As I am negotiating a fairer division of labor at my home, I've been throwing fuel on the fire by reading Judith Warner's excellent social history Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. It's about how many of us today approach motherhood with "control-freakishness" of frightening proportions. And how our winner-take-all American culture is hurting kids, moms and families.
I recommend this book, even tho, like me, you may not agree with her on every issue (such as abortion--she's in favor of allowing it) . But don't, ahem, throw the baby out with the bathwater. Rather than focus on the one thing you disagree with, see if you have any common ground. She's a very astute observer of culture. And I have to agree with her calls for policy changes that help families. Reading this has helped me understand what I'm up against as a woman and a mom.
It also helps me understand people like the woman who approached me after a speaking gig to talk about the stress of play dates. She described things like running to Whole Foods, blowing her budget on snacks she thought would impress the mom who tended to show up for play dates "wearing a fur vest." The visiting fashionista mom didn't even eat the food. I told this mom to just pull out mac and cheese next time, with no apologies. Next time I run into a stressed-out mom, I'll recommend this book. It really helped me put a frame around motherhood, as I have experienced it both as a mom and as a child.
Tomorrow, check out my own attempts to make my house a more egalitarian place when I post an update to my mother's day saga at www.boomerbabesrock.com/blog.