If money were no object, I would buy top-notch educations for my daughters at the most prestigious universities in the world. I would pre-pay for years of therapy with smart, insightful clinicians. I would take them to every conference, seminar, and rally for female empowerment. Because I worry that it will take years of education and coaching to compensate for the messages they unknowingly receive about the value of girls every day.
Today while I was preparing dinner in the kitchen by myself, I started humming along to a song I’m sure I have heard dozens of times. Then I started to listen to the lyrics. At first I was mildly amused. Then I was irritated. Pretty soon I felt offended and slightly enraged. Sure, the song seems innocuous enough, but the message—intentional or not—seeped through: Some narcissistic douche-canoe was sooo grateful for his long-suffering girlfriend who put aside all her hopes, dreams, expectations, and apparently, self-esteem, to preserve their relationship. How. Inspiring. Highlighted in red are the particular lyrics that I found problematic. My angry inner commentary is in purple.
“The Girl” By City and Colour
I wish I could do better by you,
’cause that’s what you deserve
You sacrifice so much of your life
In order for this to work.
While I’m off chasing my own dreams
Sailing around the world
Please know that I’m yours to keep—–>Really? Gee, what a f*cking prize! She sure is lucky!
My beautiful girl
When you cry a piece of my heart dies
Knowing that I may have been the cause—–>Pffsstt, seriously? Try harder, then.
If you were to leave
Fulfill someone else’s dreams—–>Um, what about her own dreams?
I think I might totally be lost
You don’t ask for no diamond rings no delicate string of pearls—–>See??? She puts up with all this
That’s why I wrote this song to sing crap and doesn’t even expect a commitment. Bitch, please.
My beautiful girl
ooooo ooo ohhh ohh oh oh-——> yawn.
One, two, one two three four
I wish I could do better by you—-->Uh, you could certainly do better by these lyrics. Just sayin’.
’cause it’s what you deserve
You sacrifice so much of your life
in order for this to work
While I’m off chasing my own dreams (my own dreams)
sailing around the world (’round the world)—— OK, we get it. Hope you’re having a great time, you
Please know that I’m yours to keep self-indulgent ass-hat.
My beautiful girl
First of all, I get that this isn’t even a new song. It’s been around for like four years. (I never claimed to be on the cutting edge of the music scene.) I realize my righteous indignation is several years too late. Also, it’s possible that this is the next generation of “Faithfully” by Journey. (They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family!) Perhaps it’s the same message. (Never mind, I refuse to believe that. The 80’s were a magical time.) And maybe I’m overreacting and the lyrics aren’t that bad; clearly, there have been a plethora of songs in the past year alone that are significantly more disrespectful to women than calling them, “My beautiful girl.”
I guess what bothered me was the culmination of subtle messages that perpetuate the notion that being the “beautiful girl” who puts her own needs last is what girls should aspire to. That it’s more important to be kind, generous, and selfless (because the “beautiful” thing is simply implied as being most important, obviously.) than it is to put your own needs at the top of the list. Being patient while your partner pursues his dreams is noble, right?
But maybe it is noble- I’m sure many of us know (or are!) women who have worked dead-end jobs to put their partners through medical school. Conversely, I know there are many supportive men who have done the same for their wives or girlfriends. Of course it is a great quality to be humble, patient, generous, and selfless. Maybe it’s the fact that these qualities are internalized and emphasized as being more important for women than they are for men that gets my blood boiling.
Are Feminists Selfish Mothers?
Ok, maybe this is about more than just worrying that my daughters will hang up their own self-worth to be a cheerleader for some lame aspiring rock star. What about after they come to their senses, dump the whiny mama’s boy, and get married to a stand-up guy who believes in equal rights? What about the stage of life that comes next: you know, the one that requires maximum selflessness and humility? Aka, motherhood?
My own mother set the bar high; she was an intelligent, involved, social, and dynamic woman, but she was also an incredibly selfless and dedicated mother. I, on the other hand, am painfully aware that my desire to keep my own needs on the table and my identity somehow intact is often perceived as being selfish.
I am ambitious; I have worked extremely hard, falling notably out of balance at times, to pursue my writing goals. I get together with friends regularly. I have three afternoons a week where I am not teaching nor do I have my children with me—alone time. I get massages sometimes. I go to yoga. I meet friends for coffee. I read. I write. I believe that one of the most important lessons I can teach my daughters is that women—mothers—get to have their own lives, too. Our needs matter.
Sometimes this makes me uncomfortable—it isn’t always a pretty picture. At times it looks like Mommy turning on the TV in order to frantically finish up a blog post. Or Mommy zoning out during playtime so she can finish a phone call or email. Or Mommy ditching out on a few hours of a weekend afternoon to meet a friend for lunch. The fact that I experience discomfort polarizes me—while I firmly believe that I am “allowed” to have a life outside of motherhood and spend time pursuing my interests and goals, I feel guilty when I am not 100% focused on my family. And there’s the rub- that GD Mommy guilt rears its ugly head once again.
But I have seen something remarkable happen this past year: my oldest daughter, now seven, has taken an interest in my career. She asks questions, celebrates my small successes with a disproportionate amount of gusto, and is genuinely proud of me. This morning she was excited to go to school and tell her teacher that “Mommy was in the Chuggington Post yesterday!” My girls know that Mommy has feelings, friends, and a job that is important. In my own way, by allowing myself to be a priority, I am teaching them that when they are mothers, they will get to be whole people, too.
How do we teach our daughters that it is important to be loyal friends, but also important to stand up for their own happiness? How do we teach them to be loving partners but avoid getting their needs trampled? How do we teach them to be giving, compassionate, kind, and humble, while still giving them the tools to follow their dreams, be aggressive when they need to be, and discard gender roles that fail to serve them?
I don’t have the answers. And I have no doubt that at some point, one or both of my daughters will wind up dating a dreamy-lyric-crooning douche-canoe. And I will have to trust that they will come to their senses, remember what they are worth—as truly beautiful, important people—and not put themselves last. In the meantime, I will put all of my resources into nurturing and teaching my young feminist daughters.
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I can’t tell you how much I love this. I actually teared up not ONCE but three separate times. Seriously. I don’t know if it was the loving the loser rock-star dude and putting myself last and hoping that none of our kids do that (knowing they will and hoping it happens young), the 80’s were magical or just the overall message. I think you are brilliant, and raising amazing little girls who will say F@CK YOU to taking a back seat for a dumb diamond ring. Wait, I mean I like my diamond ring but you know.
Really? That makes me feel so happy. Thank you so much for your generous words. And yeah, I like my diamond ring too.
Stephanie, with or without the millions, I have every faith that your girls are already being raised with so much care and love that I have no doubt that they will turn out to be wonderful, strong and capable young women with you as their role model! 🙂
Aw, thanks Janine! I appreciate that!
Wow, Stephanie, this is AWESOME! The line: “my desire to keep my own needs on the table and my identity somehow intact is often perceived as being selfish”…well, we can just stop right there! As a 19-year veteran mom of four, there have been years that I felt like I completely “turned myself over” to serving my family. Those were not happy years for me. Balance is a word we throw around a lot but I do feel that every mom has to find hers, and it is not for anyone else to judge. Thank you for this inspiring and honest post and congrats on the Chuggington Post! Your daughters are very lucky to have you for a mom!
Julie, thank you SO much for that! You have no idea how much that means to me. I respect your opinion so much, and I really appreciate you sharing your experience and wisdom in your comment. It’s helpful to know what other mothers have been through! 🙂
I don’t think they are implying that we SHOULD put our own needs last, it’s just that we do. Why was his girl (in the song) chillin at home while he was off doing him? Maybe he honestly didn’t think she had any goals, or constantly made him believe that she was there only to support his? I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but we have no idea what was behind the scenes. I’m educated and I put my husband’s needs first. I wish I had the gusto to do all the things you do, but I’m also cheap and almost all of those cost money, which I’m not willing to spend… See I NEED the million dollars. Wait, where was I going? Some women are ok with taking a back seat and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think the best part of feminism is being given the choice to take the front seat or the back or somewhere in the middle.
I agree that the best part of feminism is having a choice about what your life looks like. Thanks for your comment!
Wow, my post seems all fluffy compared to yours! I love how you put your daughters first & it’s so sweet your eldest is interested in your career. I’ve never heard of that song but the theme of putting yourself last totally reminds me of Destiny’s Child: Cater 2 U. Ugh. Blegh!
Ugh, right? Cater 2 U. Blegh, indeed! Yeah, I should have done a fluffy post- it’s safe to say that I went TOTALLY off topic, huh? 😉
I need to set aside more time to read this because it’s 11pm and I’m trying to get my fat ass to bed a little earlier these days. But, I just wanted to comment that THIS made me laugh uncontrollably: “I would pre-pay for years of therapy”. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! I feel like I need to change my will to include money set aside for my children’s therapy. I mean, they have no hope, right? 😉 xo
Haha! And right? I am so with you on that one. Hope you like the rest of it- it’s a bit of a…shall we say, tangent? 😉
You don’t need a million dollars to do that! You are doing it yourself right now! I know you don’t want to believe that Journey was the same thing, but it was, and we turned out Okay. Heck, I would never call myself a feminist, but all of those qualities you list are qualities that were instilled in me by good, self-aware parents. Parents who didn’t just think children should be seen but not heard. Parents who heard their children. You will do that. Spend your million on something selfish 😉
Interestingly enough, I don’t often refer to myself as a feminist. In fact, I feel that motherhood has made me think about feminism more than I ever did when I was younger. But yeah, good self-aware parenting can go a long way. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 And ok, as soon as that first million rolls in, I will totally blow it on selfish stuff! 😀
I have read this once – and pieces of it twice. I want to respond but I can’t; I am still processing and reveling and ….I just have to put this unbelievable narrative aside and think, absorb, and awake tomorrow to re-read and learn more, take in and envelope all that the message sends my way.
Aw, you. Thanks. 🙂
Awe, what sweet little girls…
Love the pics. Kids learn by watching mom and dad, so I’m pretty sure your girls will be just fine.
Well, thanks. Or wait, should that make me worry? My two-year-old did say, “Jesus Christ” about fourteen times in a row while we were all snuggling in bed this morning, so I think it’s safe to say she has learned *something* from watching mom and dad. :/
First off, congrats on being in the “Chuggington Post!” 😉
Not just with this topic, but I’m terrible about songs in general. I’ll hum or sing one for years before I actually engage my brain and “hear” the lyrics and realize what I’ve been humming/singing all this time. I’m so focused on the melody. It’s all about striking a balance, and it sounds like you’re doing a fine job of it!
Thanks Chris! I definitely sing along to songs in braindead mode before I realize what they are about! Yes, as always, balance is key- we’re all doing our best, huh?
I love your daughter’s enthusiasm about the “Chuggington Post!” That is really too cute. And I agree that it’s hard to figure out how to be both a good mom while remaining true to yourself- I think that’s just part of the mom gig. We all go through it. And your daughters are watching you form your identity as mom/Stephanie, so they are getting what they need with you as a role model. I’m sure therapy will be expensive but not a million dollars expensive:) Blow some of it on a writing retreat or something.
Those last lines made me smile! 🙂 Thanks, Pam. I appreciate hearing your perspective, and yes, half therapy/half writing retreat/day spa package seems like a decent balance for my hypothetical spending spree. And yes, Izzy’s enthusiasm is pretty cute. Thank you for your comment!
This is the year that I decided that I would once again put my needs “on the table” as you say. Everything I do, every day is for my family and me needs are either really late to to the party or non-existent. My family isn’t to blame for this, I am. I chose to do it and when I started feeling resentment, it caused problems. So this is the perfect post for me to read this morning since it serves as a reminder of my commitment. I don’t want my daughter growing up thinking that motherhood is a prison sentence or that once you have a husband and children you no longer belong to yourself. Great post and I thank you!
I’m so glad to hear that Sandy! Good for you for bringing your needs into the mix- resentment is no good for anyone. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment- I really appreciate it!
Your daughters are going to dream big and accomplish incredible things because of your inspiration, Stephanie. I cringe at the message that goes out in our music and movies, too. How about a vampire movie where the guy stalks the girl and then tries to kill himself when he thinks she’s dead?
Ooh, ouch. I am chagrined to realize that even *I* am guilty of enjoying some of those movies/books with less than empowering gender roles. (Ahem, Twilight) That is such a great point, Jennifer! And thanks!
I forgot to tell you congratulations about the Chuggington Post! Wilson and Koko were smart to publish your writing. Music and television are so pervasive in the lives of adolescent children- the time when they listen less to us and more to all that crap. And so much of it is crap. It’s scary thinking about that and how much we need to build them up now before they hit that phase.
Yep, Wilson and Koko really know their shit. Sure wish they paid more! (Than nothing.) 😉 Yeah, there is some seriously crappy music out there. Perhaps I was a bit overreactive with this particular song, but hey, I’ve been wanting to include some angry commentary to song lyrics in a blog post for some time now. (That’s a lie.) xo
I wish I had the answers to this. I worry about it ALL THE TIME. Truthfully, I worry about it just as much for my son as I do my daughter. I want my son to have a great idea in his mind about what it is to be a woman and how men should relate to the women in their lives, too. I sort of feel like no matter how I approach it, I am falling short. It’s hard to get that balance just right no matter which way I’m leaning. I fret about this.
In the end I try to remember, my own husband it probably the biggest feminist I know. He’s awesome… and his own mother really is not. She’s the anti-feminist. This makes me feel better when I feel I’m mucking it up. My own kids can turn out just fine even if I’m making a mess of it!!! –Lisa
You know, that is actually really reassuring Lisa! Yes, our kids do have the ability to rise beyond our own limitations. But like you, I do worry that I’m falling short no matter what. It’s like there aren’t enough hours/energy/resources in the day to teach our kids everything we need to be teaching them! Thank you so much for your comment!
Gross. You know which one’s always pissed me off? “Daughters” by John Mayer.
”Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers…
AKA “Don’t mess up raising that walking, talking vagina; I’ll need to use it one day.”
“Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on”
OH REALLY, JOHN? REALLY??
YES! And thank you for validating the grossness of that song. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person who found it irritating or objectionable. And seriously- that John Mayer song is horrifying. He should be ashamed.
Oh Stephanie!! I could write a novel in this comment box. (I will try not to!) All I ever wanted to do was be a stay at home mom. I honestly had no other dreams or aspirations. I became a teacher and did love it and do my very best at it, but I never viewed it as a “career.” It was just filling the space until I became a mom. I did become that mom and now I have THREE daughters!! Oh, the irony!! I am trying so hard to teach them that they can do anything, be anything they want to be. I am trying to teach them not to ever put limits on themselves because they are girls (or for any other reason). Then, I look in the mirror and think “Well, you are not exactly setting the best example are you?” More and more these days, writing is becoming my dream and I am trying to make it a reality. I want them to see that – I want them to see me do SOMETHING – have a goal and achieve it. I still do not consider myself a feminist, but I will say that having daughters has most certainly changed my perspective on so many things.
See, that’s the thing about feminism- it should NOT exclude the ambition of wanting to become a mother and stay at home. There is nothing anti-feminist about that, in my opinion. It’s about the choosing, and what brings you the greatest joy. In my opinion, being a feminist and being a SAHM are NOT mutually exclusive, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think much of it has to do with finding out how you personally are wired, what your limits are, and what you need in order to be happy. I am so glad that you are pursuing your dream of writing, though, Lisa, and I know that you are such a fantastic mom. Really. Thanks for such a great comment! xo
OMG, where do I even start, you’ve packed so much in there, humor and depth and emotion. I am raising boys, but often find myself infuriated by the same. Sick baby crying will comment more later.
Oh, the work of raising boys is so different and yet still similar. Same lessons, just a different approach, I think. And also- YOU with the sick kids! I feel so badly that you have been dealing with this. Don’t you dare come back and comment more. Big hugs and lots of love!
Can you believe that it’s been 4 F#$@NG weeks??? We are SO getting the flu shot next year. Anyways, I loved this post. I admire you, as always, for the openness with which you discuss these “mommy liberties” which make you feel guilty and put yourself out there with no fear of judgement. I am nowhere as brave as you, my friend. And amen to every notion you’ve described here. So true about the subliminal messages CONSTANTLY pumped into our female brains about our place in society. Must be SO frustrating for girl moms.
You’re the kind of mom I hope to be someday when I grow up. 😉
No, seriously. I think that mom’s who get lost in their children’s or husband’s lives do their children a disservice. It’s not a healthy model of living, to always be sacrificing. We have enough influence in the media telling us we should be martyrs to our children/husband’s desires.
Says the woman with no kids…
Really? ‘Cause I too keep waiting to grow up! 😉 I personally applaud the “woman who has no kids” for forming these convictions now- that kind of awareness is always helpful. One thing is for sure- I am not built to be a martyr.
Funny you should choose this. I got an Iphone so have handed the old Ipod over to my daughter (my son has had my ancient one for awhile.) As I was making her playlist, some of the songs I originally going to put on it I ended up removing, because I started looking at the words. It amazes me how when you truly listen to the lyrics of some songs-it totally changes your perception of it.
While I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a feminist, I want my daughter to grow up independent and not be totally dependent on a guy. I never intended that to happen to myself, but hey, unemployment and financial troubles happen and BOOM here I am. Sigh… She needs strong role models that are not like her mother! Society pushing the whole princess thing on girls doesn’t help.
I liked this a lot Stephanie! You’re not off topic at all. Remember, the subject was what you’d do with a million dollars!
That is a great comment, Sarah, thank you so much! I don’t think feminism is in opposition with relying on a husband financially and staying home- not at all. And it’s funny- motherhood brought out my feminism more than anything else! I appreciate hearing your thoughts!
I love this, Stephanie. I hadn’t thought about song lyrics until one day I heard Abby in the back seat singing along to something that had girls taking off their clothes. I swear I thought they were saying something else!!! You are so right in that as forward thinking as we are, we still revert back to the traditional roles. Case in point, I modify my work schedule but my husband never does. It’s not that we had some discussion it just happened organically.
Yes, organically! It’s totally unconscious, isn’t it, the patterns we fall into? Thanks for your comment! xo
As much as I’m laughing at your (perhaps righteous, though I daresay there are equally bad songs out there with the inverse message, perhaps not as prolific) indignation and mental commentary on the song, there was one bit which stopped me in my tracks:
“In my own way, by allowing myself to be a priority, I am teaching them that when they are mothers, they will get to be whole people, too.”
PERFECT. Because it’s SO important to model the priorities, whether the ‘you’ ones or the ‘them’ ones, so that they get to see how it’s done right, ready for if they ever want to travel that path 🙂
Thank you for that, Lizzi. That means a lot! 🙂
This is so beautiful and so perfectly puts into words the way that I feel. I want to make sure that our priorities are strong and that we, as parents can combat the challenges that we face and all the inequities against which we still fight for ourselves and subsequently for our daughters.
It is easy to “fall into” or allow people to assume traditional roles for all of us (men and women) and I think that we have a responsibility to be the person that we want to be to show them our own strength, to embrace feminism in a way that is relevant to this time and our own circumstances and to teach our children (boys and girls) what the real choices are for them when the time comes. Wonderful, wonderful post – thank you so much.
Oh, thank YOU for such a lovely comment! I think it is all about choice- choosing the roles that are right for each of us, whether they are traditional or not.
I appreciate how honest you always are about sharing your often conflicted feelings about motherhood, feminism, and raising girls. I feel like you are in my head sometimes, but you are able to unscramble my thoughts and write them down in an intelligent way.
I’ve started using all of these horrible song lyrics as conversation starters with my kids – talking about why they are so bad and what they are saying about men and women. I do this in the car, so my kids have to listen. I just hope it sinks in.
Dana, that is a lovely compliment- thank you. Sharing head-space with you sounds like a pretty good deal! 😉 I love the idea of talking about song lyrics in the car- we have started to analyze crummy tween behavior on TV shows, but the songs is a great idea!
Okay, you know I love this. I’ve never heard that song and I’m glad I haven’t. Maybe we need to write, “Lean In, Moms,” to the tune of Lean on Me? Combine the magical 80s with feminism??? oooooohhhh. But without dumb ooooo lyrics.
There is so much here…. I love that your daughter is seeing your career and work as important, because it is so important. In Warner’s book Perfect Madness, she talks about the pediatrician who told her, “you’ll have this child for the rest of your life, not just a few months. You still need to live your life.” So true. And I love your honesty about what it looks like when we try to ‘balance’ working and mothering. It’s not always pretty.
A lot of posts like this have me thinking about my grand theory of modern feminism and motherhood…. I’m still working on it, no ‘eureka’ moments yet, but I’m starting to think that balance is a crock, and that we CAN have it all. For some reason, when I hear ‘you can’t do it all,’ or ‘you can do it all, but not at the same time,’ it doesn’t sit well with me. It doesn’t sound right. I think we should be able to lean in and opt out and not be maxed out and it won’t be pretty or selfless or selfish…. but I don’t know how it all works …. OK … off to work out my theory and write my manifesto.
I did think you would like it. 🙂 I’m happy that you did! I love your last paragraph- let’s try to follow that thought line down the rabbit hole sometimes, shall we? Also, you may be onto something with that Lean In, Moms bit… Let’s put our heads together! Also, I need to read Warner’s book. Big time. xo
I loved this post. I often feel like a bit of a sucker, caught between whatever ‘feminism’ and ‘equality’ mean and being the stupid girl who gives away her everything to make her man happy.
I’m living in a town I don’t like, with no friends or family near me, I gave up a great career to commit to this relationship and now I’m 20 weeks pregnant (intentionally, but will admit that I now feel like I probably didn’t think the whole thing through sufficiently) to someone who is “home” 4 days out of 8 (he spends those 4 days home out on a farm- where I have to drive to to spend any time with him).
Your article made me think, what would I say to my daughter if she was doing what I am doing, how would I feel about it… not the happiest of answers, I’m afraid…
I’m so glad this article made you think- these are definitely complex issues and are not black and white. I think it is fantastic that you are already thinking about this from your daughter’s point of view. When I divorced my first husband, my daughter was an infant. I told myself, “How am I going to teach her what it means to be happy, or happy in a relationship? I need to show her.” And I did. Good luck to you!
Wow. so much in this post! Love that you put your needs on the table – I totally agree, it’s imperative. I also get that GD Mommy Guilt when I do stuff for me. Sometimes. Sometimes I say fuck ’em. Can I say that here? sorry if I offend. I’m probably going to spam jail again…..
Um, no. Didn’t I say Fuck in this post? Can’t remember. Well, it happens with regularity. So, fuck ’em, it is. 🙂
They’ll date those douche-canoes, but odds are really good, they’ll move on. Amazing, amazing. I beyond loved this, and i’m skimpy with compliments.
I know you are skimpy with the compliments, so believe me when I say reading yours made my day. Thank you for that- I think you know how much I respect you and your gorgeous brain. xo
Listen, I don’t have all the answers (despite my believing otherwise…), but I know this for certain: a happy, involved, dynamic mother like your own is something more moms should aspire to be, rather than fixate on how “selfish” she is to make time for herself. I learned early on in this parenting gig that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy and I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose myself at the expense of my family’s happiness. That doesn’t even make sense! I wear my heart on my sleeve and if I’m experiencing any emotion, the world knows. It’s how I’m wired, which is a good and bad thing for sure. That said, I know I need to take care of me in order to take care of my kiddos. Does that make me a bad person? Negatory. And it surely doesn’t make you one either! xo
P.S. Me no likey that song.
Oh you are so validating. And wise. Thank you so much for that- you and I are kindred spirits for certain. And I’m glad other people didn’t likey that song. :p
So how do you do it? Three afternoons alone, etc? I don’t, by the way, think that is selfish. I think it’s fantastic, and I’m jealous. Motherhood had swallowed me whole. Most of the time I’m honestly too tired and busy to care. But I would like to have more balance. It’s just that I don’t know how. I’m a full-time SAHM with no family around. My husband works a big ass corporate job with long hours. I gave up working with the birth of our first, because I felt like one of us needed to be around for our child. I should add that I wasn’t unhappy about giving up work. I always wanted to have kids and stay home with them. 7 years and 3 kids, and the closest I’ve come to balance these days is going grocery shopping alone, or the very rare afternoon out. I yearn for coffee dates, massages, etc. Sometimes I think I deny myself due to $. Sometimes I’m just too plain tired to change my patterns. And sometimes it’s because I’m married to a workaholic type A personality, and so an afternoon off with a massage would, to me, feel over indulgent, in comparison to a man who hasn’t take. A sick day since I can’t remember when. I’m rambling. But I loved your post. Now, give me some tips!
Oh, Amanda, thank you so much for this comment. I really appreciate it. So. First off, the money thing makes me crazy guilty, so when I say I “go out and do things,” it looks more like once in a blue moon I go to my crazy-inexpensive but super-amazing massage therapist who has a DISCOUNT FOR CAREGIVERS- how awesome is she?! (Rheana, are you reading this?) That helps. I use my Starbucks cards that people have given me for gifts. I try not to go overboard with the spending, so my guilt isn’t in overdrive. But I set a budget, and I am allowed to pay $10 for a yoga class, or have a lunch with a friend, or get a $25 pedicure- just not all in one week, ya know? I get the guilt, I do. I drown in it. My motto is, “Feel the guilt and do it anyway.” 🙂
So the husband working/SAHM thing: My 3 afternoons exist because I work part time teaching music classes- 3 days a week, I drop off my toddler before work, but I am done teaching by noon and I don’t pick her up until 5. My oldest gets off the bus at 4:00. That’s 4 hours! I don’t feel guilty- I need that time to stay sane and be happy. Look for my post, “Why I Feel Good About Sending My Toddler To Childcare.” Depending on kids’ ages, there may not be school or preschool in your life. Is there a high-quality in home childcare that you could use on a very limited basis? A few hours a week to yourself? A lot of it depends on the comfort level you feel with the facility, and your kids’ personalities. I also know people who LOVE the “Moms Day Out” program- many local churches (I’m not churchy, but who cares?”) have a once a week drop off program where moms get a day to themselves. One of my best SAHM friends has two days a week- FULL days- of childcare for her toddler. Just because you stay home doesn’t mean you can’t have a break- a sitter, a drop-off place, a mom-trade situation… Find SOME way to prioritize YOU time- whatever that looks like to you. Get your husband on board- think how much of your body and time has been sacrificed at the altar of motherhood. You have to be a mom your whole life- you need to keep your self and sanity intact, because this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. xoxo
Well I officially hate the song I’ve never heard before. SMH. Wow. What is up with that 100% mom guilt after pulling out of the driveway? Dang sometimes I’m only going grocery shopping but I needed to do it by myself. This was an excellent article 2 messages in one. I wish we could really invest money in our children this way.
Thank you so much for that Kenya. Icky song, no?
There’s so much I want to comment on and I’ll probably forget most, but 1-line-by-line commentary was hilarious! I want to do that. 2-a few years back I was involved (when i say invovled, I mean brain-washed) with an extreme anti-feminist group of WOMEN. The goal was always to put your husband and children first based on words taken from the Bible (which they skewed to fit their agenda). When I put myself first, I felt guilt and shame. Looking back, I feel like I was spiritually abused and am still struggling to pull myself away from that kind of thinking. My husband wasn’t even on board with any of it, but I got sucked in for at least a year at to some degree, hid it from him. Fortunately, I was able to distance myself from those people, but it’s still very hard for me to ever put myself first. Ever. 3-I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown about shame and some other stuff. I’ve been learning more about why we feel guilt, or rather shame, when up against societal norms. She says that we all have this desire to be loved and part of a group and when our thinking doesn’t align with the larger group we fear being disconnected and feel shame, or something like that. It’s heavy reading, but has been helpful to me. Maybe I should write a post on this…Why It’s Too Hard for Me to Call Myself a Feminist. Those women kind of messed me up, but at least I’m able to see it now and am working through it. Slowly.
Wow, Kate. I didn’t realize you had that experience. Perhaps it would be good fodder for another writing opportunity that just came up? (Do you know what I’m talking about?) 😉 Anyway, wow. You have some really amazing awareness and insights from that experience- I can see how that would only make it harder to NOT internalize the message of putting your own needs on the table. Thanks for your honesty here, I really appreciate it. 🙂
These are all issues I’ve struggled with, as well. After a lot of consideration and meditation on the topic of writing career vs. being a mom full-time, I’ve decided that I don’t like trying to balance it all at the same time. When I do this, I can’t be great at either part – mommy or writer. So I’m putting the idea of balance on the back burner as I devote myself fully to my kids and husband in 2014. This stage of life is so short. My kids are only in my house, under my roof for a limited period of time. I have decades and decades ahead of me to write and pursue my passions. Right now, I’m mommy and wife 100%. With that said, it doesn’t mean I don’t take time for a massage, a movie alone, or lunch with a friend. My kids are in school 3 days a week and I take that time to grocery shop alone. I’m not super – human I need my kid – free time. But, I cannot balance a writing career and being a fantastic mom. I was always slipping in one area or the other. Good luck with your pursuit of balance. I couldn’t find it, but I hope you can.
Oh, Elizabeth, I hear you. I too feel like sometimes I am just sucking at both and doing neither well. I agree, this stage goes so quickly, and I think it’s great you have made a decision you are at peace with. I still reserve the right to change my mind in the next year- ha! 🙂 These aren’t easy choices, but that’s the beauty of feminism- we HAVE the choices. xo
I want to add the 70s into the mix. I recently listened to “Beth” bt KISS and it’s the same sentiment, different decade.
Oh, Gawd, you are SO right. I hate that song. :/
I think having your own life is so important. I don’t have children but one of the reasons I choose not to have children was because I didn’t know how to not give up everything I am for my children. I didn’t want to give up my life for my children. You are right, saying that sounds harsh. I am so happy that you found a balance. I think your kids will appreciate this when they are older.
Thank you, Meg. I totally get where you are coming from, and I appreciate your comment!
Ok, finally got back. Of course, I loved it. (Also – Chuggington Post… amazingly cute.) I have to say, though, that I still hear a lot of guilt coming through, and you need to stop. You are allowed to have a life. You are a talented writer, and the world needs your words.
Also, while we’re being provocative with sub-headings, how about this: can a non-feminist be a good mother? What is she teaching her children?
Well, your guilt-dar is right on. Guilty as charged. Har har. 🙂 I love that heading- let’s keep talking! xo
This was so great. For whatever it’s worth, when I was a mom of one with no side or more-than-side career I was kind of miserable. With four kids + the writing, I’m WAY happier. I have to keep ME on the list of people who get their needs met in a day. I just do.
Also, will now be using the word douche canoe all week. 😉
It’s actually worth a lot, as I respect you and value your opinion tremendously! Thanks for that, Nina! And you’re welcome- I’m sure your new vocabulary word will impress many people…
I love this. Every bit of it. The idea that we’re fighting with ourselves to not lose “us” in this whole mothering thing–because for the sake of our kids, we should not!–while trying to keep a healthy balance of our entire family’s needs … it’s exhausting, but so worth it. For our daughters to see that they should get to be people, and for our sons to recognize that it shouldn’t be any other way.
Thanks for that! It is exhausting, but I concur- very much worth it. The alternative would just not work for me. You make a great point- our sons (well, yours, I don’t have any. You get it.) are just as important a part of this fight.
The best way seems to be by doing exactly what you’re doing! Living the life yourself – and your 7 year old has noticed already. Good for you.
This. Wow. There is so much I want to say about this post. I think we might be brain twins because I have been basically having this conversation in my head the last few weeks, months, years maybe. I too value the me time. I value self respect and I loathe that we still live in a culture that teaches girls to give it all up for their man. This is an amazing post. Thank you for reaffirming that I am not a bad mother for still pursuing my own dreams…
PS “douche canoe” is my new fave word.
I love this! Money can by a ton of stuff but it can’t buy happiness and love! I think your girls are learning so many fabulous lesson! And they won’t take any crap from any man! xo
Just incredible how vulnerable that fine line is in parenting our girls. I love this so much Stephanie. Oh, how I pray my girl never ever EVER settles for this douche canoe (LOVE THAT btw) kind of guy. May she realize her potential and her power as she grows into herself… and in doing so, she will not only realize her worth, but grow increasingly aware of how to sustain and protect it.
Oh, how I pray…
I love this! It’s so difficult to find the balance between raising a daughter who’s feminine and strong. What I’ve found is the best teacher is literally just being what I want her to be. She watches me, she wants to emulate me, and so I know that I have to live my life in the way I want her to live hers. We’re entering the dreaded tween stage and just started middle school so I’m praying that I continue to be the major influencer in her life but I know the outside forces will get stronger from here on out. Great post and discussion on this important topic!
Just came across this post on Pinterest, Stephanie, and I can very much relate to it. I hadn’t heard that song before, but I do agree the lyrics are not encouraging!
I also struggled with this issue, feeling both that I shouldn’t want time away from my family, and that I wanted to be with them too much!
Before we had kids, I felt sure it was essential that I maintain a career as “good example” to our children, but circumstances meant it didn’t quite work out like that. I have had many stop-starts with my writing since I had my daughters, getting an MA when they were tiny, but also at times putting my ambitions aside because they both had a lot of illness and my husband’s employment is not very family friendly (he’s a pilot.)
My daughters are now 15 and 16, and we talk about these issues. The older one in particular is very aware of feminism, and I think they’ll be okay. I think that what we do is almost less important than how we do it, our attitudes and the core of who we are. So I’m sure your girls will be fine too!
Hi, I am new to your site. You wrote this 2 years ago but I wanted to comment. I loved your assessment of that song. Clever, funny, and spot-on. What I liked the most about everything you wrote here is this part:
“I get together with friends regularly. I have three afternoons a week where I am not teaching nor do I have my children with me- alone time. I get massages sometimes. I go to yoga. I meet friends for coffee. I read. I write. I believe that one of the most important lessons I can teach my daughters is that women–mothers— get to have their own lives, too. Our needs matter.”
From having seen the opposite and seen a total lack of physical and emotional health go along with it, I would like to say that it is your conviction about your needs mattering, and the actions you take to have that well rounded life, that are what will keep you healthy physically and emotionally.