Sunday, April 15, 2012

"M" is for Motherlode. (4.15.2012)

OMG. Every once and a while I read a story in The Times that makes me want to pick up the phone, call every woman I know and say, "YOU'VE GOT TO READ THIS!" Consider this that phone call. 

There is something inherently wonderful and strangely reaffirming about reading Jennifer Conlin's comparison of parenting in France -- which she did for several years as a result of her children being born there -- and what she found when she finally returned to the United States 18 months ago. 

As it happens, Jennifer's column is the direct result of her recent read of Pamela Druckerman's Bringing up Bebe, her memoir of the experience and education of raising her children in France. If you've ever wondered if American Parenting  could be different, or ever lamented how difficult parenting  in our society can be, then just read this and you'll realize how structural our parenting challenges really are. 

Which means some of this is not our fault. One less thing for our kids to blame their mothers for. Because it's always about us, right? Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the story:
"...all I knew were the joys of European parenting [were] the way my children ate everything from coq au vin to kedgeree to our tranquil family life of weekend walks, nightly dinners and relaxing vacations."
" Brussels I did some of my best networking at the local playground cafe, which served chilled bottles of Pouilly-Fumé and Stella Artois to half-watching parents. (Why push a swing when you could sip a drink?)"
And my personal favorite:
The word “volunteer” was never used in England, where my children’s primary school teacher felt the need to warn me, as an American, that my services would never be needed. “In the morning you will drop your children off and you will leave,” she instructed me. “And in the afternoons, you will not come in, you will not talk to the teachers, you will not ask to help with anything, you will just leave,” she repeated. “Sign me up,” I said, happily. “For nothing!” 

Link to The Times story: 
The Non-Joie of Parenting

Link to the Minnesota Public Radio Weekend Edition story: 
Bringing Up Bebe
(You can listen and get book excerpts!)
Author's Note: In the month of April, I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The idea is to blog about something every day, starting with the first letter in the alphabet ("A") and continuing through all 26 letters (to "Z"). (We get Sundays off for good behavior.) In order to make this fun and challenging, I've decided to theme my A to Z blogging. Here's the plan: since I love reading The New York Times, and since I always find no shortage of frightfully interesting stories, I am going to center my blog on the stories I find in The Times. One thing I promise: an A to Z ride through The Times as diverse as the Gray Lady herself. Hang on for some fun. 

Or as Kevin said in Home Alone (one of my favorite lines), "I think I'll give it a whirl..."


  1. How interesting! Wow, I had no clue. Somehow, I always thought raising kids was raising kids.
    I do believe today's parents are maybe a bit too involved in their kids lives, to the point of giving up their own lives, but I thought that was just the way things had evolved.
    Great read.

  2. Isn't that something? I guess it's too late for a "do-over"? I can recall opening Sam's backpack from school one day and there was literally a SHEAF of paper about food drives, wrapping paper drives, school meetings, book drives and on and on. We probably should've upped and moved to France (or Fiji) that day. Fewer parents in school, more Pouilly-Fumé! LOL.