Yeah. All i can say is...Welcome Home
The competitive status thing must be EXHAUSTING to deal with. All of this made me laugh in a strange way because my DD1 today was wearing a dress i made her from DP's old shirt. The rich-mommies at the park don't know how to handle a kid in an obviously re-purposed garment with a D&G label on it! LOL.
Be yourself. Don't apologise. You KNOW you're not damaging your kids. You KNOW it. If you REALLY in your HEART thought you were damaging them you wouldn't be able to bring yourself to parent the way you do, yet it sounds like you do so joyfully, and your kids are joyful too.
Your family is lucky, i'm sure your stellar step-kids didn't get that way through pure luck but also through love, support, discipline and guidance delivered by you and your husband.
Enjoy your life, live it how you love, and don't worry about catty remarks from people who are too busy fretting about appearances to think about real, deep-down, fill-your-heart-to-bursting happiness.
I think you sound like a neat person and a loving mother and wife. At the end of this life, which will matter more to you... living a life which your current social circle approves, or living the one that you feel is right in your heart and makes you happiest?
That's ALL that matters. You get to choose which path to follow. And while your plans sound fantastic, if you decide to change them at any time, you don't need to explain why, to anyone. My sister was a hard set full time career woman, had her first baby at 33yo and knew that as soon as he started preschool, she wanted to get back to work. She had strong opinions on being a SAHM and it's not what she wanted at all. Her son is now 8yo and she's still a SAHM full time and loving it! She even says that she doesn't know if she'll go back to work until he's in highschool or college! Life is organic and we change all of the time. I say, go with your heart and you'll be happiest.
My thought on your post is that - Your only regret could be to live a life that others formulate for you and miss out on the one you want to live for yourself.
Welcome to mdc, and best to you!
EDIT - Oh, and I just realized that my signature relates exactly to what you're going thru! Thought that was funny/coincidental...
I can't say I relate - because I have very few mom friends so far at all, so not much problem with clashing. LOL! (Which is my main problem at this point.) I'm lonely due to lack of enough of a mom/social network and too much time alone with DS. (I've been a SAHM for a bit over a year now and have had a hard time figuring out where/how to meet others like me.) It seems like I don't even come across a lot of SAHM's in my area, much less with my beliefs, etc. I've also always known I wanted to be a SAHM, that's how I was brought up and that's what I wanted for my kids. But after a 10 year career before DS, ppl were surprised to know I was going to SAHM and I've had a hard time feeling like I still fit in with my old mostly single, mostly child-less friends.
But I feel for you. I know very few ppl IRL who share my parenting beliefs/style. I know one pretty crunchy mom IRL who has a good deal of parenting stuff in common, but nothing else (like we can do playgroup, but we don't really click as friends ourselves). Like you, I'm conservative and catholic and that usually doesn't coincide with mothering.com stuff in the same person in this area! Actually just being conservative and catholic at the same time is hard to find here! The way you describe your parenting and your household sounds like what I'd like mine to become. I'm exploring these things now, but no one I know has ever heard of GD or not vaxing or AP or HB or even delayed solids.... the list goes on. So I am trying to figure this all out myself and have no one to discuss it with or learn from (DH is on board but follows my recs, basically.)
Ok, sorry if I hijacked your thread! Suffice it to say that I'd love to know a mom like you IRL! Stay true to yourself. Like a pp said, your older kids are evidence of your parenting success. Being a parent is a full-time job even once the kids are in school, from what I'm told. Any other work you choose to do or not do will undoubtedly seem less important than the time you spent parenting when you're old and looking back!
I too grew up in privledge, but I live a very VERY different lifestyle now. To the point that my parents I think are at a loss about how to relate to us. I have tons of friends who parent/have very different philosophies than me, but I need that because I must have variety in my life--keeps me honest, to me. However, I am not living in a community that by and large is almost exactly like the one I grew up in.
I think I would have a hard time swimming against the tide if I'd never left, really--it would feel like constant rebellion and I'd never get a chance to process my own grief and loss and anger over being sacrificed for prestige and fortune and status.
So I don't know...could it be that some of your feelings could be that you not only are pushing against your community of friends, but you are also internally pushing against your background/childhood? So easy to get those two things mixed up. I know seeing other people's lifestyles does not bother me at all out here on my turf, but plop me back into a visit with my parents and honestly, all I can see is the sacrifices I and my mom had to make to the Almighty Career and Almighty Politics when I walk around in my parents' house and neighborhood, KWIM? I think I would feel a lot more angry and alone if I constantly had to have my face rubbed in it.
don't let the mama-mob get to you! you sound like you have your head screwed on straight and are raising your kids the way you feel in your heart is the best. good for you. it can be stressful, always feeling like the "odd man out" and the only advice i have is to learn to laugh it off. you can't change them so don't take them seriously. maybe if you write some of their comments down, you'll see just how funny and ridiculous they sound and you'll get a good laugh out of it. i know i chuckled, reading your descriptions of them- so thanks for that. i always enjoy a good laugh! everytime they say something bitchy or catty or critical, just laugh really hard and say, "oh thanks for that. i needed a good laugh!" hee hee - nothing will irritate them more than seeing that you don't take them seriously!!
as to the poster who also lives in NOVA area who says she doesn't have a good group of mama friends, we should all get together and form our own fringe group :). i have found it really REALLY difficult to meet people in this area so i know how you feel. i've even been "rejected" from several old town alexandria mama groups - before they even met me in person LOL!!
chin up, ladies, and thanks for the laughs.
It can be awkward. I used to feel this way, but I've come to be proud of myself, not in a prideful way (if that makes any sense).
You have nothing to be ashamed of. Just be yourself. Your real friends will be respectful of your life style.
I know how it feels to be the ONLY one in the neighborhood who is does "strange" things.
I have a group of friends (not great friends). They are all very nice women who are living their way and me- mine. We can all hang out and have a great time.
They might think I'm wacky, but it's not in a mean way. It's more like.. Why the heck does she go through so much trouble for herself when there are so many easier ways to do everything? They mean no harm and I don't take offense anymore.
Is there a Holistic Moms Group in your area? Sometimes just to go to a meeting and be in the same room with other like minded moms gives you a sense of community.
It is VERY hard to be the "odd man" out.
I've struggled with it myself. I don't think there is any easy answer. Keep doing what you're doing. Remain confident in your decisions as a parent and let as much of other people's comments slide off your back as possible. And hang out here when you need to be around "your people". It's helped me a great deal.
I have someone in my circle that will actually look at me like I have two heads. Every great once in a while I start wondering what she sees in me. But most of the time I have to laugh. (Mostly because I feel like looking at her like she has two heads sometimes. So we really do have something in common. ;) )
It also helps me to remember that they're chasing something fairly elusive. Approval from other people - people that aren't invested in your happiness - is a pretty unstable, moving target. It feels good to concentrate on what I think is right for my family, myself and my Lord. Status will run out eventually - lets face it, we're all going to end up in assisted living hoping for visits from out kids some day. It's the days that lead up to that moment that will determine if we're happy or not. Don't let them convince you their way is right - anymore than you should waste your time trying to convince them.
Everyone has to choose their priorities. Just keep reminding yourself of yours. That's all that is important.
Hugs to you. I can relate in my own right.
It is important to continue your instincts of raising your children. When I have been approached by other mamas, even my own old good friends, it is hard to have them understand. It is another world for the majority of American Mamas. I just don't understand them at all.
Keep on keepin on is the mantra I follow. I find that I just don't go there anymore, which is really sad. If I am asked about something.. then I get on my soap box. My hope for you is that there is at least 1 mama in your hood that follows the same ideas. I just have 2 I can connect with and they are about 30 mins away.
Everyone has such wonderful things to say here... Print these posts out and hang them somewhere you can see them. You are not alone mama!
My first thought while reading your post was, "Find new friends". Seriously, it sounds like they aren't very respectful of your choices and decisions, which is not okay. They don't have to agree with how you raise your children, but barring any sort of abuse or neglect, they have absolutely no right to criticize or shame you for it. The woman who tried to guilt trip you using your own deceased mother (!) crossed a major line, and unless she's a fantastic friend in every other way, I'd distance myself immediately.
I'm not trying to suggest that you should drop all of your current friends and make new ones...but definitely make new ones. The "Finding Your Tribe" section on this site is good for that. Meetup.com also lets you search by keywords for groups in your area--try search terms like "attachment parenting" and "AP parents". You're definitely not alone, but most of your parenting decisions are a bit unconventional--a good thing, in my opinion!--and it really helps to know other people in real life who have similar values.
In the meantime, practice changing the subject or replying in a way that makes it clear you don't appreciate being spoken to so disrespectfully. I like shocked silence, raised eyebrows, and then an abrupt subject change. It lets the person know they said something unacceptable and doesn't require you to come back with something witty or sharp. Or you can just use a generic response like, "Oh?" and an uncomfortable silence. Don't let people drag you into defending yourself--you don't owe them an explanation or defense. An awkward silence says it all and still allows you to take the high road.
You don't need anyone's permission to be the mama you want to be, and don't you forget it. You sound pretty awesome to me.
Loving wife and mama to my sweet little son (Fall 2008) and a beautiful baby girl (Fall 2010)
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. --George Bernard Shaw
I guess I'm saying all of this because in either group I am the odd man out. And I think what I have come to learned is that everyone is different and there will never be a group, at least for me, of like-minded individuals on so many fronts. I am comfortable and confident in the choices I've made and when I get an odd look or silence after I've described how we do things (only after being asked of course, I've no need to actively seek out the reactions people have to my "alternative" lifestyle) I shrug it off.
You sound like a great mama and if the only support you have is your dh Irl, and mothering.com, well praise be to God that you have those!
Makes complete sense.
To all the above, especially this bit.
I am totally an odd mom out. I am a very liberal, non-religious (and raised Jewish to boot) SAHM. We homeschool, garden, breastfeed, don't beat our kids, etc. These things make us stand out as freaks with most folks around here. We're in a very religious, very conservative area. The homeschoolers (besides one other family so far) are all super-religious. The other moms I meet taking my kids to sports and such either scoff at stay at home parents or are very rich and we come from two different worlds. So it's hard to meet friends. I personally would not give those "friends" who said that to you the time of day. How horrible. People are often amazed that I also have an education and used to have an excellent, respectable job. Around Christmas, we saw my dh's family and one of his sisters made a very demeaning comment to someone very loudly in front of me and dh's grandmother (who was a SAHM) about how she would be so bored sitting around all day doing nothing if she was a SAHM and how she hates being home with the kids, etc. Needless to say, we were not particularly happy about that, but tried to ignore it, being family and all.
AP Mom to 5
I read you first post but didn't have time to glance over all the other ones. But I understand you! I am also a cloth diapering, attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, drug-free birthing, stay-at-home (well, part time work from home) etc mom. While I have a small circle of moms, most of them are also relatives and close friends. While they are for the most part inclusive of me, but we sometimes butt heads on things like extended breastfeeding, which I try not to ever mention anymore, unless they ask. Outside of this small circle though, I don't bother, because I've seen how some moms treat those that have a radically different parenting philosophy. I really think you should actively look for some new friends! Sounds like the ones you have really have nothing to offer in terms of understanding, support, even just basic qualities of friendship.
We are not well off and live off of one modest income plus whatever I manage to make part time. Despite this we decided we want me home raising the kids instead of handing them off to caregivers. I always get questions on 'where I want to work when they're older'. I'm often singled out because of wanting to focus so much on actually raising our own children and not as much on myself. I'm all for using my degree to work online, but I have absolutely no desire to leave my kids with someone and go to work outside the home. It seems to me most parents do not put much thought into how their children grow up if they aren't readily available as parents.
Moreover I don't really fit with the religious moms and neither do I fit with the secular ones. We're Christian but have left organized religion and instead gather with a very small group of Christians to read the Bible and pray together (they do not have small children). We felt that churches in general have veered so far away from the simplicity in Christ, we didn't want to be part of it. So now I'm really the odd ball, which I've learned to like and even enjoy. Even though I'm the odd one, I am always the one being asked advice! Whether it is behavior (they see how well behaved my daughter is), or natural remedies, anything pregnancy related, baby gear, cloth diapers, etc... I've come to accept my odd place among my friends, but that's it - I can truly call them friends because they don't make me feel alienated because of my odd choices, more so valued actually. :)
So no, you're not really that odd, you just need to find a group of supportive moms in the area that at least somewhat share your values. You don't have to agree on everything, but the ones you have seem like they just want to remake you into someone you are not - friends don't do that.