I am an American mom

What does it mean to be an American Mom? It is defined by all of the things I don’t do as much as those that I do. I don’t make apple pie. I don’t stay at home. I don’t co-sleep (though I tried). I don’t take my kids with me when I run (I bought and sold a jogging stroller within a week when I realized how much I cherish running alone). I don’t maintain a spotless home (far from it). I don’t always say yes to my kids, but I don’t always say no.

American mothers are as diverse as American neighborhoods, towns and cities. We represent all colors, shapes and sizes. We have diverse religious and spiritual practices. We even become mothers differently, opting for home vs hospital birth, attended by midwives or obstetrics, adoption or foster care. And yet the commonalities that all mothers share are powerful and present in our daily lives, and those of course are the children who make us moms.

Much of my reflection on motherhood and culture involves non-parenting work related issues. Since my first child was born 4 ½ years ago, I have worked full time, part time and no time to varying degrees. I sometimes long for the easier schedule of a part time job, but when I was employed in such a position, I found it challenging to make it work for my family financially. My career requires commitment, and anything worth committing to requires time, energy, and presence. So do children. Since becoming a working mom, one of my biggest challenges is getting out the door in the morning, bags packed, coffee travel mug in hand, cell phone charged, teeth brushed. Mornings in my house are not all sunshine and smiles, but they do always include a good breakfast, a hug and high praise for getting socks and shoes on in a more-or-less speedy manner. The drop-off involves more hugs during tense but special minutes where we say goodbye and each go our separate ways.

At the end of the day, reunions are bittersweet. Sometimes the boys are thrilled to see me, running up to greet me, pulling me toward the car. Other afternoons they long to stay and play, tumbling on the playground and laughing with their friends. Then it’s me that has to drag them home.

I am fortunate to live in a progressive and beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest where planning one’s family is not perceived as anti-life, but is the right thing to do. Breastfeeding my babies in public is not only accepted, it’s encouraged! Buying and serving locally sourced, healthy, organic food is easy and convenient due to fantastic local supermarkets and farmers markets. Many parents in my city commute by bike, and tagalong bicycles and bike trailers abound. For my eldest’s first birthday, his dad gave him a bike helmet that covered his whole head. We are able to get to the coast in 90 minutes, and we often have miles of breathtaking, rocky shore all to ourselves. I don’t ski, but if I did, I could drive less than an hour to reach the soft white stuff. My almost five-year-old is going to take snowboarding lessons this winter, and people won’t wonder why on earth we’d sign him up for such a sport.

Growing up in a very different part of the country, I was parented by a stay-at-home mom and a frequently traveling father for several years. While raising three girls age five and under, my mother took classes and completed a Master’s degree. She reentered the workforce when I was about ten or so, but managed to maintain a schedule where she came home when we did. We lived in a safe, friendly suburb located outside of the nation’s capitol. From an early age, my sisters and I developed a strong sense of democracy and political processes given our proximity to Washington and my parents’ educational style. Far outside the Beltway, our attention is now more focused on local and regional news and decision-making, and I sometimes miss the national experience.

But I am happy to be raising my own family in the western part of America, and for being an American mom. My children have opportunities unknown to many children both in the United States and internationally. As we enter this month of November, and celebrate Thanksgiving later in the month, I reflect on all that we have today, and give thanks. I am grateful to be an American Mom.

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20 thoughts on “I am an American mom

  1. While our patenting style vary from our parents it’s good to remember and cherish memories from our childhood.

  2. Galit Breen says:

    I love your focus on how very lucky we are to mother (and parent and just be) who we are.

  3. Jennifer Burden says:

    Sara,

    Yes, so important to point out that just because we’re American moms, doesn’t mean that we are the same — eventhough we might perceived as one stereotype or another in the world, we are all so different!! Thank you for taking us into your Pacific Northwest motherhood experience!

    And, thank you for joining the World Moms Blog Link Up!

    By the way, you have to add this in the HTML page at the bottom of your post to get the World Moms Blog Link Up button!

    Thanks! 🙂

    Jen 🙂

  4. Jennifer Burden says:

    Oh, wait! I see you tried to add it in your left column. I think it’s working now… check the code on our “Grab Buttons” page. I tried to copy it in for you in my last message, but it disappeared!

    Jen 🙂

  5. Sara,

    Where to start? I love the sunshine and salad – two of my most favourite things. Second paragraph of this post says it all for me too, only replace the American mothers with Australian mothers.
    Boys, working mums, trying to do everything, writing – I hear you on each and everyone one of these topics
    Lastly, Portland – I love this city. I spent three months there when I was 15 (my grandparents lived there and I also had some amazing times in Mollala and met some great people) and then I went back in 2005 shortly before my grandfather died.

    Love your site (because I also like sunflowers) great post 🙂

  6. Mama B says:

    We all have commonalities as mothers no matter where we are from. So it’s true our lifestyles. choices, methods may differ but our goal is essentially one. We’re all driven by the need to keep our children safe and give them the tools to live good lives. Enjoyed this post a lot.

  7. Great post, Sara. You nailed it when you say we all come into motherhood differently, we all handle motherhood differently but our commonalities are that children make us mothers.

    It sounds like your children have a wonderful childhood!

  8. Great post! What’s funny is these days I don’t think there are that many true SAHM’s… most I know are “working” (that is doing something outside of the care of their children/home) in some fashion part-time, on call, once a month to retain their certification, volunteering numerous hours, full-time, etc. I often ask any friend who is a SAHM feeling frustrated at home “what are you doing for enrichment in your own life?” because it is so important for our children to see us learning, growing, making mistakes, working, etc.

  9. From one working mom to another, I love this post! It’s so genuine and I agree with the commonality that are our children.

  10. srinfreschi says:

    I totally relate to what you wrote! I could have written the same post and replaced American mothers with South African mothers! I always tended to judge myself really harshly for having had to work through most of my chilldren’s milestones. I’m also not your bake, sew, craft type of mom. However I now have two terrific teens, so I must have done something right! 🙂

  11. Wow, such a great post. I said some of the same things, but really not as well as you did. Really enjoyed reading this!

  12. Oh, and I live in the Pacific Northwest too!

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