Friday, September 22, 2006

A New Vision of Motherhood

Over at Everyday Mom I've been writing about what a motherhood identity that is policial and smart would feel like. The question came up for me this time around, because I've had trouble getting excited talking with other parents of young babies (Amelia Jane is now 9 1/2 months old). I'm friendly, and I introduce myself, but honestly, I'm really bored trading info about how old the kids are, and what they do, and whether they're in childcare or not. I do my best, and last time around, I loved mom-and-dad chitchat. I really did. I wanted to know all the details, I craved knowing what other babies were doing, and how their parents were managing. I made friends over and again by hearing and sharing these details.

This time, it's not enough, this lowest-commom-denominator talk that we do. I've been musing over what might take it's place. When Samira was young and I hung so many hours at the Lake Claire playground, my favorite was when someone would have caught the daily headlines and repeated them back to us at 4 pm as we gathered after the kids' naps. I loved when my friend Lisa would come by and tell what was happening in China. Yesterday, I ambled over to the excellent High Point Cafe. At the table next to me was a mother with a one-year-old baby (yes, we did the baby-age-trade) who was reading a magazine, a political magazine. Yes, this mother was reading The New Republic as she one-handedly helped her baby hold a bottle, and as she sipped coffee.

I was elated. Motherhood has long been seen as the opposite of all that is reasoned, smart and public sphere, and even in its current incarnation and association with well educated mothers, this hasn't changed. Any time we break that mold, any time we are active in our social worlds, smart, anytime we read something that isn't an insipid women's magazine, and yes, I really mean that, show me a mainstream women's magazine that really truly takes us seriously, we start breaking that mold. I'm on the lookout for mold-breaking, and I'm on the lookout for how we start to form shared models of motherhood on very different terms.

6 comments:

karrie said...

On the topic of woman's magazines,I think you might enjoy this entry from another smart woman in your neck of the woods:

http://stuntmother.blogspot.com/2006/09/release-mutha-within.html

PunditMom said...

This has been on my mind, as well. Sure, it's easy to fall into the daily stats to make conversation with other moms. But think about the power we could ultimately have to make change if we talked about other things, too. I like the headlines idea ... it's a start. I'm putting on my thinking cap.

CrankMama said...

Even though I read insipid magazines (though not a "women's magazine" per se) I also read The New Yorker and am also thrilled to meet other moms able to discuss more than babies.

Paige said...

So funny that you posted this. Just the other day I was asking my husband whether he thought it odd or depressing that women at the playground spent more time discussing their little ones' snack habits than they did their own interests. He seemed to think it was a contextual thing, that given the opportunity to speak with another parent, that snacks, tantrums and the like were simply what you discussed. To me, I felt it was sort of dehumanizing. Granted, I love my daughter and she's my proudest accomplishment, but I would like to think that I could have a conversation with another parent that doesn't involve my child's bowel movements.

Miriam Peskowitz said...

karrie, Loved stuntmother on Cookie Magazine, so fabulous. Made my day.

MojoMom said...

Hey Miriam,

I'm joining this conversation on the late side, so forgive me if you already knew this, but StuntMother's blog says she's from Philly. You two need to meet over stiff drinks and copies of The Atlantic Monthly.