Losing -- And Finding -- Yourself in Motherhood

This past Tuesday, an On Balance poster named "Thought" (who doesn't yet have kids) wrote:

"One of my biggest fears of motherhood is losing myself."

Ditto. I lost a lot of myself when I became a mom. The carefree, spontaneous, going-out-on-Saturday-night parts. Along with a good portion of the drive to achieve I'd nurtured since elementary school. Once I had kids, the price of ambition became too high, since it required vast periods of time away from my children.

But motherhood brought new, priceless gifts as well. A deeper capacity for love and self-sacrifice, increased sympathy for others, a belief in some kind of god (with whom I could bargain to protect my children), a fearlessness and confidence and inner peace I'd never known before.

What about you? What's your advice to "Thought" and other men and women afraid of losing parts of themselves when they become parents? And what can employers do to help ensure that parenthood and a strong work ethic can thrive together?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 18, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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Comments

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Yes, it is true that once you become a parent you are no longer just about you... the child becomes a part of you - and in the very beginning the child is so very dependent upon you that it can a bit overwhelming. Yet, I have found that motherhood has broadened me and provided greater depth to my being. It feels good (most of the time)to be a giver instead of a taker in life. It is the black and white - the ying and yang of life - while we must have some heartache and darkness it is through that heartache and darkness that we receive our greatest joys.

As I watched my daughther, 11, sing the national anthem at a recent baseball game - her beautiful eyes taking in it all and her youthful voice delighting my ears - I had one of the those embracing moments of motherhood that makes all the giving worth it.

Regarding employers - I am very fortunate to work part time for Bank of America and they have wonderful programs for parents to balance work/family issues. My daughter, had cancer at a very young age. At the time, it was rare for the bank to allow you to work from home, however, given my situation they sat me up at home and I have worked from home ever since - now some 10 years. I also have a small business (QRubini.com) and we always let family come first with our seamstresses and vendors.

Best of luck with your decision "Thought".

Posted by: Maureen Quinlan | August 18, 2006 7:28 AM

This is not my beautiful wife. And this is not my beautiful house. And I ask myself, "How did I get here? And am I right or am I wrong?" And the days go by.

Certainly parenthood can be an all consuming overwhelming journey. I try to gently nudge my DW to try and keep her above water and resist the trap of becoming a service provider to me and the o3. OK sometimes it is a repeated series of friendly nudges in the dark. But it works for us.

When things arent working as well I am branded selfish since I go to work, play a team sport, and try and get out for golf now and then. I also tend to be a little less hovering than she in terms of child supervision etc...

My parents both commuted to NYC when I was growing up - so in order not to be as absent as they - I have made choices to keep my commute short and support my DW as a SAHM. I dont rely on compartmentalization (a word?), I try to balance family, work, spirituality, health etc as a whole. One big ball in the air instead of many.

Employers can realize that their employees are full life participants and that work is melded in with all the other reasons to live.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 18, 2006 7:33 AM

I have come to believe that sometimes the point of life IS to lose yourself. Your self is far larger, more resilient and mysterious than you think, and sometimes smaller identities have to be shed along the way in order to make room for a bigger life.

That said, employers can make it much much easier for people to work from home. I lost my career when my daughter was born because she needed a series of operations to correct a birth defect. As a research analyst who worked alone with data files most of the time, most of my day-to-day writing, stats runs and researching could have been done from home.

After ten years of surgeries my daughter is fine, but my old career is pretty much dead. I've started a small consulting business and am considering taking a part-time 'mom job' (cruddy yet regular pay, flexible hours).

I am so glad I have children. And there is a difference between making a living and having a life; though when I think about the economic hits I've taken due to motherhood, sometimes I wonder if the gap HAS to be so big.

Posted by: AK | August 18, 2006 8:04 AM

Went to beach yesterday with four thirteen year-old boys for one last day of sand, surf, and NOT-school (yet).

Came back to eavesdrop on a blog chain marked by thoughtful communication, practical stories, respect, and kindness between post-ers. Nice job, RebalDad to generate such a response. That the topic had pink/blue angles, well, could have been very different.

About finding and losing? Like MQ in post number 1, I have found the hidden gift that serious illness confers. You are here. Walk forth. Be kind, whatever the outcome.

And so much is small stuff. At the beach I watched my son, who by all clinical measures could be an invalid, play in the surf.

Life is sweet, even when it is not.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 18, 2006 8:10 AM

There is also the abstract loss of your self as a person once you become a mother. Now you are "Johnny's mother" or "Sue's mommy". As in, "oh, you must be Johnny's mother". It was sort of the same thing when you get married and why I never changed my name. But on the upside, I see so much of myself and my husband in my children, it is really an awesome thing. It's more that I've passed something of myself to the future.

I think that mothers (and fathers) should focus on any one thing that makes him or her unique. I participate in a sports league and while everyone I play with has kids, I am me, not Johnny's mother. Of course this is harder to do when your child (especially first born) is an infant, it is important that a mother find time for herself.

With regard to employers--I'm not sure that most employers feel it's their place to ensure that parenthood and a strong work ethic thrive together. Wouldn't that be nice. I think where flexibility in hours and time off are easy, that's a no brainer. At the place I last worked, they advertised for employees by listing one of the qualities of the place as "family friendly". It was bogus and I felt there was so much they could have done to really make it family friendly such as more flexible work hours, lactation rooms, on site or nearby day care, subsidies for child care, etc. We did have part-time opportunities, but my boss frequently made nasty comments about the women who were part-time as in, "why should we invest in them, they are not serious...."

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 8:13 AM

In my 20s I had that same fear. And so I'm so glad I waited until I was older (36) to have my first child (yes, by that time with the help of a fertility doctor!). Because by my early 30s the fear had dissipated. Things that had been so important to me before, like being able to read the newspaper every day, or being able to sleep when tired, no longer meant as much to me. And with this maturity came a patience that I (and my friends and family) didn't know I had. So I either lost or outgrew my old self, but gained a much richer self my becoming a parent at 36.

Posted by: momoftwo | August 18, 2006 8:15 AM

I don't know that I have "lost myself" so much as simply evolved. We all grow up at some point. Driving home last night after a full day at the office to my second full-time job as housekeeper/caregiver/playmate to my two DDs, I drove by the place in Del Ray where I lived in 1997 following a breakup with the college girlfriend I *did't* marry (thank God). A quick smile crossed my lips as I remembered the carefree years that followed, but a broader smile kicked in as I approached home and anticipated the calls of "Daddy" from my 3-year-old and the waddle of my 1-year-old as I walked in the door. Lost the smile when I looked at the house, though -- what my SAH wife did all day while the babysitter took the kids to Pentagon City I still don't know, but after putting kids to bed I spent two hours scrubbing and cleaning before collapsing into bed. This morning she told me all the things we needed to buy: New shoes for the kiddos, a new handbag for her, new light fixtures, a deck for the house, fall clothing, and complete makeovers for both girls' rooms. I sighed, pondered the balance on the Visa cards, and crossed the big screen TV off my mental wish list of things to buy with my October bonus. I crossed off the new suit, too, despie the fact that the ones I wear to work are now 10 years old. Then the 3-year-old comes in, wraps her arms around me, gives me a kiss on each ear, and asks sweetly to watch Dragon Tails. The small TV will do just fine.

Posted by: Dad with Kids from A-Z | August 18, 2006 8:21 AM

It's interesting that blogs are meant to discuss issues and sure, stir controversy and college parkian insists on everyone behaving nicely. The whole point of this blog is/was to discuss controversial issues such as books written by people who assert that non-working women are harming women's ability to advance in society (or some such thing). And when people get emotionally into a discussion, there may be less than nice posts. So what? Get over yourself. I find your entreaties for "respectful communication" and "respect" to be tiresome.

And rebeldad ain't all that. Very boring blogs and the number of entries is proof that many do not find them stimulating.

Posted by: To Collegeparkian | August 18, 2006 8:22 AM

...O...kay...

Posted by: regularreader | August 18, 2006 8:32 AM

Uh-oh, someone is posting under my name! It doesn't help that we both had our first child at 36 (I had my second at 39, no fertility specialist for either, not that it matters :>).

I'm just now getting back into things like manicures and pedicures, regular exercise, etc. The little and not-so-little things that make me feel good as an individual. But I feel I lost myself more as a wife than a mother. And I exhausted myself trying to make things work; despite my husband being good with babies and taking a role in caring for them (re yesterday's post), nothing else works.

So interestingly enough, separation is helping me to find myself again. I believe in marriage and partnership in raising kids, but I have to be the happiest, most stable person I can be for my kids.

Now, the issue is, will I find balance as a single mom? I'm looking forward to finding out!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | August 18, 2006 8:33 AM

Fear of "losing myself" is one of the reasons it really, really bothers me when people insist that you should stay home with your kids. Lots of folks say "your job isn't your identity" but for me, a lot of aspects of working *are* my identity. I am a person that really likes to be independent (luckily I'm married to someone who is not bothered by me making more money), to work hard at things that get external recognition, to be published, etc. I was in lots of academic competitions as a kid and now I "compete" at work by trying my best to excel. I just would not get the same kind of satisfaction, recognition, and feedback at home all day with the kids, and it's important to me. Lots of women do things outside the house that are important to them, and asking them to give it up just because they have kids--even if it's "only" for a few years--is just wrong.

I also resent the whole "why have kids if you're just planning to keep working" argument. Millions and millions of people have proved that working outside the house and having a happy family are not mutually exclusive. I'm a good mom and I have great kids. I've stayed happy by working. (Of course, I'm plenty stressed--but that's the price I've chosen to pay.) Yes, you add to your identity by being a mom, but you don't have to "lose" it by giving up things that are important to you just to conform to other peoples' expectations of motherhood.

Posted by: Arlmom | August 18, 2006 8:34 AM

To Arlmom --

Sounds to me like you have quite the chip on your shoulder if you "resent" people who "insist" that you should stay home with your kids. Indeed, if anyone's passing judgment it appears to be you -- saying "it's just wrong" to ask a woman (many would say parent of either gender) to "give up" out-of-home activities to care for children even if just for a few years.

Do you think SAHPs are shut-ins or something?

I'm not sure what to make of your defensiveness other than to wonder whether you have hidden regrets. Rationalizing guilt much? If you're happy working outside the home, more power to you. But why be so bristly about it and lock and loan on a board such as this in full-on Mommy War mode?

Posted by: Dad with Kids from A-Z | August 18, 2006 8:44 AM

To a certain extent, I felt I had lost myself after my first child was born. However, after 4 years and another child, I realize that I didn't lose myself but that my sense of self was redefined. I had no idea it was possible to love someone as much as I love my children. I realized how much my parents love me and for that I was in awe. Yes, I miss the freedom of spontaneous weekend trips, dinners out and movies, but I wouldn't give up one thing (OK, maybe I could give up a few temper tantrums and whine-fests) about my life with kids to have it back.
I am a full-time working mom. The best thing employers can do is be understanding and encourage flexible work hours.

Posted by: SS | August 18, 2006 8:45 AM

I have to mention this book after reading all the comments yesterday about parents' divorce. It's "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce" by Judith Wallerstein.

As an adult whose parents divorced when I was a kid, this book blew me away. It made me realize that a lot of issues in my marriage stem from growing up in a divorced family, and surprisingly also how I treat my oldest daughter.

I recommend it for anyone whose life has been touched by divorce, whether you are a parent who is divorcing and want to understand what your kids need, or if your spouse comes from a divorced family, and especially if you yourself grew up in a divorced family.

Sorry to hijack the comments; I just wanted to share this because I have found it so helpful.

Posted by: anonomom | August 18, 2006 8:47 AM

but this whole losing yourself thing happens regularly. It happens when you get engaged and you stop being able to "hunt" for the next new thing in your life, it happens when you're not going out partying each night, it happens when you buy a house and therefore need to make yourself do chores around the house (instead of 'mom' telling you to do them) There are so many times when you lose yourself.

The worst part was when our friends weren't at the same stage we were--we were in a committed relationship, they weren't. Resentment abounded. Now some of them have kids, and so even though I don't have kids, I try really really hard to do kid activities and really reach out to them because I can remember how left out I felt when we were the more mature couple of the group. There's that great quote, "shift happens" (as opposed to sh&t happens)

When i start into parenthood life is going to stop revolving around me. I'm not ready right now to give up being selfish, and so i'm holding off a bit longer. The other day I realized that I wouldn't resent giving a way a bunch of my opportunities to my children to nuture them and give them opportunities and that its actually quite a n honor.

I think people forget that they've gone through these horrible lost themselves phases so many times (or maybe they haven't, and they're stuck going through two at once, which has totally got to hurt a lot!) but its like the day when you get up and make your bed, brush your teeth, and fix something on th e house, not because you want to, but because you need to, and no one told you to, there's no reward outside of yourself, you just lost a piece of yourself, the piece of you that wasn't responsible for anything, but now you know that you can stand on your own.

-l.

Posted by: ljb | August 18, 2006 8:49 AM

You know, if the worst decision in your life is having a child and how it will cause you to Lose yourself, then you have lived a pretty good life.

Lets look at the negatives that the child will bring, instead of the positives that the child will bring to your life. It's no wonder people are so messed up now a days. It's all about ME. The world is a big place and not everything is about you.

If you FEAR losing yourself due to having a child, do us ALL a favor and don't have the child...

Posted by: Joe D. | August 18, 2006 8:55 AM

Ignore Dad with Kids from A-Z's comments. How nasty and unisightful.

Your feelings are your feelings and he has no right to say you have a "chip on your shoulder" or any other stupid thing he asserted. Many women feel as you do and I actually feel that women who SAH are missing a lot and part of that is their own identity. But it's their choice and there are women who do that willingly. Good for them. Doesn't make them any better. For many of us, that would not make us happy. And would not make our children happy. I spent my childhood trying to get my mother to venture out and DO something besides carpool. Her whole identity was based on my father's. Wouldn't work for me.

So what I'm trying to say, many of us feel as you do.

Posted by: To Arlmom | August 18, 2006 9:06 AM

To Dad with Kids from A-Z-

Where did you get the idea that Arlmom has a chip on her shoulder? She's just being honest about her feelings--and in many ways I could have written her post.

There has been a HUGE anti-working mom movement in the last few years. Mainly fueled by the religious right that does strongly insist that you shouldn't have kids if you're not going to quit your job and make mommy-hood your full-time job. Their argument is that how could you possibly tell yourself that you're raising your own kids if you're not home doing it (meaning, you're out "selfishly working"). And they sharply criticize daycare, saying that people are warehousing kids and letting strangers raise them.

But I agree with Arlmom that you can be a good mom and work at the same time...I'm doing it too!

Sounds to me like you have quite the chip on your shoulder if you "resent" people who "insist" that you should stay home with your kids. Indeed, if anyone's passing judgment it appears to be you -- saying "it's just wrong" to ask a woman (many would say parent of either gender) to "give up" out-of-home activities to care for children even if just for a few years.

Do you think SAHPs are shut-ins or something?

I'm not sure what to make of your defensiveness other than to wonder whether you have hidden regrets. Rationalizing guilt much? If you're happy working outside the home, more power to you. But why be so bristly about it and lock and loan on a board such as this in full-on Mommy War mode?

Posted by: Dad with Kids from A-Z | August 18, 2006 08:44 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:08 AM

"I don't know that I have "lost myself" so much as simply evolved."

I think that Dad of Kids from A-Z has summed up my feelings perfectly.

Life changes you. You can rail against the change, or you can embrace the change and make the best of it. I happen to believe that embracing change is how we grow and deepen as people. The "woe is me" attitude forces a focus internally and makes it easy to ignore the beauty around you, including the smiling little face(s) you see every day. Once, when I was lamenting some choices from my past, a very smart lady said to me, "Don't Should on Yourself!" (Most effective when you say it quickly.)

You will never be what you were before you had kids. But, you're experiences make you MORE, not less. Prioritize. Enjoy. Thrive.

-Pp.

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 18, 2006 9:08 AM

I agree that Arlmom's post was insightful, and I didn't read it as her having a chip on her shoulder. She managed to discuss other point of views that annoy her (with good reason, in my opinion) without condemning those who don't agree with her.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | August 18, 2006 9:09 AM

"Losing" yourself has such a negative conotation. I always thought of becoming a parent as an undertaking frought with sacrifice, but essentially positive and wonderful. Granted, I have no experience not yet being a parent myself, but I'd like to think that just as getting married ideally should help you grow as a person, so should becoming a parent add an additional and beautiful dimension to who you are and how you identify yourself. Blast me as an idealist and naive, but with in spite of all the late hours, sacrifices, pain, and uncertainty, I think parents who care about their children are bigger and better people for it.

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 9:11 AM

Why do people need to exaggerate and discuss extremes to prove their points? Who ever said that having children was "the worst decision in your life"? I don't think anyone is selfish if they reflect on how having children impacts on an individual's life. I think most here have stated that it's worth it. And others who don't have children yet acknowledge, with maturity, that they aren't ready or have waited until they are ready? I don't sense anyone is saying "it's all about me". And it shouldn't be "all about the children" either. Too many obsessed, helicopter parents these days.

Posted by: To Joe D | August 18, 2006 9:11 AM

I came to motherhood by way of step-motherhood. I have gained an infinite amount of self-confidence and some much needed self esteem just through the wonder of being able to answer her thousand and one questions, to having her lay her head in my lap and let me stroke her hair so she'll fall asleep when she's sick or just sick at heart from some fresh hurt, to that big grin when I offer to take her shopping for a new shirt for her party or get the 'it's OK' when I have to tell her no, she can't stay out until midnight. I'm now starting towards getting pregnant (fertility issues at 28, no fun), and a part of me is a little afraid of becoming 'just a mom' and not all the other things that I am now. But when I get the 'love you, Becca' on the phone from my stepdaughter, who still will say that in public at 13, it makes it all worthwhile.

Posted by: RebeccainAR | August 18, 2006 9:12 AM

To Dad A-Z about Arlmom:

If she "resents" people who "insist" that she stay home with kids, then in essense she "resents" people who "tell her how to live her life."

I think her resentment is entirely fair -- it's her life, not theirs. Who are they to try to make her choices for her? Have they walked that proverbial mile in her shoes? I'm guessing not. I don't see a chip on any shoulder here.

Posted by: Mass Prof. | August 18, 2006 9:16 AM

>>>Ignore Dad with Kids from A-Z's comments. How nasty and unisightful.

Please don't tell me who to ignore. If you disagree, rebut the comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:17 AM

I didn't lose myself when I became a mom--instead I found myself! I found the mature side of me...the part that could set aside my own needs and wants for another person. And the incredible HUGE amount of love I could feel for another person--a LOVE that in someways is even more powerful than the love I feel for my own parents, or even my husband.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:19 AM

I was advising arlmom to ignore his post. It was address to her so you can mind your own business.

Posted by: to anonymous 9:17 AM | August 18, 2006 9:20 AM

Yeah, I don't have a chip on my shoulder about SAHM's--if that's what they want to do, makes no difference to me. I was complaining about people who say *I* should be a SAHM because "it's best" -- and plenty of people have posted to that effect on this blog in the past, not to mention the broader cultural pressures others have acknowledged.

I was just saying that if you fear "losing" yourself, you should try and maintain the things that are important to you (in my case, working), while acknowledging that you will be different and your life will be different when you have kids. (And your marriage will be different, and your house will different....I appreciate the other posts that note that this is one of many life changes, and a big one, but just part of life...)

Posted by: Arlmom | August 18, 2006 9:20 AM

So what's posted on a public blog what a private conversation and the rest of us can mind our own business? Don't be an arse.

Posted by: anonymous 9:17 AM | August 18, 2006 9:20 AM

....WAKE UP!!!!! She's not talking to you. She's talking to Arlmom. Now go have a cup of coffee...

>>>>>>>>


Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:21 AM

Great idea anonymous poster at 9:21--I'm off to Starbucks! See ya :-)

Posted by: To anonymous 9:21 | August 18, 2006 9:21 AM

Let's try this again, to the poster who said, "Please don't tell me who to ignore."

She wasn't talking to you...she was talking to Arlmom...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:22 AM

The religious right is fueling anti-working motherhood? Sound Anti religious right to me.

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 9:22 AM

Your story is really wonderful. Your step-daughter is soooo lucky to have you in her life. I hope you can get pregnant, but if not, you can be assured that you are capable of loving a non-biological child and would make a wonderful adoptive mother.

Do you still work? Kidding! Not relevant:-)

Posted by: To: RebeccainAR | August 18, 2006 9:24 AM

To 2kidsandahusband....

The idea is that dad's job is to be the provider. If he has to take 3 jobs to do that, so be it. And mom should be home raising the kids, making dinner, and making sure that her working hubby and children are well cared for. It's June Cleaver all over again. But if you listen to these people on the religious right that's exactly what many of them are advocating.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:25 AM

Oh, and I forgot the part about having sex with your husband whenever he asks, not burdening him with your problems (that's what your girlfriends are for), and making sure he has plenty of "guy time" to do his own thing...since after all he works so hard to support the family.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:27 AM

"Then send Arlmom an email." Oy!!!!!! Do you take everything in your life so literally.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:29 AM

Let's try this again, to the poster who said, "Please don't tell me who to ignore."

She wasn't talking to you...she was talking to Arlmom...
---
Then send Arlmom an email.


Posted by: anonymous 9:17 AM | August 18, 2006 9:29 AM

"The religious right is fueling anti-working motherhood? Sound Anti religious right to me."

Certainly not every single religious right person believes a mother's place is at home, but c'mon...it's a safe assumption that more of this group believe this than other groups do. It's not really an "anti" statement. Perhaps a generalization.

If you look at what the religious right has done to this country under Bush, there are really a number of nasty things that could be said. But I won't. The above comment seemed rather benign.

Posted by: To: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 9:30 AM

To Joe D.
Where is the exteme? A lot of the blogs are about people whining about how to juggle Children and doing things they want to do ie work, play whatever...Rarely are there blogs about the joy of being a parent.

People talk about ALL they sacrificed by becoming a parent...FYI! You did NOT Sacrifice ANYTHING. When you make the choice to become a parent, you cannot sacrifice things, because you CHOSE to have children. Even when the WHOOPS happens, you CHOSE to have sex and by default, you decided to have a child. Even if you are on Birth Control, using condoms etc...The only out being that one of the 2 cannot conceive or cause a conception.

And YES it is all about the children. Virtually everything you do while raising a child has a direct and sometimes indirect influence on them. Be it wearing red shirts, what you watch, what you eat, what you say, etc...

Posted by: Joe D. | August 18, 2006 9:32 AM

"Then send Arlmom an email." OY!!!!!!!!!! Do you take everything in your life so literally?


Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:35 AM

Personally - I thought the "generalization" of the religious right was wrong, so I said so. Your snarky remarks (while not really remarking) about what has happened to this country under "Bush and the religious right" were meant as a putdown and I disagree there too.

So, you think the "religious" right is forcing people to be be - WHAT? Stay at home mothers? Some woman feel "guilt" about not staying at home because the religious right taunts them? At the grocery store? I don't understand.

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 9:35 AM

"And YES it is all about the children. Virtually everything you do while raising a child has a direct and sometimes indirect influence on them. Be it wearing red shirts, what you watch, what you eat, what you say, etc..."

What? We are talking apples and oranges. If a parent wants to work, continue a hobby or do whatever in order to keep a part of themselves, it is neither selfish or neglectful of their children. A happy interesting parent is better than a parent who does nothing for themselves and instead hyperfocuses on their children. Nasty, spoiled, smothered children.

So no, it's not all about the children. It's about the family. And a parent has a right to something that is their own. And what the hell are you talking about red shirts. Holy cow.


Posted by: To Joe D | August 18, 2006 9:37 AM

Joe D. is right...everything you do does have an effect on the child--indirect or direct. But at the same time, there are a lot of other things that affect children---school, friends, politics, the environment, TV, computers, etc. You can't completely run your life, and choose your shirt colors ;) --by what affect you think it will have on your kids. Now if you want to go off and join the Rockettes instead of staying home and making dinner, that could have an affect.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:38 AM

Well since 70% of people in this country dislike Bush and feel he is doing a bad job, you, fortunately, are in the minority.

Let's see what has the "religous right" done to this country. Forced a policy banning research on stem cells, influenced federal agencies to make policies based on religious beliefs and not science such as the Plan B fiasco, advocates for school prayer and the teaching of religion in classrooms ("intelligent design"), teaching abstinance only in the classroom despite the fact that study after study has shown these programs to be ineffective, etc. These are all bad policies and the religious right seeks to infuse their religious beliefs into the public sphere. Not very American.

And if you want to talk about the mess in Iraq and the middle east in general, the economy, etc, that is not the religious right's direct fault except that they help to elect an incompetent president and congress....

Posted by: To:2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 9:40 AM

Well, for one thing the "religious right" as an umbrella term for a number of organized groups mobilizes voters to support specific candidates who either seek to undo supports for working parents or at least not support new ideas that would be helpful. Because we women should be home with the kids, and therefore don't need things like paid maternity leave, access to birth control so we can limit/space our children, or equal tax rates as single-earner households.

Posted by: Arlmom | August 18, 2006 9:46 AM

Thanks - and yes, I still work - in fact, I'm the major income in the family. Luckily, I work for a company that has a pretty good work/life balance and have an AWESOME boss who is a single mother as well, so she is very flexible about working from home, etc.

I hope pregnancy is quick for us - my partner inseminated her ex-wife to bring stepdaughter into the world, so she's got a little experience in the basics, and so it'll be complex but not impossible.

Adoption is VERY complex for us - lesbians living in Arkansas have almost no rights for such a thing, so we'd probably have to move, and do it after stepdaughter graduates high school due to custody arrangements with the ex-wife.

Thanks for the support. It's hard sometimes coming to stepmotherhood at a relatively young age (my stepdaughter is only 15 years younger than I am!) but infinately rewarding.

Posted by: RebeccainAR | August 18, 2006 9:46 AM

To Joe D.
"What? We are talking apples and oranges. If a parent wants to work, continue a hobby or do whatever in order to keep a part of themselves, it is neither selfish or neglectful of their children. A happy interesting parent is better than a parent who does nothing for themselves and instead hyperfocuses on their children. Nasty, spoiled, smothered children."

Yes they can. But it has to be in the context of how it will effect the family. I never said to smother the child. again, it falls under it's about the child...You dont smother and spoil as it will, most likely, have an adverse reaction on the child.
I never said treat the child like the Baby Jesus, just that you think of the child first, in most cases, before you lavish your own needs, wants and desires...

Posted by: Joe D. | August 18, 2006 9:47 AM

Oops, another "SS" so I'll have to pick a new "name."

Gee folks, it's Friday and is everyone grumpy this morning? What's with the defensive and accusatory posts so early on?

Arlmom - I agree completely. Although I think motherhood did add to my life and I didn't lose myself when I had children, I sure didn't (and don't) appreciate anyone telling me I *should* stay home or *should work.* It's a decision made within the context of our family and our needs. And, yes, based on my desire and need to keep parts of myself which may otherwise be reduced if I were a SAHM, I work. I did try the SAH thing and it didn't work for me or my family. We've worked out our solution and it's really no one else's place to judge it since they don't know all of the factors which went into that decision. I try hard not to judge the SAHMs in my neighborhood who make snarky comments about working moms and who make sure that all school/ play/ neighborhood functions are during the day to exclude working parents. I'm sure they are doing what they have found is best for their families. However, so am I. Interestingly, one of the SAHMs who was most vocally critical has returned to work and the whole group seems to have backed off a bit.

I think it's normal to lose yourself as a parent the first few years - babies and toddlers are time consuming, needy, and amazing. Breastfeeding is time consuming too. But, the children grow (really fast!) and things get a lot easier and you can regain those parts of you that may have been temporarily put on hold. I don't think it's a bad thing to let yourself be "lost" for the first few years. It's kind of like The Very Hungry Caterpillar when you reemerge - and fun to see who you've become, how your interests have changed, and how the world looks a little different than it did BK (before kids).

Posted by: Usually SS | August 18, 2006 9:48 AM

When I talk to parents about my choice not to have children they often list the same things Leslie does that children brought to their lives: "A deeper capacity for love and self-sacrifice, increased sympathy for others, a belief in some kind of god (with whom I could bargain to protect my children), a fearlessness and confidence and inner peace I'd never known before."

But the thing is, I have these things already. I think in part all of this comes not just from having a child, but from maturity. In my relationship with my husband and my family and friends, I have discovered a deep capacity to love. Perhaps because I have a handicapped sister, I developed early a sense of self-sacrifice and sympathy for others. I have believed in God since I was a child. Now that I'm in my early 40s, I have found fearlessness, and confidence, and inner peace.

I'm not saying you don't develop these by having children, only that children are not the only route to self-development of this sort.

I do not want a biological child, but I do think of adopting an older child. At my age, I know what I will be giving up in terms of my own time, and from some past experience, I know what I will be receiving in return. I think the best scenario for a parent to "find themself" after having a child is when you already know and accept that you will "lose" something and you're ready to do that.

Posted by: JJ | August 18, 2006 9:51 AM

To 2kidsandahusband,
If you want to hear the religious right and their feelings on what's best for American families listen to WMAL radio, Fox news television, or visit drlaura.com.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 9:52 AM

"Adoption is VERY complex for us - lesbians living in Arkansas have almost no rights for such a thing, so we'd probably have to move, and do it after stepdaughter graduates high school due to custody arrangements with the ex-wife."

That is just wrong. A loving couple who already have a child can't adopt? I won't make any religious right comments..... By the way, did you see the article in the newspaper about transracial adoptions and how they are becoming more...well...not common, but are occuring in greater numbers? It seems to me that if we can be more tolerant of that, we could be more tolerant of adoption in "non-traditional" families.

And, I have some friends, two gay couples, who have adopted from Guatamala. Those types of adoptions are evidently possible.

Good luck and I'm sending fertile vibes your way.

Posted by: To: RebeccainAR | August 18, 2006 9:52 AM

"The idea is that dad's job is to be the provider. If he has to take 3 jobs to do that, so be it. And mom should be home raising the kids, making dinner, and making sure that her working hubby and children are well cared for. It's June Cleaver all over again. But if you listen to these people on the religious right that's exactly what many of them are advocating."

Funny how all the SAHPs I know are as liberal as apple pie.

Posted by: Dad with Kids from A-Z | August 18, 2006 9:52 AM

Hi all,

I agree with a lot of the others here that having a child is not so much about losing yourself as it is about placing another's needs ahead of your own. This is true, to some degree, in marriage as well, but it really gets amplified in parenthood.

I think a case can be made that this is a good thing, but certainly it represents a fundamental and difficult shift that not everyone is prepared to make. I think holding off on having kids until you are ready to do that is not a bad idea. At the same time, you'll never be totally ready and it is scary, so I think a little trepidation is only natural.

I should also be clear that putting another's needs ahead of your own does not mean that the children get whatever they want at the expense of the parent. It does mean, though, at least in the beginning years, that you deal first with the child's need for food, sleep, etc. before you get to take care of your own needs for these things.

Posted by: VAMom | August 18, 2006 9:55 AM

I really don't want a lecture on Bush and his policies, but thanks for your insight. Frankly I don't care if I am in the minority, I am not a lemming. This country was founded on Religious Freedom, not freedom from religion, so if you want to live in an atheistic society then you are in the wrong place.

My question was what is it that the "religious right" is doing that makes mothers "feel bad?" The June Cleaver comment is silly. Are RR people out there hurling insults are working mothers? If you are secure in the way you are raising your children, what do you care what the RR says? Isn't there enough "pro-working mom" stuff out there to counter act those vicious RR attacks?

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 9:55 AM

To Joe D:

With all due respect, I'm afraid I disagree with your statement about choosing and sacrifices.

You can CHOOSE to do something and SACRIFICE at the same time.

Ex 1: I chose to go to graduate school, so I sacrificed an income and more time with friends in order to go to classes.

Ex 2: I chose NOT to go to grad school, so I sacrificed the higher degree in order to have an income and more time with friends.

All choices involved shutting doors elsewhere, which is the same thing as sacrificing opportunity.

Yes children can be wonderful, yes you have huge impact on them, yes they are an important part of your life... but I disagree that sacrifices aren't part of that. Maybe they're sacrifices that we're happy to make, but they're still sacrifices.

Posted by: Mass Prof. | August 18, 2006 9:55 AM

Leslie, God might listen better if you spelled God with a capital "G".

Posted by: experienced mom | August 18, 2006 9:56 AM

"This country was founded on Religious Freedom, not freedom from religion, so if you want to live in an atheistic society then you are in the wrong place."

Lovely cliche. There are laws and traditions in this country for freedom of religion. It means that my children do not have to be subject to your prayers in a public place, like school. I am neither athiest nor intolerant of other's religions. It's just that your religious practices and beliefs belong at home not at school, in the workplace or the public square.

And frankly I don't care what the RR or anyone else thinks of my life's choices. I feel no guilt or have any regrets. However, I do resent, yes resent, the religious right's determination to imprint their beliefs on the laws and policies of this country. And when there are policies proposed and/or put in place that make it difficult for mothers to work because the powers that be (that kowtow to the RR) decide women belong at home, then yes, I resent that. Let's see what are those policies? How about weak EEOC laws that have allowed discrimination against women to flourish in the workplace? How about policies that continue to trend of women doing the same work getting less compensation? There are others I am sure. If there was political will to address these issues, then they could be ameliorated. Hopefully in the next two election cycles we'll clean house of these politicians who kiss the butts of the RR.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 10:01 AM

And I would say to you that if you wanted to live in a theocracy, move to Iran

Posted by: To: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 10:02 AM

I don't have kids yet, but I enjoy reading everyone's comments because I feel like it gives me a heads up on what to expect and there is a lot of good advice and ideas on here. As for losing myself when I do get blessed with children I never really thought about it, so I can't say, but I did ask my mom about it. (she has 3 kids, all of us were born when Mom was in her 20s) and she said to me (now, she could've been lying to try to protect my feelings) that she didn't feel that she had "lost" herself but that she had gained an extra part of herself. Being a mother is WONDERFUL and I think you do gain so many wonderful memories, experiances, opportunities etc. that us child-less people just can't understand yet. (Despite how much I baby my dog, she refuses to talk back to me.)I understand the fear people have of losing themselves, but I think you have to understand what makes you-you is not your job, or your career, or your house, but your personality and your life experiances.

Posted by: Melissa | August 18, 2006 10:03 AM

I understand exactly what "Thought"'s concerns are, and for me, it didn't have a thing to do with going out, fancy vacations, wanting to hold onto the fun of being footloose and fancy-free and without responsibilities. For me, it was about losing, and then re-finding, the very core of who I was.

My daughter was born 6 weeks before we had to move to a new state, where I knew no one, for my husband's job. My entire support system -- both family and job -- were 1600 miles away. So not only was I a new mom, alone in the house with a small infant, but all of the people I met knew me only as "Marc's wife" or "Riley's mom" -- no one knew me just as Laura. It was like one of those old sci-fi movies where someone turns invisible -- I felt like I was walking through life but no one was seeing ME as a complete, separate human being. I was defined solely by my relationship to other people, like I was a supporting player in a movie about someone else's life, rather than the lead role in my own.

I think our situation was extreme; most people still have family, friends, job -- something, someone in their lives that can provide that relief valve, the reassurance that you're still there. Being a mom should add new experiences -- experiences I wouldn't trade for anything in the world; it shouldn't have to take away from who you are. In fact, I didn't have any of those issues with our second, because we are now living back in my old stomping grounds, so every day I go to work, see my family, talk to friends -- in short, deal with people who have always known me just as Laura.

I think one problem that most people deal with is the suddenness of it all. Yes, you know generally that life is going to change, and you're willing to make that change. But it doesn't happen gradually, so you can adjust to it -- one day, you're running around managing your life, and the next, you've got this small, helpless creature who's always there; you love him more than life itself, but you couldn't really imagine beforehand how constant the demands on you are -- he always needs something, you can't leave him alone for more than a few minutes at a time (especially if you're breastfeeding -- I sometimes swore my son was a remora).

The key is to know that that period passes quickly. The hardest part is when you haven't slept for days and the baby is fussy and it just feels like it's never going to end. But the nice thing about no. 2 is you KNOW for a fact it DOES get easier, and that you WILL have time for something other than the baby in a very short while.

The other key is to find something that you love, and give yourself permission to go DO it, even very early on. Whether that's going out for coffee with friends, taking an hour a week on a hobby or a book, whatever, that little thing can reassure you that you're still there. With my first, I joined a gym, and made friends with people who knew me only as Laura. And I got the added satisfaction of setting goals and achieving them (running a 5K, skiing the ridge at Taos) -- something that my competitive spirit needed during a time when I wasn't working much.

Posted by: Laura | August 18, 2006 10:05 AM

Well said.

Posted by: To Massprof and VA mom | August 18, 2006 10:05 AM

Wow, I was surprised, but very pleased, to see one of my questions as the subject of the blog today. And, thanks to all of you who have written in with your experiences. These are great to read as I am working through this decision with my husband.

Leslie, your comment about losing your drive to achieve is definitely the one thing I am the most worried about losing. I don't think I need to be a CEO to be successful, but working hard for the next promotion is the only life I have known as an adult. I am good at it. (or at least think I am :) Will I be a good Mom? Will I be able to meet his/her needs? Can I learn to be flexible? I have never changed diapers or bathed a child. Will I be good at this? Am I thinking about this too much? Probably. Really, I should probably have more faith in myself and my husband that we can be successful parents. I do see this as an important decision because it will affect someone for the rest of their lives. So, I just want to make sure we are fully prepared to give everything we can to him/her so s/he can feel loved, secure and happy.

The one amazing thing I have is my husband. He has always known he wanted children and married me knowing it may never be for him. He is supportive and doesn't push as I talk to him about my feelings on this matter. (We also do discuss his thoughts and feelings as well). Overall, I feel incredibly close to him and honestly, it makes me a little less nervous about making the "jump". So, maybe me needing time to make the decision has been a good thing for us and will ultimately help us as we take on this challenge.

Thanks to all of you who are sharing your stories. I truly appreciate it. These are really wonderful thoughts.

Posted by: Thought | August 18, 2006 10:06 AM

Wow, seems some of us are getting a little off topic.

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 10:07 AM

"A happy interesting parent is better than a parent who does nothing for themselves and instead hyperfocuses on their children. Nasty, spoiled, smothered children."

This is a perfect example of the hypocrisy that abounds from WOH parents on this board. Every other post from them states how tired they are of SAH parents saying what they do is "best" - but that's what the above post says about working... and it's a very typical post.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 10:07 AM

Hey Laura,
I totally agree with you. Bummer about how you felt with #1. But it is your feelings and no one would have the right to say they are not valid.

And I agree about the goal setting. I decided to run after my 2nd child and decided to go for a marathon. I trained for this during her first year of life despite having a demanding job. Thankfully I have a terrific and understanding husband. And you know what? My children are now older and are both runners! My number one runs with me 2-3x a week, we enter 5Ks together and it has become the family activity (dad is now involved too, peer pressure I suppose). So these individual avocations can become a family endevor.

Posted by: To Laura | August 18, 2006 10:10 AM

We don't live in a Theocracy - cliches's be damned.

Nobody has answered my question, besides the resentment of the RR and some rubbish on EEOC - which I don't know what "discrimination of women to flourshih on the job" - what is the RR DOING to the shall we say non-RR mothers? You sound a little insecure.

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 10:11 AM

Topics like today's are the reason I usually don't post anymore. Sheesh.

Posted by: 22202 | August 18, 2006 10:12 AM

What does the quoted comment have to do with working or staying at home? It was in response to someone who said "it's all about the children" and well I don't think it is. If someone (SAH or WOH) has some activity that makes her feel more like an individual, then she shouldn't worry that it will harm her children. Too many parents hyperfocus on their children with ill effects.

I think you are a little hypersensitive.

Posted by: To anonymous 10:07 poster | August 18, 2006 10:16 AM

i think that the idea of losing your self is a fear you have when you're younger. once you're finally an adult you don't want to lose that. after all, it took a while to get to there. i think that as you get older you recognize that you change & evolve so the person you are at 26 is not the same as the person you are when you're 30. that is something at 30 you accept but at 26 you have a hard time believing. you want to think that your life will always be what it is at 26. like somebody else said, when you buy your first condo or house, you change. that's when you start to believe that change isn't bad.

Posted by: quark | August 18, 2006 10:17 AM

"Nobody has answered my question, besides the resentment of the RR and some rubbish on EEOC"

Let's see, discrimination against women and mothers in the workplace is rubbish? How has the RR impacted on this? Well when supervisors believe that a woman's place is in the home with her children (as the RR does), then they feel free to pay women less, to deny them promotions, to lay them off first, to not hire them, etc. I didn't make the original comment about how these people make WOH mothers feel. Personally I don't care what you or any of your RR bretheren think. It's when your RELIGIOUS beliefs impact on the laws and policies of this land that it becomes a fighting issue.

And you don't win any arguments by asserting that no one has "answered" your question. You just sound unintelligent and belligerent.

Posted by: To 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 10:21 AM

quark: well said!

It seems the "snarkiness" for which this blog is infamous has returned with a vengence after a very brief hiatus...

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 10:25 AM

I don't see any "snarkiness" today. People are arguing their positions. There is a difference. Too much demand for PCness I think. When everyone agrees, it's not interesting.

But I agree, quark usually has insightful things to say.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 10:27 AM

Quark, I am not quite sure I agree that the fear of losing yourself is something you have mainly whenyou are younger. I am in my 30's and obviously have it. I have changed since I was 26 and I like to think for the better. But, the choice to have a child brings a sudden change, which I think Laura discussed above. Things in my life have changed, but I have always maintained my independence and the ability to be spontaneous. This is what I lose with children. I volunteer a lot and worry it will be difficult to keep it up if I decide to go back to work. (I plan on working, but know that feelings can't be planned). My volunteering is a big part of me, as big as my drive for a career. I fear losing myself in that I can't be as involved after a child is born.

Change won't be bad, but it will be a change.

Posted by: Thought | August 18, 2006 10:30 AM

Has the EEOC changed drastically under the Bush admin - is that what you are implying? You are listing situations that have no factual basis, you just made them up to prove what point? That they could happen? Yeah, and Bill Clinton COULD be boffing an intern, oh - but workplaces hostile to WOMEN only happen under Republican administrations.

Funny, the left always preaches tolerance, except when your opinions vary from theirs. Apparently I am "unintelligent and belligerent" for having different views. Who is tolerant here? You use "religious Bretheren" like it is a disgusting slur - but I will take them over you any day. You sound intolerable.

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 10:36 AM

I'm not saying we should all agree, but I can definitely see some portions of this discussion/debate negatively spiraling. It's always good to remember that while disagreement is not wrong, neither is common courtesy. :)

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 10:41 AM

I want it all right now, I shouldn't have to give up anything because of kids,get real and get a life, if you must have it all, don't have kids,but quit the crying and snivling.

Posted by: mcewen | August 18, 2006 10:43 AM

Does common courtesy include calling someone "unintelligent and beligerent" because they have different views?

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 10:44 AM

ANOTHER snark-a-thon on SAHM v. WOHM? C'mon.

I like Arlmom's comments. In particular, her last sentence or two can be applied to anyone. You live your life and raise your kids the best way you can. Whether you stay at home or work out of the home.

If someone is saying that staying at home (or working out of the home) "is best," then maybe we need another action plan on what's best for kids. Because too many of them, regardless of whether a parent is SAH or not, are shooting each other in schools, taking and/or selling drugs, drinking and driving, engaging in teen sex or sexually acting out, getting into fights and disrespecting themselves and others.

We get so hung up on creating the lifestyle -- it's got to be this school, this neighborhood, this house, this working arrangement, this soccer team, these 10 million activities, these room mother projects -- and we don't talk enough about building characters, values, individualism and setting positive examples.

There's nothing wrong with either WOH or SAH -- it's what you do with your child to try to raise a well-adjusted, interesting human being with solid values.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | August 18, 2006 10:45 AM

In our government, there's a right wing part and a left wing party--and people who make up each. If there weren't two parties, and differing views to make having 2 parties a good idea, we'd all be in the middle.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 10:48 AM

Don't have time to read the posts thoroughly, but just wanted to say to Thought that I totally understand. I don't consider myself as identifying with my career, but I have always identified myself in large part through my intellectual life, and that takes a BIG hit at first. For me it started in pregnancy as my brain just seemed to shut down, and the first few months after I had my son were really hard, I felt really lost. Incidentally, based on this experience, I feel much of the same vehemence that Arlmom expressed about being told I should SAH. It was really hard on me and it really upsets me when others are not willing to recognize that it isn't always good for everyone to do that.

Anyway, now that my son is almost two I no longer feel lost; my brain has returned to pretty much full function and I have a much better perspective on all the wonderful things I have gained. So, my guess is that you will also go through a tough period, but it will be short-lived, and you will find so much more when you come out the other side.

Posted by: Megan | August 18, 2006 10:51 AM

I'd rather see people actually contributing to a discussion of what needs to happen to improve quality of life, instead of baiting each other. I am mom to an almost eight-month-old and spent much of the past six years helping care for a parent with a chronic, degenerative illness. Here's what I think would make work/life balance better for everyone (whether they need flexibility to write a novel, run a marathon, care for a family member, or be a parent): part-time professional work, job sharing, telecommuting, truly flexible schedules (i.e., 24 hours), compressed work schedules, on-site childcare, on-site gyms and fitness/wellness classes, part-time childcare, evening and overnight childcare, cafeteria-plan benefits, and sabbaticals available to all employees after five years of employment.

Yes, all of those ideas cost money, but so does lost productivity. Wellness programs have proven themselves time and again in fewer absences and lower healthcare costs.

Companies like SAS have employee assistance programs that help with any aspects of life, which keeps workers more productive because they're not juggling, and more loyal because they have no incentive to go elsewhere. Less turnover means less waste in hiring, training, loss of institutional memory, and so forth. Read more here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2001/02/08/eveningnews/main270458.shtml?CMP=ILC-SearchStories

Posted by: restonmom | August 18, 2006 10:51 AM

Children do best when raised with a SAHM. You shouldn't have children if you're not going to stay home and raise them. Sending them to daycare, or having a nanny, is turning your kids over to strangers to raise them. Then, you're no longer the one who's imparting values, love, and daily attention on your children. Plus, daycare creates aggressive kids, daycare kids don't bond with mom, it's too long a day for them to be separated from mom, and it creates problems later in life.

Children do best when raised with a WOHM. Then, they have the opportunity to know that they can be cared for and loved by several people--and that mom and dad will always come back, which makes them more well-adjusted. They also get to see mom as a role model, making a contribution in the world as well as being a mom. And it makes children realize that they're not the center of the universe--that there's a bigger world out there. And they still have plenty of time to bond with mom and dad, to get attention, and to grow up well adjusted--they're just doing it with more balance. And since WOHM don't have as much time to hover, their children have more self-confidence and more well adjusted than kids with stay at home parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 10:55 AM

Come on people, you may not agree with each other, but you can respect others' opinions. It's not the difficult, really, to politely disagree.

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 10:57 AM

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

Posted by: Pat Robertson | August 18, 2006 10:57 AM

Hee hee--exactly. And just as someone argued that there are two political parties so account for differences--there are a MILLION ways a family can work. No one answer is best. The uncertainty of what will work, how you will make it work, and what that means is scary (back to the original blog entry). The best we can all do is to try and do what we think is best for our families.

Posted by: To Anon at 10:55 | August 18, 2006 10:58 AM

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

Posted by: Pat Robertson | August 18, 2006 10:57 AM

_______

Oh my Gosh, you should have warned me...I was laughing so hard I almost spilled my coffee!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 10:59 AM

And to 2kidsandahusband, I don't think pointing out that many far-right religious groups encourage mothers to stay home is anti-religious, it's simply true. Many do take the position that a mother should be at home, not working. Check out the websites for Focus on the Family, Dr. Laura, etc.

And in fact, some of them do hurl insults at working mothers. I live in a state where there is a very strong conservative christian voice, and I have been told more than once in quite insulting terms that my choices are wrong, immoral, and will destroy my child.

I'm not, and I don't think anyone is, saying that ALL religious people feel or act this way. But there is a very vocal group that do and that do make it harder on those of who work at times.

Posted by: Megan | August 18, 2006 10:59 AM

Thank you, JJ, for articulating so effectively that having children is not the only route to mature, compassionate personhood.

My husband and I don't want to have children. We have friends who feel the same way. Some of them are quite militant about it; others, like us, just quietly go about our lives . . . not having children.

Nevertheless, we continue to grow as human beings because we pay attention -- to the other people in our lives; to the things we can do to help those in need; to how we can be better spouses, friends, caregivers, and neighbors.

It is important to recognize, accept, appreciate, and even respect that having children is not something everyone wants to do. Likewise, we need to recognize that having children does not immediately confer maturity, compassion, and sound judgment. These are qualities of character that must be learned and developed by parents and non-parents alike.

Posted by: pittypat | August 18, 2006 11:01 AM

>>If there weren't two parties, and differing views to make having 2 parties a good idea, we'd all be in the middle.>>

This is a nutty post, and too political to discuss here. But let it be known that plenty of other democracies across the globe allow for more than two parties and may well have a better system of checks and balances than us. Consider that the only reason the judicial branch is able to provide checks and balances on the current executive branch is because it is illegal to sway their opinions using financial means. If they were able to declare party affiliation and be lobbied, they too might deliberately fall asleep at the Oversight switch, much like our Congress has failed us.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:03 AM

"Pat Robertson is an idiot and a liar." -Me.

(Can he really leg press more weight than the world's strongest man?)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:07 AM

Oh, well, I don't know if "loosing" is quite as accurate as "swapping." I swapped bar nights for bathtime and midnight trysts with my husband for feedings, and the trysts became morningtime occurances. For us, integrating our daughter into our life is about becomming a different (note, not better or worse) family than we were before she arrived. I think it is very easily possible to become so engrossed in baby-rearing that we forget about what special things in ourselves we wanted to share with the little ones in the first place. If we can try to remember that, then nothing important is "lost" at all.

Posted by: Jen | August 18, 2006 11:07 AM

>>If there weren't two parties, and differing views to make having 2 parties a good idea, we'd all be in the middle.>>

This is a nutty post, and too political to discuss here. But let it be known that plenty of other democracies across the globe allow for more than two parties and may well have a better system of checks and balances than us. Consider that the only reason the judicial branch is able to provide checks and balances on the current executive branch is because it is illegal to sway their opinions using financial means. If they were able to declare party affiliation and be lobbied, they too might deliberately fall asleep at the Oversight switch, much like our Congress has failed us.

Posted by: | August 18, 2006 11:03 AM

_________

I'm sorry you thought my post was nutty. I wasn't saying that we couldn't have more parties. What I was saying is that if we all were in agreement, we wouldn't have more than one political party.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:07 AM

"Has the EEOC changed drastically under the Bush admin - is that what you are implying"

Uh, yes it has. While Clinton was no saint with regard to these laws, under the bush administration, the EEOC has been decimated. Their funding has been slashed and cases take years to come to any conclusion--many more than in the 90s.

And yes, you are unintelligent and a bully when you over and over again say "no one has answered my question" such that you think it makes your argument right. Saying that repeatedly is like how a bully acts and doesn't further the discussion. Try backing up your arguments with facts.

And way too many thin skins here.

Posted by: To: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 11:09 AM

I'm glad Anonymous at 10:55 knows everything about what's best for kids. I can finally relax.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:10 AM

Oh, well, I don't know if "loosing" is quite as accurate as "swapping." I swapped bar nights for bathtime and midnight trysts with my husband for feedings, and the trysts became morningtime occurances. For us, integrating our daughter into our life is about becomming a different (note, not better or worse) family than we were before she arrived. I think it is very easily possible to become so engrossed in baby-rearing that we forget about what special things in ourselves we wanted to share with the little ones in the first place. If we can try to remember that, then nothing important is "lost" at all.

Posted by: Jen | August 18, 2006 11:07 AM
_________________

Just be careful that you're not "loosing" too much. You could become to loose! Then you'd be "losing"...


Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:10 AM

Sorry I used the term 'nutty'. I should have just said I disagree. 215's message is getting through.

Posted by: Sorry | August 18, 2006 11:11 AM

I'm glad Anonymous at 10:55 knows everything about what's best for kids. I can finally relax.

Posted by: | August 18, 2006 11:10 AM

____________

Glad to help :) I was just pointing out that there are two very different "right" ways of doing things (not religious right...just right!)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:12 AM

there are lots of liberal SAHPs, lots of conservative WOH parents, really, the point is, do what's right for your family and forget what everyone else thinks. If working means you feel like you haven't lost yourself, then work. If you can keep your identity and SAH and want to do so, then do it. Good GRIEF people!!! Enough with the angry ad hominem attacks on complete strangers!

Posted by: to each her own | August 18, 2006 11:14 AM

Sorry I used the term 'nutty'. I should have just said I disagree. 215's message is getting through.

Posted by: Sorry | August 18, 2006 11:11 AM

________

No apology necessary. "Nutty" is a fun word...very descriptive!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:14 AM

Pittypat, I like what you wrote also. I have some friends who are "childfree by choice" and some friends who are parents and some who aren't yet parents but want to be. I enjoy them all and they often mix. Not everyone has to choose the same path in life. I learn so much from being around people who made different choices.

Posted by: JJ | August 18, 2006 11:19 AM

'there are lots of liberal SAHPs, lots of conservative WOH parents, really, the point is, do what's right for your family and forget what everyone else thinks. If working means you feel like you haven't lost yourself, then work. If you can keep your identity and SAH and want to do so, then do it. Good GRIEF people!!! Enough with the angry ad hominem attacks on complete strangers!'


THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Posted by: experienced mom | August 18, 2006 11:27 AM

215 - there is no respect for conservatives on this site.

Megan - You are arguing from the specific to the general even though you claim you not making generalities. I could do the same. My workplace is incredibly liberal, so much so that my boss (also a conservative) has been harrassed and belittled in front of our Board of Supervisors by our company President. If you want to climb the ladder in our orgnaization you better be a liberal and hate Bush or do twice the work and know when to "keep your mouth shut." As for parents, well none of the top 6 positions in our office have children so their "sympathy" for those that do is very thin. Lots of snippy remarks under the breath. I don't make assumptions about other organizations based on my workplace, and I still work there - so guess what? I ignore the crap - do my job and go home to my family and (gasp) bretheren. I get paid well, my immediate boss is excellent, the workplace sucks but I choose to be there and it is my (OH NO) "Cross to Bear." If you don't want to listen or read Dr. Laura of PAt Robertson - don't visit their sites. I am sure there are plenty of sites you agreed with.

And whoever is posting to me but won't sign their posts - sticks and stones my friend. Bully? Yeah - us conservatives are such bullies - we should just keep quiet and never express our OPINIONS. As for your claims about the EEOC budget - I'd have to research it - as I don't really believe you, maybe you have a link to an article from "The NAtion" you'd like to send me? Budgetary cuts are funny in Washington, if you don't get the same funding plus 10% that you have in the past 20 years your budget is "slashed." Bloated is the term that come to mind - kinda like Ted Kennedy. Also, talk about thin skin - sign your posts so people can identify you other than your angry posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:29 AM

In today's third post, AK wrote "I have come to believe that sometimes the point of life IS to lose yourself." Other people talk about the point of life being to evolve. No matter what you think -- and it's typical of those in their teens and 20s to say they won't -- you WILL change. There have been times in my life when I didn't want to lose what I had and where I was, and other times when I was ready for change. I think the key is to accept change, even when you don't want it, and try to adapt. And remember that nothing, even sleepless nights due to a crying infant, lasts forever.

Posted by: JJ | August 18, 2006 11:31 AM

215 - I was skimming through yesterday's blog (I'm stuck waiting for word from my boss on something, so time to kill) and saw your remark about not wanting to be the same parent that your own parents were (sorry for butchering the wording). Just wanted to say that it is possible to change when you have that awareness - my mom has told me many times that she made a very conscious decision to do certain things differently than her mom, and she absolutely did. It sometimes amazes me when I hear stories about her childhood because her approach was so fundamentally different (and better, to my mind) than her mother's. I'm very lucky that she did such a good job; I think knowing what it is you need to change is a huge part of doing it.

Posted by: Megan | August 18, 2006 11:34 AM

The idea of losing yourself as a mom is an interesting topic. I agree with ArlMom's post-- its important to keep doing the things that are important to you.

Thought-- you might want to put some thought into what *you* think it takes to be a good mom, and then decide if you want to change your life to make that possible. Oh, and I wouldn't be worried about being good at changing diapers-- its not so much a skill as a task.

I am putting more thought into the topic of "losing myself" after watching my MIL struggle with her empty nest. She was a SAHM for years with no strong outside interests, and when her youngest left home, she was rudderless and depressed. My mom worked for a large chunk of my childhood, had lots of hobbies, and did volunteer work. Her transition was effortless and joyful.

As much as I love my kids and staying home with them, I won't let them become my identity.

Posted by: yetanothersahm... | August 18, 2006 11:40 AM

"Megan - You are arguing from the specific to the general even though you claim you not making generalities."

No, actually, I'm pointing out that there in fact groups that disapprove of WOHM, since 2kids... seems to think we're all just making it up. I don't doubt your organization is the way you describe, and I'm sure there are others like it. What's your gripe with people stating the reality that there is, in fact, some public dispproval of WOHM from religious groups? And it's not just on their websites, James Dobson writes a syndicated column and is reglarly quoted in newspaper articles about family issues.

Posted by: Megan | August 18, 2006 11:41 AM

"215 - there is no respect for conservatives on this site."

Simply not true. Rockville and both the Fo's all express pretty Conservative views from.

However, there IS no tolerance for blowhards who want to be bullys and victims at the same time. This tactic happens to be a staple of Karl Rove, so whose fault is that?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 11:42 AM

Megan: thanks for your remarks regarding my comments from yesterday. My parents were by no means bad parents. In fact, they were pretty awesome. They helped make me who I am today. However, I'm my own person and have my thoughts, ideas, and methods with regards to how I want to raise my children. Some of the things they did I don't want do with my kids. Every parent makes mistakes, and I know I'm going to make my fair share should I ever get the opportunity to be a parent. I would just like to not make the same ones as my parents.

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 11:50 AM

I'm expecting my first child in December and am not so concerned about "losing myself" as I am determined not to lose sight of my marriage (which I guess is another dimension to the same issue). My husband and I have waited until our early 30's to have children, and from what I've observed -- again, no 1st hand experience yet, so check back w/me in '07 -- the best adjusted kids aren't the ones w/SAHM SAHF WOHM or WOHF, but those who have parents who love and care, respect one another first and foremost. Maybe it's the ripple effect, but that strong bond seems to naturally extend to the kids.

Posted by: Brenda | August 18, 2006 11:50 AM

That is my post at 11:29 - forgot to sign.

Also, experienced mom - I agree, but if you look through today's posts I think I am the only one that admits I forget what other people think - especially at work - and I am the conservative. Others can't get over that there are other opinions out there.

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 11:51 AM

Yeah, I definitely lost my former self when I had my daughter. I had not planned to marry, have a child, have a mortgage in the suburbs, and I certainly didn't expect to divorce and do this on my own.

But I must say, I am happy and content and I love being a mother. Every parent on here knows there is no love that equals the love you feel when you hold your newborn child for the first time. And I feel that same rush of love at the end of the day when I pick her up from school.

I don't mourn losing my former self; I've simply morphed into someone new.

And yes, I now choose employment, recreation and friends based on my identity as a mother and what is best for my child.

Posted by: single western mom | August 18, 2006 11:51 AM

I've really enjoyed reading the posts about how people have balanced changing identities that come with parenthood. I think that it is VERY possible to lose yourself to motherhood. I'm reminded of (extreme case alert!) an ex's mom, who derived her whole identity from her children. Now, I never knew her before she became a parent, but there waas evidence that at some point she had her own identiy (artifacts around their house from acherological digs she had gone on, stories her husband told me about their pre-child travels) but when I met her, she did not. Her licesnce tag and email address were variations on "XXXsmom" (xxx being he kids names). She called her kids daily, had no interests outside of them (she'd even clip articles she thought they'd enjoy, or record TV shows for them) and, all in all, was the most boring woman I have ever met.

I know it's an extreme case, but losing yourself in motherhood does happen, and this woman has always been a warning to me. Needless to say, her lack of personal identity did NOT make for a son who was a viable long-term partner for me.

Posted by: neat | August 18, 2006 11:53 AM

Wow - you named 2 conservatives out of - what 100's? I feel better. Although I am used to be outnumbered in this area. Now I am a Blowhard and a Bully. You're into name calling aren't you? I've called you intolerant - but I quit calling people names in 4th grade. Plus, comparing me to Karl Rove is rich, that ALWAYS gets me. I am crying now.

Posted by: 2kidsandahusand | August 18, 2006 11:56 AM

2kids, is that post directed at me? Because I didn't call you anything, although I'm surprised by the anger and hostility you have towards anyone saying anything about the fact that there is a religious right in this country that is very politically active. I don't feel the need to catalog every single conservative in the country to make my point, if you don't know who they are, you can look them up yourself.

Posted by: Megan | August 18, 2006 12:01 PM

Just skimmed this, but Thought's post today (in the comments, not in Leslie's write-up), made me think of something. In the past I've written that I didn't realize until I had children that I'd want to stay home, and that I lost my ambition once I had kids. But I kept working, because my husband really didn't want to be the sole means of support. Thought's comment today about not wanting to lose her desire to be promoted and how she's good at her job made me think of one thing I hadn't mentioned, and that has been part of my frustration at continuing to work. And it's that, in being a WOHM, I feel like I am doing two jobs in a mediocre way instead of doing one job really well. I've always prided myself on doing a good job. But when you have to leave work right on time to pick the kids up, you may not put in the extra effort that you would otherwise. Whereas before kids I might routinely put in some time on the weekends, now it has to be a hard deadline, because I don't want to lose weekend time with the kids. Granted, that's a good thing - my life isn't so one-sided. But I still have the feeling I'm not being the best at my job.

On the flip side, I'm not being the best Mom I could be. Even taking aside the fact that I am not with my children during work hours, I believe I have less patience with them when coming home from hard day and commute, when I need to get dinner on the table and do the other things that need to be done. I feel like if I were a SAHM I could spread the various duties over the entire week, and have more relaxing times with my family.

So, to cut to the chase, I think that if you're going to work and have kids the best skill to develop is to learn how not to be a perfectionist and how not to let it drive you crazy that some things just have to go. Right now it may seem unrealistic to you that you won't want to be promoted. But if that's the case, so what? You may not care at that point, because you won't want to sacrifice your time with your kids. If so, then you obviously enjoy being with your kids, and that's a good thing.

And you're going to have to learn that things are going to slide at home too. And not beat yourself up for not being there every day, and fixing your kids a good non-fast food meal every night, particularly if you think your family needs your salary, because there are a lot of good, happy kids out there with two WOH parents (or single WOHP). The biggest mistake I've made in trying to balance is letting the stress of trying to do both perfectly make it even harder on me and the kids. The kids would probably have been obvlivious to the fact that other kids had moms who stayed home the first five years of their lives, since their friends were all kids in day care. But I let the fact that I couldn't be there all the time for them stress me out, along with the fact that I couldn't be at work as much as I was before having them. It's taken me seven years to learn this, but your hardest judge at work and at home is probably yourself. So the key to enjoying your new life is to let some of those expectations go and just enjoy being with your family.

For what it's worth, now that my youngest is off to kindergarten, I'm finding some of my old ambition coming back. And I'm finally able to exercise again, and read books for fun (albeit on the metro, but for awhile there I would just spend metro time reading parenting magazines or doing some of the work I felt guilty about not doing at the office).

And ditto to what everyone else says here about being a better person as a result of having children. There's absolutely no way to describe it accurately. If you decide it's right for you, you just have to do it!

Posted by: Sam | August 18, 2006 12:01 PM

"My question was what is it that the "religious right" is doing that makes mothers "feel bad?" The June Cleaver comment is silly. Are RR people out there hurling insults are working mothers? If you are secure in the way you are raising your children, what do you care what the RR says? Isn't there enough "pro-working mom" stuff out there to counter act those vicious RR attacks?"

From having a good deal of contact with the religious right through family and working in an area where a large percentage of my co-workers were religious right I am afraid of what they have done so far in weakening women's rights to birth control. I am also afraid of what happens if they obtain more power. what they would do if they can obtain a little more power is either pass laws to keep mothers from working or remove workplace protections. They don't think that mothers should be allowed to work. What I saw at work, even with protections, is that women where denied opportunities and raises, based on being mothers. Even non-mothers were discriminated against - I heard comments such as women shouldn't be in charge of men.

I worked for the same company in another area of the city that was not dominated by the religious right and it was a totally different atmosphere. A woman's motherhood status didn't even come up as an issue when discussing assignments/promotions.

In response to your question "Are RR people out there hurling insults are working mothers?". Yes, I quite often heard critical comments and insults about working mothers from my RR friends.

Posted by: kep | August 18, 2006 12:05 PM

Leslie wrote: "But motherhood brought new, priceless gifts as well. A deeper capacity for love and self-sacrifice..."

I've heard other parents say this too. Does this deeper capacity for love extend to people outside the family? Or is for children alone?

Posted by: Friend | August 18, 2006 12:06 PM

If I said I was a pianist, and spent 1 hour a day on the piano, would you consider me as good a pianist as one who spent all day playing the piano? And if I had a day off from work, and sent my piano to my parents house or the piano wharehouse so I could have some "me time", would I still be a good pianist? And if I bought another piano and had 3 months off to play the new piano, and still sent my first piano to the wharehouse cause playing 2 piano's at once was just too difficult or I was already paying for the piano space in the wharehouse, would you still think I was a good pianist? If every other weekend I sent my piano to my parents so I could have even more "me time", would I still be a good pianist? And if I played the piano every day, and had to listen to those who didn't and complained about 'me time', and how hard 2 piano's are, and how difficult it is to accomplish something on my day off with the piano staring at me saying "play me, play me", would I be wrong to think those folks are just sad?

Posted by: Permagrinn | August 18, 2006 12:07 PM

boy, 2kidsandahusband, I can really tell you are "over it" based on the total lack of bitterness in all your posts today, that's great, you go girl... sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 12:09 PM

Motherhood has triggered new growth areas in my life.

I had my kids at 33 and 35. By then, I had travelled around the world, had experienced the corporate arena and had tasted its successes, had established a very mature, loving and mutually-respectful relationship with my husband. When we wanted kids, we welcomed them. We were prepared financially and logistically but I was not expecting the enrichment that parenthood brought to my life. Since becoming a mother, I have grown immensely emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. I worked part-time for a few years after the birth of my children but realised that the corporate world, although attractive in lots of ways, was not offering the growth that I was experiencing in spending time with my children. So, I quit work three years ago (am fortunate to not to have to work to meet basic life-style choices we have made as a family).
I think motherhood has made me a better human being by triggering different growth areas that had been lying dormant before.
Having said the above, I think parenthood may be similar to other life-changing events e.g. going to Sudan to take care of orphans or sailing all around the world. All these changes in life can help us discover parts of ourselves that we may not have paid attention to before. At the end, we come out better or more all-rounded human beings. I think the only difference could be that the cost of failure in parenthood is much higher that the other endeavors as it is a longer-term project and has more than your own life at stake.

Posted by: Motherhood is unexpectedly enriching | August 18, 2006 12:15 PM

Dear Neat,

Thank you for posting that story. I was actually just getting ready to post that I have to admit that I don't understand this talk of "Losing Yourself" which as other posters have said can occur at multiple points in your life (person who works too much forgetting other important things, getting married)>

Interests and focus change regardless of whether one choses to have children. I just don't understand what the "big deal" is. As long as someone doesn't follow the example of the lady in Neat's story, I fail to understand what the issue is.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 12:15 PM

I hope motherhood changes me. Not that I don't love myself now, it's just that I think life will take on even more meaning and I really can't wait for it.

My husband and I have talked about how life will change when the babies come, and I thought his perspective was incredible (as I often times do!). He said, "Sure they are going to change. Everything will be that much more fun and exciting with them."

Sure we will have our trying times of late nights, etc. But all in all life experiences will increase tenfold.

Somewhat related comment-I think the marriage needs to be a priority. You aren't doing your children any favors if you sacrifice for them in other healthy ways, yet let your marriage fall by the wayside.

Happy marriage = happy well-rounded children

Posted by: Changes | August 18, 2006 12:16 PM

i worked with a guy who is 10 years younger than i am. he was 26 and didn't believe me when i told him that a time would come when going out every night would lose its appeal, that when he was 30 he would be a different person than he was right now. his response was "no way". he loved his life at 26 and saw no reason to change it. he planned on being the same person at 30 that he was at that time. of course that didn't happen. he grew into the 30 year old i told him he would. it threw him that i was able to tell him what he would go through but i did it myself.

whoever disagreed with me (sorry i forgot who through all the snarky comments) - yes, there are some people who grow and evolve and aren't afraid of change and there are other people who hang onto whatever role they've given themselves. some of them will never change and some of them will grudgingly change, and some will suddenly realize that change isn't bad and they will. you're right that it is not necessarily the young who are afraid of change but by the time you're 40 you've gone through some serious upheavals (loss of parents, job, spouse) and while you don't necessarily embrace change you accept and/or recognize it.

to the other who agreed with me; thanks for the compliments. i better be careful or my head will get so big i'll have to walk through doors sideways.

Posted by: quark | August 18, 2006 12:20 PM

you named 2 conservatives out of - what 100's?

I did not object to some statement saying there weren't equal numbers of conservatives on the site. I objected to you saying their views weren't respected. I do not believe (opinion) that people on this blog are in the habit of disrespecting opinions based solely upon the fact that the opinion originates from a conservative or solely on the fact that it is a conservative opinion. They object to either the content or the delivery.

In your case, both your content and your delivery contribute to how weak your opinions are.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 12:24 PM

Brilliant post. Many thanks.

Posted by: to Sam | August 18, 2006 12:29 PM

215 - about yesterday's topic, right on! I think your approach is awesome. I should have noted that my grandmother was by no means a bad mother, just that there were some things that she did that my mom really did not want to repeat, so it sounds pretty similar.

And Quark and others, I think your comments about changes in life are spot on too - whether it is through parenthood or other life changes, it's amazing to look back and see how different we are. On that note, my husband was older when we had our son (we've got a fairly large age difference) and he has often commented that the thinks he's a much better father now than he would have been at younger age because of how much he's grown. Not that I'm advocating for delaying parenthood, I just think it's interesting that he sees so much difference in his personality and approach to life now than before.

Posted by: Megan | August 18, 2006 12:32 PM

I've gone through a number of stages in my life. Some of them were by my choices and some were thrust upon me.

All of the advance planning in the world couldn't have predicted or prevented my husband's death at the age of 40.

There was no crystal ball to foretell my son getting caught up in a cult (think Tom Cruise)that would make our relationship difficult for the past 15 years.

Rather than let those things destroy me, I learned to stop beating myself up, and start loving myself.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 12:41 PM

I am 43 and the mother of a pre-schooler. I have never felt that "loss of myself" or my identity. On the contrary, being a mom IS part of who I am. I certainly have my own, other, personal interests and activities -- though I don't do them nearly as often as I used to -- but this new aspect of my life (being a mom) is the best part of who I am and what I want to do the most.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 12:46 PM

Sam,
You could have been me writing that post - I completely see where you are coming from. I constantly feel that I am not doing my best at home and at work and I was so used to excelling in school and at work that it's been hard for me. But I'm now coming to realize that I can only do my best and that is good enough. My husband is always trying to encourage me not to beat myself up but it's hard.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 18, 2006 12:52 PM

After having children, I wouldn't say that you "lose yourself," but rather that you lose the freedom to think only about yourself (and your partner).

In fact, I think that having children makes you a better version of yourself. I want to set a good example for my daughther. Since having her, I am constantly striving to break myself of my bad habits.

Also, I feel like having children makes you more cheerful. On a day when I am really in a bad mood, I hide it for her sake, act cheeful, and after awhile, I really become cheerful.

Parenthood brings you out of yourself, and really, brings out the better part of you.

Posted by: Emily | August 18, 2006 12:54 PM

I have found that parenthood has been the most exhilarating(sp?)experience of my life! Work could never touch my soul and spirit the way that my child has. I am a working mother--and love working. I love the fact that my son gets other experiences (in addition with the experiences with us, his parents) with children at daycare. We pay a pretty penny to get him that experience. I love the fact that he is social and developing with other children. I like to think that when me, my husband and our son set foot out the door each morning--we are going forth to enrich our lives and learn something to bring back to each other to share. I believe motherhood has enhanced my work ethic--first to prove that I could do it all--and secondly because as Fo3 put it: Employers can realize that their employees are full life participants and that work is melded in with all the other reasons to live. I never intended to live for just my children--what kind of mother would I be? I never intended to live just for work, what kind of worker would I be? Who wants to have a mother that has her every fiber tied into you--and who wants to have a co-worker that is devoid of compassion due to no outside life. I am happy to be living for all of these things. I am happy to live for my wonderful marriage, for my gorgeous son, and for my great job. I am happy that I can come to work and be effective in the world, go home and watch Barney and play with my son, and have a late night cuddle session with my husband. That I have a support system and love at home the night before a big meeting. Someone to share my triumphs with at home, and pictures and anecdotes to share with my colleages about my family. Life can be well rounded and full. I think that if SAH is what completes you--that is great. If working completes you--that is great. Everyone deserves to have a fulfilling life. And for those of us trying to strike balance, realize that it is possible to evolve as a person and still be an excellent parent.

Posted by: DC Mom | August 18, 2006 1:01 PM

I'm 29, and the single mother of an 8-month old, which brings its own unique set of challenges. I wasn't prepared for parenthood, although I don't really think anyone can be, or all the ways it would change me.

And change, it does.

I was never one of those people who desperately wanted to have kids. If it was in the cards for me, great, but if not, life has all sorts of other adventures to offer. I was an ambitious go-getter, working ridiculous hours at jobs that were high on adrenaline and low on pay and loving every minute of it.

When my son came along, everything was different. I found I was no longer willing to put in those hours, that I would willingly sacrifice being an adrenaline junkie for being home at 5 pm, for having weekends dedicated to nothing but walks in the stroller and learning to crawl. I transitioned out of the job I had into one at a different company, with regular hours, with more realistic professional expectations and I've never regretted it for an instant.

I did lose myself, that person before motherhood, and I'm still figuring out who I am in the after, but I can say without a doubt that I don't have a single regret. I'm not overly emotional or sappy but I have never, ever in my life felt anything like I did in those first moments after delivery, holding that life in my hands that I'd nurtured along, or experienced the kind of perfect joy found, after a long day's work, in picking him up from daycare and seeing his face light up when I walk into the room.

Having kids isn't the right choice for everyone, and you shouldn't ever be made to feel guilty if you choose otherwise, but if you do, for everything you lose, you gain, over and over.

Posted by: Midwestern mom | August 18, 2006 1:01 PM

my piano thrived being in a piano warehouse. he was played by others, not just me and he learned that there wasn't just one way to do things. he learned things from the other pianos that were at the same warehouse. because he saw other pianos doing things he wanted to be able to do them too. he stopped drinking from a bottle because he saw the other pianos drinking from a cup. his desire to crawl and walk was enhanced and cheered by the older pianos at the piano warehouse. he started peeing on the potty because he saw the older pianos peeing on the potty. yes, my piano learned some bad habits from exposure to the other pianos at the piano warehouse but on the whole i'd say the entire piano warehouse thing was a real plus especialy since the owner of the warehouse (and owner's family) adored my piano. he still likes to visit the warehouse even though he's been in school. i know you'll find this hard to believe but some pianos love their warehouse and have very fond memories of their days there.

Posted by: quark | August 18, 2006 1:16 PM

"I think motherhood has made me a better human being by triggering different growth areas that had been lying dormant before."

Then the writer goes on to say that growth can also come from other life-changing experiences -- not just becoming a parent. I have grown and been enriched my many experiences in my life, most of which I didn't plan or even expect.

It seems to me that sometimes the unhappiest people I know are the ones who resist change the most. Our natural tendency seems to be to resist change, but change can be a great spur to new growth and new happiness. The changes you face may not be pleasant, but if you try to find ways to adapt rather than mull over what you "lost", you'll most likely be happier.

I like that many posters today are describing good things about being a parent. I hear so many parents complaining and often they seem miserable -- but I realize it's usually just because they are overworked and stressed, not because of their kids.

Posted by: JJ | August 18, 2006 1:26 PM

By the way, there is nothing wrong with a mom who clips articles to send to her kids! My mom has done this for 20+ years and I love it. Who even gets a personal letter these days? And I get at least one a week. It's a great way to keep up our communication and our bond. My mom has many other things in her life, so I really appreciate that she takes time to do this for me.

Posted by: JJ | August 18, 2006 1:32 PM

quark, you're awesome. :)

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 1:39 PM

as a pianist i can also say that the amount of time spent playing your piano can have a large impact on your playing or almost no impact on your playing depending on what and how you practice. if i am trying to learn a piece by chopin then spending my time playing bach won't help me since the 2 composers were so different.

oh, and to carry the piano motif a little further. my piano loves being "dumped" at grandma's house. she thinks he's perfect in every way. who wouldn't love that? he also loves being "dumped" at his cousin's house where guitar and cello, his cousins, can show him all sorts of different music he can play. he begs to be "dumped" at grandma's house and his cousins house a lot more than you would think.

so i would say that attempting to draw any comparisions between a piano and a child are off-key.

Posted by: quark | August 18, 2006 1:45 PM

To 2kids...Being deeply religious, I do resent the movement to hijack the direction of this country by people advocating one religious view. While this country was founded on religious freedom, the key was not imposing a state religion or defining public policy by one religious tradition. That is what allows me my religious holidays and forms of expression. Unfortunately, the impressions garnered from a lot of reading is that these RR advocacy groups would choose to do that. There is nothing specific in religious texts about it being best for women to be SAHM's. If so remember the cultural context: thousands of years ago, when staying at home really meant working the farm, etc. If you choose to do that more power to you, just allow my family to make different decisions. BTW, the posters are right about the EEOC. The 'slashing' has been more than just not getting the annual raise. If you do not care now, wait till it really affects someone you know...

I chose to keep my working identity and it is hard. But what I do sacrifice( and it is not really a loss) is some of the spontaneous freedom to do what I want, because I would rather be with my kids than off on my own. I have not lost myself, rather changed myself. My SAHM friends would probably agree. That is true of all moms and dads--child rearing is metamorphosing.

Posted by: Oy! | August 18, 2006 1:51 PM

I don't have time to read all 100+ posts today. But I never had any fear of losing myself when I became a mother. I knew I would work and find balance. That balanced equation may change from time to time but I have faith I will find it. I don't think the balance is just about SAHP, WOHP, or part time. I think the balance comes from help from your spouse, your personal activities, and your couple activities. I still love working part time and being with my daughter part time. I think rather then losing myself to motherhood, I have found something better. I truly believe, for me, that being a mother is the best thing God has allowed me to become. That doesn't mean that I want to do that 24-7, it simply means it is my first priority till my daughter is in college. I believe I am a better mother, saner mother, more interested mother because I work and get a break. That is the balanced equation for me. It is different for every family. But if you find the right balance (and be careful because the equation changes over time), you won't find the need to argue about finding yourself. You will know where you are.

Posted by: Lieu | August 18, 2006 1:56 PM

Balance... isn't that what this whole blog is supposed to be about? :)

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 1:57 PM

Although sometimes it seems like the Fountain of Youth or the Holy Grail would be an easier find...

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 1:57 PM

Hahahahaha--Talking Heads, FO3. Your post was the only one I could read today, and it was a good one. I am going to guess you are 39. Am I right?

Posted by: parttimer | August 18, 2006 2:03 PM

I am in my early 40s and the mother of a 23 year old and now the single mother of a 6 year old. I have been a mother my entire adult life so I have very little recollection of not being a mother. The joys heavily outway any breeze of troubles. Yes, it's hard, like anything worth doing. But lose myself? Who am I anyway? I am chauffer, nurse, employee, author, cheerleader, friend, companion, cancer survivor. Some of those jobs I get paid money for and some I get paid with kisses and hugs. I have had to prepare for the retreat of my child from my house, but never from my heart, then been blessed with another joy. I have other things in my life, but everything just meshes to be what makes me God's child. I agree with JJ, look at the positives because before you know it they grow up and you wonder how that happened.

Posted by: WVmom | August 18, 2006 2:04 PM

"While this country was founded on religious freedom, the key was not imposing a state religion or defining public policy by one religious tradition."

Random tangent, blatantly off-topic...

Over at Slate they've been doing the "blogging the bible" project, which is pretty interesting. The author just hit the section in Numbers where Moses dies. Just prior to his death God tells Moses to split his powers up between several people, essentially creating the first separation of church and state. I knew the Man Upstairs was big on free will, but the separation of church & state thing was something interesting that I didn't realize...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 2:06 PM

"There is nothing specific in religious texts about it being best for women to be SAHM's."

I guess I've never heard it expressed that it's best for women to be SAHMs. It seems that people want to claim it's best for children to have SAHMs - debatable. Or, more likely but less expressed, it's best for MEN to have women be SAHMs. That's my complaint with the RR and conservative agenda - it's not about KEEPING women at home, but returning them to the home. Too many educated, ambitious women making men feel threatened and uncomfortable? Is that why women now fear losing themselves if they have a child?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 2:06 PM

"Hahahahaha--Talking Heads, FO3. Your post was the only one I could read today, and it was a good one. I am going to guess you are 39. Am I right?"

I had to laugh also. I remember one time, during my last month of my first pregnancy, my husband and I were driving back from looking at cribs or something and that song came on the radio. We had the same thought at athe same time and just looked at each other and laughed. What HAD we done?

Posted by: Sam | August 18, 2006 2:26 PM

so this post all started with Leslie's response/invitation re: Thought's comment about losing one's self after having children. personally, i'm a huge fan of children--they are literally the future--but i've never seen parenthood as a rational decision. it doesn't fit into neat categories, you can't simply add up the pluses and minuses, or calculate some return on investment... there are so many variables and surprises that the best laid plans may easily serve as little more than an extra rag to wipe up baby vomit. having children forces huge changes in everyone's lives and how you respond to it depends a lot on you, your partner (or lack thereof), your support network, and your child. my wife used to joke about there no longer being a sense of self when our child was an infant because the focus of your world is so centered on the child, but it seems that for both her and me, the time and focus are less intense as our son grows up. and part of parenting is modeling (showing the child what it means to be an adult, to have interests and pursuits both within and outside of the home). many things have changed since we had our son, but most of all what i like is how much having a child forces you to look at the world anew--you introduce a child to so much of life and the world for his/her first time that you are forced to frame it anew, to re-explain things you thought you understood, to appreciate how simultaneously fragile and hearty life and society can be as a system...

yesteday, we took a hike in greenbelt park and saw a newborn butterfly fall to the ground, it's wings still too wet to fly. my son was able to pet it's wings gently as it looked for a safe place to dry off and begin it's new life. if i wasn't a dad, i probably never would have experienced this, much less been proud to see my 4-yr. old not stump on it as he might have done a mere 3 months ago. such is the paradox of parenthood.

would other people consider my life exciting? probably not. but my life is so much bigger than me now.

Posted by: marc | August 18, 2006 2:33 PM

Did the discussion die? Or has everyone skipped out to enjoy the nice Friday weather?

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 2:34 PM

I hate it when I can't read all of the comments, but I couldn't today. I just wanted to say that when I was 26, giving birth to my first, the idea of losing myself wasn't even an idea. It didn't even occur to me. Did it happen? Maybe to an extent, for a while. Kind of like when you fall in love, you do lose yourself for a while. It's actually kind of blissful.

Posted by: parttimer | August 18, 2006 2:48 PM

Too nice in DC. We're all off to take our kids to the park. It's Balance. :-)

Posted by: Bye! | August 18, 2006 3:07 PM

Unfortunately some of us are chained to our desks and don't even sit near a window, let alone are allowed to leave early and go outside.

Posted by: 215 | August 18, 2006 3:11 PM

Sam-

Your comment about being a perfectionist...wow, that hit the nail on the head for me. I have always struggled with that. I truly hold myself to a standard no other fool would.

Having my daughter has been the best shock therapy for me. She makes a mess and I just have to roll with it. She dresses herself in something completely hilarious and I just let her. I am a new/better version of myself since having her. Not to say that I don't have my moments but it is like I have given myself permission to just get over the little things.

Re: Anonomom and yesterday's divorce sub-topic:

Is that is the same book/author discussed in a WashPost liveonline a couple months ago? I meant to get that when I read the discussion. I sent my sister the link and we talked about some of the author's theories. Thanks for reminding me about it.

Posted by: lulu | August 18, 2006 3:28 PM

39? me neva. 24 for eva. Sam I am.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 18, 2006 3:55 PM

Megan, part of that post was directed at you, but the not the part about name calling - that was for the anonymous poster that called me a bully and blowhard.

I realize there is a segment of the religious right that is obnoxious and should be ignored, however the flip side is that there is an anti-religious element out there too that is equally as obnoxious and should be ignored. I won't make excuses for either but it is a free country - so far.

My ire was raised with another poster who is completely intolerant of different views and has resorted to name calling.

Just read one poster saying those that are the unhappiest are those that resist change the most - Mmen to that! Better be ready to roll with the punches when you have kids.

Posted by: 2kidsandahusband | August 18, 2006 4:13 PM

My baby girl will be here in three months and already I have changed. Things that use to scare me, don't. I have learned how to love more than I ever thought possible and she isn't even here yet. Every kick from her makes me smile, even at 2 am in the morning on a week night. And, my husband and I have grown so much closer, but our relationship has changed, so much for the better. I can't wait for her arrival to see what happens next because already the hoo-hum of every day life has become more interesting. Finally I am able to understand that "this" is what "it" is all about.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 4:23 PM

Hiya Thought -- Just wanted to say, never fear, ambition is a hard thing to kill...mine has really just morphed to survive alongside my intense desire to be my kids' primary caregiver. As a mom, I've found ways to work fewer hours, to work smarter, to postpone a few of my goals, without letting go completely of my work and my identity. I agree with a lot of the posters today that what you find in yourself as a mom far outweighs what you have to jettison.

Posted by: Leslie | August 18, 2006 4:27 PM

and the only constant is change

Posted by: experienced mom | August 18, 2006 4:30 PM

Leslie-

I am really interested in having a discussion about how to strike the right balance in terms of when to have another child. i think it would be interesting to see what people's experience was with work challenges in having them close or whether that was counterbalanced by the closeness their children feel...

Are you still there?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2006 4:37 PM

since i had my child later in life (41 years old) i definitely miss the "me time" i was used to having pre child. i know, i am incredibly selfish according to some who post here to even think about me time anymore. i mean, why have a child if you want to take a bath without an interuption ever again! at first i really did submerge myself into my son but he was an infant. once i started working again and shipped my son off to the piano warehouse i got my me-time at work. well, not exactly me time but adult time. i was able to focus more on my son when i came home. i think work really keeps me from losing myself. i was somebody other than my son's mother.

Posted by: quark | August 18, 2006 4:54 PM

Hello hello hello hello? Is there anybody out there? Is there any one at all?

All that you touch, all that you see, all that you taste, all that you feel, all you distrust, all you save, all that you give, all that you deal, all that you buy, beg, borrow or steal. All you create, all you destroy, all that you say, all that you eat, everyone you meet. All that you slight, everyone you fight. All that is now, all that is gone, all that's to come and everything under the sun is in tune. But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

Sometimes in life I hear a soundtrack playing. Keeps a rythm to things - I swear I heard "Its the end of the world as we know it" as the cab took us accross the park to the hospital for our first child. Our last trip accross the park as two twenty something bohemians who probably induced their first born with the MAcy's 4th of July Fireworks so many years ago.

"I feel fine."

Wherever you go there you are. Are we lost?

Posted by: Fo3 | August 18, 2006 5:05 PM

It's time I had some time alone.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 18, 2006 5:09 PM

Fo3 - I like your taste in music. Are you sure you weren't in college during the '80s? And that you didn't invert your age from 42 to 24? (Probably not that many 24-year-olds have 3 kids anyway . . . .)

Posted by: Sam | August 18, 2006 5:21 PM

I love Pink Floyd! But I also love the TH song "Mommy had a little baby, there he is, fast asleep. " If you know the song you can make up lyrics to go along with whatever you are doing,i.e. "Sara is, a little cutie, there she is, wide awake. She smells, just like a flower, let's kiss, and tickle her". Lame, but my kids loved this song and all the weird stuff we stuck in there, about traffic, dinner, time out (time out, I don't like it, but we have to, go chill out. Soon we, we will be finished, then we'll, be let out--hahahahaha!

Posted by: parttimer | August 18, 2006 5:24 PM

Ah, good to see some lighthearted comments, and Fo3, by the way I've had that talking heads song in my head all day now, good thing I like it. Better than the background music from Finding Nemo, which I've also had in my head lately thanks to my son's new obsession (and this from the woman who wasn't going to let her child watch TV...)

2kids, I'm totally with you now, I read your earlier posts to be saying they didn't exist or that saying they exist was anti-religious which I didn't get. I agree that there are extremists on both sides that should be ignored, unfortunately it seems like sometimes the groups with the most extreme positions are getting the loudest voices these days, and it's worrisome to me. I guess I should have more faith that everyone else will think they should be ignored too, but I'm just not so sure...

Posted by: Megan | August 18, 2006 5:39 PM

Since we're doing lyrics, and as a special tie-in with Finding Nemo, here are the last two verses from a Brad Paisley song that he recorded for Pixar's Cars--kinda corny, but give it a chance even if you don't like country music:

When you meet the one
That you've been waitin' for
And she's everything that you want and more
You look at her and you finally start to live for some one else
And then you find yourself
That's when you find yourself

When we go through life
So sure of where we're headin'
And we wind up lost and it's
The best thing that could have happened
'Cause sometimes when you lose your way it's just as well
Because you find yourself
Yeah that's when you find yourself

Posted by: niner | August 18, 2006 6:10 PM

...and while he's talking about a romantic relationship in that first verse, the line "finally start to live for some one else" rings true about parenthood, too.

Posted by: niner | August 18, 2006 6:12 PM

Leslie, I want to thank you for this blog post. I read through all the posts today, which is why I am writing so late. There were some great stories that made me smile and warmed my heart.

I think I tend to think of the short term negatives when I think of parenthood. (Sleepless nights, crying baby, changes at work). What I am not thinking of is the joys that come with expanding the family.

Thanks to all for sharing your experiences and balances. I apprecaite it!

Posted by: Thought | August 18, 2006 6:37 PM

"By the way, there is nothing wrong with a mom who clips articles to send to her kids!"

Besides, for all we know her kids return the favor! Maybe they clip articles (or copy URLs of articles) to send to her?

Posted by: Cindy | August 18, 2006 8:49 PM

Hah FO3! Thanks so much -- yesterday it was Talking Heads stuck in my head all day, now it's Pink Floyd's turn. :-) I have to laugh, though -- we played "It's the End of the World as We Know It" as the last song at our wedding reception.

Posted by: Laura | August 19, 2006 9:08 AM

When i began working at my current job (7 years ago), I met a really nice lady. She was my age, attractive, married and no children. She was the person in the office that had everything going her way: She had a mid-level management position, knew just about everything about the computer systems, the most productive worker I've ever met. Her personal life was great too. She went out to plays, owned the beach house, drove the SUV, golf, tennis, scuba diving..., you name it, she did it.

She would regularly drop by my office and we would share stories about our personal lives. I would start our conversation by something like "How was your weekend?" Then she would tell me all about the activities she was involved with, even a play by play of her bowling league match. Thrilling!

When it was my turn, I made the conscience effort not todominate my weekend report with stories of my kids. I realize that no childless person wants to hear how little Johnny learned how to poop, or that little Jessica fell down and skinned her knee. Nevertheless, family life for a parent is mostly about the kids, and I found out that excluding the activities of my children in a conversation is not easy. that is, if I wanted to show somebody that I actually had a life. Anyway, I noticed that whenever I brought one of my kids up in a discussion, the nice lady abruptly interrupted with something like "I'm busy, I have to get back to work right now." then she left.

I thought this behavior kind of rude. I listened through 10 frames of bowling excitement, and she refused to hear the story about my daughter slipping in a mud puddle after scoring the game-winning goal in her soccer game.

After about 2 years, she went through a divorce. It wasn't a nasty divorce, she is still friends with her husband. And she still drops by for conversations, mostly with my female office mate. When she talks to me, I know better than to even mention my kids.

The nice lady that I once knew as the bright, happy, cheerful, active model of childless bliss now seems to be one of the most depressed persons in the office. All the professional football, basketball, baseball games, beach trips and social outings can't seem to cheer her up. then I found out why just a few months ago from my office mate.

the nice lady tried to have kids of her own, but she ended up with 5 or 6 miscarriages. then came the divorce.

My wife miscarried her 4th pregnancy. If you've never experienced this misfortune, you will never be able to understand the sorrow. first there's the worry that the baby isn't kicking any more, then the sonogram appointment, then the look on the lab tech's face..., then the news.

Tears, lots of them. Intense weeping.

then you have to go to the doctors for the extraction. What went wrong? Who's falt? Boy or Girl? Nothing matters. there is no celebration, no ceremony, no closure. Your plans to love with all your heart and nurture this tiny little human that you created with your partner are gone forever. You are left to morn with a sickening feeling of emptiness that only time will heal... maybe.

how many times do you think I sent this nice lady back to her own office to relive the grief?
I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 19, 2006 10:44 AM

Fo4-

I might have made your eyes moist the other day but you just made me cry.

My first pregnancy was a miscarriage, and everything you said about the grief is dead on. The only thing you left out is how scared I was the next time around. Since it was my first, I had no idea if I could carry one to term.

During my second pregnancy, we were scared to death when I went through the same symptoms at the same week (bleeding, cramping, emergency ultrasound) but luckily different outcome.
Now I have a beautiful little girl.

I told very few people about my miscarriage, probably for similar reasons to the lady in your office. Don't feel bad about reveling in your children. I am sure she would not begrudge anyone that happiness.

Posted by: lulu | August 19, 2006 9:12 PM

Father of 4-

I forgot to mention how sorry I am for your loss.

Also, to clarify, I didn't mean you were right about any grief you may have caused her. I meant you captured the sorrow of your experience perfectly, in a way I couldn't have conveyed.

Posted by: lulu | August 20, 2006 11:42 AM

Father of 4 and Lulu,

My heart goes out to you and the woman in your story. Several women close to me have miscarried, and I can't imagine going through that. I think one of the saddest things about it is that because so few families feel comfortable talking about it (for totally understandable reasons) so many families go through it essentially alone.

Posted by: Megan | August 21, 2006 3:05 AM

"Actually, there's nothing in the religious texts that says it's best for a woman to be a SAHM."

It's my understanding that the notion is largely derived from Proverbs 31, where there is a description of the Bible's "ideal woman." It's supposedly advice given to King Solomon about what he should look for in a woman.

It never says 'per say' that she shouldn't work outside the home, but it stresses all the aspects in which she should care for her family -- supporting her husband, making sure they are adequately fed and clothed and looked after, teaching them.
Actually, the first line states "she arises before dawn and gives work to her household" which SOME people interpet to mean that she has a lot of help -- including perhaps someone to help with the childeren, but it's clear that the household and family is her first priority. There's also a bit where it states "she spies a plot of land and buys it" which is widely interpeted to suggest that she actually DOES contribute financially in some way, perhaps by having a home-based business, investing, or simply spending her household money carefully (clipping coupons and not being frivolous.)
If you're intersted in examining this passage at greater length, there's a wonderful book called "A Woman AFter God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George where she studies the chapter in depth.

Just so you know . . .

Posted by: Hardly a Bible Scholar | August 21, 2006 6:39 PM

I'm late to the discussion and probably bringing up something that most people don't even consider. But I wanted to put this idea out there.

Parents do not learn selflessness, they learn to be selfish in different ways.

Think about it. Why to people have children? Essentially, to have unconditional love and to raise a person that is half of you and half of the other person you love. I mean, why is there such a huge market out there for people who can't conceive naturally but insist on trying all forms of medicine to make it happen? Why is this a huge industry when there are millions of beautiful children who need homes? It's because you want to want another form of yourself to lavish affection on. Why is it sad to hear that someone can't conceive? There are children everywhere! Here is a sampling of what parents have said today:

"I am a new/better version of myself since having her"

"I can't wait for her arrival to see what happens next because already the hoo-hum of every day life has become more interesting"

"Your plans to love with all your heart and nurture this tiny little human that you created with your partner are gone forever"

So we know that kids make your life exciting and meaningful. That's not much of a change, though, because you're still pleasing yourself, you're just doing it through a child now.

"but my life is so much bigger than me now." Is it really? Isn't it always about you? How you taught Billy to ride a bike, how you are proud of him for finishing school, how happy you are that he's interested in the same things you are... Your life is not bigger than you because it's always about you.

But let's pretend that it's really about the kid. So essentially you've "changed" and "grown" in ways that no one else could understand because you learn to care for someone else. So now instead of only your feelings, you worry about the feelings of your own family. Three or four people. Sometimes to the detrement of friends (see the posts about childless friends demanding too much) or even other family members (see the posts about grandparents interfering). So your focus has only slightly widened from you and your spouse to your new little family.

This might be shocking for some of you, but becoming a parent does not make you a better person. Sometimes it makes you more impatient or more intolerant (hello, Mommy wars anyone?).

Posted by: Very late | August 22, 2006 1:17 PM

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