Monday, January 29, 2007

Late to the party

As usual.

I've been reading with great fascination the discussion about "mommies who drink" which maybe came to a head (please?) with the appearance/railroading of Melissa of Suburban Bliss on the Today Show this past Friday.
I've been lucky to meet Melissa a few times, and she's been nice enough to pimp my blog. I think she's a really good writer and much friendlier than she gives herself credit for. But this isn't about that.

It's about this:

Melissa said, at some point during the interview, "I take care of children, but I am not a child."

Whoo-hooo!! Becaue what this puts the lie to is the infantilization of mothers.

It's been one of the more difficult things for me to balance in my mothering career--the fact that I love my daughter, enjoy hanging out with her, and want to do the best I can for her and expose her to lots of great stuff. At the same time, having to look happy while I sing "The Wheels on The Bus" for her at Movement and Music Class makes me want to DIE. It would be one thing if every other adult in class was rolling their eyes or cringing, but no, we're Mommies and somehow are supposed to think this shit is fun. It IS fun, because I get a kick out of watching Maggie dance and carry on, not because I love the "open and shut" part like I love the opening guitar line of "London Calling."

But we're supposed to, that's the message we get. We're supposed to only eat places that have children's menus, and listen to music that is child-focused, and be really like kids ourseves and not in the good "sense of wonder" way.

When did this happen? I don't remember my own parents putting on my Sesame Street records for all of us to listen to, or eschewing all alcohol, or participating in classes I took when I was a small child. It's like we have to be living our kid's lives right along with them to get the Mommy stamp of approval. I don't think I ever remember my parents watching TV with me, except maybe for the occasional Christmas special.

I love Sesame Street and Jack's Big Music Show, but I want something more challenging when she's in bed. We rock out together to the Candy Band and Dan Zanes, but Laurie Berkner is only for TV and Raffi's ouvre isn't coming within 50 feet of my house. And in my social life, I am having a beer or glass of wine when I want one. Paul and I look forward enormously to our Friday night bottle of wine after Maggie's in bed, and we often have wine with snacks while we watch a DVD on Sunday nights. When we get together with friends and their families, I don't want everything we do to be limited to child focused activities. Adults are allowed to have alcohol if they so choose, and I grew up in a family where it was a normal part of adult life. I'm not having a glass of wine at lunch, or even usually with dinner, and no one's getting hammered or driving when we shouldn't. I don't think people have to be drinking to be my kind of people, but I at least don't want horrified looks when I crack a beer at my friend's house when we're all there with children.

I think enjoying alcohol responsibly is okay, just as I think listening to NPR or my own music in the car with Maggie is okay, or having an adult conversation with Paul while she's in the room is too. I became a mother, and I'll never be the same. But I'll never stop being the person i was before, either, and showing Maggie how to integrate all of that into my identity is one of the best lessons I can give her.


Summer said...

I like the spin you've put on this issue, Amy. I agree that it's important for our kids to see that we have an identity other than Mommy, and it's certainly crucial for their social development to observe adults socializing.

And I loved that you brought up music... now that the Wiggles phase is mercifully over, we don't do "kids music" at all. Ever since we got the high-def digital TV, we've been watching a lot of a digital broadcast music channel called The Tube. It shows nothing but videos, and I'm pretty sure it's programmed to be safe for families to watch together -- there aren't any big booty rumpshaker videos or anything else too graphic. Dorian LOVES it, he asks to watch the music channel every day.

His current favorite songs/videos are Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" ("the inky song," he calls it) and the Raconteur's "Steady as She Goes." I'm so proud.

Heidi said...

Hi, hope this doesn't sound stalker-ish, but did you go to Wayne State? Your blog sounds like an Amy I knew in college.

Em said...

Love this post. You've articulated some of my thoughts on the issue.

I would definitely be an eye rolling mom if E were taking that class with M.

Erika said...

I totally agree! I refuse to live my life through my children. I feel like we are called selfish if we want our own lives also. I love my children, I would give my life for my children, but I won't give UP my life for my children and I think that's the main thing, and an important one. My husband and I work together and people ask how we do it, and I say, well, it;s great having 8 hours to be adults together, rather than just parents.