The weekly “little of this, little of that” feature here at Like Mother, Like Daughter.
- OK, I actually have a lot to say about this article, so it’s going to be my headliner: How Getting Rid of Stuff Saved my Motherhood — normally I would say that this kind of title is irritatingly clickbait-y, and perhaps not even use it here. But, actually, I think that it may not be an exaggeration in this case.A few things stand out to me here.For one thing, this woman was told by other moms that her miserable home life was normal and that she’d “get through it.” How many of us are told that we’ll “get through it,” that motherhood is something we just have to “get through?” When I look around me at the women who are mothering by today’s standards and feeling pressure to have it all, I absolutely see women who are “getting through it,” feeling dragged through their day-to-day activities, feeling stressed out, feeling left behind, and consoled simply by the thought that “this is just a phase.” “Suffer through these childhood years and then you can go back to a career where you’ll be thanked and at least feel in control of a few parts of your day… or be able to drink coffee alone, if nothing else.”It is this mindset and way of life that makes having more than two children simply too difficult. If you’re going to “get through it,” there has to be an end date, and it can’t be more than a decade away. This exhausting, draining, stressful phase had better wrap up while you still have a little life left to live. Honestly, when I look around at the oppressive norms and the meager resources most women are working with, I get it. I don’t think I could handle even considering the addition of a third child, if those were the cards in my hand.
So I commend this lady for refusing to settle for that answer. Not only is there more to mothering little kids than “getting through it,” but in fact this season and every other season of family life can be a time of joy and flourishing. But: we have to reclaim traditional ways in order to learn how (in her case, she taps into the old-school understanding that children don’t need many toys).
For another thing, and very obviously, her story is a great reminder of how material things can bring us down. We, as mothers, can be vulnerable to marketers who want to peddle us more and more stuff with the tempting line that each new “thing” is going to make our job easier. A new toy will occupy the kids and we’ll be left alone, right? We need retail therapy when we’re feeling down so that we can be reminded that we’re real people too, right?
We accept the stereotype that, once a baby comes into your life, your house has to be not just sprinkled, but coated with toys, swings, endless accoutrements that are beeping and singing and tripping you up… This is supposed to be obligatory.
And yet, the stuff in this woman’s life was actually making her depressed. It was thwarting her children’s play! Our Faith tells us that we should place our treasure in Heaven and not in material things — are we surprised to learn that allowing too many things in to our life can bring us down?
Finally, this study she mentions from UCLA: there you have it, ladies. We care about our homes. Even if we tell our minds that we don’t care, our bodies will remind us that we do. When an untidy house raises our stress hormone levels and we feel that we’re failing our families if we’re too cluttered, it’s time to assert, once again, the value and status of the homemaker and the housekeeping. Whatever the feminists tell us, this does matter to us (not so much to the men, eh? notice that?) and we should do the things that make us and our families happy and help us to be better women and mothers.
The author mentions that she had her fourth baby after getting this housekeeping thing under control. I have to ask myself how much her clutter-free, happy state played into the event of welcoming a new life into the family. How many women are out there, thinking that once upon a time they wanted more kids, but now that they’re in the thick of it, “getting through it,” they realize that there’s no way; they’re simply not up for it?
So yes, in a sense, this de-cluttering is the kind of move that saves motherhood.
I only go on about it to remind you, as this article has reminded me, what LMLD is all about: rediscovering the practical ways and methods, the habits, the old-fashioned wisdom, the meal plans, the laundry strategies, the educational know-how… the collective memory… that makes this life of ours not something to “get through,” but a honed skill, a source of contentment, a channel of grace, a joy.
More on parenting and children:
- I have posted something along these lines before, but I for one never get tired of it. (Let the record show that I do not support children severing their fingers.) Should we Let Toddlers Play with Saws and Knives? from the WSJ.
- Why do we Judge Parents for Putting Kids at Perceived – but Unreal – Risk? from NPR. From the article: “The people with presumably the most child care experience (mothers) actually expressed the most exaggerated overestimates of risk. I was genuinely surprised by that. But I guess that’s because I was expecting people to be rational, and people are just not rational about this subject.” (NB: you would probably guess as much, but we do not endorse the viewpoint represented here that fathers don’t make a unique contribution by working and mothers by care-taking.)
- The Screen Hoax from Time Magazine. I’ve always had a very bad feeling about the influx of expensive screen technology into every classroom, but now I’m feeling fired up about it. This article makes me think that parents should be forming coalitions to start pushing back against the system that is promoting this “pedagogy” (which is unsupported by research) at the expense of the taxpayer and, most importantly, at the expense of the child.
In the World of Science:
- An astounding story of a man, Martin Couney, who changed medicine and creatively cared for preemies, saving thousands of lives… and was also a fraud.
- For the star-gazers in your household: What Starlight Teaches us About Space (Pretty Much Everything)
- Zeugma After the Flood. Recent excavations have unearthed amazing mosaics in Turkey.
- For big-picture considerations to help us think about what makes good policy, read Immigration and the Family by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky.
- In Iceland, a hand-drawn map is as good as an address. So appealing, right? Auntie Leila thinks perhaps because of our desire to be known?
- Looking for a reading list? Here is one compiled from C. S. Lewis’ An Experiment in Criticism. I’d say he’s probably a good source for a solid bibliography…
And if you’ll allow some self-promotion:
- I’m finally joining Instagram in an effort to give a glance into my arts-and-craftsing “workshop.” If you’re on there, please follow me as I get started! I’m DaedalShop.
- And don’t forget to follow the others, too — links are below, as usual!
In the liturgical year — It’s a big one for us today:
Today is the feast of St. Gregory the Great, the patron saint of the St. Greg’s Pockets!!
Not only do we women need the collective memory in order to be at peace and not just “getting through,” but we also need community! We need each other, other women, especially ones who are a bit further down the road than us and can help us along. And women who are just getting into the whole motherhood gig need us. Yes, much of it is hard, and that’s why we need other women who are there, in person, to be with us along the way and show us how or at least share in the difficulties. To try to do it alone is a disservice to ourselves and our families, and not helpful to other women and their children who could really use our help (once we’ve got a thing or two down).
So, if you’re not already benefiting from a Pocket, what are you waiting for? Is there one in your area? Check the list. Could you get one started? Maybe think about it today and say a prayer to St. Gregory!
If you have any particular questions or need specific encouragement, feel free to email us or comment here to ask! We want to help you and your families have this great community in your neighborhood!
Special note: Any ladies in Boston who could get a Pocket going? I know of at least one and I think maybe two women who are really struggling in that area to have any community to support their motherhood. If you are there, could you band together with a friend to get the FB group going and start a Pocket? If you know someone there, could you encourage her to do this? The need is real!
Happy Feast Day!
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