April 07, 2009

Alpha Mom, Zeta wife ... Beta mom, Beta wife

The issue of "Alpha Mom, Zeta wife" came up this morning on the Today Show and it caught my eye. I wish they had explored it some more by interviewing some women. But essentially the gist of the story is that we moms are striving so hard to be the perfect mom (everything to our kids) that we are totally neglecting our roles as wives (next to nothing for our husbands) and saving even less for ourselves.

Of course, I start thinking this story is a little cyclical because the underlying premise here is the same issue that they are somehow criticizing - that we've got to be perfect in every scenario because really if you want to be an alpha mom you should also want to be an alpha wife. This rise in awareness of alpha moms (or at least the terminology) has added more pressure to moms because let's face it, no one wants to be a "B" (at least not aloud) - most, if not all of us want to be an "A" (at least when we're in the company of others, right?).

However, the story took a bit of a strange twist at the end because rather than continuing down the road of contrasting alpha versus zeta, and continuing to put pressure on moms, they suggested the possibility of being satisfied being a beta mom and a beta wife.

OMG.....this is it!!!!! "Beta mom, Beta wife".

I felt as if this weight was lifted off my shoulders. Finally I feel the conversation turning from perfection (which we all know is absolutely ridiculous and stressful) to a more realistic picture. It made me think it's okay if I'm not the alpha, in fact, it's okay that I don't want to be an alpha. I felt like something was a little wrong and I dare not say aloud that I knew within myself that I didn't or couldn't be an alpha. I've tried (and TRIED) to be alpha and I think I failed terribly because I couldn't handle it. I wasn't able to have a nutritious dinner ready every night for a perfectly coiffed intelligent child who participated in 50 extra-curricular activities and was perfectly adjusted and had clean clothes to begin every week and whose room was perfectly decorated, all the while trying to provide the same and more for husband while also having a thriving career and looking fly all the time.

Not that I needed someone to tell me that it's okay to be beta ... but I did. Yesterday on Oprah (BTW...Blogalicious 2009 keynote speaker Karen Walrond was great) there was a discussion that we as moms put the pressure on each other and there is always that internal competition breeding between and among us. I think the rise of acceptance of the alpha mom terminology raised that competition to a different level. We would secretly assess ourselves based on how well our kids performed vis-a-vis other kids or how superficially happy our marriages appeared when we get together with our friends and co-workers.

For a long time I would assess myself (if I was being honest) as a beta mom, zeta wife. Really. I was trying and trying to do as much as I could for my daughter and I totally neglected my husband. I wasn't perfect in achieving anything with my daughter. In fact, she barely liked and expressed that a lot (read, almost every day). She would say to me, "I don't like you, I like daddy" and she's only 3! I was fussing and stressing so much in my effort to make things as perfect as I could in her world that she didn't like to be around me. Simultaneously I so neglected my marriage and my husband. We would go months without sex or even intimacy. Who am I kidding ... we would barely talk to each other. I don't know which came first, focusing on perfection for baby leading to neglecting hubby or was it because there was a space between hubby and I so I focused on daughter - I don't know.

But since being home now for about 7 weeks I've really re-evaluated everything. I'm so much happier doing my best - not perfect, just my best. I've tried to keep the house clean and food on the table and spend time with my daughter and with my hubby all the while accepting that there are days that I get some of those things done and others where I get none of those things done. I've accepted a position in my field but it's not at the stature that I had nor at the same income. I consciously decided that to be able to give and have for everyone and myself I needed to lower the bar. So, I think I've been living the beta mom, beta wife role for the past few weeks without even realizing it until this morning.

I hope this conversation will continue to turn the tide from alpha to beta. I'm happy that we can talk about being just "okay" at anything as opposed to being perfect at everything.

I support beta moms!!!

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Justice Jonesie said...

So true. I too am so sick of always trying to have it all together. I see those women that "do" and it seems like their lives totally revolve around their kids. They are not involved in anything for themselves like hobbies, gym, girlfriends, nothing. There is no balance in that.

Amanda said...

I'm actually okay with being beta once in a while, except lately hubs is always calling me on it. He's 100% alpha dad, 98% alpha husband. But he doesn't work. How is one to fit alpha mom and alpha wife both into 3 hours a night?

Amanda said...

I also wanted to second what Justice Jonesie said above. I really don't see how anyone can maintain their sanity when their life revolves wholly around their children. I don't think it's healthy for either party.

Ronnica said...

I'm not a wife OR a mother, so on the surface, it would seem like this post would have nothing for me. However, it's true of all women...we strive to be perfect in everything, and get down on ourselves when we fail. I WON'T be perfect, that's just the way it is.

Elaine at Lipstickdaily said...

Yep . . . always struggling to find the right balance . . . or at least alternating the things that come crashing down! Oh, and can you please explain to hubby about the beta wife thing?! Great post.

A Shorter Mama said...

This really hit a spot for me, and I appreciate your candor and honesty. I found myself in the same place as you describe and it was all consuming. Thank you for sharing and say it with me:
Give me a "B"
Give me a "E"
Give me a "T"
Give me a "A"
What's that spell? BETA!!!!! WHOOO HOOOO

Tara said...

I do feel like I can't have it all. At least not all at the same time. Some days my kids and I are clicking and having a ball together. They love me, I love them. Then my hubby just gets a quick squeeze and a peck on the cheek as I pass out exhausted. Or, I'll give him a few moments to himself after he comes home from work, but then I'm so preoccupied with making dinner, getting the kids ready for bed that I get stressed and end up getting short with the kids. I feel like I can't win. But the point is that I wake up and try my best every day. That's all that matters...

Peter and Nancy said...

I hate the phrase "having it all." It's impossible to have it all at the SAME TIME. Hooray for happy, well-adjusted beta moms, kids and dads!
-- Nancy

Quiskaeya said...

Word! I think the whole trying to live like the Jones spills over into all areas of our lives. Not only do we try to have what others have but we want to parent and have a family that looks like others. The fact is each of our families are unique and the parenting style that works for one family doesn't work for another. One topic that seems to always fall in this is whether not a good Mama is a SAHMama or not.

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