Lest you forget about all the exciting things going on in my life, I am here to remind you that I'm still reading. It just so happens that the chapter I've hit coincides with several of the hot topics around the blogosphere.
I'm pretty sure the posts were well intentioned, however, hot topics that have a controversial figure or issue attached (i.e. Andrea Yates and baby training) to them can often times get misconstrued. Like a bad argument with your spouse, you find yourself arguing about the pair of underwear on the floor (secondary issue) when really you should be discussing responsibilities (core issue).
What both posts were getting at (at one level or another IMO) and which a few people gathered, was the notion of the sacrificial mother. You know, the one who does, gives, and is everything to her family, and leaves nothing for herself. Sacrificial mothering is the new black, didn't you know?
We used to spend our time guilting the working moms who actually *gulp* chose to work rather than stay home. Research studies this and doctor's findings that all "said" that women should be home with their kids. In reality, they said no such thing - in fact, the only solid studies say a happy mom is a good mom - has nothing to do with exactly how many hours you spend with your child.
Then, women started leaving their careers, staying home with their kids, and the sacrificial mother was reborn (it's always been around folks - we're just bringing it back with a new twist). She IS her kids and her family. She eats, sleeps, and breathes them and she is sucked dry on a daily basis.
The problem with the sacrificial mother is terribly obvious, except many of us (me included) still fall into the trap. Some of us (perhaps Andrea Yates) land really hard. We are the only ones who can "do it right" so we have to do it. We HAVE to breastfeed because that's the best thing for our kids, even if we have to eat 4 foods and suffer miserably. We bounce, coddle, jiggle, and rock so our children will sleep and not cry for even a MOMENT for fear that in some way, we will damage their psyches. We try, in our own crazy way, to DO IT ALL. Not necessarily because we want to, but we believe that we have to so that our kids will have the best chance to be, well, the best.
We roll our eyes (either overtly or secretly) at the moms who work, wondering how they can hand their child over to a *gulp* daycare or nanny. How careless, how selfish, how incredibly un-motherlike. We judge the choices of other mothers (baby trainers, CIO-ers, formula feeders, co-sleepers, non-organic eaters), for one reason or another, because they might, at some level, not be giving their child 120% of what they need.
And in all our judging and giving, we lose our own self. We take little, if any, time for ourselves. We don't ask for help, we don't say a word, and secretly, we are MISERABLE.
Sure, we know motherhood brings with it some level of sacrifice. But, how much is too much? When do we say, darling, YOU need to put the baby to bed? Or baby, you need to cry a little bit to get yourself back to sleep? Or, Kristen, YOU need to take a shower today. What about US?
So, I'm here to say that it's okay to go away for a weekend and not miss your families, my fellow CHBM. I'm here to tell you, my blogging buds that shall remain unnamed, that it's okay to get a babysitter and go out as a couple. Dare I say it might be nice for your kids to see someone else other than your tired face? I'm here to let you know that it's okay to demand more from your spousal unit and not feel bad about it. And, I'm here to tell you, that I'm not a bad mother for saying so and either are you for listening to me. I promise.
I'm still glad that I left my job. I don't resent my child, husband, or self for my choices. But, I now truly understand why women work - why they baby train, formula feed, or wean early. And I don't question their choices. In fact, I admire them in a way because I realize that being a mother is not about giving up yourself. It's not about being so run down and trampled over that your semblance of self is totally enmeshed with the people around you. It's about doing what you think is best for your kids while still being a human yourself (with good balance and the health and safety of your child in your mind, of course).
We've paid our dues, people. Let's try on something else. Acceptance? Support? Choice? I'm thinking those are way more flattering.