Friday, October 30, 2009

The Moms

I've spent a lot of time with moms over the last nearly 20 months. To be honest, the mom culture was a huge part of why I was reluctant to become a mom. From the outside, moms seemed like people who got all their information about the world from Dora the Explorer and were more than a little sniping with each other. On the latter point, the battlefronts are numerous: working moms vs. stay at home moms, spankers vs. timeouters, cloth diapers vs. disposable (or crazy hippies vs. sensible people, not to be judgmental or anything), non-vaccinators vs. vaccinators (ditto, etc. I would add to "crazy hippies" "crazy hippies who don't care about public health"), natural birthers vs. epidural users (or people who are too crazy to be out walking free on the street vs. normal people), and of course, breastfeeders vs. bottlefeeders (or women who insist on living like slaves of the 15th century vs. those who choose sanity and liberation. Again, not to be judgmental). But who am I to judge, right? I have a theory about what drives these battles, other than people being crazy, but I'll save that for another time.

Now that I have become a mom, I have a lot more respect for moms. And I am also sniping (see above) and can no longer carry on an intelligent conversation, even about poop, and have no idea what is going on in the world (Michael Jackson died? really?). I have also figured out that mom culture is very diverse. There are actually several different kinds of moms, which I will tell you about now, as if you could stop me.

To be more precise, I have identified 4 broad categories of moms that result from combining 2 key sets of criteria, organized vs. disorganized and uptight vs. laid back. Most moms are lesser versions of these 4 types or combinations of types, of course, but this gives us a basic idea:

Type 1--The Mess (disorganized and uptight)
This is the clearly harried mom, usually of multiple children, who is rarely showered or dressed in clean clothing, nor are her children, who run circles around her and destroy things as she valiantly but unsuccessfully tries to stop them from eating rocks, hitting each other, breaking valuables, or jumping off the top of jungle gyms (or buildings). Her house is basically ground zero of Armageddon, complete with blood on the floor on a bad day. Dinner is Cheetos. And conversations with her go something like this, "I think we are--Johnny come back here!--going to go to the beach--Susie, don't hit your brother!--except that Joe may have to work--Sally, get down from there!--so I don't know--Mikey, don't eat that!" You might as well not bother to relate any information of your own to her because she can no longer understand English.

Type 2--The Proud Mess (disorganized and laid back)
This type looks very much like The Mess, except this mom doesn't give a damn about any of it. Instead of trying to control the chaos, she just sits back, smokes a cigarette (either literally or figuratively), and lets it all wash over her. Her lack of control is a point of pride for her. As another mom scrambles to prevent her child from eating a cookie laying in the dirt, The Proud Mess (proudly) proclaims, "Honey, my kids regularly eat grass coated in dog urine, and they are fine." She barely contains her contempt for moms who dare show up at a mom gathering with make up on, chiding them as "over achievers," and openly ridicules moms who don't let their kids watch television or drink juice.

Type 3--The Anal Mom (organized and uptight)
This is the neat freak mom who can't quite come to grips with the fact that small children don't really go with the decor or most of her outfits. Anal Moms will buy the "tasteful," neutral color baby bouncer because it matches the leather chairs, although they may eventually cave in desperation to the colorful rainforest bouncer that lights up and is more garish than a drag queen (I speak from experience. Not because I am drag queen, because I bought the rainforest bouncer. I'm not a drag queen, just to be clear). In extreme cases, Anal Moms either make their children play exclusively in their rooms or bring out one toy at at time. Messy toddler meal times induce mommy panic attacks and therapy sessions; Anal Mom will be running a handvac all over her child and everything in the vicinity within seconds of that dropped grain of rice. Sleep schedules are enforced according to a nuclear clock. Clothes are changed multiple times a day and are all adorable little matching outfits complete with hair accessories. The children's clothes are nice, too.

A related type is the Mom, Ph.D. This is usually a well educated mom, often one who has given up a high-powered career to stay home. Instead of coordinating baby gear with furniture and devising storage solutions for toys, Mom, Ph.D. pours her uptight, organized energy into reading mountains of childhood development literature and medical studies, usually with the end goal of her child winning a Nobel Prize. If you are around this mom for more than 5 minutes, you will learn how simple, wooden blocks create 13% more brain synapses than toys made from Chinese plastic. You will learn how peek-a-boo games help your child get over attachment disorder. You will learn how the number of times your child defecates per day can inform you of their optimal potty-training age (this requires a spreadsheet). But mostly you will learn that if you let your child watch television, he will end up in jail.

Type 4--The Cruise Director, a.k.a The Perfect Mom or the Classic Mom
(organized and laid back)
If you are a kid, this is the mom you want to have. If you are a mom yourself, this is the mom that makes you want to commit suicide. Life for this mom's family is one exciting activity, cool craft, healthy and delicious meal, and fun family vacation after another. This mom just loves, loves, loves being a mom, has probably wanted to be a mom since kindegarten, and embraces it all with gusto while letting none of the pitfalls get to her. This mom takes her toddler everywhere with her, from the grocery store to Paris, because she gets such a kick out of watching her child discover the world (the rest of us, who have come to Paris to escape our children, are not quite as thrilled). This is the woman whose reaction to finding out she is pregnant with triplets 2 months after her last child was born is, "God has so blessed us!" while the rest of us would at least consider atheism if not actually convert for revenge. If this mom has only 2 kids, it's usually because "we just can't afford to have the 6 we want." Oh, and she just loves to breastfeed, it's like her favorite thing.

So those are the types. Now, few moms are solidly in one camp and in fact can change types depending on the day. For instance, I am situationally either a Proud Mess, mainly because I let my kid eat dirt and I look askance at moms who shower every day, or the Anal Mom, although I keep it under control. Toys are strewn all over my house but that doesn't mean I'm OK with it. I'm basically Anal Mom with my house but Proud Mess Mom with the personal hygiene of myself and my child. I am definitely not the Cruise Director, because I generally dislike small children and try not to go anywhere I don't have to with mine, nor am I Mom, Ph.D. Not only am I too lazy to read all that crap, I feel like my children's genes will be enough to ensure they are geniuses. I don't want to overdo it and wreck their sparkling personalities with too many synapses.

Of course, these categories are confined just to "normal" moms. I am not even going to go into the whole psychotic mom thing, that is another whole world that I don't feel qualified to speak about. Yet.

4 comments:

  1. This is simply genius. You may not be Ph.D. mom, but this is Ph.D. analysis, for sure. Now, a couple comments from experience. . .no, I'm not a mom, but I had one, who is a mom of seven. Of course, my wife is a mom too!

    First, not only can you change types, as you suggest, you can go through parenthood and evolve. In fact, this has been a long running joke in the Laurienti family, but finally with your piece above, we have a concise theoretical grounding to explain what we have long laughed at. When my mom had her first three children, she was Anal Mom. My mom's name is Mary, we actually refer her during this period as "immaculate Mary." The kids were spit shined, the house was perfect, and her hair looked like she spent every day at the salon.

    Guess what, it didn't last. . .she had four more kids, and she move from the suburbs to the country--by the way, does geography affect the mom type? My mom in only four years became The Mess. We were flat out white trash. . .you could literally find trash in just about every room and every part of our yard. I am quite surprised she held it together. . .so, we had "White Trash Mary"

    Guess what. . .the kids leave! Yep, I may have been the youngest of seven, but I spent my last two years of high school as an only child with a mom who became a proud mess. She was flat out laid back. . .she laughed at the fact that my teen bedroom was so treacherous that she would not and could not walk in it. . .she actually told her friends about the blackened banana peels on my floor, and laughed about it. It was chill. . .it was fun. . .I drank loads of soda and ate freely. . .hence, “proud Mary.”

    Guess what. . .some of the kids come back, and they bring there own kids. . .now I know most moms would not do this, but mine acted as if she had been born again. . .she relished her second shot at parenting. . .she became the ultimate cruise director. Now, maybe this starts to fall into the grandparent category, but she was transformed. . .almost to the point that it was frightening. She planned vacations, she did activities with the adults and the grand children. . .yes, we had “Crazy Mary.”

    Okay, are you supposed to write this much on a person’s blog? Oh well. . .I have two final observations. First, it was clear that you fell the anal mom catergory, at least somewhat, because that’s the only section where you did not say what it is like for outsiders to experience it ☺ isn’t that interesting! Second. . .Holly, this is perhaps one of the funniest, coolest things I have ever read. . .I hope you are saving and compiling these blogs, because it is publishable, and just flat out awesome!

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  2. Uh... yeah. I'm going to go home, stare at my mountain of dirty laundry, bustle the youngest off to soccer practice in a flurry of complaints, chastise the eldest for not doing his homework... AGAIN, and then gripe about every bit of it.

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  3. what about the 'disorganized', 'laidback', but 'racked by guilt' mom?
    maybe that falls into the psychotic mom catagory...

    your blog is hilarious!
    --ali ward

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  4. Ah-ha Ali, that's me too! But at least you make muffins.

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