Mediocre Moms?...


Niki Tehranchi
by Niki Tehranchi

A friend forwarded me an interesting opinion piece from Canada's The Globe and Mail called "Motherhood:the new oppression?"  The author argues that the current crop of mothers who are obsessed with their children, raving about the "joys" of natural childbirth, breastfeeding their babies til they are old enough to move out of the house, overscheduling rigid playdates and dozens of extra-curricular activities, maniacally shopping the aisles of Wholefood for the most organic products, and seeing a potential child molester in every stranger who so much as glances at their kids, are actually a drawback to the feminist movement that sought to free women of the shackles of motherhood.  She compares the stressed out, a-type, educated and over-achieving yuppie moms of today with the moms of her generation, who had no problem smoking and drinking in front of their kids, letting them play outside unsupervised for hours at a time and never bothering to run feverish security checks on babysitters.  Although they would be called "mediocre moms" by the moms of today who run their household like CEOs of multinational corporations, the author suggests that such so-called mediocrity never seriously harmed the kids and actually had the benefit of letting moms pursue their own individual dreams, whether it was career, or social or love life instead of being swallowed up by the unending, vociferous needs of their little brats.

It got me to thinking how my own mom and many mothers of her generation and of my grandmother's generation would have made some of those same questionable choices as the author's "mediocre mama."  Like being doused with enough drugs to kill a small herd of elephants in order to numb the pain of my childbirth.  And then feeding me exclusively on formula.  Or letting me, from the age of 7, walk home from school by myself to come to an empty apartment where the TV was my only baby sitter, while a pervert was infamously driving around the neighborhood at the time, trying to show off his genital shortcomings to as many little girls as he could find.  (To make matters worse, I had to walk through some woods to get home).  Or putting me on a plane and boat to a foreign country unsupervised except for some scatterbrained flight attendant to spend months of vacation away from my parents.  Or putting me in charge, at the age of 10, of my 5 year old and 8 year old cousin, for an entire summer with no planned activities.  (We ended up watching a record number of nubile teenagers being hacked and sawed into a bloody pulp in a string of B slasher movies rented out to us unflinchingly by the local video store clerk and nourishing ourselves exclusuively on slushees).  I talked to many who had similar experiences.  

To one old lady I once asked how she managed to raise 9 kids by herself without nannies, carpools, Gymboree or disposable diapers.  She answered simply:I left them in their crib all day.  What??? I couldn't help exclaiming.  She shrugged her shoulders: How else was I suppose to get my housework done?  None of her kids have turned into axe-wielding maniacs by the way.  In fact they are all quite successful and each of them would very happily lay down their lives for their dear old mum.

Obviously, I am not advocating mediocrity over care.  But I think the author does make a point that in our efforts to over achieve the best for our kids, we may not only be doing them but also ourselves the most harm in the long run.  By the way, that summer of slasher movies and slushees was the most fun I ever had.  In this day and age when I am being pulled in every direction, by my hubby, my 2 kids, my career, etc., I can at least look back fondly at the last summer when I truly had NOTHING to do but to satisfy my laziest, basest cravings.  Sometimes a kid needs to just be a kid!


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Niki Tehranchi

Talk about funny

by Niki Tehranchi on

Wish I could share but hubby put an injunction on any more of those. I guess I should be flattered after eight years and two kids, the green-eyed monster still rears its head!


There is enough material for a book!

by Anonymouse on

I thought there could be more!  See in the past you said you may write more about this stuff! LOL!  CHILD Psychology is really funny! Given what I'm seeing today I think your mom did all she could, didn't sit around and worked for a better future and looks like she was successful.  She did a good job! and a lot of funny stories to accompany it! perhaps you can chip in as a writer for some episodes of Funny in Farsi coming up this fall?!  hahaha ;-) 

Everything is sacred

Niki Tehranchi

Memory floodgate

by Niki Tehranchi on

Dear anonymouse,

Memories are like floodgates, when you open, they start dripping out and then the flow thickens until you have a real flood on your hands.  Since writing this, I started remembering so many other things that I had forgotten.

Like when my mom, who tried various oddjobs to make ends meet while studying for her Masters in Psychology, decided to become a door to door saleswoman.  The product?  Designer Sunglasses (I wish I was kidding about this).  And because she obviously had no time to do this because she was busy studying, she thought it was a great idea to send me in her place, at the age of 8 or 9, door to door, by myself, carrying my giant box of sunglasses, knocking on about the thousand apartment doors in our apartment complex.  Imagine if I had knocked and Ted Bundy or Charles Manson opened the door?  Did I mention she got her Masters in CHILD psychology? I think I would ask a refund if I were her hehehe.

Or when she used to go grocery shopping with me, she would tell me to sit in the book/magazine section and read comic strips while she did her shopping.  This was not a mom and pop grocery store, but a 3 level gigantic Costco type supermarket in a very busy neighborhood of a vast cosmopolitan city, and she would be gone for about an hour far from any eyesight of me.

Or the time she and my aunt thought it would be "funny" to pretend to lose me at the mall when I was 4 years old.  They claim to this day that they were actually following me at a distance to gage my reaction but I think they got distracted by some trinkets and lety me wander off by myself before I luckily found my way to the information/customer service kiosk.  I still remember their embarassed look as they tripped over themselves running down the escalator after the lady at the kiosk made the announcement that I was lost over the mall loudspeakers.

Sometimes I wonder if she was actually trying to lose me LoL What would Freud say about that, hmmmmm? :D


Niki jaan this was a good blog and article

by Anonymouse on

I didn't get a chance to read this blog earlier, I wanted to read the article first.  I think both the article and your blog were really good and I just wanted to say that.  It was a fun read!

You know the article and your blog talked mostly about the mothers.  It'd be nice to read about the kids' activities such as playing in hazardous construction sites or you babysitting your cousins.  Did you boss them around?! what were their punishments?!

I was the second child and was used as a karate subject for my older brother!  I grew up in a large family with lots of uncles and aunts and cousins, so I was never really alone until I came to US.  Then I became a child of the 70s and am lucky to have survived my teens! 

Everything is sacred


Good stuff

by TheMrs on

It's by Philip Larkin

Niki Tehranchi

No such thing as a perfect parent

by Niki Tehranchi on

Dear Monda:

Thank you so much for your input, which articulated so succintly what I clumsily was trying to convey.  I have absolutely no illusions about being the perfect parent or the perfect anything for that matter.  There is no such thing as perfect.  You are right that "good enough" works most of the time :)

Dear The Mrs:

Hubby and I aboslutely LOVED your poem. Did you write it?  I know you are an amazing poet from the poems you published on this site but this is by far my favorite, hilarious and at the same time so wistful.  I love your advice of organic food with a side of chips.  That is such a good metaphor for life itself.  Life itself should be a well balanced organic and nutritional meal, like a piece of grilled grass-fed chicken breast on top of a green salad, but with a side of cheetos (or cheesecake!)    


Here’s the golden truth

by TheMrs on

Here’s the golden truth about parenthood. It will never change. And I bet those 9 kids have a lot of “baggage” and understand this poem, even if they aren’t axe wielding maniacs … yet! (pretty low standard for measuring parenthood wouldn’t you say? I’ll still to mediocrity)

They f*** you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra just for you.

But they were f***ed up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

I had 2 epidurals. I don’t get my teeth pulled out without medication, why would I give birth without them? I buy organic, schedule play dates, take my kids to art and sports classes and watch over them at the park while I chit chat with other parents. And I don’t feel mediocre at all. If anything, I feel alive.Peace out

Ps Niki don’t let your kids walk home alone at 7. Times have changed. Watching over your kids is nothing to feel guilty about. Just balance it with some fun. We live in a different world, the glory of our childhood (which we mostly romanticize anyway) will never return. Give them organic food but put chips on the side.


laissez fair vs restricting child's inherent resources

by Monda on

I think balanced parenting is about reasonably promoting our child's safety and health, while paying attention to their developmentally appropriate tasks - without undermining our level of self-care and comfort.  Stress kills the genuine joy of parenting. Trial and errors are Ok too, as long as they don't become about victimizing oneself or the child.  We are not perfect, we can't be. Life is not perfect either and does not demand perfection.  Good Enough is a Great concept, most of the time, with most people.   

From reading your blogs, I feel confident about your good instincts with your kids. After all, You are the one who knows your resources and theirs, the best. Go with your instincts and enjoy what your love and care does for them (at least before they turn into teenagers :o)

Also as you know, what works for one kid does not necessarily work for the other (s). We are all born with different inherent qualities/ temperaments.  I think the idea is to be a good enough match and support to your child's style. 

Very nice blog.


yes niki

by humanbeing on

i meant benign neglect in a good way. the second one is in our old age, so more like a grandchild, and we are very relaxed play with her instead of pushing. but there is lots of laissez-faire.

Niki Tehranchi

2nd child vs. 1st child

by Niki Tehranchi on

Dear human being:

Thank you for your kind words and for offering your insight into this issue.  It is so interesting that you bring up the issue of 1st child vs. 2nd child.  While again, you have all pointed out quite rightly so that there can be no generalizations made and each family is a case by case experience, my own personal experience with my 2nd one is vastly different.

My mom (who gave birth to an only child!) always worried about me having a 2nd child because in her opinion, the 2nd one gets the short end of the stick.  While the 1st one gets all the attention and love and efforts and spending, by the time of the 2nd one, they get the recycled toys and clothes and mom and dad are too exhausted to pay attention. 

In my case, it is not that I have been too exhausted.  If any thing, I am so much more relaxed and able to enjoy her this time around because with my son, I was SO panicky that I thought every 5 minutes, is he breathing? Is he okay? Am I doing something wrong? Am I starving him? Giving him too much? Arrrggghhh. There is a funny scene at the very beginning of the move terms of endearment with Shirley Maclaine where she is poking and prodding her peacefully asleep newborn, convinced that it is a crib death, until poor baby finally wails in annoyance, at which point she breathes a sigh of relief and can go back to her own bed.  Well, that was pretty much me LOL

So maybe it is not benign neglect so much as normal behavior the second time around :-)


lovely blog niki

by humanbeing on

i have two kids, the elder raised like the overachieving yuppie mum style, and younger in benign neglect. time will tell what my private parenting 'lab' produces. my own parents were so much into each other that they didn't really pay attention to us, except with scholarly achievments. once we'd gotten them.

bottom line, you are the mum your kids got in the raffle, and they will love you no matter what, so have a good time, with them and behind their backs. :)))

Niki Tehranchi

obsessed mom

by Niki Tehranchi on

Dear Anahid and Azarin, thank you for your interest and positive comments.  I am glad to elicit interest in this issue. You are so right that one cannot generalize and the best approach to parenting is case by case. 

If I had to place myself on a spectrum, I would definitely be more towards the obsessed mom model that the author describes.  It's true that I am always acutely aware of not only my experience with my own parents but also their experiences with their own paents when I make parenting decisions about Sweetpea and the Ladybug. 

I hope I didn't come off as unnecessarily harsh towards my mom 's parenting style.  I definitely do not see her as a mediocre mom at all.  I think a lot of these experiences made me independent and fearless.  I know of grown up women who are terrified to live or travel alone for example whereas I was trekking the world on my own and taking care of myself before my permanent teeth had fully set!  It's kind of that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger thing :-) 

Azarin Sadegh

Niki, the Super-Mom!

by Azarin Sadegh on

I think you are a super-mother as you never stop questioning the pre-conceived ideas about motherhood!

Sometimes, I think we hold our children so tight (to protect them) that actually we are choking them, or as Dr. Holakouee says, we break their wings. Sometimes we need to let go of them, they'd learn on their own.

But I know for sure that it is a case to case problem and nobody should generalize...or there is no unique solution that could be applied to any child!

 Thank you, my dear Niki, for the wonderful blog!

Anahid Hojjati

Dear Niki, thanks for a great blog

by Anahid Hojjati on

Niki jan, I enjoyed reading your blog which discusses an interesting subject and is well written.