘active dad’, the results are related to being a present parent. Articles that relate to how to be involved in your child’s life. When you search ‘active mom’, the results come back more like ‘active’ mom. Meaning everything relates to physically moving, personal training, bootcamp. Sit with that for a minute. I know this is only a google search, but that alone proves my point and is nails on a chalkboard to me.
The bottom line is that ‘Active Mom’ doesn’t actually exist. All Moms are ‘Active Moms’ (except the very rare circumstance).
It is 2022 here people, not 1950. Why then, in 2022, does the term ‘Active Dad’ exist? Why does society praise Dads when they take an active parenting role? Why is this the exception and not the rule?
I’ve heard comments from people in my own life who praise my husband for actually taking a role in our kids lives. While I’m so very thankful for all he does do for the kids, I’m not about to give him praise simply for being around (sorry babe). Because in my mind, that’s a given…that’s not special. Nobody tells him how lucky he is for having a wife who actually does things with his kids, like feed them, take them some place or stay home. That’s what you do as a parent, you take an active role in your kids lives. It’s called Dad or Mom.
It’s possible that I lost some of you or some of you are thinking that I’m some feminist on her soapbox. Probably going to lose some more of you when I say the rest, but here goes.
At the beginning of July I had coffee with a friend and we agreed that sometimes it’s actually women who are the problem. Sometimes it’s women who let men off the hook way too easy. Women try to control way too much or have these unrealistic expectations.
3 things I believe to be true:
My husband deserves to develop his own relationship with his kids. Whatever that looks like for them.
My children deserve to have their own relationship with their dad, one that I’m not intruding on.
His relationship with our kids allows me time to do things for myself. I deserve to be me too.
Dads don’t always do everything a mom does the way she would do it. The house is sometimes a disaster when you get back, the kids might not have the best looking hair or be dressed in something that matches. But at the end of the day, that’s all white noise.
Everyone has their own situation and for some, this does not apply. Some dads are just straight up absent a$$holes for that I apologize.
But I’m talking to those moms who are just holding on a bit too tight to the reigns, who wont let go of control or are always nagging.
Let go. Let him be his own kind of dad. Let’s empower more men to jump right in. No more ‘Active Dad’ talk or praising them uselessly. That’s all a part of the job.
And please please please whatever you do, stop saying you have to ‘babysit’ your kids. YOU DON’T BABYSIT YOUR OWN CHILDREN.
My Sweet R came home yesterday upset. She was having your typical elementary school frustrations with friends and disappointments. This isn’t super common, she loves school and overall has fantastic days. But yesterday was just one of those days. We all have them. On days like that, you just can’t seem to shake the frustrations. They seem to build on each other.
After cleaning up from dinner, I asked her if she’d like to join me on my nightly walk. Truthfully, it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I look forward to my nightly walks, they bring me peace. It’s a time that I either listen to the hum of nature, my own thoughts or some podcast; whatever I’m feeling on that particular day. But I could feel that she would benefit from a nice walk where she could tell me all about her frustrations while moving her body. Literally moving the frustrations out of her little body.
And boy did she talk. I mean, if you know her, you’d already know that she’s a talker (she gets the gift of gab from her Dad). My goal of our walk was to teach her that there are healthy ways to let your frustrations out. Ways that don’t involve alcohol, drugs, social media, overeating, hiding…you pick your own destructive behavior.
My job, as a parent, is to attempt to teach my kids how to deal with their feelings. Which is hard because as an adult, I’m a work in progress at dealing with my own.
At the beginning of 2020, before the world took a turn that I never saw coming, I started a Gratitude practice. First thing in the morning, I would write down 3 things I was grateful for. It took practice to get into the routine, but I did it for 2 months (January – beginning of March). Somedays it was hard, but it became something that I looked forward to.
Then COVID hit and I lost the discipline of it. Life got hard and I stopped doing it. Honestly, I should have kept with it. It probably would have made the hard days better.
I got lost in life and so did my gratitude. Maybe, just maybe this was related.
To this day, I still haven’t picked it back up again…until today.
I had a rare 2 minutes to breathe this morning before Sweet R came down for breakfast. I quickly jotted down on a piece of paper, “Let’s Start Our Day Out Great! The 5 things I am most grateful for:” with the numbers 1-5 below it. I made one for myself as well and filled in 3 of them before she walked down, so she had an example to help her along. It was waiting for her at the breakfast table with a pen. She looked at me a little funny at first, but she humored me and filled it in. Using a pen is really cool at her age and I’m not a complete idiot in her book quite yet.
This was my attempt to start her day out better. I didn’t want her frustrations that she let go on our walk last night to creep into her day today. But truthfully, it was just as much for her as it was for me. It reminded me that it made a difference in my attitude too.
Quickly this morning I made a Weekly Gratitude Journal that we are going to start using. If you want to download it and use it yourself, it’s available below.
Have you ever tried a Gratitude practice? If you have, did you like it? If you haven’t, would you consider it? Involve your kids, it’s never too early or late to help them add positive tools to their life or your family.
Has anyone ever said that to you? Has anyone ever said those 2 words, “You’ve changed”, to you? How did it make you feel?
Personally, I have been told that in life. When it was said to me, I took it as a negative. I immediately got defensive and quickly said, “There is no way, I am the same person I’ve always been”. Recently I was listening to a podcast called ‘What’s on your plate?’, specifically an episode called ‘Codependency, Why We Need to Stop Trying to Fix People, & Falling In Love with Yourself‘. I’ve linked it here if you’d like to listen for yourself. Amongst the many things they covered on that episode, they talked about having someone tell you that you’ve changed. Their perspective made me think hard.
When someone tells you that ‘you’ve changed’, it’s a compliment. Change means growth. Isn’t the whole goal of a human being to evolve into a better one? Shouldn’t you want to grow and be different than you were before?
This was eye opening to me. Obviously the soundtrack I was playing in my head around the idea of change was a negative one. This was a game changer. A new way at looking at something that I only perceived as a negative thing.
The past 2 years have been full of change in the world and in each of our lives. Change is scary; partially because it’s the fear of the unknown or giving up whatever control we think we have. Change is necessary; because without it we just stay the same and so do our circumstances.
We don’t evolve or become who we were meant to be without change.
Has anyone ever told you that you changed? How’d that make you feel?
This month, I had the opportunity to attend & be a part of a leadership summit. I was able to catch up with old acquaintances, some of whom I looked to as my career was only just beginning. As we ate lunch together on the first day, one of them asked me “So what have you been up to?”. I got caught off guard, I froze and felt like a fish out of water. Why was I caught off guard by this question? In essence, it was a different way to ask someone how they are, without getting the same ole canned answer back. It was suppose to be an easy question.
My quick answer back was “Oh, just being a Mom’.
That answer has haunted me since it came out of my mouth. Actually, at the time if I could have pulled the words back as they were coming out, I probably would have. I quickly followed up my answer with all the things I have been working on professionally. Freelance jobs I’ve taken on in my ‘spare time’.
I’ve given quite a bit of thought as to why my answer felt like nails on a chalkboard to me and why I reacted like I did with a list of freelance work to validate myself. And here’s what I have come up with so far.
Truthfully, it doesn’t feel like enough. I still don’t feel comfortable being a ‘stay-at-home’ mom. Whatever that actually means. I have imposter syndrome, pretty bad.
Being a Mom is the hardest and most challenging job I’ve ever had in my entire life, yet I immediately felt the need to follow it up with professional jobs I’ve been working on. My answer didn’t seem to do the job justice. It’s almost like I diminished it.
But why? Why did I diminish the hardest job I’ve ever accepted in my life? Why does ‘just being a Mom’ seem so dang easy or not feel like enough? Is this my own feelings or has this been long engrained into my thoughts?
I don’t have answers to those questions.
All I know is that I didn’t choose this life, it chose me. I’m trying to just go with it. And it’s been a great lesson.
I’ll just begin with the honest truth. Pretending to be mentally ok, has made me anything but okay.
It’s been close to 2 years in the making. Life has just seemed hard lately. Being a parent is so challenging, but living through a pandemic while parenting…who’s bright idea was this?
For 2 years, life has been broken promises, broken plans, broken vacations. I was suppose to go to Hawaii in July of 2020, my mind is playing tricks on me…did I really have flights and an Airbnb in Maui? Was all of that just a dream? It absolutely is a dream of mine to go to Maui, but it feels like I dreamt that I actually had a plane ticket to go. What is real life?
My mental exhaustion was disrupting my sleep, it was making me smile less and yell more. I worked so damn hard in 2020 and 2021 to put on an act, to keep all the balls in the air. But by fall of 2021, I was starting to lose it. The balls were starting to fall, but what really was falling was my happiness.
Of course I didn’t admit any of this to anyone. I’m one of the strong ones, at least that’s what they always tell me. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a stable job with great husband, a house and 2 beautiful kids. I worked from home all through COVID, so no disruption in pay when life shut down. Living the dream, they’d say.
Then one day as I was driving home in the new car we had just bought, I got that call. You know the one that you dread. Well maybe for some it would be an in-person meeting. Remember though, life was anything but normal and the office was closed for high COVID cases. My layoff came over the phone before I even got home in my new car.
It’s the first time in my life or career I have ever been laid off. If I was being honest, my gut could see it coming. Work got slow. Clients started disappearing. But my heart didn’t want to believe it. 10 years with the same company, a layoff feels like a break up, like a huge fat rejection. It’s almost something like grief.
There were tears and anger, bitterness…the normal emotions. Feelings like ‘what in the f*#k do I do now?’ Talking to God in the shower like I know I have talked to him before, especially when I had my miscarriage. “Are you serious? This is part of your plan? This is the worst plan.”
It’s been 2 weeks. 2 short weeks or maybe 2 long weeks, I have no idea. But here’s what I have so far.
I have smiled more in 2 weeks than I have in 2 years. I have taken the opportunity to play with my kids, read to them and actually enjoy their company and stay present without thinking of something that I need to get done or falling asleep. I read a book for fun and actually retained the information. I did things that I actually wanted to do instead of things that I felt obligated to do. I don’t have that dreaded pit in my stomach every single time that my phone rings that I will have to go pick up my kids from school and try to work while they talk incessantly to me. I actually talked to people on the phone, meaningful conversations with loved ones.
Of course, I’m still a work in progress. I have absolutely 0 idea what I’m doing in life or when I grow up. But I know one thing…
So here I am, I’m still standing. Most of the balls I was juggling have fallen and are laying broken at my feet. But the most important ones that I have been taking for granted are still with me and I could not feel more grateful.