In the wake of George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict this past weekend, I wanted to gather a group of parents to discuss the jury decision as well as the larger impact of Trayvon Martin’s murder. I especially wanted to hear from fellow mothers of boys, in hopes of fostering dialogue about how we as mothers can move forward given what happened. I gathered an incredible group of women and over the next couple of days, I welcome you to read our conversation.
- Jamila Bey hosts the radio program, “The Sex Politics And Religion Hour: SPAR with Jamila.” The show can be heard in NYC, DC, Miami and Chicago and online. Find her on Twitter.
- Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser is a writer living in Western Massachusetts. Find her on Twitter.
- Carolyn Edgar is a lawyer, writer and single mother of two who publishes the blog CarolynEdgar.com. Her work has been featured in a variety of outlets, including Huffington Post and CNN.com. Follow her on Twitter.
- Denene Millner is a New York Times-bestselling author of 21 books and the founder and editor of MyBrownBaby.com, a blog that measures the intersection parenting and race.
- Shay Stewart-Bouley is a non-profit administrator, freelance columnist who writes on issues relating to diversity for the Portland Phoenix, and blogger at BlackGirlInMaine.com where she muses on race, motherhood and middle age.
Read on, after the jump: Keep reading »
Apparently, when it comes to maternity care costs in this country, I lucked out big time. Seven years ago, when I found myself pregnant for the first time, I had just switched from my own insurance to my husband’s much better one, and had only one, $25 co-payment for the entirety of my pregnancy — including the delivery. That’s it. Twenty-five dollars got me multiple visits with my midwife and a hospital birth (albeit a short one — I was in and out of the hospital in 10 hours, my choice).
Yet, my experience is certainly not the norm when it comes to maternity care costs in this country. The New York Times recently looked into why the U.S. has the most expensive maternity care in the world … despite not necessarily being at the top when it comes to quality of care. The facts are both absolutely terrifying and downright maddening. According to the Times article, prenatal and delivery charges can cost upwards of $50,000, depending on whether the mom-to-be has insurance or needs a C-section. Even for those with insurance, there is still the possibility of a costly birth, especially if your policy does not include maternity care coverage. Keep reading »
What do you think about when you hear “teen mom?” Perhaps you think about someone who was arrested for heroin recently, or maybe about someone else who came out with a sex tape (aka made a pornographic movie) with James Deen. Maybe your thoughts immediately went to shameful ad campaigns by Candie’s or New York City on preventing teen pregnancy. You might not have thought, however, about Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who prepared an epic 13-hour filibuster on Tuesday in hopes of blocking SB 5 — a bill in front of the Texas State House that would not only ban all abortions after 20 weeks, but would also close 37 of the state’s 42 clinics, making abortion access in Texas virtually null.
But Sen. Wendy Davis is both a badass reproductive justice warrior and teen mother. Keep reading »
When I first read a review of Lauren Sandler’s new book, One and Only: The Freedom Of Having An Only Child And The Joy Of Being One , I was hopeful. As the mother of an only child (and with no plans at all to have any more children), I’ve had my fair share of judgement from others. I’ve been told I’m selfish, that I’ll live to regret this decision, that my child will grow up lonely, that he’ll end up resenting me and his father for not giving him any siblings, that he’ll feel burdened when it comes time to care for us in old age. The list goes on and on. I’ve heard variations on these remarks from family, people I know well, and complete strangers.
Trust me, this wasn’t a decision we came to lightly and it’s one that is constantly on my mind. In fact – shameless self promotional plug – my essay in my upcoming anthology about the myth of the “good mother” deals specifically with this topic and is titled “Yes. I Am That Selfish.” So to read about a book that thoughtfully takes on the notion of having one child — and debunks many of the myths commonly associated with it — felt a bit liberating. Keep reading »
I’m not going to sugar coat it: Sometimes, this whole parenting gig can be pretty damn hard. Yes, parenting is rewarding and wonderful and absolutely special. But it can also be completely terrifying and difficult and frustrating. And, despite all the parenting books that line the shelves of bookstores, there’s truly no one manual to tell you exactly how to successfully raise your children without going completely batty.
It also doesn’t help that parents — new ones especially — are surrounded by images, advertisements, articles, books, television shows, “experts,” movies, news media, and more that basically dictate to them what it (supposedly) takes to be a good parent. It can be doubly overwhelming in a society that pushes Tiger Moms at you while also promoting the benefits of French Parenting in the same breath that both encourages and disparages Attachment Parenting. It’s enough to drive anyone to drink. (Or smoke).
So it doesn’t surprise me one bit when parents turn to the Internet to find some answers or relief. Even if that relief is in the form of mild complaining or slightly neurotic questioning of everything that’s being thrown at you. But of course, as with everything on the Internet, everyone has an opinion. Enter Jezebel’s Tracy Moore, who earlier this week tore apart a private online Facebook group for L.A. parents. Moore listed a handful of topics that various mothers posted about and then proceeded to mock and snark on each one. Keep reading »
When I was pregnant, my clothing had one main requirement: comfort. I was mostly concerned with what would help support my growing belly on my slight frame, especially toward the end of my pregnancy when I developed symphysis pubic dysfunction (a fancy way of saying that my pelvic joint was unstable and caused me near constant pain whenever I moved). I was fortunate that during the latter half of my pregnancy I was focused on finishing my graduate thesis, thus fashion didn’t factor much into my days spent behind a computer screen or between library book shelves. In fact, my daily uniform of yoga pants, long t-shirts, a puffy vest, and comfy sneakers didn’t seem to phase me or the number of folks I came in contact with.
In retrospect, I consider myself very lucky. Keep reading »
Save the breakfast in bed, chocolate, flowers, and handmade macaroni necklaces. This Mother’s Day, I’m after something just a little bit more. On a day created to honor and respect all mothers, I feel that we sometimes fall a little short. And so, I humbly present to you my list of alternative Mother’s Day gifts: Keep reading »
Pop star Shakira gave birth to her son, Milan, back in January. Since then, she’s been hard at work promoting her new gig as a judge on the NBC show, “The Voice.” As part of that promotion, Shakira spoke with US Weekly and weighed in with some thoughts on motherhood:
On getting her pre-baby body back: ”I mean, I guess our mothers and grandmothers weren’t under the pressure that women of today are after delivering a baby. My dad says that there’s nothing better than a little meat on the bone! He likes my mom a little chubby. So she was never under the pressure to get back to her old weight, and she never did, actually! But it’s different, I have a career, and that’s the only part that’s been a bit stressful because I knew that I’d have to come back here to do ‘The Voice’ two months after I delivered a baby. I didn’t have my four months maternity like every woman on Earth has. So I’m not trying to complain, but it’s been a process full of challenges in my life. I’m still a few pounds over! Zumba has been pretty great for me even during pregnancy. I did it almost until the end.”
Sigh. That’s a whole lot to unpack. First, I have to admit to busting out a cackling laugh at Shakira’s seemingly naive lament over not having her “four months maternity like every woman on earth has.” But then I remembered Shakira is Colombian and — oh yeah — it’s pretty much just the United States that is completely screwed up when it comes to mandated paid maternity leave. I’ve ranted about this before, but honestly, it never gets old. The U.S. is one of only four (FOUR!) other countries in the world that does not provide any sort of mandated paid maternity (or family) leave. Keep reading »
This past weekend, I spoke on two panels at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy’s reproductive rights conference. One of my panels, “Bringing Social Justice to the Family Table,” tackled how to combine an activist lifestyle with family life. Along with three other panelists/mothers, I spoke about how to foster awareness of the world around us and how to engage our children in social justice issues from an early age. We spoke about our pre-kid lives as activists and how we wove it all in when we became parents. For many on the panel, including myself, that involved work in the reproductive rights movement.
I’ve written before about how becoming a mother has only strengthened my pro-choice beliefs, and I made sure to reiterate that stance while on the panel. I think there is a fear surrounding motherhood, that the moment you pop out a baby, all other aspects of your identity cease to exist and you become solely “mommy.” While there was certainly a period of transition while I figured out how to connect this new aspect of my identity with what was already there, I eventually found ways to make it all work harmoniously together.
When my son was only a few months old, I placed him snug against my chest in a baby carrier and manned a table for Planned Parenthood during a sidewalk sale event in my town. I handed out condoms and pamphlets on birth control and STI prevention while discreetly nursing my son in his sling. I spoke with people about the best ways to schedule appointments while my gurgling baby babbled happily away. Nobody seemed to bat an eye at the fact that my son was with me as I volunteered. Keep reading »
One of the worst terms surrounding motherhood is “the Mommy Wars.” To be fair, “Mommy Porn” is a really close second (thanks, 50 Shades of Grey!), but when it comes down to it, my disdain for the Mommy Wars knows no bounds. Not only are these “wars” sexist-as-all-get-out — I mean, have you ever heard of the “Daddy Wars”? — but they’re also steeped in a hell of a lot of privilege, something that is rarely acknowledged in all the news stories, magazine covers, and internet blurbs that love to trot out the term. Keep reading »