Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Essence of Modern Motherhood

The other week I checked out a new(ish) book from the library, I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood. I thought it was great and I recommend it to every modern mother out there--as well as, perhaps, their spouses. A big theme of the book is how to find one's own balance within motherhood, and I won't go into what all that means here--you should go and read the book, really--but I will say that the book got me thinking a lot more about this tough job of motherhood and housewifery (though the book discusses all mothering scenarios, not just stay-at-home-momhood), about what it takes out of a person and about what it has to give. About how exhausted we all are, many of us without the historically more prevalent support systems of nearby extended family. About why moms always put themselves last, and then end up shortchanged on sleep, good grooming, time alone, time "off."

Let's just say that after reading this book, I've been giving more and more thought to treating myself to some expensive makeup without feeling guilty in the slightest. Oh, and I've also begun extending my usual three-mile, half-hour runs to 40 minutes/four miles, chanting, "They can live without me for 40 minutes, even if I'm late for dinner and they have to start without me and someone else has to figure out what would be a good starch to go with the chili in the crock-pot" the whole time, beating back the familiar time-crunch anxiety that generally begins when my running watch shows five p.m. and I'm not yet home though supper should be on the table right then and the baby needs to nurse before too long. I'm practicing; I'm working on it.

But then last night I had a distressing nightmare in which I was a student at the local college, the semester was half over, and I had just remembered, with a start, that I was taking a math class but, after attending a class meeting or two, had forgotten about it completely. Couldn't even remember what day and time it met; had forgotten about it completely! And here it was, halfway through the term! I hadn't been there in months! Panic, panic--what to do? As if that wasn't bad enough, I needed to get back to my dorm room, quickly, to find my class schedule and figure this all out, yet it was snowing outside and someone had stolen my shoes. Overstuffed, unorganized backpack, stocking-feet, crumpled papers and notes with no information about this math class that had slipped my mind for weeks on end: talk about stress!

So: practicing occasional pampering, practicing giving myself 40 minutes three times a week without worrying about who is falling apart at home. And yet: stress dreams about (not) keeping all the balls in the air.

Hmmmm....modern motherhood, anyone?


Authors said...

Good for you! You deserve some time for yourself, any way you can sneak it in. Glad that the book resonated with you!


Amy Nobile & Trisha Ashworth, co-authors,
I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids

Jordan said...

I enjoyed this book very much when I read it last summer. The authors (above!) were giving it away at one of the big BlogHer parties. It very much resonated with the way I think and feel about being a mother. Now that I think about it, it would be worth looking at about once a year!

Heidi said...

You got a comment on your blog from the *authors* of the book you read??!! That is so amazing!!! Have you connected w/ them before, or do they surf and Google every single day to see what/who is out there reading their book and writing similar stuff? That is *so* cool!!

Shan said...

Heidi--I assume they have an alert set up to e-mail them whenever someone links to their book online. Smart PR, to comment on someone's blog like that... Anyway, you should read the book! You'll like it.

Heidi said...

I requested it from our little LINK Site connected to the Lake Aggasiz Regional Library as soon as I read your post about it, and it already came yesterday, so I already *am* reading it! It's pretty dead-on, and I'm only at chapter 2!