Really Real Motherhood, In Pictures

Momma Love, is a soon-to-be published picture book by Ali Smith, exploring what she sees as the real stories of motherhood. Whenever I see books like this, I always read to see if maybe, by chance, I can relate to this woman’s version of motherhood.  

No shock to anyone that, more often than not, I can’t relate. Which is sad, because so many books that attempt to encapsulate the really awesome thing that is motherhood are doing so under the guise of inclusion not exclusion; and yet, my experience as a mother is non-existent in the story. I’m not complaining, but I am beginning to wonder, am I just weird?  Then I read this and it all becomes clear:

Momma Love will come out at a time when arguments over a mom’s role — her needs, responsibilities and ability to “have it all” — are constantly in the news. But Smith calls the Mommy Wars a tiresome diversion. “There are deeply ingrained issues about parenting inequality that are not being addressed in any functionally sound way. Motherhood can be a really isolating experience. We don’t need fewer points of commonality. We need a broader conversation,” she said.

The problem is that I’m not experiencing motherhood as a liberated feminist, and therefore not conflicted, I guess. I don’t know that the author is a feminist, but Gloria Steinem is quoted in the book, so I don’t think I’m making too loose a connection. Clearly, the author is frustrated that the voice of moms everywhere are being snubbed in the arena of public discourse, but I don’t think that’s the real problem.  

It’s my opinion that, as feminists began to have children, the same ideological trappings that made it almost impossible for them feel complete as woman (despite all they’ve achieved and continue to achieve in they way of policy reform and public opinion) make it hard for them to feel complete in motherhood. Modern feminism is structured to leave its followers wanting more — and so is feminist motherhood. 

So what do you all think? Is the broader discussion of modern motherhood being overlooked in public discourse?

  1. Guruforhire

    I think somewhere deep in the heart of liberalism is an inability to deal with opportunity cost.

    See this crap:

    All choices have opportunity costs, you made peace with yours.

  2. R. Craigen

    Reminds me about an “inside joke” my wife and I used to have when our kids were young.  It was called “Real parents…”, capturing the absurd but common things that parents do without a thought, but might find unthinkable to do something similar in other circumstances.

    For example:

    • Real parents rinse, in the toilet, by hand…

    • Real parents finish junior’s leftovers
    • etc
  3. Foxfier
    A.D.P. Efferson:

    The problem is that I’m not experiencing motherhood as a liberated feminist, and therefore not conflicted, I guess. 

    Or maybe we’ve got different conflicts?

    I know that I worry about what and how to teach the girls, for example– how controlling to be, etc.

  4. notmarx

    I followed the link and looked at the little portfolio of photographs. Perhaps it’s the whole concept of the book, or the aesthetic that ruled the pictures; I couldn’t get over the feeling that motherhood was being treated as a fashion statement. 

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