Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Are We Miserable Mothers?

A few months ago when I first started blogging, I came across an article on a website written by a woman who was married, but had no desire to have children. She pointed out that people were always asking her when she was having kids and when she said never, people couldn't understand why. So her article set out to explain why.

She listed reasons of freedom to travel, freedom to spend time with her husband, freedom to work and spend time with friends. I was just perfectly fine with those reasons. Then, she started talking about mother's and what she had observed about them. One thing stuck with me. She said that when she saw mothers in the supermarket or out in public, they looked miserable-either tired, or angry or frustrated. She seemed to picture motherhood as a ball and chain. She also had some very clear ideas about what mother's were doing wrong. 

It seemed that she was basing her judgement of mother's in general on those moments. I know that I have looked completely frustrated and angry at moments in public with my children. I once left Rite Aid with fire coming out of my ears because my boys had decided to take the wrapping paper rolls and use them as swords in a sword fight that ended up in a heap on the floor with them wrestling. I'm sure that my face was not a pretty site as I left that store.

But, to base judgement on the whole of my mothering experience on a moment like that is an error in judgement. I understand her error though because before you have children , there is no possible way to understand the layers and facets of mothering children. No way to know that although I left that store angry, I then had the opportunity to teach and mold my children into better human beings. That I was able to hug and kiss them goodnight and wake up the next morning to a whole new set of wonders and challenges with them. And that it was all good.

I have been looking around at moms lately and there are some that do look absolutely miserable. There are also some that look so happy laughing and conversing with their children. But, the same goes for every other person out there, not just moms. Some old men and old ladies look miserable and some look happy, some men look miserable and some look content, some teachers, store clerks, librarians, gardeners look miserable and some look happy. 

So I think it is that people tend to notice moms, especially if you have multiple children. We are under a much closer microscope than the rest of the population. We are watched not only to see our mood, but also to see how we parent or handle certain situations. We get dirty looks when our kids misbehave in restaurants or airplanes, and we get compliments when they do. When I get complimented on my kids' behavior, I always laugh a little to myself because really, sometimes we just get caught on a good day!

I am not a big fan of any kind of pretense, but I do want to give the world the correct impression that mothering my children is my greatest joy, not my worst nightmare.


Farmgirl Paints said...

I know before I had kids I was scared to death. We actually waited 7 years before we took the plunge. Even though it is a challenge, I wouldn't trade my job for another. I love being a mom. I hope that my "happiness" shows up in public more than my miserable face, because we all know we have those days too.

Liz said...

Very interesting perspective. Why is it that when others defend there positions on anything they have to deflate the "opposing" view? Like...I am better then you because I am not you?? What kind of stupid logic is that? I guess it goes to show that people are really motivated by fear and driven to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Even if their information is not from a good source. Thanks for the insight.

Alisa said...

I'm sure I have been guilty many times of having an angry looking face with kids in tow at a store. But, it's too bad this woman wasn't at my grocery store yesterday. At the end of every aisle Tessa put her hands out asking for a hug. I kept reaching in and accepting her hug as she pat me on the back with both hands. Even though I was in a rush to get Ty from school, I still accepted every one of those hugs. I can't tell you how many smiles we got from observers. Not only did she make my day, but she was making others smile too!! =) Children are a precious gift. I respect those who decide not to have children, but I also feel in my heart they are the ones missing out.