Thursday, June 14, 2007

Motherhood Confidential

Two days ago, I finished reading Motherhood Confidential. I'm having trouble thinking of words to describe it. It was....odd. Sometimes really funny, sometimes just confusing and hard to follow--it was co-written by two women and one of them especially had a stream-of-consciousness style with lots of capitalized words and pop culture references and euphemisms and sort of nicknames-for-things-puns/jokes-that-I-didn't-always-totally-get. I've been interested in reading this book since I saw it advertised in the back of a magazine (Mothering, Brain, Child?? I forget which one), but the description was so unclear that I didn't want to buy it. Much time passed and it got down to like 11 cents on Amazon, so I finally bought it. It is about two best friends--actresses, writers, and film makers--who drift apart over the "motherhood divide" (one is a super involved attachment parenting mother with a very high need son and the other is a self-described "detachment parent" with a relaxed and adaptable son). They alternate chapters (which have very funny subtitles such as "in which Joan discovers a cure for popularity" :-D I found the style kind of disjointed (and maybe actually a little crazy??) and a little histrionic/overly dramatic, but it was still a good read. I like all mothering memoirs basically, particularly ones that are scathingly honest (this one is). Another criticism is that I felt like it assumed pre-knowledge of the authors--like there was some background information missing or something that would make the text flow better.

The attachment parenting mother ends up homeschooling and there was some really funny writing about that. Also, a point I identify with: "[re: son going to Waldorf school] I knew he would be nurtured there for the unique individual he was. His sensitivities would not be labeled defects to be cured, but cherished as mysteries that would later unfold to reveal more of who he was meant to be. Unfortunately, there were 27 other children in his class--one of them a bully--whose mysteries were all equally cherished." Ain't that the truth?! LOL! I also identified with this mother's worries about "not being Waldorf enough" about various things. I feel that way too sometimes (though "not AP enough" is where my various frets emerge). The conclusion of the book is pretty much to scrape off the "dogma-doo" of ANY style and just be your own you (and also the mother that you naturally are). Interestingly, the writer's whose style was more difficult for me to follow, was the mother whose "issues" I identified with more strongly (the AP mother).

Another good point from the book: "Babies and motherhood are indeed distinctly different entities." I believe this--I think it explains how you can thoroughly love your children without reservation or question, but not always love motherhood or the experience of mothering (particularly in our dratted mother UNfriendly culture!). Along the lines of the mother unfriendly culture, another good point from this book: "Motherhood might be revered in poetry, but outside the subcultures that support the one-earner nuclear family, staying home with one's child is often considered a waste of a woman's talents and education. And although the women's movement declares every mother a working mother, I'm not so sure. Because, if there is no pay, no Social Security, and no time off, how can it really be bonafide labor. Unless. Unless you're taking care of someone else's child. If you're a nanny, a teacher, a foster parent--well, that's worth a paycheck. Even the federal government will pay a poor working mother's childcare provider to watch her three year old, but it won't pay that mother to do the same job at home. Evidently, caring from one's own child is not real work."

This is something that has always bugged me! Both the social worker AND the mother sides of me!

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