Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I'm not listening, I'm not listening

Music. To his ears.

Words, words, words, words, words.

If someone tells me they think I'm doing a good job I tend to give them a glare-y eyeball and half-lip sneer. A part of my soul believes any praise foisted upon me from other humans comes from a place of deep surprise and low expectations.

Call me crazy. I promise I won't hold that against you.

I suppose this is why I had such a strong reaction to Liz's blog post about all the things you can't say to mothers, specifically the ones who work outside of the home.

There is nothing we can say to each other that doesn't risk the rolling of eyes or worse - the harboring of resentment.

You can't ask us what we do? Or if we worry about our kids? You can't say anything that could be considered even remotely critical of our parenting abilities ... such as wondering if we've chosen to work ... or has work been forced upon us. You can't even say anything about yourself in a proud manner, lest becomes an insult. Since, you know, we do things differently in our house.

There's always some knucklehead telling us someone else is raising our children. As if it's the worst possible thing in the world (I'm waving at you, iVillage!).

Of course that's offset by the neanderthals wondering why you, who stay at home, bothered to seek higher education. You're just wasting the tenured talents of others.

There's always some grandmotherly figure lurking out in the world telling you your kids need more protein or less candy or fewer toys.

Some stranger on the street is bound to question how you let your kid dress or how late you are out with them on a Wednesday night.

We might agree that most folks -- busy-bodies included -- don't mean to offend. But we can't help ourselves. We get offended. We keep licking at the wound and seeking solidarity.

We believe that if we talk about it. If we make the world aware of all the hurts they hurl at us with their ill-considered, off the cuff ideas (that have nothing to do with our circumstances and weren't solicited in the first place) the world would be a better place.

We could finally end the mommy war we keep fighting in our heads.

Until someone dares to ask you what you do ... as if any ONE thing you DO should define you ... and it all starts all over again.

We're all crazy.

I hope you won't hold it against me for saying so.


superpragmatic said...

hits home on so many levels.

just last night as chloe and i went to leave a restaurant and i helped her put on her sweater and a coat over that, this man at the next table said, "all that for a trip to the car?"

i talked to my mom about it later, and we were curious if he's a guy who would speak up on one of those episodes of "what would you do?" or if he kept his comments for these kinds of things.

and i guess it depends on what kind of mom day i'm having--if chloe's behaving beautifully and someone asks what i do. those days i may puff up proudly say I am a full-time mom.

one day, i'd like to answer that question with every little tid bit that filled my day and let it go on for ten minutes. changed the fish's bowl, did the dishes, cooked lunch, did the dishes again, ran five errands, and so on.

soapbox inspired, i am.

Anonymous said...

Ah, we are all crazy.

I just find myself much less defensive about it these days. I have (like a lot of women) tried it every which way in terms of work, income, SAHM and WAHM and WOHM. The thing I try to remember is that few people ask these questions out of malice. And if they do, it comes from a place of jealousy and a feeling of entrapment in their own situation. But generally I try to cut the askers some slack and hope others do the same for me.

If I ask someone if they miss their kids while they're at work, it's not because I am passing judgment. It's because I have left my own kids at daycare, and I know it can be hard. If I tell a SAHM "I don't know how you do it," it's because I literally do not know, and being home with my own kids all day has me searching for tips and strategies. These days I am home with them all day and leave them with my spouse while I work at night. I like that I get to be a SAHM and a working mother all in the same day.

Mommybloggers (here i sweep the generalization wide) are quite easily offended, I have come to believe. I think our society is probably to blame for that, anti-mother as it is. Everyone is entitled to an opinion on Mothering, it seems, and how it should be done; after a while it seems we can do nothing right, so it's no wonder we get tetchy.

-- supa

Ah, thanks for letting me write a bit here in your space, toyfoto :)