Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Odds & ends & recent reading

  • Dh & I went to the mall today to get out of the house (we are heading for the title of "Coldest February on Record"...!). It's usually very quiet there on a weekday afternoon, but the central atrium area was PACKED with dozens of proud parents & grandparents wielding cellphones, cameras & videocams. It was the annual local primary school choirs competition (which I've heard about in the past, via local parents I know & local media coverage)... another one of those things that, when you don't have kids, simply doesn't appear on your radar. 
  • I briefly stopped to watch & listen as I was making my rounds -- but had to beat a hasty retreat when I realized the choir was singing Billy Joel's "Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel)" -- a song I wrote about here last fall. Hearing those sweet childish voices deliver lines like "Wherever you may go/No matter where you are/ I never will be far away" was one of those gut-punching, lump-in-throat producing moments that never quite go away & pop up when you least expect them.
  • I had a true "WTF??!"  moment recently when I came across a Slate article in my Facebook feed, with a headline that read “Having a Baby Is Not Unlike Dealing With a Death.”  I mean, seriously?? Seriously??!! I couldn't bring myself to read an article with such a completely dumb headline at first, but I eventually steeled myself & read it.  Now, of course, I have never been a mother (to a living child) -- so I won't pretend to know what new motherhood is truly like. I have no doubt that it can be very difficult and disorienting and lonely and life changing, and post-partum depression is not something to downplay or fool around with.  I get that it's the end of your previous life as a non-mom, and the beginning of a "new world order," as the writer puts it.  BUT. SHE HAS HER BABY.  Her baby is alive and well.  Mine is not. End of story. I don't want to play Pain Olympics, I don't want to discount her very real and valid feelings -- but hello, some of us have had to deal with having a baby AND a death. Of that baby. Simultaneously.  Not some metaphoric death of our old self.  :p  I do wish that she had not made that unfortunate comparison (& that Slate hadn't picked that quote to highlight in its headline).
  • I watched the Oscars (as usual) on Sunday night -- but it didn't hit me until I read a Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams that (once again), mothers were "front and centre" at the Oscars. Williams referenced J.K. Simmons's directive to "call your mom (and dad)" as well as Patricia Arquette's now-infamous acceptance speech, in which she advocated equal pay and equal rights for women (to the great and visible delight of the women in the audience, including unlikely seatmates Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez), and prefaced her remarks with the words “To every woman who gave birth to every tax payer and citizen of this nation.” Most of the commentary that I've read focuses on the backlash to Arquette's speech -- particularly her backstage comments about how "it's time for women" (vs gay people or people of colour) -- and whether political subjects should be addressed at the Oscars at all.  But Williams did note that "Arquette’s assumption that motherhood can be defined by “every woman who gave birth” leaves out a whole lot of caring, wonderful mothers who didn’t earn the title by pushing a baby out of their bodies."  K.J. Dell'Antonia of the New York Times's Motherlode blog went one step further, noting "She could have been more clear that it’s not the giving birth that matters, not to her or to the individuals and social forces that set the pay scales, but the ability to give birth — in other words, simply being a woman." Touche!!  & thank you, K.J.!   

6 comments:

  1. I'm sorry you had one of those ouch moments at the mall - just when you least expect it, they sting so much more. Hugs.

    I agree with your reaction to the Slate article. WTF? What an extremely unfortunate - actually, "unfortunate" implies it was an accident, and the author chose that comparison deliberately and provocatively, so I will say that it was an extremely ignorant and callous comparison and headline. One of the worst I've seen - and as we know, we've seen plenty.

    Finally, I saw reference to that statement of Patricia Arquette, and cringed at the "giving birth" comment. She meant to be inclusive, and I applaud her sentiments and intentions, but with just two words, I felt left out again.

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  2. Echoing everything Mali said. So sorry about the moment in the mall triggered by the song. Want to smack the author of the Slate article. Yes, postpartum is terrible, but comparing having a child to death?!?! I can't even begin. Haven't caught the Oscars, but my head is spinning from that comment. So wrong on so many levels.

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  3. So sorry about the trip to the mall. It would have been hard enough even without the Billy Joel song.

    I couldn't even bring myself to click on the link for the Slate article. I'm sure that new motherhood isn't all rainbows and glitter, but like death? I just can't.

    I didn't watch the Oscars but did see the the news the next morning. Womanhood is so much more than giving birth to a baby. I almost hope that strong voices for women's rights like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson never have kids.....

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  4. Seems to me that there were quite a few women who were suffragettes and they were not all mothers. I agree with Bentnotbroken. Womanhood is not just about giving birth despite the rhetoric we hear all the time.

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  5. I thought of you as soon as I read that Patricia Arquette quote about mothers. AWMY age is right about suffragettes. And many who came before and after them - being a mother isn't a pre-requisite for fighting for women's rights. Obviously.

    The title of that Slate article is "shameful" as my favorite editor of mine would say.

    I'm sorry about that moment in the mall. :(

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  6. Ouchy! So sorry for that moment at the mall. :-(

    I haven't read that Slate article (not sure I want to either), but understand completely why you feel that way.

    I think I've never watched the Oscars fully, so have no idea how much motherhood is front and centre there. Read your old blog post about it and you described it perfectly as the drip-drip-dripping...

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