Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Modern Motherhood

This is a must-read. (And if it's also a "must register", ID: ramblinblogger PASSWORD: bloggity).

Ruth Franklin, Senior Editor of The New Republic, describes the plight of modern motherhood amid commentary on social and economic theory in this in-depth--albeit lengthy--piece paralleling three of the dozen or so books that "have attempted to analyze the miserable, manic, obsessive-compulsive state of contemporary motherhood" [Perfect Madness By Judith Warner, How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stay-at-Work Moms By Wendy Sachs, and White House Nannies By Barbara Kline] . Warning: within the first two pages, you will likely come to hate Judith Warner with an icy passion. According to Franklin...

"...[Warner] gave birth to both her children while living in France, where the prevailing assumption, as she describes it, is that women need to enjoy a rich life separate from mothering. On her return to the United States, she was appalled by the current culture of "total-reality motherhood," which she blames for, among other social ills, the rise in methamphetamine use by women, the current "epidemic" of sexless marriages, and even the tragedy of Andrea Yates, the Texas stay-at-home mother who drowned her five children."

In Warner's own words:
The ideal Mom, as glimpsed in Parents, in Brazelton, and at Gymboree, had no boundaries. She wore kids' clothes--overall shorts, and sneakers, and jumpers or smocks."
[HEY! Just what, exactly, is wrong with jumpers??...ok, just kidding...continue.]

She decorated her home in bright-colored plastics.... She played "synchrony games." She bought the Phonics bus. She read Spot's Big Book of Colors, Shapes and Numbers for the ten thousandth time, with gusto, because, if she didn't, her child might "mirror" her lassitude.... If she didn't, she risked finding her child one day staring out from his or her crib like the babies in her old psychology textbook, their faces frozen in a rictus of grief, some of whom died of despair over their separation from their mothers.
BUT, before you grab the optical mouse with that fluid point-click-bitch flick of the wrist, read the rest of the article. From attachment parenting to returning to work to mommy guilt to feminist disillusionment, this piece hits on everything (confirming and expanding upon several topics and experiences I've written about in the recent past...for which I don't claim original thought, btw. This is just a testament to how a WAHM in Mississippi observes the same phenomena chronicled by a senior editor at TNR...because they're really there.).

This is six pages long, so grab some coffee and settle down for some morning enlightenment (or validation...either one feels pretty good from the POV of a homeschooler!). Well worth the read.

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