Worse is Better

Filed under:Mothering,Priorities,Television — posted by Anwyn on November 18, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

I watch Grey’s Anatomy, and I don’t apologize for it [she said defiantly]. True, almost every other character is more interesting than Meredith Grey, although I keep thinking she should have some potential in there. But anyway. Thursday’s show included a child whose nanny backed over her with an SUV because her mother sent the nanny to the store and then didn’t keep the child corralled in the house while the nanny left. Nanny gets fired, but child, in her injured, drug-sleepy state demands nanny’s return relentlessly, despite her mother’s constant presence: “Where’s Anna? I want Anna. Where’s Anna?” Nanny eventually returns.

The mother had a throwaway line that got me fired up. She seemed to be saying that her husband disapproved of her working outside the home (the character is a lawyer) for that very reason–that her child became more attached to the nanny than to her. Mother’s line (paraphrased): “I’m great at my job. I’m not so great at the mommy thing.”

Well, pray tell: who is?

Man or woman, who could possibly be better at stay-at-home parenting than at a job that affords you a level of control not available to moms and dads? I suspect it’s only a lucky few who feel they are better at parenting than at the job they loved and left behind to stay at home. Not a week goes by when I don’t think, perhaps not in so many words, how much better I am at editing–and how much easier editing is!–than at stay-at-home mommying. And why wouldn’t I? When I cross out a word with my red pen, it stays crossed, by gum. Whereas just because I tell my son something doesn’t mean it happens.

But don’t confuse “I was better at [X]” with “I’m a bad mother” and allow it to overly influence your judgment. The two scales–how good you were at your job vs. how good a mother you are–cannot be directly stacked and compared. I chose to stay at home with my son because I felt his mother’s presence would be better for him and for me than the alternatives. All stay-at-homes have our frustrating days, but let’s do ourselves this favor: remember that worse is better. Worse than you were at your other job is still better for your kid, if you’ve made that choice. Please don’t misunderstand: I have nothing negative to say about moms who work outside the home; it’s a choice each family makes in their own situation. But if you’ve made a considered decision to stay home, give yourself a break for not being as great at it as you were at going to the office. It’s a totally different scale, and fortunately, our kids judge on a yet another scale than we would. If your kid understands how loved he/she is, then you’re doing much better than at your old job. Go with it.

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

one comment so far »

  1. Any mother who says she is a perfect mother is a liar. No one is “great at the mothering thing” You do your best and hope they turn out happy, healthy, well adjusted children. i judge my parenting by how easily they are willing to let go of me. If they are happy to go off to school for the first time, that means that they trust me. They know that I will come back for them and I am so proud of my children, not to mention myself. Even though I have had a few bumps and scrapes while raising my children, they know that they are loved and protected. No one is perfect, not even us stay-at home moms.

    Comment by Krissy — December 1, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

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