The Happy Mother Myth
By: Scattermom aka Stephanie L.
If you haven’t read this article about Why Parents Hate Parenting, you should. Lots of good sociology-rich info about the change in modern parenting and why modern parents report being less happy than their childless peers. In a research paper co-authored by Ranae Evenson and Robin Simon, they reported that “parenthood is not associated with enhanced mental health since there is no type of parent who reports less depression than nonparents” (empahsis mine).
Though I initially found the results to be mildly surprising (really, parents–specifically mothers–are more miserable now?) after a point, I came to see the logic in how that happened.
My general, broad impression of the Happy Mother Myth is that too many women believe that parenting will be as fulfilling as a chosen, for-pay career. I certainly thought that being a mom would be easier–and thus less stressful–than what I experienced in my pre-kid, for-pay job. Silly me. I know women who honestly make mothering look like the easiest, most fun job in the world. And I envy them, because for me, it is neither. While I had a nursery-rhyme themed fantasy of what my day was going to look like, the reality is often more Rage Against the Machine than London Bridge. I felt guilt from both true and perceived barbs from all sides of the mothering fence. Then one day I realized the only perfect mother is the one who has never had children and I stopped worrying about what other people thought about my decisions. That doesn’t mean to say that I am without cause for criticism, and I welcome the constructive variety–in all things. But just yipping at me over a personal parenting choice?Pfftt. I used to rush to my own defense with data supporting my own cause, now I just don’t care. I don’t consider it an insult to my parenting when people are concerned that my kids never get cookies (they do, just not often), nor should anyone else consider it an insult when I refuse a product on my child’s behalf. Once I put the cabash of self-doubt, I was happier.