Since I think that it’s pretty safe to say that it is mostly my women friends that check out this site, I thought I’d put a link on here to an interesting article. I like to think that I am usually a pretty open-minded person although it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that I am not.
Also, I especially hate it when moms judge each other. I think that all moms are probably doing the best they can, and so, short of abuse, I think that it is generally a better idea to support rather than villanize. Enough fighting about whether or not it is better to stay at home or work outside.
That said: I’m going to judge away.
About a year ago I read an essay written by author Ayelet Waldman about marriage and motherhood. Waldman had been featured on Oprah on a show entitled, “A Mother’s Controversial Confession.” While I would like to say that I never watch tripe like Oprah, and especially shows involving phrases like “controversial confession” I would be lying. While I am not glued to the couch every afternoon at four o’clock like Eric likes to think that I am, I do, from time to time, enjoy a little of the guilty pleasure that is Oprah Winfrey.
Anyway, the show centered around the buzz created by an essay that Waldman wrote for the book “Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race and Themselves“, an anthology edited by Kate Moses and Camille Peri, In the essay Waldman goes from a gloating announcement that she is the only mommy she knows having any sex to saying that she loves her husband more than she loves her children. And not just that she loves him more, but that she could more easily imagine a life after the loss of all four of her children than one after the loss of her husband.
“An example: I often engage in the parental pastime known as God Forbid. What if, God forbid, someone were to snatch one of my children? God forbid. I imagine what it would feel like to lose one or even all of them. I imagine myself consumed, destroyed by the pain. And yet, in these imaginings, there is always a future beyond the child’s death. Because if I were to lose one of my children, God forbid, even if I lost all my children, God forbid, I would still have him, my husband.But my imagination simply fails me when I try to picture a future beyond my husband’s death. Of course I would have to live. I have four children, a mortgage, work to do. But I can imagine no joy without my husband.I don’t think the other mothers at Mommy and Me feel this way. I know they would be absolutely devastated if they found themselves widowed. But any one of them would sacrifice anything, including their husbands, for their children.”
(Read the essay in its entirety at http://www2.oprah.com/tows/booksseen/200504/tows_book_20050420_kmose_b.jhtml)
I was horrified. I am definitely in the Mommy and Me group. Not only would I sacrifice Eric for the girls but I can tell you that he better damn well do the same to me.
Maybe I am less fazed than Waldman by the idea of widowhood because my mother was widowed at my age and so it is something have thought about, no obsessed about, since I was a teenager falling in puppy love with the boy in from of me in English class. I have always been acutely aware that I should be prepared for such an unlikely event.
Maybe it is because my own membership in the neuro-oncology patient club has given me a gift in the knowledge that I will almost certainly not outlive either my husband or my children, which is just fine by me.
But, I think that my problem with the essay lies in the idea that I feel like parents should be crazy in love with their children. And while I will be the first to admit that motherhood is hard work that sometimes leaves me grumpy and exhausted, that exhaustion doesn’t make me love these kids any less.
I mean my god, who looked a their child in the delivery room and thought, “Eh, that nose looks better on her dad?”
Perhaps it isn’t that she doesn’t love her kids any less than I do, maybe she just loves her husband more. Sure I love Eric, but admittedly we do not have the long talks about our wonderful marriage that Waldman and her husband do. I do not consider Eric the sun around which my life revolves. I consider us friends (although not the best either of us has) and partners both in life and in this job we have made for ourselves to raise these girls.
Eric and I have a marriage that’s best qualities right now, in the depths of brand new parenthood, are the fact that neither of us has to worry about cheating and we both know that the other will wait this thing out. We joke about divorce about 23 ½ hours a day, but when it comes down to it we both know that, at least for now, inertia is strong enough to keep us from going anywhere. Famous last words? Perhaps.
That said, I just finished her book Love and Other Impossible Pursuits and I loved it. I guess the old saying is right: never judge a book by the ridiculous crap its author has said in the past that offended you… or something like that.