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.