Wednesday, March 23, 2011

things that annoy me

Things that annoy me:

-women who refer to themselves as "mommy to ___"... especially if that is the first thing they identify themselves as. I completely understand that motherhood is a lifechanging experience, but I think the reason so many parents end up unhappy with parenting is because they forget that they (as individuals and as a couple) mattered before they gave birth. It's great that you want to give your child a good life, but it shouldn't come at the expense of your entire identity.

-the sanctimonious attitude that sometimes accompanies a woman's decision to have a natural or home birth. I think what makes it great to be a woman today is that we have choices, meaning that one woman's decision to have an epidural is just as valid as another's to avoid any medication. (For the record, I have never given birth, and my current desire for an epidural may change.) BUT, I think we should respect one another's ability to make the best decisions for ourselves and individual children. What works for one woman doesn't necessarily work for another... and to pretend otherwise is foolish.

(which leads me to another point)
-the "mommy wars" (refering to the real or imagined rift between mothers who work and mothers who stay at home) may be the reason women today are still not taken as seriously as they claim they should be. Simply put, it would be naive to imagine that someday all women would stand together on any issue, but to pit ourselves against one another won't do anyone a bit of good. If you want to go to work after having children, by all means-- I myself can imagine that I would go nuts being at home with kids all day, and would require some time away from them. (I am currently a nanny who works with two families for <20 hours a week. I love the kids I work with, but I come home exhausted.) If you want to stay home, have at it. (I envy your patience.)

My mom stayed home with my sisters and I until I was in high school, and I personally don't think she was fulfilled by it-- I think it simply made more financial sense. She didn't have a college degree at the time, and finding work in the U.S. after coming here in 1998 would not likely have produced a great income, whereas childcare for three kids can get expensive very quickly.
However, there are plenty of women who love being home with their kids, and cannot imagine leaving them with someone else for 5-9 hours a day.

What I don't understand (and therefore it annoys me) is when women act as though another woman's decision to stay at home or go to work somehow affects what is available to the first group. If another woman wants to stay home and you want to go to work (or vice versa), why does it matter to you what someone else is doing? Another woman's ability or desire to do one over the other doesn't affect your ability to make that decision for yourself. What does influence your ability to do one or the other is often finances... which requires you to work out this decision with your partner (or whoever is helping you raise your child), not focus on what other women are doing.

-my last grievance is related to all of the above... the "mommy drive-by". Why are we spending so much time and energy cutting down the decisions of parents (particularly moms) around us? Have we really lost the ability to do anything constructive? My theory is this: since parents (specifically moms) spend so much more of their time and energy on their kids today, they want to make sure it's worth it. And since that won't be seen until said kids graduate college (or get married, or have kids, or whatever), the most they can do right now is to compare themselves with the parents around them. And since nothing makes you feel more superior (or at least less crappy about the job you're doing as a mom) as finding someone who is doing a worse job, we spend all of our free time and energy focusing on those who make us feel like we're not complete muckups as parents.

The solution? Love your kids, but don't let them be your world. If you're working on something other than parenting, you'll have a lot more to be proud of... and you'll feel less pressure to be the perfect parent.

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