Mommie Dearest: The Good, The Meh & The Ugly In 2013 Parenting Headlines

As 2013 draws to a close, let’s take a look at the Good, the Meh, and the Ugly in the world of motherhood this past year.

The Good

  • Babies! SO many babies! Probably the two most anticipated babies of 2013 were descendants of royalty. The first, George, born to Princess Cate and Prince Wills. Baby George is so royal he even has his own Huffington Post sub-section. And then, of course, there was little North West, daughter of reality show royalty Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Both babies spawned tons of headlines and adorable pictures. While I definitely wasn’t a fan of how super obsessed folks became during Kate & Kim’s pregnancies, I can’t get too cranky over the adorable bundles of joy they both created. Yay for babies!
  • Gisele Breastfeeding. I totally dig Gisele’s Instagram of breastfeeding while working. Sure, she doesn’t have a job most people can relate to, and I’m sure she has a support team like no other. And while, yes, I’d love to have a conversation about we can make breastfeeding that accessible and successful for more women, I think it’s pretty rad to see a normalized photo of a working woman nursing her one-year-old. Rock on with your beautiful bad self, Gisele.
  • Beyoncé the Feminist Mother. According to some, motherhood may have helped to bring out/showcase Bey’s feminism. Even without knowing her motivations, it’s pretty darn rad to see someone like Beyoncé own her dual identities as a mother and a feminist in her music.

The Meh

  • High Costs of Maternity Care. We found out that (no big surprise) the U.S. has the some of the highest costs of maternity care in the world while still somehow managing to have rising maternal mortality rates. Come on, America! Between this and our total lack of paid, mandated maternity leave, it’s looking like we hate mothers or something.
  • Marissa Mayer cuts remote employee opportunities. Soon after becoming a mother herself, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer announced that remote employees needed to start working back at the office or face losing their jobs. Working remotely seems like a natural fit — especially at a tech company and particularly for a lot of parents. They can still be incredibly productive employees  at home as well. With flexible work time being something many parents care about, it felt a little like a burn to get this edict from new mom Mayer (especially since she built a nursery at her office just for her baby, while not really helping out fellow employees in similarly accommodating ways).

The Ugly

  •  This June cover of Star magazine. If I have to see one more cover where women are rated on motherhood based on paparazzi pictures I might explode. Grading women like this for entertainment is not only cruel, but it creates an environment where people think it’s cool to rag on non-celebrity mothers and their parenting. And then we wonder why it’s so hard out here for us all.
  • NYC’s Teen Pregnancy PSAs piss everyone off. And rightfully so. They were shaming, focused most of the wording on the mothers, and perpetuated negative stereotypes of teen mothers. There have got to be better ways to encourage safe sex, NYC. This is definitely not one of them.
  • Michelle Cottle’s article “Leaning Out: How Michelle Obama Became a Feminist Nightmare.” This one was a doozy: Cottle’s piece for Politico tried to show how the FLOTUS has “leaned out” and has gone too far embracing her role as “mom-in-chief,” thus letting down the entire feminist movement. Nope. Just plain old nope. Did Cottle not get the message that you can be a mother and also be a whole host of other things? (Did she possibly not listen to one of my favorite tracks from “Free To Be You and Me”?!). Thankfully, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner from MomsRising and MSNBC talking head Melissa Harris-Perry set the record straight. Because, really, let’s not be absurd.

Oof, what a year. What parenting-related stories stood out for you in 2013?

Avital Norman Nathman blogs for The Mamafesto. You can follow her on Twitter.