Thursday, April 07, 2005

North Carolina/Bathroom Talk

If anyone stops by my blog from North Carolina, I'll be reading at the Regulator Bookstore, in Durham, this Friday (the 8th. The Regulator is on 9th Street, and the event will be starting at 7 pm. I'm excited to see who shows up, and also excited that I'll be seeing my mentor Jean O'Barr, mother author Faulkner Fox, of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life fame, and blogger and mother author Amy Tiemann (you can check her out at; she's emailed to tell me about her new book on motherhood, and I'm particularly excited by the Mojo Mom caps she sells on her website.

On the Kevyn Burger show last week (see below), the discussion of motherhood turned to how mothers cooperate rather than compete, ie, the times that we're not stuck in silly Mommy Wars. Since then, I've been hearing and seeing even more than usual the ways this is true. Kevyn mentioned how a friend made sure she knew about the local girls' softball league, and that reminded me to make photocopies of the announcement of Wild Things softball expanding into the 1st and 2d grade set, and give them to the school teachers to hand out to all the girls, so that everyone knows the schedule.

Sometimes modern parenting turns so petty. People withhold information because somehow they think this gives their kid an edge; they get their own private cool activity experience which will set them apart from the pack and assure that they will happy and successful the rest of their life. As if. And as I write in the book, parenting should not be an Olympic sport. Cooperation, fellow mothers and fathers, cooperation. Even when it's hard. We must trust that cooperative parenting will help build the support systems that all of us need.

Here's a story I want to pass on, told me by a friend. It was summer, and their family was at a pool, or perhaps a beach, and it takes place in a large bathroom, which means my daughter will automatically love this bathroom's-r-us tale. His wife was in a bathroom stall when an eight year old girl came in. She was very sunburned, and in much pain. Her mom came in with the spray to help, and the daughter just lost it and started to tantrum and yell out "You're the worst mother in the world."

The tantrum continued for a bit, and when there was finally a moment of silence, as she caught her breath, my friend's wife hears a woman a few stalls down said, "No. I'm the worst mother in the world."

There's silence. And then, from a few stalls down the other direction, another woman raises her voice into the conversation. "No way. I'm the worst mother in the world. By far."

My friend didn't relate what happened next. It's at this point we all start to laugh. I can't help think of this as a behind-the-stalls act of womanly solidarity. One can easily imagine the mother of the sunburnt girl cringing, feeling mortified that her daughter's hurting body was her fault, and waiting for others to judge her. Instead, the women defused it all, and supported the mother, who I'm sure was feeling bad enough that her daughter was in sunburn pain.

Send me more stories like this, that's all I can say. When do we cooperate? When do we act in solidarity?

ps. thanks for all the messages readers are emailing to me. Feel free to respond on the blog, too.


Danya said...

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