Archive for April, 2007

Hail to our Mothers!

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I was on a long run yesterday, thinking about this book we are working on — this book about mothers and for mothers. I started thinking about our own mothers and how much we owe them.

Susan’s mom e-mails her daily with suggestions about the title, and her enthusiasm is so energizing. Anne’s mom is a die-hard Big Apple lover and just took Anne and her family to the city for their annual visit. My mother unfailingly checks in with me to see how I’m managing with work and with the kids, and her bottomless compassion and support always give me a boost.

Our mothers had different lives than we do, that’s for sure. I don’t know that their day to day lives were easier or harder, they were just different. But when we face our challenges, and dream our dreams, lurking right there in our hearts is the knowledge of how much they cared for us… and how much they still do care for us. We’re entering middle age (groan!), but we still need our mothers every now and then.

I guess the bottom line is really… how will our children remember us once they’re grown up? Loving… compassionate… decisive… happy. Hopefully all that and more.

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Shopping has become recreation. We never feel as though we earn enough, or have enough. There’s always another clothing item to buy, upgrade to complete, or gadget we can’t live without. Did you know that self storage facilities in the U.S. have increased by 36% in the last five years? There’s enough self-storage space to cover three times the size of Manhattan. Why is this industry one of the fastest growing in America? Because we have so much stuff that we can’t cram it all into our houses!

There’s so much new technology that is helpful and fun, but so darn distracting too. How often do you see a kid now-a-days without something electronic in their hands? Not too often, I’ll bet. Do your kids ask you for — no, demand – new stuff all the time? Can they be happy with last year’s MP3 player, or last decade’s stereo or… maybe… solitude and quiet? What are some of the effects of this frenzied, consumer culture on our children, the parents of the future?

Oxygen for Mom

Friday, April 6th, 2007

How many times have you been squeezed into an airplane seat and listened to a stewardess admonish: In case of an emergency, adults should put on their oxygen masks first, THEN help their children?

This is utterly counter-intuitive, yet when we hear it we know it makes sense. How can our children be OK if the people in charge are oxygen-deprived? This seems an apt metaphor for real life too, but mothers rarely follow this prescription…

A few springs ago, I spent months dragging my heels, chiding myself for being lazy and depressed, not taking my meds for hypo-thyroidism and wondering why I was starting to look like Kirstie Alley. It never occurred to me to make a doctor’s appointment for myself… Why? I was busy! I just thought I needed to pull myself together and be more self disciplined and then presto, I’d feel great again!

When I finally got my blood tested — because I was taking my kids in and I thought, what the hell — it led to a battery of tests (including a delightful colonoscopy) and I discovered that not only was I severely anemic, but I had celiac disease too.

No wonder I felt like something the cat dragged in. And I had been so hard on myself, so disgusted with my lack of stamina. This episode changed everything for me. It taught me to be much more compassionate toward myself.

Have you had a turning point like this? What does it take to treat ourselves with the same kindness and respect with which we treat the other people we love and take care of?

From Perfect Girls… to Perfect Mothers?

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

The front page article in the New York Sunday Times yesterday was, “For Girls, It’s Be Yourself, and Be Perfect, Too,” by Sara Rimer. Wow, what these motivated public high schoolers have on their plates is incredible!

The article explains that since elementary school these girls have been fed conflicting messages: “Bring home A’s. Do everything.” But also: “Be yourself. Have fun.”

Oh… and you have to be hot too (of course!). “Effortlessly hot,” one of the girls adds.

These girls have been groomed to do the very best they possibly can. By nature and nurture they’re strivers. Still only teenagers, they already worry about making enough money to live decently. The principal of their high school says, “You almost have to be superhuman to resist the pressure.” So they spend their weekends working, they forgo boyfriends, they never just hang out. They worry, worry worry.

And these “amazing girls” feel inadequate. “You’re supposed to do all these things,” one of them says, “and not go insane.”
And what happens to these girls when they become mothers? They’ll still be strivers, working hard for those A’s, feeling guilty for taking care of their own needs. They’ll seek approval, and progress and evidence of their success. They’ll still feel inadequate! The stress they impose on themselves, and which society imposes on them, will simply continue.

Is there a way out?