Her kids have always slept through the night, and even if they don’t she still manages to look like she has had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. There is always a well-balanced, home-cooked meal on her dinner table. She holds down a fulfilling job while still finding time to join the PTA, run the school’s book fair, and attend every soccer game. Her house is absolutely spotless, and if it’s not, she can effortlessly laugh it off. She has the energy and desire for a happy and adventurous sex life, and her partner is always satisfied. She is crafty, creative, and embodies the perfect blend of modern woman and hipster housewife. She is usually white, middle to upper class, heterosexual, married and neither too young nor too old.
But above all … she’s a myth.
Those are the opening lines of my current read – The Good Mother Myth – a 2013 collection of essays by mothers digging below the surface of modern motherhood.
That was more than enough to make me pick up the book.
But I also have a Goodreads goal to read 50 books a year (I’m currently 3 books ahead of schedule!!) and enjoy anthologies and books on motherhood, so I was pretty excited to read this one.
And as a “mom blogger” and, well, mom, I was also keen to read perspectives on what it means to be a good mother “in an era of mommy blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook” which the back cover promised to cover.
I blog here a lot about my challenges with working parenthood. And I try to “keep it real”. But I know there are times where I cave to the, well, need to try to keep up with the myth. It is easy to look around at other mothers and think about how poised and together they look, or observe how much better their kid is doing than mine in something, or see how they are rocking corporate world, or managing to keep super fit, or not lose their shit with their kids in the grocery store, or, or, or, …
… you get the picture.
And as a result, I have many moments where I feel like I’m failing at some part of this, well, job. That isn’t a JOB but rather part of who I am. That is also – once you choose to procreate – somehow tied with success at being a woman. Because how dare I let down feminism and not take advantage of all the choices and opportunities I’ve been given?
Trying to navigate motherhood with no one way to do it amidst all the noise – all the glossed Facebook posts and the Pinterest “easy” recipes and ways to creatively rock a lunch bento (or a meeting with a new client, or an outfit, or a major holiday event) – is hard.
Having the confidence to know that what my husband and I choose is the right choice for us is – at least for me – an ongoing battle with my Inner Gremlin.
That’s why I loved the premise of this book.
I’m mid-way through and so far it hasn’t let me down. My favourite so far has been Soraya Chemaly’s The Unapologetic No, which touches on the run through the advice gauntlet (Bottles or breast, Co-sleep or no sleep, Mozart on or Mozart off, clean floor or dirty floor, too much holding or not enough holding, day care or no day care…) before zeroing in on the numerous requests for you to volunteer your “free” time as a mom once the school years start, thus ushering in a new phase of “hyper-mothering”. While careful not to denigrate the truly valuable work volunteers do, she questioned the gendered nature of that volunteer world and how she found it to be enmeshed with mothering and maintained that it perpetuates the sex-segregated workforce and persistent wage gap in the US (where she lives – which makes me yearn for similar books from a Canadian perspective as I often do when I read feminist/parenthood literature).
As I read further, I also LOVED the slogan shared by Nerissa Nields in her piece entitled The Good Enough Mother:
Never judge another’s outsides against your own insides. – pg 79
I also fully enjoyed Amber Dusick’s description of her thoughts on the apparent serenity and togetherness of the aqua peep toe heels mom at Trader Joe’s in There’s a Zombie Cavewoman in All of Us and Andie Fox’s celebration of routine abandoned in Another Way to End the Evening where she talks about spontaneous trips her girlfriends take with their kids sans dads and the sometimes moonlight walks that ensue where:
…we do something revolutionary – we show our children their mothers kicking free of the shackles. For our daughters, the lesson is that they can be mothers one day and not “lose themselves”; and for our sons, we teach them that women freed from rules are women at their happiest. – pg 88
The book got me thinking about the blog and social media in parenting generally: how and what I communicate. So, as a bit of self-reflection for me and fun for you, I thought I’d end tonight’s post with two slide shows to music. The first show is a compilation of my “good mother/stuff going right” moments and thoughts and the second is my “Yeah I either did or thought that” moments about motherhood.
First: Here’s the music for both shows. I think it works:
So that’s it for me tonight. Thoughts? Help? Hugs? Have you read the book and have an opinion? Let me know.
Also linking up here: