Tags: dr | laura | motherhood

I Take This Mother Thing Personally

Wednesday, 22 Apr 2009 01:21 PM

By Dr. Laura Schlessinger

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I am a victim of the ’60s feminista mentality of “power to the estrogen!” So I spent most of my early adult years trying very hard to be successful at all costs, stopping any man treat me like a “babe,” and seeing wife and mother as a great cop-out to the cause of feminine enlightenment.

Now, I measure success by having a purpose to my work that benefits others, a day without being called a “babe” is a day without sunshine, and being a wife and mother has taught me the blessings of living outside myself — a cure for basic, adolescent self-centeredness.

Every day, I open my radio program by saying, “I am my kid’s mom” because I feel it is the most important thing I’ve ever done: I brought new life into the world, and I try my best to love and direct that life to be a functioning, contributing, decent, happy human being.

I don’t know what to say about those difficult teenage years. Fortunately, they are now a blur.

Our son is almost 24 and in the military. I still begin each hour with the reference to motherhood as a reminder to all mothers that this part of their lives is not the drudgery or feminist cop-out side of them but the side that defines the uniqueness of our gender.

Moms are the spiritual and emotional center of the family.

But here’s the sticky part, as measured by the anger demonstrated toward women who choose to actually raise their own children as stay-at-home moms.

Unless a woman is mentally ill or addled by drug abuse, it’s hard to imagine that her loving arms and tender words could be replaced with hired help: nannies, day care or baby sitters. In fact, I doubt any of you reading this would choose a nanny, day-care center or baby sitter for yourself instead of a warm mommy, would you?

Now, for those mothers who can’t or won’t raise their own children, I am sad for what both child and mother miss: all the firsts, the sillies, the trials and tribulations, the explanations of life and bugs, the comfort and safety, the adventures, the challenges, and the stories both will remember for the rest of their lives.

I have no desire to get into the mommy wars about whether hired help is sufficient intellectually and emotionally. I think that’s kind of silly.

I’ve never really understood why any mother would want to believe that she is replaceable: that her voice, her hands, her smile, her attention, and her love could be matched by someone who may have taken a child-development class.

My new book, "In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms," is not an argument — it is a testimonial to those women who sacrifice careers and free time to raise their children.

The book deals with the difficult transition from work to home, the insults and arguments from those who tell them they’re wasting their time and education, and the challenges of combining mothering with the myriad responsibilities of running a household.

The book is filled with inspirational and unbelievably touching letters from women who have made the transition from a life of “me” to a life of “we.”

Here’s one meaningful example: “Tonight, as I lay next to my four-year-old daughter, rubbing her back, singing a song, helping her fall asleep, she looked at me with tears in her eyes, grabbed my face with both hands, and said with such love and conviction, ‘You are my lullaby, mommy!’ I cried then and there, and the tears continued to flow as she slept in my arms.

"No, I don’t get to have a latte at 10, go to lunch with co-workers, and out for drinks after work. I am not being overseen by someone who gives me performance-based raises and praise. Instead, I am in the most beautiful and profound position I could every hold: I am my daughter’s lullaby.”

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