Dharma Momma

I’m a Buddhist and a Mother. This is what I do.

On being a wife and mother October 27, 2008

Filed under: family,parenting,reflection — mandora @ 4:20 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately about what the titles of ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ entail.  When I think about my ideal in both cases, I have to return to my grandmothers.  One, my moms mom, exemplifies everything that both these words mean.  She, in everything she does, puts her family ahead of herself.  She demanded to stay home and raise children and run the household when she married my grandfather, and saw it as her duty and privilege as a woman to do so. I’ve never heard her speak ill of anyone, and would offer a warm bed and a hot meal to anyone in need without a second thought.  Today she is in her 80’s and very sick, but still insists on entertaining the extended family every Sunday, even if it’s just for ordered-in pizza.  She is the true definition of the word ‘nurturer’, which I think defines the role of both wife and mother.

My dads mom on the other hand, although an equally committed mother, was led down a different path.  A working mother of five, my nana is the absolute toughest lady you will ever meet.  You do NOT cross her, unless you want a good backhand to the head.  Once, she fell while crossing the railroad tracks at 70 years old, sliced her leg open to the bone, and took 2 buses and walked 5 blocks to the hospital to get it stitched while holding the two pieces of torn flesh together. She has set the example for me that I want to achieve in being an unflinching, strong and capable woman.  Whereas in my first pregnancy, I did a lot of complaining and feeling sorry for myself, this time around I am determined to follow her example and ‘suck it up’.

When I think about the months and years ahead of me, and the many challenges that our family is sure to face, these two women are constant inspiration.  I want to be the best wife I can to my husband; to support him while he’s home, and to be a good representative of our family while he is away.  I want to be the best mother I can to his children – to be strong and capable and unflinching in the face of hardship, but also nurturing and warm – someone they can always come to when they need a place to fall.

And while I’ve always admired both of my grandmothers, it wasn’t until I had a family of my own that I truly understood the strength that both these women posses.  I only hope that one day, when I have grandchildren of my own, that they’ll look at me with the same admiration that I hold for these two women.  THEN I will feel like I’ve done my job, and led a good life.

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So what is the responsibility of parents anymore? October 17, 2008

Filed under: parenting — mandora @ 3:35 pm

The schools are supposed to discipline children, feed them breakfast, hand out condoms and birth control, and now this? I mean, where does it end? What are we, as parents, responsible for? If we didn’t want to be at least partially responsible for shaping the people that our children will become, why have kids at all?

 

September 21, 2008

Filed under: family,parenting — mandora @ 12:03 am

Why is the family so forgotten now days? It seems to me, that in times such as the ones we are experiencing right now – tumultuous times, if you will – we all NEED a safety net to fall back on. Should we not be valuing the family even more than before? Should we not be investing in this very basic human need? For some reason we are not.

As a woman, I’m so struck by the fact that I feel the NEED to provide the groundwork for this family unit. I feel a real drive to take care of my husband and my children. To make sure that they are fed and happy and safe. I love my husband unconditionally and with my whole being. Fifty years ago these things were EXPECTED. Today, I’m likely to be branded anti-feminist for voicing these things here. However, I feel it is because of my feminist spirit that I feel so strongly about these things.

We as women have given up over the years, all those things which make us different and unique beings. Instead of embracing our ability to give life to babies, and to nurture our families and to provide a safe spot for our loved ones to come home to, we saw it as a weakness…something that needed to be avoided. We were told be to behave more like ‘men’. And in doing so, all of humanity has become a sort of asexual, homogeneous personage and no one knows where they fit. Just look at the incidence of depression!! As I sit at the midpoint of my twenties, I don’t know where to go from here, because the strong yearning that I have to be a wife and a mother and a leader of the homelife of my family isn’t a viable option for women of my generation.

Well, I am taking this back for my generation. The women of my mother’s time fought to free themselves of the home, but I think they lost something integral. They lost what makes us, as women, unique. I am PROUD to be the child-bearer, the nurturer and the one who fixes my family’s problems. I am content to let my husband go out each day and ‘hunt’ our necessities. My strength comes from my connection to countless generations of women before me, and I hope that my daughter after me will feel this strength, and take up this cause. And yes, I am proud that I have the option to go to work, the real sense of equality that I feel… but in pretending the differences do not exist, we’ve lost a major source of our strength as women. And I, for one, will embrace that strength!

 

Freedom and the Hot Dog September 1, 2008

Filed under: parenting — mandora @ 10:53 pm

When I decided to have children, I made the choice that no matter what, I would never place my own personal biases on them. I never want them to feel like they have to conform to my idea of what they should be. However, as my daughter grows, I find that it’s harder to uphold this ideal than I thought.

The other day my sister was having lunch with us, and wanted to give my daughter a hotdog. I feed her nearly exclusively on organic products, and hotdogs are about as far from our typical diet as you can get. When I said that I didn’t want my child to eat this sort of unnatural crud, my sister responded with ‘you can’t shelter her forever. What if she WANTS to eat a hotdog – what happened to letting her make her own choices?’ Keep in mind here, my daughter isn’t even a year old. But, at the time, I had no answer – I didn’t know how to respond because she’s right… I DO want my daughter to be a vegetarian (or an ‘almost’ vegetarian like me) and to eat organic and locally produced foods whenever possible. I want her to WANT those things because in my opinion, they are responsible, both nutritionally as well as socially. But, am I projecting my own ideals onto my daughter?

Today, in a book loaned to me by my mother in law, I found my answer. I’m trying very hard to find a job in the child welfare field, and so being a senior member of this profession she loaned me her copy of The Field Guide to Child Welfare. As I was reading it, I came upon the section where the authors talk about the ethics of social workers. While this was nothing new, the section on freedom was something I hadn’t encountered before. What, they asked, do we make of the fact that one of the basic rights of all people is to have freedom, when we are dealing with children? Certainly we cannot allow children complete freedom of choice; their developing minds simply aren’t equipped to properly make sound judgment calls. The answer, they said, lies with parents. It is our responsibility as parents to provide our children with the freedom to grow and develop as they were meant to, so that one day they CAN make those choices for themselves. For children, freedom means the right to safe and stable families, basic care and nurturance.

So, regarding my hotdog question… my role as her mother is to keep her safe and to help her develop the tools to make smart choices. My education tells me that hotdogs are not a nutritionally sound choice. Therefore, I would be remiss in my parenting if I allowed her to put it into her body. No matter whether she would LIKE a hotdog or not, they are not a freedom that need be granted to someone so small. If, through the lessons that I teach her and the tools that I equip her with, one day she decides that a hotdog is a freedom she would like to enjoy, then that is her right. But for right now, my baby girl will be limited to organic veggie ‘dogs’, because I, as her mother, said so. 🙂