February 17, 2005

No Love for Judith Warner?

[NOTE/UPDATE: I've revised the link to A Small Victory now that Michele's posted a finished version of the post Lileks sucked from her brain. It looks to me like Lileks got the short end of the bendy straw on this one, because the new post is damn good.

I've also included a link to another post on Warner, at Geek Empire, that notes the perfectionist mother phenomenon is limited to mothers of means. You can't obsess over craft projects if you're struggling just to buy diapers.]

Let's all hear it for Judith Warner!


What I find so depressing about Warner's book is the fact that she seems to be a well-intentioned, passionate advocate for women. She obviously cares about her subject matter deeply. She wants things to change. She even outlines a manifesto of sorts, a call to action regarding more family-friendly workplace policies. But that's precisely what Sylvia Ann Hewlett did in her atrocious book Creating a Life - right after she pummeled infertile women for being too psychologically immature to commit to marriage and childrearing in a timely fashion. I'm not exactly mollified by a List of Really Good Ideas, not when it's appended to yet another screed outlining Exactly What's Wrong With Mothers Today.
I was finding new motherhood stressful not because being a mother made it so, but because dealing with the other mothers made it so. I could never be sure if what I was doing was right. My values were constantly called into question. My skills were tested. I spent half my time with other mothers defending myself and my parenting choices. When another mother would come to my rescue, two more would pop out of the woodwork to enter the fray.


Listen, I go to community college. One of the girls in a class with me this past semester is a recovering junkie with two kids, dirt-poor while trying to hold down a full time job, go to school so she can better herself and her future, while still parenting and providing for her kids. The father? Are you kidding me? I think her parents helped her out some, and of course she got (deserved) government assistance, but still, that's a challenge greater than most anyone living in this country today has to face, and it is far from an uncommon situation.

. . .

While you're whining to your professional-journalist $100k/yr pillow buddy about how freaking hard you have it, people all over the country are burning the midnight oil trying to fix their lives, pushing themselves to and beyond the limit daily to feed their kids and work their job and maybe make something of their future. Do you think that maybe, just maybe, it's possible that there are worse things in life than getting the wrong shade of fucking TABLET PAPER!?!

Well, I haven't any love for her myself--but I'm not a parent, so that's all I'm going to say about it. Those of you who do parent, or plan to, have at it.

Posted by Ilyka at February 17, 2005 06:13 PM in hell is other people

I'm not a parent and almost certainly will never be one, but let me say:

1. The Chez Miscarriage post you quoted is quite good.
2. The perfectionist mommies remind me of some of the single women I bitched about in Michele's Teri Polo thread insofar as both seem to define success by how closely their actual child/boyfriend matches their predetermined notions of what an ideal child/boyfriend should be. It's unfortunate enough to encounter that sort of thing in a prospective date, but in a mother (or father)? Very depressing stuff. As Lileks put it, "the perfect is the enemy of the fun." And the happy.

If you think the Type-A parents are bad now, wait a few decades until genetic engineering really gets going. They'll be shitting out one little Aryan genius after another. It'll be expensive, sure, but no worries -- no doubt Newsweek will be right there with a cover story explaining why U.S. taxpayers should foot the bill.

Posted by: Allah at February 18, 2005 01:40 AM

The Chez Miscarriage post you quoted is quite good.

'Course it's good. She has the power of the gelfite and is privy to all the best IM conversations:

Oprah: i'll tell you one thing

Oprah: those women would feel a lot better about themselves if they just kept fresh flowers and candles around the house

Oprah: it's amazing what a few little touches can do

Anything she posts could only be good, although the post I linked owes a huge debt to Faludi; enough so that I'm surprised she didn't reference it.
Posted by: ilyka at February 18, 2005 02:17 AM

Anybody who looks for perfection in a spouse, child, or even themself, is doomed to disappointment. Just like no plan survives contact with the enemy, perfection cannot survive contact with the real world.

Don't pet the sweaty things.

Posted by: Jim at February 18, 2005 10:32 AM

Perfectionist mommies meet you worse nightmare:


A father, husband, and former thug/gang banger (with thug tendacies still). I'm so "unperfect" and downright scandelous in raising my children that they love it. LOL!

Posted by: Solomon at February 20, 2005 01:10 AM

But you know what, Solomon? I'd choose YOU in a heartbeat because, baby, YOU'RE REAL.

Posted by: Margi at February 20, 2005 07:53 AM

Real as it gets, sista! :D

Posted by: Solomon at February 22, 2005 03:01 AM