Friday, May 14, 2010

The Anxiety of Motherhood

Is there anything in our culture more anxiety producing than motherhood?

I saw this over and over on blogs and Twitter leading up to Mother’s Day, intelligent and dedicated women torn up over whether or not they are good mothers. A SAHM who left her career behind to raise her two young children feels like she is not doing it right, working moms who probably spend more time with their children that the average 1050’s housewife who feel guilty about shortchanging their children. Has it always been like this?

Is this how motherhood has always been or if there something really toxic going on? Why do so many mothers feel like total failures at the most important job we will ever have?
I don’t have any answers about this, but I am really disturbed by the question. I am not immune to this anxiety so this is not in any way a criticism of women who question their mothering skills. But if motherhood is supposed to be the greatest joy in our lives, why do so many of us feel like shit about it?

I have sometimes thought that I love my girls so much that I wish they had a better mother than me. I wish they had someone who wouldn’t yell at them or be selfish or be depressed. Someone who could raise them to be the awesome women they are. I hope I haven’t raised them to live with this same sense of self-doubt if and when it is their turn to be mothers.

Next year, instead of the rainbow and orchids and other Hallmark-designated trappings of Mother’s Day, let a mother know she is doing a good job. Tell her that you know mothering is not easy and that she isn’t the only one why worries about not being any good at it. In fact, why not do it today?

1 comment:

  1. Have you checked out the book or web site Free Range Kids, by Lenore Skenazy? It's an important antidote to the phenomenon you describe...