Wednesday, March 21, 2007

'Tis the Reason for the Blog

According to the Washington Post Article, posted yesterday, March 20, our "Mommy Time" with our children has increased since the 1960's from 10hrs/wk to 14hrs/wk....That is supposed to somehow ease our mommy guilt. I'm not certain I agree. Read the article and then we'll finish this story.

Mommy Guilt
by Washington Post
For all the rush of modern life, recent research suggests that mothers are actually doing a better job than they may think, at least by historical standards.According to a University of Maryland study, today's mothers spend more hours focused on their children than their own mothers did 40 years ago, often imagined as the golden era of June Cleaver, television's ever-cheerful, cookie-baking mom.In 1965, mothers spent 10.2 hours a week tending primarily to their children -- feeding them, reading with them or playing games, for example -- according to the study's analysis of detailed time diaries kept by thousands of Americans. That number dipped in the 1970s and 1980s, rose in the 1990s and now is higher than ever, at nearly 14.1 hours a week.

This is especially striking because it is at odds with how today's mothers view their own lives: Roughly half of those interviewed said they did not have enough time with their children.

The last sentence says it all. Think about it: 14.1 hours spent with our children in a 7 day time period??? That just doesn't add up to me. I spend tremendous amounts of time with my children - almost all of my waking hours when I'm not at work, and that still doesn't feel like enough. We have sports, scouts, therapies, extra time spent at home on projects, studying with my children, at-home occupational therapy that WE do with our son. All of these things take a heck of a lot more time in the week than 14.1 hours, but I, personally, don't feel like it's cutting it. Hence the title of the blog.

I'm taken aback at the stats from the 60's, though. We thought June Cleaver was the bomb! Donna Reed - I mean, who wouldn't want those mothers? They were always there at the ready, cookies baking, dinner ready, blah blah blah, and some of those images make the feminist in me cringe, but did all of THAT time only amount to 10 hours a week?

I would give almost anything to be able to stay at home with my children. I've said it before, I'm not a working mom by choice, but by necessity. If I was able to stay home, my GOD - I'd be able to spend so much more time with my children - or so it may seem. But really, would I?

All three of my children are in school. LargeBoy is a sophomore and is very independent. When he is home from school or not with his friends, he's usually hanging in his room with his iPod - either playing his guitar or bass, playing video games, or working on his next book idea (I wanted to say "novel," because they truly are "novels"). Girl is in 8th grade and quite the social butterfly. When she's not at school or with her friends, she's either at a sporting event - practicing or participating (in which case I'm there, but not WITH her), at a rehearsal for drama club, at a student council meeting, studying, on the computer, practicing the viola, or planning the next social event. SmallBoy, I will admit, gets a lot more of my time. I do most everything with him, but still, when he's not with me, he's playing video games or drawing - two of his favorite things. Would I really be spending more than 14.1 hours a week with them were I a stay at home mom? I don't know.

I suppose, when you look at the big picture, it does boil down to a few short hours per week. And no, that does nothing to ease my mind and make me feel less Mommy Guilt. I'd love to hear your comments & feedback.


Anonymous said...

I'm feeling a particularly harsh dose of Mommy Guilt today. I was running late, then had to get gas, then struggled all the way to work with mommy guilt and a touch of resentment for my husband, who currently is laid off (partly by his own choice). you know what i mean i'm sure - where i feel bad because i have to wake the kids up early, rush them out the door in the mornings, while hubby either sleeps or sits there just watching while i struggle to get slow-pokey kids to daycare at a certain time so i won't be late for work. where we need to find new daycare but i can't afford to pay anyone more than i am right now because hubby isn't working. he says he's taking a job-related class on saturday, and that he's sure they'll put him out to work right away, but I doubt it. Spring Break is next week, and I can't afford to send the kids all day each day (it's about twice the $$ as a normal week). I don't think I can take much time off work because my boss has all week off, so there wouldn't be anyone to fill in for me. It's just one day but today feels like a Monday with all the guilt and wishing I was at home with the kids instead of at work (where I have plenty of extra time to surf the Internet and write my own blog). Sigh.

mommyguilt said...

Oh girlfriend, I hear ya!!! Ironically, all my time surfing and writing is done at work..ssshhh don't tell...because at home, my computer is stupid and when it's not being stupid, my kids are busy fighting over it.

I totally feel your pain. It's hard to balance all of that and then try to get through work withOUT feeling awful. Childcare...UGH that's another story altogether. Since hubby's home, though, can he take care of the kids? Or at least take them to daycare?

I understand what it's like with a one-income household. It doesn't help with easing life at all, but you'll get there.

Lora said...

Regardless of how much time you spend with your family you are a spectacular and phenomenal mommy!!!I know that because I feel that I know you well enough through reading your blog and other correspondence so I am not just saying that! I admire you and your mothering skills and talents, it is incredible the way that you juggle things and still you have a very happy family. So, in other words..........YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

mommguilt said... Since hubby's home, though, can he take care of the kids? Or at least take them to daycare?

Well you'd think so, wouldn't you? He didn't on that day, which really set me off!

Actually he is keeping the kids today, which is great for all of us. No pushing pokey kids out the door! Woo Hoo!

Much love,

gretchen said...

This is a tough question! I have never been a SAHM, but always wished I could be!

The odd days I do get to stay home are never as satisfying as I imagine they will be! That may be because I am usually home with a sick kid- doing extra laundry and extra worrying. Or, when I take a day off for spring break, I try to pack a bunch of "fun" into the day, still not getting any housework done.

I am always trying to rationalize having to work, but I do believe that those of us who must work away from our family then appreciate our time with our children even more.

And yesterday I tried a new vow of not blogging while at work... you can see how long that lasted :-)