Mommy Freaking Madness

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.

2 Responses to “Mommy Freaking Madness”

  1. So, yeah… I just see so many people stressing out about being the ‘perfect mom’ and wonder where the he** that came from. And I DO wonder about the motivations of those child psychologists who push mothers back into the paranoid mode of mothering…

    One commentator said that liberal psychologists are worse, in some ways, than conservatives, because they’re the ones that advocate overnurturing, while the conservatives believe in letting the child learn a bit from the school of hard knocks. I dunno if that’s true or not, but I do think the whole UberMommy thing threatens to reduce women back to the role of womb and feeding apparatus, which seems pretty retro to me.

    Nice to know, though, that educators 100 years ago were warning mothers not to give their kids teddy bears…

    I think it’s pretty sad that kids today are so overscheduled . overprotected that they don’t have the time (or the freedom, thanks to paranoid fears about child abduction) to go play in the woods or streams or wild places I played in as a child. Those spots, I’m sure, would be regarded as too ‘dangerous’ for a 10-year-old to be by herself, now.

    And I know I ranted to you about visiting my friend P., and finding that, after 15 years of not being in contact, she is so consumed by her role as Mommy that she can’t even find time to KNIT! Gawd’s Teeth, woman, our GRANDMOTHERS found time to knit, and they had more kids than today’s average! You take your knitting to the doctor’s office, or hockey practice, or whatever, so you have something to DO to keep you from strangling everyone!

    It’s disgusting that she’s so brainwashed by society / her church / etc. that she hadn’t even had ONE long soak in the soaking tub in her new house, after living there for two or three months already… But the kids bathe in it regularly.

    Ok, I’m ranting about that again, and on your blog, sorry. But it steams me that she doesn’t know how to take time out for herself…

    I’m SO glad you’re not doing that! Because if you didn’t, I’d have to hurt you… {g}

  2. Mara, you are my link back to sanity. You remind me what it was like pre-baby, and you also remind me often of what was important to me then — the decisions I made then that sometimes I waiver on now.

    For instance, when I waiver on using daycare, you remind me of how even Hunter/Gatherers had grandmothers and other women who helped with childcare. Just try to imagine a H/G woman taking an 18 month old out foraging for nuts and berries, let alone hunting small animals.

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