Monday, November 8, 2010

Is Modern Motherhood a 'Prison?'

According to one writer in the Wall Street Journal it is.

I must say that I gained some major validation from reading Erica Jong's essay, "The Madness of Modern Motherhood" in the Journal about how motherhood has become so all encompassing and complicated with its current mandatory maternal martyrdom:

"Attachment parenting, especially when combined with environmental correctness, has encouraged female victimization. Women feel not only that they must be ever-present for their children but also that they must breast-feed, make their own baby food and eschew disposable diapers. It's a prison for mothers

When a celebrity mother like the supermodel Gisele B√ľndchen declares that all women should be required to breast-feed, she is echoing green-parenting propaganda, perhaps unknowingly. Mothers are guilty enough without more rules about mothering . . .

. . . [W]e have devised a new torture for mothers—a set of expectations that makes them feel inadequate no matter how passionately they attend to their children."

I thought I was the only one who was grumbling about how hard it is to feel good about my parenting when youth sports for my three children is collectively commandeering gobs of our waking hours, when the schools expect that parents should listen to their fourth graders read aloud passages and then grade their fluency homework four nights out of five (never mind sign detailed reading logs, indicate that we've seen math homework/tests and that we're aware that a child has a book report coming up), when it's expected that parents volunteer for every organization in which they've enrolled their children, when there's pressure to make all these healthy meals at home fresh each night, never mind withstand the griping of my kids telling me that "all the other moms" drive "all the other kids" around town so they can hang out with one another. Sure, we can fit in having me host a bunch of kids at our house or drive my kids around to socialize in between school and hockey and soccer and basketball and baseball and band and school newspaper and the library youth book club and church and, oh, Mommy's work, Daddy's too.

There's a lot to ponder in Jong's piece. And when I read her line, "American mothers and fathers run themselves ragged trying to mold exceptional children" believe me, I was nodding vigorously.

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