Sometimes I just feel like I don't fit in. Not in a poor-me type of way, but in a am-I-the-only-one-who-feels-like-this? sort of way.
Take the stereotypical Catholic mom mold, for example. This is the type of mom who practices attachment parenting from the instant the baby is born. She is thrilled to breastfeed her babies until they are 3 or 4 years old, and feels an emotional bond doing so. She keeps the child in her bed, right between her husband and herself, for as long as that child wants. When the child is old enough for school, she wouldn't even entertain any other form of education except homeschooling. She stays at home anyway, so why not? She also bakes treats according to the feast days of the Church, sews clothes for everyone in the family, and has plenty of art projects for the kids to do. She has dinner on the table for her hard-working husband as he enters the door, and serves everyone first while taking the scraps for herself. I "know" most of these moms through blogs I read.
Then there's the mom of the secular world. She is so focused on her career, and staying home to care for her children, even if it were possible, would be out of the question. That's what nannies are for! She puts her babies in a crib from the beginning, lets them cry it out, and bottle feeds. She is up-to-date on all things political, newsworthy, and the happenings in Hollywood. She is dressed in high fashion, drives a nice car, and picks up take-out for dinner on her way home from work. She makes sure her needs are met first, and gives her spare time to her family. I know most of these moms through people I work with, women who go to my gym, and some of the mothers at my children's school.
Now, these are definitely the extremes, but I feel like compared to these types of women, I am stuck in some sort of Limbo Mom Land and don't know many others like me. I don't quite fit in on either side, I have bits and pieces of both types.
I only work outside the home because I HAVE to. It's not to pay for a nice car or college education for our kids....it's to help pay the mortgage, buy the groceries, pay student loans, and keep the heat on. I would gladly give up any "extras" if that would make it possible to stay at home with my babies. I don't care about my career. I only care about a paycheck. When I am at work I am constantly thinking about my family, and when I'm with my family, I never think about work.
I try as much as possible to have a natural pregnancy and labor. I use a midwife who doesn't believe in any medication/drugs and I breastfeed my babies for as long as possible, but not more than a year if I can help it. I feel that they don't need breast milk for nutrition at that point. They are eating plenty of other foods, and I am more than happy to let that go. I can get my emotional bonding time with them through hugs, snuggles, kisses, and play time. We keep the baby in our bedroom for a few months, but they sleep in a bassinet. I don't believe in letting a child sleep in the marriage bed. Partly because my love for my husband comes first, and partly because I literally can't sleep with a baby/toddler squirming around me. We move them to their own room once they mostly sleep through the night, but we don't let them cry themselves to sleep. We comfort them and lay down on the bed or floor near them so they can get used to sleeping on their own, but don't feel like we are ignoring them.
I find joy in cooking meals and keeping a clean house for my family. I don't feel like it's degrading, or robbing me of precious "me time". I feel that I am showing my love through these actions. In fact, except to exercise, I don't want to take any time away from my family that I could be spending with them. Speaking of which, I exercise to be healthy, not to be skinny like so many women. I eat (mostly) healthy but when I indulge...I indulge. I think I have a healthy attitude towards food and health, which I'm finding a lot of women (sadly) do not.
As far as education goes, well we are big believers and supporters of Catholic schools. We are lucky to be in a situation where we can send our children to a great school, and they will go to the Catholic high school for a reduced tuition or for free because Phil teaches there. We choose to put the importance of our kid's Catholic education ahead of Phil taking a job that could pay more money. That education they receive is priceless in our minds. Plus, I would be the worst homeschooling mom. I am terrible at arts and crafts, and besides math and science, feel that I could not teach my children well. In addition, we can't even afford to homeschool because I can not afford to stay at home to do so.
Sometimes, I look at my strong opinions, values, and beliefs, and think I am just a total contradiction of what a mom should be. I am basically a "Cafeteria mom" picking and choosing what works best for us even though it seems to be against what most people are doing. I'm a little bit country, and a little bit rock-and-roll ;)
But then I pray to Mary. Mary, who found herself pregnant with God's chosen Son before being married to Joseph. Mary, who had to flee her homeland to keep that Son safe. Mary, who had to raise her son and loved Him with all her heart, knowing that same heart would be pierced by a sword. Mary, who married Joseph yet had a celibate marriage. Mary did what was best for her family, even though it went against the norm of the time. I truly feel that when nobody else does, she understands me. She knows my love for my family, my best intentions, and what I am capable and incapable of doing. She knows what it's like not to fit in, but still try to do God's Will. Mary gets me....and I thank God for her beautiful and comforting example.
What about you moms out there? Do you feel like you fit into a mold? Or are you Cafeteria Moms like me? What's important to you and what do you let slide? I'd love to hear that I'm not crazy :)