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Women are failing! Aw, geez, here we go again

Submitted by on Wednesday, 25 January 2012 No Comment

I suppose there’s something to be said for the provocative headline, even if it’s inaccurate, if it gets your attention.

A recent headline from a random publicist trying to get a byline on my site certainly got my attention:  “Women Failing at Motherhood, Work, Relationships.”

Really? I’m going to skip the gratuitous rant about parenting being more than the mother’s responsibility and about how it’s impossible for one person to make a relationship work. I do wonder, though,  if the daddy bloggers got the same email.

The email’s pitch was spun around actress Katherine Heigl’s recent iVillage blog in which she recounted the challenges of reconciling family and career after adopting her daughter. It’s a familiar story, to me at least.

I remember reading about the Alpha Mom mantra of “balance and competence” while going to work with toothpaste on my dress and serving grilled cheese for dinner. There were days when, like Heigl, I didn’t feel particularly competent at anything.

And then I realized it was all in my head. Of course there were toys strewn throughout the house, because the guys came equipped with neither a nanny nor a maid. Of course the laundry tended to pile up for a weekend marathon – come to think of it, it still does. Of course there were days when they cried as I dropped them off at day care after vacation. There were just as many days when I imagined a mental eye roll from a boss as I called in sick – I wasn’t, but one of the guys was.

You know what? That’s life, at least for most families where the kids don’t come equipped with nannies and maids. Some would call it “lowering your standards.” I call it “accepting reality.”

What was new about the publicist’s pitch was her offer to let her experts write a guest post or be interviewed about “take control tactics” that will magically make your life better. No word on if they’ll also remove toothpaste from your dress.

That’s funny, because my life got better when I realized it was hopelessly out of control and not likely to change.

You cannot control when your kid is going to get sick – but you can learn to cope. You cannot control when stuff happens that keeps you working well into the night – but you can accept that it’s happened and move on.

Most of all, you can never control this gloriously chaotic event called “childhood.” Yes, you can try to organize it somewhat. Expect to control it, though, and you’re going to be catastrophically frustrated most of the time.

Frankly, I wouldn’t even want to try to beyond establishing a reasonable but flexible structure. Yes, we have bedtime, but we’ve been known to blow past it if the next chapter of Harry Potter sounds really good. Yes, the guys have to eat four fruits or veggies each day if they want junk food, but we routinely overlook that if we’re invited to a party.

And, yes, I have work hours but I don’t get all hyper if someone calls after they’re over, because I know that there’s every chance that in the next week I’ll have to run a forgotten lunch box to school during “office time.”

I’m comfortable with all that. If control works for you, godspeed.  It doesn’t for me, though, and I don’t consider myself a failure because of it.

Copyright 2012 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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