Thursday, September 3, 2009
Promises I Can Keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage, by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas
At times it was like watching Ricki Lake or Maury. I must have lived a pretty balanced life because I can so easily relate to these poor women profiled and the affluent women referred to. I understand the pressures and the desire to become established financially and get married before starting a family, and I can understand having no hope for a future outside of children and having them early. Despite being "affluent" growing up, I wanted a baby since I was 16. It all has to do with having meaningful options. Despite what right wingers want us all to think, the poor don't have the meaningful options of the rich with regards to education, careers, and mate choices. I had all of the options financially but don't feel I was encourage emotionally to pursue any of them. My self esteem was not strong enough to support ambition. Despite being talented and smart, all I cared about what getting married and having children. My marriage failed to produce children and I got divorced. I went from being the average middle class affluent educated married woman to having nothing, starting from square one like a 16 year old life drop out. Was I going to start over as though I wasn't about to turn 30? HELLLS NO! I had a kid anyway despite being dirt poor and not married to the dad. Because like the women in this book, I feel that children are central to having any meaning in life and to put money first is having your priorities backwards. Despite living paycheck to paycheck, eating Ramen noodles and going 6 years without buying a new pair of underwear I have not regretted it for a second. My son has given me all the meaning my life lacked. Having children saved some of these girls from jail, the streets, drugs, and worse. Maybe having children early might keep an already rich girl from becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but these women weren't going to be those anyway and neither was I. Some of these women on the bottom of the economic heap only went to school and got decent paying jobs BECAUSE they had children to support. Alone they had despair and no prospects for any kind of life. Why don't they (and why didn't I) choose mates with better prospects for themselves? There's only one Cinderella and she isn't real; neither is Pretty Woman. Oh yeah yeah, so why don't they get married? Because they don't want to get divorced, and the poor men available to poor women just aren't marriage material. They hold marriage to a very high standard and don't treat it like the piece of paper that some of their more affluent sisters do. "Young women also believe that they must be complete in their person-hood before entering into marriage, rather than look to the relationship to provide that wholeness. To marry before that is to be disingenuous, because the changes that may be required to achieve wholeness could destabilize the relationship." These are words of wisdom I could have used before I got married. It perfectly sums up the reason I got divorced.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Thank you thank you thank you Muffy for saying it! All of it needed to be said. I too am a slacker mom. Apparently I'm a slacker altogether because I read this a couple weeks ago and am just now getting to write about it. I'm glad I put sticky notes on all the spots I especially liked. I'll start with the only negative thing, not even a negative thing, just...I dunno. Point is, the author is all against the stuff we're made to believe we need to buy, (or at least the message that we HAVE to have certain things for happy heathy smart children and lives) then admits to being and advertising executive, hmmmm.... Anyway, moving on, I love that she pointed out how Einstein and Mozart weren't raised with Baby Einstein paraphernalia and um, they were still smart =) And furthermore on that point, I just have to quote, I cannot in my own words express so perfectly how I feel about the current state of children's toys. "Wow, this violin plays music all by itself! Hey this book reads the words for me! Gosh, this paper magically doesn't let you color outside the lines! I really wonder if this is good. It might be unthinkably bad. It might be turning our children into dimwits, dolts, and dullards. Not geniuses." Anyway, I appreciated this book so much. Around every corner I kept thinking, this lady is as lazy as I am! Another helpful quote regarding safety safety safety. "And I believe that good judgment will take them a lot further than safety measures and safety rules." Anyway, final thought, I know that to be a good mom, I have to inspire not pressure, lead not push.