February 21, 2006

The Mommy Malaise, Part 1,173,413, or, Why I Will Never Move Back to Wake County

So I was randomly surfing the blogroll yesterday and came across this woman's book-plugging site. Remember her? With the "Oh, it's so hard to be a mom, we've bought into the myth, blah, blah, blah, my child's pediatrician might not be the RIGHT ONE and no one appreciates me" whinefest?

Remember how silly I thought that was, and how folks I knew simply weren't that out-of-control?

Hah! Hah again, I say! These women are everywhere, and they quite frankly must. be. stopped.

As you know, I have recently moved The Boy into a smaller daycare situation--really, it's more like a babysitting situation. Now, I didn't do this on a whim, and I was a little nervous, but I noticed that The Boy really seemed to look forward to hanging with the new sitter in the new place, etc. etc. The driving force behind organizing the move was the mom of The Boy's best buddy, and I was content to follow her lead because she's one of those hyper-organized women with too much energy. Ah, hindsight. You are no friend of mine. But all was basically well.

And then the sitter added one more part-time child, who, for reasons of anonymity I will simply refer to as Hellboy. Because, yeah. Hellboy.

Hellboy was a bit younger than The Boy's cohort, and much less mellow than the 18 month old brother of The Boy's best buddy. No one liked Hellboy. Hellboy was out of control. It was a problem.

Now, perhaps because we are women and have to talk about everything, I ended up speaking with high-energy mom and the mom of a part-time girl at a birthday party we attended. They were concerned, and yeah, Hellboy needed to be dealt with, but in the course of the conversation a whole bunch of other concerns came out. Concerns, might I add, that I didn't actually SHARE, because I was under the impression that if The Boy could write his letters, numbers and name, and he was happy, then I was cool. 'Cause, you know, he's FOUR, and it's not like we're gonna be busting out the SATs in the next 6 months or anything.

But anyway, I shook off the feeling of End Of Daycare Days deja-vu, and suggested that they just tell the babysitter their concerns. And--again, hindsight, you evil bitch I hate you--I asked the babysitter if she could maybe do a couple of things to formalize the schedule, just to put my mind (and possibly those of the other moms) at ease. So she did! What a shock.

So then high-energy mom called me--at work--and asked if I'd spoken to sitter-woman. I said yeah, and that frankly I thought if it was such a big deal we should just have a meeting--that it wasn't a matter of sitter incompetence but of communication.

Then the sitter calls me to tell me that high-energy mom had come to her house on Saturday for THREE HOURS to outline Things That Must Be Done. Jesus. And high-energy mom was seriously talking about enrolling her four-year-old in a Sylvan program over the summer to prepare him for Kindergarten. Jesus squared, people. Seriously. He's FOUR. He doesn't require grammatical remediation or fluency in a foreign language, although sitter-girl does teach them Spanish. In the current situation, he's gonna go to Kindergarten able to do letters, numbers, and to write his name. He'll be able to label both colors and body parts in two languages. He'll know how to use a computer--if he's in a public school, he's gonna be thrown in with kids who can't even do that. And most importantly, he'll have spent a decent portion of his childhood having fun. Remember fun? And childhood? Remember that?

Anyhoo, I haven't called high-energy mom, who probably thinks I'm siding with the sitter or undermining her or that I'm an uninvolved parent or some damn thing that I haven't the energy to explore. I'm trying to be blandly supportive of sitter-woman, who for some reason (probably because I'm not an over-protective psychopath) has latched onto me as a mentor. And I am sitting here praying to God to spare me from these crazy-ass Uber-Moms, because if He doesn't, bad things are probably going to happen. Very Bad Things.

Some days, it just doesn't pay to be sober.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at February 21, 2006 11:14 AM

Okay, I've read that book. It scared me. A LOT. Because I don't have the kind of time that some of the mothers in that book had to sit around for a week obsessing about buying the deluxe birthday party package (with balloon) or regular (sans balloon). It's a whole mind set I don't quite get because I'd kind of like my daughter to grow up at her own pace and not, you know, be a neurotic mess by the time she's five.

Posted by: Feral Girl at February 21, 2006 02:12 PM

Ah, but then you won't be able to pop Xanax and go to therapy together!

Those women are nuts, and they have only themselves to blame, because they've never learned how to just freaking relax occasionally.

Personally, I think sloth is underrated.

Posted by: BAW at February 21, 2006 02:56 PM

Y'all give me hope for the younger gen of moms. Keep your level head and non-obsessive uber-momness. It gets worse, so ready yourself.
And, their kids will be just as screwed up, if not more so, than yours ever will be. Honestly.
Been there and doing that.

Posted by: Kim at February 21, 2006 03:38 PM

There are no doubt way too many parents who take the name of your blog to unbelievable extremes. A rule that will serve you well as the Boy hits Kindergarten, for instance, is to NEVER EVER discuss the relative merits of one school versus another with another parent whose child goes to a different school than yours. There would be about 80% fewer strained or broken friendships if everyone followed this simple rule.

Posted by: poppleton at February 21, 2006 04:45 PM

When we were considering a particular kindergarten for our child, we met with the principal. She asked the kid to name some letters and so forth, and asked her to skip and hop and I don't know what all, and finally told us she was ready. Even though she could not hop on one foot at that time, for whatever reason. I think if the principal thought people were putting their non-developmentally-delayed kids into a summer program to prepare for kindergarten she would be appalled.

Does high-energy mom not ever spend any time with her kid? Read to him? Talk to him about stuff? That's what pre-k kids need.

Posted by: Laura at February 21, 2006 08:16 PM

OK, I just read the book excerpt.

My husband and I decided to have one child. I didn't want her to be spoiled, so I decided that on some issues, I would be deliberately selfish. If my husband gave me a box of candy for my birthday, for instance, she was not allowed to take any or even ask for any; she had to wait for me to offer. I need my quiet time and I always get it. If I was too busy or too tired to drive her somewhere that was that. Now I've turned myself inside out for her on occasion when it was necessary, but I didn't want to raise a person who thought the world revolved around her, and I think we did a pretty good job. She's off at college now so I guess we'll find out.

You have to ask yourself what kind of adult you want your child to grow into. What expectations you want him to have, as far as how other people will treat him and how life will go. What are you teaching a child when you are obviously strung out trying to give him EVERYTHING? Would it not lay a guilt trip on a sensitive child, to see Mommy suffer for every little thing she thinks the child wants or needs? Or overburden a child who would have been a high achiever anyway?

And that leads me to another thought: Kids are not blank tablets. They're already people when they are born. The kind of mothers who write 6-page birth plans and are heart-set on attachment parenting and so forth seem to me to demonstrate a desire for a level of control that is just not compatible with parenting another human being. I don't see how you can take the time to get to know your kid and find out what he's like and what he needs (as opposed to what you need, or what you need for him to need) if you're obsessing over the right dentist, for pete's sake.

Posted by: Laura at February 21, 2006 08:28 PM

Laura - you've rightly divined that Rousseau, Mr. Blank Slate, was largely full of crap. And yet, much of our education system is built around the fundamentals of his philosophy.

Ya'll, when I find time, I'll relay my teacher war-story about the ultimate "kid whose parent has done everything for him and now he's a freaking 17 year-old monster about to be unleashed on society" type. In fact, I may have lots of free writing time soon if I give into the strong temptation to punch him in class.

Posted by: Husband of BAW at February 21, 2006 10:25 PM

"Personally, I think sloth is underrated."

I rate it highly, along with loitering. Much happiness lies there.

Posted by: Michael at February 22, 2006 06:59 AM

Sloth? Laziness? Egad folks! If little Johnny doesn't get into the best, most elite his SATs scores might be 10 points lower! AAAHHHHHH!

Posted by: Mark at February 22, 2006 11:11 AM

Laura, I wish more parents took your attitude. I see too many newly-minted adults who had parents who apparently didn't, and they range from annoyingly self-absorbed to Monsters of Ego.

"If my husband gave me a box of candy for my birthday, for instance, she was not allowed to take any or even ask for any"

Frankly, I'm kind of shocked that there are parents out there who think it's perfectly okay if their kid took a bunch of candy out of the box in that situation.

Posted by: ricki at February 23, 2006 09:49 AM

If you really want to see a freak show, visit MySpace.com. Hit search then enter in your favorite local high school's name. Hit current students and enter age perameter of 16-21 (shock me! Teenagers lie about their age). Read the profiles and the posted photos. The majority of the sites re-enforce my theory that there is a whole lot of bad parenting going on...

And on a side note: Since when is it acceptable to substitute the word 'prolly' for 'probably'? It would be an interesting experiment for the husband of BAW to ask his students to spell the word and see what kind of answers he gets.

Posted by: Marie at February 24, 2006 10:33 AM

I will try to remember on Monday. In general, most of the kids still know the difference between internet/text message speak and the real words, but some try to get away with it just out of laziness. A small percentage, however, actually think "cause" is the real word, not "because". Or "til", instead of "until".

Posted by: Husband of BAW at February 24, 2006 03:01 PM