Let’s Play Diagnose that “Mom” Neurosis
I’m no psychologist, but even we lay people can’t miss the signs — everywhere it seems –pointing to the need for a little couch time. For whom, you ask? Those who insist on wrapping themselves in all things MOM.
When the mom-meter started going into the red zone a few years ago (and revved into overdrive during this past political season), it moved from annoying to downright concerning. Silly me. I’d kinda sorta hoped that by end of the last decade we’d be over the grand love affair, the perpetual state of Mom/Mum, Mommy/Mummy self-adoration.
Seriously is there any other group of people on the planet so besotted with themselves? Do I daily or routinely refer to myself as a Barren Babe? Or refer — without fail — to my fellow tribe members as my fellow Barrenesses? While my infertility is every bit a part of who I am, I don’t feel the need to inject it into every freaking conversation.
To wit, I’m on the phone with a friend (notice I didn’t qualify her reproductive, marital, or familial status), when she casually says, “So I’m talking to my mom friend…”
What the…? Okay, now she’s lost me as a series of questions form in my head: Why does the mom modifier need to be in the sentence? Why are you elevating this role above all others?
‘Fess up, women who are raising children, is there something else here at work?
Yes, maybe? Join me as we play diagnose that neurosis!
Let’s start with essayist Jenny Allen, who makes an attempt at humor in her New Yorker piece, “I’m a Mom!”.
Are you a mom? No? Then you don’t need to read one more word. Go on, shoo! I’m not trying to be mean; it’s just that you probably won’t understand a lot of what I’m going to say. It’s a mom thing. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. Right, moms? Go, us! I’m not saying that moms are better than other people, but there is, well, something different, something special about us…
Now try replacing the word “mom(s)” in the paragraph above with, say, “white people,” and see if it doesn’t comes across a tad condescending or holier than thou?
Nauseated yet? Well, in the interest of looking after your stomachs, I’ll stop quoting there. Those who are mothers might find Allen’s piece amusing — a lark among moms meant to rib the extremists in the mother community, but for those of us routinely subjected to today’s oppressive all-encompassing mommy references, it was hard to see Allen’s piece as anything other than business as usual.
Right. Back to the work at hand. Neuroses. Let’s start with delusions of grandeur (thank you Wikipedia).
According to the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for delusional disorder, grandiose type symptoms include grossly exaggerated belief of:
-or exceptional relationship to a divinity or famous person.
Or … perhaps, it’s just the opposite. Might this need to constantly affirm a sense of worth be evidence of a monster inferiority complex? Let’s go with Alfred Adler (who thanks to the New World Encyclopedia offers this view):
“The primary indication of mental health in Adlerian psychotherapy is the person’s feeling of community and connectedness with all of life. Attempts to compensate for an exaggerated inferiority feeling by a fictional final goal of superiority over others is a major hindrance to development of a feeling of community. This sense of unity provides the real key to the individual’s genuine feeling of security and happiness. When adequately developed, it leads to a feeling of equality, an attitude of cooperative interdependence, and a desire to contribute.”
In either case, the outcome is the same for those of us on the receiving end of the constant shoutouts to self-imposed-all-things-MOM-greatness.
If you see our eyes roll, here’s what’s contained in our thought bubbles: Really? Again? Get over yourselves!
Now, fellow junior armchair psychologists, what’s your diagnosis?