Let’s Play Diagnose that “Mom” Neurosis

I’m no psychologist, but even we lay people can’t miss the signs — everywhere it seems –pointing to the need for a little couch time. For whom, you ask? Those who insist on wrapping themselves in all things MOM.

When the mom-meter started going into the red zone a few years ago (and revved into overdrive during this past political season), it moved from annoying to downright concerning. Silly me. I’d kinda sorta hoped that by end of the last decade we’d be over the grand love affair, the perpetual state of Mom/Mum, Mommy/Mummy self-adoration.

Seriously is there any other group of people on the planet so besotted with themselves? Do I daily or routinely refer to myself as a Barren Babe? Or refer — without fail — to my fellow tribe members as my fellow Barrenesses? While my infertility is every bit a part of who I am, I don’t feel the need to inject it into every freaking conversation.

To wit, I’m on the phone with a friend (notice I didn’t qualify her reproductive, marital, or familial status), when she casually says, “So I’m talking to my mom friend…”

What the…? Okay, now she’s lost me as a series of questions form in my head: Why does the mom modifier need to be in the sentence? Why are you elevating this role above all others?

‘Fess up, women who are raising children, is there something else here at work?

Yes, maybe? Join me as we play diagnose that neurosis!

Let’s start with essayist Jenny Allen, who makes an attempt at humor in her New Yorker piece, “I’m a Mom!”.

Are you a mom? No? Then you don’t need to read one more word. Go on, shoo! I’m not trying to be mean; it’s just that you probably won’t understand a lot of what I’m going to say. It’s a mom thing. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. Right, moms? Go, us! I’m not saying that moms are better than other people, but there is, well, something different, something special about us…

Now try replacing the word “mom(s)” in the paragraph above with, say, “white people,” and see if it doesn’t comes across a tad condescending or holier than thou?

READ  How Is This Not a Thing?

Nauseated yet? Well, in the interest of looking after your stomachs, I’ll stop quoting there. Those who are mothers might find Allen’s piece amusing — a lark among moms meant to rib the extremists in the mother community, but for those of us routinely subjected to today’s oppressive all-encompassing mommy references, it was hard to see Allen’s piece as anything other than business as usual.

Right. Back to the work at hand. Neuroses. Let’s start with delusions of grandeur (thank you Wikipedia).

According to the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for delusional disorder, grandiose type symptoms include grossly exaggerated belief of:

-self-worth
-power
-knowledge
-identity
-or exceptional relationship to a divinity or famous person.

Or … perhaps, it’s just the opposite. Might this need to constantly affirm a sense of worth be evidence of a monster inferiority complex? Let’s go with Alfred Adler (who thanks to the New World Encyclopedia offers this view):

“The primary indication of mental health in Adlerian psychotherapy is the person’s feeling of community and connectedness with all of life. Attempts to compensate for an exaggerated inferiority feeling by a fictional final goal of superiority over others is a major hindrance to development of a feeling of community. This sense of unity provides the real key to the individual’s genuine feeling of security and happiness. When adequately developed, it leads to a feeling of equality, an attitude of cooperative interdependence, and a desire to contribute.”

In either case, the outcome is the same for those of us on the receiving end of the constant shoutouts to self-imposed-all-things-MOM-greatness.

If you see our eyes roll, here’s what’s contained in our thought bubbles: Really? Again? Get over yourselves!

READ  Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness

Now, fellow junior armchair psychologists, what’s your diagnosis?

Pamela Tsigdinos

Writer, blogger and, oh, yeah, infertility survivor. My memoir, Silent Sorority, tells the whole story. There's a movie in there somewhere. Given the quirkiness needed to relate it all I'm thinking Jennifer Lawrence would be a good fit.

  1. Klara

    great post!

    Just to confirm that exactly the same thing is also happening on another part of the Atlantic Ocean. So – the Mom self adoration syndrome is a global happening. Yuck!

    Just a conversation that I had with a coworker just few days ago about problems with finding parking place at work each morning. Her sentence was: “Me, as a Mom, I need every morning 20 minutes to find parking.”

    And my reply was: “Me, as a non-Mom, I also need every morning 20 minutes to find parking.”

    Her absurd comment just NEEDED an absurd reply. I finished making my coffe and just left the room, without any further explanation.

    Of course my coworker did not get it.

    I didn’t care. I just felt good that I said something back. My days of just suffering silently and taking all the mommy shit are just over!

  2. May

    I recently had (we were discussing giving money to charities that deal with abused children) ‘as a mother, I can’t BEAR to read about a child suffering.’ I said, irritably, ‘you mean non-parents CAN bear it?’
    ‘Oh, you know what I mean!’
    ‘No. No I don’t. I can’t bear to read about children suffering either.’

    HORRIBLE AWKWARD PAUSE.

    And then she said, ‘it’s different when you’re a parent. It’s closer to the bone.’

    I just went away at this point, and I am STILL kicking myself for not retorting at once ‘so how come I give money to this charity regularly and you don’t?’

    GAH.

  3. Diane

    Thank you for being so “up front” about our “non-mom”-ness. I love the way you write.

    Education is the key. If we don’t tell them, they won’t know…because they are NOT “non-moms”!

  4. Angela

    Well said Pamela! I also think it’s a reaction to an inferiority complex. It seems like, before the feminist movement, stay at home moms (which were pretty much ALL of them) were made to feel like they accomplished nothing by staying home all day, “eating bonbons” or whatever. I guess they’ve had a burst of empowerment in reaction to that fallacy; the pendulum has swung to the extreme so that now they’re crowing about how awesome they are and everyone else sucks. Either way, just BE what you ARE and don’t rub it in everyone else’s face! I’m a spacesuit engineer, and how many people in the world can say that? But I don’t go around boasting about how fabulous I am that I can work on spacesuits and everyone who doesn’t work on spacesuits just doesn’t understand anything about life and is a total idiot (because, obviously, that’s not true!) What I don’t understand is why, back in the day, mothers allowed themselves to feel inferior and be denigrated when they were all mostly staying at home raising children. I would have stood up and said, “Oh yeah, I do nothing all day??? You come raise these kids and keep the house and run errands 24/7 and see how easy it is!” I wouldn’t have let myself be convinced that being “only a mother” was a worthless pursuit. So now the mother-crowers are trying to make others, including fathers apparently, feel inferior because they’re NOT moms. STILL creating an environment of INequality. I refuse to be denigrated because I don’t have kids, so there.

  5. Jen

    Yes, I think speaking up is the only way to point out the ridiculousness of people in general. Staying silent is just another way of encouraging outrageous behaviour, in any format. Easier said than done when you feel you are in the minority but generally the wise words, when they are said, are what everyone else in the room were thinking but not saying.

    I’m so inspired by Klara’s comments!! I still don’t quite get the ‘as a mom’ she needs 20 minutes to find parking though… (wtf? pardon my french). Go Klara! Keep inspiring us please, so we get brave and do the same.

  6. Jen

    Great points raised in these comments (as well as the article) – it’s the inferiority complex that compels them to have to promote themselves above others. We can all be guilty of this, if left unchecked. Yes, if there is inequality at play, worse – if it’s among our own gender! – then we should try to speak up, regardless of the fear of the reaction we might receive.

    The article by Jenny Allen is not funny in the slightest… it’s completely derogatory to all women, mothers included, and makes herself look rather foolish. It is so insightful of you Pamela, to suggest swapping the word with ‘white’ to see just how discriminatory she is being to her own gender, and getting away with it.

  7. Mali

    I love this (and all the comments). I’ve written about these things – the “as a mom” comments that imply we aren’t as compassionate as mom/mums, etc. And the whole superiority/inferiority thing. I lean towards the inferiority argument myself.

  8. Another Diane

    Klara and May: YEAH !!!

    My first thought after reading this was about a friend of mine who is a gay male (and that identifier is relevant to the story) who is very weary of the expression “gay marriage.” He says, “I buy new shoes, not new gay shoes. I drive a car, not a gay car. I go out for lunch, not gay lunch.” Yes, I get that it’s not an exact parallel, but the point about not reducing people to just a label still applies.

    I’m another voice in the choir who says that the “as a mother” absurdity stems from an inferiority complex. Women who make that ridiculous statement feel that their words won’t stand on their own merit, so they feel they have to play the mommies-are-special card.

  9. IrisD

    I’ve heard this sort of thing so often… Now that I’m a mom, I feel so much more concerned about children… But really. I don’t think that is the case. I think they feel so much more concerned about their own child, because in most cases I don’t see a change in charitable giving, adopting, etc., by people after they become parents.

  10. loribeth

    I think it was written tongue-in-cheek, as satire. (I think??) But I can certainly see how it could be taken the wrong way, by both moms & non. I didn’t know what quite to make of it when I first read it, frankly.

    I think some of it’s inferiority complex, but I do think there are some women who have a superiority complex, and honestly believe that being a mother confers special status.

    It’s a great thing to be a mother — but it is NOT the ONLY thing.

  11. Bea

    “Now try replacing the word “mom(s)” in the paragraph above with, say, “white people,” and see if it doesn’t comes across a tad supremacist.”

    “it’s completely derogatory to all women, mothers included,”

    I think that’s the whole point, that’s where it gets its humour. Pointing out the absurdity in the Mum-pandering by going just OTT enough to make it sound as ridiculous as it should sound. I thought it was hilarious, particularly the last paragraph:

    I have several unmarried acquaintances, childless women, who have spoken to me about [keeping my husband locked in the basement with the dog], saying that they feel it is unkind to Dave. You know what I tell them? […] Do you know the first thing about holding up America?”

    Absolute gold.

    The mother inferiority/self-congratulatory complex is definitely a symptom of the way we’ve structured our current society in response to social and technological changes that have happened over the last few generations.

    Instead of a communal system of the kind babies and children – not to mention adults – were designed for, we are now expected to raise children in nuclear families, or not at all, many of us drifting far from where we grew up or even where we lived last year. There are so many problems with this, starting with knowledge and practical support over the raising of children that might cause mums to feel more competent and less, kind of, hysterical, encompassing the gap between mothers and non-mothers, and extending to a whole range of issues affecting all lifestyles and genders. Of course, it’s not all bad, which is how we got here. But if I unpack it all tonight I’ll never go to bed and, AS A MUM ;) I get tired if I don’t sleep.

    Much like, you know, everyone else.

    Bea

  12. Pamela

    (I think?) Bingo, Loribeth. Satirical writing  (e.g. defined as wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit) makes its point — it’s successful — when it’s glaringly obvious in its absurdity, but here’s the thing Allen’s piece read no differently from what’s spoken, written and posted in magazines and blogs each and every day. That says something doesn’t it?

  13. Pamela

    Hi Bea,
    Echoing what I said to Loribeth (above), the sorry state of affairs is that I had to read Allen’s essay several times over to actually determine if the author was a)) trying to be funny or b) if it was, indeed, her real “aren’t we moms great?!” piling on to all the effusive talk of moms these days as well as the mommy cams at the Olympics. Truly it’s gotten so absurd in real life that the attempt at aburdity in this New Yorker essay is completely lost.

  14. IrisD

    Bea, over a year ago I visited my cousins in my country of birth (Cuba). Because of the limited financial means and opportunities, most people continue to live very close to their families. Yes, everyone is in everyone else’s business which is not good, and they did pry consistently about my childless status, which was difficult. But, the attitude towards kids and parenting was completely different. The kids were part of the family, like everyone else. They were picked up and fed by their mother, grandmother, aunts, cousins, siblings. I was always carrying or playing with one of them. The idea that everyone is family and that everyone plays a role in the kids upbringing and is therefore important was certainly well felt. Yes, people felt that it is good to have children of your own, but it didn’t come across as child worship or motherhood worship.

  15. Heather

    Great article Pamela. I haven’t decided yet if these people are just trying to alienate childless people to make themselves feel better for sacrifices they chose or didn’t choose to make, or if they have shrunk their peripheral vision of life to not see beyond a point of view that only a mom could possibly have. I listen to this mom neurosis every Friday at work when our department has treats. The mom’s and grandma’s go on and on and no one else outside of their club could possibly understand the level on what they are talking about. Maybe, one day I will become as daring as Klara and May and point out how ridiculous it is (or not because I’m not the type to rock the boat).

  16. Pamela

    Poor “Dave” only gets a passing mention and not until near the very end of the15 paragraph essay. As it was, I barely made it to there as I read and re-read the first several graphs. I didn’t click to page two until  later in the day, beyond my caffeine-fired WTF? With added soak time, a glass of wine and a double check to see that the essay was indeed posted in the “humor” section, I stilll found it missed the mark. It reads far too similarly to the stuff I routinely see (not in the humor section) of magazine articles, or emblazoned on our local grocery store banners (IT’S A MOM’S WORLD), etc., etc.

    To be blunt, reading that she “keeps him in the basement” with their dog didn’t ring any alarm bells. Men here in the U.S. often retreat, voluntarily, to their “man caves” — basements, garages and workshops. And I’d join them there, happily, to get away from their momzilla wives!

  17. Bea

    The thing is, to be funny, she has to do a couple of things. First, she has to begin her piece writing fairly closely to what she is trying to parody. Then she can build slowly, but only within strict limits. If she pushes it too far and makes it too glaringly obvious, it stops being funny any more.

    Obviously this has a lot to do with your sense of humour, but I thought she hit the mark just right. She almost stepped over the “obvious” line for me when she talked about ringing her grown children “only” seven times a day (this is just halfway through) but she managed to not only keep on the tightrope but deliver a hilarious followup. Fedexing your daughter sanity pads? What says, “As a (self-worshipping-style) mother I create mummy-work for myself that is focussed more towards affirming my mummy-role than on solving any real problem in any useful, practical or sensible fashion!” more precisely and succinctly than that?

    As for man-caves, subverting the voluntariness of the husband’s retreat into something that is, to the narrator’s (delusional) point of view, totally part of her plan, well that put the icing on the cake for me.

    Anyway. The point is, I thought it was in danger of not being close enough to the source material, if anything – I think it was really only *just* this side of the “too glaringly obvious for laughs” line.

    That said, I understand it may not be your brand of humour. It’s only to be expected that not everyone will find it funny. I guess I’m just surprised you’ve reacted so negatively to it after a chance for reflection, since it’s so exactly aligned with what you’ve been saying in your whole blog, particularly the recent political posts – even if you’re not personally laughing and wouldn’t have put it that way yourself. To be honest, I think it would be pretty hard for anyone to accidentally take her seriously, as evidenced in part by the fact that you did realise the joke once you’d got over the initial WTF (most people won’t have this initial strong reaction as they won’t have that hot-button, making it easier for them to get it).

    Since I keep coming back into this, I might actually write my own post so you can come over and heckle me back :)

  18. loribeth

    I sent the link to a couple of other childless-not-by-choicers to see what they thought. It wasn’t clear to them at first glance whether it was a joke either — they were all horrified. Even knowing that it was being done tongue in cheek, and that she was trying to make a point about how ubiquitous mommy worship has become — it’s still just a little too much of an “ouch” to read that “if you’re not a mom, you may not be a bad person, but you are an extraneous person.” Yikes. :(

  19. Pamela

    Thanks for the added validation, Loribeth. I was, in a word, chilled by the “laughed until I cried” response on Bea’s blog given the commenter’s struggles — once — with infertility. Guess once one crosses over into the mom’s club, one forgets how exclusionary it can be to those who never received the membership kit. 

  20. Bea

    I think that’s a little unfair. It was the experience of infertility that made it twice as funny. It was such a joy and a relief to be invited to laugh at the ridiculousness of the Mumzilla, and it really wouldn’t have had the same bite to it without knowing how that exclusion feels from the other side. This may not be a pretty admission, but there was a real “Ha! Score one for the non-mums!” vibe to my reaction.

    I go back to what I said about brand of humour, which I think is about 90% of it. A lot of people aren’t into parody and especially sarcasm.

  21. Jjiraffe

    This is so interesting. I thought the article was supposed to be absurd, pointing out how idiotic it is that the mom archetype is so out of control, and how completely awful it was that all women weren’t commended during the conventions, just moms. I read it as complete satire. And so, I thought it was funny because I thought it was the pin deflating the absolute bag of wind that needs to be released about the elevation of moms. Moms are not better citizens, they don’t have the only claim on goodness and they most definitely do not have a greater claim on “getting things done” than any other woman. How absolutely stupid. What ridiculous logic.

    That’s what I thought this article was saying. Through satire. Am I wrong?

  22. Mali

    I disagree with your comments about brand of humour (so all of the childless women here, regardless of where we’re from, just “don’t get the humour?”) but I’ve taken that comment to your blog about this.

  23. Mali

    Satire exaggerates and provides insight and wit. This didn’t exaggerate, provided little new insight, and I couldn’t see much wit. It just said things we hear all the time. Yes, I understand the intent – and it’s exactly what you said, and I support that. You’re right there. I just don’t think she did it very well at all.

  24. Jjiraffe

    Intent means little if the execution went awry, which clearly it did with many people. I understand what you’re saying here, and back you up. What can we do to express how crappy it is that motherhood is being elevated to ridiculous proportions and how hurtful this is? Because it’s both hurtful and also not rational in any way? I feel like we need to do a media tour with Pamela as a spokesperson. Pamela, are you working on a second book?

  25. Charlotte

    I am an clinical psychologist and I suppose my professional opinion about this issue is that it reflects a growing tendency towards narcissism amongst people generally. We all need to feel “special” now and I think mothers feel a need to make their role “special”. A part of this needing to feel special can often lead to the need to elevate oneself above others. Perhaps some mothers only feel they are special because they are mothers? Unlike us childless women who have had to expand on and work hard at feeling special/valuable for other reasons, some mums perhaps have not done that. It is also perhaps a truth that some women do feel superior because of having children. I think the narcissistic tendencies of our cultures (perhaps more in the US?) is mostly the catalyst.

  26. Amel

    I’m also one of those who had to reread Jenny’s article before finally thinking that it was meant to be a satire (so I could lighten up more after reading it several times).

    In the beginning I wasn’t sure about her intention at all and some of the things she wrote only made me feel, “Huh?” (mostly ‘coz I don’t really follow the news or politics, so I was rather taken aback).

  27. Pamela

    Most insightful, Charlotte. I can’t ever remember my older relatives (mother, grandmother, etc.) expressing this need. You are definitely on to something here.  Thank you for your professional opinion!

  28. the misfit

    I’ve started pondering this question in the past few years (as I’ve started to move beyond reflexive rage as my only reaction!) and I’m thinking it really is inferiority. Some of its from GenXers who think (and have always thought) that whatever they’re doing is the ONLY thing worth doing. They’re 25 and working for pennies for a non-profit? That corporate world is SO MATERIALISTIC. They’ve landed a corporate job and are making good salaries? Those whiny kids are SO UNSERIOUS. They should get REAL jobs. Oh, they finally decided (!) to have kids and now have a small person to dote on? Those working women have NO IDEA what life is really about. They just have tiny little minds.

    But I get the impression that a lot of young mothers really are going crazy. Some of them are seriously depressed. Many of them have had to leave jobs that they really liked, or that gave them a sense of belonging and contributing. I think they should see motherhood as an important contribution, too, but it may be hard to do that when the rest of the world seems to be happening elsewhere and they are home with infants or toddlers. Maybe they don’t read as much as they used to, or don’t have regular conversations with adults, or have traded heels and pearls for sweatpants and Crocs (I don’t own either and ardently believe I wouldn’t if I suddenly birthed octuplets, but this question will always be academic for me). And the times staying out late at friends’ homes not worrying about the hour, going on dates with their husbands, seeing late movies and having fancy dinners and traveling to fun destinations and getting all gussied up for the symphony or a benefit or a ball every once in a while – those days are mostly gone, and will be for a good twenty years. (And those days ARE my life, and I should be SO GRATEFUL every day. And find as many occasions as possible to wear floor-length dresses!) And then they hear about their friends who are still doing those things. I bet a lot of them feel boring, un-feminine, unattractive, and chained to their role as mothers. There may be some conscious efforts to make the “non-moms” feel bad by flaunting the lives that tend to make them sad, but I would guess that in the majority of cases, it’s an unconscious effort to make look as good as they can something they feel guilty for resenting. And I doubt it makes them feel any better.

    Everybody loses, I guess…

  29. Amel

    I second that. I think in today’s world it’s hard to believe in your sense of belonging and contribution when you’re “only” a SAHM, ‘coz there are so many working mothers out there who manage to juggle work and family life (and we call them “supermoms” or whatever). And it doesn’t really help when the people around you keep on pushing you to “follow your career” even after you’ve made a conscious decision to focus on your family first.

    A friend of mine gave up medicine to take care of her son, but the world around her keeps on asking her, “When are you going to open your own practice?”

    She said that if she could have a penny for all the times that she heard someone ask that question to her, she’d be rich.

    It becomes sort of a vicious cycle, doesn’t it? :-(

    P.S. My friend has never boasted about mommyhood towards me. She’s one of the rare few who’s truly sensitive and supportive towards me and my IF journey.

  30. Elena

    Look. I’m 40, single and childless-by-circumstance.
    I don’t get taken to dinner by anyone. I spend my evenings in sweat-pants (no crocs but Birkenstocks) because nobody is watching anyway. I spend most my days working or commuting to and from work and wear appropriate clothing for that (does not include pearls or floor-length dresses). Yeah i get to go to the cinema without complicated organization beforehand. Mostly I go on my own or with one of the few single friends left me (because the others are staying at home with the kids – and only as long as the single friend hasn’t a new man in her life).
    I know I’m whining here and I’m not totally serious. What i want to point out is that this Mom-cult may be based on moms feeling left out because they stay at home with the kids. But they don’t realize that what they feel left out of – the life we had as 25year old single women – has stopped for the childless ones too. There is no need to over-emphasize mom-hood to compensate for this. It’s about accepting that we’ve turned 40 and life doesn’t look like it did at 25 anymore.

  31. the misfit

    I take your point. I am 30, near the tipping point between singles/dating folks and married people with kids. The spending four nights a week in a bar in a minidress having eight martinis and maybe going home with a stranger may be the 25yo experience (not that I did any of those things at any age, actually). And all of us may occasionally blame our other life circumstances for moving away from those years – heaven knows I spend enough time wishing for the nice things about my past that are wholly incompatible with life at 30. So I certainly agree that a lot of the “moms” may be missing things that they don’t realize they would still be missing without kids. Of course, there are things they are simply missing out on (EVERY time anyone throws a party I get to hear from someone about the difficulties of babysitters; and the impromptu brunches and excursions and late-night chats with our childless friends are a thing of the past now that they, too, have babies), and my hypothesis is that they sometimes resent motherhood for that, and then feel guilty for resenting it, and then go on momstanding as some sort of reparation.

    More directly in response to what you said – I’ve been noting lately that other childless folks (which means single people, really) are becoming thinner on the ground with each passing year, and by the time I’m 35 or 40 I don’t know who will be around at all. (Tonight I’m going jogging with three friends. In five years, they’ll all be married with kids, won’t they?) And I know that my wistfulness on this subject must seem pretty thin compared to being single and having those same questions. I know that’s a difficult row to hoe.

  32. J F

    1) Some of your colleagues are complete jerks!

    2) To be fair to your friend, I sometimes use the phrase ‘mom friend’ to mean ‘someone I don’t really like, but hang out with because our kids are friends’. Like a fake friend. :)

  33. Liz

    Love this article. Not a day goes by someone on my facebook or pinterest posts something about how wonderful it is to be a mom. Also I used to work with kids in social work. I would constantly get ‘do you have kids? no? well then you wouldn’t understand.’ this was before I was married and knew about IF and it infuriated me. Still does. I have a masters in counseling and actually my thesis and focus was on Adlerian counseling. I think your ‘diagnosis’ is spot on. Good job!

  34. Karen

    I am a mom after infertility, and I always cringe when I hear “as a mom. . .”. Why? Because I have never heard that phrase used where it isn’t redundant, snooty, or both. For example, in a stupid commercial I saw “as a mom, I am concerned about my child’s health.” Duh. Of course you’re a mom if you have a child. Take out the “as a mom” and the sentence tells the exact same thing. Totally redundant. But you’ll also hear the snooty I’m awesome and you’re not version, “as a mom, I worry about the environment.” I think you are right, that some of it stems from an over-zealous attempt to repair low self-esteem. Some people, however, I think really do think they are better than everyone else in everything they do, so why not in parenting? Then others just jump on the bandwagon of the mommy-brigade because then they can say they are as awesome as the stuck-up people. Bleh. Anyway, as a mom, (sorry, I could not resist) I have never yet heard the phrase “as a mom” in any situation where it added anything to the dialogue, and I refuse to say it.

  35. Pamela

    As a barren babe (tongue firmly planted in cheek), I very much appreciate your insights here. Let’s hope your thinking and speaking style catches and becomes the new normal! 

  36. Pamela

    Glad you liked the piece, Liz. Lots of great contributions here, including yours. I wasn’t familiar with Adler’s ideas before my search surfaced his work. Feel free to share more in the way of your research. Would be happy to feature a guest post from you…

  37. Sarah

    I’ve become more sensitive to “mom” and other inferences in language since dealing with IF. I recently attended a weekend yin yoga retreat that dealt heavily with the practice of “mindfulness”. It also touched on the subject of attachments, in other words our limited views in defining ourselves within the confines of wife, mother, co-worker, or whatever we may be that is external. The presenters were wonderful, clear, insightful teachers. Yet in spite of all of this, the moment where one of the presenters introduced us to his assistant and eagerly included that she was a wife and a mother, intended as a directive for our comfort level with her, peaked my interest. I first noticed my “so?” reaction and noted that I did not seem to have an instant connection between the titles of “wife” or “mother” and reliable and comforting. As I settled down into meditation the first thought that came through my mind was “Who in the hell cares???” (I never said I was a brilliant meditator….). I then thought of my friend who was tragically and unexpectedly widowed 2.5 years ago – is she now chopped liver because her beloved husband happened to collapse from a massive heat attack on the floor of his second job? Anyway, I digress……I know your post pointed to the specifics of self imposed “mom importance” but for whatever reason it got me thinking on the tangent of general inferences in our our language that mistakenly imply moms have greater worthiness.

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