Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mommy Madness

"Newsweek" published an article in their Feb. 21, 2005 issue about the myth of the perfect mother. The article was written by Judith Warner who has written a book about the subject. The gist of the article is about how women are losing themselves in their desperate attempts to be the perfect mother. They are sacrificing sleep and self to motherhood. And it isn't good.

Ughh...how often have I looked at myself and wondered how and the hell I got here? This was not how it was supposed to be.

Why do so many otherwise competent and self-aware women lose themselves
they become mothers? Why do so many of us feel so out of
control? And-the biggest question of all-why has this generation of
mothers, arguably the most liberated and privlieged group of women America
ever seen, driven themselves crazy in the quest for perfect
mommy-dom? -Questions posed by Wagner

I dunno. When I was in high school, my plans included everything. I was taught I could have it all. Great career, family, nice house in the suburbs. No one mentioned the price. I made the choice to get married and have children rather than pursuing a career. I had my chance, I was 27 when I got married, but such was not my fate.I worked full time up until Nov. 2001 when I was laid off from my job as an executive assistant. At the time, I was thrilled. Gone would be the stress of being a working mom and I could spend time on my writing. Sigh.... The reality was far different.

There is an expectation to be a great mom, and to do it alone. Wagner points out that this generation of women have been bred to be independent and self-sufficient. I have to admit feeling that it is my lot to do this myself. I gave birth to these children, damnit, I should be the one to shoulder the burden. I've always been proud of my ability to balance home and family. I even finished a book in less than 4 mos. While I still think I did well, I also believe I was burning the candle at both ends.

And that is where I am at right now. I've been so busy trying to be June Cleaver, I've negleted the core of my being. I'm a writer and a good one. I love to write, but I have to admit, after a day of fighting with the kids, running them to school, practices, cleaning the house, cooking, getting the kids to bed, etc., I'm physically, mentally, and emotionally too exhausted to write. Lately, I've found myself dissolving into a puddle of tears because I see no way out.

Husbands do not understand. He has his own pressures. He is a very busy lawyer with a thriving practice. With the state of California real estate, he is hopping with business. While it is a good thing economically for us, it creates its own pressures for him. He can not understand the strain I'm under. We have the opposite problems: he deals with adults all day and wants to spend time with the kids, I spend all my time with kids and would love to talk to adults. Another issue is the way our roles have changed since I quit working. I am the traditional mother from the 1950's. I cook, clean and care for the children. I do the grocery shopping and the many miniscule errands that fill a day. It was an insidious transformation in our family and I did nothing to stop it.

Now what do I do? Not sure. Wagner's solutions seemed to focus on women who work outside the home, providing economic solutions so families wouldn't have to work so hard. But I think the problem is deeper. I believe we live in a society that glorifies perfection in everything, motherhood being no different. We have to be the best. Hell, you should see what soccer moms do when its their turn for snack. Who has the best goody bags at a birthday party. I'm still glowing because my daughter's 5th birthday party was a roaring success. Oh yeah, gotta impress those five year olds.

What's funny is when we distressed souls find each other. A mother from my daughter's class said "hey, you're like me," because I too was dissatisfied with my lot in life. In a couple of years the heat will ease because all of my kids will be in school. I will not spend as much time cleaning (I better not) and the kids can take more responsibility around the house. But it is still not the life I wanted. My aunt recently told me how "touched" she was because my daughter wanted to grow up and be a mom just like her mom. I wanted to scream "NO." Why do you want that for her? I would hate to see my child become what I have become. I want her to have dreams that remain unstifled. I want her to pursue life with a fervor I no longer have. I want her to enjoy the freedom I forfeited.

No comments: