Friday, November 02, 2012

A Househusband Muses about Modern Motherhood

Allow me to paraphrase a pair of humorous conversations I had one day earlier this year.
Me: We both have two kids of the same ages, who we spend all day parenting.
Mom at a park: Go away.  We have nothing in common.
Me: I got a vacuum as my father's day present.
Mom at the grocery store: You are my soul mate.
For a couple months the difference puzzled me but I eventually figured it out thanks to some magazines in the pediatrician's waiting room.

Moms in urban American are exposed to an interesting phenomenon I'll now nickname Modern Motherhood.  (I'm sure that phrase has been coined a gazillion times already.  But I'm stealing it for just one blog post.  With italics.  Then you can have it back.)

There are lots of magazines offering to teach the basics of Modern Motherhood, which seems to primarily involve which books about child psychology to read, where to go to talk about those books, how to decorate your home and bake cute treats for each holiday, and new ways to relax.

Keeping the house clean is also a part of Modern Motherhood although these magazines would never, ever use the word "housewife".  Even the word "housework" is avoided.  Instead it is "chores" or "cleaning" and these always are assumed to be as enjoyable and mood-friendly as an equivalent time spent doing long division.

Actual parenting is secretly optional.  The magazines avoid saying this explicitly but grandparents can also fully participate in Modern Motherhood with those books, those places to talk about those books, all the cute decorating of home and baked goods, and deliberate destressing.

I do not care about Modern Motherhood and clearly give off a vibe that proclaims I am much more interested in boffer swords than Fourth of July cupcakes.

Those moms who do participate in Modern Motherhood correctly surmise that despite any similarities of offspring ages or genders our parenting interests are divergent and so they do their best to ignore me.  Mentioning a dedication to housework offers a bit of commonality, but only briefly because another couple sentences of conversation will still reveal that I barbarically have never spent a moment (let alone the proper number of days) worrying about whether to purchase or sew a Halloween costume.

Smiley has many friends he sees fairly often at play dates at parks or homes.  Would it surprise you to hear that none of his close friends' moms subscribe to Modern Motherhood?  They look for toy/clothing deals on Craigslist instead of reading parenting books, discuss kid-friendly U-pick farms and library/museum events instead of new fads in child psychology, collect beauty by memorizing the funny things their kids say instead of making carefully iced cookies, and unwind not intensely at spas or on a solo hike in the mountains but just a bit during play dates because there is someone older than five to talk to.

(Postscript: I should mention that the small and local Mom Magazine is much more sensible.  It is also at all the pediatrician waiting rooms but is not part of the parenting subculture this blog post pokes fun at.)

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