"Well maybe you should just put your kids up for adoption and get a goldfish instead!"
Over the holidays, as we caught up with loved ones and talked about our plans for the new year, we let our friends know that my career break (which had been so enthusiastically welcomed by the crowd) is coming to an end and I'm gearing up to return to work. Let's just say not everyone is keen on the idea.
And I can handle that - mostly.
The comment above was an obvious tease from someone I love. I laughed politely. Ha ha ha ha! But hours later, I found myself wondering, preposterously, if maybe I shouldn't be going back to work yet? Even though I am excited - like, really excited, about rejoining the working world. Luckily I caught it, and was able to link the thought to the comment and discard it. I haven't always been able to do that.
I haven't always been clear on my choices as a working parent. I gain a lot from exploring the topic. But not all of it is helpful. Sorting through the masses of opinion to pinpoint your own can be a bit of a minefield, especially for new moms in demanding fields. For anyone with even a hint of conflict, the opinions of others can be as tempting and treacherous as forbidden fruit.
Much has been said of the influence mothers have. Aren't we collectively responsible for the future of therapy as an industry? As parents, as consumers, as a voting block, moms are an influential group.
But what about all the things that influence us? Whether we are aware of it or not, we are influenced by a barrage of information and opinion from the media, advertisers, bloggers, online communities and friends, families, and of course, most powerfully of all, our own mothers.
Judith Warner's 2006 book, "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" in part recaps an exhausting history of dominating opinions about where and how mothers should fit into society and the socio-political factors that have ebbed and flowed over the last century and longer. And how often, the attitudes of a generation of mothers is driven by the desire to avoid the perceived misery of the mothers before them, whether that was being stuck at home, or working full time. Reading it you can't help but feel like a little bit of a chump for falling for any of it. What a frustrating relief to find that generations of women have. How liberating to recognize when the noise is, well, just noise.
How do you filter out the noise? And what are some of the soundbites that have rattled you the most?