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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Power to ALL the moms

Jill Zimon and I can be a force of nature. We seem to feed off of each other’s creative energy and intellectual passions. So while I took some time out yesterday for some much-needed research for story pitches, I happened upon a book called “Mommy Wars,” by Leslie Morgan Steiner, being published in March 2006.

Readers may recall my absolute disdain for such sobbing and whining about the difficulty of motherhood when Judith Warner published her high society screed, “Perfect Madness,” last year.

So I forwarded the catalog entry from Random House to Jill and her immediate response, like mine, was “ICK, ICK, ICK.”

She posted a great entry yesterday imploring us to quit the sobbing. I concur. The point today is how to tell the story of real moms without the sobbing and whining. Is motherhood difficult? Hell, yes (just look at yesterday’s post). Is it tough to be a working mom? Absolutely. Is it tough to be a stay-at-home mom? You bet. Is it tough when you lack the choices between the two? Most certainly!

So let’s have a serious discussion about what makes motherhood challenging in the 21st century to ALL of us, not simply those who have trouble with the nanny, and how we can overcome some of those obstacles. Jill wrote this powerful op-ed in the PD last Mother’s Day and captured why we really have nothing about which to complain:

To rant about my life as difficult, when thousands of mothers who bear the burden of these special circumstances live within miles of me, would be insensitive and insulting, to say the least.

And, because I believe it to be such a strong statement, capable of changing the world, I’d like to share her conclusion:

When beliefs about how mothers should fulfill numerous roles clash with reality, we need to correct those beliefs. We must not settle for merely educating others - through our complaints - about the pain or impossibility of role integration. Rather than cater to the unattainable and destructive goal of perfection, we need to change it. Through our actions and our words, we must model a balanced and achievable image of motherhood.

How else will our children learn to value it?
BINGO! Can we at least hope for better for the next generation of mothers and fathers?

So let’s quit pitting one segment against the other because it’s the kind of bitch-fight that, frankly, serves no one. More importantly, doing so leaves out the majority of mothers today who simply lack the choice among the options.

Let’s celebrate modern motherhood in a way that makes us all proud to say, “I’m a working mom," “I’m a stay-at-home mom,” "I'm a single mom" or "I've chosen not to be a mom" without all the societal baggage and mudslinging those statements currently evoke.

Send your ideas and thoughts to:

wendyhoke (at) comcast.net
jillzimon (at) sbcglobal.net

2 comments:

Greta Garbo said...

Wendy,

Interesting post, to say the least.

I can only speak to being stay-home (ok, technically I work part-time now out of the house) mom for about 13 months. A couple things:

1) Can remember telling my mom "nobody talks about this" (in reference to how hard/tiring/frustrating having a newborn is.) My baby was colicky. Apparently not as bad as some, but bad enough that the concept of "laying baby down in crib to sleep" was a total joke.)

2) Wanted epidural for above.

3) Barrage of "baby advice" very opinion and judgement laden. Can't look at an amazon review without somebody claiming something is "child abuse" or somebody is a bad mother, so yes, the "bitch fight" is alive and well out there. What a shame.

4) Decided a would never, ever wax poetic on how sweet and touching night time feedings were. They sucked--espcially in conjuction with lots of carrying, swingly, bouncing, dragging swings, bouncy chairs, etc around the house at about the time college students were happily hitting taco bell post-drinking and I crazily started thinking, "hey, why don't they come take the 3-5 shift"--and I didn't need something romanticized to make me feel worse.

5) Be a working mom. Be a stay at home mom. Don't be a mom. But please, no more celebrity moms! Like Debra Messing/Gwnyth Paltrow (fill in blank with celebrity with nanny and good hair/makeup stylist), one feels like one is merely supposed to say "motherhood completed them", etc., rather than, "don't worry, you're not crazy, it's normal to be really burnt out once in a while." Okay, clearly my sad addiction to People magazine is not good, yet I'm still disturbed that Heidi Klum was at the Emmy's 6 days (6 days!) post-partum. I'm pretty sure I was still wearing industrial sized pads and my breasts were doing really weird things at that time.

Wendy Hoke said...

Greta,
Your comments made me laugh out loud, especially the one about your breasts doing weird things. You are right on so many fronts. It's been six years since I last faced the issues you do, but your comments bring it back rather sharply. Only now I can smile and laugh and look on those days with a somewhat rosy glow. What we need to do as a society of mothers is make it okay for moms to say, "Nighttime feedings really suck!" and not feel badly about doing so.

And I will gladly answer your email hopefully tomorrow. Deadlines have kept me from being prompt and I apologize if I've seemed unresponsive. Just wanted to take time to give you a thoughtful response.

All the best, and believe me, it gets better.

Wendy

P.S. You forgot to mention personal trainers and yogis for the celebrity moms. Six days post-partum! YIKES! I'd never have left the house let alone donned a evening gown.