The Lazy River Approach to Motherhood
May 5, 2019
What impact has motherhood had on my life? I wish I could say something so profound that everyone reading would pause and say, wow, now SHE really understands what this is about. The truth of the matter is that motherhood has changed the way I view furniture. And changing the way I view furniture has […]

What impact has motherhood had on my life?

I wish I could say something so profound that everyone reading would pause and say, wow, now SHE really understands what this is about.

The truth of the matter is that motherhood has changed the way I view furniture.

And changing the way I view furniture has changed the way I view our home space, and that has changed the way I live. I now tell people that our furniture has been ‘loved,’ which is the nice way of saying that is has been destroyed by way of small energetic humans and cats with claws. My youngest recently asked me when would we get new furniture and I responded with, “Well, that depends. When do you plan on moving out?“

Motherhood has taught me to let go of how I thought my physical surroundings should look, and embrace the reality of what is. Right now our ‘what is’ is furniture that is worn and rugs that will never ever stay in their proper place. It is cabinets, drawers, and toilet seats that are always open or up. It is baseboards that will never – and I mean NEVER – be clean. I have learned to release or at least soften my notion of control and that has changed everything about the way I live and the way I show up as a mom.

It has taken me quite some time to learn that the lazy river approach to motherhood is the best approach I can take.

I used to exert so much energy in trying to make sure everything was running smoothly, feeling balanced, and in synch. I finally realized that I was forcing the balance to come, forcing the feeling of things running smoothly, and that just isn’t a sustainable model. I now approach my career and motherhood as a lazy river. If I do the work to find the right inner tube and hop in, the river will take me exactly where I need to be. If I flip that tube and try to swim against the current, I exhaust myself and quite frankly everyone around me. I no longer look for total balance because I don’t think that exists. I think looking for balance is a harmful message to continuously play in your head. Instead I try to be in tune with recognizing the feelings of having things run in a manner that leaves everyone in my family feeling fulfilled and energized.

For us, a day in the life can look one of two ways.

We are either all in synch, on time, getting along, birds are chirping, lunches are packed and nutritious, deodorant has been applied, shoes are on, underwear has been changed, teeth brushed, and all of it done before we get into the car and head to school.

OR we are late, crabby, irritated with one another, there is no underwear to be worn, shoes are mismatched, lunches are forgotten, homework discovered the morning it’s due, breakfast is something that other people do because they have the luxury of time on their side, and we’re saying things we regret 4 seconds after they have been said.

My boys are 11 and 8 and they both crave independence, yet still need guidance to help them along the path.

This is the most delicate dance and one I have not mastered as I step on toes and pull them too close or twirl too quickly and they fall to the ground. It’s navigating the emotions of puberty and still creating boundaries that will be pushed hard and knowing that the pushing hard is part of their job. I get easily annoyed with being late and my oh my have we mastered being late. So when I know we are headed down that path of tardiness I tend to show up in ways that could be viewed as less than helpful. However, for as frustrating as some mornings are there are beautiful, near perfect mornings when we are all working together toward a common goal and are successful at achieving it.

I wish someone had told me that there is no ‘there’ when it comes to parenting.

We check off milestones as if it is a testament to moving forward toward a goal but there isn’t an end point in this game. Every time we reach a ‘we are there’ moment, we look ahead and notice that right in front of us or perhaps somewhere just beyond our vision is another ‘there’ and another one and another one after that. They keep coming – when we see them through the fog of the moment we are currently in, they seem so very far away… and then BAM, we are in it and move through it and onto the next ‘there’.

It has taken me a long time to release that notion of a destination. If we can just make it through sleep training or teething, or potty training, if we hold on and make it through the middle school and the teen years,…THEN, we will have made it ‘there’. I wish I would have let all of that go early on which would have allowed me to show up and enjoy the yumminess of the ‘we are in it’ moments.

The most difficult experience of my motherhood journey has been, without a doubt, the death of my mom.

Motherhood is both the most rewarding and challenging job there is. It doesn’t come with a HR department to help us navigate the difficult moments, no place where we can go, sit down, and say, “Ummm, how the heck do I handle THIS situation?” As a result, so many of us rely on frantically texting or calling our rocks of reason, or sages of advice when we need help. My mom was my rock, my go-to for all the advice I ever wanted, and for the advice I never thought I needed, until of course I needed it. When you lose that one person who was in your corner 100% of the time, reassuring you, putting you in your place, and letting you know that everything will be ok even when it doesn’t seem like that is a possibility, it is devastating. Since her death I have often felt like I am in the ocean without an anchor, just letting the waves do what they do as I try to navigate the most beautiful and difficult of times of motherhood without my mom.

When I am with my boys I want to be fully present with them.

Dinner time is a big deal for us and not necessarily because of what we eat but because it is a value that we all eat together as a family, at the table with no electronics to distract us. Obviously my 11 year old LOVES this family experience but it is a non-negotiable to me. I grew up with a family that held strong beliefs around eating meals together and it is important that I pass this down to my children.

The notion that alcohol is the salve that is needed to ease the aches and pains of motherhood is a myth we need to stop spreading.

I believe it is a false narrative and one that harms more than it helps. There are probably no less than 62 billion memes (ok maybe a few less) that have been spread faster than the flu pandemic of 1918, that promote the notion that the ONLY way to get through a day of parenting is to know that a glass, or bottle of wine is waiting on the other side.

I know this, because for over 10 years I WAS this mom. I drank, like every other mom I knew drank, and that one glass quickly turned into three but it was ok because I had bought into the idea that drinking while parenting made parenting possible. Feeling tired? Have a glass of wine. Kids stressing you out? Goodness girl, have three, after all you earned it. Celebrating a birthday? WOW, you made it so maybe switch to vodka for this one. Mom’s night out without the kids? No limit to what you can accomplish, so dive in because you have friends who will swim with you. The list goes on and on and in the difficult and most joyous times of parenting, alcohol is always there, waiting to lend a hand to help us deal with it all.

The truth of the matter is I missed a lot of quality parenting time because I was drinking. The truth is there are a lot of moms who choose not to drink but that is not as visible as the moms who do drink. I have no emotion about whether parents drink or don’t drink but I do think that the concept of alcohol being a huge part of the parenting experience is not entirely accurate, but society positions it as the norm and so it continues to show up as the norm.

I have anxiety and mild depression, so for me it feels like the shit is hitting the fan way more than it actually is.

Perhaps I had an argument with one of my boys and now I feel tremendous guilt for my role in what went down. I will spend countless hours going over the exchange and that will turn into me knowing with 100% certainty that I have ruined my child’s life and that will turn into me believing I’m a terrible parent and that…you get the point. The struggle is to find a way to break this narrative and that isn’t an easy task. I have a few people in my life whom I reach out to and say, I’m struggling and need help and they will show up – 100% of the time they will show up. I also have a few friends who know me so well that they will reach out first and say, I sense you are struggling, what is going on right now and how can I help? I have moms in my life who are my parenting role models and I will often run situations by them to gain a fresh perspective. I am also a passionate advocate of sharing our struggles through storytelling, so I share many of my screw ups on social media as well as my blog. I do it because while I am heading down the rabbit hole of insecurity, I know that I am not alone and that other moms are experiencing the same or similar feelings.

If we all choose to show up and share the realness of motherhood, we will destigmatize the notion that as moms we should have it all together, or worse, if we don’t have it all together then we should keep the mess covered up because nobody wants to see it. I love the mess… well, let me clarify. I HATE the mess of legos left on the floor because that shit hurts BUT I love the realness that is the messiness of motherhood.

Debbie Scheer
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Based in Denver, Colorado, Debbie Scheer is a professional speaker, humorist, emcee and auctioneer whose mix of heart and humor brings an inviting energy to every event she hosts. Her magnetic presence draws in audiences and makes a room come alive with purpose, connection, and laughter.

Debbie believes in working with causes close to her heart, and much of her work is in support of nonprofits, schools, and other groups in service of their members.

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