Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day 18: Don't get me started on mommy madness.

Judith Warner wrote a column for Sunday’s New York Times, disputing an essay from the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University that claimed parents today are unhappy because they’re lives are no longer fun.

Warner argues society, with its pressures to have active, engaged children, is putting strain on the American mom. It’s our culture that’s the problem, not the parents.

While I’m in no position to say the American mom isn’t happy, because it certainly seems like she has a lot to complain about, I take issue with at least one point she makes.

Not having access to decent child care or affordable health care or good quality public education is not a question of attitude. Neither is being frustrated that you can’t ever make it home for a family dinner because you can’t afford to work a decent schedule or to live close enough to work to make it home at a decent hour. Talking about these problems isn’t a condemnation of parenthood; it’s a condemnation of the way parenthood is being lived, in our culture, at this particular time.

Did she really just compare not having good child care to having too long a commute? I’m sorry, but having a giant house two hours from work isn’t quite in the same universe as leaving your child in a smelly institution with questionable employees because that’s all a single mom can afford.

If you’ll allow me on my soap box for a moment, if parents feel like they don’t have enough time with their family because their golden shackles won’t allow them enough dinner time, maybe they could sell their minivan, stop enrolling their children in so-called community activities, move into a home that costs $300,000 less than their current McMansion, shop at Pottery Barn a little less and devote more time to their family.

Everyone makes choices.

How about this? If we knew our neighbors, shopped with them at the local market and let our children play at the neighborhood park, we all could become less lonely and more fulfilled. Although, as I know all too well, without a community to make this decision, it’s just one crazy lady taking her kids on bus rides around town.

So when Warner says children are the bright spot in our lives, I agree.

When she says families can’t live close enough to work to make it home in time for dinner, I emphatically disagree.

All they have to do is make a different choice.


At 11:19 AM, Blogger todd said...

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At 11:21 AM, Blogger todd said...

did you consider bicycling instead of public transit as a way to ditch the car? i don't know Normal, but it sure works for our car-free family in Portland, Oregon, and my neighbor's.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger DJ and Kristen said...

You rock and I totally agree with your thoughts on making healthy and life-giving decisions. We will keep working towards a new American dream in our own ways around this country.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger KCT said...

just wanted to point out that not all people living far from their workplace live in 'mcmansions'...the lack of workforce housing in many communities forces people to live further out, possibly isolating themselves from the community, due to the ever-increasing price of real estate/property...not necessarily out of a desire for status/mcmansion-dom...

At 2:12 PM, Blogger thais said...

Actually, in our small town in the south you can either (a) live in an expensive mcmansion far from work (b) live in an expensive home in the town proper, near enough to walk or (c) live more cheaply somewhere in between (or in a trailer in the woods). In our case, wanting an actual house, this means neither in town nor quite out of it, in a decidedly weird neighborhood you wouldn't want to walk around much anyway. Housing post-Katrina is REALLY limited, too. So it's not always as simple as blithely choosing what you want. We've tried.

At 5:07 AM, Blogger iwanagain said...

The last two comments were right. Not everyone is living far from work, shopping, downtown is in a McMansion. Trust me, I know about not having enough money to feel like I can live the preferred way. I just think many people get used to living at a certain level of comfort and aren't willing to give that up, even when it starts making them miserable.


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