Making it Look Easy. Who's Bright Idea Was That?

Ok, I feel a rant coming on but can I just say that when we as women decided(at that conference we all attended) not only would we do most of the family work, but we would aspire to make it look effortless, we totally fucked up. Who's bright idea was this anyway?

As I fess up about being on an antidepressant(I was calling them mood stabilizers for awhile because it seemed less sad and more like a glass of wine) shloads of clients and friends have told me they're on them as well. Most of them are moms with young children. Hmmmm, I'm sensing a pattern here.

On one hand, it doesn't make me feel like such a nut job but on the other hand, it makes me a little sad and concerned for ALL the mothers I know. What is it about the job that's forcing so many of us to take medication to get by? When I went to my OB and told her I was feeling like a worthless piece of shit, like I was doing everything half-ass she went through with me all of the things I do and am responsible for and finally after hearing someone else say, “you are doing too much, you need to go easier on yourself,” I finally believed it. Why did I need a doctor to tally up all the things I do to make me feel ok, that's sick.

When men do stuff around the house, they make a big deal about how difficult it was but here's us all, no problem, it's easy, look I've got it all together, no effort here don't worry, oh sure, I've got time, you need anything else. What are we thinking? No wonder what we do is undervalued. It's like the supermodels who say , oh, I eat whatever I want and never exercise I'm just blessed I guess, when we all know they are smoking, throwing up everything they eat and at the gym 24/7.

We pretend motherhood isn't work and sacrifice. I've heard so many moms say, oh I could never imagine my life without my children. I, on the other hand, frequently imagine my life without them, and guess what, it's never as good as my real life with them in it, but I do think about it. And guess what, I think the women who say they have never thought what their lives might be like if they didn't have children are BIG FAT LIARS.

That's another thing, why are we so unsupportive of each other? Now that's a generalization because I know many women who do support each other, even moms making vastly different choices then their peers, but really, have we not all felt the judgement of other women be it friends, coworkers, peers, even family. My mother-in-law has made references that I'm readying our children for the foreign brigade because my seven year old unloads the dishwasher, makes his own lunch and my four year old makes her bed and gets dressed on her own. I don't even know what the foreign brigade is but I'm pretty sure it's not a compliment. Even my own grandmother has asked me on more than one occasion,”What do you do?” They act like I'm Mommy Dearest for expecting that my kids and husband pitch in.

When I get all worked up about those two I just try to remember that when they were raising their kids, they smoked and drank when they were pregnant, they typically did not breastfeed, and they put their babies to bed on their stomachs(probably right after feeding them peanut butter and honey). They didn't put the kids in seatbelts, forget bike helmets, and did lots more stuff WRONG. Ok, this has turned into quite the rant, guess I'm angrier about this than I thought.

I have had a myriad of jobs since my first at 13. They were of varying degrees of prestige, difficulty, pay, etc.. Motherhood is, hands down, the most challenging thing I have ever done. It is also the most rewarding, heart swelling, hilarious, humbling, exciting thing I have ever been a part of. One thing I've come to love about the blogosphere is that women let their guard down and are far more honest with each other than you will ever get in a playgroup or PTA meeting. I just wish women would stop aspiring to make it look so easy because we all know it's not. And maybe, if we were all a bit more honest about that then everyone in her inauguration to motherhood wouldn't have to go through that period when you think you are the only one having a hard time.

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9 comments:

Chris in Happy Valley said... June 15, 2008 at 4:20 AM  

That's a pretty good rant! I empathize with you. While not being a Mum, I've been frustrated by the way Mums interact. I've seen my partner and some of her friends that are new Mums and it often seems more competitive than supportive.

I also respect how much work it is. I flirted with staying at home with my son for a while but found it WAY harder than going to work. Hence, back to work.

Anyway, I wanted to stop by to say thanks for your visit to my site and your comments! It's the comments that are my reward for writing. Hope to see you back!

Anonymous said... June 16, 2008 at 2:27 AM  

My mother generally did everything herself (or tried to), which resulted in her often feeling overwhelmed and my lack of cooking skills. I think it's great that you've taught your kids to be so capable. -Lurker from Dooce/First-time commenter

Love Bites said... June 16, 2008 at 6:31 AM  

This is going to sound terrible, but as a divorced mom of two, I occasionally HAVE a life without children. And, I enjoy the hell out of those few quick days. I'm always happy when they come home, because they really ARE my life, but having a life apart from them is totally nice, too. TOTALLY.

Formerly Fun said... June 16, 2008 at 7:50 AM  

Chris,
It can be very competitive. I myself am going for the award of who can be on the most medication.

Women, and men too, could really benefit from being more supportive. I work some days, stay home some days, and try and work from home some days and I wish I had another mom who I could switch off with to save in childcare and free up a little time for errands here and there.

But the working moms judge the stay at homes and vice versa and it can make it really hard to collaborate. Not every mom works because she wants Jimmy Choos and and a boat, many, if not most, need to.

Staying at home with your kids 24/7is a luxury most women don't have. The women who do stay home do not get the proper respect for the things they do because we don't quantify it with a monetary value you, and after all, money is the uniting religion in the U.S.

I guess I can dream of the kibbutz/commune life where people really live the word community.

Anonymous/Dooce Lurker,
Thanks for lurking-much more fun writing when you think people are reading it.)

I was raised by a single divorced mom and while I sometimes wished she could be home after school and at times I resented the early independance that was thrust upon me, I definately think it made me a more capable adult. We were a team and I learned early the principle of divide and conquer. And you're right about feeling overwhelmed. When I get frustrated that I'm the only one doing anything, I become a very unfun person to be around.

Love Bites,
I am with you there. Before the baby was born, one set of our in-laws(we have a bazillion because of divorce) would take the kids every other weekend and IT WAS GREAT. It really helped us be more plugged in when we did have them because we had time on the alternate weekends to do our thing. I miss it terribly.

Sam said... June 16, 2008 at 7:51 AM  

Thank you, that was just what I needed. It's good to know that I am not the only one!!!

Melis said... June 16, 2008 at 8:05 AM  

OH I can SO identify with your rant! I am a divorced mom of two going on 5 years solo now. I have had the opportunity to be with my kids as a stay at home mom, and then when divorced, out in the work force 40 hours a week. Motherhood without a doubt is the most challenging "job" I've ever had, and I am constantly questioning how good a job I am doing. The house is never clean, there is always a pile of laundry taller than my youngest, and there is dust EVERYWHERE. My mother had the nerve to tell me, "honey why don't you just clean for a couple of hours when you get home from work, you know, a few times a week, and then you won't have such a pile-up", and all I could do was laugh hysterically at her. Clean? After a hour commute and 8 hours of work with bosses who have their own wives at home performing seemingly effortless tasks with child and home, who cannot possibly fathom that I could be the only one to take a child to the doctor? After coming home drained and exhausted, and already thinkng about all the other things I have to do the next day? Please. Mother, please. There will be no cleaning. There will be family movie night with baby pizzas, and mani pedi's, and Dancing with the Stars with popcorn and root beer floats, but there will be no cleaning. The hardest thing about being a mom is that the measurable performance objective, which is to love your children beyond measure, cannot be guaged in the pysical. It can't be measured by how clean your house is, or how often you do the dishes.

I can tell you one thing though, if my kids were in charge of raises, based on how much they are loved, I'd be a bazillionaire!!!

Melis said... June 16, 2008 at 8:09 AM  

Oh- also, THANK YOU for commenting on my site! The page is a template- I just loved that green one, it fit perfectly.

You're fabulous- and not only are your kids loved, and your husband, but you run your own business AND manage to write sometimes. I think you're doin pretty good chicky! I'm lucky if I can post once a week, much less post anything creative. You have inspired me though, I may attempt something soon.....

Laurel said... June 17, 2008 at 6:50 AM  

I've been on anti depressants for 7 years now. Depression/anxiety runs in my family for one reason but the biggest reason really is that motherhood is the hardest and most judgmental job I have ever had. I'm finally getting to the point that some things don't really matter. My laundry and messy house will always be there. But my kids will never be this age again. I try really hard to remember that when everything piles up. Not so easy somedays.

I always have said that women are mean and catty. We don't support eachother like we should, we judge to quick, we compare, the list goes on. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks that. I try to do my best in supporting others but somedays I too can be that mean and snotty woman.

You should teach your kids to do jobs. Don't feel guilty. What are they going to do when they leave home? Call you to do everything? I need my kids to help because they helped make the mess. Plus, if they help I have more time to dedicate to them.

I am a 24/7 mom. I have so much respect for working moms because they still have their "mom" work to come home to after their "pay" work. Working moms rock.

Anyway, I enjoy your writings. Keep it up in between all those other jobs you have. You are doing a great job, all women struggle it's just how honest do we all want to be? Sometimes the most judgemental and unsupportive ones need the most help. (that's just my experience/thoughts)

Formerly Fun said... June 17, 2008 at 7:38 AM  

Sam-
Well I've gotten the most comments on this post so I'm sure it resonated with a lot of people. Not feeling like you're the only one is hslf the battle. When I was struggling to balance it all, hearing other moms say they were too was immeasurably comforting. It's feeling like you're the only one that's so isolating.


Melis,
Let's keep on this-at least once a month we'll just tell eachother how great we are:) I admire you and Lovebites doing the single parent thing. Just knowing there's another person willing to take over somedays is sanity protecting-I really think the single moms have a much harder job, not too many people you can pass the baton to when you're over it.

Laurel,
I totally agree that sometime the most judgemental of us need the most permission to slack on it. I was a total perfectionist before the kids and it drove me crazy, I had to change my expectations(of how clean the house was, how clean my kids are,.....)in order to not lose my mind.

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