Friday, October 15, 2004

Check Out

I've been sick, one of those weird virusy-flu things that seem to have hit this fair city earlier than usual this year, but here's a new post.

I want everyone to know about this group blog: MamasInk, at The mamas writing in are part of the MamaWriters group, and they include some of everyone's fave mama writers, like Ann Douglas, and Andrea Buchanan, and Ayun Halliday, and Katie Alison Granju, and Hillary Flowers, and Erica Lutz, and many, many more. I'm there too.

What I love about this site, well, beyond the fact that these mamas are damn good writers and make beautiful use of words and vision, is the example it sets. Of mothers working together on a project. Everyone could go their own separate way, do motherhood in isolation, and write in isolation, not trusting others. But this site, and the MamaWriters in general, have a broader, wider vision of women trusting each other and working together.

This vision we need.

And thanks to Anne-Marie at A Mama's Rant for her great blog about my blog. She's at, so stop on by. And one of these days I'll figure out how to do my links. Feel free, anyone, to send me advice!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Thanks, and Look What California's Up To....

Since I'm just getting in, I want to thank the other bloggers who are helping me learn lingo, do links, etc.--esp you, Danya! Almost about to happen are links to sites that are now linking here, so new friends, please be patient while I learn!

Back to parenting issues. Spoke yesterday with a delightful woman in San Jose who's among the first families to use California's new Paid Family Leave. Does everyone know about it? It's yet another reason so many of us want to live in CA, as opposed to, say, the gritty city of Philadelphia where I so humbly abide. Grit vs. glamour aside, the state of california now provides wage replacement for families who have just had babies, adopted babies, or who have to care for sick family members. The state will replace about 55% of your wages (up to a salary cap in the 60,000 range) for six weeks. Moms and Dads both. And mothers who give birth can also collect state disability insurance in addition (I know, it's weird to classify pregnancy as disability, but this is about real, material assistance....). That's major help. The San Jose woman I spoke with was able to cover her 12 weeks of family leave between the two programs. The stats tell us that most people eligible for FMLA can't afford it, so to have a state that makes family leave affordable is major.

One issue, though, is that not everyone knows about it, and like many things parental and child-related, affluent parents usually have the buzz before everyone else, so spread the word to everyone you know in California. Look here in the future for info on organizations that are doing action alerts in other states about this.

And here's the website if you're reading this and you're in California and you're about to bring a new baby into your family, or you have other reasons for needing some paid relief from work: the general link is, and for the secret/little-known disability pay after pregnancy, look at

That's all for now, have a pleasant night!

Monday, October 04, 2004

What's a Mother Need to Know?

What does a mother need to know?

That's the final question I posed today to Judith Stadtman Tucker, the editor and visionary force of Mothers Movement Online. It came at the end of a long interview. For those who don't know Mothers Movement Online (, check it out. It's an online voice for smart motherhood and for mothers who want to think about parenting in a social and political framework.

I interviewed Judy because the final part of my book talks about efforts to make social change, both DC and state capital policy and legislative action, and more grass roots efforts, too.

Judy runs Mothers Movement Online on her own dime, and through her own effort. It's not an organization, it's just her, and it's her fulltime unpaid job. Her desk's in the middle of her house, and her writing takes place amid her two boys moving through.

So what does a mother need to know? Her answer: "that motherhood takes place within a social context. It's not confined within your heart or within the four walls of your home. The expectations we have of mothers and the outcome of mothering are very much shaped by values, by how our society is ordered. Mothers need to know how to develop some critical awareness. This gives mothers the ability to step back and say, this is really hard, but it's not something I'm doing wrong....The most important thing a mother can know is, it's not all about you and what you do. There's a much bigger picture, a whole network of social conditions that affect the way we can mother."

Book news: my title has been changed. Good bye to Playground Revolution. Hello to "The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars."
It's a loss of poetry in the service of a literal description of the book's contents. It wasn't my idea. It came when my editor presented it to national book buyers at the presales meeting last week. Apparently Playground Revolution was too scary, combined with a gritty urban playground on the cover. I'm still in lost-book-title grief, but as Andi Buchanan, author of the amazing Mothershock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It, said, at least we get a kick-ass title for the blog!

I'm two weeks or so from finishing.