Friday, September 14, 2012

The Happily Compartmentalizing Fragmented Feminist Mother

This week has been a fragmented jumble of activities. The beginning of the school year brings with it the kickoff of school fundraisers, the restart of Cub Scout commitments, the continuation of Boy Scout activities, the oddly meditative stuffing of the Thursday Folders at the elementary school.  All of these activities seemed to hit a fever pitch this third week of school. I spent many hours this week juggling my volunteer time between school and scouts. Add to that all the kids' activities and school responsibilities to manage. Coming off the comparative leisure of summer, I found myself not ready for the school year pace. I felt at one point during the week, as I jumped from one activity to another, so unfocused and addled that I think I might be developing adult onset ADD.

Our school system is already scheduling fall conferences for the end of next week, the fourth week of school. This is about a month earlier than in prior years for conferences. In these four short weeks of school, it may be a bit early to gauge the kids' performance. I only hope that each teacher I meet with will, at a minimum, be able to positively identify my child and not for reasons of his poor behavior.

I just finished reading two books: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. The books were recommended/loaned to me by two separate friends. Such friendly recommendations might make one wonder if my friends were giving me not so subtle hints about my disposition and parenting abilities. They weren't. They know I like to read about others' mothering experiences. Even though The Happiness Project wasn't specifically about mothering, Rubin is a mother and her happiness project encircled her family life as well as her personal happiness. As a mother, those two things become inextricably entwined.

The books left me with these thoughts:

1.  Like Rubin after her project, I too find that I have happiness. Even floating in the wake of the greatest sorrow my family has known, I can find some happiness. I feel guilty saying that. But I can compartmentalize with the best of them. In one compartment, the one where happiness can be found, I appreciate all the wonders my life and this world offer. I am not happy because life is so easy that I have no worries. I have lots of worries and deep hurts but I am happy because I feel able to handle those worries. For now. There but for the grace of God go I. In the other compartment, you will find the things that give rise to my appreciation.

2. Unlike Waldman, I apparently am not a full-fledged feminist. I support equal rights but there is a whole level of feminism that I do not even come close to upholding. This doesn't mean that I believe women should be treated differently or lesser than men. It doesn't mean that I think women should not be able to do the same things as men. It means I don't think women need to to do everything that men do. And I don't think men need to do exactly what women do either. I guess that makes me a fragmented feminist.

3. Like Rubin and Waldman, I, at times, believe myself to be a bad mother. But more frequently, I think I am a good mother. Research supports the notion that it takes anywhere from 3-5 positive comments to counteract one negative. I try to keep my bad mother to good mother inner monologue ratio to 1:4 just to keep it balanced.

I love these Friday Fragment posts because they allow me to jump from subject to subject and I can blame it on my ADD.


Whaddaya think about that?