Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just Don't Do It

The Atlantic Monthly printed an article of a type that is becoming fairly common. The author bemoaned that having children did not make her happy, that one shouldn't expect people to have children, and that many women are miserable raising children. To that effect, she provided a few quotes from some website or another. The gist of the quotes was that these women had expected to be fulfilled by being SAHMs and were actually deeply unhappy.

The comments, though, seemed to reveal that people who empathised with this article had a very particular view of motherhood. They had extremely high standards for themselves. One commenter said that, of course, mothers of toddlers had no time to read.

I have time to read, and I do read, a lot. As I thought this, I looked up and caught sight of my toddler. He was chewing on a piece of balsa wood that I think belonged to his brother's kite. He looked up at me thoughtfully, as if to say, beg your pardon? Don't mind me; I just thought I'd take a break from gnawing at your electrical cords as if I were a rodent.

He does not actually gnaw at electrical cords.

In sum, I have time to read because of my very low standards. If there was one thing that would have made these commenters happier, it was some low standards of their own. Plus, not only do low standards give you time to read, but you can get a very special glow from knowing that you are making other parents feel better about themselves. When I venture outside with my little circus, all sorts of mothers see me, and immediately they feel more competent. Sure, they may have missed the school play, but 100% of their children are wearing pants right now. Meanwhile, I'm having to remind Firefly that he isn't allow to chew on his own shoe.

My daughter kept waking up tonight. She'd periodically pop up with some comment, until finally I told her that it was unnerving to hear her at one a.m., and she ought to go to sleep. She asked if "one a.m." meant that it was morning now, and her father answered yes. She said, "Yay, I'm nocturnal!" Apparently this and losing her front teeth are now her proudest achievements to date. I am still not pleased that she keeps waking up, but I can't help but applaud her on her usage of vocabulary. The night before, she responded to mild verbal chastisement by telling her father that "this is not acceptable!" One doesn't know whether to laugh, or to send her to time out.

Genome is extremely interested in Pending. He particularly wants to feed Pending chocolate chip cookies. He says that were he to wish on a star, he would wish for a dinosaur, and a chocolate chip cookie for the new baby. I said, "you'd wish for a cookie for the new baby?" He said "yes, and a dinosaur." 


  1. Interesting article. (The Atlantic, that is.)
    I would venture a guess as to why these women are "unhappy" is that not only do they have an unrealistic expectation of parenting, but maybe they thought that parenting itself would be the cure for their own unhappiness.
    This is wrong, of course, as any parent who has brought a child into the world as an attempt to solve their marriage problems would know.
    I could be off the mark, but I bet that these unhappy women imagined child rearing as only a selection of honor rolls, birthday parties, and the pitter-patter of little feet.
    Then came the dirty diapers, runny noses, the asking to borrow your car on Friday night, and the learning of new 4 letter words to offend Grandma. (Not nessisarily in this order.) There goes the high expectations. ( My 4 year old turned to me the other day and said "Daddy, you're such a dooshbag." I was too busy laughing to punish her.)
    Parenting is, of course, a combination of the good and the bad. And, in my opinion, it's worth the ride.

    James Felton

  2. "When I venture outside with my little circus, all sorts of mothers see me, and immediately they feel more competent."

    My own children make childless people feel good about being childless. They should pay me.