Monday, July 23, 2012

Read Elsewhere: More About Extra-Curricular Craziness

From Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison (It's like she time-traveled, read my last blog post, and then returned to 2000 to write these words!):

Is this what we mean today by family life? Is it really the way any of us want to live? I think not. Why, then, do we try to do so much? Why, as one friend put it ruefully, are we "dervishing through life"? And why do we allow our children to fall victim to the same kind of over scheduling that keeps us from enjoying our own lives? I am convinced that one reason we try to do so much is because we are afraid.

What if my son falls behind his tennis-playing peers? How can I show the world I am a good bother if I don't volunteer at school? What will people think if I don't appear at that party? What will we be missing if we stay home? There is fear behind all this frenzy, fear that we, or our children, will somehow fail to measure up. But just whose expectations are we trying so hard to meet?

These days I find myself pondering another question: What do I lose when I try to do too much? The answer is simple: Balance. For me there is nothing worse than the feeling that a day has flown by without any moments of real connection between me and my husband, me and my children, me and my own inner self. Yet how easily that happens. We want so much to do for our children, to give them every opportunity to learn and grow and succeed. At the same time, we want to live our own lives fully, to be productive and creative and useful. Sometimes, though, we lose touch with our need to feed our inner lives and with our need for solitude, silence, and time together. 

Surely there is no one raising children today who has not paused at times to wonder: In our efforts to provide for our children, are we losing sight of what is really most important? Have our activities crowded out the kind of simple, spontaneous moments that truly make life worth living? Each and every child I know could use more of these. We adults need them, too . . .

 . . . Like all mothers, I harbor dreams for my children, and sometimes I fall under the spell of my own aspirations for them. We want our children to do well! But when I stop and think about what I truly want for them, I know that it is not material wealth or academic brilliance or athletic prowess. My deeper hope is that each of my sons will be able to see the sacred in the ordinary; that they, too, will grow up knowing how to "love the dailiness."

From Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner:

The Mommy Mystique tells us that we are the luckiest women int he world - the freest, with the most choices, the broadest horizons, the best luck, and the most wealth. It says we have the knowledge and know-how to make 'informed decisions' that will guarantee the successful course of our children's lives. It tells us that if we choose badly our children will fall prey to countless dangers - from insecure attachment to drugs to kidnapping to a third-rate college. And if this happens, if our children stray from the path toward happiness and success, we'll have no one but ourselves to blame . . . We are convinced that every decision we make, every detail we control, is incredibly important.

Entire towns turn themselves inside out for a spot in the right ballet class. Parents prostitute their souls for spots in private schools. We read about how our children can't get into good colleges unless they are superhuman. We know that our public school systems ca't provide an education in superhumanness (much less basic well-roundedness, in many places). Without a good education our children won't be able to get jobs, won't be able to buy a house or have the middle-class existence our parents seemed to find easy but that we can barely sustain. Ergo: soccer and violin and public service and weekends of baseball practice become vitally important because if we don't do everything right for our children, they may be consigned, down the line, to failure.

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