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If you haven't heard, everyone knows what it takes to raise the perfect human. Because if we moms would only spend more time at home with the kids then they’d turn out OK.
Successful. Happy. Who knew it was so simple?
The problem is it’s not.
As much as moms keep telling the media that the “mommy wars” don’t actually exist, that hey, there are disagreements about how to do something in pretty much every profession and role in life and those are not publicized "wars," the phrase still persists. I realize “The Dry Cleaner Wars” is not as catchy.
Neither is “Moms disagree with each other on how to raise kids like all people disagree about everything.” But that’s the truth.
We disagree. But we’re hardly battling each other.
What bugs me most is that the crux of this argument focuses specifically on the physical proximity of a mother to her children and its effect on her success in life, which sounds logical but makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Because when it comes down to it, the emotional proximity of a parent and child (not just moms, by the way) and the emotional availability of a parent are what should really matter.
Are you really present for your kids?
Sure, logic might say that if a mom is physically with her children more, then she is more available to them emotionally, but we all know that’s not the case. And really, when did logic ever come into play for parents?
I can easily sit in my house with my kids running circles around me and completely tune them out. I can stare at my phone while they talk to me about their Minecraft house and their favorite television character, and I couldn’t repeat a word that they said to me.
Not some of my more proud parenting moments.
Being truly present for our children has nothing to do with how much we are actually with them.
What about those of us with spouses who travel or are away from home? Oh right, dads don’t count.
We have our own moms, who worked full-time and were totally and completely available to us, or stay-at-home-moms, like mine, who were closed off and guarded. And we had the reverse. And we complained about them in therapy and said, “If they were only home more” or “If they would just have gotten a life of their own” and we are just plain wrong.
So let’s just get one thing clear right now: Being truly present for our children has nothing to do with how much we are actually with them. In fact, I’d like to think that we’re more in tune with them when we have the opportunity to focus on just ourselves.
Emotional availability requires action and effort, being comfortable with our own ego and self-esteem. And giving them a place where they feel safe, wanted and important.
It’s damn hard work.
And it has nothing to do with whether you stay at home with your kids or you don’t. But rather, in those moments when you are with your kids, if you’re really truly “there” with them. In their happiness, their fear, their joy, their pain.