Wynonna on Motherhood

I spent two days last week in Kentucky with 2,000 other women at the annual Toyota In The Interest of Women conference. One high point was our lunch speaker, country music star Wynonna Judd, who I (embarrassingly) kept referring to as Winona Ryder (a terrible gaffe in Kentucky, Judd's home state). While I'm not a lifelong country music fan, Judd's voice is angelic, and I was impressed by the fact that Wynonna has sold over 30 million records. And I was very impressed by Judd's wisdom about balancing work and kids (she has three).

Every mother's curse is being torn between work and family. Wow. Although the subject has been my primary focus for the last five years, I've yet to have someone describe the work/kids struggle so pessimistically. Good to know (I guess) that even the rich and famous are fighting inner mommy wars, too.

Striving for perfection is the highest form of self abuse you can inflict on yourself. Almost all of us try to be "perfect" parents at some point. Trying to be a perfect parent is pointless, I realized. Kids want to know they're loved and supported, sure -- but if you try to be perfect, you stress out, burn out, and send your kids the misguided message that they need to be perfect, too.

Better to fail on your terms than succeed on someone else's. This applies to work as well as parenthood, but it's hard to convince your boss of it!

Tell your kids the world is a better place because they're in it. Tell yourself, too. A simple, priceless message.

Wynonna closed the lunch by singing a new song, "Peace in This House," a lullaby about a mom promising her kids a happier home life. As she sang I remembered something I read recently about American moms' No. 1 desire: more peace in their lives. Not more money, not more time, not more liposuction. Peace.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 23, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  You Go Girl!
Previous: Kids, Chores and Money | Next: Mommy, Do We Have A Job Today?


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Wynonna may have an angelic singing voice but that is about all I want to listen to of hers. I can raise my kids and balance my life without celebrity input.

Posted by: cmac | October 23, 2006 6:46 AM

I'm really confused. Wynnona Judd is a child expert? Give me a break. She can speak for herself. And why is it only the mother's curse to be torn between work and family? People like this give fathers a free ride and it is these people that discriminate against mothers in the workplace. She should stick to singing. She's sold 30 million albums you think she doesn't need the speaker's fees.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 6:59 AM

Let us all bow down to the celebrity moms, with quadruple (or more) the salary, personal assistance and endless amount of swag; they certainly can pass on great pearls of wisdom about balancing life. When it comes to child care I ask myself daily, "what would Gwyneth Paltrow do?!"

Posted by: alex. mom | October 23, 2006 6:59 AM

Wynnona Judd is a deeply troubled woman with a lot of unresolved personal and emotional issues.

She has every right to voice her opinions, but I'm surprised that Leslie has chosen Wynnona for today's topic.

Posted by: June | October 23, 2006 7:06 AM

I think Wynonna Judd is a talented performer and likely a very nice person. And she (or her publicist) seems to have some wise words about motherhood, even if her comments about balance (on a celebrity's salary and with celebrity "help") are indeed not relevant to about 99.9% of American women.

There is a local magazine in my area called MOM Magazine. It is free to readers and subsists completely on advertising revenue. Every month there's a local mom featured on the cover with the caption "How does she do it?"

An organization I belong to is advertising in the magazine, and the PR person was told that Sarah Evans was going to be on the cover in November. This was apparently supposed to be "exciting" because she's a celebrity and has some sort of ties here locally. So instead of reading about a real mom, we were going to read about a celebrity and "how DOES she do it?" Hmmm....I can tell you how she does it! She does it with a lot of help and support paid for with her money!

Well.....then.....some of you may know what happened. She filed for divorce, accused her husband of adultery and an addiction to pornography, quit Dancing with the Stars...her husband turned around and accused HER of adultery...blahblahblah.

I'm not sure what Mom Magazine is doing about this. But I would certainly hope that they go back to the basics and stick to the regular moms.

Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 7:28 AM

I know Wynonna's got a lot of VLIs, and I also realize she's had her share of personal problems, but I thought her insight about children and being a mom were right on the money. I think most people (or at least parents), no matter what their situation, are capable on passing on some gems of wisdom about raising children.

Just because you have loads of money to have three shifts of nannies so you can keep up with your career doesn't mean you want to do it. I think the rules about balance apply to all parents, regardless of income.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 23, 2006 7:35 AM

Perhaps she went with a celebrity mom because the nasty commentors on this board take too much of a toll on "regular" parents.

Posted by: perhaps | October 23, 2006 7:36 AM

Didn't Wynonna Judd abuse her daughter Ashley Judd, and play favorites with the child that she got famous with???

Seems interesting that she'd be giving parenting advice; she must have heard it in AA.

Posted by: single mom | October 23, 2006 7:39 AM

You're mixing Naomi up with Wynonna. Wynonna is the daughter, and is Ashley's sister. Wynonna and Naomi formed The Judds.

Posted by: to single mom | October 23, 2006 7:44 AM

Ashley is her sister, not her daughter, and is far more talented Wynonna and Naomi put together.

I am not saying that Wyonna gave bad advice, I am going to say though that when you have all the money in the world the things that we discuss on this blog really can't affect you to much.

Posted by: scarry | October 23, 2006 7:47 AM

Who the heck is Sara Evans?

Posted by: DZ | October 23, 2006 7:49 AM

Boy - so early and yet we are already tearing apart the message...I agree with working mom X that Wynonna said a few good things - mainly "Striving for perfection is the highest form of self abuse you can inflict on yourself & Better to fail on your terms than succeed on someone else's."

How many of us are trying to be the great employee, great mom/dad, great wife/husband and we burn out. It is hard to do everything well. That is the main reason why I decided to stay home with my kids - I was trying to be a great employee that did all the extras and traveled for work, I was trying to be my pre-baby cook every meal, crafty/handy mom, my husband and I were completely renovating a house, and I had a son and a newborn. Trying to be perfect at all those things showed me that I couldn't and had to give something up.

As far as I'm concerned - I'm kind of happy to hear about these celebrity mom's and their problems, it proves that money doesn't buy happiness! If they (with their nannies, cooks, private jets and schools) still have problems - means the rest of us are doing a pretty good job with the little we have right?

Posted by: GS | October 23, 2006 7:50 AM

Another country singer.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 7:51 AM

What's wrong with playing favorites with your kids? Sometimes I think parents say they treat their kids equally to preserve their "perfect parent" self-image. The kids know the truth anyway, so you may as well just be honest about which one is your favorite rather than lie to them. Besides, you'll get more respect in the long run.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 7:56 AM

From far outside (ie just hearing the occasional headline) I think there is a case to be made that some of the traumas of her family and personal life were much tougher to overcome than the budget balancing required by a middle class - or as is often the case on this board - an upper middle class family.

She wasn't talking about nanny care or flex-time - she was talking about dealing with your own imperfections. In that sense I think that someone who lives life under the spotlight of the paperazzi may just have had it rougher (hard to believe I know)than those who get judgemental glares on airplanes or the playground.

Posted by: to scarry | October 23, 2006 7:56 AM

Scarry, I have been meaning to ask you - are you related to Richard Scarry?

Posted by: Tryingtokeepitinperspective | October 23, 2006 8:00 AM

The problem with speeches is you don't know who wrote them. Wyonna's entourage probably isn't going to let her say anything really stupid and it seems like the things she did say are pretty much common sense sound bites.

She put herself into the spotlight with her DWI.

Not sure if she really has overcome her traumas or is eating to numb the pain.

Posted by: Diane | October 23, 2006 8:05 AM

I still can't get over the line "every mother's curse is being torn between work and family". Her other lines are just pablum.

Why is it always women who are torn? It's because society is telling us that being a mother and having a career is bad. It leads to women being discriminated against in the workplace and women wringing their hands over the "time away" from the kids. It gives father's permission to allow their wives to give up their careers while he enjoys the fruits of a career.

And there is way too much criticism of people with money. Are you all advocating that rich people give away all of their money to be like us? Money does not buy happiness so it is the wealthy's right to complain too. And it is the american dream to be successful financially. If you have a problem with that, you're free to leave and join lesser economies.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 8:09 AM

You absolutely do NOT get more respect from your kids from visibly favoring one over another. Further, you aren't even doing the favored kid any favors.

Posted by: To Fof4 | October 23, 2006 8:12 AM

Oh my God--parents should NOT have favorites! Or, if they do, they should keep quiet about them. Nothing in the world hurts more to a child than knowing that a parent favors one child over another. That causes damage that can last well into adulthood. I've seen it in other families.

That said--you can have your "favorites" for different things. For instance, your favorite child to play sports with. Your favorite child to go shopping with. Etc. I think it's a parents job to make each and every child feel like they are special and appreciated for who they are--for the special gifts they bring to the family (and every single child does bring gifts to the family).

It's the parents job to find the specialness in each child--to nurture it, and appreciate it! That is PARENTING!!!!

Posted by: To: Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 8:13 AM

I wish I was realted to Richard Scarry, but I don't think I am. Our name isn't that common, but I am not related to him as far as I know. I have a lot of his books though.

Posted by: scarry | October 23, 2006 8:16 AM

That's bologna that you play favorites!!!! From your blog posts, you clearly enjoy being a dad--and seem to appreciate each of your children. So if you have a favorite...it must be awfully subtle.

Posted by: And more Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 8:17 AM

I love Wynonna!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 23, 2006 8:19 AM

"And there is way too much criticism of people with money. Are you all advocating that rich people give away all of their money to be like us? Money does not buy happiness so it is the wealthy's right to complain too. And it is the american dream to be successful financially. If you have a problem with that, you're free to leave and join lesser economies."

I'm not critical of people with money. What I am critical of is the suggestion that the life of a celebrity with an entourage to care for her children, scrub her toilets, and rub her feet can in any way be compared to the life of the average person in this country. It doesn't matter how she balances her life, because she's not really balancing it - other people are. Sure, she might struggle with some of the same things that some regular working mothers do - namely guilt over not spending enough time with her children - but she also has options that a lot of regular working mothers don't. She could take time off from her career and will likely be *respected* when she returns instead of being criticized for opting out. And she doesn't have the financial worries of "opting out" that most of us have.


Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 8:33 AM

Wynonna even did a guest spot on "The Magic School Bus."

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 23, 2006 8:41 AM

I think her comments, whether written by her or not, are very appropriate.

I particularly like the notion that it's better to fail on your own terms than on someone elses.

I was 35 before I figured out that I was trying to be something that my parents had wanted me to be, and not what I was suited for.

Sadly personal troubles are often the route to maturity.

And Leslie - you need to keep up with culture better. Otherwise you'll end up like that New Yorker cartoon - NYC and LA being the only parts of the map that show!

Posted by: RoseG | October 23, 2006 8:42 AM

re: keeping up with popular culture -

Isn't that why they put those magazines near the checkout line at the grocery store? So you can keep up by reading them while waiting in line?

Posted by: RoseG | October 23, 2006 8:45 AM

"Every mother's curse is being torn between work and family."

If a woman has work that she enjoys and a family that she loves, she is blessed, not cursed.

I don't deny that there are difficulties, but overall, it is so much better than the alternatives. I often feel torn because there aren't enough hours in the day to both enjoy work and my family-- but really, they both make my life so much richer than if one were gone. It is an embarrassment of riches.

Being "cursed" is living in a society where as a woman you cannot work outside your home sphere. In such a society, the statement "Every mother's curse is being torn between work and family" is an insult to the realities of their situation.

P.S. I define WORK as doing something that provides benefits those beyond your own family. And if you are good at it, being a "stay at home parent" does indeed benefit those beyond your family and in my mind qualifies as "work." It sure ain't a vacation, even if it sometimes involves a "walk in the park"! The title "Stay at home parent" doesn't fit such parents as they are rarely actually "staying" at home!

Posted by: capitol hill mom | October 23, 2006 9:13 AM

[The title "Stay at home parent" doesn't fit such parents as they are rarely actually "staying" at home!]

I like the term Bon-Bon Mommies. It has a nice ring to it and probably more accurate.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 9:21 AM

How many of us are trying to be the great employee, great mom/dad, great wife/husband and we burn out.>>>>>

Not me. I am aiming for mediocrity. It is far easier.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 23, 2006 9:22 AM

What is a bon-bon mom?

Posted by: father of 4 | October 23, 2006 9:24 AM

What a closed-minded group we are today!

From the very first comment ("I can raise my kids and balance my life without celebrity input."), you folks have been defensive, resistant, negative, and petty.

The truth is, we can learn from anyone as long as we're willing to hear their message. But you're not going to hear anything if you're determined to dismiss the messenger.

This woman has some hard-won experiences to impart, and all you people can do is point out all the ways she's nothing like you.

Come down off those superior high-horses you're always clinging to. Listen and learn.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 9:27 AM

As for the pearls of wisdom by Wynonna - all you need to do is look in Barlett's Quotations and you will come up with most of the drivel celebrities dispense.

She has right to get paid to talk at a women's conference and get her "words" out but that doesn't mean that I have to listen.

Posted by: cmac | October 23, 2006 9:30 AM

What is a bon-bon mom. Sorry...I forgot the "to" part in my last post.

Posted by: TO: father of 4 | October 23, 2006 9:30 AM

"And there is way too much criticism of people with money. Are you all advocating that rich people give away all of their money to be like us? Money does not buy happiness so it is the wealthy's right to complain too. And it is the american dream to be successful financially. If you have a problem with that, you're free to leave and join lesser economies." >>>

You're right, money doesn't buy happiness, but it does make life much more easy. Rich people don't have to worry about bills and financial issues and have the time to focus on existental problems, which really gets the dander up of most readers at this blog. Rich people have boring and often unsolvable problems (the existential kind).

I guess I wouldn't have such an issue with Ms. Judd's comments if there was some actual substance to them. But it could always be worse, we could have Gwynth Paltrow discussing her macrobiotic lifestyle and McDonald's-free children.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 23, 2006 9:34 AM

Long-time lurker, first time poster, and I have a "balance" question for all you parents.

Where do your friends fit into the balance? Has anyone (with kids) ever taken a step back and said, whoa, I've been a lousy friend?

Or does every parent who ignores calls, fails to show up at scheduled events or just fails to schedule events, feel that they have a built-in, iron-clad excuse? Is there guilt? Does that guilt ever influence a change?

This is not snark: I sincerely want to know if becoming a parent creates a fundamental change in people, so that they no longer value old friends, or so that they expect huge degrees of flexibility from folks, such that they never offered themselves before kids.

I ask because I want to know how much effort to keep putting into my friends with kids. There are only so many gifts I can give, so many exclamations of delight and joy, so many 30-second conversations cut off with "Ashleigh, no! Oh, gotta run..." I'd like at least some indication that my friend is still in there. Is this futile? Will they at some point come around, and call me back, or make time for coffee, or send me a lousy email? Or is it over? Have my friends moved on?

Posted by: CH | October 23, 2006 9:42 AM

CH -- Cut your friends with kids a break. Do things on their terms -- early dinner at their house, hang out while the kids naps, go out for pizza with them at 5:00 when the kids can still behave. But it is also completely reasonable to expect them to get a babysitter and go out with you for dinner or a Wynonna concert -- even if it's once or twice a year. Be glad that you have much more flexibilty than your friends with kids, but know that they have some flexibility too.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 23, 2006 9:54 AM

Young children tend to demand all your attention and energy. You can't be spontanious(sp?) like you used to be when you didn't have kids. Be patient with your friends with kids. Understand that their priorities have changed.

Posted by: To CH | October 23, 2006 9:55 AM

Bon-bons?

 http://www.answers.com/bonbon&r=67

It's the perfect treat for the stay-at-homer, especially after the noise from the mowers and weedwhackers of the lawn service has gone away.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating a few of them every now and then.

Introducing the age old term "You are what you eat", Hence bon-bon Mommy.

Now we have to find a term for the Stay at Home Dad. We're a pretty literate group here, so anybody want to take a whack at it?

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 9:59 AM

I'd like to start off by saying that I don't think I've ever ignored calls, failed to show up for scheduled events, or cut someone off with "gotta go!!" after a 30 second conversation because of something my child needed. But I have been a parent for almost 15 years, so that's a lot of time to have screwed up sometime.

I would say that yes, becoming a parent creates a fundamental change in most people. But I would doubt that most of your friends with children have ceased to value your friendship - it's more likely that their priorities have simply shifted and that there simply isn't enough time in the day for everyone. That's not an excuse for outright rudeness, of course - not returning phone calls or failing to show up for agreed-upon social engagements. But it might explain not instigating social engagements or opting

Some questions for you: when you invite a friend for coffee, do you automatically assume she will come alone? Or are you OK with her having coffee with you with her baby in tow? When you invite a couple to your home for dinner, do you assume (or even say outright) that it's an adults only event? When I first became a parent, what I appreciated far more than gifts or exclamations of delight was the inclusion of my child(ren) into the social life of my friends. Not every parent *wants* to leave their young child with a babysitter, nor should they be asked to if they're not comfortable with it. And I can imagine that it would be tiring to be always be invited to lunch with the underlying "this will be just us, right?" question hanging around.

Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 9:59 AM

Not sure what happened to the rest of my sentence LOL

"But it might explain not instigating social engagements or opting...."

".....to turn down invitations."

Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 10:02 AM

Although having an entourage and tons of money probably makes a lot of things easier, it doesn't mean that Wynona doesn't feel the stress of not spending as much time with her kids as she'd like. I think her commentary should be evaluated by its content (which is insightful but not mindblowing to me), not by her status.

CH: I do sometimes step back and realize I've been a lousy friend, and I do feel guilty. But guilt does not motivate change nearly as effectively as genuinely missing my friends and realizing that I need to make changes to find room. THat said, it is genuinely much more difficult to do that when you have young children - my son is almost two and it is finally getting easier to carve out the time for phone calls, coffee, etc. The first couple years are just hard and do require a lot of understanding and support from good friends.

Posted by: Megan | October 23, 2006 10:02 AM

"it doesn't mean that Wynona doesn't feel the stress of not spending as much time with her kids as she'd like. "

Seriously...not snarkily......

So perhaps she should spend more time with them? What is keeping her from doing so?

Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 10:04 AM

If you're a parent you're a parent--I don't see where being a celebrity should negate the value of adding one's input and opinion on the subject.

Similarly, being a celebrity shouldn't afford you MORE of a right to wax on parenting issues.

But given that Leslie covers the famous, infamous and essentially anonymous, why shouldn't Wynonna be in the mix? Sometimes folks on here hammer away at the most tertiary and insignificant issues.

On the issue of favorites, I hate to say it but I am discovering I kind of have a favorite child. I don't mean to, but one of my daughters is difficult and petulant and sometimes so literal that its hard to make any progress on the littlest things, where my other daughter is sunny yet has depth, is easy going and open and is quick on the uptake.

I truly want to find a way to get past the favorites thing, and learn to work with each for their differences, and within that, deepen the relationships on an individual basis, not as one pitted against the other. I'm not saying it would be easy, but it seems to me a worthwhile intention, and one that would foster my own growth as well as the growth of all our relationships.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | October 23, 2006 10:08 AM

Ashley Judd = HOT
Wynonna Judd = not

Posted by: doc | October 23, 2006 10:11 AM

"So perhaps she should spend more time with them? What is keeping her from doing so?"


Well, I guess I'm assuming that keeping a successful career in the music business requires a lot of time. Hence the, "torn between career and kids" thing, which is exactly how a lot of working women I know feel. If both are important to a person, it's stressful to find the balance between the two regardless of whether you make millions or thousands at what you do.

Posted by: Megan | October 23, 2006 10:12 AM

Hey MomOf4:

What do you do when your kids break or spill something? (Again, sincerely want to know.)

My first friends to have kids were welcome to bring them to my house for all the old crowd events, but after losing a couple of imported pretty things, a couple of coffee cups, and having my rug professionally cleaned TWICE in two months, with nothing but a shrug and a "sorry" from the parents, I pretty much stopped entertaining. I felt terrible saying "adults only" but then, I couldn't really continue like that, could I? Should I? So as the balance in the crowd shifted from all childless to mostly parents, I just quit throwing dinner parties. And my friends quit entertaining too. They're too "busy". (It's my new least-favorite word-- I feel like I'm going to scream the next time someone begins a conversation "Sorry, I've been busy.")

And to clarify, I'm not anti-kid. I'd love to have some, but after 5 years of trying, it probably isn't going to work for us. When there are new babies, I'm the friend who comes over and does two loads of laundry, cleans up the kitchen while chatting (attempting to chat) with my new-mom friend, and offers to babysit so the new parents can have a date.

It's after two of three YEARS of this that my patience wears thin. Hence the original question. Thanks for your very valuable input. I'll definitely keep it in mind.

Posted by: CH | October 23, 2006 10:12 AM

And of course, I meant "two OR three years".

Posted by: CH | October 23, 2006 10:13 AM

How can so many posters say that having a lot of money means that you can't have work/life balance issues?

Posted by: Money? | October 23, 2006 10:16 AM

She was talking about the pressure to be perfect. Celebrities make a hard bargain to get the money to buy the advantages you seem to feel make all problems ago. Along with the money comes a complete loss of privacy - and criticism from all sides. One of the themes on this board is how sensitive moms are to criticism from mothers in the other "camp", in-laws, non-parents. Couldn't you just take the celebrity to be someone whose parenting challenges are lessened on other fronts and magnified on the coping with criticism, learning to be at peace with your decisions front? I could come up with trite answers about how your parental struggles are a bunch of meaningles BS if you take the struggling scale to include mothers in Darfur...

Posted by: to momof4 | October 23, 2006 10:17 AM

No fair including the mothers of Darfur in this discussion. I am in no way invalidating their problems which I think are horrifying (and clearly the Bush administration needs to get its fat head out of its a** and help deal with it), but this blog is about work-life balance, a topic of interest to the middle and upper classes. It's just the way it is, people. Go blog elsewhere about Darfur, and let the conversation (such as it is) continue.

Posted by: BS | October 23, 2006 10:26 AM

"Every mother's curse is being torn between work and family."

I agree with the other posters that this cuts dads out of the family and reinforces old stereotypes. It also contributes to the "Mom as martyr" metaphor that persists to this day. The other "advice" is nice, but not really practical. They are sound bites, so I take them as what they are.

But even though she is rich, she still has some of the same problems as us normal folk. While she has maids and nannies to do the dirty work, they are not the ones instilling confidence in and teaching manners to her children. I'm sure she still struggles with when to move her kids out of her bed, how to explain to her daughter why she's too young for make up, how to teach her children money management, etc. (BTW, the rich do worry about bills--they have a lot more big bills than the rest of us. Can you imagine the water and electricity bills for an 8-bedroom mansion and two swimming pools?). She's just as qualified to talk about parenting as the rest of you.

Father of 4, how about Porn Daddies for stay-at-home dads? You know they aren't looking up recipes on the internet for four hours...

Posted by: Meesh | October 23, 2006 10:28 AM

I think you misread what I meant - I thought ignoring the mom of the day because she had too much money - rather than addressing the topic was unhelpful. The Darfur example was just meant to be a more extreme version of why the dismissal was unhelpful. I do assume that most people know how lucky they are - and within that context are looking to further improve on their balance in that context.

Posted by: to BS | October 23, 2006 10:34 AM

You should have come the the Texas Women's Conference instead. The keynote speaker was none other than Martha Stewart, the paragon of the working woman.

Posted by: Tex | October 23, 2006 10:37 AM

I have to say, Wynonna is not just a celebrity but a musician--there's a big difference. Though I'm not a Wynonna fan, I do LOVE music and find certain songs and bands inspirational, especially on a hard day. Major musical artists do sucessfully express everyday struggle to song. Sure, she has some words about motherhood, which is ok because people are not one-dimensional. Like, Wynonna is not just a musician, but a woman and a mother. As parents we hold many titles and have jobs to juggle.

Posted by: momtobe | October 23, 2006 10:39 AM

"...this blog is about work-life balance, a topic of interest to the middle and upper classes."

And no one else? Here you go again, defining issues as yours and yours only.

I know a lot of women who can only aspire to middle-class-hood, and they are interested in work-life balance. They might not define it the way you affluent folks do, but it's very much "a topic of interest" to them.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 10:40 AM

to ch: You are asking honest questions and I think everyone has a friend (whether you have kids or not) that disregards others' houses. I have friends that let their 5 kids run around like maniacs everywhere they go and we don't do much with them anymore. Their kids are obnoxious and I don't want my kids around them.

As for non-parent couples and couples with kids - it can work. We have quite a few friends that do not have kids that invite us over with and without kids - depending on the situation. Our kids have spilled things before - but not on carpets. I only let them eat and drink in kitchens and on decks so that carpet isn't ruined. Our non-parent friends are great to our kids and we appreciate it. We do go out to eat without kids periodically and that is when we get our "adult" time with our friends - but it takes work.

Also, even friends with kids don't automatically stay your friends. I have 2 of my very best friends from HS and College that live 20 minutes away and I never see them - we all have kids the same age but we are all caught up in "life." It makes me sad that these friendships aren't active anymore but I love the people in my life now and that is the trade-off. I hope to rekindle those lost friendships one day, but I can't force it.

Posted by: cmac | October 23, 2006 10:42 AM

Meesh, on your line of thinking I would suggest something like "Porney Daddy"

How's this one: "Dishy Do-Dad". Just like there's nothing wrong with eating Bon-Bons for mommies, there's nothing wrong with doing dishes for dads.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 10:46 AM

Poster at 10:40 said "Here you go again, defining issues as yours and yours only."

Actually, I think I was just summarizing the general feeling of the posters on this blog that I've read over time. I hardly think that the issue of work-life balance is mine and mine alone. That would be nice for the rest of you!

Posted by: BS | October 23, 2006 10:53 AM

Yikes, CH, that sounds a little crazy. We had some good friends with no kids that had us over several times with child before we moved to another state, and never had that level of difficulty. It was fine - they had some toys they kept around (they had other friends with kids) and didn't mind our son rifling through the tupperware cabinet; we were vigilant in making sure he didn't touch anything breakable or make a mess. They also didn't mind us moving a few things that were fragile and also extremely attractive to a baby out of reach. If he had ever broken something or stained a carpet we would have immediately offered to pay to replace or clean it. Also, we have our friends with and without small children over as often as we can manage. I would definitely think that if you have an "old crowd" and a lot of them have kids, that some of the couples with kids would take over hosting gatherings - it's usually easier to have kids visit in a house where kids live.

I hope you guys can sort things out, it sounds like a tough situation.

Posted by: Megan | October 23, 2006 10:56 AM

Also, I remember from a later blog a discussion about up-and-coming women who shouldn't be disqualified from top positions after having children. So from the comments on today's blog, women with top positions should be disqualified from being moms? So women can strive for success and be moms at the same time...but if you're successful, you can't really understand what it is to be a mom? What's with the mixed messages?

Posted by: momtobe | October 23, 2006 11:09 AM

I see nothing wrong with a celebrity giving her point of view about mothering her children. And, while someone may have money and paid help, that doesn't mean life is easy, and in fact, it could mean that the mother is more isolated from other parents who could be a support system.

(For the record, I do not have paid help and I'm not a celebrity!)

Wealth is relative. Most of the people who post on this board are better off than 99 percent of the world's population. We are collectively wealthy whether we want to admit it or not. Does that mean our concerns shouldn't matter? Or that they're frivolous? I don't think so.

Posted by: Kate | October 23, 2006 11:20 AM

MAybe try a neutral ground. Like, if you enjoy art, tell them "hey, I'm going over to the Smithsonian tomorrow-- how about if we all meet there. What time works for you? Please bring along little guy! I think he may enjoy it too!"

If you enjoy music, then take advantage of the free music scene. I often tell my friends, with kids or without, that during the Smithsonian sculpture garden jazz series that we will be having a picnic by "such and such" statute and we would love it if they could pop by. You could suggest something similar. That way, if they have to cancel because someone has the sniffles, at least you are still someplace doing something you enjoy and not stuck at home, fuming because of another cancelled event.

Your friends seem pretty self-centered and if you want to just give up on them, I wouldn't blame you!

good luck!

Posted by: to CH | October 23, 2006 11:20 AM

Personally, I'd rather take advice from Wynonna than lots of supposed "experts"-- Dr. Phil and SuperNanny come to mind.

CH-- I think you can feel perfectly justified in having "adults only" events (or maybe "thoughtful guest only"?). I can't imagine letting my kids break things without making some kind of amends.

FO4-- How about Bud-for-breakfast Daddies, or Fantasy Football Fathers? Hmmm... gotta call Peapod, I'm all out of bon bons.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 23, 2006 11:29 AM

"Actually, I think I was just summarizing the general feeling of the posters on this blog that I've read over time. I hardly think that the issue of work-life balance is mine and mine alone. That would be nice for the rest of you!"

I meant the collective "yours." That is, the majority of the posters on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 11:38 AM

I meant the collective "yours." That is, the majority of the posters on this blog.

Thank you for proving my point.

Posted by: BS | October 23, 2006 11:41 AM

ToFo4: I think showing you have favorites among your children is one of the most hurtful things one can do to a child. Each child should be allowed to feel they are special and unique in their own right. Even if it is natural to have favorites (and I doubt it is-I think it is a characther flaw of the parents)it should never be known to your children. I don't think your kids will respect you. It also builds huge levels of resentment and divisions between your children. Why would you want them hating each other over your lack of parenting skills? I once heard if you ask you children who is the parent favorites and they each point to each other, then you did your job right. I have met several adults who feel they were not their parent's favorite and they are still very hurt by it.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2006 11:42 AM

Father of 4, I like the sound of Porny Daddy much better than my suggestion. Fantasy Football Fathers is also great!

CH, I agree with the advice from "to CH." As a childless person myself, I like to invite friends with children to join us instead of planning an event around them. Like when we got tickets to the Lion King, we told all our friends when we were going so they could meet us, or not. We're doing the same thing with a Hurricanes game this Wednesday. That way they're not pressured into dragging a fussy child to a pre-planned event.

Our friends with kids have been good with kids in our house. But it's already pretty child-proofed and stained because of our two dogs that seem to make the mess of six dogs.

Posted by: Meesh | October 23, 2006 11:46 AM

CH: One more thing to add to the other's advice - I find it easier to have people with kids over during good weather months - a jar of bubbles and a few balls to kick around in the yard makes for easy entertainment for he 5 and under set. Good luck.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 23, 2006 11:52 AM

Regarding favorites - playing devil's advocate (and I really do agree with those of you that you shouldn't show favoritism), openly having a favorite at least ensures that one child won't feel disfavored. My parents have never said they have a favorite, but I'd be willing to bet that both my sister and I think the other is their favorite. (Actually, my mother once informed me that my sister is much smarter but I'm harder-working. What my sister could have accomplished if she worked as hard as I did and had some ambition. . . .)

Regarding the discussion responding to CH's post, all good advice. But keep in mind, CH, that your friends don't mean to ignore you. Being a parent is just overwhelming, at least at first, particularly if both parents work (and certainly if there's only one parent). There's only so many hours in a day. If you don't see your kids all week, you don't really want to leave them with a babysitter on the weekend, even if you have one and can afford it (the going rate where I live is $10/hour - more than we pay for day care on an hourly basis)! And you may just not go to your friends' houses because you don't know if they'll WANT you to bring your kids. I remember how I used to feel about kids before having them, and therefore hesitate to inflict my kids on others. You could ask, but that's putting them in an awkward position if they say no. And I've had to do my share of getting off the phone quickly when the kids were smaller and getting ready to tip something over. That being said, there's no excuse for your friends not calling you back once the "crisis" or whatever has been averted. So since I don't know all the facts of your situation, I can't really speak to it. I've also always kept an eagle eye on the kids when we were at someone else's house, and they've never broken anything, spilled anything, etc.

And with respect to today's subject, I kind of like knowing that famous people with a lot of money have the same conflicts I do, even if all the observations Leslie cited were a little trite. I think GS, one of the earlier posts, said it well regarding perfection. My biggest frustration is that I'm doing a lousy job at two jobs rather than a really good job at one job. One woman once told me that one reason why I hate being a WOHM is become I'm a perfectionist. If I was able to accept the fact that I'm doing an okay job at evertyhing, I'd be much happier.

Posted by: Sam | October 23, 2006 12:21 PM

Off-topic:

Sorry for the tangent, but wondering if anyone has ideas for helping little ones adjust to the upcoming time change -- baby boy (1 yr) is already waking up at 5:30 AM and turns into a pumpkin at 7PM, and I really, really hate the idea of that becoming 4:30AM-6PM. We were never really successful with my daughter -- tried staying up a little later, but she'd always get up at the crack of dawn no matter how late she went down, so all that did was make evenings totally hellacious. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Funny, this weekend used to be my favorite weekend of the year, because I got an extra hour's sleep, and the "spring forward" was my least favorite, because I got an hour less. Now they've flipped -- at least now in the spring, 5:30 becomes 6:30, so it feels like I'm sleeping in!

Posted by: Laura | October 23, 2006 12:23 PM

Laura, I've been there. I have no solutions to this problem, but I do have strong dependancy on coffee. Hang in there and good luck.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 23, 2006 12:36 PM

"Well, I guess I'm assuming that keeping a successful career in the music business requires a lot of time. Hence the, "torn between career and kids" thing, which is exactly how a lot of working women I know feel. If both are important to a person, it's stressful to find the balance between the two regardless of whether you make millions or thousands at what you do. "

I have a hard time "getting" the torn between career and kids thing with the "average" woman. To me, it's a simple matter of deciding what your priority is at this point in your life. Like what Leslie said in her original blog today, I want more peace in my life, and that's my ultimate goal.

However - even if I did "get" the idea of being torn between career and children for the average woman, I think (and I said this earlier today) that a celebrity like Wynonna is in a position to be able to disregard this feeling of being torn. There are many celebrities who have accomplished a lot career-wise, then taken time off to raise children, then returned to their field when the time was better for them personally. Meredith Viera, Meryl Streep, Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell. If Wynonna throttled back and decided to put her singing career on hold, or at least make it more low-key, until her children were older - she would likely be respected for that and would be able to return to the world of country music without any problem at all. The "average" working woman can't do that - as has been mentioned her a bazillion times, taking time off to raise children hurts your career and you'll be waaaaaay behind if you try to return to work after 10 years. And she also has a financial cushion that most of us don't have - we're taking a financial risk to quit working - if she doesn't have enough saved up to take a few years off and not worry about money, then she should hire a new financial manager.

Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 12:38 PM

Why discuss another celeb mom? I can pick up any magazine on the news stand or at the grocery store and find out about 20 celebrity moms and how superior they are to the rest of us. THey aren't showing up at the office, set or on stage with kiddie snot, yogurt or other remnants on their designer duds like the rest of us. I think that this is where the negativity is coming from. The media feeds us the perfect examples of motherhood that we are supposed to live up to that are completely unrealistic. I find irony in that the message was about perfection when the bearer of the message embodies this hallowed perfection as a music star and super mom. The criticisms are valid.

It is a crying shame that Leslie is ignoring the Worklife Law Center's report on how blogs like this, multiple books, and the recent spate of mass media articles and tv segments attacking working moms and lauding the non-existent drop out revolution participants are doing real harm to working parents and families.

If you have the time it is about 65 pages and a very inciteful read.

http://www.uchastings.edu/site_files/WLL/OptOutPushedOut.pdf

Posted by: tired of the hype | October 23, 2006 12:41 PM

Laura -

No advice here, really, because the time change doesn't impact our family at all. I think one of the reasons it doesn't is because my kids don't have bedtimes when they're little - the first time my 6 year old had a bedtime (9:00) was a year ago when she started kindergarten. We just let them go to sleep when they're tired rather than dictating to them when we want them out of our hair.

I think the best way to avoid bedtime struggles is to just be flexible and allow your child to develop their own schedule. It's hard, however, to change a habit, which is really what you're fighting.

Do you have room darkening shades in his room? That's really the only thing I can think of that might keep him from waking at the crack of dawn.


Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 12:47 PM

Regarding daylight savings time - I could use the same advice regarding cats. As it is, our cat wakes us up at 5:30 in the morning on weekends (we're already up by 5:30 on weekdays).

Posted by: Sam | October 23, 2006 12:48 PM

foamgnome, I know what you are saying about favorites, and how the kids can be emotionally scarred from the practise thereof. I like to think of myself as saying that I love each one equally and having them all believe it, but then they want proof. Do you know how many times a week I hear "Hey! That's not fair!" I just want to get on the road without having to spend 20 minutes standing in the driveway being the judge of who deserves to sit in the front. I've found it impossible to be fair, at least in their eyes.

To combat the hurtful feelings that will ultimately result from not being perfectly fair to all my kids all the time, I'm using the honesty approach.

As for explaining it to my kids, I tell them I am morally obligated, when the house is burning down, I save the youngest girl first, hence the term "Favorite Girl". Then the oldest girl, then baby boy, then my annoying son.

I also have the kids tell which sibling they like the most just to point out to them how difficult it is to "love one another equally". They all most defintly have an ordered list. Best of all, we all accept where we stand. I'm hoping that this tactic will minimize the emotional scarring. The idea here is that they no they are intensely loved by me, but if they don't feel like they are loved the most, they can be OK with that.

Mommy has her favorite too. She won't admit it, but the kids know anyway. Funny thing is, we are liked the least by our favorites.

As pointed out by an earlier poster, I do prefer the company of one child over another and this is strickly dependent on the given situation.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 12:52 PM

"when you have all the money in the world the things that we discuss on this blog really can't affect you to much"

Hey Scarry, I think I have to disagree with you on this. If you want to define things at the day-to-day level, you're right -- I doubt Wynonna has to worry about whether a late meeting or an accident on the highway is going to keep her from getting to daycare/school before it closes, or whether she'll get enough overtime this week to pay for the school pictures she wants to order.

But I also bet she deals with the same big-picture issues as we do -- the whole "can I be a good mom and have a good career" issue that a lot of us struggle with. It's just that her day-to-day issues are different: she may not have to deal with daily daycare pickup, but then again, I don't have to worry about what to do if I need to go on a 3-month world tour to promote a new album. Frankly, I'd love to have her money, and the kind of help that can buy, but there's no way I'd be willing to make the tradeoffs in time and fame to get it. Not saying we should necessarily feel sorry that she has it so tough, either -- but I bet the money doesn't make her feel a lot better when she's about to go on stage and finds out that her kid has a 102 fever five states away (at least I was 10 minutes away when I got that call last week).

One interesting thing I've read lately is the concept that people get used to whatever their situation is -- I think there were some recent studies that said that people who won the lottery were no happier than before a couple of years later, whereas people who had suffered a major, permanent injury were no more unhappy a couple of years later. And some other studies who showed that, once you get above a certain level of comfort (bills paid, food on the table, a few luxuries here and there), people in higher income brackets aren't noticeably happier than people in lower income brackets.

So I suspect that people in Wynonna's situation feel their conflicts just as much as the middle-class and upper-middle-class people who populate this blog do, who in turn feel their conflicts to the same extent as less well-off people do. Objectively, the struggles and effort are nowhere near the same. But then again, objectively, there's just no comparison between most folks on this blog and someone who has to work multiple minimum-wage jobs just to hold things together -- and there's no comparison between the working poor here and the poor in Darfur or a number of other places around the globe. So the whole "she shouldn't complain" thing really applies to all of us.

But if you're talking about what people feel and think about the conflicts they face in their own lives, you can't just presume that money erases conflicts and ensures happiness -- the studies at least suggest that someone like Wynonna won't feel like life is a lot easier or happier than a working-class dad who can afford to take his kid fishing at the lake on weekends. So maybe we should focus a little less on the envy and more on enjoying taking our kids to the lake. (Scarry, this is not directed at you -- you sure don't seem to waste much time on useless things like envy -- it was just your comment that got me started thinking).

Posted by: Laura | October 23, 2006 12:53 PM

Ok the dogs got out early this morning. Apparently what a celebrity has to say meets more disdain that what Jane Doe has to say. I suspect that this is a contention disorder manifestation. Nevertheless, Father of 4 is absolutely correct. My father very obviously favors his only son, and when my sister and I confront him about it, he just gives excuses as to why our brother should get a $40,000 house down payment, paid-for vehicles, venture capital for dumb business ideas w/no business plan or management history (which have all failed), and monthly assistance with mortgage payments and other bills. Yes, I would have more respect for my father if he would just say, "I favor your brother over you two, and that's just that. Don't expect a dime from me because you're not the favorite and your brother is." At least then I know where I stand (not that I don't know now.)

Posted by: dcp | October 23, 2006 12:53 PM

One of the things I'm finding ironic today is a lot of comments about how a "celebrity" mom doesn't have to worry about balance because she can "afford" a, b, c, d whatever - but posters on here have been attacked in the past for believing that they can't "afford" to be a stay-at-home, and most of the time, said folks have come up with reasons why they disagree with that assessment. It is economies of scale, and I wouldn't be surprised that the celebrities would also disagree with what posters here think they can "afford".

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 23, 2006 12:59 PM

I found the article quite insightful and comforting - even celebrity moms with all their wealth have similar issues to mine! It's not like Leslie is constantly parading celebrity moms on the blog - just a dash here and there couldn't hurt especially when they have something meaningful to contribute to the discussion.

I totally get being torn between work and family - for me there are just not enough hours in the day! Even though my husband is quite progressive and we split child rearing and household stuff, he just does not have the angst that I (and many of my friends) have. At the risk of generalizing, guys don't really have angst. So the guilt/angst is usually a predominantly mommy domain - sorry but it's true.
I completely agree with the article in its entirety - peace is my current holy grail.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 23, 2006 1:04 PM

Hey, momof4 -- we did establish bedtime based on their "natural" bedtime, which I define as when the switch flips and sweet little happy kiddos are replaced by shrieking little monsters (generally shortly after sunset -- I swear, it's like there's some vampire gene in there or something). And yes, we have room-darkening shades (if only they'd actually sleep long enough to make them necessary! But they appear to have inherited my husband's pre-crack-of-dawn engineer gene). Problem is that mommy's "natural" rising time would be, oh, say, crack of noon. I'll sacrifice to 6AM or later (esp. with job, commute, etc), but anything in the 5s (or before) is just flat-out obscene.

Posted by: Laura | October 23, 2006 1:07 PM

For Laura,

My sister has an alarm clock in her daughters room - she is an early riser - but she knows she is not allowed out of the bed until the alarm goes off. She is only just 3 and they've been doing it since she was 2 and it works out pretty good for them. They do allow her to play quietly in her own room - but you can insist on staying in the bed etc. Also - try to work into it with 10 - 15 minute time differences every 3-4 days, that way it is more gradual and easier for him to get accostomed to.

Good Luck! I'm looking forward to the time change becuase mine are hard to wake up in the morning and this should make it easier!

Posted by: GS | October 23, 2006 1:18 PM

Fof4 and blatant favorites:

Remember the Bible story of Jacob's sons who sold their father's favorite son Joseph into slavery?

Posted by: George | October 23, 2006 1:20 PM

"If Wynonna throttled back and decided to put her singing career on hold, or at least make it more low-key, until her children were older - she would likely be respected for that and would be able to return to the world of country music without any problem at all."

Maybe, maybe not. Although you cite some women who took time off and came back to a succesful career, there are also a lot of "has beens" who never make come backs. Maybe she doesn't want to risk it. And maybe she loves her work and wouldn't be happy giving it up, but also loves her kids and wants to spend time with them. I realize that you are very happy with your choice to stay home, but not all moms are going to be; and I don't think that means that they don't feel stress and self-doubt about their choices or that the stress is not legitimate even if they do have financial options.

Posted by: Megan | October 23, 2006 1:45 PM

Here's a good one when you find all your kids sitting around the living room watching a movie:

Take out a single bag of M&Ms and toss it in the middle of the floor.

Great family fun! A bag of potato chips work really well too.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 23, 2006 2:00 PM

It's okay that you guys don't agree with me. I just think that she isn't sitting around going gee, I just lost my day care for the week, what am I going to do? Or I hate my job, but I can't quit because I need the money and the insurance. I'm not saying she is a bad person, i'm just saying that she doesn't have the same kind of problems that many people on here have.

Posted by: scarry | October 23, 2006 2:11 PM

Meagan, give it up. Momof4 will never respect or understand the validity of a woman's choice to work unless its motivated by absolute financial necessity. It's tiring to read you two arguing about it.

Posted by: toMegaan | October 23, 2006 2:14 PM

To CH: I posted something similar to this in a different thread somewhere a while back, but to risk a repeat here are some of my thoughts on the friend thing. I'm still in the early phases of parenting (14 months in), so.

Some of my friends were see-and-be-seen friends and mostly what we did together was go out to the latest place in nice clothes and go to openings and things. Mostly, I've lost those friends because it's hard to do some of those things with babies (although a calm babe-in-arms does fine at art shows, but once they want to move, not so much :)). For me the whole expense of the babysitting + fancy meal & drinks + (in some cases) tickets, plus the headache of coordinating it against my husband's on-call schedule and hoping the baby doesn't come down with a cold, hasn't been worth it.

I do miss that some and would like to pick it up again but basically, it's just not a good fit for me now. It was, when I didn't have kids, and I loved it. And I genuinely like those people, but what we had in common mostly was that and now we don't.

Then there are my other friends where we have a relationship that's based on more. I adore them! Here's the thing on doing stuff with them, though. If I can bring my son (except for certain things, see below), or they come over, we're good.

If not, then yes I would still love to see them - but now, let's say in a week I can manage (time/energy/kid sitting wise) to get out once or twice without the baby (say 6-8 times a month).

Those won't all be prime time hours. So some of those times will probably be weird times like Saturday morning or something. Some of those now-limited times will probably be something to do with me - a doctor's apt., getting my hair done, going to something related to my job but not actually okay with work paying me for it, etc. Some might be with my husband with me, or without, or whatever.

(For me personally it doesn't help that my husband works crazy hours, too.)

That leaves 3-4 more slots each month of "prime time" social time - one a week, say, at the very outside. (Not counting teething, colds, etc.)

I have more than 4 friends. So seeing a friend every other month (6 times a year) may not seem like a lot to her - it didn't seem like a lot to me when I could just go out for drinks after work almost any night of the week - but to me -now- that represents 1/8 of my possible adult-focused social time.

Groups are helpful here, but it depends on your friends and how they all get along. :)

Also as my son starts to hit toddler age I find dinnertime is such a huge question. If I take him to a friend's for dinner, the chances of him having a meltdown because it's late in his day but he can't easily go to sleep (his usual bedtime is 7 pm) there are fairly large.

I don't really want to go to dinner parties and set everyone up for having to deal with my son's -worst- time. He's great at 3 in the afternoon, but that is not prime adult social time, except in the summer.

Also, since he's still young, a change in the sleep schedule means two days of mild hell for me - naps change, bedtimes wobble, and he's cranky.

So those are just some realities I personally have found are kicking in that as a non-parent.

I mostly invite people over to my place, at this point, in terms of instigating things. :-)

I don't know that there is a solution but patience. Already I see that it does get easier, as my son gets to know babysitters and starts to wean and those kinds of things. But I think the reality may be that I have less time for quite a number of years, and the people that remain my friends will probably be people who can flex to that in some way (and I will flex back at critical times, like my friend's husband walked out on her - I took the sleeping baby over in a cab right then, and too bad for the sleep schedule.)

(The brunch, by the way, is underrated. This is a great time for one parent to stay home and the other to go out with friends... assuming they're willing to get up. :) I'm actually thinking about throwing some brunch parties too, since they aren't anywhere near the all important Bedtime.)

Having said all that, I think your friends are not helping to be so rude about spills and breaking things. My son hasn't done either yet but if/when he does I would at least offer to replace it or pay for cleaning.

Posted by: Shandra | October 23, 2006 2:15 PM

My grandmother and grandfather played favorites with their two children, a son (my dad) and a daughter. My dad was grandma's favorite and my aunt was grandpa's favorite. My dad and his sister ended up hating each other (well, my aunt mostly was the one who hated my dad--my dad was pretty much indifferent to his sister). I think their hostility toward each other did stem from feeling that their sibling had robbed them of one of their parents' love. It was actually very sad. When my dad died, I remember my aunt accusing my grandmother of wishing that my aunt had died instead. My grandmother never said so openly, but I know she wished it.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2006 2:19 PM

It's tiring to read you two arguing about it.

Are you tied to your chair with your eyes popped open? No, well good, now you won't be so tired.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 2:39 PM

tired of the hype:

why not submit a guest blog on this and see if leslie accepts it? she seems pretty open to ideas and suggestions too, but she'll never be able to cover everything. thanks for the link--i plan to check it out.

alas, every mom may want more peace in her life, but every blogger does not (whenever, i tell my wife about some of the more inflammatory comments on this blog, she simply replies: "isn't that the appeal for a lot of people?")...

Posted by: marc | October 23, 2006 2:45 PM

toMeagann (or however you spelled my name): so sorry. I suppose I'm just bound to be tiresome in some way or another, but I think you're being a little harsh on Momof4.

Shandra - couldn't agree more about the brunch! That can also be a great meal to have people over for, depending on the kids' nap schedule, since it's so easy to prepare (quiche comes together so quickly and yet is delicious and perfect for brunch. So long as I use store-bought pie crust, that is...) and you can have drinks and not feel bad about the early hour ;)

Posted by: Megan | October 23, 2006 2:49 PM

Strategies to keep Kids Asleep:

Mandatory Bathroom trip before bedtime
Dont provide a ton of drinks before bedtime
Read books etc until later in the evening
White noise /stereo playing ocean surf
Blinds
Tell them it is time for school

Posted by: Fo3 | October 23, 2006 3:13 PM

The lack of empathy and ensuing acrimony make me wonder about the 'success' of our society. But then, I am who I am. And that's probably because growing up, it was obvious I wasn't my mother's favorite. :)

Posted by: Pacifist | October 23, 2006 3:15 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how people who are otherwise rational can justify being loudly dispassionate about the concerns of others - just because they are different in one way or another.

Sleep soundly, content in the knowledge that you are not your brother's keeper.

Posted by: Frown | October 23, 2006 3:16 PM

Two off-topic (but on-thread) comments:

Re: Remaining friends with those who have had children when you are childless. There are a few things YOU can do to facilitate this, if the friendship is important to you. When you invite your friends to YOUR home and tell them they can bring their children, clear the public space of valuables and breakables. Suggest that mom bring a portable play-pen or bouncy seat, a few toys, or a video. Keep the visit short. If you really want to make things easier, offer to come to the family's home (managing kids is always easier on your own territory) and bring along the coffee and/or snack. For the first 3-4 years, this will make socializing with new parents easier on both yourself and the parents. Of course, your friends should have offered to pay for or clean anything that was damaged. I suspect the children are mirroring their parents manners in this case.

Re: Favorites. Financially supporting one child over another is not always a sign of favoritism. I watched my parents do this with both my sisters while I was always the one told to earn the money on my own, manage by myself, etc. My mom told me much later that she knew that I had the skills and confidence to buy my own car, put myself through college, pay my own rent, etc. She wasn't so sure about my sisters, so she kept "helping" them, although looking back, I'm not sure that completely financing them out was actually a "help" at all. My parents didn't have a lot of discretionary income, so they put the funds where they thought they were most needed -- my siblings. I suspect that most parents have a favorite (even if they won't admit it). I have only one child, so I have it easy in that regard. I think Time magazine did a story on parental favoritism a few months ago. This could be a good future blog topic. Anyway, I would not look to financial support to measure who is a parent's favorite. I suspect that is more a measure of parents' confidence in an adult child's independence and resiliance.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | October 23, 2006 3:19 PM

Leslie, the article cited by "Tired of the hype" is definitely worthy of being a blog topic. Check out the report at http://www.uchastings.edu/site_files/WLL/OptOutPushedOut.pdf

It basically says the Opt out debate should be framed differently to reflect that most moms given a chance would prefer to have more flexibility in their jobs than "Opt out" completely.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 23, 2006 3:25 PM

I looked at the blog this morning and then took some time to think about it today. Over the weekend, I just read "Green with Envy" by Shira Boss, which is a great book. She's a journalist and she writes about Americans and the urge to consume, and the ways in which we tend to keep score with neighbors and others and make certain assumptions about who can afford now and how the heck they're affording it all anyway! (Kind of like we do on this blog . .. LOL)
Anyway, she ends up saying that what we (well, her. She has this envy issue with her neighbors) are really saying when we look at others and envy their stuff is "Deep down, I'm thinking they probably have it easier than I do. If only I had -- a car, a nanny, a dishwasher, whatever -- I'd have more quality time and a better quality of life." She basically says that all the talk about money and stuff is just a manifestation of the deep anxiety many of us feel about being stressed about life.
So in other words, we don't really envy Wynonna Judd her car or her chauffeur or her house or her maid or her nanny, we envy her the freedom and peace of mind it affords her. Like somebody said up above, she probably doesn't wake up in the middle of the night stressed about losing her childcare provider. . .
Just wondering if anybody else read the book. It's great!

Posted by: Armchair Mom | October 23, 2006 3:26 PM

Motherhood is pretty easy these days when you can occupy your kids with Leap Pad when you don't have the time to read to them. I have bought the whole set of baby einstein and sesame street kids dvds to engage their minds. In the evenings they are my hubby's responsibility because I'm home by 7pm and still have to call clients. Work is so busy but fulfilling. It lightens my heart to know that we live in a day and age where parenting is so much easier.

Posted by: WorkingMom | October 23, 2006 3:30 PM

Actually, the Time article as about how siblings influence each other, and favoritism was one of the issues. Here's the link, if anyone's interested in reading: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1209949,00.html?promoid=rss_health

Posted by: Vegas Mom | October 23, 2006 3:33 PM

Most parents have a favorite even if they don't realize it. Time magazine cited a study in which 60 percent of the moms and 70 percent of the dads had a fave. In a two parent family, each parent had a different fave 75 percent of the time. It didn't say though for single parent families. Wynonna said some things about parenting that to me, are universal. Class doesn't matter when it comes to trying to be all things to all people. It still tears you down.
As for friends being patient, I have a wonderful best friend who understands. I had two children within a year of each other.It was a really tough for me and my hubby. My best friend, who is single, had this ESP about when to call, or just show up and take me for a walk! I was so lucky to have a friend like that. I thought it would create distance, but it made us closer.

Posted by: shayla phillips-mcpherson | October 23, 2006 3:39 PM

of my four kids, one is my favorite for discussing life, one is my favorite for being funny, one is my favorite for giving me a different perspective on things, and one is my favorite for hugs. They all annoy me in different ways too. Of course, the older they get, the more I annoy them! One of my goals is for them to be friends as adults, so pitting them against each other is something I try to avoid.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 23, 2006 3:41 PM

WorkingMom - I'm assuming that you're being sarcastic... ;-)

As far as Wynona Judd - I don't mind her speaking at a conference about motherhood. I do have a problem though with celebrities who think they're immediately experts when they become mothers.

For example: Cindy Crawford and Marilu Henner who both wrote books on parenting. Like who cares what they think? Are they parenting experts?

Posted by: LibrarianMom | October 23, 2006 3:42 PM

"Momof4 will never respect or understand the validity of a woman's choice to work unless its motivated by absolute financial necessity."

Actually, I do respect and understand the validity of a woman's choice to work. What I don't respect or understand is choosing to work and then whining about not having enough time with family, or feeling guilty about choosing to further your career while being a mother.

If you are truly at peace with your decision to work, then you should feel no guilt and should definitely not whine about not having enough time with your family.

Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 5:34 PM

Mo4...I see your point. In an ideal world, that's how it would be. I'm not much of a complainer myself, more a make-the-decision-and-move-on kind of person. But I think though that maybe sometimes, some women wish that there were more options to choose from, or that they didn't require sleep. And maybe the whining is really just some low-level (maybe even therapeutic) grumbling in a forum that is designed for those seeking a better balance.

Posted by: Pacifist | October 23, 2006 5:58 PM

Vitriolic bloggers excluded, of course. It does seem as if there are one or two who contribute only to add bile. As with a child, I find ignoring poor behavior is the quickest way to end it.

Posted by: Pacifist | October 23, 2006 6:03 PM

I am going to be a bit snarky here - but also try to make a point. Another question that could be posed is...

Why choose to have children and then whine about the financial and balance issues that should have been perfectly clear ahead of time.
I could also dismiss the financial concerns of all stay at home moms in a similarly unhelpful way.

The answer (presumably) is that while having kids [or staying home] is hard you think is it worth the struggle. Perhaps you could just recognize that while it is a difficult balance some parents feel that pursuing a career as well as parenthood is valuable. They are not whining - but rather seriously reflecting on whether or not they are allocating a scarce resource (time) as effectively as possible. That seems to be a valid topic for this board.


Posted by: to momof4 | October 23, 2006 6:08 PM

Mom of 4, I wish I could have that peace of mind - I admire those who do. But I don't. I think "to momof4" has captured how a lot of women feel - always debating whether they've made the right choice or are striking the right balance. In that regard, though, I do see your point about Wynona - she certainly has a lot more options than many of us do.

Posted by: Megan | October 23, 2006 6:30 PM

"Why choose to have children and then whine about the financial and balance issues that should have been perfectly clear ahead of time.
I could also dismiss the financial concerns of all stay at home moms in a similarly unhelpful way."

Excuse me - not ALL SAHMs have those concerns. My husband and I made financial plans for me to be a SAHM long before I actually became one, and I never whine about financial and balance concerns.

The "concerns" I alluded to in previous posts were the "warnings" I get here on a regular basis - "what's going to happen if you get divorced" "what's going to happen if your husband dies" "you're not going to be able to get back into the work force" "you don't have your own money" - blahblahblah. And my point was that a celebrity who makes millions shouldn't have those concerns like a "regular" person might.

"The answer (presumably) is that while having kids [or staying home] is hard you think is it worth the struggle. Perhaps you could just recognize that while it is a difficult balance some parents feel that pursuing a career as well as parenthood is valuable. They are not whining - but rather seriously reflecting on whether or not they are allocating a scarce resource (time) as effectively as possible. That seems to be a valid topic for this board."

And like I said, I do recognize that it can be valuable to pursue a career and parenthood at the same time. But why is balance so hard to achieve? Perhaps, just perhaps, it's because people are *trying to do too much.* There is obviously a tipping point where career consumes too much of a person's life - or for some people, where parenthood consumes too much. And getting back to the celebrity issue....celebrities *should* have the ability to make choices regarding career that most of us don't. Wynonna could sing in the church choir and teach singing lessons to children. She doesn't *have* to have a stressful, in the public eye, on the road lifestyle.

Posted by: momof4 | October 23, 2006 9:56 PM

'Every mother's curse is being torn between work and family'

Interesting. I didn't take this to mean the struggle of the large question of whether to work or not. To me, it means the little daily struggles and conflicts of work and home.

When your child is a 'litttle' under the weather and you have to decide whether to miss work and the meeting that has been scheduled for weeks, or whether dad should stay home but have another unpaid day since he's paid hourly and not on salary, or have grandma or another relative come over which would still cause you to miss part of the day due to logistics, or send the child to school/daycare because it's just a little sniffle but risk being called out of work later in the day.

I had an opportunity for in-house career training in a different field. The training was full-time workday formal classroom training with extra hours for study and even homework. The training was for 5 months. My children werfe 6 and 10 at the time. The end result would be a new 40-hour-per-week position with an increase in pay that would pull us from lower middle-class to solid middle class with security that my husband didn't have in his position. Career-wise, it was the best decision, and not just for my 'fulfillment', but for our family. During the training, I was home working on a take-home test that had to be completed. My six-year-old asked me to play with her and when I said that I couldn't, she said "Don't you love me anymore, you never play with me". It broke my heart and I was ready to quit the training program. The training situation was only short term and, in the long run, a huge benefit to the family. Knowing all that, I was still torn emotionally between job and family.

I didn't mean to be this wordy, but my point is that the struggle between work and family is more complicated than the simple question of should I work or should I not.

Posted by: mj | October 24, 2006 6:08 AM

really well said, mj.

Posted by: Megan | October 24, 2006 9:15 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company