Jennifer Ginsberg: "Don't I deserve a little dignity?" I rant to anyone who will listen. It is Monday morning at 7:15 AM and I am trying to get myself together. It seems as if every member of my family is entitled to take a peaceful shower and sit on the toilet without an audience, except me. The other day I was using the bathroom and Shane, my four-year-old, asked me if I needed a tampon. Enough is enough.
Getting ready for my day is not a complicated process, as it was in my single days of yore. I generally take a 5-minute shower, put on a little lip balm, and throw on a baseball cap. Ironically, I need the time and effort much more now than I did then. It is a miracle if I can put on some lip gloss without my 2-year-old daughter snatching it away from me and licking the wand.
When I was growing up, none of the families I knew employed regular sitters or nannies, yet our moms always came downstairs with their "faces on." My mom put on her makeup to take out the trash, and she certainly was not getting up at 5 AM to accomplish this. I, on the other hand, often leave my home in glorified pajamas to run errands! Why is basic self-care so elusive? How the hell did our moms do it?
In the 1960s and 1970s, parents were not nearly as child-centered as we are now. When they went to the bathroom, they actually closed the doors, and we weren't allowed to bang on them and scream. They put meals on the table and we either ate them or starved.
There weren't any "choices" and they sure as hell weren't interested in processing our feelings of disappointment with us when we were put in our playpens as they drank their coffee and watched "All My Children." Maybe they had the right idea!
They knew how to carve out their own time in any way possible. And they seemed to achieve this without the layer of angst that I tend to wrap around most experiences. When my children are awake, I feel so responsible for providing them with enrichment. When they watch too much TV, I feel like a failure. When I check my e-mail, I feel guilty for not giving my children 100% of my attention.
Perhaps there is a middle ground between benign neglect and over-parenting. It is imperative that children learn about personal space and boundaries. But more importantly, the world does not need to see me pee.
Jennifer Ginsberg is a Los Angeles writer and mother to three surprisingly angst-free children. As a former actress/waitress, turned clinical social worker specializing in addiction, turned full-time mother/part-time psychotherapist/writer, Jennifer is particularly well-versed on the topic of angst.
Find out more about her life at angstmom.com