With Motherâ€™s Day upon usÂ like a breakfast tray of hot coffeeÂ accidentally spilled on the blanket (amid tears), it is time to ask that equally burning question: What do moms want?
The answer? We want to relax a little.
Not just relax in bed reading People and under a hot, soggy blanket.Â We want a whole new way of parenting that is not quite so overwrought.
Thatâ€™s a tall order in a country that has brought us a dozen different parenting magazines, a whole section of the book store devoted to childrearing issues, and the typical baby super store filled with 10,000 different items. Literally. We are swimming in so much advice, so many products and so much pressure to DO THE RIGHT THING, every second, every day, it is hard to feel like we are doing a decent job.
One parenting magazine, for instance, presentedÂ four pages of advice on “How to Have A Fun (And Totally Safe) Day In the Sun with Your little One.” Is this such a difficult thing for us to do, we need four pages of how to prepare and what to bring and how to do it without our kid getting burnt/poisoned/run over/stungÂ or bored?
Preparing for absolutely every possible contingency is the order of the day.Â Thatâ€™s not too much to ask, is it? After youâ€™ve checked the Internet for anyÂ new scares about plastics or food or bottles or classes your kid is supposed to take or fall off the fast track forever?
My friend Jill in New Jersey is debating what to do with her son. His coach wants him to get serious about the swim team and start practicing four days a week. But if he does that, Jill worries: What about his soccer and tennis abilities? He shows some promise there, too. Â
And how old is this promising athlete?
That kind of commitment is a lot to ask of both generations â€“ but at least the boy gets to splash around. The mom gets to prep and schlep. Hope she wasnâ€™t planning to do anything else with her week!
We folks are freaking out because weâ€™re only trying to do the best by our kids, but society has set that bar impossibly high. Thou shalt buy only the right brands! Thou shalt buy only the right stroller, car seat, and after school treats! And of course, thou shalt constantly stimulate thy childâ€™s development.Â Iâ€™m not talking about a couple rounds of patty cake, which can be fun. No, now there are whole books telling moms to get down on the floor, encouraging, instructing and being oh-so-verbal. 24/7,Â with their kids, lest a single synapse fail to spark.
Remember that whole brouhaha a couple weeks ago about strollers?Â â€œExpertsâ€ are worried that kids in strollers facing the street (i.e., 90% of them) arenâ€™t going to talk soon enough â€“ or well enough, or with big enough words â€“ because during that time, they are not interacting with mom.
As if, to raise a decent child, we have to spend every waking second staring into their eyes and talking Hegel? (“A Hegel-bagel boo!Â AÂ Hegely-bagely-boo, my brainy little bunny!”) Â
And when weâ€™re not enriching our children, our job is to keep them pampered like pashas. So weâ€™re sold baby knee pads for when they crawl, and baby wipe warmers so they should never suffer the trauma of a room temperature wipe. And now there are diapers shaped like — I kid you not — the womb!
Apparently our job is to make every single moment of our childrenâ€™s lives as safe and snug as it was in there,Â yet as developmentally stimulating as a Harvard education. Plus swimming lessons. Itâ€™s too much!
As we enjoy our Motherâ€™s Day breakfast (or, at this point, enjoyed), letâ€™s take a deep breath and try to make tomorrow Motherâ€™s Day, too: A time to remember that as much as we love our kids, we have been pushing ourselves too hard to make everything perfect â€“ them. And us. And breakfast.
Â — Lenore