Judith Warner and "Mommy Madness"
I do get out -- I belong to a local mom's club and I participate in playgroups occasionally (about once a month) and I'm part of a bookgroup with a bunch of other moms. The moms I know just aren't like what Warner describes, I don't really see that hyper-competitiveness, obsessiveness, and unhappiness. Around here, we tend to practice something I've heard described as "benign neglect". The moms I know read a lot to their kids, but they don't play with them. The kids play by themselves or with their siblings, with minimal parental intervention (mainly for really out of bounds behavior). Even at the park, minor infractions are left for the kids to deal with, and the moms stay on the sidelines, ready to jump in if things get out of control, but willing to let the kids sort it out. Some people do preschool, some don't, and it isn't really particularly competitive to get into preschools. People don't seem that into all the various lessons and such, but kids do take one or two things if they're really interested in it. Sure, people are busy and occasionally stressed, but it just doesn't seem like the mania that Warner describes really exists here, at least among the people I know.
Ok, I admit it, there is a strong possibility that I'm just completely oblivious. Personally, I just refuse to buy into the whole competitive thing and perhaps that makes me not really notice it. We don't do the big birthday parties, playdates, lessons, preschool, etc, etc, etc, and I rely on my parents for the occasional night out babysitting and sanity breaks so we don't have to deal with the whole finding a good babysitter scenario.
Here's some other interesting takes on Warner's premise, as well as another article Warner wrote recently.
Half Changed World
Raising WEG (probably my favorite take on this article)
Warner's article in Elle (a better article than the one in Newsweek, I think)
And another thing I've been thinking a lot about... her suggestions for solutions seem rather useless. I think the most important step is for women and families to just decide to step out of the flow, and refuse to compete and participate in the world Warner describes. The women who's blogs I linked to above have some really interesting things to say about all this, (and they say it a lot better than I am managing) so I highly recommend taking a look.
UPDATE: I also particularly like James Lileks' take on this article. I was trying to pick out a couple quotes to put on my blog, but there's just too many good ones.