Amy Clark

The Perfect Mommy

Newsweek is running an issue of their magazine (Feb 21) with the cover story being, “The Myth of the Perfect Mother.” It is always fun to see how mothers are portrayed through the media and these articles offer both encouraging & discouraging advice (in my own humble opinion). I am going to take a few quotes from the articles and break them down into how they translate into my own role as a mother. Here we go…

The Good Enough Mother by Anna Quindlen
“There’s the problem with turning motherhood into martyrdom. There’s no way to do it and have a good time.”

Alright, I see your point about the whole martyr thing, but that has been working for me for years. You see, the only way I can get my husband to help me with my son is if I play the martyr. And if I cry about overscheduling myself and the pressures of picking a good preschool, making sure my child knows all he needs to know in preparation for his IQ test, and doing all of this while baking my perfectly-perfect banana bread in my perfectly-perfect apron (we have to eat, right?) then I receive sympathy and make my mommy friends feel like they aren’t doing enough for their own children. Ultimately, they will want to be me. Martyrhood causes guilt all around me and I think it is working wonders for all of my relationships and guess what, Anna?? I am having a good time. Maybe those around me aren’t, but I’m the mom and I like being a martyr. It makes me feel like the world couldn’t function without me.

The most incandescent memories of my childhood are of making my mother laugh. My kids did the same for me.

Wow, you made your mother laugh? Holy cow! I made my mom cry… A LOT! You are so lucky!

A good time is what they remember long after toddler programs and art projects are over. The rest is just scheduling.

JUST SCHEDULING! Wow, Anna, now you are stepping on my toes. I happen to take pride in the fact that I have an organized activity arranged for my child every single day. To be honest, I think that Ethan would refer to this as his “good time” and having free time is really for lazy children. Someday when your children have no skills or hobbies (I think you would have discovered this by age two), my child will be composing concertos, developing the “new,new,newest math” for the elementary children, and making his political debut talking on the effects of gangsta rap on children. And what would your children have been doing at this age? Drawing with chalk on the driveway, laughing, and having unorganized and unorthodox fun? Hmmm… I think I have made my point.

Mommy Madness by Judith Warner

Some of the mothers appeared to have lost nearly all sense of themselves as adult women. They dressed in kids’ clothes—overall shorts and go-anywhere sandals.

Go-anywhere sandals? Um, you lost me? Are those the comfy-type shoes that go well with overall shorts? OH…now I know what you are talking about. Now it’s been a couple of weeks since I taped an episode of “What Not to Wear,” but I swear that those catty little divas on that show said, “Go-anywhere shoes were the next black.” Might want to check with your stylist though on that one.

They were so depleted by the affection and care they lavished upon their small children that they had no energy left, not just for sex, but for feeling like a sexual being. “That part of my life is completely dead,” a working mother of two told me. “I don’t even miss it. It feels like it belongs to another life. Like I was another person.”

Stop lavishing affection and care on your children, working mother of two. What the heck? Save that stuff for your hubby. When your kid starts hugging you, push them away. Tell them there is only enough love in the house for one person and that they aren’t it. Problem solved.

There was something new, too: the tendency many women had to feel threatened by other women and to judge them harshly—nowhere more evident than on Urbanbaby and other, similarly “supportive” web sites. Can I take my 17-month-old to the Winnie the Pooh movie?, one mom queried recently. “WAY tooooo young,” came one response.

Something new? Women making other women feel threatened and judging them harshly? I think that goes way back into the Dark Ages. I have not only gotten this in motherhood, but I have gotten it in high school, college, and work. Women are mean to each other. That is our job!

By the way, who asks if it is okay to take their 17-month-old to Winnie the Pooh? I would have suggested that the mother & her husband have a date night and catch the latest Winnie the Pooh flick and then judge for themselves. There is no hotter date night then snuggling up with your sweetie while Tigger is doing his, “Bouncy,bouncy” dance. Definitely worth the money spent on the sitter and the movie.

Meet the Slacker Mom by Peg Tyre

You won’t catch Muffy Mead-Ferro at a toddler fitness class. When it comes to enriching after-school activities, she’s not ferrying her kids to traveling soccer or French lessons either. She lets them amuse themselves in a mud puddle in the backyard instead.

Being your kid must suck. Seriously! Amusing yourself in a mud puddle in the backyard versus French lessons. I think she is just trying to save money.

Dinner wasn’t fancy,” she says. “My mother just didn’t have the time, the focus or the inclination to put on that kind of show.”

THAT kind of show…I think that was a direct insult to my perfectly-perfect banana bread and my perfectly-perfect apron. You see, lady, I AM that kind of show. And I get a standing ovation every single night while your kids eat Spaghetti-o’s or Lucky Charms.

She wants her kids to tolerate fr
ustration and setbacks, to be self-reliant and conscious of the needs of others, and above all to grow up to think for themselves.

And I just want my kid to be a robot and live with me until he is forty. I see that we have different goals for our kids.

Seriously, all joking aside, these articles do bring up good and valuable points about what we are doing to our kids and what we are doing to ourselves. When there are books coming out (and probably selling a lot of copies) called, “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety,” it starts to make me nervous. Should I be anxious? Am I “perfectly mad?”

We all want the best for our kids, but if my sanity comes into question, then I would like to bow out of the competition. You all can go nuts without me!

Published February 18, 2005 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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