I just got done reading an article in The New Yorker about over-parenting that comforted me like a balm on an open, oozing wound. I finally have an excuse for my method of parenting, which is to let the baby pull all the jars out of the refrigerator while I occupy myself reading the newspaper and to let Frankie play with anything that might cause her to actually play by herself momentarily, even if this means sacrificing my expensive Redken conditioner as she moisturizes her plastic bath toys. Actually, truth be told, though I do these things, I am usually consumed with guilt in the middle of the night thinking I should have planned a craft for Frankie during the day. Something with cottonballs. And glitter glue. In the shape of a letter. Then we could sound it out. Or I bemoan the fact that my firstborn at eight months lifted her arm to gesture at things when asked where they were, while my second born chuckles and thinks to herself WAIT, MY MOM IS INTERACTING WITH ME? SHE'S NOT BUSY WITH THAT BIG GIRL? FANTASTIC!
Motherhood is all about the guilt, my friend. But, take heart, it turns out a little benign neglect is probably a good thing. This excerpt made me laugh: "A good example is an article, “The Kindergarchy,” that the conservative commentator Joseph Epstein recently contributed to The Weekly Standard. “My mother never read to me, and my father took me to no ballgames,” Epstein writes. They took no photographs, avowed no love, of him. This, he says, was the general approach to child-rearing in the nineteen-forties and fifties, when he grew up, and children benefitted: they developed into regular people, “going about the world’s business.” As for the steamy devotion shown by later generations of parents, what it has produced are snotty little brats filled with “anger at such abstract enemies as The System,” and intellectual lightweights, certain (because their parents told them so) that their every thought is of great consequence. Epstein says that, when he was teaching, he was often tempted to write on his students’ papers: “D-. Too much love in the home.”