Friday, June 17, 2005

Beta Moms

Beta Moms and Gamma Dads
Susan Konig describes her current existence as the mom of a 10-year-old, 8-year-old, 5-year-old, and 4.5-week-old.
The other day, I was trying to read the cover story of this week's New York magazine about a woman who is starting a TV network for Alpha Moms. I wanted to know who these Alpha Moms were. But my 41/2-week-old baby needed attention. So I cradled him in one arm, turned on the ceiling fan in the living room and stood there reading while he watched the blades slowly turning. He likes that.

Whew! Sometimes I wonder guiltily if I was the only one who did something like that. Like, well, right now--as my 20-month-old son is watching "Baby Beethoven" for the fourth time in 24 hours, thus giving me time to blog. (Actually, we only checked it out of the library yesterday afternoon. So it's been less time than that.) My 3-month-old daughter is swinging in the baby swing, occasionally glancing blankly at the TV screen across the room. If my son isn't busy with something truly fascinating, he prefers to type on the computer. Even if Mommy is trying to do something else.
The article suggested that Alpha Moms can do it all, but by the second page I found out how — they have help. "It takes a village," the mom in the article actually said. And she apparently hired a village to watch her kid so she could work 100 hours a week on starting a TV network. Not just a nanny or a babysitter as many parents do, but a nanny and a babysitter and a night nurse. The more she learned about successful motherhood, the more people she hired to achieve it for her, the article said.

How sad.
Me, I'm a Beta Mom. Beta Moms fall short of Alpha Moms in terms of doing it all. But we do raise our kids. Oh, we can work at home or in an office, but we generally care for our own offspring...Our house is kind of messy. The living room and dining room are littered with burping cloths, toys, shoes, comic books, baseball gloves. The kitchen counter has 14 cans of formula on it. Baby bottles are drying on a towel. Dinner has been sandwiches more times than I'd like to admit these past few weeks...The woman in the article said she wanted to maintain a sense of self. I can understand that. We sometimes get overwhelmed with the day-to-day stuff but we know who we are...we're parents.

Yay! I'm a Beta Mom too! I've been going through a bit of a crisis about life lately. I don't know if it has to do with the birth of my daughter three months ago, or the realization that my first-born isn't a baby anymore, or the cancer diagnosis of my father, or the ceiling of my bathroom crashing down (with all the loose filler-type insulation) in my newly-purchased house. Maybe it's all of the above.

But last night as I was driving to the store at 8:45 pm for more diapers, I had an epiphany. It's okay not to like everything about being a stay-at-home mom. I didn't like everything about college, either (tests, math classes, and those two semesters I worked early morning custodial), and yet I loved my college experience. And while in college (unlike high school), I didn't beat myself up for not having all A's, or the highest scores of all my friends. I just did the best I could. So maybe it's also okay that somedays my son doesn't ever get dressed, or food goes bad in the fridge because I never did get around to making that salad, or that dinner is cereal (again). Or that my son is watching Baby Beethoven now for the fifth time. (Yes, I just rewound it and pushed play. Again.)

I'm a Beta mom and proud of it!


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