Yikes. There sure is a lot of parenting controversy out there. I had no idea. There are mothering ‘movements’ I was not aware even existed but it appears I belong to at least one of them. There’s the Attachment People, I’m not them. There’s the Anywhere, Anytime people, nope, not me. And now I’m reading about Slacker Mums. Now this seems more like me. These, I think, are the Mums who don’t give a crap that they are not perfect. Yup. That’s me. Jane Caro is one too and she wrote this about being slack. Andie Fox is the thinking woman’s Slacker and she wrote this response to Jane. Read them both. Do. It’s a slap in the face, followed by a kick to the guts rounded off with your mother telling your she raised you to THINK GIRL!
I had mixed reactions to both of these articles. I’ll start with the fact that neither mentions a male parent and that again and again we are having ‘parenting’ debates that are really ‘mothering’ debates. I’m nauseated by how much criticism is out there for mothers and the squillions of ways we can get it wrong. Andie (Blue Milk) brilliantly asks “…what business is it of yours how another mother does her care work, because it’s inherently sexist that we routinely consider women’s lives our business and that we also have so many ways to criticise women?” Let’s spare some of the vitriol shall we for the douchbag Dads who are responsible for the not-by-choice single Mums. Let’s write blogs and opinion pieces about how fathers could do more, read more, play more, work less and share the cooking. Or maybe, let’s just shut our damn mouths and thank our lucky stars that our worst parenting moments are usually hidden away from public view.
I am missing the point here, I know. Back to Jane the Slacker. As I read her article, I mentally ticked off a list of agreement with her every point. I am her yet I disliked her – why? She’s waving a red flag to a pack of bulls. She’s a self confessed ‘stirrer’. She wants to be accused of not loving her children enough so that her point will thus be proven. It pisses me off that women find themselves needing to adopt this IN YOUR FACE kind of it’s my party and I’ll parent how I want to attitude with a hands on hips stare down for anyone game to gasp at the brutality of saying sometimes you just don’t care. I am so glad she did not wrap a yes but around her brutal confessional. I drank (but only a little bit), they drive me crazy (but gosh they’re so cute aren’t they), I hate being a mother (but only sometimes). I thank Slacker Jane for giving me credit for knowing that mothers are not one dimensional, simple or all the same.
And then there is what I decided today I’d call the Blue Milk smack down. This writer has a way of grabbing your face and rubbing it in the obvious like you used to do with your dog when he shat on the carpet. Andie’s cautionary response to Jane is that you cannot say Slacker-type things if you are in any kind of marginalised, disempowered group. You can’t because then people will not chuckle knowingly at your cheekily imperfect parenting choices. They will report you to the Department of Child Safety. You will then know the sharp end of the snobbish judgement of the middle class school staff, the middle class doctor, the middle class Centrelink bitch and everyone that walks past you at Westfield rolling their eyes and whispering as you pass. I have seen it in the way I get treated by Doctors and so on in comparison to how some of my clients have been treated. I know, I’ve been there and I’ve seen it. If you are a poor Mum, a young Mum, a desperate Mum, a beaten Mum, an uneducated Mum or a mentally unwell Mum the system is suspicious of you, routinely talks down to you and withholds your rights to information, choice, compassion and a say in the treatment of your child. If you then start going round saying how you’re a Slacker too, the system will not be amused. Who among us of us really understands what it might be like to mother under extreme pressure? Do you think this mother loves her kid one scrap less than you love yours?
I’m now well and truly lost in the cornfield of my own argument. I’ll try to pull it together. I love Jane the Slacker, I especially love her for this:
“I had no birth plan, except an adamantine determination to avoid any pain, and so I aimed to take as many drugs as were on offer. I had no interest in the grim maternal competition that equates a ”natural” birth with being a good mother. Consequently, I had no interest in home births, birth centres, birth coaches, water births or whale song.”
I’ll add that while this tickles my sense of yeah me too, birth centres and birth coaches are not usually a resource available to Marginalised mum.
I love Blue Milk and her special brand of intellectual smack down. I especially love her for this:
“…the slacker mum movement often neglects to directly acknowledge the debt it owes feminism. It’s frequently liberation without the radicalism.”
I wish parenting debate meant parents and not just mothers. I wish desperate and disempowered mothers were properly supported from day one. I think we all love to whine about how hard parenting is. I think none of us have even an iota of a clue how hard and heartbreaking mothering can really be for some. I think we all love our children.