Have you noticed the rash of positive press about negative mothering? Take for example the book Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. She’s one of those bad mothers with her name carved in the Motherhood Wall of Shame except she wrote then published a book about her flaws. A few weeks ago Oprah invited the two women who were friends, then became mothers (but not with each other) and eventually, after collecting enough data from other under-achieving mothers, became the authors of a series of books about how difficult it is to be book-perfect mothers. The show felt a little like going to confession on national television. Oprah, reminiscent of the Pope, listened empathetically but only to a certain degree. Much like the Pope, Oprah offered spiritual advice and absolution despite her lack of experience as a human parent.
BLOGGER TIMEOUT: While I was writing this I left my computer on the deck chair to get my sunglasses. It happens to be perfect weather where I live and I have to get my vitamin D. My husband Joe asks, “What are you doing?” I tell him I’m writing a very interesting blog post, that’s what I’m doing. To which he replied, “You wanna do me?” (It’s all right, people. We’re married. Happily married.) Anyway, I told him yeah sure, but I left my computer out on the deck. He said, “Shouldn’t do that. Some alligator might get it and you’ll be stuck with gator porn on your computer.” We live on golf course next to a gator-infested lagoon. It’s not actually infested. It’s just that we saw a baby alligator this morning. You connect the dots.
Okay, back to the post. I thought when I read about Ayelet’s book in USA Today yesterday that I might write the antithesis, Good Mother – I Have a Family! And that’s when my husband said, “Don’t bother. Good doesn’t sell. Our world is obsessed with BAD-ness.” Well, that may be sad ugly truth, but I’m here to say being a mother is HUGE fun and the best job I’ve ever had. Being good at something such as mothering doesn’t necessarily mean everything that happens is good or great. For me, it means that I took full advantage of the opportunity to nurture human beings.
Who you are makes a difference. PERIOD. I’m a good mother, which hopefully has made a difference. Does that make me different? Some in today’s world say yes, it does. Not only that, but I’ve had three relatively easy drug-free birthing experiences. Of course, after twenty years one tends to forget the excruciating details involved in pushing babies out of your body.
The other day we were with some friends who introduced us to their new friends, one of whom was pregnant. Everyone started to talk to her about epidurals and how she can look forward to taking drugs and then say hello to her spawn. I, on the other hand, had to chime in. “Had three. All natural. No drugs.” I felt compelled to include the GOOD version of childbirth. How rare is it that a first time mother gets to hear an old timer like me say it can be done. Not often.
Don’t worry. I did acknowledge that there are special circumstances and every situation is different. She looked at me and nodded politely. She’ll probably take the drugs in any case, but at least I’ll be in the back of her mind. “You don’t have to do drugs. It’s possible to do without.”
It’s also possible to be a GOOD mother. It’s also possible to have a GOOD marriage. It has a lot to do with what you’re “doing.”
Joe says blogging’s cheap. Let’s do something.