One day, last winter, I was wearing a sweatshirt from college around the house. It was just a gray hooded pullover with “UCD” in blue letters. My husband looked at me and started laughing. When I asked him what was so funny (it obviously wasn’t the first time he’d seen it), he replied, “With your hair covering up part of the U, it looks like your sweatshirt says ‘OCD’ instead.”
It was a lighthearted coincidence but I started paying attention to what I was doing daily. I actually was a little OCD. Everything had its proper place. When I fed the baby, I meticulously cut the bread and fruit and cheese into small, neat squares (or similar bite-sized pieces) with near-surgical precision. My husband, on the other hand, will happily tear the bread and cheese into small pieces by hand. And I realized, while it wasn’t an altogether bad thing, that I had become one of “those moms.” You know the ones: archetypes utilized in sitcoms and tv shows to depict a mother who gets the job done yet somehow manages to be the bane of her family’s existence because she’s too protective or strict or overbearing or distracted or busy or something else…
No, I’m not about to whine about how life’s so hard for parents of the 21st century, always trying to find balance in the Force with our kids. I’ll save that for later. This is a matter of not fearing the Dark Side of stereotypes and learning to understand them.
The Pretty Pink (Warrior) Princess Mom
I hated the color pink. Pink was the color of the popular girls, the ones trying too hard to be status quo, adherents of celebrity magazine propaganda. No, I was a unique snowflake entrenched in social guerrilla warfare. I was no girly-girl. I was a tomboy, a nerd. I’m not going to be some helpless princess trapped in a castle– I can do the saving of the world myself, thank you. And this blaster aimed at your face will make you think twice about putting me in that frilly dress with satin ribbons.
Needless to say, forming an opinion of a color and ideal solely based on my bad days at school was quite stupid. As Xena and Leia and countless other heroines will have you know, there’s a difference between “frilly, dainty girly frou-frou” and true femininity. And even if one (or many) person says that she thinks pink and lace and other such things define femininity, then that’s her prerogative. But before I go off on a whole other tangent about motherhood and femininity, let’s get back to the topic at hand. Point of the matter is this: There is much room for compromise and definition in a very large and mostly undefined subject.
Something my sister in law had asked me while I was pregnant was the idea of a color scheme for my daughter. I initially balked at the idea of Pepto Bismol pink everywhere, saturating the walls and closets. Then I stepped into a Carter’s store for the first time. My brain immediately became color-blind and honed in on one single thing: CUTENESS. It didn’t matter if the onesie was white or pink or blue. The moment I laid eyes on the smiling faces of ladybugs, bumblebees, bunnies and kittens that adorned many a footie pajama and outfit, I was sold. By the time I got home, I had an assortment of pinks and yellows and purples and greens all neatly folded away into the drawers.
The lesson I learned was that I shouldn’t let the trauma of my grade school bullying reign over my life. My daughter has the rest of her life to figure out exactly what kind of a girl she wants to be and if it so happens that she wants to be Princess Aurora instead of Princess Peach, I can’t say anything about it. It’s not my place to dictate that. I’ve come to embrace and even appreciate the pink around the house. And here’s a secret for you: I own a dusky rose-colored top, adorned with a flower, no less. See, I’ve come a long way.
The Drill Sergeant Mom
Perhaps “drill sergeant” is a bit of hyperbole. But with all of the details that I’ve discovered in the deceptively ‘simple’ task of going out with a baby in tow… I do run a tight ship and make sure everything happens in a timely fashion. I didn’t think I’d be telling people what to do. In fact, I didn’t want to. I don’t want my kid and husband dreading every outing because it meant me barking orders at them. I wanted to be accommodating and flexible; I wanted them do things on their own without me having to aggressively hint and suggest that we be going now. I was to be peacekeeper, benevolent and wise.
Unfortunately, I am also quite a stickler when it comes to punctuality. I try my damnedest to be on time, though I often underestimate the amount of time it takes for something to get done and I get delayed. Anyway… It frustrates me to no end when I don’t have a plan of some sort to follow. I don’t need minute-to-minute details– I’m not quite that OCD. But I need an outline in the very least. If nothing else, I am an engine of efficiency (on a good day) where multiple things get done, one step at a time.
The important lesson I’m learning here is that everyone won’t and can’t follow my lead. My way of doing things isn’t the only way of doing things (even if I think it’s the right way). If things get done in a timely fashion, what’s there to complain about?
There is No Ignorance, Only Knowledge
As any true Jedi will tell you, staying on the path of the Light isn’t just about resisting the temptations and allure of the Dark Side. One must understand and know the Dark Side in order to maintain the path. After all, the first step in becoming a better person is recognizing the problem spots and flaws, as opposed to denying their existence.
So what if I’m a little OCD? My husband is laid-back enough for both of us, though that doesn’t keep him from telling me to relax a little (and I’m trying… I really am). He has his strengths while I have mine. Together, we’re going to raise our budding Padawan into someone who has a grasp of balance or, at least, a better sense of balance.