I’ve read some pretty good commentary on it lately, including this note about how we’re pitting moms against each other for all the wrong reasons:
But, don’t fret, you will still wear the scarlet ‘M’ on your sweater. Because god forbid you need to take time off with a sick child, or need to leave right on time to pick your baby up from day care – that establishment to which you pay more than your mortgage. You can be a professional and you can be a mother, but if you show any hint of the former you’re probably going to be viewed as the company’s weakness.
Seriously. We paid the same in daycare as we did in mortgage last year. That’s horrifying. And even though I work for a company that has tried very hard to help me navigate challenging pregnancies, bedrest, sick kids and a weird schedule, it’s absolutely true that I always feel paranoid that my parenting is going to ruin my career, or that my career is going to ruin my parenting.
I don’t need Time magazine to help me with that.
And I loved this essay by Pulitzer-winning columnist Connie Schultz about how, in retrospect, we’ll just be glad our kids are fine:
Launching your chicks into the world gives you the opportunity to look back at the nest you built for them. You can appraise yourself more gently because you know the outcome. With some sheepishness — but also a good deal of relief — you realize you weren’t so bad after all.
I used to feel guilty that I hated board games and sometimes fell asleep next to my children in the middle of reading a bedtime story. Not once has either of them ever turned to me and said, “You know, Mom, if you’d played Monopoly with me, I’d be a bank president by now.” Or, “To this day, Mom, I’m worried that Runaway Bunny never found his way home.” We all moved on.
I haven’t fallen asleep during storytime lately. But the other day I did fall asleep folding laundry, which is both pathetic and depressing. I’ve also fallen asleep before when pumping at work, which is just plain disturbing.
Philip and I have no idea if we’re doing anything right with our kids. Every day my goal is to try to enjoy being with them, not stress about work too much — I mean, what can I do, right? — spend time having dinner together, playing outside and reading together. Oh, and lately trying to force Jack to eat one bite of a fruit and one bite of a vegetable at dinner.
Beyond that? Well, keep the house if not clean at least not infested. Make time to exercise so my kids see that as a normal part of life, and so I don’t go crazy. Try to get out with my husband every six months for dinner — alone — where nobody throws food on the floor or cries or needs me to wipe their butt in the middle of it.
I don’t think my kids care about attachment parenting. Or how long I nursed them. Or that I make them sleep in their own beds, usually. They do care about sitting on my lap, about going to the library, about blowing bubbles on the front porch on a spring evening.
And when I think of my parenting friends, I don’t care if they co-sleep, nurse their dogs or whatever. Instead, I am forever grateful when one of them admits to doing something ridiculous. Like never ever cleaning the microwave out. Or throwing a towel over peed-on sheets at 3 a.m. because you just can’t take changing them in the middle of the night. I love when they admit that good enough is good enough.
Jack and Viv seem to think we’re all doing fine. At least that’s what I tell myself. Besides, it’s going to be so freakin’ hard when they’re teenagers. I’m just not going to freak out until then.
(Edited to add: OK, OK, I do have a comment on the Time cover. I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding. That’s no secret. But I hate this cover. Not because she has on skinny jeans, and that makes me feel fat. Not because her kid is older. Not for any of the reasons others might hate it. But because WHO nurses a kid standing on a chair? Nobody. That’s who. I hate it because it’s fake, and posed, and awkward. I don’t care if you nurse your kid in public until the kid is 12, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be doing it that way. I did nurse kids while standing up — and walking around because please, life doesn’t just stop when you have to feed the baby, not with the second one, anyway). But if you want to show that, then show a harried mom, trying to pull up a toddler’s pants while holding an infant attached to her chest. THAT is more realistic. Or show mom sitting in a comfy chair or on the bed, in the quiet moments that make up nursing. That’s realistic. Or at 3 a.m., laying in bed, wishing the baby would just maybe go back to sleep … just this once … without nursing. That’s also pretty realistic. Or crying when returning the rental pump, so terribly sad — yet glad — that being the boob is OVER. That’s pretty realistic, too. But that photo? Just weird.)