a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh Reginald...I DISAGREE!

I have another article to share with you! This one I came across in Elle Magazine, and is titled "Die, Mommy, Die!" I'm not sure who thought that was a good name, but I guess it does capture the tone of the article well. I found it interesting that this article was in a fashion magazine rather than a parenting one. I mean, it seems obvious why the article might not be so well received in a parenting magazine, but reading it, I got the feeling I'd overhead someone talking trash about me in a public bathroom while I was unseen in a stall.

In a way, Hass is speaking to the same "over-parenting" phenomenon as Granju, but I felt her tone and attitude were incredibly off-putting. She makes several good points about how she feels blathering on and on about your children at work to your co-workers is inappropriate, but in my experience, people can be horrible conversationalists in general, so why single out mothers?

She likens the question “Isn’t [having children] just the best thing you’ve ever done?” to the old Catch 22, "When did you stop beating your wife?" I can see how you'd feel painted in a poor light for answering 'no,' but I can't say I can indentify with that answer.

I'm a feminist. I went to a liberal womens' college. I count myself as one of Hass's described "smart, evolved, successful women." I believe that women are just as, if not sometimes more, capable as men in most endeavors. (This is a bigger side topic I won't go into now...) But I also HIGHLY value my role as a mother. I see it as a role that strengthens who I am, not dimishes me. I choose to devote myself "full time" to raising our children, rather than working outside of our home, and I do not think that makes me less successful than working mothers/women in ANY WAY. I'm not trying to give working mothers a hard time; I understand that some people need to or choose to work, and that's their call--but to imply that I am achieving less by "simply" being a stay at home mom is insulting.

Hass says

It’s not as though I don’t love my daughter. Or that I take her for
granted...But I have never once thought of her as the best thing I’ve ever done.
Perhaps that’s a function of having had a better-than average work life, but
it’s also because I’m loath to take credit for my daughter as an accomplishment.
Reproducing, even for me, who had to go to such lengths to become a mother,
doesn’t feel like a personal achievement; it’s just a natural part of the human
cycle. That’s one of the reasons I love being a parent; it’s comfortingly
prosaic, delightfully unremarkable. Can you imagine women in small Indian
villages standing around the local well asking for reassurance from the others
that having their brood of kids is “the best thing they’ve ever done”? It’s a
ready-made caption for a New Yorker cartoon.

Like I said, I see her point here, but I think her attitude sucks. I can't (and wouldn't) take credit for Evelyn as "an accomplishment," but the fact remains, nothing I will EVER do or create will rival the miracle that is HER. I say this not only because of who she is, but because of all that potentially can come from her as well. She is a human being! She can reason and has a soul! My contribution to the betterment and continuation of humanity through raising a good child would far outstrip the achievement of landing the top spot at a Fortune 500 company.

I think that by continuing to nurture myself and my interests and goals makes me a better mother. My life isn't entirely sacrificed on the altar of child-rearing, but there IS sacrifice involved and that too strengthens me.

When it comes down to it, I think I'm splitting hairs here. As a mentioned before, I see similarities between this article and the one I posted yesterday, but the tone is so different, I see one as successful and the other insulting.

What do you think?


Brad said...

I see both your points. I do agree with you though. I mean part of it is kind of an accomplishment that you hope you raise her to be a good person. That in itself you know you can be proud of, but a lot of that also is not in your control so it's like a catch 22. I think everyone has their own idea of what life should be like and there is definetly nothing wrong with "simply" raising a child. That's essentialy what my mom did. In fact, that's what most of our mothers did, I think. I say to each his/her own. If you want to have a career, you have a right to be selfish since it is your life. If you want to be selfless or also selfish (depending on your view), and raise a child, that's good too. I think everyone has to do what they feel is right for them and their lives, whatever that may be. Sorry this was so long winded!

Stacy said...

Oooh, this is a tricky, touchy subject. My lovely, smart, educated sister and I have had many a conversation about this topic. She graduated from college, got married, and now has two well-behaved, fabulous children (not that I'm biased). She's chosen to stay home with her kids, and that's a hard decision, because it means you miss out on some of the "adult" things that happen in the world. It just does. On the other hand, women who have children and work are fighting against being viewed as bad mothers, or not loving their children enough. They miss out on some "kid" stuff. Basically, women can't win. (I could talk for awhile on this one, but I'll spare you.)

Personally, I've chosen my path. I'm not getting a PhD so I can stay home with kids. (Though if I wanted to, that would be just fine too...feminism is about freedom of choice, no?) But by choosing the career path, I've essentially put on hold any potential family plans, and I've made a statement about not only the family I may or may not have, but the type of man I will marry. By contrast, a man who chooses to say, be a doctor, is never forced to choose how the rest of his life will be at age 23. The very debate of SAHM vs. working mom comes down to a societal pressure placed on women to be/do everything. It's not realistic, and I don't think any woman should be looked down on for her choices. Different things are important to different people.

As far as the article, I get it, but I think she's taken it to the extreme of nearly pretending children don't exist. (Not healthy). There are people who take it to the other extreme and bore me with their endless poopoo/peepee prattle. But there's definitely a happy medium.

Sorry...for my first blog comment, this is basically out of control. :)

screamy mimi said...

Oh, Stacy, I totally agree. You hit upon some points that I nelgected to mention, but that I agree with entirely about women being expected to do and be everything resulting in a no win situation. Either you are a working mother and thus a BAD mother, or stay at home and thus are less than a fully realized human being. Your talents are wasted, you contributions limited. I think that people on either extreme of the argument are being unfair. I think it is possible to be a GREAT mother and work, and also possible to be a SAHM and suck. Just because you've chosen one path or another doesn't dictate the kind of parent you will be. What, do all dads suck because they work? Let's ALL just stay home!!! I just came across a blurb about a new book by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (I'm sorry, any doctor who goes by Dr. FirstName I have a hard time taking seriously...Dr. Laura, Dr. Phil...). Her book is titled "In Praise of Stay-at-Home-Moms" and supposedly explains why "mothers who work - either by choice or because they feel it’s necessary - are shortchanging their children, and themselves." Blech!

Obviously I have made my choice too, but I'm not judging people who chose differently. So many people assume that what's right for THEM is right for EVERYONE.

Yeah, as far as the article goes, I thought she took a valid argument and marginalized it because of her examples and tone. Yes, mindless baby babble is annoying--not just to career women!--but so is droning on about your flat tire this weekend or your sinuses or a million other topics that just make for bad conversation.

Now my comment is out of control too. Thanks for commenting, though! I love hearing feedback!

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