The other day an instagrammer who I adore posted this quote from a book on parenting that she was reading. Since then I've seen other bloggers repost it with positive affirmations. I, ever the contrary one, want to post it because I highly disagree and I want to explain why in hopes that other people who feel like I do will find some solace in the company of moms who want to maintain a balance...
When parents, “let their ambitions, housework, or hobbies, become a higher priority than parenting, and they begin to view their children as annoying interruptions. This attitude guarantees failure, frustration, and anger. Only by reordering priorities and recognizing that parenting is a highly demanding, full time job, will there be any hope for decent results and the absence of frustration. Give up everything else if you have to, and undertake the world’s most important and fulfilling job to the best of your ability.”
Let me first say that I am not trying to say that you should completely ignore your children and pursue, well, other pursuits. Obviously, that is not a great way to parent. I also agree that parenting, the act of it, is an extremely important and demanding job that is, absolutely a full time endeavor. The part that I disagree with, and am actually a bit offended by, is the advice at the end...
"...give up everything else if you have to, and undertake the world's most important and fulfilling job to the best of your ability.."
I think that is absolutely horrible advice. And I believe wholeheartedly that advice like that, and the social pressure that it creates is why so many mothers are depressed or feel like they have lost themselves or live in a constant state of surviving day-to-day. This, my friends, is 'over parenting' and it is not a Universal ideal. In fact, it's very American. There is absolutely no reason why a mother should be told to give up everything else in her life to parent. That is not healthy for the mother or for her children. Children need to see a happy parent that is passionate about their own pursuits as well as a parent who is present with them. They need that balance. To be the center of their parents' universe is not a positive thing. Kids need to learn that there are other people in the world with needs that are of equal value to their own. That knowledge creates well rounded children that grow into well adjusted adults. The former mentality creates an army of spoiled brat little kids and soccer moms popping antidepressants like skittles where no one is actually happy.
Will I be there 110% for my son when he needs me? Yes. Will I parent him with dedication and work to be present with him and to support his growth and development? Of course. Does that mean that I need to drop every other pursuit, my career, my social life, my appeal as a woman, my adult times, my relationship with my husband outside of our role as parents, and anything else that brings joy to me? NO! That's ridiculous. My son will learn that I am a multifaceted person, just as he is. That I have things I like to do other than hang out with him. That he is a part of this family but not the sun in our universe. And because of that, I fully believe he will be a better person, and so will I.