James Lileks, house husband,father, columnist and blogger, mocks — one might almost says “fisks” — Newsweek’s story about supermoms driving themselves and their children crazy. The story complains that women must be control freaks “because they are unsupported, because their children are not taken care of, in any meaningful way, by society at large.” Lileks writes:
Imagine that. You have to take the responsibility of your children on yourselves. The day I expect “society” to take care of my child in a meaningful way is the day I give society the right to take her away and do a better job if I don’t schedule daily flash-card phonics sessions. I suspect that we are talking about two different groups – those mothers who genuinely need help because they made some horrible decisions and find themselves with many children and no fathers, and those who can’t quite strike the perfect balance between Corporate Warrior Princess and UberSuperPerfectRoleModelLove-GusherMom, and hence get, well, excessive and control-freakish. I think the former group needs our help, and the second group needs a big frosty glass of chill-the-hell-out with a kicky pastel umbrella. Proof of the horrors of modern American life follows:
As I write this, I have an image fresh in my mind: the face of a friend, the mother of a first-grader, who I ran into one morning right before Christmas.
She was in the midst of organizing a class party. This meant shopping. Color-coordinating paper goods. Piecework, pre-gluing of arts-and-crafts projects. Uniformity of felt textures. Of buttons and beads. There were the phone calls, too. From other parents. With criticism and “constructive” comments that had her up at night, playing over conversations in her mind. “I can’t take it anymore,” she said to me. “I hate everyone and everything. I am going insane.”
Well. It’s too bad Amazon cannot overnight a sense of perspective, because there are, in truth, tougher situations to find yourself in. I’d like to reserve “hating everyone and everything and going insane” for the moment when I’m fleeing the attack helicopters that have come to wipe out my tribe.
Lileks, admittedly a guy, doesn’t think small children require color-coordinated paper goods or uniformity of felt textures. As a woman, let me add: cupcakes. Bring chocolate cupcakes for the party and all will be well. Chocolate chip cookies work too. If someone else is in charge of cleaning up, let the kids have construction paper, glue and glitter.