“Mothers Are All Slightly Insane” J.D. Salinger

My daughter and her best friend, Dana, came over yesterday morning with their kids. My grandson, Primo, is 29 months old; Dana’s daughter, Ava, is 10 weeks older. When Primo was three months old, Simone went back to work as a textiles designer in the apparel industry. Dana, who taught special needs, pre-K children before Ava was born,  is a “stay-at-home” mom.
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Regardless of how much Simone loves Primo, she was glad to get back to her job.  “I would go crazy being home all day long,” she told me. Like I was at her age, Simone isn’t cut out to be with a child 24/7. Dana loves every minute with Ava, and has no intention of returning to work any time soon.

No matter how much our society has changed in the three decades since Simone and Dana were born, one thing remains consistent:  Many women prefer to combine motherhood with their careers outside the house; others have chosen motherhood as their career. What intrigues me, today, are the young women who not only  believe that working women are deserting, and hurting, their children, but  who consistently and loudly broadcast that they know how to feed, entertain, educate and put their kids to sleep better than any other mothers who came before them.  Dana, by the way, is not one of these women!

I sincerely think that many of these children, and mothers, all would be better off, especially in the long run, if they spent more time apart from one another.

I believe I can safely say that no matter how much a woman cherishes her children, she’d be wise to have more dimension in her life, because children grow up pretty quickly, and then what?  I’ve seen too many women from my generation who were lost when they no longer played a starring role in their children’s lives. I also question any woman who can spend day in and day out with her children without needing other kinds of stimulation. (And I don’t mean waiting to talk to her husband at dinner or awaiting the weekends.)  

As for the well being of a child, isn’t he or she better off with a happy, fulfilled mother, who may also have a career, than with an unfulfilled mother who doesn’t?

We recently conducted a poll asking members of our community if they feel fulfilled in their lives, and a whopping 50 percent said they do not. That’s a depressingly high percentage. Half the women polled have paying jobs, and the other half do things like volunteer; have fun times with their partner or friends; care for their aging parents; spend time with their grandchildren, and enjoy hobbies. The poll didn’t determine the correlation between fulfillment and working. And I’m surely not suggesting that working is the only thing that fulfills a woman.  But it certainly makes sense to broaden your horizons as much as possible beyond your children, when you’re a young woman, than to limit your potential and wind up feeling unfulfilled.

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As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed in the wee hours of the morning, soon after I wrote this blog, this post got my attention:

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“My kids are not my whole world.

“There. I said it. Sometimes I feel like I should be one of those moms who posts adorable cuddling pictures captioned with “my world” or #mywholeworld or something adorably sappy. But that’s not me. Yes to the pictures, no to the bit about the whole world.

“My world, my identity extends beyond my kids. I love them, I’d sacrifice my life for them if need be, but they are not my entire life….”

Since I hadn’t yet published my blog, there was no way Google could be sending me posts about motherhood. The blog from which this comes is called Beauty Through Imperfection, written by a young mother named Paula. Weirdly, most everything Paula wrote echoes my sentiments.  See for yourself. It’s a great essay!

If you have a daughter or daughter-in-law who is a mother, did she go back to work or stay home with your grandchildren?

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