Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Being Better


Can’t live with ’em; can’t shoot ’em.  Am I right?  Yeah?

Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyone?

I kid.

I was listening to a popular morning show on the radio yesterday.  A young employee of the station (but not a regular on-air talent) was being “featured” in a segment they were doing about dating.  This girl (a very recent college grad) sounded kind of like Dahlia from “Suburgatory.”  She came off as arrogant, infantile, self-centered and, like, totally annoying, you, like, know?

I judged her from that short segment and decided that I hated her.  Then, I decided that if I told anyone that I hated her, men would call me “jealous” and would suggest that it was the fact that she was young and (presumably) attractive that I decided that I felt this way.  Having this imaginary fight with unidentified men in my head made me pretty pissed.

I thought about why I had had such a strong reaction to this young lady.  I decided that I didn’t want her speaking for or representing me.  When people turn on a source of media and they hear someone talking arrogantly and obnoxiously about her experiences with men, I didn’t want that to be connected to me in any way.  I didn’t want anyone to make the mistake in thinking that the opinions expressed by one naive 22-year old were in any way the views held by the larger consituency.

Then I felt petty and stupid.

You see, since I became a mom nearly 4 years ago, I have slowly but surely become more interested in women’s issues.  Why is there no national standard for long-term PAID childcare leave for new mothers (and new adoptive parents and fathers, too, for that matter)?  Why am I still earning 70 cents to my male counterparts’ dollar?   Why do some politicians want to discuss the contents of my uterus?  Years after the inception of Title IX, why are girls’ athletics still underappreciated, under-funded and under-attended?  Why do boys still outperform girls in mathematics and science?  Why is the US one of the only  industrialized, 1st-world countries who has never had a female head of State?  On television and in movies, why are all of the female characters either sex objects or wounded little kittens?   Oh, wait, they aren’t.  Sometimes they are lost souls who are unlucky in love and are just waiting for some handsome, wonderful men to come make their lives complete.

What the fuck?

And, here I am contributing to the bullshit.  I am a woman.  Every day the world will judge me by the way I look, the way I talk, the way I dress and the way I act.  After that, the world might give a shit about how smart or strong I am.  I just better not be too smart.  I also better not be too strong.  I better not be “too” anything, really.  Too tough?  She must be a lesbian.  Too pretty?  She must have had work done.  Too thin?  She must be anorexic.  Too hardworking?  She must be shirking her duties in her personal life like parenting and housekeeping.  Too high-earning?  She must be a ball-busting bitch.  Too maternal?  She must not have any skils or drive.

And, yet, here I am.  I am sitting in my car, judging a person’s worth and character based on 3 minutes of hearing her voice.  I am part of the problem.

Since becoming a mom, I have also realized that the point of the sexual revolution fought so hard by our mothers is to provide us with options and to allow us to select any option we wish and throw up a big middle finger to the world while doing it.  WANT to be a ball-busting bitch?  Do it.  WANT to be a stay-at-home-mom?  Do it.  WANT to be a snob?  Do it?  WANT to be all full of silicone and collagen?  Do it.

You.  Have.  Choices.

My hope now, for myself, is that I will learn to respect that more.  It is tough enough out there with my 70 cents at the societal dollar store.  I think I ought to start being a whole lot more accepting and respectful of a woman’s right to choose to be whomever she wishes to be.

I have an important role as the mother of boys.  I can be a part of molding a generation to be better than my own has been.  I can teach my boys to judge others not by the length of their skirts or the size of their waistlines, but by the content of their character.  I can teach my boys not to say (or think) stupid shit like that ass-clown on “The Amazing Race” did last week when he lamented “I lost to a freaking GIRL.”

It is an important role we play as moms.  I wish the country in which I live recognized that more readily.   I wish western culture were more interested in equity, honor and responsibility and less concerned with breast size, hair type and fragility.

I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to raise two men. I hope I do right by them, help them find their ways in this world, help them find self-worth, help them become well-rounded and courageous, and help them grow up to be men who will make this a better planet for all of its inhabitants.

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9 thoughts on “Being Better

  1. Good piece. Made me stop and think…especially the last part about raising our boys to be the men they need to be. I pray I’m up to the challenge.

  2. Meredith bland on said:

    Nice job, sister friend.

  3. I totally feel you on this one. I hope and pray every day that I raise a man with integrity and good judgement. But I love this piece even more because I have been on the same rant lately….in that we, as women, need to be less judgemental of one another and be more supportive…whatever the hell that means. The Samantha Brick article that people (mostly women) bashed and insulted harshly shocked the shit out of me. Well, not really. I know us women can be terribly judgemental towards one another, but seriously, wtf was up with those responses to her article. I for one thought she had guts for saying it. I didn’t even feel like judging her for the arrogance others thought she portrayed, I just chose to admire her balls and then immediately felt sorry for her, as I knew she opened a can of worms… But whatever. I try hard to not judge whomever I encounter. It’s a trip. When I do it, I have an inner fight with myself and praise myself for not saying it outloud. 🙂 Thanks for this article!

  4. Love this post, most especially the part where you (or we other people) realize we’re part of the problem. I’m sure you’ll raise your boys well.

  5. I absolutely love this post. You are so right – the country doesn’t recognize the value they’d get out of better supporting mothers. But we keep on truckin’ anyway, raising our kids to be better!

  6. You are spot on. We are part of the problem. I think that is evident from Hilary Rosen’s comments this week about Ann Romney. Why can’t we just be supportive of each other’s choices. When I was working on my M.A., a neighbor of mine said in a snide tone, “are you planning on being a working mom.” That really hurt, but aren’t all moms “working” moms?

  7. Well said! I very much changed after becoming a mom (especially one to two boys, too). I just hope I do a decent job of raising them to repect and appreciate women, and to refrain from being too quick to judge others (as I sometimes am). Great post!

  8. Thank you for this. Not only do you write like one of my good friends speaks, which makes me miss her, you give me hope. I am happy to know there are little boys out there with a mama like you. Of course none of us are perfect and we all judge, but I think it is the reflection of how and why we judge which is so important to discuss. The reflection of your quick judgement brought up deeper societal issues which need to be aired so you have become part of the solution not the problem. 🙂

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