Musings from outside the mainstream.
Want to Parent, Not Sure About Being a Mommy writes in to Carolyn Hax feeling “ambivalent about motherhood.” She acknowledges some social pressure suggesting that parenting is “all-consuming and definitive of who you get to be and how you get to live” while also sharing that her field in graduate school was culture and gender studies and, in her words, is “quite hostile toward pregnancy and childbirth.”
Not Sure About Being a Mommy alludes to some anxiety over maintaining her identity, but really seems pretty level-headed simply by being aware. And, as Hax sometimes does, she wades in to the deep end being both guilty of and warning against “the hazards of over thinking.”
Look, we can discuss social roles ad-infinitum and offer all sorts of validation to women. But it’s endless analyzation that’s contributing to the problems we’re seeing in families and in children. In the end parenting and partnering is pretty no-nonsense. Neither needs to be fraught with angst, and both are supported with good boundaries.
So I’ll start with my first recommendation: Not Sure About Being a Mommy should read a different columnist, John Rosemond when it comes to parenting. On this issue specifically, Rosemond comments frequently on the social shift whereby young women identify as being a mom rather than a wife. This has lead to a child-centric culture and host of problems ranging from poor adult relationships and anxieties in children that just didn’t exist in the past.
When speaking about our child-centric culture, we should say this notion of being a mom first, spouse/partner second is female culture. It is inflicted on women by women. And when families are out of balance, it affects everyone.
Not Sure About Being a Mommy? You don’t have to buy into the notion that mommyhood comes before personhood, or that children come before spouse or partner. One can be an excellent parent and pretty unconflicted at the same time. Parenting and childhood do not have to be anxiety provoking.
It seems you have a good head on your shoulders and an awareness of some of the pressures around you. Simply don’t play the game.
To be successful in the three items above it’s good to discuss rolls before children come along. Rolls are good. We can chose them now, they are no longer fixed to gender. Learn to address conflict. And then you have the skills to deal with conflict out of ear-shot from the children. Structure, such as bed times, eating as a family, etc. are good things. Don’t co-sleep with your children. Limit screen time. It’s ok to tell your children “no.” Don’t try to rationalize with a toddler and don’t feel obligated to explain yourself to your teenager.
And finally, be confident and don’t question yourself. Parenting is not is not a competition and it all levels out in the end.