“Women have fewer children and more labour-saving devices,yet they spend more time, energy and money on their children than their mothers did in the 1960s.”
So says Andrea O’Reilly, professor in York’s Atkinson School of Arts & Letters and founder of the Association for Research on Mothering at York University in Canada. She worries that today’s children are being over-mothered. And because of that they are going to be adults who are incapable of making a decision or unable to stand on their own two feet.
The myth of perfect mothering is one that drives mothers to despair, because there is no such thing as the perfect mother. And even if there was, that wouldn’t guarantee perfect children. There are too many variables when it comes to raising children. Not to mention the propensity children have for doing the exact opposite of what you tell them.
Why is it that women put so much of their hearts and souls (and energies) into their children? It is something that comes naturally or something that society puts upon them? Most likely it is both. Men just aren’t expected to know all the minutiae of their children’s lives. But the woman who doesn’t know her child’s favorite toy, his shoe size, when he had his last check-up, or what he is afraid of is considered to be a poor mother indeed.
Fathers are off the hook when it comes to all that. In fact, everyone oohs and aahs over the man who does know these things. “What an amazing father he is!” people exclaim. For a mother, they figure it’s the least she should know. Mothers are held to a higher standard. They might not have it any other way, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to bear.
It wouldn’t be surprising if there was a lot of anger out there among mothers who have taken the rap for imperfect kids. One book that addresses that fact is Stunned: The New Generation of Women Having Babies, Getting Angry and Creating a Mother’s Movement, by Karen Bridson. Blue Milk discusses this book in her post here. She is also offering to send an excerpt to those who email her and request it (at email@example.com). She’s inviting comments and planning to have the author participate in the discussion in the near future.
I’ve ordered a copy and will keep you posted on what I think of it.
More food for thought: Blue Milk’s 10 Feminist Motherhood Questions.