Monday, December 26, 2005


First, for budding manufacturer-enterpreneurs out there: what I need is someone to design one of those semi circular
nursing pillows, but with a raised extension out in front for the computer. The writing mother's nursing pillow, anyone?

When I write or talk about motherhood, I feel like there's often a choice about holding back. Do I want to be the cheerleader? Do I want to tell it all? (or better, do I want to tell it all to close friends, say, or want to broadcast it all over the internet?). These decisions about honesty are complicated for me. I am a very private person, even as I'm dedicated to writing about motherhood and parenting in a warts-and-all kind of way. I'm even more committed to protecting the privacy of my husband and daughters (and how fun it is now to write about my daughters in the plural!). They didn't choose to have an author for a wife or mother. All this can make it hard to figure out the boundaries, to learn how to write about family life in ways that don't undermine my own family.

There's something else, too, which is not about my own family, but about that vague sense of what's appropriate. We mothers and fathers can be very concerned with being appropriate, with staying inside the bounds of convention. I think a good part of motherhood is about conformity--it's about getting along at the playground, about not standing out. And that makes it hard, say, to be political about motherhood, to take a stand that you know might distinguish you from the other moms around. I hear this from mothers who have become politically active; they feel that separation, and it's hard. It's hard for me, I admit that. There's a cameraderie in all the easy chit-chat that is much needed and can too easily disappear. But if we are going to take control of our situations as mothers, if we are going to assert leadership over social issues and workplace-and-parenting issues, we must face this fear head on. We must use all our charisma to guard against those feelings of staying within middle-class conventionality.

I have two topics that I want to approach, and I'll take on the one here. The first is that after the birth-from-hell was over, and after I'd stopped shaking (see the other blog... click on the sidebar....for the birth story), and after I'd held the baby and she latched on, and after Rob had held her for a long time, and after an hour or so when the nursery nurse had taken her to be bathed and checked, the midwife pulled out a plastic bag of something dark. She opened it and it plopped out onto another piece of plastic on the hospital table.

Yes, I want to say the word placenta in public. I'm helped in this by a recent email from a friend who's had numerous types of cancers, and recovered from them all. She sends out updates about her situation. The latest monitors the follow up after the last cancer. She goes into great gynecological detail. Near the beginning of her email she warns us that she will use explicit detail, and that it's important to do so, so that everyone understands what women's bodies really do. And believe me, this friend is no women's-health-care radical. Just a woman and a mom who's been through some awful times. I was touched by her insistence that we read about her innards. After all, she's the one living with it day by day, and we're the ones always saying, how can we help?

Now, you should know I'm not the type to say the word Placenta in public nor be automatically bowled over by a look at my placenta. Several years back I learned about a friend who'd had a ritual to bury her placenta in the backyard. She'd invited everyone over to take part. My response was a mixture of respect--how lovely and in touch she must be to do that--and a shudder--ick, there's no way I'd be there. Once while teaching a course years back on women and religion, one of my students brought in some natural menstrual sponges. Again, not my type of think to pass around the room. I didn't want to stop her. In fact, I half-admired her pluck to make the usually invisible more visible. And there was some connection between the pass-around and her report for the day. I kept my cool, but it did make me uncomfortable. I guess I'm just not a placenta type of woman.

I must say, though, I was amazed as the midwife put the placenta on the table, and showed me how and where the umbilical cord had been attached, and then pulled the remains of my amniotic sacs over the whole thing. It blew my mind. The darkness of it. The midwife kept saying, "doesn't it look like a tree of life?" In that moment of seeing how my body produced this, this thing, this thing that could sustain my baby for nine months, this incredibly complex system for taking my body's nutrients and sending them deep inside to the developing child, I understood some of what it means to use a midwife. Even if she made some mistakes, even if the birth was more painful than it should or could have been, I understood what it meant to take a woman's body seriously, to not flinch from it, to not just sweep the placenta away into the waiting medical waste bag (as I'm sure happened the first time around; you can bet that my Atlanta obstetrician wasn't going to spend his time demonstrating my placenta to me).

I still wouldn't call myself a placenta type of gal. But seeing it was incredibly powerful in a most surprising and unsuspecting sort of way.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Baby's Here!

It's back to one-hand typing for me, because little Amelia Jane arrived on Friday evening, all 8 pounds, 15 ounces of her sweet little self!

More in the days ahead, and I am back to daily blogging at Hylands, for those who want the birth story, and my forthcoming comparisons on which was better, my relatively sanitized, epiduralized Atlanta birth, or my grittier, mostly un-pain-medicated Philadelphia one (and thanks to many friends who do natural birth for coming clean about how damn painful it really is....).

But above all, it's about love right here in our home. Tons and tons of babylove and familylove.

Here's the announcement we sent out:

Friends, help us welcome Amelia Jane Baird into our family, born Friday evening December 16th, a little after evening's seven, a tad under nine pounds, and twenty-one inches at full stretch.

Labor was horrific (and mercifully short, I'm supposed to say). It's a miracle to have survived with body and psyche intact, I tell you. Everyone in a few mile radius of Chestnut Hill Hospital no doubt heard me scream curse words of pain that drunken sailors would be embarrassed to call their own.

We left the hospital Saturday evening, persuaded by several nurses to skip any and all holiday parties and head straight home. Ever since, little Amelia has been sleeping, nursing, and today, opened her eyes and looked around. When not having her diaper changed she is peaceful, serene, lovely.

. . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

MotherTalk, Meet the Mojo Mom Party Kit

Today is my due date. Apparently the little one doesn't like getting out of a warm bed any more than her mom does. He dad and big sis are already calling her the slugnut, the affectionate name they use for me when it's 10 am on Saturday and I'm still curled up in bed. (I must say that my nine-week stint as a soccer mom this fall did in fact get me up earlier, for better or for worse).

I'll leave word of any baby news here at the Playground.

Since it's hard to focus on much of anything at the moment other than my alternating desire to have this baby out and my total fear of labor's pain, thanks to Amy Tiemann for writing this morning and helping me with my day's blogging.

I met Amy, aka Mojo Mom, last March when I visited Durham, North Carolina for my first book talk. It seems a lifetime away. The book was just out, I didn't yet know I was pregnant, and the gorgeous colors of a Piedmont Spring were bursting everywhere I looked. I was in Durham, a place filled with old friends, a place I'd spent six years as a graduate student, and am still so very fond of. Amy's the author of Mojo Mom: Nurturing Yourself While Raising a Family. She's very visionary, and she's developing what she calls the Mojo Mom Party Kit, a tool for moms to use to set up ongoing Mom's Nights Out where we can get below the surface and really talk about issues. When she read about MotherTalk, it seemed like there was a connection, that what we're trying to do is to get the conversations happening, to forge the friendships that strengthen us in daily life, and that will help us as we make the world a better place for ourselves, for all caregivers, for our kids, hell, for all of us.

Here are her words, and her website is at

Miriam, I am thrilled to hear about the success of your MotherTalk salons and I wanted to let you know that I have created a resource that can help other women get their own gatherings off the ground. In my experience, Moms' Night Out gatherings have been a vital part of my support system, yet I felt frustrated by the fact that our usual chardonnay-and-appetizers gatherings didn't always provide an opportunity to really get to know one another. With my own friends, I yearned to dig beneath the surface and learn what their "hidden talents" were. Could we form a new kind of group to explore our interests, even our wild goals that we didn't have time to fully pursue right now? The idea for the Mojo Mom Party Kit was hatched.

I invite your readers who are interested in hosting a MotherTalk salon to use the Mojo Mom Party Kit for ideas, activities, and resources to jump-start their conversations. The introductory Mojo Mom Party Kit is available as a free download from my website The kit can be used for a one-time party (for newly formed group or an existing Moms' group or book club) or my ideas can be expanded to form an ongoing Mojo Circle. I have plans for 12 sessions in all. We both know that mothers are yearning to connect in a meaningful way. There's nothing like joining forces with a good idea!

Monday, December 12, 2005

MT on Blogging Baby

Here's our MotherTalk mention at Blogging Baby. Our Philly Inquirer coverage was noted--and so too was the fact that we use the word "salon" without sounding pretentious. Go MotherTalk team! Whew! As most people who've met us will attest, we try to keep it real, down to earth, and unpretentious. We know "salon" can conjure images of 19th century Victorian ladies, and those in our own age who emulate them. We're not that, just a bunch of scrappy mother authors trying to get through the day and get other moms (and dads) together and talking.

Thanks, Blogging Baby, for seeing us as we are.

Friday, December 09, 2005

MotherTalk in South Carolina

Here's a repost from our MotherTalk blog, about the first MotherTalk in South Carolina. Look for more in Washington DC, and in Philadelphia starting in January at the new Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia's Mt. Airy section, at the newly famous corner of Carpenter and Greene. We're all thrilled to be supporting this new independent bookstore. Personally, I'm weaning myself off Amazon and other online bookstores, and training myself instead to send book orders to the Marble and support this bookstore, run by a local mom with a young child, instead.

Personal update: roofers gone (happily, in time for our first major snow); no peeps yet from a baby wanting to get out in the world; and a wonderful snow day, with the kids across the street sledding down the neighbor's driveway. We hear the laughs in our living room. At some point they'll traipse into someone's house for a combo of lunch, hot cocoa, and snow taffee. Life's good.


Mother Talk South Carolina

Tomorrow, December 10, will see our first Mother Talk in South Carolina. From the Charleston Post & Courier:

Writers plan literary salon
Summerville resident Hope McIntosh will hold the area's first "Mother Talk" event, an old-fashioned literary salon with food, good company and conversation, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

This event will feature "Literary Mama's" Amy Hudock and Andi Buchanan about Andi's new anthology, "It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons."

"Mother Talk" events with a wide range of visiting authors have been held in New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland, Berkeley, and other major cities. This will be the first held in the South.

Both Amy Hudock and Hope McIntosh teach English at Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville.

"It's a Boy" features 30 essays on the mysteries of boys by writers such as Jodi Picoult, Jaquelyn Mitchard, Caroline Leavitt, and Catherine Newman.

Visiting writer Andrea J. Buchanan, the managing editor of the online magazine "Literary Mama," is a writer living in Philadelphia.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's all on Literary Mama

For anyone who hasn't seen the whole dust up, it's all up now at Literary Mama's blog, and there are some very thoughtful responses to the whole thing. I've seen it cited elsewhere on the blogosphere, and apparently I'm not the only one who was attacked by the author in question. Thanks to everyone who's been so supportive. When I first found out about all this, it felt like the first time I'd ever been attacked so harshly. After about a day had passed, I realized that back when I was an academic, such attacks were much more frequent, and were always thought of as part of the normal course of events, as "what one does" when you don't like someone's writing or a paper they'e just presented. You attack them head on, and then informally leak all sorts of personal meanness to the grapevine. What a lovely world it is. I guess I had just repressed all that. No wonder I left fulltime academe when I had the chance...

And my last point before moving on: there's such irony in being attacked as a weird internet feminist who writes about her roofers, when my blog is one of the least personal mom-blog around? I write about so little that's really persona--I protect my daughter's privacy voraciously--and to her dismay--and you never read here about arguments with my husband, or even who he is. I struggle deeply with finding a writing voice that can be personal and political, warm and angry and analytic all at the same time. There you have it. My last musing.

But more to the point of motherhood and work now:

When do we find more positive and hopeful ways of having a conversation about motherhood and family life?

On my radar: we've found a possible sponsor for MotherTalks around the country, and as details come out, I'll let everyone know. And we'll work on preparing some "how to create MotherTalk" materials, so that anyone who wakes up one morning and says, hey, I'd love to invite a bunch of moms over some evening to talk about real issues, how do I do that? might have a clear set of easy-to-follow instructions. So readers and friends, start thinking about this-you'll be among the first we ask!

And the personal update: roofers are still here, amazingly. snow is on the way. i'm nine days away from the official due date (is it too late to have one of those cutesy online due date counters? I guess so). and while last time I had four months off before delivery, this time it seems like I'm working up to the time the baby arrives. life's like that.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Response...

As promised, the response that will be published at Literary Mama later today. I posted it briefly last night, then took it down (think very late night barefoot traipsing to upstairs office). Yes, I was attacked personally, and I wanted to make sure I was taking the high road back. With a tad of morning editing, you're seeing it here first:

Wow. How does an author/blogger/mom even respond to a personal attack like that? The post is clear evidence that writing about the Mommy Wars and about the judgment that's dished out to all mothers doesn't exempt one from taking it on the chin. Ouch.

Yes, once upon a time, I had a low-paying, high-prestige full-time job. Unfortunately, it didn't come with onsite childcare, paid maternity leave, or other supports for working parents. Not wanting to totally ditch my career, I took an unpaid leave of absence. I found part time work elsewhere. Then I quit the first job. My story of career sacrifice is shared by moms throughout America. 25% of us are out of the paid workplace, 37% work part time. Some feminists can only see us as disappointments. I disagree. Instead of judging us, why don’t you look at where the problem is: The problem is not that smart women make bad marriage decisions. At core it's about how the workplace hasn't changed to support family life. Not nearly enough.

If that makes me a bad feminist, well, that's okay. Call me names. I've got better things to think about, like getting moms and dads across our nation, and in every neighborhood and economic class, to start thinking about how the frustrations our families face are structural, how they're not about our own individual failures but about a lack of paid family leave, fair wages for women and mothers, realistic work hours, reliable and affordable childcare, or chances to get back into the workplace after some time out. And that's just a start.
I'd like more of us to feel comfortable speaking out, and imagining what real change for mothers, fathers and families might look like. I'd like us to call our politicians, write to our newspapers, pressure our corporations, in short, use any of the usual tactics available to us as citizens in a democracy. I'd call that keeping our eyes on the prize. We need real social change for family life, and we need it now.

In my book The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a
Good Mother, (Seal Press, 2005) I tried to write about all of us. About white women and black women. About a few affluent moms, and a few welfare and former-welfare moms. About ordinary middle-class school teachers. About daycare workers. About women who are honestly trying to make a go of it in a society that doesn't help. About women and families who are kept absent from our national media, which much prefers to focus on the affluent, as if only the rich matter. I stand by my comments, especially as they're echoed throughout the blogosphere. We're all having a time of it out here; there are few good family choices for mothers or for fathers. Our national media insists that only the upper economic sliver of families matters. That's a travesty.

Well, it’s late, and I am a tired and very pregnant woman itching to get to bed. But I can't end without defending the mom-and-dad Internet, where we real moms have morning sickness, sick kids, and other frustrations. Real dads sometimes quit their jobs and stay home to care for kids. We do boring things like fold laundry and cook dinner, day in and day out, as do our partners and spouses. We work, earn a living, feed our spirits, and find ways to get our kids to sleep through the night. Sometimes we have homes that need new roofs, and yes, we write about all of it.

On our blogs we write about the work that fills our days. It may read like boring trivia, but it's the stuff of everyday life, and it matters. We have joys and regrets, happiness and anger. These lives don't come with fancy names or titles, but they're honest and they're real. We've created an interesting and connected world. We've ended the awful isolation that can affect so many moms and dads. We're here, we're real, and we come from all walks of life. I'm sorry to here us described by Hirshman as "weird."

To end, I'll assume that most readers of Linda Hirshman's post will realize the odd way my words were out of context, and leave it at that. Since I was never asked permission to tape record our telephone interview, readers should know that they are not reading my transcribed words but an oddly remembered version of a conversation.

Executive Working Dads....

Here's Salon on the latest, how high-paid corporate dads might be gettiing a break. This is good, but we are, as the author mentions, so tied to the trickle-down theory of workplace and family change:

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The whole thing's on Literary Mama

Well by midday Thursday it will all be up on literary mama, but you'll see it here too. The very first personal attack on me, kind, nice mama-writer. Jen of Toronto wrote a response to that American Spectator piece (see below), and at the end linked to my response. The author responded with a slightly incoherent but very mad rant back at Literary Mama and at me. She called me a bad feminist, a weird Internet feminist. Oh well. LM decided to go ahead and publish it, and give me a chance to respond, which I did.

I'll post it all here, but let me sleep on my response, and get it up in the morning.

One thing I'll say, she accuses me of sour grapes, which for the life of me I don't understand. At what? And of lack of generosity because--listen to this-- I gave her over an hour of my time, despite her lack of focus and her hostility. Hey, she's the one who ended up with a writer's fee for the article, and I'm just typing away at my free and unpaid blog. Some of my closest friends don't get an hour of coffee with me for weeks at a time, as I try to pack all my work into a six-hour day, so she should in fact be kind of grateful, I'd think.

Monday, November 28, 2005

One Tired Mom....

Oh, I've been ignoring the Playground recently, and I do apologize. I've been so tired--I'm now 16 days away from the official due date, so we all pretty much know I'm sleeping whenever I can, and walking about in a grumpy daze the rest of the time. And the roofers are still here. And they always seem to be hammering just outside my window... And my pre-labor-and-delivery to-do list doesn't yet have many/enough dents in it. I'm doing the work I'm paid for: my course gets taught, my Hylands blog gets written (you can always visit me there, though it's not as political or media-oriented as Playground Revolution), my talks are delivered. And that's about it. Apologies, dear and gentle and appreciated readers.

I will of course let everyone know when the child is born. Or even, when I go into labor. It all depends, as we know.

Several of you emailed me privately to ask about my diaper bag solution. Well, honestly, I was up in Chestnut Hill two weeks back, erranding for an hour, when I walked into the Pacific Leather shop. Me, with my ratty black leather pocketbook bought in Chicago while visiting my beloved pal Rachel several years back. The outer pocket was in decline, and the lining had already ripped in several places, though you wouldn't know it from the outside. And we all remember my favorite organizing book which suggested that my keys always be in the outer pocket so I know where to find them? Well if my keys and cellphone slip around everywhere in the depths, then what's a trying-to-be-organized mom to do?

Anyone who knows me knows that what I'm about to tell you is highly unusual. I swept myself into Pacific Leather, which despite its name is filled with gorgeous clothes. I walked through that small shop to the back where the leather lives. I picked myself out two handbags, one in svelte black, and other a sage green suede with leather detail (imagine: preppy Chestnut Hill meets the Sundance catalogue, but it works). I went right to them, tried them on my shoulder, and beelined to the counter with my credit card. I didn't check for markdowns. I didn't wonder when the winter sale might start. I just bought myself those bags and took them on home to be part of my family. I love my new handbags, they make me very happy. The diapers can go in a canvas tote. This mom evidently needed some good looking bags for herself. When we come up short to pay the roofers, we'll all know why.... but there you have it.

And the latest media check, no links sorry (I'm just too tired). More on how the New York Times apparently hates families, the latest update being the Judith Warner piece in the Week in Review. One Chicago shopkeeper asks kids to use their indoor voices and now we have yet another family trend of the rudest children in civilization. Huh? How about how there's no infrastructure for kids and families, no indoor play areas, not enough rec centers for when it's cold out? How about some articles on really polite kids? Good families? Or at least, a family trend article that actually uses data and evidence in a fair and sane and balanced way?

Can anyone explain why the NYTimes hates mothers and families with such a vengeance? Or did they just hire the same trend marketing folks I wrote about in "Truth Behind the Mommy Wars," the ones who advise media and advertisers to keep at us because then at least we get mad and pay attention.

The Linda Hirshman piece in the American Prospect is getting emailed around, and got a spot on AlterNet. More tendentious lies, as in: the workplace changed enough. Oh, please. I was interviewed for that piece, and totally distrust the author's assumptions and her willingness to be honest and truthful. I'm so exhausted by ideologues. Her database: three weeks worth of couples who advertised their June weddings in, yes, the Sunday New York Times. She's trying to find a book contract for this, god help us all. And she's a scholar too, she should know better about how to use evidence. Enough, enough, enough. We've got a whole country out here trying to make ends meet, and this is the crap we get, again and again and again.

Off to pick up the dear girl from school. Love yourselves, love your kids.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Here's Us in the Philly Inquirer

We woke up this morning to find this article about Mother Talk in the Inquirer! I think it really gets how gatherings of mothers, and we can expand this to fathers too, can be both serious and political, and really fun and light too. You know I adore good reporters, so kudos to the Inquirer's Julie Stoiber, herself a mom of two who works part time.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Another Great MotherTalk

Last night's MotherTalk was wonderful, set off by Marion Winik, reading from her new book, Above Us Only Sky, and Andi Buchanan reading from her new book, It's a Boy. I moderated, which mostly meant I got to sit next to these two fabulous authors and bask in their glow.

For me the evening was about moms getting together, it was also about realizing again and again the power of the personal essay. When writing becomes so personal, when good writing becomes so personal, it takes a 180 degree turn. We may think it's narcissism, we may think it's about something so narrow it only pertains to one person's experience, but there's the turn, waiting to surprise us. Just when we think it's just about the particular, the writing flowers and it's about the biggest broadest expanse of human life. It's breathtaking when it happens.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It's a Boy: My Stop on the Andi Buchanan Virtual Book Tour

Yes, it's a boy! That's the title of Andi's new book, and I have a copy right here, and it's wonderful. Reading the essays feels like hanging out with good friends, on one of those days where everyone is emotionally centered, the kids are in the other room, and the words flow beautifully from our mouths.

Many of us bloggers are participating in this virtual book tour. As a fellow author, I know that store book signings can be the most fun and fabulous thing we do--when people show up. I also know the particular pain of driving for three hours, showing up, meeting a semi-hostile manager, and then watch three people show up. This happened to me one gorgeous Saturday afternoon in DC. The manager made sexist comments about how if I'm a mom maybe I can help them clean up their bathroom (I'm not making this up, I couldn't make this up, and their bathroom grime was truly disgusting). Three women showed up, including an old friend. I took everyone out to a coffee shop next door. So I'm thrilled to be part of this new thing in the world, the virtual book tour.

Well we can't have Andi here, but these are the almost-next-best-things. an interview with her about the book and an excerpt from the end of her introduction (for the (click here the full intro, or most of it).

Andrea Buchanan,
It's a Boy
Seal Press/Avalon 2005
In January 2005, as I was working on compiling this book, the president of Harvard, Larry Summers, gave a speech he would find hard to live down in the coming months. Speaking at an academic conference to an audience of scientists and engineers, he posited that "innate differences" between men and women might explain why women are underrepresented in the sciences. Not sexism, nor bias toward people who bear children, nor even the cultural consensus that women are worse than men in math and science: The defining fact that is keeping women from reaching the upper levels of the scientific professions was, in his mind, "aptitude," which he directly tied to gender.

A month later, a study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience found that while there was a slight "gender gap" between male and female rhesus monkeys in performing certain tasks involving spatial memory, these gaps disappeared when female monkeys were given training appropriate for the tasks on which they were being tested. The researcher said, "It is important to note that in the rhesus monkey, we only find the sex difference in spatial memory, not other cognitive domains." She went on to conclude, "A lot of times researchers will just interpret any kind of sex difference as evidence for a rigid, biological difference. This study really does tend to argue that the difference is biologically set, perhaps, but that it's also really easy to change if you work on it."

In March, just a month later, researchers who sequenced the human X chromosome discovered that females are genetically more varied than males. "It turns out 15% of genes [in females' second X-chromosome] escape inactivation altogether, each of which now becomes a candidate for explaining differences between men and women," said Robin Lovell-Badge, of the National Institute for Medical Research, U.K. "Moreover, another 10% are sometimes inactivated and sometimes not, giving a mechanism to make women much more genetically variable than men." Reports of this discovery found it hard to resist gendered language, as evidenced in the purple prose of the Washington Post, which breathlessly announced, "She was slow to reveal her secrets, but the X chromosome has now bared it all."

It seems surprising to me that even now, in the twenty-first century, we are still divided between science and anecdote when it comes to our basic assumptions about gender. In his speech, Summers mentioned his own toddler daughters as an example of how, even as young girls, females seem to be instinctively nurturing, saying, "I guess my experience with my two and a half year old twin daughters who were not given dolls and who were given trucks, and found themselves saying to each other, look, daddy truck is carrying the baby truck, tells me something." On the surface, this story seems to confirm gender expectations—proof that even given "boy" toys like trucks, girls revert to the kind of nurturing play typical of females. But I could counter this with an anecdote that subverts gender expectations: A few weeks ago, over breakfast in a restaurant, my two-and-a-half-year-old son Nate took one of his toy cars, put it underneath his shirt, and cradled it on his belly, saying, "Oh, my baby!"

What can we conclude from this?

I think the safest thing we can conclude is that our expectations are flawed, and that extrapolating theories about gender from isolated facts or even anecdotes is risky, at best. All questions of whether men and women are from wildly disparate planets aside, the range of what is "boy behavior" and what is "girl behavior" seems to be fluid, flexible, and highly specific to personal experience. The stories of the mothers and sons in this book are reflective of that. They are personal and specific, dynamic and multifaceted, and grounded in the day-to-day experience of living with boys—some of whom play "car crash" with trucks and some of whom turn trucks into babies; all of whom deserve to experience the full range of human emotion, which knows no gender.


Read more on Andi's Mother Shock blog where she's been writing each day about the different essays.

Regular Playground Revolutionaries will know that I feel awfully lucky to live her in Philadelphia near Andi, and that she's become a pal. last night we were on the phone. She was talking about the book, and how three years ago she didn't know any of the contributors. Now, she counts many of them as friends. We talked about how it wasn't clubby or cliquish; it's not like she knew all these women writers from high school, or from her neighborhood. Rather, a testimony to the true support and friendship that flows around the community, if we can call it that, of moms (mostly) who write about motherhood. I wanted to pass that on.

So read a bit, and enjoy. I'll be seeing Andi tonight at MotherTalk (scroll down for details), where I'll also meet the fabulous Marion Winik, whose new book, Above Us Only Sky, is also quite wonderful, but more on that in the next few days.

Update: roofers still here. Imagine rhythmic hammer noises as you read. And dim radio playing Beatles songs. They brought a radio today.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Why Can't Men be Like Women?"

Over at the other blog/forum, Rx: Chat, the one I get paid to write and attend to each day, I wrote about Nandini Pandya's essay "Why can't men be more like women?" currently posted on Mothers Movement Online. I found it charming, especially after my experience this morning, the fabulous sleep in, where my husband proved himself as competent as I at getting our daughter off to school. In fact, because he gets up earlier, she got to school with more minutes to spare than usual and was quite happy about that. And he's been the one to make all the arrangements to pick her up at her grandma's this afternoon.

We know from many fathers, including and especially those who are at home, or in other ways are the primary caregivers, that men can be as good caretakers as women, so it's just the sorry state of our culture that insures we need to constantly repeat this. So check out the other entry, and Nandini's article.

And I promise tomorrow, the story about St. Joe's....

Sometimes the Playground Revolution Begins at Home....

I am still sick, the roofers are still here, hammering outside my office window and yelling things like, 32-and-a-quarter, rip cut, followed by a loud sawing sound, and then the noise of the special machine they rev to pull things from the ground up to the roof.

But this matters less than the fact that this morning my husband woke my daughter, made her breakfast, packed her lunch, made sure her teeth and hair were brushed, and drove her to school. Usually I'm on single mom duty in the mornings, as he leaves quite early for work. This sick, highly pregnant woman was able to sleep till nine.

Later in the day I'll post another entry, about the woman who wrote to me after seeing the article about my talk in the St. Joseph's paper. But for now, I'm just enjoying the fact that I got to sleep later, something that doesn't happen often in mom-world.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More on the Iceland Women's Walkout

Sometime in the last month I heard myself tell a group of mothers that our issues weren't ones to march over, that much of our work can be done behind closed doors. After, I wondered if that were true. Actually, I wondered if I hadn't directly contradicted the positions I take here. It's always easier to be more visionary in writing, for me, anyway. In person, don't we often speak to the crowd, encourage people to start where they are and move from there. I remember my visit in March to Durham, NC. A woman executive from a large pharmaceutical company told me that she wanted all the women at her company to strike for a day so that men would realize how much they do and stop taking it for granted. Her tone was serious, but she also said it would never work, that women wouldn't go along with it, they'd be too afraid for their jobs.

So we need models of what this looks like. Each day I get more reports from moms in the workplace. It's not getting any better for us out there. Where's the political and cultural pressure going to come from to prevent us from losing ground, especially when we not only want what we got in the last women's movement--access, but this time around we want more, we want the workplace to shift its values to accommodate parenting and caretaking.

In the meantime, Alda from emailed me to give me more info on the walkout (I do love the blogging/internet age we live in, and the info that gets past our borders of language and nation). I'm going to repost those here.What amazes me is the support the women got, from their government, and from their workplaces. Can we ever imagine that happening here in the United States? We must begin to talk more, to have more difficult conversations, convincing friends and coworkers that our issues really matter. That's the first step toward change. Enjoy the report from Iceland, here are excerpts, for the entire posts, and her fabulous blog, go directly to Iceland Weather Report .

It's Women's Day Off
Today, 24 October, is Women’s Day Off here in Iceland.

On this date 30 years ago, 25,000 Icelandic women walked off the job to call attention to the importance of their contribution to society. Many also took the day off from the household chores. No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, no women’s work. Instead they headed downtown in droves for an outdoor rally and general all-round celebration of strength. Women’s Day Off has been celebrated each year since, but rarely with as much energy as it is set to be today.

One woman who was faced with a particular conundrum on this day 20 years ago was then-President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir [the world’s first democratically-elected female President]. Icelandair stewardesses had gone on strike the day before and all Icelandair planes were grounded as a result. The government was in an uproar and on the 23rd they drafted legislation to order them back to work. As with all Icelandic legislation, it had to be signed by the President [the Head of State] for it to become law. President Vigdís was put in the difficult situation of having to choose between signing the bill and incurring the wrath of the general female population, or not signing the bill [which she would have preferred, she has said] and facing a governmental crisis. Apparently the all-male cabinet had whipped itself into a frenzy just at the possibility of Vigdís not signing, and ministers were already threatening to resign. [In a later interview she said she had marvelled at the fact that no-one had actually asked her if she would refuse to sign the bill. Which I think is pretty hilarious, really, seeing as they were prepared to flush their careers down the bog.] Anyway, in the end her very diplomatic solution was to wait several hours to sign, or as long as she possibly could, which allowed her to make her point without absolute mayhem resulting, yet giving women the feeling that they were heard.

… Because a recent survey shows that women in Iceland – despite their supposed independence and autonomy – still earn a mere 64.14% of men’s salaries. [If overtime is factored in, it works out to 72%.] At 2.08pm women will have worked 64.15% of a normal 9-5 day..... (More at Iceland Weather Report .)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Happy WDO
One of the great things about being part of a small nation is that when something is going on, you really feel part of it. The spirit of the event permeates everything, everyone gets caught up in it, and an enormous amount of energy is created. It’s sort of like the feeling you get at a rock concert – very energizing.

Such was the spirit of yesterday. Everyone seemed to get into it – young and old, male and female. Even though it had a serious undertone, there was, on the whole, a sense of harmony. There were no militant speeches or hateful declarations or resentful victimization. Nobody felt threatened. Instead there was a sense of a collective effort and agreement that things are not as they should be, and change is needed.

As predicted, most women nation-wide stopped working at 2.08pm and headed downtown, or to some central meeting place in their respective towns. The protest march in Reykjavík was supposed to be from Hallgrímskirkja church down to Ingólfstorg square, but by the time the rally was to begin – and the square was packed full – there was still a throng of people stretching to the place where the march had begun. It is estimated that around 50,000 people were in town – mostly women, but also a lot of men...(Again, for the full post, and to experience Iceland Weather Report and its wonderful writing for yourself, head over to Iceland Weather Report .)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

MotherTalk Philly, Nov 17th

Tomorrow I will blog about why everyone seems to believe that pregnant women can never under any circumstance take any kind of medication, my current pet peeve, developed during these past three weeks of the cold-from-hell that finally turned into bronchitis. But that's tomorrow when the hour is earlier and I have more energy.

Tonight: an invite/e-vite to the next MotherTalk here in Philadelphia, the salon that Andi Buchanan and I host. We'll be featuring her new book It's a Boy and Marion Winik's new book Above Us Only Sky. Here's the e-vite, with RSVP list.

Join us if you can, and think about doing a MotherTalk wherever you live, with a live author, a local blogger or journalist or writes on mom-issues, or just a group of mothers getting together to talk about the combined joys and frustrations of motherhood, especially the social and political ones. There is a low rumbling of moms (and dads) being upset with the way things are, and with the lack of real support for balanced family life in our nation. I hear it, and I hear parents asking me how to act on their concerns, how to do the things we do in a democracy when we need to make our voices heard. So email your friends and invite them to a MotherTalk at your house. You can even patch me in by speakerphone if you need me!

Oh, and here's the new website/blog Andi and I set up for MotherTalk announcements, if you want to help spread the word.

ps--thanks to everyone for diaper bag suggestions of all kinds!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Diaper Bags

Gang, it's time to get personal. No politics today. No media analysis. No stirring calls to action for a better parenting future. Only a much more pressing question from a nearly-nine-month-pregnant woman.

I need advice on diaper bags.

Yes. There are too many out there for me to choose from. I'm overwhelmed. So send me your suggestions. Nothing too fancy, with room for anything I might need, with decent style. Friends, I need your help here. Parents with younger children, tell me what I need.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Martha on Maureen

Readers of Truth Behind the Mommy Wars know that I'm not a big fan of Maureen Dowd's (although there is an occasional column that really hits the mark). Thanks to Andi B for this reference to Martha Brockenbaugh's blog Mommy Chronicles and her fab response
In Defense of the Bake Sale
for getting it right. Plus Martha's a great writer, so enjoy her writing.

Also today, a new friend forwarded me her response to a reporter. The reporter was seeking mother/daughter pairs where the mom had worked full time and the daughters were now at-home moms. Part of this new friends' response was to push the reporter beyond the easy explanations that so often appear in the national press: "The stay at home daughters you interview will likely state that they wanted to spend more time with their children than their own mothers spent with them, but I hope you ask these daughters what measures their previous employers took to accomodate their new families, and whether they were able to find quality, affordable child care for their child if they had to return to work."

As Martha at Mommy Chronicles asks, who will tell these stories, give voice really to what happens in our families, the way I tried to do in The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars. As a very pregnant mom who's tired these days,(not to mention, still sick with that damn cold/virus), I'm writing much less than usual, and feeling a bit insular. I appreciate these pals who are out there writing and speaking out, talking truth. I thank and applaud them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Iceland Women's Walk Out

This one's from this morning's perusal of and the latest fun there, Broadsheet, the blog devoted to women's issues. Women in Iceland walked off their jobs, in huge numbers, to protest continuing inequality, including the fact that mothers' salaries dwindle while fathers' grow. Icelandic women make 64 percent of men's salaries, not so far off from what's happening to many american mothers' salaries. The (female) mayor of Reykjavik reportedly supported the walk-out, and encouraged city workers to join in. Check it out.

If they can do it there, why not here? Why can't we even imagine this kind of support among women, and men, who apparently brought children to work in great numbers the day of the walkout? I'm privy to at least some discussions about activism on behalf of mothers rights and women's rights in our country, and no one even mentions this kind of public protest, ever. And why not?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Visit to Mothers & More

I am tired, and that cold lingers and will drag me to bed soon. But: I am excited after my visit to Mothers & More last night. I wrote about it on my Hylands blog, and will write more in coming days. I also had a provocative and interesting visit to St. Joseph's University, where I visited a Social Problems class that ended with the professor asking me what advice I would give a 20-something woman heading down a career path, given what we know about the collission course between mothers and jobs (answer: tomorrow).

I then gave a talk in the library, and was impressed by the faculty and students and their questions, particularly by an older faculty member who, when I mentioned that St. Joe's now leads local universities in family friendly policies, replied, "Yes. We worked on that for twenty-five years."

More tomorrow. It is these times when I get to be a public activist that make so much of the solitude of writing, and its crazy unpredictable rhythms feel right.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Small Changes in the Air.

I saw this article in the Boston Globe and thought it was interesting. It plays off of Desperate Housewives, of course, and the character Lynnette's recent decision to go back to work after being at home for many years (her husband is now home with the kids). Many of us have been thinking about how Lynnette's return to work seemed too easy, at least easier and more successful than the experience of many of our friends. At the same time we were glad to see reentry on TV.

The Boston Globe piece is clear that there's no "opt-out revolution." Many mothers take a few years off, and then they want to get back in to the workplace, without the discrimination that many are now experiencing. To bridge the gap between mothers and the workplace, there have been a series of NY-area career conferences and job fairs. To counter the NYTimes bad angles on us moms lately, I've come to appreciate any media piece that admits that there's discrimination against mothers in the workforce. The Globe piece cites a recent Cornell study in which the researcher was so shocked at what her data showed (as in, mothers were offered an average of 11K less than similarly trained men, and hired half as frequently), that she reanalyzed her data to be sure there wasn't a mistake.

We don't yet have any numbers or many anecdotes that tell us that moms who take off who finding on ramps back in. Even the mom in this article hasn't yet found a good job, and she's thinking about lower-level jobs, like a department-store stocking position, that clearly doesn't use her college-educated talents. And on the negative side, it's only a few companies who seem to appear at venues like this. However, these companies are recognizing that many mothers move in and out of work, that this is for many the new normal, and that this doesn't mean they're not valuable. And the company always quoted in these articles is Deloitte, which represents only one small sector of our economy. Still, while I'm being optimistic, who says one highly placed company can't make change? At least someone's out in front on this. Kudo's to Globe reporter Maggie Jackson for telling the truth about one part of the work-family experience of being a mother.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Well on second thought....

Ah, a weekend in the country can do wonders. Feel free to check out the Hylands blog, where indeed I do post everyday. But I will also keep Playground Revolution going, partly because many of us, myself included, struggle with how to speak honestly and politically, personally and publicly, all together. I may as well work through this out loud, as we figure out the many voices it takes to speak out and make a difference. So, I'll be there, and here.

Late Saturday night I realized it's just about the one year anniversary of Playground So maybe it needs a makeover, a new color, some bells and whistles to keep us all amused. Maybe it needs a way into the future. And a slightly less tired writer, perhaps one who's not dealing with last week's 1-2 punch of being 8 months pregnant, and felled by an October cold! But friends, I'll keep with it. There's too much at stake, plus, did anyone catch the news item last week about the advertising CEO who resigned after the uproar that followed his comments about women could never raise to advertising's top ranks, because of our caretaking and mothering duties? Agh, someone's got to be here at PR to keep on top of such things. We need to keep the uproar going, as well as our day-to-day support of each other. I want to be part of all that.

Plus, this week I'm speaking to a local Mothers & More group, and the next day giving a talk at St. Joseph's University, here in Philadelphia, so I'll have lots to report.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Other Blog


For a few weeks now I've been posting to an alternate blog, one I've agreed to do for Hylands. It's a more personal blog/forums. The writing is different, it's slightly less political, and more concerned with the everyday of parenting. On this blog, for a while now, my writer's voice has felt caught, it's too political, too angry, too one-dimensional, and I don't know exactly how to shift that. I've also been concerned that there are too many "anonymous--check out my commercial blog" responses. I know the web stats, so I know people are visiting in nice numbers, but I need more sense of community around this blog, to feel energized by other readers and writers. I also need a change in voice. I'm going to shift gears for a while, and focus more on the other blog for a few weeks, so please come with me and check it out.

My hope is that a break from Playground Revolution will help me solve the political vs personal divisions that are daunting, and haunting, and that don't reflect the kind of writing I really want to do. I'll post here once a week or so, but please, feel welcome at the other blog. I post there every afternoon; you just need to go the site and do a quick registration. I'll be back here at Playground Revolution soon, perhaps with a new set up, and a tone that more honestly reflects where I am now.

Thanks for understanding,


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Gender See-Saw

Okay, last week it was the NY Times declaring that elite college women everywhere wanted to be stay at home moms (I'm overstating, I know). This week, it's Newsweek's report on How Women Lead, far preferable in my book, though I can't help but think we are on a see-saw that no one's quite able to sort out. One week we're reminded that women are leaving hte workplace in droves, the next, of their success.

Now, neither report deals with the knitty-gritty issues of wage gap, say, and how much these women leaders are earning, compared to men in equivalent jobs. But the Newsweek report did let women talk about what they learned as parents, that it's okay to be emotional in the workplace, and it let them discuss discrimination and obstacles, even as several of the women leaders encouraged younger and other women to be more confident, to speak out, to not fall into the female trap of waiting for the perfect idea to speak.

What's so clear to me is that we're in the midst of it all, in the midst of sorting through what we women should and can be and do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Things I Like....

Sometimes the mom-thing is about making real change, sometimes it's just about not feeling so lost and invisible in our culture. Thoughts for the day, a catch-up of things I've learned in the past week.

1. Reel Moms--Movie showings where parents and caretakers can bring their kids. It's not exactly Seattle's famed Crying Rooms, where you can bring the babies to every show, but it's a step. I've been more and more interested in how the business world can provide services for parents that are win-win, and this seems like a nice one, in the space-creating mode. Now if only I actually got some maternity leave when my baby arrives in December, and didn't have to teach on tuesday mornings, I'd love to go to Reel Mom Cinema. Maybe I'll put in for a schedule change.... Check out Reel Mom Cinema

2. Mothers Can Do It job fairs in the NY area, focusing on helping mothers who have taken time out for parenting get back into the workplace. Check out their website

(Thanks to Jessica Safran at Vital Signage for both of these references.)

So while we're waiting for a big fancy mothers movement with all the bells and whistles that signify "movement," I'll also be keeping track of small changes that may open the doors for us caretakers to feel more empowered to act on our own behalf.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Getting Even

That's the name of Evelyn Murphy's new book: Getting Even: Why Women Don't Get Paid Like Men--and What to Do About It, which is on my desk, and I'm loving for it's point--that there is a wage gap, for women, for mothers, and it's not going away. Murphy is heavily promoting the book and getting the ideas out. Here's an article from the Boston Globe for anyone who know's they're not going to read the whole book. The wage gap is something that concerns me--no, that's too tame, angers me, even as it's something that I and many other women try not to think about. Murphy is mad though, and filled with data and arguments--this is the kind of book we'd all like to write because she's just nailed the problem on the head, and she's mad, and she's been the Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, so she knows both how to get attention and how politics works.

One of her arguments, too, is that lately there's been a rumor going round that the women's wage gap has to do with all the moms who have stepped out of the workplace. Not so, she says. They don't earn income, and they're not even counted when it comes to wages. She also writes about the mommy penalty and the daddy bonus, that moms earn less and gain fewer promotions when they become parents, and dads earn more and are taken more seriously. Go read the article. Get mad, and figure out what we can do to change this.

Now if I could only get my dsl line working in my new office space....

And have a great day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Check out the new Brian, Child

The new issue of Brain, Child, has an article by Stephanie Wilkerson on whether there can ever be a movement to get us out of the frustrations that mothers, and men who parent, currently face.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Go Annabeth!

Closer to Home: All I can say is that Annabeth's makeup looked fine by me, and she's a prosecutor, not a detective, and she's returning from maternity leave. Twelve weeks ("a full 12 weeks," says a woman who was promoted to be Annabeth's boss in her absence....") That said, read below for some very positive comments.

First, thank you TV for showing us a real live mother pumping breastmilk. Well, we didn't see the pumping, but we saw those funky plastic suction cups on her desk, and all the wires out and about. A minor plot line has Annabeth asking for a small frig for her office. She receives it, with a big red bow on top, after she wins her case, but really, after one of her bosses accidentally picks up a small bottle marked "breast milk, do not touch" from the lunchroom refrigerator. Points for making breast pumping look respectable, something done with dignity, not in disarray. And for showing us this scene. Have we ever before seen a mom pumping?

Second, thank you for the kindly daycare worker, who when Annabeth returns to work, afraid that she's damaging her child through daycare, reassures her that the separation is harder for Annabeth than it is for her adorable child.

Third, thank you for portraying a decent dad and father, also at his job, also balancing work and family. He's a minor character, and yes, he does call her with his own emergency-can-you-pick-our-child-up-at-the-last-minute-even-though-you're-busy-at-work. But it's clear that he takes usual responsibility for picking up their child at daycare, and doing the evening shift. He doesn't complain when Annabeth gets a late night work-related call. He cuddles her and their child. And he takes an active role in sleep-training their child. Points, points, points for showing an involved dad, for not repeating the new idiom that parenting is women's work.

Yes, we've seen working moms on TV, but never with scenes that show them grappling with this level of detail, and never letting them express true ambivalence. Annnabeth gets to say near the beginning that she's not really ready to return to work, yet at the same time, she wants to be both a mommy and a prosecutor. We understand that Annabeth finds all this hard. That's not swept under the rug. Even the woman who at show's beginning is her nemesis and now boss, is, by hour's end telling Annabeth that nothing's harder than being a working mother.

So, a big thank you to TV for this one, for showing us one mother's life, with empathy and care.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Is Change in the Air: TV

Okay, it's a theme, a passion, an obsession, but many of us share it. Where will change come from?

Today, in between my almost 8-months-pregnant hibernal fog, I read in the Philly Inquirer about the new TV show, airing tonight, called Closer to Home, whose central character is a back-to-work mom detective. The article complained that she wears too much make up, but generally likes the show. Put that together with Lynnette, week 2, and her return to work, and does this mean that those invisible hollywood writers have a theme going? A theme that finally lets at least this aspect of motherhood on the air?

Now, we want all of motherhood on the air, but this is a good start. So, in case any TV writers ever check this blog, let me tell you what moms across america, and savvy dads, too, want to know about these characters: we want to know their salaries. We want to know the exact relation between what they did before kids and what they're doing now. We want to know the wage differential: did they lose status during their years at home? are they subject to the mommy wage gap? are they being paid fairly now? Just a few lines of dialogue will satisfy, no need to make a big deal. But if you want realism, if you want us to relax and believe, dish the numbers. Hollywood, if you can hear me, that's what I have to say. We want numbers. And ps, there's the contact question: Did these women have pre-existing contacts? Did they answer newspaper ads, seek headhunters? Did they have to network the whole time they were home with the kids?

I really truly am sleeping as much as I can, which means tonight I dozed on the couch as soon as Rob walked in the door, and missed even kissing my daughter goodnight. In my haze (the TV was on, we watched Eloise for the millionth time this afternoon....) I heard a news report, yet another, on whether working moms should feel guilty (answer: they shouldn't). Apparently a new government report. Apparently they want us all back in the workplace. The report reassures moms (see below) that it's only the margins of kids in daycare who become more aggressive, and most kids in daycare do just fine on all standards of behavior and intelligence. All of you know that I have to opinion on the daycare/homecare debates. There are many ways to raise a child. I'm just intrigued when I see a new juncture of concern and debate.

Is this just the Desperate Housewives effect? (Rumor has it the NY Post has a DH-angled article on back-to-work motherhood in a recent edition.) Could it be the economy's heating up again and they need women's skills and talents? If so, women, ladies, girls, when you head back to work: be confident, demand, negotiate, and get what you want, that's my advice. My only problem with this report: the dads. Dads are part of parenting too, let's keep them in the picture, whether they're at home, working, cycling back in, supporting, or whatever. Not every family has a dad, some have two moms, some have one, some families only have dads, but dads can't stay invisible in this story of change.

And now, because it's media night, I'm off to clean out my office, which is going to become the nursery. I'm moving upstairs, to a slightly larger space, but out of the hustle-and-bustle of what will become the family floor (ours is one of those old, narrow, tall houses). For a half-hour, since no one I know wants to miss Commander-in-Chief at 9 o'clock. Who says that TV is the poison of civilization? Not me.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Change 1

This post gets a number. Change is what I'm pondering over, and I can't write, or even think, it all in a single post. Look for change, followed by many numbers. I'm often asked if I think real change for the situations women and mothers face is possible. At times I feel like a cheerleader: change must be possible, it has to happen, there's too many lives at stake. We women and mothers must be included in our nation's promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to it's citizens.

At other times, I'm not sure. I can see things getting worse. I think that the NYTimes article on college students last week was very much about representatives of a cohort saying that they've lost faith in the post 1960's american contract, that we can all have families and earn a living, on equal terms.

And last night at MotherTalk, the question that struck me the most was, what can we do. The problem is so large. And believe me, it's not like I have the answer behind my back and I'm just not telling. It's like anything: when you have a vision about how to make something, or make something better, but there's no explicit directions, and getting from here to there can seem a bit magical.

So, for the moment, some pieces, some attempts.

I'll be talking more with her next week, but when I spoke at Barnard a met a women who runs an executive coaching firm called Vital Signage. And check out this announcement on her website,

"New Practice Area: Integrating Livelihood and Motherhood

VitalSignage has started a practice for pregnant professionals and new working mothers. If your company is committed to retaining your high potential female executives and managers as they move through a profound life change, VitalSignage Coaching is your resource. With an emphasis on integrating livelihood and motherhood, the coaching program uses the multiple identities and roles of women to expand their leadership development and innovate the ways in which they contribute to the organization.
Contact us to find out more."

Sometimes change is big and loud and happens out in the streets, and sometimes it is quiet and persistence, and comes from a web in every direction, making it hard to track, hard to quantify, but it happens nonetheless. That's what I'm betting is happening. It needs energy. I'm going to start, and keep, tracking down small sites around our homes and schools and workplaces where change is happening, so send me info if you have it.

More to come.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

MotherTalk tonight

Any last minute, local readers: I'll be appearing with Andi Buchanan tonight at MotherTalk, 2026 Spruce in Center City, Philadelphia. Come and join us for good conversation about motherhood. See you there.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Desperate Housewives, before the next one airs

There seems to be something in the air that propels me toward guilty pleasure TV on sunday nights. It could be HBO and the wonderfully vacuous Entourage, sadly post-season now. Or it could be Desperate Housewives. Which I do watch, though not religiously, but I'm glad I caught this one. Last spring I talked with a reporter who asked me what I thought of DH. My answer was that it wasn't good enough, and I mentioned that I would like the show to deal with Lynnette's struggles as a mother who had a big career and was now at home. I wanted more workplace angst, in other words.

Well, I got it. Sunday showed Lynette's husband at home. Of course, he's being set up to fail, with a back that just went out, but hey, my back went out with a six-month at home, and I was flat on the floor too, so I have sympathy. I do hope the show can let him be competent. Dads can hands-on parent as well as moms, and we don't need another stereotyped Mr. Mom dad who can't quite get it right. (By the same token, I'm glad that last night's premiere of Commander-in-Chief didn't let the female president's husband become chief of staff, and made a big deal of showing him the first lady's office, swathed in pink. Men CAN do what women have always done).

We also get to see Lynnette get a new job. She carousels back in, not without some flack. Of course, it's the woman who criticizes her in advance for having kids, and wonders whether she can do the job. We want images of female solidarity, but this image too, is quite real, and one of the places where mommy wars take place is not on the playground, but in offices everywhere, with women with and without children taking out frustrations on each other. I did love the segment where Lynnette is interviewed for five seconds by the big boss, who needs to leave early to catch a basketball game, putting to rest the idea that it's only parents who need special daytime hours off for their kids' needs. And the scene in which Lynnette diapers her baby and fast-talks a presentation on what the company's next steps should be is priceless.

So, comments: was the on ramp too easy? It's clear that she's taking a lesser job than she had; after all, she's the one with more knowledge and know-how. Is her on-ramp too easy to be a good, helpful image for mothers everywhere? Or is it helpful for all of us to have a TV image of a mom who gets back into the workforce? To see her business focus and smarts up against one boss who's petty and biased against moms, and another who respects her as he's heading out the door to play?

I say, keep it up and give us more. Yes, we need to talk about the difficulties of reentry, desperately. And we also need these public images and stories about mothers who move in and out of home and work, of moms who carousel as many of us do. Even, perhaps especially a popular TV show about a mom getting back in starts to shift the culture we live in. Go Lynnette. Get that husband of hers to the chiropractor and get him standing again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

NYT, finally.

Several people have asked me what I think about last week's NYTimes feature on Ivy-educated women who plan to leave the workforce or work part time once they have children. After all, I've made a recent career of reading the NYTimes and pointing out how poorly it deals with gender and motherhood. The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars is filled with this kind of analysis, and since its publication, many blog entries have followed that direction.

For those who have asked, my response is that these young women aren't insane, and they may not even be antifeminist, though the article poses them that way. We don't know enough from the article to say whether they are the vision of the new conservativism (though some may be, especiallly since in the last decade, we've seen very progressive moms on the blue-state side of things leave their paid jobs, stay home, or work part time. These young women may merely be pragamatic. They may be looking ahead to women ten years senior and saying, ah ha, this is what happens, especially in law, business, medicine and the other high prestige jobs they are headed toward.

Critics in, and at Slate respond in part by saying that this is a tiny subsection of our society, and that in fact more women and mothers than ever are in the workplace. That response fudges the numbers. More women/mothers than 20 years ago are in the workplace, yes, but a huge proportion of them are working part time, in other words, they're accommodating motherhood and work in ways that are often unfair, salary-wise. To say in the name of a feminist response that more women and mothers are working is to undermine the real support that many mothers need to find fair labor.

Near the end of Truth Behind the Mommy Wars, I write that what looks like a retro trending back to the 1950's may not be so. But what the trend of mothers leaving the full time workplace needs is a voice, is a framework that explains the real frustrations and the true structures that make it so hard for many moms to work fulltime. It needs a voice that says: things must change. It needs a vision.

Good thing we have Judith Stadtmand Tucker at Mothers Movement Online on our team. Head right over Judy's new post on the Times article, and let's all be glad we know someone with vision, and that she's focused her life so that she can share it with all of us.

Have a great day, and a great start to the week.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What is MotherTalk?

Last January, Andi B and I learned that mother author Faulkner Fox was visiting Philadelphia with her son. Not content to just let her have a vacation, we asked if she wanted to participate in a book event. She said yes, and then Andi Buchanan and I, not content to just call a few pals, decided to start a movement (okay, I'm overstating a bit). An evening's not good enough, it needs a title, it needs continuity, even though we're busy, we need to start an institution that gathers mothers together for talk, food, conversation.

MotherTalk was born. A few emails later, was our sponsor. Now we have a new co-sponsor, Time Out, a new Philly-based organization that gathers moms for fun and a night out every so often. We've had several MotherTalks since then, as our author friends come through town on book tours or family getaways. And I'll be doing one next Thursday, September 29th, in Center City (see the right sidebar for details...)

What I love about MotherTalk is that we get to talk about real issues. There's something about talking at night, when mothers revert to grownup time, that's very special. Yes, there's a theme here, about reclaiming our evenings for inspired talk and vision. Moms get together. After the last one, in which Faulkner envisioned the end of mothers judging each other, and the start of feminist revolution, I wondered how many such gatherings would be necessary to really start the buzz, to start a cultural shift in which we know our issues as moms, and we have more strength to shoulder the confusing political and cultural times in which we live (front page NYTimes, anyone?)

MotherTalk has spread--there have been events in Oregon, in Seattle, and other cities. It's not proprietary, it's not something we control, so if you want to gather moms (and/or dads) together to talk (with or without authors present!), go ahead, send out an e-invite, make a yahoo group list for the next time, let folks in your neighborhood or city or state feel connected to us well-meaning, committed author-moms here in Philadelphia, and elsewhere around our nation, reminding ourselves that mothers and fathers everywhere are talking about these issues. Just let us know so we have a sense of what's going on. And talk, and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Right to Wear Dowdy Clothes

I stopped into the hardware store today to buy some concrete mix. Yes, this sounds impressive, really, though, only a small bag, having picked up an on-sale tether-ball set last week while shopping for presents for September birthday parties (it's the season of bowling parties for the turning-7-and-8-years-old set), only to realize later that one doesn't just push a tether-ball pole into the ground, one has to anchor it in a concrete base, set into the grass, making it a much larger project than I thought when I alighted upon the mark-down from 19.99 to 2.99. Perhaps this is why the set ended up in the post-summer sale bin.

Anyway, I stopped at Killian's, a very old-fashioned kind of hardware store where when you're visibly pregnant, the 70-something sales clerk asks if he can haul your bag of concrete mix to your car for you, and it doesn't seem patronizing, it just feels kind (actually, they'll do this even if you aren't pregnant, and I liked that no one raised an eyebrow at the possible incongruity of a pregnant woman asking for concrete). The cashier was very chatty, and sweet. She told me how nice it was to see a pregnant woman wearing something large, like they used too (she was probably in her fifties). I was wearing a rather large, black sleeveless maternity shirt. It was leftover from my first time around, fashionable seven years ago when my first daughter was born, the first Belly Basics maternity clothing foray into black. It came with maternity biker shorts, and was quite comfortable, and the whole outfit got me through a hot Atlanta summer.

Now, however, clothes for pregnant women come much tighter. Don't get me wrong. I'm walking around with my belly sticking out, swathed minimally in camisoles, and pants that come under my belly. I love the new clothes. But what struck me is how old-fashioned I felt today, dowdy even, with my tentlike covering. As we move toward better fashion for pregnant women, I also don't want to lose our fashion right to be dowdy, to wear big comfy clothes, to sport about in oversize shirts and leggings, to dare to look 1970's. I've seen bunches of newspaper articles lately that note the new, Brittany-Spears maternity wear. Next it will Manolos in extra-wide for pregnant mamas, I'm sure, and we'll feel thirty years out of date if we slip flats or canvas keds around those bulging, waterlogged ankles of ours.

After we chatted, and I turned to catch up with the clerk carrying my bag of concrete mix, the cashier half-apologized. "I hope I didn't pry," she said. I assured her it was all okay, that I appreciated the chance to talk about all this. In public. Sometimes older women with their long memories, are exactly who we need to be hearing from.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Check Out New Events

Check out the sidebar, I've just added some more Philly-are events this fall. I know, I can't say no, I just love talking about these issues and hearing what people have to say. I'll be at St. Joseph's University (St. Joe's to locals) on wednesday, October 16th at noon--a great daytime event if you're home with your kids. Watch for more details (room, etc) as they emerge. Plus, rumor has it that hoagies will be served. Religious universities tend to be sidelined in our discussions about women and social justice: I must report that of all our illustrious area colleges, St. Joe's seems to be the leader in real policies that help working mothers and fathers. I'm excited to visit and learn more.

And announcing another Philadelphia MotherTalk! Thursday evening, September 19th, 2026 Spruce St. in Center City. Details and rsvp to MotherTalk is new national phenomenon that brings women together in evening literary salons to talk with local and visiting mother-writers about the real issues affecting them as mothers and women today. MotherTalk started here in Philly when Andi and I realized that mother-author Faulkner Fox was visiting, and we wanted to set up an event for her. Good ideas spread, and MotherTalks have spread, with some in LA, Seattle, Oregon and other far away places. Think good food, good company, good conversation, and pass the word. These have been very popular and well-attended events, and a great combination of serious talk and fun.

On My Mind

So this is what's on my mind--how do we take all the thoughts of moms and dads everywhere, their love for their kids, their visions of a saner life of parenting, their frustration at the workplaces and government policies that make this harder than it should be, and move forward toward real change?

At the Barnard event last week, Lisa Belkin put it very succinctly: How do break out of the constant cycless of confusion, hope and disappointment that mothers in particular keep facing in our nation's history?

And me, I've been in so many rooms and discussions over the past five months since my book came out. I've listened to mothers in bookstores, living rooms, radio call-ins, library meeting rooms, and more, talk with great earnestness, and with anger. Yet as one mom said to me after a mother's salon in Maplewood, New Jersey: we talk about this all the time, and nothing changes.

After the Barnard panel, I woke in the middle of the night. The question going through my mind was: what if nothing changes? what if nothing changes, and all the frustrations stay the same? What if mother's american rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness aren't really our rights? What if we aren't fighting hard enough for them, aren't yet convinced that we have the right to something better, even if getting there is complicated?

Last night I had a most excellent conversation with Laurie Pettine. She's an activist with NOW, and she lives in Northern New Jersey with her children. We were both very tired, our talk began at 9 and went late. But it made me think we should always have our conversations about the future late at night. During the day we are so adult and practical, so aware of possibilities and their limitations. At night we feel like college students, up late solving the word's problems, sure we can.

Laurie has been working with NOW, baggage and all, on a Mothers and Caregivers Rights Taskforce. Yes, NOW. The same organization that's been accused in the past of not recognizing mothers and our needs. And the focus on this, the new NOW, apparently is going all the way up to the top.

But the real thing is, Laurie's enthusiasm, and her ability to think as an activist in a new vein, helped get me out of my fear that nothing can change. That we're all smart enough to talk about these issues, or write about them, but not able to think about how social change happens in this country, not able to get past the embarassment of putting a toe on the line.

Could there be a feminist movement brewing that includes the issues that mothers are facing?

Friday, September 16, 2005

In DC Next the JCC

For any friends and readers in the DC area--I'll be speaking next week at the JCC. The event's on Thursday, September 22. Contact me or hariet@dcjcc for more info. It should be a good event, most of these are, I've found, I'll be talking about parenting, mothers and fathers, work, desire, the usual, but also, what it means to start to become politically active about these issues, to reach out just a bit, in ways that fit into our lives, to summon the courage to make change that goes behind our nuclear families.

Mother Knot

Here's a link I've been meaning to send out for a while, to the interview with author Jane Lazarre on Mothers, about her book Mother Knot Still catching my breath from the NY trip, and promise to write about what an inspiring evening it was, in a room filled with Barnard alumnae and other women and a few men from the area, at the podium with three smart and inspiring writers. And ultimately it will become clear, too, why I've posted this interview, aside from the fact that I've always loved Mother Knot, and that I was reading it when I unknowingly became pregnant with my first child, all those years back (look for a post sometime soon called Jean Rosenthal's living room....). At the moment, however, if I can't clear my screen and desk of their many notes and reminders, I will never be able to write. So here it is.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Off to NY

Lots going on, but little time to blog....the story of everyone's life, and to avoid sounding like an addict trying to reform, I promise not to promise to blog more (but I do promise to write about my new fave self-help book, the one about how you can't make a difference if you can't find your keys, and how now most times I do put my keys in the same place all the time so my days are no longer punctuated by key-searches every time I need to drive my car.

I'm off to NY today, excited about doing an event at Barnard this evening with Cecelie Berry, author of Rise Up Singing: Black Women on Motherhood, Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness, and NYTimes reporter Lisa Belkin. I've been on a listserv with Cecelie, and she wrote a blurb for the back of my book, so I'm very excited about meeting her, as well as the others. And Barnard is a place I've spoken before, and where close friends work. The first time I spoke there my daughter had just been born, about 7 years ago. My mother drove in to help watch her during my talk, and several people asked me if she were the nanny. Since I've never had a nanny, and can't afford one, I was tickled, also sad that for most of us family isn't around to help. At the time I was living in Atlanta, so it was a rare moment that I was near enough to my mom for her to help out this way. Info on the event at Barnard.

I'm also meeting Isabel Kalman, of Alpha Mom TV, for lunch. She's the woman who was featured in New York Magazine several months back, stereotyped as classic socialite affluent hyper mom mom making her kid crazy, etc, etc, we all know how the stereotype works. I do have in mind to write an article called "In Defense of Affluent Moms," since these days, it seems the media only pays attention to wealthy mothers, and when they do so, the general lack of understanding of motherhood just gets disguised as more palatable critique of their upper class trappings. I've been able to look behind the article's bad press, and had the chance to talk with Isabel by phone, and also check out her channnel, Alpha Mom, on Comcast's On Demand, and I really like the segments, which are very down to earth, and quite helpful (thanks to Liz Lange on third trimester dressing and what to do when all your clothes no longer fit, I now know to just get a long black camasole to layer underneath my shirts when my belly button starts to peek out.) More on this later, but I think it's a good media outlet, and perhaps the relative length of video, and the release from the conventions of magazine and newspaper publishing is something that can be more helpful to mothers and fathers who want help and info for caring for their kids.

More later, must toss some toiletries and a change of clothes into my bag and head for the train.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WHYY again, they promise this time!

Marty Moss-Coane herself called this time, to say that my segment will really be on TV this Friday, 10-11 pm. Of course, it was a thrill to just hear her voice, since I'm so used to hearing it only over the radio, and I'm such a big Radio Times fan.

WHYY--Channel 12/PBS in the Philadelphia/Delaware/Southern New Jersey region, Friday, September 2d, 10-11 pm.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Pink Pills?

Well, not sure yet why, but WHYY cancelled me on Friday, I was booted by an episode about rising gas costs (can't argue with the importance of re-airing that) and a back-to-school segment about college students who abuse Adderall in order to focus better and stay up all night to study. I'll let you know if they reschedule my segment. Bad luck with TV this summer, as the Food Network also cancelled me (seems like they decided not to take on motherhood right now).

But today's thought. Why are my prenatal vitamins pink? I bought a new bottle the other day, very ordinary, run of the mill vitamins from the CVS. I swear the last time around, their prenatal v's were yellow, ordinary pill color. Why pink? In my fantasy of having spare time I will write the company and ask. Why do my prenatal pills come in pink?

This comes on the heels of finishing my essay for Andi Buchanan's It's a Girl anthology, which in part was about coming to terms with symbols of how hurtful gender stereotypes and roles can be and staying focused on real issues that are harmful to women and girls, in short, not getting too bent out of shape by my daughter's passing delight in pink-everything and cheerleading. The essay ends perhaps too optimistically, I thought today as I mused over my pink prenatal pills. Perhaps, despite it all, despite all my critique of the way things are, of the culture of gender and motherhood and all the rest, I am too willing to believe that the world is a better place than it might be.

Friday, August 26, 2005

WHYY in Philadelphia Tonight

I'm back from camp Grandma and Grandpa, and have much to say and little to time to sit and do it, in part because I'm totally overdeadline for writing an essay for my friend Andi Buchanan's It's A Girl book. More on all of that later.

Breaking news, though, for Philadelphia-area folks who are interested. My interview with Marty Moss-Coane on Radio Times will be played tonight on WHYY's weekly TV show, 10 -11 pm. I hope they play the part with the call-ins, because those conversations were so interesting.

More later, we've got a day of errands and such ahead, and then my daughter's going bowling with her best friend from school--they haven't seen each other much this summer. A good day to all, and I promise to blog more often from here on in.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The F-word

There's a book by this name; it's my daughter's favorite off my shelf, for obvious six-year-old-going-on-seven reasons. Of course, she thinks its a cover for a fabulous curse word, and thinks feminism is just something her mom and her friends' moms toss about when we're explaining why cheerleading may not be as fun as it seems.

There's also an F-word online magazine that everyone should be looking at and sending round, because it's by the truly energetic and visionary young philadelphian Melody Berger, recent Temple University graduate, and fellow inhabitant of our fair and gritty city (though tale has it she's headed for the Bay Area). It's been praised on Salon and snarked by the National Review, so there you have it.

And mother writers, note that the next issue is on motherhood, ideas and articles still welcome. Here's the call:


We're going to have one! :-) Over 22,000 people checked out the first
issue, and, based on their helpful feedback, we've been brainstorming
away all summer.

And we're looking for more submissions. (tell everyone you know).

The theme is "motherhood"... but there's a very strong "body wars"
undercurrent throughout. ('cause I don't know about you, but the
supreme court sheise is terrifying me just a wee bit)

IDEAS DUE: August 29th
ARTICLES DUE: October 15th

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mommy Too!

More on mamazine. Here's the direct link to the interview with Jennifer James, publisher of Mommy Too! There's been a bit written lately on the question of is there a mothers movement (and look for a forthcoming article in Brain, Child, on the topic). I was struck by one of the points Jennifer James makes in this interview, that yet again, best intentions (perhaps) aside, most coverage of a "mothers movement" has focused on white women. I can tell you from personal experience that of all the attention my book received, very few reviewers or interviewers ever mentioned the fact that it's one of the few that crosses the color line, that includes long sections on black mothers experiences in our country, of racial tensions in the second wave women's movement that resulted in the issues of middle class and predominantly white women's issues becoming primary. Or that the book interviewed wealthy women alongside welfare-receiving moms, and took all of them very seriously, or that one of the most affluent mothers in the book is African-American, and the welfare moms were mostly white. And believe me, writing this part of the book was the hardest, getting all these mothers' experiences between the same covers. It's just that hard to get messages out that cross these racial lines, messages that are inclusive, that try harder, and don't easily accept our nation's segregations. (Readers: tell me that I'm wrong, tell me media that's done a good job of this so we can all know about it.) So read Jennifer James' interview, and let us know what you think.


Hailing from Sacramento, CA, check out the new Mamazine, a new, non-commercial venue for writing and news about mothers' lives, for you to read, and for you to submit your own writing, too.

Self-description: "Where mamas can get real and get happy."

I like: interview with mother-writer, travel-writer, job-hopping writer, and fellow Seal Press author Ayun Halliday; interview with Jennifer James of Mommy Too, in an article titled "Making Sure Mamas of Color are Seen and Heard"; and a section of grandmamas' writing, and don't we need those older moms in the mix. And more generally: good and honest writing about motherhood, warts and all.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Debate over "We"

There's an interesting debate going on in the parenting blogs, started by Suzanne at Mother-in-Chief's August 9th entry about how we mothers are underemployed. Elizabeth at half-changed worldpicked up the debate, by worrying that this kind of language makes working mothers nervous, and lots of other bloggers have weighed in.

Part of my frustration about Truth Behind the Mommy Wars not getting enough attention is that its numbers and stories and insights haven't become part of our general knowledge about motherhood and work. So let me add some info to these debates.

First, in support of Suzannne's use of the word "we": 37 percent of mothers work part time. 25 percent are at home, and many, many of these mothers say they would like decent, fairly paid part time work in the professions in which they were trained. Many part time working moms are doing much less interesting work than they want. That's bad for them, and it's bad for our economy and for the productivity that the US needs. So say that out loud--37 percent of mothers in the US work part time--that's 2 percentage points less than fulltime working mothers. 37 percent.

Second, I"m tired of hearing people say, well, it's your choice to do less paid work, many of us can't even afford this. Okay. People: the numbers are clear. Most at home mothers are not affluent, despite the ongoing media attention to mothers in wealthy neighborhoods. Most at home and part time working mothers in our country are part of families that have LESS money. They are making choices about how to live their lives. And often these choices are economically counter-intuitive. They are living with less, and often at great sacrifice. Because our media fills us with stories about hyper moms in NY and DC and suburban Atlanta, and forgets the rest of the country's mothers, we forget this too.

And third, if the workplace doesn't offer part time work at fair wages and conditions, then none of us has a choice. If Suzanne is frustrated with free-lance work, it's in part because that field has come to rely on a huge stable--and I use that word accordingly--of mothers who write, and will write for very little money. She's resisting that, by writing quite honestly about how her time and money (as in money spent on baby sitting) were abused. Others can tell her to keep trying, and perhaps she will, but that doesn't change the structure of a journalism industry that pays writers very little, gives them no benefits, and often puts them through the wringer and doesn't respect their time and talent. Yes, there are exceptions, but that doesn't change the structure.

So read the book and get the numbers down, because we need to be able ro reframe these debates--all mothers are 'We" and all mothers have different needs, and these issues affect us all, and dads too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Liberal Press/Mess

Now, I'm no conservative, so you wouldn't expect a rant on the liberal press to come from me. However (and apologies in advance, I have just a few minutes to write and there will be no links--I'll write another post later; we're at Camp Grandma and Grandpa, which means I 'm still the one taking my daughter to the pool in a few minutes, only with her grandma in tow!), what I've noticed is that the national press that really is the voice of liberalism, in it's classic form--I'm thinking here of the NY Times and of the Atlantic Monthly--have been with few exceptions, relatively horrible for any good coverage of issues about motherhood, fatherhood and parenting. The NYT we know about. Yesterday on the beach I was reading through the AM (I know, I should have stuck to Harry Potter, which everyone else at Menhaden Lane seemed to be reading). One article, by Sandra Tsing Loh, reviewed a recent memoir by a mother who's one child had died, horribly, and young, of cancer, and after, she left the other three children with her husband and the au pair, and ran of to writers colonies in northern california, where she also met the love of her life, married him, and now sees her kids mostly during the summer.

That's her story. And though STL puts some barbs as well as sympathies into her retelling of it, I will leave her story as that, as one that is hers.

The problem comes in when STL suggests that this is the modern paradigm for motherhood, that perhaps we don't need to be the custodial parent, and perhaps that's the solution to the problem of having kids and having time for our careers and creativity.

Okay, there's a few more pieces here. The AM this month, clearly having decided that tales of affluent motherhood are the way to reader's hearts, had another piece, about single mothers who use sperm donors. Now, I've read versions of this story before, but what fascinated me was that in both pieces, the only mothers that matter are ones who are affluent, have lots of mobility, are well educated, well appointed, and exist within a certain post-sex and the city fantasy of womanly life. Hey guys, wasn't that just a tv show? Are our urban centers really filled with Mirandas and Carries? If so, how come I don't know any? And really, what about the rest of us moms? Clearly we don't show up on the reader/audience radar for this sector of the liberal press. And the crazy thing--it's not like women like me are so far off from their stereotyped reader--I mean, I'm well educated, socially mobile and all the rest. If I'm not even included, then we know how truly narrow the imagined mother/reader is.

That's one piece of the whole. The other comes here. I joined the organization Mothers & More several months ago. I think it's important to support motherhood organizations--all of them, and I've been very pleasantly surprised. I know that M & M has a reputation for being a bunch of midwestern stay at home moms, and I'm here to report that nothing can be further from the truth. Each day I receive in my email inbox a digest from their POWER loop. Very often this includes lots of links to articles in newspapers around the country that have something to do with motherhood. And here's what I've noticed. Our nation's papers do cover motherhood, and they often do it much better than our premier newspapers. I've read short articles about whether there's a mothers movement, updates on work/family arrangements, reports on chambers of commerce and business communities that are trying to roll back FMLA, and on and on. As Rebel Dad says, the Boston Globe has actually been quite good on fatherhood issues. So out here in America, beyond the narrow class confines of the Times and the Atlantic Monthly, we are getting some of the info we need. And of course, Mothers Movement Online has been diligent beyond our best imaginations about collecting all of this in one spot each month.

I know from writing the book that it's not the classic liberal or democratic voices that are helpful on motherhood issues, and that makes it more interesting for those of us out here to be very creative in how we work to create change and improved structures for family lives.

Ok, the pool calls, my daughter calls, packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches calls. Links and more later, spell and grammar check too. Tell me what you think.