Wisdom of our Mothers

Monday evening. Nine-year-olds' basketball practice. Sitting on cold bleachers next to another mom. A five-year-old on each lap. Talk turned to the usual suspects -- work, homes and husbands. My friend had recently returned to work after nine years at home. She told me advice she'd been given by her Korean mother.

Marry a man who will be home for dinner.

Remember that even if you work outside the home, a woman will always be judged more harshly by the state of her kids and her house than by her career success.

We laughed at this terribly retro advice. We laughed extra hard because 10 years into motherhood, it seemed terribly wise.

My husband is rarely home for dinner, but he is home every second he can be. He coaches three soccer teams and two basketball teams. He takes the kids away for fun one-on-one breaks (whether it's to Sunday breakfast around the corner or New York City for a weekend) whenever he can. He is at the kids' school for field trips, performances and parent-teacher meetings as often as I am. The acid test: I'd love to be his kid.

The home and kids vs. work thing is dicier. I remember the home of one of my closest friends, an MBA graduate with a very stressful, lucrative more-than-full-time job. It was beautiful and expensive and so polished you could have eaten off the floor. Which was the problem -- her home didn't look at all lived in, and I secretly judged her for it and felt sorry for her three young children (relegated to an elaborate basement playroom).

My friend eventually became a stay-at-home mom and moved into a smaller, less fancy home. I'm happy to report it is a complete mess every time I visit. You could still eat off the floor because now there is food all over it. However, I'm not certain my friend is happier, although her kids definitely are. I've made the same sort of career sacrifices in order to have more time with my children and know first-hand that this is the conundrum of modern American motherhood, the rewards of selfishness vs. selflessness.

Do you remember your mother's words of wisdom? Have they proved true or false? What is your work-life wisdom for the kids -- and the parents -- in your life?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 8, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
Previous: Kids, Politics and Rebellion | Next: The Hillary Effect on Young Girls


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.



My mother said "If you want a man never to do a task again, criticize how he does it".

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 8, 2008 7:45 AM

My sainted mother just to say, "Quit cheating at cards, that is for me to do!"

She also though that if the checkbook was within $75 of the bank balance, that was good! ($75 was a lot of money 30 years ago!)

Posted by: Fred | February 8, 2008 7:54 AM

My nother said "Don't marry an Italian man. Italian men cheat on their wives and beat 'em.".

Posted by: chittybangbang | February 8, 2008 8:05 AM

My mom was big on the concept of "settling." I think she was always secretly afraid I would NEVER get married and always questioned my decisions regarding guys I broke up with. Always advised me to take what was on offer, rather than holding out for something better. I think she was wrong.

I'm just wondering though, did anyone read this month's truly bizarre article on the Atlantic Monthly by a woman who became a single mom by choice when she hadn't met a decent guy by the time she hit her late thirties. This major mainstream publication gave her EIGHT pages to talk about how "women today need to learn how to settle." It was a really odd, retro article about how women's "market value" goes down as they age while men's goes up. I'd love to hear other's reactions to it. . .

Posted by: justlurking | February 8, 2008 8:26 AM

My mother said "get a good education, be honest and work hard and never, ever be poor. It stinks for your kids if you're poor."

She also said "a cold beer on a hot day is God's greatest gift."

Posted by: m2j5c2 | February 8, 2008 8:26 AM

"I've made the same sort of career sacrifices in order to have more time with my children and know first-hand that this is the conundrum of modern American motherhood, the rewards of selfishness vs. selflessness."

So, what you appear to be saying is that it's selfish to work and oh-so-selfless to stay at home. Is that a fair assessment? Seems pretty selfless to me to want to provide for your family. Sometimes the writer(s) of this blog would be well served to remember not all families have upper-middle-to-upper class incomes. Much more often than not the choice is between paying the bills or not. The choice between an au pair and staying at home isn't one that most people wrestle with.

Posted by: hokiealumnus | February 8, 2008 8:28 AM

My mother said "If your marriage is strong, you can overcome any obstacle." She also said "Eat your veggies." She and my grandmother were the first people I ever knew who recycled. I used to think they were cheap (well, they are) but I also know they're smart.

Finally, she said "No one goes into teaching for the money." AMEN to that.

I love my mother!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 8, 2008 8:37 AM

My mother used to tell me, "If you don't have a good brain, you better get a strong back."

So to this very day, I Still work out at the gym!

Posted by: DandyLion | February 8, 2008 8:37 AM

Remember what I wrote yesterday about my father's assessment of a politician named Fino: "Son, Fino is for Fino." Well, my mother's wisdom about politicians was handed down to her from her own grandmother. Translated into English, it says, "He who sits next to the pot, he eats."

Of course, both my parents were right. Either we elect one of THEM, or one of US. Sadly, if we elect one of US, very soon after arriving in Washington or Annapolis, he becomes one of THEM. I mentioned this once to a candidate who replied, "Oh, no! When I get to Annapolis, I'll still be one of us." And maybe she was telling the truth, but we never found out. She lost to the man who was backed by the party machine.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | February 8, 2008 8:42 AM

"My friend eventually became a stay-at-home mom and moved into a smaller, less fancy home. I'm happy to report it is a complete mess every time I visit. You could still eat off the floor because now there is food all over it. However, I'm not certain my friend is happier, although her kids definitely are. . . .this is the conundrum of modern American motherhood, . . ."

By Leslie Morgan Steiner '87 | February 8, 2008; 7:00 AM ET

Conundrum? Neither fathers nor mothers are put on this earth to be happy. Like all other humans, we are here to find out what our duty is, what the right thing to do is, and then to do it. Being happy at our children's expense amounts to shirking our duty. Your friend may not be happier, but she can look at herself in the mirror every morning and be satisfied that by not downgrading her children to the basement, she is doing the right thing. And that's what counts.

As an aside, Gilbert and Sullivan's subtitle to "The Pirates of Penzance" is "The Slave of Duty." This refers to the lead character, Frederick the sailor man, who is indentured as a pirate until his 21st birthday. Having been born on February 29th, he sadly informs his girl friend Mabel that he will not reach that birthday until the year 1940. A little figuring shows that if the Slave of Duty is still alive -- and fictional characters never die unless their author kills them off -- he will celebrate his 38th birthday at the end of this month. So, let's hear it for Duty!

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | February 8, 2008 8:55 AM

"When in doubt, don't lash your caged dog to the top of your car & drive through a snowstorm."

Posted by: chittybangbang | February 8, 2008 8:56 AM

From Grandma:
1. Only date rich men.
2. Don't wish for kids. They come anyway so do your wishing for something else. (before birth control of course...and she advocated wishing for diamonds as a practical alternative)

From Mom: Don't waste time. It is the only truly limited commodity.

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 8, 2008 9:09 AM

"Conundrum? Neither fathers nor mothers are put on this earth to be happy. Like all other humans, we are here to find out what our duty is, what the right thing to do is, and then to do it"

WOW! What a cuckoo bird!

Posted by: chittybangbang | February 8, 2008 9:09 AM

Oh, and "Marry a man with big ears" (not literally, just a fella who can listen)

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 8, 2008 9:09 AM

moxie - I like your mom

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 8, 2008 9:12 AM

"Don't waste time."

So Dotted, what else are we supposed to do with it? Why else would we be posting to this blog anyway?

Posted by: DandyLion | February 8, 2008 9:16 AM

DL - ummm..i'm not wasting time, are you?

let's do the time warp again...

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 8, 2008 9:19 AM

Thanks dotted, I like your mom too! The final piece I will post and then scram is "don't wish your life away" something I spent a good deal of my youth doing anyway! Oh well.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 8, 2008 9:20 AM

hey just lurking - thanks for the heads up on Marry Him. will check it out and see if it's good fodder for next week.

and on the selfish-selfless condundrum. agree with all criticisms of what i wrote. it's an intentional oversimplification -- but one that our culture makes daily. this is what i hear our culture saying through all the mixed messages we hear in advertisements, articles and politicians' speeches: working moms are selfish and "bad". stay-at-home moms are good but worthless in an economic sense. welfare moms are lazy parasites. victims of domestic violence are pitiful. the bottom line: moms are all suspect, no matter what their "choice." and this, in a country that seems to worship mothers!!!!

all the more reason to ignore and change the public messages about moms in american society.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 8, 2008 9:23 AM

Hey Guys,

Frieda is doing quite well the last two days. She continues to recover from surgery. She will start some sort of therapy around March 1.

The good news is that the cancer did not spread to anywhere else.

Posted by: Fred | February 8, 2008 9:33 AM

awesome news Fred! My thoughts are with you and Frieda (alias the feisty chick)

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 8, 2008 9:40 AM

Mom gave advice, that my sister listened to. Marry a man who is good to his mom. Lot of good it did my mom. NOT good advice at all. Marry a man (and this applies to women, too), who maybe has a good relationship with his parents, but only if it's warranted, i.e., if the relationship is based on abuse, then watch out.

My DH loves his parents, but he can also see their faults. They are human beings, after all, and he's married to ME. Not some ideology of some other person.

My grandma would say: have more kids. When I got married - and I had my first within 2 years - she kept asking me when i was going to have kids - that it was getting too late (I had no. 1 at 33). She had her first at 26 or 27 and back then, the dr.s told her that they didn't know if it would go well, her being so old and all.

GLAD to hear all's going well, Fred...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 8, 2008 9:48 AM

My mom was big on education. Her logic - "You must be able to support yourself and your child(ren) without the aid of anyone else." Why was that her logic? She lost both of her parents and her husband (my father) within a 7-year span when she was in her thirties and early forties. Some advice that I've always tried to take to heart myself.

Posted by: plawrimore1 | February 8, 2008 9:49 AM

My mom's words: "Don't ever think you can change a man - what you see is what you get. 'Once we're married he'll change and everything will be wonderful' is so much BS, so don't go there." Except that she wouldn't have abbreviated.

Posted by: northgs | February 8, 2008 9:53 AM

I can only remember three pieces of advice from my mom:
1. Don't get married.
2. If you must get married, always keep a secret bank account and sneak money into it regularly; and
3. Don't have kids. They'll ruin your life.

Posted by: newsahm | February 8, 2008 9:54 AM

My mother always tells me she's not qualified to give relationship advice. She doesn't realize it but by not crumbling into pieces when her own marriage failed she indirectly did. The take-away for me: you're always stronger than you think you are.

Posted by: tntkate | February 8, 2008 9:57 AM

Hey, I like the advice from m2j5c2's Mom. Right on about that cold beer.

I can't say my Mom ever gave me much advice except to teach me that folks who pick on you are usually doing it for reasons of their own insecurity. Useful advice especially for a kid.

Like newsahm's Mom, my mother told me she wished she'd never married and had children. (ouch!) But the result is I am continually surprised at how much I enjoy my kids.

Posted by: anne.saunders | February 8, 2008 10:04 AM

Don't nitpick your husband over nonsense.

Also, always have a contingency plan (if husband loses job, dies, or runs off with cheerleader).

Don't go into debt.

Posted by: floof | February 8, 2008 10:09 AM

My mom is a woman of few words.

The only thing I can remember:

Change is the only constant.

By example, she showed me how frustrating it was to depend financially on a man, how much fun being a mom could be, and that being a "natural woman" (little makeup, simple clothes, going gray at 30) was pretty cool. She was never a girly-girl and that was a good example for me.

The only piece of advice that I HATED (and was worse than useless) is that whenever I went to her with a problem the answer was pretty much "Everyone else is jealous of you." I didn't have a clue what she was talking about and there wasn't any truth to it. Still don't know why she thought it was comforting.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 8, 2008 10:19 AM

from my Mom:
"never be completely dependent on a man"

from me:
"Let 16 out of 17 things go. Life is SO much happier and easier when you ignore the small stuff. and the vast majority of things ARE small stuff."

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 10:20 AM

Finally, she said "No one goes into teaching for the money." AMEN to that.

I love my mother!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 8, 2008 08:37 AM

They do on Long Island...Most of the schools pay quite well. Of course the caveat is that the taxes are so high to pay for the school districts...

Posted by: DLC1220 | February 8, 2008 10:22 AM

My mother always told us to make sure we always have clean underwear on when we leave the house.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | February 8, 2008 10:23 AM

I can't remember and any lines of advice from my mom - that was more my dad's thing - except "don't sweat the small stuff."

But by example she taught me to take responsibility for my own happiness and well being, to be kind, to stand up for what I believe in, and to laugh. A lot.

Posted by: LizaBean | February 8, 2008 10:24 AM

Leslie, why are you happy to report that your friend moved from a nice and beautiful house to a house that is a mess? Maybe your friend's first house felt "unlived" to you but to her it was her sanctuary where she was in control. What is the value of having food on the floor and being able to eat of it? That's how you get roaches and rats. Would you like to live in a college dorm with a roommate who came from such a house and is a slob? I thought that a part of raising children was also to show them how to take care of themselves and of their future home/apartments.

Posted by: tsm | February 8, 2008 10:32 AM

Great points, TSM. But what I was trying to say was that a perfect house doesn't equal a perfect life. That a messy, chaotic house can sometimes be its own kind of sanctuary. But you are right -- to each her own, and there are many kinds of sanctuaries.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 8, 2008 10:36 AM

"Pick your battles."
"Don't cut off your nose to spite your face."
"You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."
"If anyone ever asks how old you are, tell them, 'I'm as old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth.'"
She also told me that above all it's important to marry someone who shares my religious beliefs. (She is a fundamentalist Xian and my dad is a fundamentalist atheist. It led to a lot of problems.)

Posted by: JEGS | February 8, 2008 10:43 AM

"However, I'm not certain my friend is happier, although her kids definitely are."

We know this . . . how? Projecting much?

I thought we all learned long ago from watching Pinocchio that kids' assessment of what is fun and makes them happy may not be what's best for them. I'm not commenting on this friend's choices at all. I'm commenting on Leslie's choice to make a value judgment about someone else's life choices based on whether she perceives a set of children to be "happy."

I agree with, and propose to tweak, Matt's initial comment above: "Neither fathers nor mothers [nor children] are put on this earth to be happy. Like all other humans, we are here to find out what our duty is, what the right thing to do is, and then to do it."

Posted by: mn.188 | February 8, 2008 10:46 AM

Oh, and she drove it into us to never be too angry to say goodbye when one of us left the house, since we never knew if it would be our last chance to say it.

Posted by: JEGS | February 8, 2008 10:47 AM

Leslie, I actually like "Everyone else is jealous of you." At least the way I interpret it, it's a little stronger than "count your blessings."

A lot of us have this problem of sometimes being unhappy because we don't have something (or some quality) that somebody else has - e.g., "I'm not as pretty as she is" "I can't go on vacations like they do because I don't have as much money" "I'm not as well endowed as he is" "I don't have as many friends as she does" etc.

The point being that we all have things that we do or have that other people admire or are jealous of, and it's good to remember that.

"I can't go on European vacations because I don't have enough money, but I can go take a great 'vacation' in town and enjoy myself and learn something at the same time."

"I'm not as popular as he is, but the friends I've got are true friends who'll stick by me in times of need."

"I'm not as thin as she is, but you know, I 'm pretty darned comfortable with myself."

I kind of like it.

On a serious note - Fred, glad to hear that Frieda's doing well. You're in our thoughts here in the Great White North.

Posted by: m2j5c2 | February 8, 2008 10:53 AM

this sounds INCREDIBLY hokey, but it helped me as a kid:
"Always remember that you are incredibly special."

i also KNEW that I was my mom's favorite of all the 6 of us.

feeling "special" enabled me to feel secure enough to continually push boundaries and try new things, which was quite difficult for my parents when i was a teen but has been really rewarding for them in my 20s. now the "cool, boundary-pushing" things i do are FAR more societally acceptable and involve travel and adventures instead of drugs and sex. :D

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 10:57 AM

"Like all other humans, we are here to find out what our duty is, what the right thing to do is, and then to do it."

I agree in theory, but if you have to go somewhere anyway, why not try to enjoy the trip? Often times with a little creativity, you can do both your duty and enjoy the journey.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 8, 2008 11:05 AM

I haven't had to use this piece of mom's advice yet, but I am sure I will when my kids become teenagers and start bringing girlfriends home:

"Don't say anything. She could be family someday."

Posted by: acornacorn | February 8, 2008 11:05 AM

acornacorn - that is so true. Found that out the hard way when my brother married his seventh-grade (and on) girlfriend. :-)

Posted by: plawrimore1 | February 8, 2008 11:10 AM

"I've made the same sort of career sacrifices in order to have more time with my children and know first-hand that this is the conundrum of modern American motherhood, the rewards of selfishness vs. selflessness."

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | February 8, 2008; 7:00 AM ET

-------------

It still amazes me that so many people are stuck in the mentality that a parent is being selfish any time they make a decision that factors in the effect on their own happiness. Parents are people who have needs that have to be met, just like children are people who have needs that have to be met.

Here's an example. I have spent two years working towards getting into a full-time postgraduate program that will last three years so that I can change careers. This is going to put a big strain on our family financially and in other ways. It is also pushing back our plan to have my wife switch to working part-time so she can be home with the kids after school. So yes, it is somewhat selfish of me to pursue this. At the same time, having a father who is miserable because he is working in a field he doesn't like isn't very good for the kids (or my wife) either. My wife and I decided that this is what is best for our family.

As for advice, I can't say that my mother ever gave me any good pieces, but the best advice my father gave me is "If you don't ask, the answer is no."

Posted by: dennis5 | February 8, 2008 11:11 AM

My mother always said, "Pay yourself first. No matter how little you're making, always save something." She also said, "Don't tell everyone all your business."

Posted by: rockvillemom | February 8, 2008 11:14 AM

My Dad's comments 1 year after I married:
"The tone of a marriage is set in the first 48 hours and you and I both screwed up".

He was being funny, and I am actually quite happily married. However, he and I are occasionally overun by our strong personality spouses.

I do think it is important to realize that the early habits of a marriage or relationship are very hard to break and if they are not healthy early on, the marriage is going to be really rocky.

Posted by: samclare | February 8, 2008 11:16 AM

"The tone of a marriage is set in the first 48 hours "

I was having lotsa sex & enjoying room + maid service during the first 48 hours of my marriage..

Posted by: chittybangbang | February 8, 2008 11:24 AM

I'd like MattInAberdeen to elaborate on his "duty" theory seeing as my mother alway did her duty and I knew she resented every meal she set in front of me and every ride she gave me to the dentist office etc. I think I have a better balance in life than she did by having a career as well as children -- and I enjoy my kids immensely. They know it. I think we're all happier as a result.

Posted by: anne.saunders | February 8, 2008 11:35 AM

1. Keep a separate bank account for yourself.
2. Make time to do things on your own.
3. Don't gossip about others.
4. Ask for what you want. No one is a mind reader.

:-D

Posted by: mamipicante | February 8, 2008 11:42 AM

"Never sleep with crazy, son."

Oh wait ... that wasn't Mom, that was a guy at the bar last night.

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 8, 2008 11:43 AM

Best advice my mom ever gave me: "If you want to smoke pot, tell me and we'll grow our own, because I don't want you dying from pot that someone else laced"; and "If you want to have sex, tell me, and we'll go get you on the pill." The very thought of discussing these issues with my mom was sooooo horrifying that it kept me on the straight and narrow all through high school. :-)

Shortly behind those two were something similar to what Matt said. She asked me once in high school what I wanted out of life, and I said "to be happy." She suggested that instead, I should be looking for purpose and meaning. If you seek happiness, she said, it's easy to focus on immediate gratificiation, which makes for long-term misery. Whereas if you find a purpose to your life, and focus your energies on achieving that purpose, that is what brings you real happiness in the end.

Posted by: laura33 | February 8, 2008 11:44 AM

anne.saunders: well, I'd say a mother (or father for that matter) has a "duty" not to prostitute her teenaged daughter for crack cocaine and money to buy more drugs.

(For those who missed the story see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/07/AR2008020703915.html)

Posted by: m2j5c2 | February 8, 2008 11:57 AM

My Catholic mother told me to wear clean underwear every day, not to feel guilty about having a cleaning lady, and only to marry a man I was sexually attracted to, since sex was a big part of marriage. I almost drove the car off the road when she said the last part.

Posted by: babsy1 | February 8, 2008 12:15 PM

"You must be able to support yourself and your child(ren) without the aid of anyone else."

This is also the advice I got (and still get) from my mother. It's fantastic advice, and I've shared it with many people.

Also, "education is your greatest asset." As a family of immigrants, she knew that education was the ticket to success.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2008 12:33 PM

Seems that much of parents' advice is an overreaction to their own mistakes.

The mom in my initial story -- who was told by her mom to marry someone who would be home for dinner -- had a cautionary tale about her own mother. Her mother's father was an immigrant entrepreneur who was never home. Her best friend's dad was a doctor. So her mother told her, "Marry a doctor." She did. She married a trauma surgeon who was never home. Oh well.

Relationships, especially marriage, are the trickiest part of work-life balance. Compared to maintaining a happy marriage, the thorniest problem at work is a cakewalk. And I think luck plays a big role in whether your marriage turns out to be a good one.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 8, 2008 12:54 PM

do the rest of you agree with Leslie's assessment?
"Relationships, especially marriage, are the trickiest part of work-life balance. Compared to maintaining a happy marriage, the thorniest problem at work is a cakewalk. And I think luck plays a big role in whether your marriage turns out to be a good one."

i really am just baffled by this. in my opinion, keeping your marriage happy is FAR easier than staying happy at work, for a number of reasons:

1. you have a lot more time to determine if you're compatible before you have to decide: with most jobs, you get a couple of interviews with a couple of people, then you start the job. After you start, THEN you meet the troublesome team members and learn about the "unspoken policies" that aren't part of the Employee Manual. with your spouse, YOU get to decide, after whatever time period YOU choose, to commit. Do a lot of you really find that people drastically change AFTER you marry them? I've found that my DH and I have both grown and changed, but in ways that were predictable from our behavior before we married. Are a lot of you really marrying "strangers"???

2. there's fewer people involved. with each new person, there's more opportunities for conflict. in my job, i routinely work with about 10 people. In my marriage, there's just 2 of us. so it's MUCH easier for us to talk things out and agree to compromises.

3. i have control over FAR more of the variables. at work, the people above me determine a lot of the policies and strategic positions and so forth. in my marriage, and in my house, i get a 50% say in everything. (now, it works out so that the things that really matter to him, he gets an 80% say while i get a 20% say and vice versa, but the point is i get to offer input and influence EVERY decision. the fact that my DH and I care about different specific things has been one of the strongest aspects of our relationship from the beginning. I gotta feel like if we really butted heads over which lamp to buy and every tiny detail, we would have known NOT to get married. is this really not the case for most people?!

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 1:03 PM

newslinks -- i just feel the opposite. i have much more control (and ability to walk away) from problems at work. i believe there are some people who find relationships blessedly simple. i just don't know a single one. but good for you!

Posted by: leslie4 | February 8, 2008 1:05 PM

i find it really insulting to suggest that happy marriages are due to "luck."

IMO, if people honestly assess their relationships before they get married, they'll be able to tell whether they'll be happy long-term or not in the VAST majority of cases.

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 1:06 PM

Wisdom? From *my* mother? Not a chance. I'm just happy that I don't occupy the locked-room-with-padded-walls next to hers.

Words of wisdom were my Grandma's realm. From her, I learned the rules of fighting fair with one's spouse, and discipline options for raising sons. I love the parts of my life that parallel hers.

Posted by: sue | February 8, 2008 1:15 PM

Newslinks: I completely agree with you. No joke. All the time people tell me: oh, you're LUCKY your DH does XYZ or whatever. NO I'M NOT. I picked a person to marry who WOULD do those things or whatever. Some things were non negotiable. It wasn't luck. Yeah, I GUESS part of it was - but I knew his goals, dreams, values, etc, and they were compatible to mine, so there you go.

The reality is, people justify and rationalize ALL the time.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 8, 2008 1:24 PM

"Neither fathers nor mothers [nor children] are put on this earth to be happy. Like all other humans, we are here to find out what our duty is, what the right thing to do is, and then to do it."

My proposed tweak is recognizing the distinction between the deep inner peace and joy that comes from living well by your family and community, which I would call true happiness, and seeking the sort of giddy short term pleasures, which I would call false happiness. It's like the difference between the energy you get from a well balanced consistent diet and the buzz you get from a strong cup of coffee. I don't think that happiness and duty are in conflict if you understand and embrace that difference. Though I also don't think that all of those short term buzzes are necessarily in conflict either :) Just that pursuing only those won't likely lead you to a lasting peace.

Posted by: LizaBean | February 8, 2008 1:30 PM

atlmom1234

"All the time people tell me: oh, you're LUCKY your DH does XYZ or whatever"

A woman's success in any sphere is attributed to LUCK (AKA the woman SPUN the wheel to success).

A man's success in any sphere is attributed to HARD WORK (AKA the man DESERVES success).

Posted by: chittybangbang | February 8, 2008 1:32 PM

A woman's success in any sphere is attributed to LUCK (AKA the woman SPUN the wheel to success).
A man's success in any sphere is attributed to HARD WORK (AKA the man DESERVES success).
Posted by: chittybangbang

chitty, amen to your astute point about the a$$-backward way many in our society view things. as a strong woman who works hard for what I have AND who does a lots of research before signing on to things (marriage or childbirth or whatever), i find this view really insulting. and it's WORST OF ALL when it comes from the mouths of people like Leslie, who suppoosedly care about "women's issues."

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 1:43 PM

atlmom1234, very well said!

Posted by: dennis5 | February 8, 2008 1:49 PM

"My proposed tweak is recognizing the distinction between the deep inner peace and joy that comes from living well by your family and community, which I would call true happiness, and seeking the sort of giddy short term pleasures, which I would call false happiness."

Posted by: LizaBean | February 8, 2008 01:30 PM

I agree with LizaBean.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | February 8, 2008 1:49 PM

and now some idiot is going to post about how "you don't choose who you fall in love with." it's just crap! maybe in 7th grade you don't choose who you want to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with, but by the time you're an adult YOU ARE MAKING A CHOICE about whom you marry. you are NOT just choosing someone "who makes you feel all gushy inside." you are choosing the person who will be your partner in all things for the rest of your life. so put some time and effort and thought into what is one of the biggest decisions in your entire life.

And if you chose poorly, OWN UP TO IT and don't whine, "gee, i had such bad luck with my first husband. poor me."

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 1:50 PM

Regarding newslinks1 comments about people changing after marriage.

Unfortunately, the man you date is not always the man you marry. I presume the same can be said for women but I haven't married any women. I have been married three times. My first husband did not change after marriage. He was a good man and the fault of the break-up lay primarily with me.

My second husband did everything in his power to 'catch' me including doing things that were not him. He admitted to this after the marriage when I started questioning how I seem to be married to this other man. He failed to see that marriage required any work after the catching phase and we slowly disintegrated. He has since told me that he wished he had of figured out, before our separation, that there was more to marriage than getting to the altar. He seems to have learned his lessons and appears to be a good relationship now.

I seem to be in a bit of the same situation with my current husband. Not to the same degree as my second but still a couple of major discrepancies. That is life and for the most part I have adjusted to the bits that attracted me that are not there to the same degree in the married version. The difference is that I think he does believe that marriage requires some work after the altar and does try to work on it.

I have had a man admit to me that his wife saw a different man between dating and marriage because of the immense amount of effort he put into the dating which he couldn't possibly have sustained through a marriage. I have also had a man tell me that the woman he is married to is not the same woman that he dated so I suppose it runs both ways.

I have to admit that if I had to be deceived by my future husband or my future employer I would prefer the employer. They only have my intellectual mind and my time. It is easier to walk away with only that invested than it is to walk away from an investment that includes your heart, soul and possibly shared children.

I don't know about anyone else but a problem that just lies with my brain is a lot less unsettling than one that lies in my heart.

(Is this a novel?)

Posted by: Billie_R | February 8, 2008 1:52 PM

Billie: I loved your novel! My husband will openly admit that he was 'putting on an act' when we were dating. The one that REALLY bums me out is that he was only PRETENDING to like classical music. I love classical music and really miss the feeling of sharing that with someone.

Posted by: justlurking | February 8, 2008 1:58 PM

OT personals:

Billie: it's good to hear from you and to hear that your husband has now admitted that his marriage to you requires some work. Best of luck!

Fred: Thrilled to hear Frieda's recovering well. Keep us posted throughout the journey!

:)

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 1:59 PM

My mother always told me to keep my job, and to never be completely dependent on a man. And it's been pretty good advice, except that I have discovered that I am pretty dependent on my husband, even if not financially. I really need him to take care of the kids for me. Luckily, he's a very good at it, and it works for us.

My mother also has advised me that sleep is overrated. "You'll get lots of time to sleep when you are dead" she says. I think she's right.

Posted by: emily111 | February 8, 2008 2:01 PM

"Unfortunately, the man you date is not always the man you marry."

Or, the things that attracted you to a man can backfire after marriage.

ie. While you are dating, your man accepts every invitation to his family's functions. Your attendence is optional. Mmm.. this guy seems to understand the importance of keeping the connection to family. After marriage, your husband continues to accept every invitation to his family's functions. Your attendence becomes mandatory.

In the meantime, you discover that you can't stand your airhead MIL and your whining princess SIL. You want to spend as little time with this bunch as possible. Of course, your husband has lived with these twits all of his life and is blind to their flaws. He can't understand why you aren't thrilled to spend every holiday & weekend with them.

Posted by: chittybangbang | February 8, 2008 2:12 PM

newslinks:

I am not sure that I can say he ever said that marriage didn't require effort (no matter what my posts might have implied). But I think his definition of what is considered effort and my definition has certainly diverged greatly since his other family has come into the picture.

The change in schedule has come about and pretty soon I will discover where his priorities lay and where he wishes to put his efforts.

Posted by: Billie_R | February 8, 2008 2:17 PM

"The one that REALLY bums me out is that he was only PRETENDING to like classical music"

That is whacky. My husband is a musician (on the side, he also has a real job) and when I met him he was in a blues band with three other guys, all of whom had girlfriends. We would all go to the shows together and they seemed generally into it; one of them in particular had learned all about the blues and her man's favorite musicians. As each of them got married, their now-wives stopped coming to gigs and completely lost interest in their music. It was nutty. But it meant I got to be the best band wife ever just by still going to gigs and having a good time :)

Posted by: LizaBean | February 8, 2008 2:30 PM

one of my first bosses, a 73 year old woman named ricky phinney, gave me this marriage advice:

think of his worst flaw, the one thing that drives you crazy. multiply times 1,000. can you live with that? if so, go ahead and marry him.

ricky has left us but her advice has not left me. and i'm sure it applies to DH's view of me as well. those small irritants can really multiply over the years. what's hard to predict (and falls into the luck category) is how you and DH tolerate the flaws.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 8, 2008 2:49 PM

My mum was not one for pithy advice. My maternal grandmother, however, taught me never, ever, ever to gamble more than that night's stake, and BOY was that a good lifelong financial message!

She also taught me how to make a gin and tonic, so that I could deliver them to her beginning with her first at 11 am. But that has had less over-reaching implications.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | February 8, 2008 3:04 PM

Shandra:
lol. my DH and I always joke that kids are definitely worth having, just so they can bring you a beer from the fridge. ;)

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 8, 2008 3:28 PM

newslinks1 - but that is what my dog is for

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 8, 2008 3:32 PM

LizaBean, I'm loving all your comments. I admit the "happiness" crowd makes me shake my head from time to time -- the excuse of pursuing what you term false happiness is used to justify a whole lotta hurtful actions that tear families apart. In my opinion.

On a lighter note, this is ROFLMAO nominee for the day:

"Never sleep with crazy, son."

Note to self: make this gender-neutral and pass on to BOTH kids tonight.

Posted by: mn.188 | February 8, 2008 3:54 PM

My grandmother gave me some great advice:

Don't get married just because others say you should or because you think "it's time"

Don't have kids for the same reasons as above

If you do get married, marry someone who is willing to debate/argue while you are married. If they are unwilling to listen to another POV while you are dating, it will only get worse.

My mom told me that you marry not only the person but all their bad traits as well as their parents and siblings and the bad traits of them as well....turns out to be true!

Posted by: antshe | February 8, 2008 6:20 PM

Hello supporters of a mother's wisdom,

I started a new website that showcases a mother's wit and wisdom for the ages.

The address is: http://wisdomfrommother.blogspot.com

Please forward this website to organizations in your area of influence. Thank you for your support.

Posted by: MothersWisdom | February 15, 2008 7:23 PM

Hello supporters of a mother's wisdom,

I started a new website that showcases a mother's wit and wisdom for the ages.

The address is: http://wisdomfrommother.blogspot.com

Please forward this website to organizations in your area of influence. Thank you for your support.

Posted by: MothersWisdom | February 15, 2008 7:23 PM

Hello supporters of a mother's wisdom,

I started a new website that showcases a mother's wit and wisdom for the ages.

The address is: http://wisdomfrommother.blogspot.com

Please forward this website to organizations in your area of influence. Thank you for your support.

Posted by: MothersWisdom | February 15, 2008 7:23 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company