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"There are sites by people whose identity seems to be one sustained rebellion against the image of the "perfect" mom..."

Which is, in a way, even more strongly validating and normalizing of that image. Because why be so strongly against it if you consider it meaninglessly invalid?

It's like that Garrison Keillor quote I always dredge up; "I moved out, got a tattoo, did everything exactly the opposite of the way you did it, and wound up living a life based more on yours than if I'd just stayed at home."

Lisa Schmeiser

That's basically the argument I used against deconstructionism throughout grad school: "But without some pre-existing structure, what do you have? NOTHING."

The most radical people I know aren't the ones who are explicitly rebelling against something or trying to reform something else. They are the ones who read the bumper sticker "I reject your reality and substitute my own" and live it. That goes for the most awesome parents I know too. They really don't treat the black art of parenting as a comparative endeavor, and that makes a lot of difference.


I really wish I could read that Bust issue. I read the eye-bleeding link to the Kristin Hersh interview and was STUNNED at how openly and acceptingly both she and the interviewer discussed her first pregnancy, at a young age in less than ideal circumstances. As a 31-year old stepmom of two boys, who is currently pregnant with my first biological kid, I often feel like...where are the fun people? Where, even, are the realistic people? The people who still get that life is life and that it happens and that we all just live it, and who find empowerment in being happy in their lives as they are?

A few months back I was working temporarily in an industry office position, somewhat alongside my SO, who is a great dad and who is "visibly" a dad even at work, as far as having certain days or times where he insists on leaving at a certain time, and structuring work around family obligations whenever possible/necessary, etc. Anyway, one day he and two other guys - a designer and a carpenter - got into a maybe 10-minute conversation about their kids and one of the women sitting near me said, after overhearing it for a while, "You would never hear women talking like that." And I realized she was right. I mean, you don't hear women talk about their kids at work much at all, because it can be risky in a lot of crappy ways. I certainly would never feel comfortable talking about those very same two kids as candidly and openly as he was. But more than that, you don't often hear women talk with the ease and defenses-down comfort that those three guys were talking. Like they're just people, talking - lovingly and honestly - about people. For so many women today, you talk about your kids as a way of talking about yourself, or sometimes as a way of talking about other people. It's hackles up from the starting gate: do you Elf On The Shelf or do you MOST CERTAINLY NOT Elf On The Shelf? Be prepared to justify your answer in 500 words or less.

accidentalstepmom.com is a blog that I have really enjoyed, but I haven't found too many other blogs or sites that treat motherhood, much less stepmotherhood, like what it actually feels like to me - ie, real life, and all that that phrase entails, rather than some bizarre fever-dream of a high school AP Home Ec project.

Julie Dienno-Demarest

Hi, I'd like to follow your blog. I'm at www.momiliesandmore.com (via wordpress). Your blog is not on Facebook, and your subscribe button doesn't work. Seems like a typeface problem... But any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

To answer your post's question... I, too, tire of those who celebrate their inadequacies as an end in themselves. The closest celebration of be-your-best-you and quit-it-with-being-judgmental-of-anyone-who-is-good-at-anything-but-snarky-humor was a post by Momastary.com about "quit eating an avacado AT me," in which the blogger acquiesced that her insecurities were the problem, not the other mom who was doing her best on her own path.

I write reflections on life and faith, recognizing my own perspective as coming from that of a mom. I hear your post as a call to action. I promise to do my best (and celebrate anyone else who does as well).


Well, every example you mention is a magazine, right? Something about people writing online messed it up. That's my half-baked theory. It isn't just writing about being a mom (because lord knows I have no idea) it's writing about everything. Any autobiographical writing, which is mostly online at least in the digestible format and of the kind we're supposed to be able to relate to, is so naval-gazzy and caught up in itself it can't have the kind of perspective that a writer would need to have that kind of belly laugh at it all. And to be fair, writing that way online just opens someone up to so much more immediate criticism than it does in a 90s era print magazine where oh we just wrote angry letters to the editor of SASSY. Or, just me?

Lisa Schmeiser

Good point, Mary-Lynn. I sort of see BUST as the bridge between mainstream magazines (i.e. Sassy) and the blogs we have now, and I'm like, "Where is that BUST-quality writin now?"

I think in some ways, the demand to crank out content early/often has, as you put it, "messed it up." I'm doing it daily right now, and treating it mostly as an exercise, i.e. this is what I'm doing to strengthen my writing muscles/hone my skills for the *real* writing I want to do. So by that measure, maybe I should be giving other bloggers the benefit of the doubt.

But even in magazines aimed at women -- and especially at parents -- there's so little fun. I somehow have a subscription to Parenting magazine, or Parents, I'm honestly unsure which or how I got it, and it is basically a bound compendium of three types of humorless crap: "Buy this and solve your issues via shopping!" or "Here is some common sense we're going to repackage as ground-breaking advice" or "Have you worried about this yet? Well, start!"

I should probably save this for the 35-minute writing sprint/workout/whatever you want to call it, but I am super effing tired of women-targeted media of all types being based on the premise that whatever we're doing, it's not enough. Where is the media aimed at women that starts from the baseline premise "You're awesome and here are some awesomely well-reported or well-thought-out things you might like reading"? The snotty college sophomore in me suspects it doesn't exist because happy people don't confuse "shopping" with "problem solving," so there's no money in happy women.

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