The end of Supermom?
Bad is the new good. That's the tag line on one of my favourite blogs, Her Bad Mother, Catherine Conner's raw, irreverent and honest look at what the front-lines of motherhood really look and feel like on both bad days and good.
Catherine is one of the subjects interviewed in today's feature by family issues reporter Andrea Gordon, Bringing up baby badly on purpose, which is actually better described by the subhead: Tired of impossible standards, moms and dads embrace 'bad' parent label with relief.
Of course, Catherine and bloggers like her are using the term 'bad' with tongues planted firmly in cheeks. They represent a backlash that's been far too long in coming. With the dawn of "attachment parenting" and an explosion in psycho-social research on the importance of the early years, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction from our parents' benign playpen neglect. That has us arriving — unhappily, I think — at this place where every decision (pacifier or no pacifier, organic or just hormone-free, gymboree or baby-signing class, Montesorri or Waldorf) seems to require weeks of research and nights of teeth-gnashing. Plunk your baby in the swing so you can eat a sandwich? Heavens no! That's a "baby container" where your child's brain surely will atrophy faster than you can call the pharmacist to ask for a refill on your anti-depressants.
Among the first to speak up about this nonsense was Judith Warner, author of the book Perfect Madness, which chronicled the NY Times writer's startled reaction to the intentioned, anxiety-soaked "too muchness" she observed among her parenting cohorts in the Washington suburb she moved to after starting her family in France. Warner (who now writes, among other things, a blog called Domestic Disturbances for the nytimes.com) asked us to consider why everything from planning birthday parties to getting kids vaccinated had become minefields where every step was an opportunity to sentence our children to lifetime of psychotherapy.
This backlash of "bad" parent bloggers (because, really, is anyone with it enough to blog about parenting also a crack-head who turns tricks while the kids watch Treehouse?) operate from the position that since we all need therapy anyway, perhaps we can go easy on ourselves for losing it every once in a while, or for ordering pizza instead of making it, or for simply JUST NOT LOVING every single minute of caring for our darling offspring.
And maybe if you'd rather have a margarita this weekend instead of assembling that Lego Death Star, perhaps you can tell the kids to just go play outside. Maybe bring out this old chestnut from our own childhoods: "You'll have FUN once you get out there."