As you probably know, I live in the Washington, DC metro area. In fact, I live in one of the more expensive places in the country, and the most educated. Washington is home to the Nationals, the Redskins, the Wizards, the Capitals, and DC United. It is home to the the monuments, the President, the government. And it is home to the Competimommy, the Sanctimommy, the self-rightous, the extreme parent.
I try my best to go against the tide here. I shoot for slacker mom, and I succeed about 75% of the time. I don't believe I am in charge of my kids' happiness. I don't believe they will suffer from lack of attention from me; in fact, I believe a bit of benign neglect benefits us all. I am a lousy housekeeper, and if someone mentions anything about it to me I am much more inclined to suggest that they clean it up their damn selves than I am to feel any pressure to do any more about it than I would normally.
But bucking the system around here is tough. Real tough. There aren't many around me who are publicly like me. Your kids must be in the best preschool program, the best enrichment classes, the top sports teams. If you express that you don't believe any of those things is necessary, you may as well announce that you are giving birth to a martian at 7 pm tonight for all the positive reaction you'll get.
I am just now starting to find my groove as a mom of four, now that Nemo is six months old and not necessarily attached to my person all the time. For me, it is an absolute necessity that I not be Supermom; I will end up on the psych ward. I constantly search for ways to avoid getting sucked into the Bree Van de Camp lifestyle, but around here it is oh, so very very hard. Especially when you are overwhelmed and sleep deprived.
So when the Parent Bloggers asked for people to review the book Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box by Ann Dunnewold, I jumped all over it. Usually when I get a book to read I have it done in about three days; I've had this book for over a month and just finished it last night. The tag line is "Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Still Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting" and to me it feels like this book was written for everyone who lives in the DC area (and everywhere else, too).
It took me so long to read this book because it requires a decent amount of reflection after each bit you read. It teaches you how to reprogram the automatic thoughts in your head that kick yourself for not being Supermom into positive thoughts to teach you how to be the Perfectly Good Mom. It gives you tips on how to avoid falling into the traps of extreme parenting and helps you learn how to connect with other mothers.
In short, it's a big ol' dose of perspective. And sometimes we moms get so bogged down in the details of life that perspective is completely missing. The book also offers practical tips on how to keep that perspective as we go through life each day. There's even a chapter for Dads that includes advice on how to keep Dads from falling into the competidad trap, as well as advice on how parents can work together to keep each other sane and healthy.
It's hard work, I'll admit. Real hard. But aren't we worth it?