Posted by: Jamie Stamm | September 25, 2008

I’m not a conformist

There are times when I feel like I don’t fit into this whole stay-at-home-mom world.

Like today, when I took Anthony to the season’s first story time at the library. It started off well enough, with moms and toddlers scattered about the reading room, sharing books together as we all waited for the program to start. Anthony immediately pulled a “Thomas the Tank Engine” book off the shelf and we settled in on the carpet.

But then the librarian pushed start on her CD player and the kids and moms all popped up for Raffi’s “Shake My Sillies Out” – and I was clueless. I’d never heard this song before (I only know what it is now because I Googled it when we got home). So I did my best to mimic the other moms (from my seated position on the floor – I wasn’t ready for an audience), not that the lyrics or movements were hard to pick up. And since Anthony had no interest whatsoever in shaking out his sillies, I didn’t feel like my lack of knowledge – or my lack of enthusiasm – were holding him back.

Things got better when the librarian picked up the first book, a story about a farm that she made interactive by asking the children to call out the names of animals they saw and then make animal sounds. Anthony animatedly yelled “cow” and “duck” and joined the other toddlers in a chorus of “baas” and “neighs.” Next there was a poem using a cloth storyboard – also quite entertaining and a big hit with my boy.

But then came the music again: The Wiggles’ “Hot Potato,” followed by “Rock A Bye Bear” (the former was again brand new to me; the latter I had heard before on The Disney Channel). And these moms – and many of the kids – knew every word to the songs and every motion to the dances.

That led me to wonder if there might be a stay-at-home-mom manual that I somehow missed – you know, a book filled with lyrics and movements that I’m supposed to memorize and then pass on to my toddler.  Have I fallen behind in the SAHM world because Anthony and I never went to Mommy and Me or signed up for classes at The Little Gym? Did I accidentally walk into a meeting of the Stepford Moms?

Here’s the problem: I would rather pull out my hair strand by strand than listen to Raffi or the Wiggles. They just strike me as so saccharin. And Jerry and I are not into sugar – we banned baby talk before Cera was born and agreed that shows like “Barney and Friends” and “The Teletubbies” would never appear on our television.

Does that mean we’re bad parents or that we’re depriving our kids of important parts of their childhoods? I don’t think so. We still listen to children’s music – I easily have two dozen kids’ CDs in my car – but we opt for artists like Justin Roberts or Ralph’s World whose lyrics are smart and amusing enough for adults to enjoy as well. And we let our kids watch cartoons with educational components, like “Dora the Explorer” or “Little Einsteins,” but we also mix in nature shows and – especially in Anthony’s case – sports whenever we can.

My point is that I feel like I can be a good SAHM without becoming a zombie. (Seriously, the whole library thing really freaked me out – I was the only mom in the room who seemed clueless. And I have a feeling that didn’t go unnoticed.) That doesn’t mean that I won’t stand up and dance to the Wiggles with my son next week if he wants me to. And if you check back with me in three weeks, I’m sure I will have learned the words to all the story time songs simply through absorption.

But I will not allow myself to become a complete Stepford Mom either. That I can promise you.

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Responses

  1. My first Storytime was the same way! In a few weeks, you’ll get he songs and you’ll feel sorry for the new mom’s that aren’t quite so sure of the words. I have to remind myself sometimes that all of this is for my child even if I’m out of my comfort zone. As for music and tv shows, every parent and child has different preferences, so make sure that you’re not limiting your children to only what you like.

  2. great article!

    TODDLER BOOKS


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