Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nobody said it was easy; No one said it would be so hard



If you copy from yourself, is it plagerism? Discuss.

I'm having a busy week and instead of nattering on about how busy I am (always annoying) AND in spirit of the start of summer tv rerun season, here's a rerun of an earlier post, from Febuary:



Motherhood: Fact vs. Fantasy

Nobody said it was easy

No one that it would be so hard

Coldplay, "The Scientiest"

On February 28th I caught a National Public Radio show, “World Have Your Say,” a call-in show produced by the BBC. The topic was “Does your society gives you an idyllic version of what motherhood will be and if that is the case, is there a taboo about women speaking out honestly about the downside of being a parent?" The show was a follow-up to a Women’s Hour radio show on BBC that morning that elicited literally thousands of calls and e-mails that “opened a Pandora’s box of maternal ambivalence.” These moms admitted that although they love their children their often find mothering boring, exhausting and lonely but find that speaking out about their reservations was “not done.”

The show featured a panel of women from various parts of the world who talked about their motherhood challenges, and the importance of family and friendship support networks to find relief from non-stop parenting. Moms and dads called in from around the world to say that parenting is more isolating and difficult than they imagined, but they were reluctant to admit that to others.

Two bloggers from the United States were also called and they gave some great examples of the pressures women in the United States feel to comply with “perfect mother” expectations. One mom gave the example of the attachment parenting movement and how it creates onerous expectations for mothers – to carry their children constantly and to shun the use of lifesavers [in my mind anyway] such as strollers and cribs.

Let’s say that Mothers of special needs children constitute their own country. If the BBC gent called me as a spokeswoman I certainly would have boatloads to say!! I think that parents of children with disabilities are expected to be saints of sorts. We may be a bit more off the hook for raising academic or sports superstars, but we have share the expectation that we should always put our children first.I think we also feel unique pressure, especially when our children are young, to involve our children in a whirlwind of therapies and interventions. We don’t’ often even get the luxury of complaining that our children are watching too much TV or are on the computer too much. Instead they are being shuttled to therapies or engaged in play therapy at home.

Expectations in our “special needs country” are also different because society posits that we – as mothers or fathers - must be special since we are parenting such special children. I have heard more than once that Sayer was meant to be my child because I am so well-equipped to be his mother. Well, I always appreciate positive feed-back on my parenting but Jeez, that does create a bit of pressure, don'tcha think? ”We all have our rough days and our rough moments and it is helpful to admit this and talk about these times to others. We should not feel we must hide any evidence that we fall short of society’s ideals of special needs mothers.

8 comments:

Pam said...

Hi Carol, I am having a busy day myself among preparing some faxes to outside agency working with my son, car care, a wedding ring for a friend weak with advanced cancer, oh yeah, and early out yesterday and today from Geoff's high school with only 24 hours notice to special ed students, and a daughter who nearly failed a biology class because she didn't get around to weekly vocabulary lists so here my husband and I are up way too early this am. reviewing teenage fluff wordage which hurts as science has always been a deep love of mine..........uggh. It is truly a wonder some days that we are all standing.............so recycle all you want my dear. Pam

Carol said...

Wow , Pam - that does sound crazy!

Part of why I was so busy yesterday was because I ""had to"" go to my older son Jacob's sicence research symposium at his high school. I had a good time learning about the different projects and socializing with parents and teachers.

Sometimes I feel like a completely different person when I am without Sayer - talk about identity shift when you have a high achiever AND a child w/ a disability.

Hey - I think I found the topic for my next post - I can just copy myself again!!

Carol

katie said...

Carol...I forgot to blog about your post regarding Sayer's birthday...someday, we'll have to have coffee and I will share with you Brian's story...very similar...

Re: this post...I don't know...it's so strange. I am so messed up parenting-wise. I always joke to one of my son's preschool teacher that I don't know how to parent typical kids...I have Brian, an easy boy and then my boy in the middle of the two. I don't think I am a saint, but most people think I am crazy.....I live by the motto: "Somedays are diamonds and somedays are stones", yes, I am living a bad country song...the weird part about it is that I actually love it (yes, I am weird).

katie said...

Carol...I forgot to blog about your post regarding Sayer's birthday...someday, we'll have to have coffee and I will share with you Brian's story...very similar...

Re: this post...I don't know...it's so strange. I am so messed up parenting-wise. I always joke to one of my son's preschool teacher that I don't know how to parent typical kids...I have Brian, an easy boy and then my boy in the middle of the two. I don't think I am a saint, but most people think I am crazy.....I live by the motto: "Somedays are diamonds and somedays are stones", yes, I am living a bad country song...the weird part about it is that I actually love it (yes, I am weird).

katie said...

Okay, sorry for the repeat...

Carol said...

Katie - you are not "messed up" parent wise! You are a great parent, doing the best you can. Just remember that it is so important to take breaks from these kids - often!

Also, I love your idea about some days being diamonds and some stones. I think some days are both!

Sylvie said...

Couple of thoughts: first of all, I think there are lots of "experts" out there in the parenting advice field who are basically peddling opinions, nothing more. I wish I hadn't bothered with many of the parenting books I felt I should read when my children were younger. So many were written in a high moral tone that made you feel like a complete loser if you a: didn't make sure your child ate sufficient class-A protein per day; b: used the TV as "babysitter" (what other use does it have???) and on and on. Most of these pronouncements have little justification in actual research. When it comes to something like attachment theory, broadly speaking we can say that, yes, in keeping with our mammalian and primate heritage, touch and proximity are good things. The problem comes when true believers feel there is no room for compromise or any middle ground in applying insights to real human beings and real human lives. Take co-sleeping for example. Realistically, most people in the US can't have their children co-sleep because we've structured work in such a way that most of us need several hours of uninterrupted sleep. I also think that the design of contemporary beds is not conducive to co-sleeping. Or what about ideas of attachment that condemn mothers for not having their kids glued on to them all the time? Once again, the society we've created, which values nuclear families, has deprived mothers of many of the other caregivers (aunts, grandparents, older siblings) who'd hold a child when the mother was doing something else. We've also not yet completely disposed of the taboo against nurturing fatherhood -- but we know that in some cultures fathers do a lot of the "attachment" work that our society would stick entirely to mothers. Obviously the problem is that there are way too many people out there who enjoy standing on soapboxes and telling the rest of us what to do. And secondly, there has yet to be created a good pushback to these assorted orthodoxies.

Carol said...

I agree totally. The co-sleeping, hands on parenting folks can be very judgemental. And those parenting books! They seemed to either tell you to let your kid cry it out until they pass out,or to never let them wimper. I found the "Womenly Art of Breastfeeding" a total stress maker. It was about SO much more than nursing.

There is a great book you might find interesting, Sylvie, that analyzses natural parenting. It is "The Paradox of Natural Mothering" by Chris Bobel. She did ethnographic research on La Leche League groups, etc. I can lend it to you if you want and have time. Why can't they have these type of books, not just best sellers, in podcasts or on CDs so you can listen to them while driving or exercising?