Tag Archives: the mom job

Are moms crazy?

I just finished a great read: Bye, Bye Black Sheep by Ayelet Waldman (2006, Berkeley Publishing Group). She writes “Mommy Track” murder mysteries where the main character solves mysteries in between diaper changes and carpool rides. Somehow I identify.

Read it, because it’s great. But I’m going to use it as a springboard to talk about something else: parental craziness. Here’s a little excerpt.

“Juliet, now you’re talking like one of those neurotic, crazy mothers. Like that one who wanted to LoJack her kid. That’s not you.”

“But it is. It is me. I’m just like that LoJack nut. I am a LoJack nut! I’m just as worried that something terrible will happen to one of them as she is. I’m just as worried that Isaac will drink bleach, or get hit by a car, or that Ruby will get leukemia, or that they’ll become retarded from mercury poisoning because they eat canned tuna. I’m terrified that Sadie will fall off her changing table for the rest of her life. I’m just as crazy as the rest of the moms — the only difference is that I do a better job of faking it.”  (p. 113)

Freaking out over everyday dangers – that is me and every single other mom I know.

Why does it happen? Maybe because everybody is telling us things like, “You LEFT your child in the CAR when you went into the gas station? Don’t you know what MIGHT HAPPEN if you leave your child IN THE CAR????” If we’re crazy it’s because the world is telling us to be. But wait, there’s more. This is the part that I love.

(Although the plot deals with women from many walks of life, here she’s talking specifically about women trained for professional careers who have left those careers for kids – something else I really identify with.)

“Add to these factors educated and competent mothers trained for professions they no longer practice, who have turned aside from the futures they once expected for themselves to focus their attention and ambition solely on their children. These children are valuable beyond measure, because we’ve sacrificed ourselves for them and to them. We now understand that we are as able and skilled as men, that we can do the work of the marketplace as well as they can, but we have left that work to raise these children, not because we have to–most of us–but because we want to. These children must be worth our sacrifice, they must be extraordinary, and they must be safe. We cannot risk the possibility of anything happening to the precious focus of our lives.

“For those mothers who have not willingly paid the professional price, guilt provides the same motivating force. It ratchets up the value of their children so that harm to them is intolerable, and all too easily imagined.” (pp 189-190)

I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but that’s it exactly.

Of course I don’t love my kids any more because I left a career to care for them. But I get what she’s saying about the price thing. My self-worth, sense of confidence, when most of my work is either childcare or some other unpaid pursuit, in a culture that expects success in the marketplace, is, well, complicated.

To put it another way, we went to school for twelve or sixteen or twenty years and worked our butts off to be good at some pursuit. We were told to give it one hundred percent and then we went in to jobs and were asked to work overtime. And then we left the workforce and are expected to raise kids. (Or didn’t leave the workplace but are expected to do the same things for their kids.) What are we going to do? Give it one hundred percent, work overtime.

And worry overtime.

Not only about our children’s safety, but about their physical, mental, and emotional health, their intellectual growth, their academics, and so on.

So the next time you see a parent with unrealistic expectations for their child or concerns that seem blown way out of proportion, try not to be too judgmental. We’re that way for a reason.

One hour worth of questions from my kid

Here are all the questions I’ve gotten in the past hour. You’ll have to figure out the context yourself, or not, as the case may be. Or you could ask me, in which case you may or may not get answers that are better than the ones I gave my kid.

What is the hottest thing in the universe? Is anything hotter than the middle of the sun? If we went near the sun, would we catch on fire? If we went near the sun, would the middle of the sun get hotter?

What if there were fires under the ocean – I mean ten feet under the top of the island?
I mean a volcano that’s done erupting and then it went deeper down and then it got covered up, then what? Would it spray really hot water?

Is it the five-second rule?

Can I have more cheddar bunnies?

What if they sewed my pants to my shirt? What if they sewed my shirt to my underwear? Cuz then I’d have to wear my underwear every time I weared that shirt. And if my underwear was dirty I couldn’t wear either of them.

Does she get the rest? Did I get more or did she get more? Could I at least have one more handful? Oh, and Mom, look!

What is this called? Is it called a square knot? Would it be called a knot?

How did you know it wasn’t a ring? Did it not sound like one? Where is the phone, Mom? Did you say “end”? Why? Which one makes the ringing sound? Does this one or this one?

Mom, will you make it connected so it stays on my wrist? Thanks. Will you do it farther? Thanks. Will you please do the other one? Actually never mind, because watch. I’m going to launch it. You know what? I accidentally broke it when I was trying to fix it.

You mean mine and hers are mixed up? Why would they be mixed up? Where are the instructions? You wanna know why I want the instructions? Because I wanna know if these go with them!

Mom, will you help me find a piece to my Lego set?