I am very aware of my need to take care of myself so I can be the best parent to E. If I’m not at the top of my mom game nothing goes smoothly. With the prospect of taking care of E solo in a new community, one of the first things I did was to go on a hunt for a yoga/Pilates, both would be best, studio, and childcare for E to attend said studio. Time sans a toddler is good for the soul, but spending that time focusing on relaxing and strengthening ones self is even better. For me at least.
I then discovered the best place ever for moms of tots in the Hampton Roads area of VA: The local Y. Yup, the good ol’ YMCA. For less than the cost of a month of classes at a yoga studio I get Yoga, Pilates, strength Pilates, kettle bell, etc etc plus two hours of free child care a day so I can actually go to these classes. Top that with a gorgeous splash pad and kid pool worthy of a resort and you’ve got a little slice of daily heaven.
Best part? E likes it there! No crying at drop off, happy as a clam at pick up. Besides one incident of E trying to inspect the eyes of some of the babies at the Stay and Play (perhaps optometry is in her future?) and subsequently being barred from the baby room, it’s been a lovely experience for E and I. She gets social kid time, I get adult time and a toned tush. Win, win and win.
And on those positive notes for E’s social life and my mind and backside…
Let’s discuss this whole “no yelling” movement for moms for a moment. I agree with the overarching idea, but a few things stick out to me as massively problematic. (If you’re not familiar with this whole thing just google it, I don’t want to single out anyone) Like any mom, the occasional “Stop doing (insert annoying/inappropriate behavior here) for the love of all things Holy!” has escaped my lips, sometimes even with a curse word or two, but I’m not one to scream at E on a regular basis. She will inevitably do what I do regardless of what I tell her is appropriate, and I’d rather not have a tyrant on my hands. If you ever question this fact, that kids will do as you do, not as you say, just take a half hour or so to really observe your kids. I’ve watched in amazement as my toddler placed a box in the recycling bin and her old cracker in the trash, with no past or present prompting. They will do as you do.
So to be clear, I’m not purporting that we moms should all be screaming at our kids daily. No one likes a dictator, whether it be ourselves or a cute kiddo. All that aside, I really feel there are some serious issues with many of the main messages from the leaders of this parenting movement.
- The Imbedded Message of “Yelling Makes You a Bad Parent”: One more thing us moms are doing wrong that we get to beat ourselves up for at the end of every day. Yes, clearly this will help take the stress of life and parenthood off making for embracing calmer and gentler parenting tactics easier. There is no one right way to parent a child. If you’re doing your best, take pride in that alone at the end of every day. There is always room for improvement, something we can only face head on with a clear mind. Guilt trips will not help anyone.
- Not Yelling is Not Solving the Problem: Constant yelling is a symptom of a much larger problem. Focusing on not yelling is like telling someone with pneumonia to take a Tylenol for their headache and leaving their treatment at that. Yes, many of the popular Stop Yelling sites have some tips on taking time for yourself to be a better parent, but if it’s gotten to the point where you’re losing it regularly, yoga and coffee with friends might not be the answer. And in fact more than a few of these advocates for not yelling fully admit to attending regular therapy sessions, which is find and good, but to tell readers to just “stop yelling” and give them 10 tips on how to find a few minutes a day for you, or an EBook? It all seems a bit irresponsible.
- Fake It Till You Make It Works Well, Unless You Never Make It: Suppressing anger is possible for days, even weeks, months or years. We can all put on a working face (if you’ve ever worked for anyone at all, you know this is true). But at some point, the real person comes out, and often with far more force than before all the hiding and faking. Again, the problem is not solved by just not expressing the anger.
Why note all this, or even bring it up at all? Because I believe in the main premise of this parenting movement. Uncontrolled anger helps no one, and can even be emotionally damaging to young children. Anger of this magnitude, like an eating disorder or depression, needs medical attention, not a few life hacks. Rather than focus on the symptom of a much larger problem, yelling and uncontrolled anger, we need to start looking at the real issue: mental health, especially among women, and the stigmas associated with it that lead to far too many women, especially moms, not seeking the help they really need. Rather than a Band Aid, we need real healing.
And with that, I am off to rest for tomorrow’s Pilates and Kettlebell classes, my therapy of choice.