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Mom the Moron

"I want the media to stop talking about us like we're children," Alice Bradley of Finslippy.com says in the latest Momversation episode questioning the media's stereotyping of moms. "We're being fed these messages and used to propogate them."

Are we less competent -- morons even -- than any previous generation in history? Lenore Skenazy asks rhetorically in an Outlook piece in Sunday's Washington Post. Yes, this is the same Lenore Skenazy who blogged here recently about raising independent kids. And she goes on to point out that Dr. Spock's advice from long ago still holds: Trust yourself, particularly in today's mailstrom of all the things we apparently do wrong, if you listen to the "What to Expect" crowd all the way to the "You MUST Parent THIS Way or Your Kid Will Grow Up Useless" folks.

It's a sentiment that's raised here often. On Friday, during our conversation about the juggle, Dennis5 said, "The bottom line is you just do what needs to be done." That's a sentiment many parents -- maybe even all -- can relate to.

"Not everything has to have mama drama in it," says Dana Loesch of mamalogues.com in the Momversation episode. And, while the drama can certainly be fun to chat about, she's right.

Motherhood is often the mundane. It's cleaning up the vomit from the bedroom rug at 2 a.m. when your kid doesn't make it to the bathroom during a stomach bug that strikes -- of course -- while you're trying to sleep. It's having your kid say, "You're the best mommy, even when you're mean" and knowing that your punishments made an impression. It's driving, walking, driving, playing, working, driving some more. It's listening and tuning out. It's cooking and teaching to cook. It's being elbowed, then kissed.

So, lest I lecture like a mom talking to a child too much, what media portrayals would you like to blow up? What's your favorite mundane, positive moment that you'd like to see mentioned? What mothers do you admire, not for their special-ness, but for their everyday positive outlook and influence?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  May 11, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
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Comments


What about the dads?

Posted by: jezebel3 | May 11, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

I get annoyed at the unrealistic portrayals of labor and birth in the media.

First of all, only 8-10% of women actually have their water break before labor truly onsets--as opposed to 100% on tv and in movies! Second, many more women end up having c-sections in real life than in the popular media (whether truly medically necessary or not is a whole other discussion!)

Ignorance leads to fear, and most pregnant women I know are terrified of labor!

I had a terrific birth with my first son--four hours of labor, no epidural, no iv, nothing--out he came!

Thank goodness for "House of Babies", a series featuring natural births on the Discovery Channel. After watching hours and hours of it, I felt properly informed about how labor and birth could go, and I was much more able to relax as a result.

Most tv shows and movies either focus on complications and horror stories or are laughably unrealistic (ie, perfectly coiffed and made-up woman breathes hard for 2 minutes and out comes a perfect, clean 3-month old!)

Posted by: newslinks1 | May 11, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I would like to blow up the "perfect mommy who adores even the most menial task with a smile" stereotype. The TV mom who is always turned out in her perfectly-pressed khakis, hair done, makeup on, who smiles ruefully when jr comes in with a nasty, stained football uniform, then happily whisks it into the washer, where it re-emerges brand-spanking new white, and everyone gathers around in amazement and gratitude, because mom has come through again. Makes me wonder whether valium is enough, or whether she needs something stronger.

For all her faults, I miss Roseanne. I'm waiting for a commercial -- just one -- where mom turns to junior and says "washer's over there."

Posted by: laura33 | May 11, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

What about sticking to the topic for a change?

Posted by: anonymous_one | May 11, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Laura, as usual, great post. I read that article yesterday in the post and immediately sent it to my friends. It's great! My friend commented that: 'whew! now I know not to fly kites in a thunderstorm.'

I said to my kid's dr. once, after asking a question, well, what do I know, I'm only the mom. And he was perfectly serious when he answered: you're THE MOM. You're with these kids all the time. You know everything about them (maybe I'm paraphrasing). It's one reason he's still our kids' dr. He's common sense, listens to the parents, not alarming about things, etc. Trusts the parents.

I think parenting has become like everything. We are supposed to be alarmed about things all the time. The networks and the blogsites and the on line papers are trying to get us to watch THEM so they need to be alarming to get us there. Parenting is easy prey, I guess.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | May 11, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I think it'd be nice if the media let go of the idea that mom is the only one who ever does any housework or cooking (unless it's making a pb&j sandwich or grilling). Most dads I know are far more involved than that.

Posted by: newsahm | May 11, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I like the irony of a blog post talking entirely about moms while using a quote form a dad (me) to provide support. Not that I'm not flattered that my quote was used, but it solidifies the points of jezebel and newsahm. What about the dads?

I'd like the media to stop portraying dads as incompetent parents, or when they do show them as capable, it's in the context of "wow, isn't this guy great, he takes care of his children."

Posted by: dennis5 | May 11, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey! HEY! I can grill a great steak and make a mean PB&J!

I await with great amazement Jezebel's guest column "Dad is a Dunce!"

Posted by: anonymous_one | May 11, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I strongly disagree that the media is engaged in any type of stereotyping of today's moms, and If anything, mothers are portrayed as competant, intelligent, hardworking, and loving caretakers of their families.

The moron label is strictly reserved for dads.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | May 11, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I await with great amazement Jezebel's guest column "Dad is a Dunce!"

Posted by: anonymous_one | May 11, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse


You've already had my "guest column", moron. It was about being a widow.

Aren't you blogstats? Where are they?

Posted by: jezebel3 | May 11, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I want schools too call Dad first, not Mom!
The rest is fine. Even if Dad cleans up the vomit at 2 AM, Mom still will have to clean it again in the morning. Dad will just have sensory deficiencies that allow him to go back to bed after wiping it off the floor with paper towels (and hopefully, washing his hands).

Posted by: lisistrata | May 11, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

In my opinion, the stupidest Mom portrayed in the media of all time, is the one on the Duracell battery commercial who uses the "Brickhouse child locator" to find her child when he wanders away from her at the park. What the heck? Are there really people out there who are such incompetent morons that the only way they can prevent themselves from losing a child at the park is to slap a GPS on them? Good thing she had those batteries!

Posted by: Justsaying4 | May 11, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Whacky, I think the media portrays moms as on top of everything and dad as a bumbling idiot.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | May 11, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Nope, not blog stats.

Posted by: anonymous_one | May 11, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Pay no attention to the media portrayals! Honestly, who cares? I agree with the Dr. Spock method, trust yourself. 9/10 you'll find your decisions reinforced by other reasonable parents, and just ignore the rest.

BTW: We just experienced a vomitting in the middle of the night/prolonged stomach bug episode, followed by a trip to the emergency room for dehydration. We didn't ask another parent or go on-line to seek advise, we just trusted ourself and the kid is still alive.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | May 11, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

regarding the Duracell commerical-- I just say that last night and thought it was really weird-- and where can I get a GPS locator for my kid? I've never lost him yet, but that's perhaps because I keep a death grip on him! Maybe I'd relax a bit if he had GPS. It's stressful when you are watching more than one kid at the park and they want to be in different places.

Posted by: captiolhillmom | May 11, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

of the approx 27,000 comments submitted since the beginning of OnParenting on Feb 8, 2007, the word "widow" appears in 20 posts. Not counting today's blog, Jezebel3 made the list with a single informative comment that she submitted about widowhood last February.

BlogStats doesn't do snark, just numbers and facts.

Posted by: BlogStats | May 11, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

of the approx 27,000 comments submitted since the beginning of OnParenting on Feb 8, 2007, the word "widow" appears in 20 posts. Not counting today's blog, Jezebel3 made the list with a single informative comment that she submitted about widowhood last February.

BlogStats doesn't do snark, just numbers and facts.

Posted by: BlogStats | May 11, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse


Correct. That's pretty much all the identifying info I am willing to share on this blog at this time. What is your point?

Posted by: jezebel3 | May 11, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Jezebel3, from your previous comment: "Aren't you blogstats? Where are they?"

Well, I just answered your question.

Anything else?

Posted by: BlogStats | May 11, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I strongly disagree that the media is engaged in any type of stereotyping of today's moms, and If anything, mothers are portrayed as competant, intelligent, hardworking, and loving caretakers of their families.

The moron label is strictly reserved for dads.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel |

Whacky doesn't watch tv or read the news. I guess this is an opinion based on the media of 20 or more years ago.

Posted by: anonfornow | May 11, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Whacky doesn't watch tv or read the news. I guess this is an opinion based on the media of 20 or more years ago.


Posted by: anonfornow | May 11, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Sounds more like the 1950's...


Posted by: jezebel3 | May 11, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

And now, back to the topic at hand ...

Seriously, folks, I hear people talk all the time about wanting to hear positive stories and about positive role models. Surely, some of you have parenting positives to share.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | May 11, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

When I was a kid I used to watch Father Knows Best, The Brady Bunch, and Eight is Enough, all of these shows portrayed dads as positive role models.

Then something happened, yes around 20 years ago, I'm not sure what, but out came The Simpsons, Married With Children, Tim Allen the Toolguy, and a bunch of others that all had 1 thing in common: the dads were bumbling fools.

Has the pendulem swung in the other direction where a TV series portrays mom is an incompetent idiot? If so, name it.

And coming off Mother's Day where there is a full media advertising blitz where Motherhood is held in the highest, upmost esteem and then hearing the moms from momversation complain about how the media doesn't give them enough respect... Phooey! What a bunch of whiners!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | May 11, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

the parents we most admire are those who have fun with their kids, are respectful of their surroundings and who basically do their thing without judging or admonishing other parents.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | May 11, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I've seen plenty of positive mothering moments, from my wife and others, far too many to list. I've also seen plenty of positive fathering moments, but you aren't interested in those for some reason.

Posted by: dennis5 | May 11, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"Seriously, folks, I hear people talk all the time about wanting to hear positive stories and about positive role models. Surely, some of you have parenting positives to share."

I'm not trying to be difficult, but what kind of stuff are you looking for? Most of the good parenting moments are the small ones than are significant only to the ones experiencing them. The stuff you mentioned -- cleaning up, cooking, soothing hurts, etc. is all great, but not terribly interesting.

But if that's the kind of stuff you're looking for, I'll say that one of my favorite "mundane" things is reading my daughter a story, singing her a song then cuddling her at bedtime.

Posted by: newsahm | May 11, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I guess I get a little frustrated with the media portrayals of mothers too. You seem to get someone who is either totally fake (all the laundry commercial moms and most of the ones from the sit coms of the 60s) or totally cranky and overwhelmed (Rosanne, What about Raymond, etc) but designed to make you feel better about yourself (at least I'm not as grumpy as her). I'd say Michelle Obama has her stuff together as a parent and Cindy McCain has adopted a few in addition to her own, so she must really enjoy being a mom. So the happy, confident moms who by and large enjoy their kids are the ones I truly admire. Not all of us are put together that way before the children arrive, but hopefully you learn to love it, because what you ultimately get good at are the things you choose to enjoy.

Posted by: pinkoleander | May 11, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I used to love the mom from Malcolm in the Middle. I loved the fact that she actually yelled and did things like hid from her kids so she could relax and rest. There's a certain episode where she goes to visit the in-laws and they're all really, really fake and she gets out of the car with her dirty, smelly kids after a really long drive . . . We still think about it every time we do the super long trek to the East Coast and arrive looking like something the cat dragged in. Funny and scarily accurate.

Posted by: Justsaying4 | May 11, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

OK, on the positive side: I love getting ideas just from watching other moms who have different perspectives. Like my mom with my extremely picky 3-yr-old, who has recently discovered the joy of "no" and is reveling in his power. He routinely rejects anything that is not (a) plain starchy carbohydrate, (b) milk, (c) cured pork product, or (d) sugar. He even doesn't like the "candy" vitamins I got to make up for the vitamins he's not eating!

One night, about a week before his 3rd birthday, my mom asked him if he wanted apple juice; not surprisingly, he said no. She said, "that's ok, you're just two. Three-year-olds like apple juice. You'll like it when you're older." Just like that, apple juice became desired. And the day he turned three, he tried some, and liked it. He's still ridiculously picky, but now he sometimes tries stuff, and sometimes says "I'll like it when I'm four." Progress!

Posted by: laura33 | May 11, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I like walking with my 7 year old holding her hand in our parking lot. She is small and I worry she might get run over. I also like holding her little hand and listening to her talk as we are winding down her day.

Posted by: shdd | May 11, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Laura, as usual, I love your post and your story.

I'll bite on the question of positive examples, too.

I don't watch "Jon and Kate" on a regular basis, but she's said a couple of things in interviews and on a few episodes I have watched that I really liked. Like when feeding eight kids at once, it's easy because "there are no options." Meaning - what she puts on their plate is what they get! I heard her say that and I thought to myself "there's something there - why wouldn't that apply to just one or two kids?" So we've always followed that example - our two year old gets indulged with her "favorites" now and then, but what we put on her plate is what's for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Period.

I've also heard her say that sure, it's difficult going out and doing stuff with eight kids at once, but it's better than NOT trying to do stuff and just sitting at home all day. Whenever I feel stressed at the thought of managing an outing for our two year old, I remember that. Just helps me keep perspective.

Finally, two more examples - my own mom was a terrific example for me when our daughter first arrived. I remember how anxious we often were over the smallest things and we'd look to my mom often for guidance. She'd always just shrug and say "she's fine" or "I'm sure it will be fine" and most important, "however you handle (the situation), I'm sure it will be fine." Hearing that often just reminded us to relax - it really was all fine, we survived and it even reminded us to enjoy a lot of that first year (which we sometimes forgot was possible).

And last - Vivian Heyward-Bey, mom to Darrius Heyward-Bey, is a GREAT example in my opinion. She was featured in a Post article yesterday and the article really moved me. Everyone reading this blog should definitely take the time to check it out if you haven't already: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/09/AR2009050902537.html

Posted by: stephs98 | May 11, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

To answer today's questions: I like/admire the parents (women and men) I see everyday and steal a little idea from when I can : ) I especially appreciate being able to chat openly about not only how much we adore our little superstars but also being able to discuss (w/o judgment) some of the less savory aspects of being their parents. The positive moments come from seeing my children demonstrate respectful and loving behavior more often than not. It makes me feel like I/we are doing something right.

Posted by: flabbergast | May 11, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Laura33 -- "You'll like it when you're older" hah, that may win the prize as best idea I've come across yet. I'm trying that tonight.

Posted by: annenh | May 11, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I admire the moms who are positive, loving, warm, set appropriate boundaries, consistent and who set a good example. Those who want and do what's best for the child, whether they're working or staying at home. Those who know how to trust their own judgment, know what they don't know, and know how to get coaching when they need it. Those who look for ways to say yes while still making the boundaries clear. Those who let their children know, every day, that they are the most important people in the world . . . while teaching them how to treat others like they are the most important person in the world.

Posted by: ElaineatLipstickdaily | May 11, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I admire the moms who are positive, loving, warm, set appropriate boundaries, consistent and who set a good example. Those who want and do what's best for the child, whether they're working or staying at home. Those who know how to trust their own judgment, know what they don't know, and know how to get coaching when they need it. Those who look for ways to say yes while still making the boundaries clear. Those who let their children know, every day, that they are the most important people in the world . . . while teaching them how to treat others like they are the most important person in the world. http://lipstickdaily.com

Posted by: ElaineatLipstickdaily | May 11, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Does that make me a hypocrite if I got a tip from the media? I was watching something about the Child Locator at brickhousesecurity.com. Maybe I'm just listening to the media about children getting lost. But a GPS device looked like a good idea.

Posted by: JessN98 | May 12, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

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