October 11, 2015

"She talks about not knowing who she is anymore because she’s just Mom . . . and then she goes and buys a 12-passenger van so she can do more carpooling for her kids’ activities."

"It’s kinda heartbreaking. Her complaints aren’t incessant, but when they do happen, it’s very clear that I’m watching stuffed-away feelings leak out — like she just can’t keep up appearances anymore."

From a question for the WaPo advice columnist Carolyn Hax, who gives what I think is an excellent answer (which includes something close to that rule of thumb of mine: the best test of what people really want to do is what they are actually doing).


Laslo Spatula said...

Having an affair would bring excitement back into her Life.

Stolen moments with someone who appreciates her College-certified intelligence.

Blow-jobs between car-pools.

Far-away dreamy looks while the kids play soccer in front of her.

This will make things better.

I am Laslo.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Definitely a first world, upper-middle class problem.

Obviously she would be far better off working in a cubicle to advance the profits of some faceless corporation than raising her own children. Doesn't she know she should get some third world immigrant to take time away from her children to raise hers?

I'm reminded of an episode of the show House. Cudy, the extremely intelligent and competent hospital administrator (who, it being Television is also incredibly attractive and wears clothing far more revealing than would be appropriate in the setting) is followed through a 14-16 hour day were she is shown resolving various crises in a highly stressful environment. At the end of the day she goes home where she takes over from her Hispanic maid, who has been caring for her adoptive son (who she went to a great deal of trouble and expense to acquire), and spends a whole fifteen minutes reading to him before he goes to sleep.

This episode was, I believe, supposed to be empowering.

Laslo Spatula said...

Baby, you are more than just a mother.

You are a brilliant, charming, vital woman, with qualities that no one seems to appreciate.

Baby, I appreciate it. I appreciate your intelligence AND your beauty.

Are you ready to try some anal?

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Oh baby, that was amazing.

Don't you feel just a little bit naughty?

That's OK: you deserve the chance to be a little naughty. You can't be the stoic mother all the time.

Naughty feels nice, doesn't it, baby?

Was baby a naughty girl?

You might want to dry clean that.

I am Laslo.

Anonymous said...

Don't want to read the drivel, but from the little excerpt, did she say taking care of kids is "heart breaking"?

Laslo Spatula said...

You seem a bit distant today: is everything all right?

The kids are OK?

Your husband?

Are you upset that I came on your face? Because, if that's it, I won't do that again. I just was caught up in the spirit of us being Outlaws of Love: you know, we are bold enough to take the Love we need, outside of anyone else's opinions or restraints.

It is that I came in your face: I see that. I'm sorry.

How about I go down on you? Would that help you relax?

No, I never noticed that I only go down on you when I think I've upset you. You're connecting dots that really aren't there, baby.

Maybe we should just go to Starbucks for awhile, baby. I'm sure some coffee will clear your head.

I am Laslo.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Don't want to read the drivel, but from the little excerpt, did she say taking care of kids is "heart breaking"?

No. Letter writer wants validation to stage an intervention for SAHM friend; letter writer is certain SAHM is secretly yearning for someone to break her out of mom-prison. Advice columnist thinks that the friend seems to be doing just fine and letter writer needs to mind her own business.

Laslo Spatula said...

Baby, I hate this feeling that you're pulling away from me.

This can continue just like it has, there is no reason to stop.

Our only worry is that -- if we are apart from each other -- it is more likely that things will leak out that really shouldn't. I've seen it happen before.

Together, we are strong. Apart, wrong things get said, and they can't get taken back.

I know you: you do not want to hurt your husband, or destroy your family. Together, we have what your family doesn't give you.

You really think so? I don't think that's a good idea: I really don't.

No, I am not threatening to say anything. It's just that, together, I have you to talk to. Apart, I don't know if I can keep it all bottled up inside.

It really doesn't have to be this way; just think about it for a day or two. You'll see.

I am Laslo.

MaxedOutMama said...

Nobody has four kids by accident these days, and a person who graduated from a very expensive private college and was considering grad school didn't get pregnant by accident on her honeymoon. She chose this life deliberately.

If she didn't want to be doing what she is doing now she would be taking the opportunity to work part-time with the kids in school. She isn't - she has decided that she needs to run the house, compensate for what must be her husband's tough work schedule by taking care of all the errands and chores she can for him, and then shepherd the kids through at least a few more years. This seems like a pretty rational choice to me.

I don't think anyone would actually presume that a woman with a successful career would be secretly distraught because at times she wondered what it would be like to have a large family. The reality is that life involves choices, and for every option one takes, one shuts off many others. It is natural as we get a bit older to think about what could have been, but that doesn't mean we want to dump what we have!

I am sure that her husband sometimes speculates on what it would be like to take a year and sail around on a boat or something like that. It doesn't mean he isn't happy with what he has either.

Wince said...

Althouse: "...close to that rule of thumb of mine: the best test of what people really want to do is what they are actually doing)."

Revealed Preference Theory

Revealed preference theory tries to understand the preferences of a consumer among bundles of goods, given their budget constraint. For instance, if the consumer buys bundle of goods A over bundle of goods B, where both bundles of goods are affordable, it is revealed that he/she directly prefers A over B. It is assumed that the consumer's preferences are stable over the observed time period, i.e. the consumer will not reverse their relative preferences regarding A and B.

As a concrete example, if a person chooses 2 apples/3 bananas over an affordable alternative 3 apples/2 bananas, then we say that the first bundle is revealed preferred to the second. It is assumed that the first bundle of goods is always preferred to the second, and that the consumer purchases the second bundle of goods only if the first bundle becomes unaffordable.

Birches said...

I wonder if "friend" just feels a bit put out by the disconnect between her life and her friends' lives. Sometimes it gets annoying always having to explain yourself.

Case in point: I went to a prenatal appointment yesterday and had to go to the lab for a glucose test. At this point in my childbearing career (#5), I dislike seeing anyone new, especially the chatty lab techs, because I have to go through the rigmarole of explaining that yes, this is my fifth child and yes, I do know how babies are made.

I am perfectly happy with my choices, but sometimes people question you as if you don't know what you're doing. Sometimes it's just easier to give them a little of what they want to get them off your back.

If I had a place to park a 12 passenger van, I'd totally get one.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Hey Birches, I'm expecting #5 too. I've kind of enjoyed responding to "so, is this your first?" :)

Etienne said...

I remember the movie The Banger Sisters. It was very entertaining and I laughed all the way through it.

Anyway, this groupie that laid every rock star there was (along with her groupie girlfriend), drifts into middle age with kids and finds out she has lost her soul.

Something like that. Finally the daughter says she's hungry, and Mom says tough shit, or words to that effect. Progress. No return to the past, but she cuts her hair and sets a new way forward.

oof, that sounds like a campaign slogan...

CatherineM said...

I think this is common. I get it from friends who think I am so smart (thank you) and could do so much better ( I like what I do, but it's not something that is prestigious). They are the kind of ppl who would tell me when I was in nursing school,"how about becoming a Dr instead?" There are always people who see a resume as more important than than the character of an individual. It also matters what school you went to for these kind of people. It is their problem. There was one couple (actually, the wife who married my friend) who jettisoned me because they said I was wasting my talent and they couldn't stand it that I wasn't getting a graduate degree to better myself. Seriously. I am sure they tell people we are no longer friends bc I have problems. The problem being, I am not who they want me to be.

As far as the mommy stuff, I have a friend who is a recent empty nester. In the run up to that she would lament what she would do at this stage. I would make suggestions. She has a great eye for color and decorating. What about taking the courses for that (stupid NY requires a license) and do that as a side gig ( if I had the money, I would hire her). Or hey, volunteering with the elderly (she is great with that too). Every suggestion was met with a reason why it would not work for her or her husband. I finally said, I don't know why you ask me when you seem happy with long walks with the dog in the morning, shopping and socializing. You were also able to help your parents and in laws when they were ill. You like it, your husband is happy with it and you don't need money. It is OK to be happy with your life!!! Who cares that there are people who say, "What does she do all day???" You are happy with your life.

Birches said...

I've kind of enjoyed responding to "so, is this your first?"

Ha ha. Yeah, that happens all the time. I look a lot younger than my mid 30s self, so I'm sure they think I was a pregnant teenager (at least that's what I imagine their thinking when their eyes bulge out a little).

Deirdre Mundy said...

I think childless friends also tend to mistake "normal griping' for existential strife when it comes from a SAHM.

Case in point: I was griping about the upcoming week at an event today. The kids are in a play on Friday and Saturday, there are dress rehearsals all week, plus scouts, plus soccer practice..... it's going to be nuts. It's not an existential crisis. It's just the week is going to suck because everyone is super busy. Things settle down in a couple of weeks.

The reply I got was "but you really need to take time for you, to unwind." The issue isn't a lack of me-time. It's that dress rehearsals need to be squeezed into an already busy schedule,

On the other hand, if a working woman is complaining about having a bunch of meetings and deadlines, no one says "You're doing too much, you need an afternoon just for you."

For some reason, SAHMs are considered incapable of prioritizing and working women are presumed competent. And I don't need an intervention. I need my 12 year old to age 4 years so she can drive HERSELF. ;)

Jupiter said...

"the best test of what people really want to do is what they are actually doing"

That sounds fairly sensible, until you think about it. Most of us would be doing something else if we had more money, and most of us have made compromises that we regret. Many of us are trying to do what we want to do, but for one reason or another we fail. Most small businesses fail in the first five years. Did all those people want to lose their savings while putting in 80-hour weeks at a job that pays little or nothing? No, they wanted -- and hoped -- to to do something else. I think your rule only applies to trivial situations.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Jupiter: Your view looks only at the superficial. Sure, in a world where I didn't have to deal with resource limits, my choice might be to cruise the world on my yacht, crewed by supermodels. That's not at issue here.
It's the choices you make, with adequate consideration for your circumstances, and adequate estimates of likely futures, that matter.
I advise startup entrepreneurs about this every day. They all want to succeed, so what?. They are all doing what they want, with generally a clear-eyed understanding of the likelihood of failure.
That's what matters - just like when I start down Headwall or KT22 at Squaw Valley, they have actively chosen to take the risks in exchange for both the short-term rewards of playing the game, as well as the long-term possibility of great success.

Fred Drinkwater said...

And regarding the letter-writer and the SAHM: Speaking from my perspective as an empty-nester and semi-retired silicon valley type: I bet the SAHM will look back on her life with greater satisfaction than the letter-writer. The letter-writer should butt out.

Tony Austin said...

Please take into account the psychological status of learned helplessness. This mother may be overwhelmed and afraid of something "terrible" : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness