Friday, March 19, 2010

to the praise of motherhood

Also worth quoting from The Mother Dance, is Lerner's astute statement that "When nurturing children is truly valued, mothers who work at home will be economically protected and men will want to join us as equal partners in parenting." This in response to comments along the lines of "How wonderful that you're going to stay home to be a mom. I always knew you would be a good mother!" or "[she] may be leaving us to do the most important job of all. She's going to be a mother!"

"The more motherhood is surrounded by flowery praise, the less it is truly valued," retorts Lerner (59).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the mother dance

Quoted from The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life (1998) by Harriet Lerner, the internationally acclaimed expert on the psychology of women and family relationships:

"A friend and I are discussing a magazine survey concluding that couples without children lead happier lives. 'Why report the obvious?' my friend quips. 'Of course couples without children are happier. There is layer upon layer of their emotional lives they will never tap into. Ignorance is bliss.'

I have a somewhat different response. 'No one can measure happiness,' I say. 'And furthermore, the focus on "happiness" somehow misses the point."

"Children are a definite gamble, as far as happiness goes, although they will bring you moments of indescribably joy."

Monday, March 15, 2010

mask of motherhood

Before you enter the sorority of mothers, you may be told that it completely changes your life (but of course you wouldn't want it any other way); that it comes with the greatest love of all (and who doesn't want to experience that); that children make you see the world with new eyes again (this point in particular appealed to me). Some may tell you it's really hard (shrouding the statement with an uninterpretable open endedness that leaves you dangling in the air).

I remember at times seeing exasperated looks in the eyes of friends with children (especially those with kids who'd reached toddlerhood), but I can't remember anyone looking me in the eyes the way Susan Maushart's older sister did when Susan asked her, in a playful sort of way, "Well, tell me about motherhood. What's it really like, anyway?" a few weeks after the birth of her sister's first child, thinking her sister spent an inordinate amount of time trying to concentrate on nursing her baby. "I was taken aback by the intensity of her response," writes Maushart in The Mask of Motherhood; "She looked away from the baby (and that in itself was a rare occurrence), and stared straight into my eyes. 'I'm going to tell you this now, and I want you to remember it,' she began. 'Everyone lies. Do you hear me? Everyone lies about what it's like to have a baby. Don't listen to them. Just watch me, and remember.'" (11)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

seeking home

Another thing I fret about is settling and where we as a family should do that. When I quit my job last year to focus on my own writing and family, the Dean responded to my letter of resignation with a stunned "Wow!" One simply does not leave a tenured and promoted position at a college just like that.

Well, guess what, I did. It's not like it's solved all of our problems or even many, aside from eliminating that one component in my life that was really stressing me out. Which was a rather substantial one at that, regularly amounting to about seventy hours a week, of teaching, grading, prepping, developing new courses, committee work, advising, endless meetings, and so on and so on, leaving barely any time for my own scholarship. Though this was supposed to be one of the three main components of my position. If I couldn't find time to write, how on earth would I find time to take care of a child?

Of course, it's not like being home with a child has opened up a vast space for my writing. Like my juggling academic friends with kids, I too find myself much like a clown at times, desperately trying to keep the different balls flowing, including words down on the paper or onto my laptop whenever I find the chance.

Friday, March 12, 2010

the sleep question

Dear fellow parent,

Since becoming a first-time mama, I have found myself consumed with the question of sleep: how to help my baby sleep, how to help her stay asleep, how to find sleep myself, the struggle to sleep, the lack of sleep. In conversations with other parents, sleep seems to be an endless topic.

Now I'm initiating a book titled The Sleep Question in which I will share my own story, as well as those of other parents. I'm approaching you with this because I would love to hear your story, thoughts and experiences around the sleep situation in your home.

As I prepared for giving birth, I found individual birth stories the most powerful and enlightening--unfolding an infinite universe of unique experiences--and not the many manuals on what to expect. The same goes for my child's sleep, and mine: it's not the how-to books (that fail to address the many unique experiences and crucial differences among children and their parents) that encourage and provide the most helpful suggestions, but rather it's the stories of other mamas and papas. As far as I know, no book exists that includes these stories. With your help, this book can fill this gap.

Feel free to comment or e-mail, anonymously or with your name. Or if you live nearby, we can set up a time to talk.
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