There’s been a rash of books and articles (Newsweek, Salon) lately on how “intensive parenting” is driving women off the deep end, ruining marriages and creating spoiled kids. I have a few thoughts as an anxiety-ridden working mother in a major metropolitan area.
(1) YES, we need a national standard for daycare and we definitely need affordable part-time daycare, which doesn’t currently exist. Daycare providers, a center or a home provider, ulitimately need to make money. They make more money on full-time care than on part-time, it’s that simple.
(2) I want my mommy. I want to live closer to my extended family. Daycare is great, but sometimes you just need grandma. Unfortunately, our jobs are here and mom is there. Sucks, really.
(3) Letting your kid sleep with you is sometimes about getting some sleep yourself — even if it means being attacked every night by the twister toddler feet — instead of being about “co-sleeping.” Let’s see, would I rather rock/pace/soothe in some other way at 3am for nearly an hour or just set the kid in between us and we all go to sleep? Cause, y’know, I get sooo much more sleep if I just let her cry it out. Sure, I can sleep through that. Yep.
(4) Society trying to push women around is nothing new. Read getupgrrl’s “And The Soup Of The Day Is: It’s All Your Fault!” rant. The question is, what’s the motivation behind “intensive parenting” today?
(5) “Divorce is down, but more marrieds are unhappy because men still do squat.” Bah! Husbands do help. Mine does. He’s a true partner and all men should take notes. I wanted a partner and didn’t settle for less. Yes, there are still a lot of ego-centric little boys who can’t deal. Don’t settle. If you have one of these, tell him to grow a pair and then let and expect him to do his share. Don’t micromanage him. You picked him as a father, let him do it his way and make his own mistakes. Could we maybe learn from each other?
I’m in the middle of reading The Mommy Myth by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels and I am hearing the battle cry of “No More!” I do remember my parents being more relaxed. I remember Steeler Superbowl parties where empty beer cans were made into a pyramid. I remember hiding in the hallway watching adults party while I was supposed to be in bed. I remember watching TV most evenings. And wouldn’t you know it, I turned out OK. I got good grades in school, managed to avoid making really stupid decisions and generally have a nice life.
Last thoughts. There’s a moment that struck me more than all of these articles and books and, believe it or not, it’s from TV. When character Lynette on “Desperate Housewives” hits bottom after downing her kid’s Ritalin meds, she ends up alone on an abandoned soccer field (what better place for a down-and-out soccer mom?). Two of the other female characters track her down and Lynette says that it’s over, she can’t do the mom thing anymore. She’s terrible at it, she says. The other two chime in with how difficult things were for them and it makes Lynette stop and think. We should talk to each other more as women-who-are-also-mothers, not just talk at each other. (My name is not “Lauren’s Mom” any more than it is Mrs. Scott Blah-blah!) We all feel like we’re effing things up 90% of the time.