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28 Feb

They Said Shut Up

Last year, I received the following Facebook message:

Catherine –

I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but I have to ask you, how did you end up a “stay at home mom” with no job after all the university you took? … I have to take you off (my Facebook) as it is such a disappointment that you never did anything with your life and you do this all day… it was not what I would have imagined for you Catherine… so sad.

That’s an awesome message to receive, obviously, and – again, obviously – I wrote about it, because when the universe hands you that kind of awesome, you blog the hell out of it. This is what I said:

3 Jan

In Moms And Boobs We Trust. Or Not.

Remember that one time, when I breastfed another woman’s baby? And somebody saw me do it, and thought it was disgusting, and blogged about it, and then everybody argued? Those were some good times. So good, that it seemed a really awesome idea to kick off the new year by looking back at that experience.

It was good, actually, to reconsider the whole experience from the vantage point of a year and some months later, which is about how long it took, give or take some weeks, for my indignation at having my morals questioned and my boobs scrutinized to wane. I revisited the controversy with some of the ladies at Momversation (where I’ve just hopped on board as a panelist), and we talked about what happened, and about why it is that the whole thing made – makes – people so uncomfortable. Here’s the video:

15 Dec

I Am A Mother

It was sometime early on in one of the first sessions of TEDWomen last week that the question occurred to me: are we saying to each other here – in this go go women go celebration of everything that women can do – that women are the new men? And if that’s the case, is the corollary that men are the new women? Or that less-advantaged women are the new (and old) women? Whither women qua women, if women are trying to escape themselves?

20 Apr

10 Things I Hate About Motherhood (And One That I Love)

A writer at Newsweek wrote last week about how her son – and the general state of being that is motherhood – is torturing her. Then a writer at Jezebel responded to the story with something very close to exasperation: “I was left, as I often am by pieces on parenting, at sea. Nowadays, there is such a dichotomy at work: the hazy romanticizing of baby culture wars with the it’s-a-nightmare/I-don’t-love-my-child/I-wanted-another-sex” backlash and while one is surely designed to remedy the other, those of us who haven’t had a baby are left, ironically, with no very clear idea of the reality.” A consequence of this, apparently, is that childless women – unconvinced by the hazy romanticism of some stories and horrified by the ‘it’s-a-nightmare’ confessions of others – become terrified by the Unknowable But Very Probably Sort Of Horrible condition of motherhood and are put off having children. Population control!

The reality is, none of us can paint an entirely clear picture of the reality of motherhood, because the reality of motherhood defies tidy characterization. Which is why, arguably, we see so much cultural discourse about motherhood that skews strongly in one direction or the other: we are constantly trying to get our bearings, and sometimes it’s just easier to do so by telling ourselves that motherhood is just so undeniably all-around awesome or that holy hell this shit is HARD and sticking to those stories. And yes, those stories that skew dark are frightening, but then, so much of motherhood is frightening, notwithstanding the moments – and there are many – of awesome, so.