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.