Monday, May 4, 2009

Wisdom: Anna Quindlen on motherhood being a job

If you haven't read my book, The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide, one of the main points I make in it is that being a parent, and especially a stay-at-home mom, can be a wonderful, yet challengingly life-altering experience.

That's real life. Unfortunately, the societal perception and promotion of parenthood is that becoming a mom or dad is among the best and most satisfying things a person can do in his or her life. When the bar is set that high, the parent who doesn't feel blessed, satisfied and joyous every moment she's caring for kids often feels like a failure or a freak. Anna Quindlen's Newsweek column from April 27, 2009, confirmed that my observations and experiences, and those of the dozens of women who participated in the book, are so on the mark.

"Parenting is a much more separate, solitary activity than it used to be," says Harold S. Koplewicz, director of the New York University Child Study Center. Echoing that statement, Quindlen notes, "It used to take a village to raise a child, but there isn't a village anymore. Instead of extended family, there's a playground where everyone pretends everything's fine, and a computer screen behind which women can say, under cover of mommy blogs, 'How come this is so hard for me?'" (Ed Note: I wish I was undercover sometimes, but the book has forced me to be on the record.)

Quindlen ends her column with the following declaration:
"It can be a great job, motherhood, but it would be nice if everyone could be more honest about how overwhelming the job can be, and more willing to find ways to support and inform the people who are trying to do it."
I totally agree. How about you?


Mom of Mia said...

That's exactly what I liked about your book. It was honest and you and the women in the book help other moms realize it is hard, and it's OK to admit that being a mom is hard and sometimes you just don't enjoy it. I like Anna Quindlin. She gets it.

Stephanie said...

Yes, I agree as well. As Mom of Mia mentioned, your book does an excellent job of summarizing the reasons behind, and solutions for, the immense challenges of parenting.

It is hard finding support - especially when families are likely to live very far from each other. Sometimes I wish for the 'family home' where everyone in the family, from grandparents to babies, live together and support one another.

Lucy said...

I agree with the other comments. I do think it take a village to raise children, not just for the children, but for the parents. Having one SAH mom being responsible for everything about the kids can be too much. Even two parents means the only way one parent can get a break is for the other to care for all the children. It's really tough when you have more than one child. Maybe children really need 3 active parents, so when parents 1 and 2 burn out a relief parent can step in.

Lucy said...

I just saw the Brad Pitt picture on this blog. I nominate Brad Pitt to be the 3rd parent in my house. For the kids, of course. Not me :)

Stephanie said...

Yes! 3 parents would be so nice - but I'd opt for a wife over Brad Pitt. I think those ladies over at the Yearning for Zion Ranch might be on to something. How great would it be to have round-the-clock female support (minus the sharing the husband bit)?!

The need for support also got me thinking about single moms - though this might not be related to SAHM stuff per se (though depending upon the circumstances, it might...). But I heard about a group that helps single moms find housemates and affordable housing. The idea is that two single moms raising kids together can do more than one alone. They can be found at "Co-abode offers a unique 'matchmaking' service to provide single moms with one or more children the opportunity to share housing, while pooling resources and finances with another single mom of their choosing." Cool, huh!?


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