Friday, April 13, 2012

Angie and Me: The Joie of Basement Parenting

Lately I've been reminded of "revelations" by one of the nannies for the Brangie Bunch. Apparently Angelina disappears down to basement for two hours to work out while the nanny has to look after the kids. Oh fer fecks sake! 

Angie and me doing some Basement Parenting. Collage: The High Schooler

Give the woman a break! So now Angelina not only makes loadsa movies, looks fab (albeit skin a bit waxy and skinny a bit scary) keeps Brad happy (okay, okay... a problem we'd all like to have) and mothers six small kids - but now she has to be with them all the time? I only have four kids and sometimes I feel like disappearing to the basement for the whole day and just rocking back and forth -  never mind working out!

I'm no blind fan of Angelina Jolie but I'm so tired of the omnipresent whirring of the helicopter parents. Who feel that when we become parents we have to suffer, become martrys. Who perpetuate this new delusion that all hours with your precious ones are necessary hours and quality hours.

The truth is just the opposite: the time you have to yourself is even more precious and satisfying than before you had kids. There is never a more grateful and giddy moment for me than, reservations made, best frock on, I wave good night to my children as we drive away.

Surely kids are better off knowing their parents are three-dimensional beings with a life beyond them. Surely it's better to have a (slightly) rested parent who is (slightly) fresher from time away -  than an exhausted and irritable one who is there for every minute?

The fact is: there are many hours in the day when you have children. Even if you're working, even if you work out the whole day long, even if you go out every evening.

As wee mites they rise like larks at 6.30am. When mine were tiny, I would get to 10.30am and ruminate: "Golly, it's only been four hours - so why does it feel like a fucking century?"

So I don't feel any guilt in taking breaks - and yes, I get the "Slacker Mom" comments, even in jest.

A small pat on the back for me recently, though....My High Schooler was recently asked to write an essay about how he was close to his siblings.  Initially he was stumped - then inspiration! He wrote how his mother went out every night leaving him to babysit and thus bond with his younger siblings.

'That's not true - I don't go out every night" I protested (though fair dues, sometimes I do go out a lot) What did the teacher say?
My High Schooler  replied: "She said: I would love to meet your mother."

Ha! A veritable triumph of Basement Parenting!





60 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Skylarking around...one of my Dad's expressions

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  2. Ohhhh I needed this post today!!!! I want to hole up in a hotel for a week right now!!! You always make me feel less guilty and us mums need to help each other with this!!!! Love ya!

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    1. And loving the poster in your blog today...

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  3. You always have such entertaining post! I love coming to your blog!

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  4. So true!
    I was raised always looking after my younger siblings and we couldn't be closer as adults. In fact, my brothers consider me the "matriarch" of our family! As a working mom, my oldest has minded his little sister after school for the past few years and my two couldn't have a closer relationship. Win-Win!
    So yay for parents who keep themselves level by being human beings...those helicopter parents drive me batty!

    P.S. Last summer the kids went to my mother's house out of state for a month. Every.single.Saturday.night the hubs and I were out at the bars on the beach...parking tickets, dancing til all hours...it was glorious to pretend to be in our 20's and irresponsible again!

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    1. Ha! A new (great) reason to get a parking ticket!

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  5. I'm kind of glad I don't have children, as it seems to be the hardest job in the world... and not only is it the hardest job, but there is all this judgement piled on as well.
    Sx

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    1. SB: Yes, you never escape those undermining comments...

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  6. Ohhhh this is definitely pressing my buttons! We keep MEANING to go out and leave Minx in charge but when it comes down to it - we're too bloody tired to go!!! I used to be a real night bird - I'd come alive in the evenings and keep going and going and have to MAKE myself go to bed by about 4am - now I'm dead. Dead in the mornings and dead in the evenings. In between I drive, fold, stir and plod. I must make a new resolve to GET OUT!!! Before it's too late - ie before I fall asleep on the settee again.

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    1. MSG: I hear you.... though shocking how reviving that step out the door is!

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  7. Two hours of workout? I got stuck on the two hours of workout. Daily?
    Pfft.
    There goes my delusions of losing ten pounds and twenty years on ten minutes a day then...

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    1. Depends what you do in those ten mins? Maybe there is a book in this?

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  8. Alright--- I am not a parent. SO I am sure I am going to be seen as completely out of line for even having an opinion. THAT being said....

    I think mothers (and fathers!) should have identities and lives separate from their kids. They should be well rounded and multi-dimensional. AND as far as working out goes, they should be healthy and active. After all, isn't that what they want for their children?

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    1. Totally agree - surely it goes both ways!

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  9. oh i love this... and i could. not. agree. more.

    (what an awesome 'teacher reply' :))

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  10. I firmly believe happy mum happy kids

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    1. Inge: I was pondering this last night over a Mojito and a smile

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  11. Ha!! This is so funny. I'm a hop - skip - and a jump ahead of you ( kids almost finished with college ) and I can't tell you how much I can relate to this. And by the time it's all said and done, you wonder what they really remember or know of their Moms. It's SO important to have time for yourself and to feel like you are fulfilled. Loved this. Have a great weekend!

    Leslie

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    1. Leslie, I am constantly seeking the advice of parents of older kids... so great to hear this! Also judging from those glam pics of you the day with the firefighters when you jumped off that crane - whatever you've done - it works!

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  12. THANKYOU Jody! I now feel quite justified in not working out on the grounds that I might end up looking like AJ (yes, weird and waxy) if I did...*shudder*

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    1. Yes as a friend said, in my Berlin pics of her, she looks like a figure in Madame Tussauds (sp?)

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  13. Don't children always land you in the doo-doo by telling teachers what you've been up to? Though I do recall I wrote in 'My News' when I was six that my dad thought my teacher was lovely and that my mum was very cross with him.....He couldn't show his face at Parents' Evening.

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    1. More doo-doo present day ....my kids are apt to says things like" Oh yeah... wasn't that the one you said was crazy?" And the person is right behind us..

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  14. yeah........ I think if your happy they're happy.....definately works for me!!

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    1. Sorted! As I face three kids sports games today, I'm wondering if a diversion to Gap might be warranted at half time...

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  15. ha-ha, I would stay in the basement too (not working out of course) and not just for two hours..
    Sounds like you son is hilarious!
    xx
    maya

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    1. Maya - I'll be with you watching you transform some bargain shoes into YSL-like pumps with a glue gun and paint....

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    2. It's me again... Actually, since we don't have a basement I'll lock myself up in my bedroom, crawl in my bed in fetal position and will try to ignore my children fighting and quarreling.

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  16. We all like to escape, or go totally insane. What about all those exhortations to ensure we have me-time. Doesn't our Angelina get included in that, more woman??

    By the way, I tagged ya over on mine. :)

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  17. I found that I parent better after I've had some time to myself. I have more patience and am less distracted.
    It's hard to be "on" all day with kids. It's exhausting.

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  18. Hi Jody, it just seems common sense that a well-rounded mom parents better and gives their kids more inspiration...but not all mom's share that view. Love your post and I always regret that we don't live closer!

    xo Mary Jo

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    1. Thanks Mary Jo and glad to have you back from your fabulous travels!

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    2. Mary Jo, I have to steal your phrase "a well-rounded mom". It's perfect!! love it. From now on I'm referring to myself as a well-rounded mom! It describes me both literally and figuratively speaking. ha-ha-ha (I'm so funny, I crack myself up. You can tell I have no adult interaction except this blogging thingy, quite sad actually).
      xx
      maya

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  19. Parenting is hard work so time for yourselves is essential......and I may be guilty of being a bit of a helicopter with my son (first child) but hells bells on the daughter (second child) I had it sussed! and now that both have left home we are really enjoying our together time again.

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  20. Brillant! Absolutely brilliant. I cannot wait until I can leave my home alone in the evening. I go out plenty, but hate paying for the privilege. I am always a better mom after being away!!

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    1. And you have your fab new phone to call home anyway!

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  21. Great post- well said! A well rounded, happy mom is a better mom!

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  22. Helicopter moms are so irritating -- both to others and their own kids! Good thing you and your kids can be independent of each other. Your High Schooler's teacher SHOULD want to meet you -- I do! :) xo style, she wrote

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  23. LOL thats great about the teacher and what he wrote! I agree with you, we are better for our kids and as parents if we are enjoying life like we should and not feeling as if our kids are controlling our lives.

    I think you're an awesome parent for inspiring your kids, traveling the world with them, going out and meeting new people, bringing new people to your home. MORE POWER TO YOU!!

    PS My new owl tattoo is on my forearm and i have been a little nervous about showing the "other" moms and teachers and such. So I go to drop my teen stepdaughter off at a sleepover and her friend says (loud and in front of her mom) "I heard you got a tattoo, can I see it?!" Well I wore a long sleeved sweater jacket over it so it wasnt on display and now I am standing there thinking, "REALLY?!" So I tell the mom well Im not sure how you feel about tattoos but its on my arm! But she was totally cool about it!! HAHA...too bad if she wasnt...right?!

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    1. I would LOVE to have a tattoo but always too chicken...sorry about the mixed metaphors... Good on you! For sure you're a wise bird through and through (I have an owl necklace in the meantime)

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  24. i loved reading this! it's so encouraging, i never want to be an overbearing mom obsessed with her kids. i love my life and want to continue it and help them find their own lives, so this is perfect :)

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  25. Haha! I LOVE the essay topic! Leave it to the offspring to reveal one's secrets. :P

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  26. oh gosh...definitely a sentiment all Mothers can relate to! Our time to refresh is always precious. Showing our kids the fine line between giving them their space & independence yet to always be the loving & doting parent is a feat in itself. I know my teenage daughter wouldn't want me hovering her every activity...

    always an amazing post Jody, your words are always thought-pondering, your post is up at the blog...I appreciate it so much!

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    1. You have a teen? Wow, what is your secret? Thanks for having me over to your place Maureen, very fun, linked to it yesterday...

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  27. Great post, Jody. My best friend has only two small children and she tells me she simply has to leave everything (and the children with the baby sitter of course) and escape for a couple of hours from time to time because otherwise she feels she goes insane. xo
    Ada

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  28. i love this post! it's so true. we go out and don't feel guilty about it. and the truth of the matter is, sometimes our kids prefer to be with grandma and grandpa over us!

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    1. My kids always behave better with other people, just wish the grandparents were closer...

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  29. Making me laugh with your tales and insight, as usual

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  30. Oh,god am mopping up the tears of laughter from reading your blog... so glad I stopped by. AND someone else who's reached 50. YIPPEE!! xxx

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    1. Thanks for stopping by - great to meet a fellow 50-ite! Popping over to yours now...

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  31. Haha! I love how your high schooler ratted you out. It's situations like those times 4 that drive out the door so often.

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    1. Oh yes, I can always count on my kids to bust on me! (Loving your kumara recipe today, very Kiwi feeling and might have to add that to my portfolio!)

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