No perfect mothers

The Myth of the Perfect Mother is Newsweek’s cover story, with a piece by the author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety and another on Muffy Mead-Ferro, author of Confessions of a Slacker Mom. As far as I can tell, as the second of four children, slacker parenting is a lot like ’50s parenting, except Mom has a paying job.

Mead-Ferro decided to keep her job and, ignoring all conventional wisdom, simply lowered her standards. She chucked out the books on intensive parenting along with the anti-bacterial soap. She hired babysitters and used local day care. She chose her kids’ pre-school based on which one was closer to her house. She refused to buy electronic toys—even the ones touted as “educational.” As her children Belle, now 7 and Joe, now 5, get older, she isn’t offering them a smorgasbord of activities but is letting them discover ways to keep themselves entertained. She whittled down the time she spends on housework and has given her kids chores. She also began reclaiming time for herself—what she calls the ultimate Supermom taboo. “A lot of woman call it selfish unless you’re constantly putting your kids’ needs first,” she says. “But I think that’s just bogus.”

. . . She wants her kids to tolerate frustration and setbacks, to be self-reliant and conscious of the needs of others, and above all to grow up to think for themselves.

These books all bring the revelation that it’s hard to be a perfect mother while maintaining the perfect career and perfect marriage.

By the way, I discovered that The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage has a companion book, The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom.

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