Last week, I wrote a post that got a lot of attention. I was interested in a book that discussed the long term affects of divorce. The fact that divorce has long term affects on children did not seem that controversial or surprising to me. I was just curious to see what particular bits of information the researchers had pulled up on this topic.
Then the comments happened. I was very saddened to read about how many people's lives have been damaged by being in bad relationships or having parents with bad relationships.
I understand that many people were upset with the directions that the comments led -- people should stay in bad relationships for the sake of the kids. No one likes to use the "should" word.
But I think that it's fair to point out that some choices that are very good for the parent are bad for the kid. And some choices that are good for the kid are bad for the parent.
Others believe that everything about raising kids is beneficial for the parent. Kids make them better people. Harry has written some good things along those lines.
While I'm with Harry on some days, I've had a tough day. Ian had four accidents (after two weeks dry), Jonah's neighborhood buddies stepped on the wet paint on the porch, the cat escaped, and I've been going since 6am without a break. Good for them that I'm home, but I could have been in a pee-pee free environment where they called me professor and where I surfed on the computer and called it work. I don't feel like a better human being after my day of child rearing. I can't say that changing wet underwear over and over was fun.
Elizabeth and Sandra Tsing Loh (full article at this link) have read Unraveled : The True Story of a Woman Who Dared to Become a Different Kind of Mother where a mother justifies why she left her four kids to lead a life of a boheme artist. Elizabeth found it a bit insulting and disliked all the new agey lingo. Sandra empathizes because happy families seem to be so elusive these days with all the whining about work-family balance.
I'm far from an ideal mother. The kids drove me to pop open a bottle of wine at 5 today. I have no clue where to draw the line between their happiness and mine. Sometimes it feels like a tug of war. Their needs and mine. Other times, we're all having fun marching through the nature preserve together on a cool summer morning, and I'm sure as hell not complaining about missing out on grading midterms. It's just that the planets don't always align that neatly. Sometimes there's a tradeoff. Should the boheme mother leave her kids, run off to be an artist, and become self-actualized or does she stay in a traditional relationship changing diapers, because it is good for the kids?
It is a myth, you know, that whatever makes the parent happy, makes the kids happy.