Monday, June 19, 2006

Surviving Motherhood

Trying out posting pictures - Anna at Age 2 in one of her not so great moments
There is a new show on TLC called "Surviving Motherhood." At least it's new to me, because summertime is when I catch up on everyone in Connecticut, New York, or California having their babies (A Baby Story) and then bringing them home (Bringing Home Baby.) Now TLC has extended their voyeurism opportunities to families' next few years of parenting. It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows my blogging addiction that I enjoy watching these types of shows where I get an up close look at someone's life, and I have no idea who they are. However, I take exception with this "Surviving Motherhood." First of all, the name. Is motherhood, or parenthood, something to be survived? When I think of things that one must survive, I think of examples like a root canal, a bad blind date, or worse yet a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The second reason I did not like the show - the focus on the focus mother. She is the classic overworked, overstressed full time working mother with three young children. The show revolved around her day to day schedule, and then the cameras would flash to some sort of support group that consisted of the focus mom and several other mothers offering support/advice to the focus mom. The other mothers, however, either did not work or they only had one child. So the conversations went something like this:

"Regular Mom" - "Wow, I don't know how you do it. I only have one kid and I feel like I don't have enough time in the day."

"Focus Mom" - "Yeah, it's just so busy, and my husband, he's great, but I just feel like I can't ask him to do anymore. If I could just have one more hour in the day..."

"Another Regular Mom" - "You're just amazing how you juggle it all: family, career, and trying to carve out some time for yourself. There's no way I could do that."

I think the perception of society is that children= stress, work, busyness (true), and therefore the more children you have, the more stress, work, and busyness you have (true for some.) And if you work outside the home, that even adds to the craziness. (I take exception to this - whether you work outside the home or not in my opinion shouldn't be a stress gauge.) My point is this: people have different breaking points when it comes to child rearing. I've seen some pretty stressed out one child parents, and I've seen families of multiple children whose mothers look as if they could handle even more. And let's not leave all the stress and busyness to the mothers; I'm sure there are single women or married women without children who are busier or more stressed than me; they are just busier or more stressed with things other than children. So to sum this point up, and it is hard for me to put into words all that is in my mind regarding this subject, so I know the thoughts are a little jumbled, and I certainly do not want to offend any mothers or downplay the blood, sweat, tears, and prayers that go into raising children, I think that regardless of your place and calling in life, you should be respected and admired for all that you accomplish in the 24 hours you have each day, and I, for one, do not want to merely survive motherhood, but I want to also enjoy the two gifts that God has given to me.

In closing, a disclaimer and side note to the thoughts above. First, the disclaimer. To my sister-in-law who is expecting triplets, you can complain anytime you want about being more stressed or busier than me! And to reiterate, I think that parenting is a lot of hard work and at times we are in survival mode to just make it through the day, so the purpose of this post is not to minimize the amount of time and effort it takes to raise children, nor to blast TLC for their programming. And now for the side note - I am an avid coupon shopper. I spend 4-5 hours a week clipping and organizing coupons and doing my shopping. I've had comments from others about how they don't have time to do this, which is completely understandable. However, when the implication becomes that they can't believe I take the time to do it, my reply (in my head of course, I am so non-confrontational that I would never say this aloud) is this - we all have the same amount of time in the day, we just choose to focus our energies on different activities. I have a good friend who is an avid garage sale/consignment shop shopper. She saves tons of money on clothes for her son. I choose not to spend time saving money in this way, but to say I just don't have time to garage sale almost minimizes her efforts to save money - it may come across that she must have nothing better to do with her time, and I am SO busy, I just can't do it. Scrapbooking - same way. The minute I mention that I'm all caught up with my pictures (I'm not by the way, I've been too busy blogging, and I'm 6 months behind) I get the comments, "Oh, just wait until the third one comes (I'm NOT making any sort of announcement here), you won't have any time then." You get the picture.


Blogger Kelley said...

Great post! You might wonder why this resonates with me as I have no children, but that is precisely my point. When I talk to my friends (who do have children)about things I'm doing and they answer me with, "There's no way I could do that. I just don't have the time with the kids." I just want to scream. It implies that I have absolutely nothing going on in my life. The way I see it, everyone makes time in their life for the things that are important to them. Haveing kids or not/ working outside the home or not, probably has very little to do with it. Okay, I'm going to step down off my soapbox. BTW- Elizabeth seemed to be having a great time at basketball camp today. I run the concession stand for them so I was able to see she and Hannah. She looked quite spiffy in her basketball shoes! :)

June 19, 2006 10:43 PM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

Great job putting your thoughts into writing, Deb. I agree that everyone has 24 hours and what we choose to do with those hours (and our money, too) reflects our priorities better than most other indicators. This encouraged me as a mom - thanks!

June 19, 2006 10:46 PM  

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