Lisa Belkin’s column in the New York Times earlier this week, titled “Are Mothers Oppressed by Their Children?,” really got me thinking. The article, which you can read for yourself here examines an interview with a french philosopher named Elisabeth Badinter who believes that women have let their children “shackle and tyrannize” them. In the process, she claims, moms have given up “work, shopping, sex, and all the other things you loved” in order to breastfeed and care for the children.
Her ideal? That we could go back to the way things used to be in France: “We’ve always been mediocre mothers here, but we’ve tended to have happier lives.”
Her views are pretty extreme — I don’t think any of us really want to go back to the days in which women smoked during pregnancy without a second thought — but she raises an interesting point. At what point are we as moms sacrificing ourselves and our own happiness for the well being of our children?
At one time in my life I aspired to the “perfect mom” ideal and found myself, on most occasions, completely inadequate. Letting go of that ideal was incredibly liberating. I realized that sacrificing myself to be a perfect mom was not doing any of us any good: I am a better mom when I have my own life outside of raising my children. It took me about 13 years of being a mom to figure out where that line in the sand is for me, the balance point where my kids get all the love and attention they need and I get the time to myself that I need too.
What about you? Have you found your balance point? Do you feel “oppressed” by motherhood?