Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Moon or the Sun?

Oprah and children and husbands. That's what I'm thinking about today. I didn't get a chance to watch Oprah yesterday. It plays at 4:00 here, and that's during our after-school-rush. They replay it again at 9:00, but last night, I was determined to write. Instead, I read the slides on her site...and an excerpt from the book the show was based on. It saved me time, and I still got the 411.

The show was about mothers who put their children before their husbands. One of the guests was Ayelet Waldman, a woman who wrote an essay in 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.

As with most things, you really must read the whole essay. The portion I'm about to post makes her look like a selfish mom who failed to bond with her children. I'm certain that's not the case, yet I cannot imagine living as she does.

Speaking of her daugher: "I do love her. But I'm not in love with her. Nor with her two brothers or sister. Yes, I have four children. Four children with whom I spend a good part of every day: bathing them, combing their hair, sitting with them while they do their homework, holding them while they weep their tragic tears. But I'm not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband.It is his face that inspires in me paroxysms of infatuated devotion. If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children."

The guests went on to talk about needing to put their husbands first and the kids second, that the kids should not be the center of your universe. They kids should be satellites and your spouse should be the center of your universe.

This may all be good in theory, but let's look at this logically. Who the heck has time to live like this? Or, am I just that disorganized? I spend my day with the two little ones who are at home. Abby goes to school and Chris goes to work. At 4:00, A gets home, and we have serious kid time. At 6:00, Chris gets home, and we eat dinner as a family. After that, he takes one or more of the girls while I do the dishes. Then, we all split up to do homework. One of us takes A and the other takes K and S for special mommy/daddy time. This takes us right to 8:30 when we put the kids in bed. Once the kids are in bed, I get online to score the projects my online students (I'm a sales trainer) have submitted that day. I finally have my own *free time* at about 9:30 or 10:00 each night, which I usually spend scrapbooking or writing or goofing off online. So, just where can I fit in time for my husband? I can fudge a little now and then, but there's nothing in that list I can cut out.

Which means we have weekends. But, who can afford babysitting? I understand that you grow apart if you don't find time for one another. I just fail to see how it works logistically.


At 5:00 AM, Blogger Heather said...

I saw that show too. I think this woman, Ayelet, had a point to make but chose the wrong way to say it. I saw her on the show and it was apparent her relationship with her children was fine. I think she was commenting on how Women identify primarily with being a mother at the sake of all other identities. The other problem is having your identity wrapped up so tightly in relationship with your partner. She was making a legitimate point that good parenting is part of a good (healthy, open, well tended) relationship with your partner. I think part of what she said what rhetorical shock value. She was flammed, but she wasnt in any sense a cold heartless woman.

I appreciate what she said in a way. I am a mom - but not at the expense of being me. I try to put the family - and everyone's needs at the centre. There was also conversation about what happens when kids are raised to be at the "centre of the universe" - what sort of adults they might become. It was interesting.

What really bugged me about the whole show, is that all these women were talking about how much time it takes to be a mom (true) and how little time there was at the end of the day to be a lover or (insert any number of hobbies). (true!). What was beguiling me is that where were all the fathers? I find that Eric is intrumental in making things work smoothely around here too...and we are totally in this parenting thing together and also sensitive that each of us need a break together and apart. That just didnt get discussed. It seemed all very sterotypical 1950's - mom did all the parenting and dad came home from work and scratched his balls in front of the TV.

At 5:13 AM, Blogger Kim said...

You made my point better than I did! Thanks!


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