5.05.2011

Why Being a Mom in America Sucks

{Image source: .donata}
I'm going to break from the pithy posts about my adorable children and the crayon tweets to tell you why being a mom in America sucks. It's controversial, but hear me out.

In the April 2011 issue of Psychology Today, there was an interesting article called "The American Nightmare." In it, the author, Lauren Sandler, basically calls American parents a bunch of unhappy sad sacks with no control over their lives.

Some days, she's not wrong.

In the article, she draws a comparison between American families and families in other countries. Quoting well-being specialist Carol Graham, who says, "In other societies, kids fit into the family; parents are in charge," Sandler points out that America's shift to a kid-centric society over the last 50 years is causing parents to "experience depression and unhappiness in greater numbers than nonparents. That's regardless of class, race, or gender."

But let's add another layer to this: according to a survey on British website Netmums, mothers lie to each other all the time, from how much TV their kids watch to how much QT they spend with their spouses or SOs. It's not a stretch to say that they lie about how happy they are.

How about one more layer: America is moving indoors. There's a push for organic churches (i.e. small, typically evangelical groups of Christians that meet weekly and lack a fixed leader), home schooling, and working from home. With two dining spaces in the house, a formal and an informal, there's no need to go out anymore. Frankly, with the recession and the crazy spike in gas prices, there may not be the resources to go out anymore.

So here we are, focused on our kids instead of ourselves, stuck inside all day, and lying about everything from the organic nature of our food to exactly how clean the kitchen floor is. And if we try to live up to the standards that we think everyone else is attaining, we work ourselves so hard that we end up falling asleep during a TiVo'd episode of those racy, racy Housewives.

Here's the kicker: if you try to break from the norm, if you try to encourage your kids to make their own lunches, if you refuse to show up at the school to yet another "parents appreciation" function because you have other commitments, then you're labeled a bad parent. If you don't subscribe to playdates and choose to have nonparents as friends, then you're labeled a bad parent. If you have outside interests and would prefer to see an R-rated movie with your spouse instead of Rio with your kids, you're a bad parent.

You know what? All of this sucks.

In doing a little bit of research for this post (because it is a serious post), I ran across another blog post in a similar vein on Heavenly Homemakers. The author, Laura, vehemently states that we are all just moms, we are not perfect, and we are not alone. So stop trying to be everything to everyone, embrace your imperfections, and talk to each other about what's really going on. We'll all be happier, and we'll end up raising more well-rounded, happier, healthier kids, even if they're eating nitrates and watching four hours of TV.

And for the love, please stop asking me to arrange a playdate. Just meet us at the park or something.

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