Despite recent grim characterizations in popular culture such as ABC’s smash Desperate Housewives and Judith Warner’s popular book Perfect Madness, the latter of which posits modern motherhood as “an endless sea of child-enriching activities” leading into “a well of despair,” a new survey finds that an overwhelming majority of mothers (94%) agree that motherhood makes them “extremely happy.”
The vast majority (90%) also believe that they’re doing a good job, regardless of whether they do or do not use child care, are employed or homemakers, single or married.
The study, “Motherhood: A Labor of Love,” sponsored by women’s online community iVillage.com and home fashion company Martex, found that, despite the pressures of living up to the emergent archetype of the “alpha mom,” “far from being miserable, moms today are deeply satisfied and extremely happy,” said Kellie Gould, Editor-in-Chief of iVillage.
“While moms often find themselves pulled in many directions, they also take pleasure in their role and responsibilities,” Gould continued. “Mothers don’t necessarily want to have everything and to do it all — they mostly want what’s best for their children — and thrive on that goal.”
Despite recent portrayals of motherhood being defined by widespread feelings of guilt, anxiety, resentment and regret, most moms said that with awesome responsibility comes awesome rewards. In fact, more moms felt that being a mom was more fun (93%) than stressful (85%).
“The findings in our research do not support the stresses of motherhood as a widespread cause for concern that’s reaching epidemic proportions,” said Gould. “For the majority of moms, only slight changes would be required to see an improvement in their lives.”
The survey revealed that, given the opportunity to relive their adult life, two-thirds of moms (68%) would change only a few things, and nearly 1 in 5 (17%) wouldn’t change a thing.
The “things” many would change, however, are a more equitable division of household and child rearing labor, and a perceived lack of respect for motherhood: only 35% felt moms are highly respected. 84% said that being a mom is not given the respect it deserves.
In the study, 67% of the mothers responded that they make 80% or more household purchases for things like groceries, clothes, housewares, etc., and 73% said household chores/responsibilities fell mostly, if not completely, on their shoulders. Only around 1 in 5 (23%) claim that these chores are shared equally. Regarding child-raising, a full two-thirds (67%) of moms claim that they are given more, if not most or all, of this responsibility.
Personally, as a defensive husband and father, I would say there is a significant differece between “more,” “most” and “all”: my wife certainly does “more” on all the above listed chores than I do, but only “most” on some things, and not “all” on any of them. So there.
But I freely admit I need to keep working on those important “slight changes.” I get credit for being aware of it – right?
Hey, and speaking of Desperate Housewives, can anyone tell me why Desperate Hottie Eva Langoria showed up to introduce Mariah Carey wearing a frontally plunging Shay Todd swimsuit on the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night?