Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How to be a good Mom, according to 'them'

Have you ever considered how our perceptions of what we 'should' be come into being? I've been thinking about that lately. It seems like all of us are racing along at a startling pace, trying to get stuff done. We are trying to work hard, buy more stuff, enroll our kids in all the right things, take the right vacations, buy the right cars, and live in the right houses. Yet who determines what is 'right'?
Very little about our lives is real anymore. I noticed last night as I was picking the kids up from childcare. A woman was picking up her baby. Her body was not real. Here in my little neck of the woods people are investing in plastic surgery. Magazine covers are airbrushed. Women are held to rediculous standards.
Oprah, who I don't often watch, had a show on last week about age. She had on Gina Davis and Diane Carrol and Norah Ephron. Diane Carrol has had so much plastic surgery that she hast the skin of a 20 year old and she is well into her 70s. Gina Davis's forehead doesn't move when she talks, and she has not a crease. Even Oprah's forehead looks pretty creaseless. How is that possible? I look around at my 30 and 40 something girlfriends and we all have a few lines. Of course none of us are willing to pay to have someone inject botox into our foreheads.
Did you know if you go to the store you can pay to buy a 'neck mask' The neck is the one area that we haven't mastered yet. They can't do a neck lift. They can laser it, but the bottom line is your neck is going to show your age, a lot like your hands do.
Ahh, but I digress. So while we are supposed to look a certain terrific way, we are also supposed to do certain terrific things. That song in the 70s, I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, etc, is a lie. No one can do it all without sweating. I think most women who work during the day, come home, make dinner, take care of kids and keep the house fairly decent fall over from exhaustion the minute they get everyone put to bed at night. How could they not? Its exhausting demanding work. At least I get to go to work and just be a worker for a few hours a day. I get adult conversation and interaction. I can do that job and do it well. I come home at night and suddenly I have a million jobs to do, and some of them are changing constantly. Kids don't stay static. Just about the time you figure out how to help them with whatever behavioral problem they are presenting, they throw a new one at you and you start from square one.
Next week I've signed the twins up for daycamp out in the woods. It requires that they get on a school bus together, without us, and ride out each day. I'm so worried they won't go. They have never done it before, and they tend to be a little tentative at first. I've signed them up for very little this summer. I also don't have them enrolled in a million after school activities. I don't know how I could. How do people work 8-5 and get their kids to soccer practice, ballet lessons, karate, and piano lessons? I'm baffled by it. I refuse to buy into it, although the pressure is horrendous. So far we have not been tutoring our kids and pushing them. We read to them each day and we use computers, but I haven't been forcing them to use them to 'get ahead' when they enter kindergarten. People do.
I wonder what we'll see in 20 years when this generation enters the workforce. I suspect we'll see another set of counterculture - people who have been pushed too far too young and rebel by not pushing at all. We are already beginning to see tired and worn out 20 year olds.
The weekend before last we spent a better part of one morning looking for bugs in the front yard. We found 'rolly pollies' as my daughter likes to call them, or 'pill bugs' The kids have far more fun doing what kids have always done, playing with stuff in nature, make-believe and dress up. A large box is still a far more excellent toy then anything we could buy. If the basic truths of childhood haven't changed, why is it that we sink so much cash into commercially marketed things that are supposed to be even better. . You can't get better then a fairy tale castle made out of a refrigerator box, or a pill bug family on the front stoop.
Ok, enough rambling for today...

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