Thursday, February 17, 2005

Incoherent Thoughts on "Mommy Madness"

Since I am about as timely as a quarterly science journal and others have already spilled quite a bit of virtual ink over it, I feel a little sheepish writing about the Newsweek article "Mommy Madness" by Judith Warner. I decided, though, that I wouldn't read too many other blog entries about the article until I'd written my own.

In case you haven't read the article (an excerpt from Warner's new book, Perfect Madness), Warner writes that modern mothers are overwhelmed, stressed out, frenetic, guilt-ridden, and isolated:

Instead of blaming society, moms today tend to blame themselves. They say they've chosen poorly. And so they take on the Herculean task of being absolutely everything to their children, simply because no one else is doing anything at all to help them. Because if they don't perform magical acts of perfect Mommy ministrations, their kids might fall through the cracks and end up as losers in our hard-driving winner-take-all society.

I had two reactions, one macro-size and, typically, one me-centric.

First, other than a token sentence, the article focuses on upper-middle-class mothers who are privileged enough to be in a position to choose between working and staying at home, to shuttle their children around to a million activities, to channel their ambition and drive into creating perfect children. I am part of this class, but my sympathy for this conundrum is thin. What about women whose socioeconomic status precludes this luxury of too many parenting choices? What about mothers who must work to pay for frivolities such as housing and food and can afford only tenuous, unreliable, or substandard daycare?

Now for the micro-reaction: Is this what I have to look forward to? I don't know any mothers of kids my age in my town, so I can't gauge whether the mothers described in this article are typical of those in my area. I think I have a pretty level-headed perspective about this right now, but maybe that will change once I begin staying home with the kids. And who knows what transformation might occur once the kids start school? Maybe I'll morph into someone like the mother Warner describes, hysterical over the heartache and stress involved with coordinating her child's class party.

No, probably not. I really did take Einstein Never Used Flashcards to heart.

Now that I'm done writing, I've checked out a few other posts about this article. If you're interested in some actually enlightening discussions (as opposed to my unfocused ramblings), check out the exchanges at Half Changed World, Purple Elephants Corner, and Geeky Mom.