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Perfect Madness - Another motherhood post 
27th-Jul-2005 06:01 pm
Me with pink lips!
I've only just begun reading Perfect Madness Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner, and already I am feeling better about everything I've done as a mom. If you are a parent, are going to become one, or ever plan on becomming one in the future, I think it's REALLY important for your sanity to read this book. With an infant you've probably only had just a taste of the insanity that is motherhood here in America, but every year your child ages, you are more and more influenced by a standard of perfection that you will never reach, and will beat yourself up over and drive your children mad in the process of trying anyway.

It's almost like I wrote this book. It's everything I've ever bitched and complained about in this very journal, bound up with a hard cover. I never lived in another country to be able to compare though, but deep down I know that the majority of mothers aren't happy with making their children their entire existences, and those who say they are haven't had enough time to really sit down and figure out why they are generally unhappy as a whole, why their husbands don't excite them and why they're no longer excited by their husbands. It's almost as though when you become a mother you're asked to check your personality and individuality at the door. When it doesn't HAVE to be that way, no matter how wrong society says you are. SOCIETY IS WRONG. You don't have to be self-sacrificing over every little thing. You don't have to entertain them constantly to the point where they can't even play outside without having you there to structure their activity. I'm not referring to mom's of babies or toddlers, who actually need constant adult supervision when I say that they should be able to play outside all alone. But even with children that small, there is nothing wrong with sitting them down on the floor or in their playpens with their toys to play by themselves for as long as they can (which isn't much).

There's no reason for any of us to feel guilty for wanting more out of life. There's no reason for us to feel guilty for wanting to read a book, hop on to the internet, ask our children to be quiet for a while and watch a movie or TV show while we daydream for a few. Your house doesn't HAVE to be spotless, as long as you're happy living in it. It's no wonder so many people are choosing NOT to have kids. Look what it turns so many women into. I know a lot of you/us aren't like that, but it doesn't mean we don't feel the guilt or question ourselves. But I won't anymore. I have come to realize it will be a LONG time before I find a mom who thinks like me to go hang out with once in a while, and that not having any friends (mother-friends) is better than having ones who are brainwashed or in denial about who they are.

Public service message #10283409
27th-Jul-2005 10:30 pm (UTC)
I'm not a mom yet, but I know that when I am it will definitely change my life. Although, I will not allow myself to get like alot of mothers out there that are just miserable and take it out on their children. I am not putting them down, but I just can't see myself turning that way. I can imagine it is hard though, just by seeing what my cousin goes through..but she's a whole 'nother story. There's no discipline in that family....:/

I will go out and get this book though...just so that I can prepare myself!! Oh and I think you are an AWESOME mom...and fun. :)
28th-Jul-2005 12:15 am (UTC)
Amen. You are wonderful for writing that :). I think I'll check that book out myself.
29th-Jul-2005 12:49 am (UTC)
You write things that I would love to be able to express. Thank you for writing this! I'll definitely have to check that book out.
30th-Jul-2005 01:06 pm (UTC)
hey there.... I came across this post by way of your yesterday's Friday FU. I'm due right about the same time as sfogliatella, and I was curious to know what sparked the post. I ran across that book when I was shopping for Tina's shower the other day. I was curious, but wasn't in the mood at that point to pick up a book that might even *possibly* discuss how we can "be better moms in today's crazy mixed up world." So I skipped it for the time being. Now that I know more, I'll have to check it out some time. Thanks for the review!! :)

And thanks, too, for the gatorade tip!! Tina and I have had VERY different pregnancies. I felt AWFUL she was so sick all the time.... I didn't have near the nausea, but I remembered one of her friends saying it helped, and I was SO SICK of water at that point!! So the gatorade was a good alternative and made me feel a little better too!!!

31st-Jul-2005 12:33 pm (UTC)
Hi there! I'm glad the Gatorade helped :) My FU post was spawned by my all-month feeling of contempt for the way mothers seem to be against each other and constantly expecting perfection, not only from themselves but each other as well. It might not seem like it now for you or Tina since you're still pregnant (I don't know if you have any other children, but if you do I'm sure you can relate). If not, you don't realize you've fallen into trying to be just like all the other moms until you find yourself frustrated at how you can't seem to do anything "right".

I've been put down for a lot of things from other mothers who have some contrived idea of how a mother should be, and how she should hand over her own personality and identity to be "mom" when there's no need for it. Being yourself doesn't make anyone less of a good mother. And smothering your child with constant attention leaves them with the inability to entertain themselves, plus leaves you no time for yourself. And other moms will tell you, "you're not supposed to get time for yourself" but that's such crap. You're still a human being and making yourself second-class doesn't make you a better mom, it makes you less of a person.

I'm just fed up with listening to moms compete with each other on the sly. It starts with them sizing you up, "did you breastfeed?" or they wonder if you circumcized your son. Then it's strollers, diaper bags, and moves into how many play groups your child is a part of, if you take them to story time, how much TV you let them watch. It's amazing, and pisses me off. The more I read this book, the more I wish I had the power to change the way things are, but I don't. It's interwoven so finely that you can't tell until you really sit down and think about it. So when the time comes for you, make sure you find the time. It seeps in during infancy, but it's really noticable when your baby starts being more independent, walking and such and you network out to other moms. It's almost like teen angst, fitting in or going against the grain of society. That's how I feel anyway. I'll have a full on book report when I'm done with this book. It doesn't teach you how to be a better mom, it begs you not to lose yourself in motherhood.

Thanks for stopping in :D
31st-Jul-2005 03:23 pm (UTC)
"smothering your child with constant attention leaves them with the inability to entertain themselves, plus leaves you no time for yourself. And other moms will tell you, "you're not supposed to get time for yourself" but that's such crap. You're still a human being and making yourself second-class doesn't make you a better mom, it makes you less of a person. I'm just fed up with listening to moms compete with each other on the sly."

*grin*.... I couldn't agree more. So far, I've only met one other mother that I suspect might fall into this category.... an acquaintance at work. The Nazi Mom who, when she was pregnant, NEVER ate ANY tuna fish and NEVER drank ANY caffeine, blah blah blah.... whatever. I see what I term The June Cleaver Streak more and more as time goes on..... that striving for perfection that comes from our mothers and the media and... and... and.... Now don't get me wrong.... I absolutely have one of these streaks. And June can be useful for things like feather-smoothing and making guests feel at home. The good thing is, at least I know she's *there.* And I try to keep an eye out and recognize that sometimes she gets out of hand and has to be locked in a closet till she backs off a bit. ;) It's a start, anyway.

For now I think June will be my biggest issue. I never have liked competing for things.... seems like there's more important things to worry about.

In other news: I enjoy Joaquin Phoenix, and have a healthy respect for sarcasm. I like reptiles and love to read. And while I'm not looking to "collect" LJ friends, I may stop in again, and/or add you to the friends list. Seems like we might have some things in common. You can drop by and decide for yourself. Or not. :) In the meantime, hang in there..... we only have a few weeks left!!!!

2nd-Sep-2008 01:42 pm (UTC)
Wow. I came here looking for icons and instead got a much-needed pep talk. I know where you're coming from and I struggle with some of this stuff myself.

Thank you for posting this, and thanks for the book rec. :)
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