Sunday, September 27, 2009

Uptight Laid-Back Mum

I've noticed it's uncool to be an uptight mum. It seems there are few social brownie points for the mum who hovers too closely over her child at the playground, or the mum that turns up at 5 a.m. at pre-school registration to be first in line because her child simply must be in the morning slot. The uptight mum is not cool and yet often she's simply looking out for her kids.

Who is cool, it seems, is the laid-back mum - the one who occasionally feeds her kids Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast, who doesn't loose sleep because the telly was on too long this afternoon while they were tweeting, or whose kid took a nap at 5 p.m. and, oh well.

I flit between being laid-back mum and uptight mum. I'm at ease with a little too much TV every now and then while I get other things done (did I mention my toddler doesn't nap?). I'm okay with the occasional sugary overload for the sake of distraction. I'm okay with my weakness in caving to demands for a smidge of peace and quiet.

And then I'm nervous about going out on my own with both kids, about making sure they eat dinner at the time they're used to, about messing with bed time. There's something about disrupting the bed time routine I dislike particularly - the routine I've tried to establish so that the kids get their rest, and my sacred evening quiet time is protected.

But often I feel required to be the laid-back mum. I've been told I need to "relax" about things such as taking our kids out past their bedtime. I should be okay with keeping them out late, remain indifferent to meltdowns resulting from tiredness, and not complain after driving home with two exhausted, crying children. All in the name of being a laid-back mum.

Maybe I'll be more nonchalant about these things in the future, but for now, I'm not. And I'm not going to apologize for it.

I've heard strangers (in Starbucks - I stalk people eavesdrop on conversations) gossip about their "friend" who's super uptight because can you believe she won't let her kid do such and such thing and won't let them eat whatever thing and boy does she ever need to chill the hell out.

Having two children close together has forcibly loosened the reigns on my anxiety - I don't have time to fret over everything - but somewhere in me the worry remains. And I wonder - although we mothers/fathers love to portray this I'm so calm and easygoing cracking open the wine at 4:45 p.m. to reclaim my sanity while my kids who've only eaten Joe Louis and popsicles all day are now taking their naps oh gawd I'm so screwed thing - can I really be that laid-back?

I mean, look - I love to be mellow, I love sipping wine at 3:30 in the afternoon, I love lounging around in my pajamas at midday while my kids watch Monsters, Inc. But the thing is, whatever else I'm doing, I'm still responsible for for these two growing children that are all dependent and reliant on - y'know - ME.

Becoming a parent is like getting on a roller coaster and not realizing how huge a plunge you're about to take. Everything is moving along nicely and then WHAM - you're responsible for another person now, off you go, have fun. And with such a colossal leap into responsibility and adulthood and seriousness, I think there follows a desire to prove to the world that - hey, we may be responsible parents now, but we're still the fun, laid-back people we used to be and we like to get totally smashed and party hard. Honest! We do! We do!

I think everyone wants to be the laid-back mum. And I think everyone is the uptight mum. How can you not be? I might be reclining on the park bench, chatting casually and purposely staying away so as not to be the helicopter mum, but beneath my sunglasses I'm scanning the playground to make sure my son is not about to drop eight feet from the top of the climbing frame. And at night when I'm nursing his sniffles, I'm secretly wondering when would be the right time to call the nurse, just in case, and what the plan would be if I should need to get to emergency.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's okay to be an uptight mum. Uptight mums should get a break. Often they're just acting out the uneasiness most of us feel but which some of us are better at concealing.

Sometimes I'm an uptight mum and I'm okay with that. And sometimes it's okay to tell those people - the ones that tell us we should "relax" - to bugger off.
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5 comments:

Mwa said...

You're right that most people are both. I'm uptight about some stuff (like too many sweets) and then my friends are uptight about stuff I really don't care about. As long as you keep a balance, you'll be fine.

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

I agree that most people are a bit of both. It's one thing if you're a drill sargeant about things that you don't need to be, but sticking to a bedtime routine? Making sure they don't get hurt at the playground - totally normal in my eyes. It's baffling to me that the 'laid-back' moms, who want us to believe they just go with the flow, are wasting time telling us to mellow. I posted on this a while ago after my mom told me I worry about silly things with my kids. MYOB!!

James (SeattleDad) said...

Everyone should be as uptight as they are comfortable with. Everyone else should mind thier own business. Everything you do at this age will have some sort of effect cumulatively on your child as they grow older. It is your choice how you want to raise them. You have to deal with them as they get older.

Elaine A. said...

I'm kinda in between too. I think kids thrive on routine so yeah, I'm pretty "uptight" when it comes to some things like bedtime and naps, etc. But of course there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes I 'pretend' to be laid back... ;-)

Metropolitan Mum said...

Gosh, I hear you! I am SO uptight when it comes to meal and bed times. To the dismay of some close family members. Who on the other hand congratulate me on my relaxed and contented baby daughter. Well, surprisingly one thing comes with the other, DOH!