The Otherhood: a growing population of educated, professional women in their 30s and 40s who have yet to find love or start a family. In fact, statistics show that almost 50 percent of American women are childless — yet our society still isn’t quite sure how to treat these women, placing all sorts of assumptions and opinions on them without truly understanding their decisions.
Enter Melanie Notkin, the successful founder of Savvy Auntie and a vocal representation of this demographic. Melanie’s new book, Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind Of Happiness, is part memoir and part reflection, digging deep into world of these women and the challenges they face. Keep reading »
Show of hands: who else remembers roaming neighborhood streets unsupervised until dusk during your elementary school years?
I have crystal clear memories of being allowed to bike the three short blocks to my friend’s house (sans helmet!) after school for playdates —and not of the hyper-scheduled variety. We’d usually hang out in her backyard, poking sticks in holes or making forts with paint cloths we’d scavenge from her garage. Occasionally we’d run into the house for snacks, but if the weather was good, we’d most likely be found outside. Sometimes we’d make our way through the neighborhood, sneaking through backyards or meandering down sidewalks. We never got into any real trouble, and neither of us ever got seriously hurt beyond a skinned knee or two.
I’ve written before about how the childhood of my youth seems rather far removed from the one my son and his friends have. A combination of helicopter parenting, a lawsuit-happy society, and our growing withdrawal from a true neighborhood mentality seems to be fueling the more boxed-in and rigid rule-oriented childhoods we’re seeing. Keep reading »
Earlier this month, police arrested a mother in Scottsdale, Arizona, for leaving her two young children in the car while she went to a job interview.
On March 20, 35-year-old Shanesha Taylor, who is homeless, parked her car containing her two-year-old and six-month-old sons in the sun while she went to her interview. Someone saw the children by themselves in the car, which reportedly had the windows slightly open and was hot inside, and called the police. Police arrived and freed the children; Taylor showed up 45 minutes later and was arrested for two felony counts of child abuse. She said she couldn’t find anyone to take care of her kids, so she left them in the car alone. She was released early this morning from jail; her children are now in custody of Child Protective Services.
“She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation,” Scottsdale Police Department told KPHO. Keep reading »
Some days, being a princess sounds like a pretty sweet set up. Then reality sets in and I realize it would really suck to have gossip magazines make it headline news that you missed your child’s milestone while you’re away at a five-star restort.
Currently, Princess Kate is being dragged through the tabloids for missing Prince George’s first attempt at crawling while she was vacationing in the Maldives. Kate and Prince William were away on their first baby-free getaway earlier this month and — of course — that’s when little Prince George decided to test the crawling waters, showing off for his maternal grandparents, Carole and Michael Middleton. US Weekly breathlessly reported on this “exclusive,” further solidifying their place in hell by furthering the institution that is known as parental guilt. Keep reading »
Birth: one of the most private, personal and intimate moments of a woman’s life. And for good reason — most usually end with a baby being pushed out of a vagina, and that’s pretty damn intimate. Yet at the same time, how one births has been long debated, challenged, and talked about in public, with everyone chipping in their two cents. Announce that you’re pregnant and you’ll quickly find out what everyone thinks you should do.
Over 4 million babies being born in the United States every year. As a country, we also have some of the most expensive maternity care in the world, despite not having the best quality of care. All of that combined can lead to many schools of thought when it comes to how to birth them babies. Me? I feel that every person should have access to the basic information surrounding pregnancy and birth to learn all the ins and outs and make an informed decision that works best for them and their situation. Ideally, everyone would have a provider that would work with them throughout their pregnancy and would act as a resource as well as a sounding board. And yet, for the most part, many moms-to-be simply don’t have access to that type of care. Most expecting patients will see their provider for an average of two hours over the course of their ENTIRE PREGNANCY. Let me repeat that: a cumulative of two hours of one-on-one time over the course of 10 months. It’s no wonder why pregnancy and birth can easily become overwhelming and full of uncertainties. Keep reading »
Stay at home vs. working moms: it’s a debate that may well have sparked the heated flames of the “mommy wars.” There haven’t been a shortage of opinions on this topic, and despite being rehashed to death, more keep coming. The latest voice to enter into the fray is Allison Klein, a former reporter turned stay-at-home mom who recently offered up an op-ed for The Washington Post. Klein writes:
“You see, I love being home with my girls, now 4 and 5. I’m just not such a fan of telling people that’s what I do. This is new for me. [...] This is D.C., where nothing about you is more important than your job, or at least that’s what people always say. And being a full-time mom doesn’t exactly up my Q score. These conversations are fraught because I want people to know I’m not giving up my identity as a strong, smart woman. Cue the eye roll.”
Mother judgment — it’s there regardless of what you choose. And, when we fight each other, nobody wins, because infighting only clouds the more important issue: the narrow way we frame this stay-at-home vs. working mother discussion. I wish there could be a huge disclaimer on these types of articles reminding readers that not every mother is in a position to actually make this choice. There are families that need two working parents in order to ensure that housing and food costs are met. There needs to be a greater understanding of the inherent privilege involved in even having this “debate” in the first place. Keep reading »
One of the awesome things about having a new book out [The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality] is that sometimes people actually want to talk to you about it! I’ve been having a blast the past couple of months traveling across the country doing bookstore readings and signings. Each place I visit, there’s always a handful of folks who come up and want to talk all things motherhood.
In New York City, many of the people in the audience wanted to touch on how the media portrays women — particularly those who are mothers — versus men. In Portland, Oregon, I heard from women who were increasingly frustrated by the work/home divide and the tired notion of “having it all.” Chicago found me chatting with young college students who had come to the book reading as part of a class field trip. We talked about their relationships with their own mothers and the concerns they had about becoming mothers themselves.
And then, there was book club. Last week, I was invited to join in for a local book club that had read my book for the month of February. I was pretty excited. I arrived at the host’s house, eager to hear what everyone thought of the book. After some snacking, drinking and a bunch of chit-chatting, they started to dig into the book. They had some questions for me, ranging from how I got the idea to create the book, to whether or not I used a pen name. (Let’s just say that if I had chosen a pen name, I probably would have gone with one that gets pronounced and written correctly at least 50 percent of the time …)
I also got to hear reactions to specific essays in the book, which is always nice. One that stuck out to the women in this group in particular was Liz Henry’s “The Macaroni and Cheese Dilemma.” Liz’s essay talks about choosing to have an abortion, and why that choice was the best for her family. Keep reading »
I can still remember some of the quieter moments of my pregnancy: laying on the couch, my fingers trailing over my ever-expanding belly, wondering about the baby inside and if everything would be okay. During our first ultrasound appointment around 20 weeks, the tech had been concerned about the size of the baby’s kidneys and some fluid that surrounded them. He pointed it out to me on the screen, and later on the printed pictures we were given to take home. To me, the blurry image looked no more like a baby than a Rorschach inkblot test, but I so desperately tried to see what the tech saw. In the weeks that followed my anxiety shot through the roof. Was this a random anomaly? Was it something I did? Was it something I could have prevented? Keep reading »
On my way into work this morning, I had the displeasure of walking behind two women who, in each of their hands not clutching their coffee, held leashes that were harnessed to their respective children. Not dogs — children. The woman on the left had three kids, all on individual leashes, and the woman on the right had one child. All of the children appeared to around age five or younger. I am not a parent, and so I generally shy away from expressing my opinions about other peoples’ parenting choices, but if there is one thing that makes my blood boil, it’s parents who treat their children like they’re animals. And in my opinion, strapping a harness around a child’s belly and keeping them on a leash, even if it’s a leash meant for a human, is coming pretty damn close. Keep reading »