Moms: We Hear You Loud and Clear


Shouting with a megaphone

Ack! What’s going on? If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d be convinced we were in the midst of a well-coordinated, full-on assault against those who can’t or don’t have children.

You may recall the judgmental Orlando Sentinel Mom’s at Work blog I referenced in my last post. Who knew it was the tip of the iceberg?

This week Mika Brzezinski weighs in. Mika, Mika, Mika…I really expected more from you. We’re contemporaries. I watched you tackle tough topics as a reporter, saw you anchor the weekend national news. Did you really write not one but two posts all but arguing that children are essential to fulfillment?

“Women face enough pressures and challenges in a workplace that is still depressingly biased against a female’s success. Add to that, the fact that the very thing many women I know find most rewarding (having kids) is now frowned upon.”

Having kids is now frowned upon? Mika, you must be seriously distracted to have missed out of the whole mommy movement. Just check out Mom’s Rising or Mom 2.0 Summit or the Motherhood Project or Maria Shriver’s latest report, A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything.  As Melanie Notkin points out in her editor’s note on Savvy Auntie the report weirdly overlooked the fact that not all women are mothers:

“The study, meant to change the way government policy and businesses modernize with the new standing of women in the economy – a change I completely support – interchanges the word “woman” with “mother” so often it’s as if all women are mothers.”

Bella DePaulo, a single woman with no children, takes the point further in a piece in Psychology Today:

“It is the year 2009. It is past time to accord single women and women who do not have children a place of recognition and respect in our society, our universities, our policies, our politics, our workplaces, our marketplaces, our media…”

Lori Bradley at BellaOnline shares another perspective after being called out a social event by a mother for not having children in her post “Living Childfree and Community Connected:”

 “Do I know less about being human and living fully in our mysterious universe because I don’t have kids? No! I have less experience in some areas but more in others!”

Heck, even the FTC is looking into how moms are using their influence and growing share of voice. As the Los Angeles Times‘ story points out mommy bloggers are wooed hard and often by companies seeking their endorsement.

See also  Revealing the Elephant in the Room

Mixing it up further, a woman’s studies professor noted in a recent email exchange, “Could be the mommy bloggers (and all the tabloid stories) are protesting a bit much on purpose to convince women that babies are the way to go.  Not just to insist that everyone has to do the same thing, or the thing they do — but because there’s anxiety about women not doing that same thing – and not seeing why they should.”

Some women choose not to have children and others simply cannot due to a host of reasons, which I’ve talked about at length on this blog.

I’d like to raise a bigger question (which I included in my comment to Mika’s post). To all the moms espousing motherhood as the most valuable, rewarding position: What if your children are unable to have children? Are you setting them up for a sense failure if they can’t or don’t achieve parenthood?

Rather than reinforce a narrow point of view, why not add equal weight to other aspects of how one can derive a fulfilling life? Echoing Bella’s point, “how about transforming the world to work better for ALL of us? According to the U.S. Census, more than 38 million Americans live in non-family households.”

See also  Just Five More Days of Marketing Mayhem

12 Responses

  1. Kami

    November 16, 2009 7:13 pm

    OMG! I read that Mika article. Naive at best, but more likely just plan arrogant. When will women start supporting each other in whatever career / life partner / child path they choose or find themselves on? I know plenty of women who put finding a good husband at the top of their list who nevertheless failed to do so until it was too late to have kids. Sometimes our energies and our desires are not rewarded.

    Oh, and referring to her children as “a gift from God”. I guess God loves her more than me or my IF friends. God must love me more than my female friends in The Gambia though because those ladies usually have no choice to have a career or to chose childfree – or even husband free.

    Personally, I think her life seems hectic and poorly balanced. She never talks about her husband even supporting her or caring for her and their children, but rather what she does for him. I think she is trying to convince herself she made the right choices.

    Thanks for letting me vent . . . I know I am preaching to the choir.

    I agree with everything else you said too.

  2. Beth

    November 16, 2009 7:47 pm

    Thank you once again Pamela for pointing me to this article and for throwing down the gauntlet against this so-called “helpful” advice.

    As if everyone is so fortunate to meet the right man, get knocked up at the right time, and make make buckets of money to pay for the nanny whose probably the one cleaning up her kids vomit.

    At the risk of sounding anti-feminist, I would like to quote Dan Ackroyd and say “Mika, you ignorant slut!”

  3. Christina

    November 16, 2009 8:17 pm

    OK — Item one. This journalist wouldn’t even have a career if her Daddy weren’t a big name — former Secretary of State. I always take the advice of women who are husband- or Daddy-funded/connect in their success with a bucket of salt.

    Even so — are you aware that Mika was so busy “having it all” that she fell down a full flight of stairs ON HER BABY. No wonder the Lady Doth Protest Too Much.

    I never, ever tell young people or even women my age what to do. I merely speak my own experience, and she should, too. As a 45-ish woman — her life conditions are not paralleled by the younger generation today. Unlike her, most of them don’t have a celebrity Dad to open doors, either.

    And I hate the way she oversimplified her many and no doubt various protests to those that fit into her reductive Sex And the City stereotypes of career and sex mad young women. It wouldn’t have occurred to hooked-up and plugged-in Mika, but most young women, and men, have STAGGERING student loans to pay off and can barely afford rent with three roommates. The rich always have and will marry and reproduce young.

    Hey — I was one who put love and marriage before my career, and still wound up without kids. At almost 50, I regret not getting an MBA and making the most of the opportunities available to me in my 20s/30s. I put my time, energy, health and money towards the futile quest to have a family. I’m not telling everyone “Get the MBA” — but just that there’s no guarantee that following your heart and priorities is going to give you success.

    What Mika should be advising young women is not to blame “feminism” — and who is she talking about? As far as I can see feminism these days represents mothers and no one else — for your own choices that may have led you to fall down the stairs on your own kid.

    We don’t have control over everything in our lives, and it’s stupid for her to perpetuate the lie that we do.

    I would also like to add — I have a few friends (now former, because they are too bitter for me to have in my life) — who got married at whatever age just to have kids, hate their husbands — who they just saw as sperm banks and ATMs — and vent their bile on their poor kids.

    Enough already with the kids!

  4. Debbie

    November 16, 2009 9:40 pm

    First off, don’t let the title of my blog mislead you, it is hardly “mommy-ish” … Trixie is my dog. I hear you and agree with you. I am 52 and married late in life. We cannot predict nor time every event in life – especially marriage and children. Life happens as it happens. Please visit my blog – I have a post titled, “It’s Okay to be Childless” … I think you will find that we agree. Motherhood and Marriage can be overrated for those who have not entered in yet. The ME is was before I was married and the ME I am now are totally, totally different people. That said, I am happy with my life and I have no regrets. Sometimes women who are super-mommies can be a little full of themselves – like they belong to some super exclusive club of which you are not a member. When women stop qualifying each other by these standards, maybe, we will reach real understanding. We are women, we are fabulous, childless or not.

    love your blog.

  5. jill

    November 16, 2009 10:02 pm

    As difficult and painful it was (for me) to read Mika’s posts, I don’t see them as horrible as others seem to. I do agree though, some things she says seem very naive and it seems like she does not bother trying to see others’ POV’s.

    Infertility aside though, to me, she is addressing a very specific population – young career-minded women who wish to have a family that includes children. If there really is some sort of peer-pressure-type of environment that leads these women to believe that seeking a sig.other and/or having children at a young age (or while career building) is negative in some way, I completely agree with what she seems to be saying. Young women shouldn’t be ashamed to follow their dreams, no matter what they are. If they want to go to law school while TTC, they should feel free to do so. If their goal at 22 is to get married and be a SAHM, more power to them. (Obviously, I’d hope that these young women are making good financial decisions as well but, eh, one topic at a time.)

    Of course there are also women who want to hold off marriage and/or children for their 30’s, and woman who never want a husband and/or children at all. Both those things are acceptable but are outside the realm of her article.

    Anyway, I’m not wonderful at describing my thoughts in writing so I’ll leave this with: I think the moral of her articles is, “Don’t wait for the perfect time (or the time others deem appropriate) to start trying to achieve your goals. The perfect time will probably never come.”

  6. tiffany lee brown

    November 16, 2009 11:23 pm

    i agree with jill, above, but let’s be realistic. approximately 80% of women are or will likely become mothers (that statistic is a few years old).

    the childless and childfree are a minority. if 80% of your peers eventually become moms, where do you think the peer pressure lies??

    i do think women should feel free to pursue marriage and/or children, or other forms of family-making, if they want to. their 23-year-old, educated, professional coworkers might think it’s weird to do that straight out of college, but if a young woman REALLY wants to procreate, she won’t put a lot of stock in what her coworkers think. any woman who would let her coworkers determine her fate probably isn’t fit to be a mother anyway.

    i note that Mika credits “God” with a capital-G in her column. again statistically, religious followers are more likely to reproduce in greater numbers than non-religious people. and women who are religious followers are less likely to be highly educated professionals… and women who choose to remain childfree or statistically *more* likely to be educated professionals…

    just sayin’. a religious person telling everyone whether to have babies should be taken with a grain of salt.

    -magdalen o’ Nymphe blog

    PS: i am a loving part-time “mom”, a stepparent, one who’s been through the wringer with the biological clock. but we need to stop this whole moms vs. childfree bullshit. it is not helping ANY of us.

    the media are jumping all over it because the issues are so controversial, they’re guaranteed to get hundreds of comments… let’s surprise them by being reasonable to moms and childfrees and, hello, to the millions of us who fall elsewhere on the spectrum.

  7. Charlotte

    November 17, 2009 2:21 am

    Wow. I had no idea that this debate was even going on (still). I am glad I happened upon your blog thanks to shewrites. Count me in as a supporter. As a historian of women’s issues, I have to re-state what you have already said: there is nothing more reductive than privileging a woman’s fertility over her other capacities. ARGH.

  8. loribeth

    November 18, 2009 2:50 am

    I don’t see anything really wrong with advising younger women that they should follow their hearts, & that having a life is important as well as having a career. But the fact is that wanting & getting are sometimes two different things, no matter how doggedly you pursue your goals. And I most certainly object to the way in which she presents her position. The references to bra burning, and rushing home to make her husband happy — ugh. Phyllis Schlafly would be proud. And the idea that having children is “frowned upon” is ridiculous. Maybe in the boardroom (still) — but has she not SEEN the baby bump magazine covers???

  9. Bea

    November 18, 2009 12:31 pm

    Yeah, I think she was speaking to a specific population of young women who want to get married and have kids, but who will let their friends tell them what they should do and when.

    Who are these women? Have you ever met them? I have not.

    I guess there must be some people out there who need a bit of reassurance and perspective, though. If you want kids, I think it’s good policy to take an earlier opportunity instead of thinking there’s always tomorrow – this is advice you’ve followed yourself (albeit without the help of a columnist or the desired success). There’s not *always* tomorrow, especially if you have trouble. I’ve always felt for people who have their fertility decided for them – by age/finances/other – instead of having the opportunity to walk away on their own terms.

    Then again, I don’t know all that many people who frittered away their fertile years “forgetting” to have kids. One woman I met in the clinic at a transfer admitted to that story. Otherwise, there were circumstances. Usually there’s a reason. Being rich and famous does allow you to pile more on to your plate, which I think she forgets. Most of us humble mortals have tougher trade-offs to make.

    I also take your main point, though, about the little insinuations that having kids is The Ultimate Experience. And you make a very good point about the message this sends to kids who have a 1/8 chance of not being able to have this experience.


  10. Miss meldon

    February 4, 2010 10:44 am

    I have been reading a lot of stuff about it. but it is different presented, i loved to read this. keep it up.

Comments are closed.