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Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Maniacal Mother and the Madness of Blogs

Judith Warner's emotion-plucking piece in Newsweek spawned a flurry of postings. Some commiserated and empathized with, while others swore at her notions for why women are going insane as they try to find themselves in the slushy sea of parenting.

All the negativity out there surrounding this Newsweek article reminds me of the New York Times piece a couple of weeks back about Mommy blogs and how they are basically a bunch of self-absorbed parents writing about their kids. Well, now people are jumping at Warner's piece, because she is writing about women who choose to stay home with their kids. The key word there is "choose."

I relate to the article because I'm stressed and overwhelmed and wanting something that isn't easy to latch on to, but I don't relate to the keeping up with the Joneses part of it. I think there are so many valid points...our society just doesn't make it easy for women to be people and mothers, etc. Then again, a lot of the negative comments say that's what sacrifice is. That's what putting your kids first really means. I don't have the answers.

What I got out of it was that women everywhere are stressed out in motherhood. We've "surrendered our better selves--and (our) sanity--to motherhood." I definitely feel insane a good portion of the time. My kid goes to playgroup with his buddies twice a week. Lots of women I know cart their kids all over town to every type of activity you can pay for. But no matter which end of the spectrum you're on, there are stresses. Maybe people don't agree with them, but that doesn't invalidate the premise of the article: Women are often flailing in their quest to do what's right for themselves and their families.

Maybe I choose my insanity. Maybe I choose my depression. And maybe I choose to be torn over who I am and what it means to be a mother, a writer, a person, a wife. I know that my insanity and depression is not because I'm running my kid everywhere. And it's not because I resent my kid. I love being a mom, but I just wish that I could be a mom and also be other things too.

Anyway, Elizabeth over at Half Changed World did a great job of summing up some of the finer points of the article and pointing out some of the interesting blogs written about it.

I was hoping to read more of the comments--both positive and negative--but Technorati seems to be failing me and I'm too tired to keep searching.


  1. Why is it so wrong for women to want to be more than just a parent? Why do we have to give up all of ourselves, our total identity to be considered a good parent? Does it make me a bad person to want to continue fulfilling other parts of my life? Just because you do not relate to what at-home moms struggle with does not mean it is all in our heads. When I made the transition from working woman to at-home mother, it was like having a chunk of my identity cut out of my life. I love being a mom and I very dedicated to what I’m doing. The women I know are exchanging ideas, encouraging each other down new roads, and supporting each other's decisions as we try to fill that hole we can not always put our finger on. That does not make us bad or spoiled or mopy or whiny; it makes us human. Suzanne

  2. The reason for such a nagative response to this article is that, while it detailed the stresses and overwhelming feelings a mother has, it made them out to be pointed arrows fired at a helpless woman who doesn't deserve it! Being a mother is no cake walk and requires you to lay down some of your own needs for a time. Not once in her article did she ever consider that for some woman this is an honor position and a sacrifice they happily make. Instead it attacted them and called them push overs for not wanting "more" out of life! I think that she could have expressed herself and her feelings for being overwhelmed better. In a way that didn't attack mothers and fathers. To see my full response to her article and why I feel it is so off base, unfair and down right assulting please se my blog:
    Blessings, Jennifer Lynn Arnold

  3. Jennifer -- Your blog was one of the negative ones I read about the the Newsweek article before writing this post. I agree that motherhood isn't easy and I knew that going in and I have given up a lot (all my own doing), but I don't want to totally lose myself in the process. MIC

  4. Anonymous2:28 PM

    I have to say I'm not a big fan of Newsweek in general and the cover for this piece just made me want to groan. Nooooo, I don't want to think about this anymore; that was my knee-jerk response. But I was in a waiting room - a PSYCHIATRIST'S waiting room of all places - and I thought it would be funny on principle to pick it up and skim it.
    I agree that no parent has it easy; does anyone?
    But I also think that if you can be as happy with your life and who you are as possible (and I'm obviously not there yet), articles like this one will be more informational in an "Huh, that's interesting" kind of way and not a heartwrenching, anger-invoking experience.

    But again, I only skimmed it. ;^)