Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Research finds that one-half of mothers are faking it

By Karrie McAllister

Every once in a while, I actually get to go out alone with my friends. On average, there are four of us, and we’re usually sitting around a table eating, laughing, and discussing the wonderful times and not so wonderful times of being a mother. We each have our ups and downs, but we always end up smiling a lot more than crying during these gab sessions.
And apparently, two of us are faking our smiles. And when we willingly go back to our families at the end of the night, one and a half of us doesn’t know how we’re going to have the strength when we get home to get the kids to bed, clean the kitchen, etc.
It’s not very often that I get to watch morning news programs, because flipping the channel to anything non-animated would wreak havoc on our household. But one morning a few weeks back, the kids actually slept in long enough for me to catch a few minutes of the Today show.
According to some recent research, a survey of 1,000 moms showed that 47% believe they are the least happy person in the home, out-frowning dads and children. Even more, 33% say they are completely overwhelmed, and feel they have far too many jobs.
Of course, the “experts” on the show had a message for all of the moms out there, that they should try to relax and make sure when they make their to-do lists, that they put their own happiness first, professing the old adage, “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
They recommended things like scheduling spa visits and taking long baths. They also suggested to any husbands watching that the way to a mom’s heart is to woo her with folded baskets of laundry, empty dishwashers, and other such unrealistic things.
So being a mom myself and watching this, I naturally start thinking about these facts and figures, and how reasonable they actually are. I wonder how I would respond if I was a part of this research. And I think my conclusion is noteworthy, because according to what they said, their solution is actually part of the problem.
Confused? Here’s an example.
Mom A has had a terrible day. The kids dumped oatmeal on the living room rug and then put on her silk scarf and rolled around in it. Dad is out of town and calling to remind her to mow the lawn and pick up the trash that the dog has gotten into and decorated the garage with. Mom A hasn’t showered in two days and is still wearing her mismatched pajamas at 4 PM when the person calls to ask her if she’s happy with her job as a mother.
Mom B has actually bathed and brushed her teeth today. Her children are eating their oatmeal, and watching educational television. To make up for the horrible day she had yesterday (when the dogs got into the trash), her husband scheduled her a manicure in the afternoon. She’s just enjoying the cup of coffee he made for her when the interviewer calls to see if she’s happy with her maternal profession.
Well, duh. Obviously Mom B is going to be happy. She’s having a good day—in fact, a much better day than she did yesterday. Mom A is going to yell, scream, and probably cry a little into the phone when they ask her if she feels a little overwhelmed.
These studies are always frustrating me, trying to divide and label mothers. The truth is, we’re all pretty much the same thing. Moms. We all have bad days (oatmeal in the rug) and good days (oatmeal in the mouth) and really good days (oatmeal facial mask). We have days of feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated, but we find support from the people we love – our kids, our families, and our friends.
So my three other friends who sat around laughing all night? I don’t think any of us were faking it. I think there were just four other women at home having rotten days and who should have been calling their own buddies for a little support and waiting for a better tomorrow.…just in case they get called by another researcher.

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