Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Rant Of Sorts

I've noticed a disturbing trend lately. Maybe it's not a new trend, maybe it's always existed and I'm just now noticing it because I've been putting myself out there more and socializing more with other women, but is it just me or are a lot of women completely and utterly obsessed with their children? I have met so many really cool women lately. Women who are smart, funky, and kind. Women who are sophisticated yet still manage to be down to earth. Women who tell great stories and make me laugh. Women I want to consider my friends and want to talk to on a weekly or even daily basis. Or at least I would if they'd shut up about their kids for two minutes.

And I'm not talking about people here in blog world, because that's what we use our blogs for-recording all those silly little details of our lives. I get that, and frankly that's what drew me to most of you in the first place-I enjoy the spin you all put on the day to day minutiae of your life. I'm referring more to women you meet in real life who have no life outside of the children. I'm so sick of getting on Facebook and reading syrupy sweet updates about how they baked cookies with their kids, went to the park, did artwork, played games, read stories, and so on. I don't need them to update me every time they feel they need validation as a parent. And that's what this boils down to, because no one can possibly believe that they are entertaining anyone by Tweeting about how they decorated Christmas cookies with their three year old.

I just want to tell these women that not only is it ok to not want to do that stuff, but sometimes it's ok to just not do it at all. Life will go on. If you want to sit down one afternoon and drink wine while reading a book instead of playing a game with your kid, go for it. If you want to do it everyday for a month, go for it. It doesn't mean you're a bad mom. It means you're human and that you don't feel like being around your children. And that doesn't make you an awful person. Because sometimes being around kids sucks.

I have a confession to make. After we moved to Oregon, I think I went three months without reading a book to my daughter. There were various legitimate reasons for this (we'd gotten out of the habit during the move, I hadn't gotten around to getting a library card and was bored with the books on her book shelf, etc) but basically, I just didn't want to. I was reading some great stuff then, it was a good TV time, we had just gotten a PS3, Netflix kept sending us interesting movies and I just didn't feel like reading to her. But the beauty of it all, and the point of this confession, is that the girl doesn't remember me not reading to her. That three month dry period didn't scar her for life. I want to share that knowledge with other mothers. I just want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and reassure them that in 20 years their kids aren't going to be sitting around saying, "Remember that year when Mom wouldn't make a gingerbread house with us? Man, she was the worst mother ever!"

While on the subject of reading, a few weeks ago I overheard two mothers discussing how they don't read for pleasure anymore. One even said that she hadn't read a book since her oldest child was born. Seriously, how can you go SIX YEARS without reading a book? Not one book?!? I think I could read an entire book by accident over the course of six years. Even if you were to only read while on the toilet I would have to think you could read one or two books a year. And again, I want to stress that these aren't dumb women, they are simply women who have lost their minds to mommyhood.

I'm not trying to be unsympathetic to these women. I know the first few years of motherhood are hard and all consuming and at times you can feel like you're just drowning in it all. But at some point you have to pull yourself up and rejoin the rest of society. You can take baby steps. Say you're in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office. Pick up an Entertainment Weekly and skim the book reviews. Then the next time you're at Target picking up Diaper Genie refills, veer the cart over to the book section. Target carries bestsellers. Buy one. Read it. Then come over to my place and we'll discuss the book while ignoring our children. And that won't be a bad thing.

22 comments:

Daphne said...

Oh my god, don't even get me started on this. This sort of intense focus on kids drives me crazy. I love kids, but seriously? Life goes on. There's a balance between total hands-off parenting and this crazy over-involvement. I could not believe my friend telling me how much she monitors and tracks her kid's homework. Isn't this the kids' responsibility? It was MY responsibility when I was that age. Etc. Sigh. Anyway, yes. I hear you!

Dysfunctional Mom said...

I love the way you ended this.
I've never gone any length of time without reading, and reading in front of your kids is setting a good example for them.
I honestly believe that most of those supermegamommies are doing it just out of guilt or to look good. One day they're going to hit a wall, and become one of us normal people.

Jessie said...

I don't mind reading Facebook posts about children if there is a witty spin on it or if it is something out of the ordinary.

For example, my last few FB posts about my kids:
"Just gave the girls their fisrt GWAR lesson." (Check out that nutty band.)

"Out of all the stocking stuffer goodies, the Slinkies and pencil/sharpener that get the most play. It's the simple things..."

"Aut: Claire look! (Points to open mouth) Pop Rocks!
Claire: Sounds like a sausage pan!"

"Told the girls they have to knock their stockings down like a pinata."

See what I mean? Or, wait, am I giving examples of the exact thing you hate. LOLOLOL.

Tammie said...

jessie: no i dont hate that, and the reason i dont hate that is because you intersperse those with posts about YOU. songs youre listening to, articles you've read, what you're doing, etc.... its not ALL about your girls.

oh, and GWAR scare the shit out of me.

Tammie said...

daphne: its nuts isnt it?? why does everything have to be all about the kids?

cyndy: same here. sure there are times when ive read less than i do now, but ive always read something. and i agree. one day they are going to crash and it makes me sad.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Oh how I love Tammie, let me count the ways.....

I always thought it was just me because I did not get to play with the Mommy's not being one. I could never understand how they always seem to get lobotomies once the child is born. Good friends who can only talk children even now while their kids are in college.

I am the old lady here - trust me when I tell you this - it will come back to haunt you in so many ways later. I see it with my friends. One in particular - she lost touch with her husband other than as the kids father, their kids now have a life and in fact everyone does but Mom. Mom lives vicarioulsy through the kids school sports, theatre, academics, friends etc and has no life of her own. Her facebook is nothing but her kids. (college and high school age) It's so sad.

This was a very good post. To those who don't hear it will be in an uproar but hopefully it will make them see that to be a well rounded woman makes for great well rounded healthy kids.

Karen said...

OH MY GOD I was just thinking the same thing. I've been steering clear of facebook lately because every status update seems to be "woe is me, I win the worst life contest" or "I'm the best mommy ever." And I'm like, do you people not see the connection between those two feelings? Do you think you might be a bit miserable because you're overinvested in your role as mother? People think I'm joking when I say that I believe in ignoring my kids as much as possible. I figure that if they're not hitting one another, endangering themselves, or watching too much tv, I'm doing them a favor by letting them learn to amuse themselves.

mandy said...

i want to be your friend in real life. not just blog land.

since i have children of the very little variety and my mind is constantly running in ways of how i can multi-task and get things done it is hard to turn off the 'kid part' of my brain and i'll admit i have to make a conscious effort to not talk about the kids, or things like kid poop while talking to other adults.

i love talking books, gardening and art. i love talking about art and take every chance i can to do it; always feels so good.

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I could rant and rave about the info overload on facebook.....But you get that. Who cares? Anyhow, if you ever need a reality check from a very experienced mother, give me a call. My kids stopped being cute to me a long time ago. I love them dearly, but enough already.

Tammie said...

peggy: i know a few older women like that. women who have grown children but whose life still revolves around them. i dont understand that. i mean, i understand how it can happen i just dont understand why they'd want it to.

and i love you too.

karen: you bring up a really good point and i couldnt agree more. the times i find myself getting the most stressed are usually when im trying to create these norman rockwell moments or doing a lot with the kids.....sometimes i just need to take a few steps back and let the chips fall where they may.

mandy: it gets much easier to turn that part of your brain off as your kids get older (as jodi's comment attests too). i think thats why i was able to write this and feel so strongly about it, because my oldest is almost 13 and im definitely out of the whole romanticized period of parenthood.

i would love it if you lived closer. i dont know a lot about art but id definitely listen to you talk about it for hours.

jodi: im so glad i have your perspective on this because i truly admire you. you're a totally devoted mother who clearly adores her kids, but you still work outside the home and find the time for all your crafting. i love that.

Maria Rose said...

I was afraid that would happen to me, but I find that I sometimes feel guilty for how little I talk about Cordelia when I am not around my family. I have great difficulty talking with women who seem to live only through their kids, seems like it will be detrimental to the kids at some point.

Run Lori Run said...

Amen sista.

A friend of mine told me a long time ago: NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR KIDS AS MUCH AS YOU THINK THEY DO.

I try to remember this when I'm sending out the oh-so-popular holiday letter! I thought about posting about this on my blog: I hate the traditional bragathon holiday letter! I HATE them!

Dani said...

Word.

I find myself using The Offspring as material for comic relief on Facebook. They would die if they knew some of the stuff I post about them.

I'm with kids all the damn time. I'm sick of the little buggers at the end of the day. And I don't overly miss them when they get shipped off to my parents' house for a week. I love them fierce, but I enjoy the time when my heart grows fonder.

lunapacifica.typepad.com said...

Dani: OMG yes! Thank you! I feel the same with my kids.

Witty FB posts about children with a peppering of hilarity are great.

beki said...

I think all new moms should read this. Thankfully, I haven't come across too many people like this in real life, but then I'm kind of anti-social. I've always enjoyed my time away from my kids and propably look forward to it a little too much :)

These kids with obsessed parents, how do they turn out? How do they learn to be independant individuals with their mom constantly doting on them?

Ms. Diva said...

I have four teenagers, I ignore them as much as I can!! Not read a book? Are they kidding? And admitting it? That's even worse!!! I told Honey, one day those kids will be gone and if you have ignored me for them all the time, I will probably gone then too. We now have date night a few times a week!!!

Tammie said...

im so glad you all share my thoughts on this. i was worried id get more than a few negative comments about this.

beki: you make such a good point. when we ignore our kids, they're forced to entertain themselves, and that is such a valuable skill.

The WoodLand School said...

Amen!!!

Frankly, I just don't have the energy to be hovering around my kids every single second of the day. But you know what? Beyond that, I just don't want to!!! I adore my kids, I choose to stay home with them ... but that does NOT mean that I lose myself in them or that I have no other interests. There are so many, many things that *I* want to do - including reading! - and I truly believe that it would be a disservice to my kids if my entire reality revolved around the kids (and not just because I'd be a stark raving mad lunatic).

Just last week someone told me that she doesn't "have time" to read since she had kids. Ummm ... she has never worked outside the home AND her *youngest* is 13 and has been in school full-time since kinder. WTF?!?! What am I missing because I homeschool my kids and always (every.single.day) have time to read and knit and sew!

Sheesh! Apparently your post hit a nerve with me :-)

Tammie said...

yay! im so glad you took the time to comment. i was hoping someone from a homeschool family would chime in with their thoughts.

i really think its all about balance and being secure in the decisions youve made as a parent and as a mom. i dont mind taking a few moments(or sometimes more!) to myself every day because i know that i spend a lot of time playing games and doing all the other mommy things.

ive heard people say they dont have the time to read too and i just dont get that. i could see if you have a lot of young children, but one of the joys of having older kids is that they are more independent. or should be.

Becky..AMHW said...

You know what? My kids are the most speshul individuals on the planet, full of light and love, and if you cannot appreciate that, well, up your butt with a hockey puck.

...giggle...

I keep telling new moms that any of the bullet point lists in over-advertised mommy mags are NOT A GUIDE TO MOTHERHOOD OR IDENTITY. Nor is guilt. You aren't a good mother because you feel guilty.

This is especially so in Utah, where I hail from, where the prominent religion marks a woman that has devoted her life to her children as "select in Zion". Men are allowed hobbies and interests...women are supposed to keep all their person in the realm of the home. God ordains it.

What this means is that if I told any of my sisters in the land of mo, "up your butt with a hockey puck" they'd indeed be offended.

Visty said...

It's too bad we didn't meet; I think we would have had a lot in common. But then, I guess it's always hard to tell.

I know that I roll my eyes at the self-imposed martyrdom of the women here, seen hiking a half mile to the school on Valentine's day with a WAGONLOAD of supplies for the party, which they fully intend on attending. The reason for the half-mile hike? There are no parking spaces for blocks, due to the hordes of other mothers doing the same thing.

Oh, and as an aside, holiday "parties" at our elementary school run from 1 to 2 pm, lasting only an exact hour.

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

I've been away from bloggy-town too long and zipped over here first to catch up. We must have been woven from the same thread. That drinking wine and reading AND ignoring kids thing is divine.

While I do love the memory making part of motherhood, I despise when it feels forced. Sure I could make plans and gather materials for this holiday gingerbread house you mention... or i could just nuke a cup of hot water, stir in some cocoa mix and garnish with one of the bazillion candy canes that come home from school. She's seven. She's fine. No scars, just a chocolate mustache.