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  • Randi

Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Indians

Early on, I swore that my writing wouldn't be consumed by my amateur experience as a mother. Not to say that isn't worth writing about, because it is; but to be honest, it's because I am confident that I have nothing unique to share on that front. At least not yet. Not that my other posts are revolutionary, but in some small way I feel that at least I have a grasp on my own opinions. Whereas motherhood is still new, uncharted territory for me.

Growing up there was this saying, "Too many chiefs, not enough Indians." Simply implying there are too many experts/authorities on a particular matter and not enough people doing the work. The way I see it, the problem with having too many chiefs is rooted in inevitable conflict. Too many people in charge and you have yourself a power struggle. (And there's generally not that many true authorities in a situation to warrant it if you ask me. More like a overwhelming number of self-proclaiming experts blinded by their own limited experiences and prejudices.)

Well that's exactly how I see parenting blogs. More than half of these "experts" are basing their opinions solely on their own experiences and online searches (which I cannot fault them for entirely), but then passing that off as law. Especially as a new mom, when you're up at 3 am desperately researching everything you can to try and know all the things you don't. How your baby sleeps, eats, poops, and plays is determined as right or wrong depending on your source. And it's utterly exhausting. I read and heard enough to know that I knew nothing, and so I won't claim to. I dread the uncharted territories of education, social life and heaven forbid, adolescence age. Yikes.

The worst thing someone can do in a newly acquired role is allow their own expectations to get in the way. Marriage, family, careers, it all applies. The journey of experience rarely travels in the path you might expect. The best thing I've read in these parenting posts, sites, and books is that every journey is unique. What works for one, might not work for another. That's not to say that I don't have my own opinions, because if I'm one thing in this world, it's opinionated. But the difference is humility. While I might think that my way is best -- obviously, or why else would I do a certain thing a certain way? -- that doesn't mean I think I'm better than you if you do it differently. I might be the chief in my own life and mothering, but I'm not the chief in yours.

Not coincidentally, Mother's Day is tomorrow. And with it brings a mixture of feelings. Prior to becoming a mother, this holiday was hard because I don't have a close relationship with my own mother and that's a fact of life that I wish for anything could be different. But now that I am, it's a different irony of feeling loved and appreciated. I say irony because how I am loved on the surface (or in my Instagram feed) might not always be the truest reflection of how deeply I actually feel it at the end of the day.

I was talking with a new mom-friend today, trying to make light of the bleakness which most moms (especially those residing in the northeast where quarantine is still in full swing) feel. We still aren't allowed to socialize with others or go out for brunch or a pedicure tomorrow, as we might otherwise. And the weather sucks so we won't be enjoying fresh air or getting a happy dose of vitamin d. Basically we'll be stuck inside, cooking and cleaning up after everyone like we do every other day. Business as usual. And even mothers with grown children, many won't get the chance to see them, so the feeling of loneliness and isolation just takes on a new sting.

The point I guess I'm trying to make here, is that you're the fierce chief of your own life. Only you can decide how happy to be, how to parent, and which paths are worth fighting for. And let's consent to allowing others to do the same. Let us be wary of the pressures we place on ourselves, our families, and our friends, while striving to make each day (however monotonous or challenging) as beautiful as you can.


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