Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Stranglehold, Part 2

While my dilemma is not an uncommon one for mothers, the only people who offered advice were men, single women, or grandmas whose kids are long out of the house: suggesting to me that while solutions were right under my nose, something about being a mother was preventing me (and other women) from being able to see them, act on them, or accept what they are.
What is this something that prevents me and so many mothers from believing that they can pursue joy free from the strangleholds of domestic life?

I believe it is an impossible, internally imposed, standard of motherly conduct that precludes the common sense actions we need to take care of our own well-being. (A standard which men don’t share, and of which single women may not yet be aware.) To make an analogy, we  impose on ourselves the maternal equivalent of a 38D bust, a 24 inch waist and the body mass index of a supermodel.  In other words, we've got the maternal equivalent of eating disorder.

Having sat with this for a few days, on Sunday afternoon I grabbed a page from the green kitchen pad and wrote was for me a new manifesto of healthy mothering:  
  • I will never yell again.
  • Nothing is "that" important.
  • I am no longer responsible for everyone’s feelings - or their futures.
  • I will only say things once.
  • The children clean up with their parents.
  • Hungry children must ask nicely for food or go to their rooms until they can.
While I didn’t follow the advice of my readers to the letter, what I got in spirit was the belief that something new was possible. And what I got in reality was something yet to be tried and a whole new frontier for this mother/athlete/surfer.


  1. I like your new rules. (Wish I could apply them myself).

    By the way, I don't want my experience of how difficult it is to balance life, kids, and self to be discounted since I'm a man. I do about 1/3 of the daily childcare in our household, since my wife and I both work as full time professors. I know I don't get what it's like to be a woman in this role but I do get the role.

    Also, your post's titles this week keep making me head the Ted Nugent song "Stranglehold" play in my head. A lighter side?

  2. In fact, I was giving greater weight to the non-mother comments, because I think mothers have developed a cultural conversation about how difficult/impossible/frustrating it is and sometimes lose sight of what's possible because of it.

    And I haven't yelled a single time this week!

  3. I love that list!