Saturday, June 10, 2006

perfect madness

I'm reading a book called 'Perfect Madness', and it is doing me the world of good! This book is about how our society has become SO child-centred, that we forget parents are not just parents, but people with needs such as time alone, exercise, intimacy with their partners, and intellectual challenge. We forget that nourishing our marriages is vital, not just for ourselves, but also for the sake of providing happy homes for our kids. We sometimes become so focused on the immediate demands of our children, that we forget part of our responsibility as parents is to provide good role models for our sons and daughters, who will one day be parents themselves. We need to show by example that most parents need some time away to pursue an outside interest, be it work or hobby or sport, and that this is normal; it is not bad or wrong. Being rejuvenated by time apart from our kids makes us better and happier parents all the rest of the time.

This book also deplores how crazy we let our lives become.... taking our children to endless rounds of play-dates and birthday parties.... driving around to soccer, ballet, swimming, piano lessons... baking chocolate fudge at 11 pm for school bake stalls...attending P&C meetings...working (in the home or in paid work)...organising (library books, school forms, lunch money, packed lunches...the list never ends) for food, clothes, and birthday presents for all those birthday parties our kids attend!.....and that's without even mentioning all the feeding, bathing, dressing, entertaining, soothing and settling of our kids!! I know I am guilty of taking on too much, and then becoming stressed and cranky and tired. I think we need to draw the line sometimes. We need to say 'No, sorry - I won't be able to, this time' more often. Because although we might like to think we are superhumans, we are not, and we and our children suffer when we overextend ourselves.

Now any parent out there who is reading this, and who loves the frenetic whirl of activity, who thrives on each parenting challenge and never tires, never needs a break.... please don't comment!! You will only make me feel inadequate. For those of you who can relate to anything I've said... be kind to yourself this weekend. And don't feel guilty if you take a moment (or preferably at least an hour!) for yourself. You deserve it!

For those of you whose children have grown and left home - I congratulate you for the job you have done in raising your children. Enjoy your weekend, too!


Motherkitty said...

Only a "good" mom would worry about trying to be a "super" mom.

Do you realize that children have survived all this time without a million activities, playdates, parties, organized games, etc., etc.? When we were kids, we were lucky if we got to go anyplace outside our immediate family. Our parents were too busy trying to make a living to cater to the kids. When my sister and I had to go to dance lessons, for example, we were responsible for getting ourselves there and getting home.

Times have changed and it certainly wouldn't be safe to allow children to do that today. As a mother whose children are long grown up, I can sympathize with two working parents trying to make it all work and keep sane and rested at the same time. Only those parents who don't give a hoot about their children wouldn't worry about issues such as these.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Jelly, I must tell you that I think today parents are raising a bunch of self centered children who think the world revolves around themselves only. Everything is about & for the child with no consideration for anyone else.

I think that children need to FIT INTO the lives of their parents...They need to see parents in love, parents wanting to be with each other, parents with hobbies & going to work. Children also need responsibility in the home, chores that they do without expecting to receive monetary payment.

I was not the perfect parent, I made plenty of mistakes and still do, but I can see that some of today's children aren't even disciplined...the word NO does not even appear in their parent's vocabulary.

How can we be proper role models if we teach them nothing...don't show them what a happy mother & father are like.

I think I have rambled on too much. I'm glad that you read and ask questions and I think you are a fine mother and doing the best you can raising two wonderful kids. And yes I think that you should have time for yourself to continue with hobbies of your choosing. You already are a good role model to your children with the noble occuaption that you have chosen for yourself.

shellyC said...

Sounds like a good book!! Think I should take some advice at the moment. Mind you I have never had the kids in loads of things- only one extra thing a week for each.I don't think I could cope with more.

I am really looking forward to our holiday and really just being with the kids and not having to be anywhere else.

Val said...

The "boys", at 19 and 21, are no longer children but still at home. I was heavily involved in primary school life and found that although it benefitted the boys, there were times when I thought I had taken on too much. It's a fine line. I took "a holiday" when they got to secondary school, although that was counterbalanced by them going through VCE and the usual teenage woes. No getting away from that. Even now I have to tell myself to keep a distance, they have to take charge of situations in their lives. They benefit from developing independence, no matter what age.

Alipurr said...

You said it, sister ! :) You hit the nail on the head. I also agree with MK on how times have changed, and it is not worth it to try to be supermom. I also agree with AIP on the responsibility part, and the fact that children have to deal with the disappointment of not having everything their way. Sometimes my husband and I get too busy because we are so excited about all the things our children are learning, that we want them to experience everything. Sometimes we have to slow down and just spend time at home

Alice said...

It sounds like a book well worth reading. Striking a balance seems to be the objective. We can't go back and do everything the way they were in the 'olden day' (when I was young ... lol).

One would think that with all of our increased knowledge about 'everything', and wonderful time-saving inventions, etc. life would be perfect. Unfortunately, there are many more dangers and ills in our society than ever.
Things that parents simply have to try and protect their children from as much as possible. In many places it's not safe to allow your child to walk to school or the shops, or play outside unsupervised. The media also has a lot to answer for in that children (and parents) are bombarded with ads. to buy everything under the sun. People compare themselves to their neighbours and friends and want to live the same lifestyle.

I don't entirely agree with AIP that we're raising a bunch of spoiled brats. The majority of kids are good kids; it's the few that scream and holler that you notice. I think children and parents have to fit into each other's lives - there has to be concessions made on both sides.

I know that if I could live the last forty years again, I would do many things differently - I'd spend more time as a mother and less as a housekeeper (not that I was very good at that either), like ShellyC does.

But it's lucky that I can't go back forty years - I just don't have the energy for it. I will say that whilst I may like to change my history as a mother, there's almost nothing of my children as youngsters that I'd want to change. They are all responsible, loving adults now and I'm very proud of them all.

Kerri said...

Wow, this post has inspired some long comments! Great subject Jelly. I agree wholeheartedly. You see it so often, especially in young working (outside the home) parents.
My theory is that a lot of them feel quilty about their kids being in daycare all day, so they think they have to make it up to them by spending every waking minute that they can with them (dubbed 'quality time'), taking them here and there, and continually entertaining them. I've seen this firsthand. And a lot of kids learn to rule the roost this way. It's sad to see parents make this mistake.
Sounds like a great book that should be 'required reading' for young couples with children :)
There's some very good advise to learn from it. Glad you're enjoying it and thanks for sharing.

PHOTO said...

Sounds like a great read. My children are grown (26 and 36) and on their own. Being a parent is a hard job.

T. said...

Oh Jelly, I must get this book.

Because I am becoming more and more inadequate as a human being, let alone a parent, as the days pass by.

As a mom in a large family of other moms who have their kids in every damn activity possible, I have always felt guilty about limiting it to just one.

Not now. Screw it. I'm tossing the guilt and buying that book!

John Cowart said...

My six children are all grown and gone and become responsible adults. While they were growing up, Ginny & I did the round of scouts, PTA, enrichment classes, field trips... but we tempered the activities to make sure the kids had time to be kids.

They had time to lay in the grass and see cloud animals, to catch fireflys, to splash in puddles, to throw rocks -- stuff of eternal value.

From the time they were little, we told them that at age 18, they would be leaving home to go to college, army or to work. From the time they were little, together we began gathering each one's hope chest for starting their own appartment: towels, bedding, dishes, an heirloom of their choice, a can opener. As teenagers they began to pick our furniture from our house to take with them. So becoming adults came as no shock.

Our oldest daughter said that we were remiss in teaching her to balance a check book, but other than that she felt ready to take on the world as a grownup.

We attemped to focus on our own relationship by realizing that our children were a parenthesis in our marriage. We were us when childless and we'd be us again when they moved on with their own lives.

Today our children are our best friends in the whole world! I'm so proud of them.

I survived being a parent only becasue I had such good material to work with! But even with such good kids, I was often tempted to run screaming into the bushes!

Mimi said...

AMEN! I say this because on this issue you're "preachin to the choir" so to speak. I am so sad for my kid's friends who can never just play because they have dance on Monday, gymnastics on Tuesday and on and on every single day of the week, after spending seven hours a day in school. I'm talking about five year old children. This is one of the many reasons I don't send my kids to school.


manababies said...

With my oldest there was always that pressure to keep her "engaged", whether it was in ballet or playdates or learning to write her name or whatever. I really think this is why she ALWAYS has to have something to do and someone to do it with. My son is so used to doing things on his own because I'm unable to constantly hover over him. As a result, he seems so much more laid back and willing to just go with the flow. Now with the third child, it's nearly impossible to run to her every time she wimpers and she is turning out to be the most laid back child out of the three. While I always feel guilty about not being able to spend enough time with each child, I'm beginning to realize that there is definitely something to be said about doing nothing, which we've been told all along is a bad thing to do. I think I'm going to have to get myself a copy of that book!

HORIZON said...

I can so relate to all of what you said- am fed up with being so exhausted at the end of the day- something is really wrong! I have started saying 'NO'- the kids don't always like it but there is no point in me getting run down- where is my life, what activities can l say l do???
Really enjoy reading your blog- will definately pop in again. Dear God it's the only time l get to myself. :)
Can l add you to my links so that l can pop in easier?
also agree strongly with 'abandoned in pasadena- kids need to see their parents happy together, cuddling, laughing- children love this. Is good.

And, one more thing- am going to order that book.

doubleknot said...

Years ago when my son was born and he was 'special' someone gave me a list of what a special mother was and it was all about taking time for myself and not getting so wrapped up in my special needs child. I wish I could find that it was so perfect - I think like you that we go too far with the children today - they have no responsibilty. From your blog I can tell you are a good mother. The fact that you are reading that book shows you care about your kids so now care about yourself.