Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Thank You, Mom

I'm reading The Mask of Motherhood, by Susan Maushart, and it points out to me how lucky I am as a mother. I was better prepared for motherhood than most women, and so I didn't experience a lot of the "baby shock" that Maushart talks about. I'm the oldest of four, and I saw my mother being pregnant at an age where I could, and did, pitch in to help her. I saw my brother's birth, so I had an idea of what to expect when I gave birth. My mom also ran a daycare in our home while she was homeschooling us, so I had years and dozens of babies of experience in hands on babycare before I had my own baby. But the most important thing that my mother did and does for me is that she is always there for me, and we've always been able to talk about anything. "Yet other studies have shown that the single best predictor of maternal confidence is the frequency of contact between a new mother and her own mother" (Maushart, p. 142). It's not that I do everything the way my mother did - to the contrary I have some very different ideas about discipline. But we can talk about our differences openly, and I feel like I can take or leave her advice without losing the support she offers me. Mothers of young children face enough challenges - Maushart identifies the biggies as: (1) social and physical isolation from other adults (2) sole responsibility for most of the work of childcare (3) lack of practical or hands on preparation (p. 119). Does that sound familiar to anyone? I would add social mixed messages to the list, because no matter what you do somebody is going to be upset. If I stay home, I hear that I'm not "contributing" to society, or that I'm wasting my "potential", or that I'm being a "burden" to society or to my husband. But on the other hand I hear about what a "good little mother" I am, or sometimes the less demeaning "good mother". If I were to leave my children in care and go out into the paid workforce, I would hear how working mothers are to blame for juvenile delinquency, the failing school system, and any other social ill people want to link with less parental supervision. I would also face the double bind of trying to prove that I was still a good mother AND a good worker at the same time. So, my point is that once you are a mother, you can't win. With all of this new found perspective on what it takes to be a mom, I need to send a huge shout out to my own mother. Mom, you're great. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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