Tawkers Admin:Welcome to the forum, where audience members can enter questions and comments about the main conversation happening on the left. Don't be shy, participating in the forum is the only way to get the attention of the two Hosts on stage!
Blake Ian 🎶:So weird... I JUST watched this video before stumbling into this Tawk! http://bit.ly/1iOVtLS
Katie Klabusich:Welcome to the forum, where audience members can enter questions and comments about the main conversation happening on the left. Don't be shy, participating in the forum is the only way to get the attention of the two Hosts on stage!
Katie Klabusich:Hi, everyone! Thanks for coming to "Is Good Mothering a Myth?" !
Katie Klabusich:Tonight's chat is based around freelance writer Avital Norman Nathman's new book "The Good Mother Myth" which I FLEW through faster than any book in ages. And I'm not a mom, nor do I intend to be. ;)
Lucy Dyer:looking forward to this.
Katie Klabusich:We'll for sure get into how the relates to everyone. From her own blog "The Mamfesto" Avital describes herself as "a play-at-home mama, freelance writer, wife and feminist (and not necessarily in that order)." She's easily one of the most honest and
Katie Klabusich:and accessible feminist mom's around.
Avital Norman Nathman:Hi Katie! Thanks for having me.
Katie Klabusich:So excited to have you, Avital!
Katie Klabusich:So weird... I JUST watched this video before stumbling into this Tawk! http://bit.ly/1iOVtLS
Katie Klabusich:looking forward to this.
Katie Klabusich:First, if you're new to Tawkers, Avital and I will be chatting on the left. Questions and comments from listeners will be on the right. Help us to sift through audience contributions by giving the thumbs up to things you want us to highlight!
Katie Klabusich:And, as always, my chats are a Safe Space. Feel free to ask any questions, be open and honest. You will be respected and Avital and I are both pretty available via social media to follow up if you ask something we don't have an answer to right away.
Katie Klabusich:Thanks for taking time to join me tonight, Avital!
Lucy Dyer:evening Avital. :-)
Katie Klabusich:evening Avital. :-)
Avital Norman Nathman:Of course! I'm always more than happy to chat all things Good Mother ;)
Avital Norman Nathman:Hi Lucy - thanks for making it!
Katie Klabusich:Tell us a bit about how this essay collection project came about.
Avital Norman Nathman:Sure. I've been writing about motherhood for a while now, and so mainstream media stories on the topic have always been on my radar.
Katie Klabusich:Yes, the reliable "mainstream…."
Avital Norman Nathman:A couple of years, it got to the point where I realized so many of these stories were manufactured versions, meant mostly for ratings or faux mommy war conteroversy
Katie Klabusich:You mean mommys aren't at war? o.O
Avital Norman Nathman:Jenn Pozner always reminds me to call it "corporate media" vs mainstream. I dig that distinction.
Avital Norman Nathman:Shocking, I know. ;)
Avital Norman Nathman:But, the one headline/cover that really pushed me over the edge was Time magazine's "Are you MOM ENOUGH" cover
Katie Klabusich:True. I wasn't criticizing your word choice. Mainstream is probably how most of our readers/listeners see it. And they aren't fans. lol
Lucy Dyer:is there a right and wrong way to be a mum?
Avital Norman Nathman:hold on, I'm finding the cover. Must be seen to be believed.
Avital Norman Nathman:http://themamafesto.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/are-you-mom-enough/
Katie Klabusich:For crying out loud. I can only imagine what Time's idea of being Mom enough is...
Avital Norman Nathman:That's a link to the cover and my ranting thoughts. It has a mother who was an extended breastfeeder, nursing her toddler who is standing up on a chair.
Katie Klabusich:I think I might remember that. Thanks, graphics department.
Avital Norman Nathman:Obviously meant to start drama/conflict/pageview/clicks you name it.
Katie Klabusich:Yeah. "click bait" not real conversation.
Avital Norman Nathman:And I just got so fed up, that this was what we were being fed. I'm sure the mom on the cover has a wonderful story, but we didn't get it b/c the images being thrown at us pushed controversy over content.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly, Katie.
Lucy Dyer:as i remember with that image,most people were shocked that there was a mother breast feeding a toddler than the actual headline
Katie Klabusich:I think that's one of the things I liked so much about the book -- they're short pieces, but they say so much substance each of them.
Avital Norman Nathman:So, I started to think of ways to get more voices of motherhood out there in hopes of disrupting the current "corporate"/mainstream narrative
Katie Klabusich:It's the anti-Time magazine cover.
Katie Klabusich:You talk in the intro about how the "good mother" (I'll probably ditch the quotes hereafter) shape-shifts to pick up cultural changes, but retains the …
Katie Klabusich:… "fabled ideal of what constitutes the perfect mother" -- something that starts now with the "good pregnant woman."
Katie Klabusich:Is this an American construct? I love when I get to blame the Puritans for things…
Katie Klabusich:as i remember with that image,most people were shocked that there was a mother breast feeding a toddler than the actual headline
Avital Norman Nathman:I definitely think there's a healthy dose of patriarchy that helps egg that myth along for sure.
Katie Klabusich:Bonus points to Avital for the pun!
Avital Norman Nathman:@Lucy - there were so many angles to take with that cover, most people didn't know where to begin!
Katie Klabusich:We really are still a very patriarchal society -- something that people who don't swing in feminism like you and I do either don't realize or only have passing notions of.
Katie Klabusich:**swim, not swing Ha!
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. And so this myth started forming around 50s ideals of how women/mother "should" behave.
Katie Klabusich:Is that where the current paradigm was formed? June Cleaver?
Avital Norman Nathman:In terms of pop culture, I'd say so. But I definitely think the idea of mother as sole caregiver/nurturer has been around for much longer.
Avital Norman Nathman:But, you know our society & pop culture. We see a meme we like and we run with it. That's kind of what happened here. And you can really trace it through the ages.
Avital Norman Nathman:Look at Murphy Brown, which was popular in the late 80s early 90s. People had conniptions over the idea of a single, working mother. I mean, Dan Quayle used it as part of his platform which speaks volumes.
Katie Klabusich:I just saw a thing on that. I had almost forgotten about it. I was born in '79 so Murphy Brown was happening during my formative years. I remember not thinking the plot was weird until that Bush/Quale campaign comment.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. So these threads of what good mothers "should" be have always been around. pop culture just kind of threw them in our faces and now social media takes them to even more intense heights.
Katie Klabusich:You talk even just in the intro about how changing the cultural conversation -- something we're hopefully doing tonight! -- is important to all of us, not just parents or parents-to-be. I think that's SO true.
Katie Klabusich:And that the quippy nature of our culture makes that super hard.
Avital Norman Nathman:Yeah, I think there's a ripple effect that can take place for sure.
Avital Norman Nathman:We start changing the conversation around motherhood and parenting and relate it to policy and social support and it can go in all sorts of amazing places.
Katie Klabusich:That social support idea is something I talk about in my personal life a lot. I'm an aunt. And I LOVE LOVE my nieces. I'm super involved with them. Their parents like the idea of them having an adult in their lives that
Katie Klabusich:isn't a parent to talk to.
Katie Klabusich:I feel like we've lost a big of that community ideal and now expect MOM to do the whole all of it.
Avital Norman Nathman:I think that's so important. We make light of the "it takes a village" mentality, but there is such truth to that.
Avital Norman Nathman:Especially in a society that is growing further apart from their neighbors and more isolated.
Katie Klabusich:Is it the "do it all?" or the "do it alone" mentalities that are the most harmful?
Katie Klabusich:I feel like we all divide moms into the "working" or "stay at home" categories still.
Avital Norman Nathman:I think it's a combination of the two and most of the time they're pretty synonymous.
Katie Klabusich:is there a right and wrong way to be a mum?
Avital Norman Nathman:Because if you stay at home you still do it alone and if you work you're doing it all and alone and it's a slippery slope. And it's so easy to pit these two versions of motherhood against each other and nobody wins.
Katie Klabusich:There's certainly judgement leveled at either choice.
Avital Norman Nathman:Great Q Lucy. I think beyond notions of human decency, kindness, etc... it's less about ONE particular way of being a mom and more about "does this work for our family."
Katie Klabusich:Oooo! Lucy lead us right to your essay!
Avital Norman Nathman:But because there *is* so much judgment, we rarely get to ponder that question and start to worry more about how our parenting is viewed by everyone else.
Katie Klabusich:Tell us about your essay. I know that a couple of you in the audience who haven't gotten this far in the book yet will identify COMPLETELY with it because you're going through the same thing.
Avital Norman Nathman:Well, I should probably start off with the title. It's called, "Yes, I am that selfish." ha! Any guesses as to what I could be talking about?
Avital Norman Nathman:(too many things to choose from!)
Katie Klabusich:Ha! My best friend is fielding these exact questions right now.
Katie Klabusich:They're process of deciding what their family dymanic is and should be is similar to yours.
Avital Norman Nathman:My essay focuses on our choice to only have 1 child and the outrage - from both those close to us and complete strangers - that we've gotten, and still continue to get.
Katie Klabusich:I have never understood this...
Katie Klabusich:the judgement
Katie Klabusich:WHY DO YOU CARE??
Avital Norman Nathman:It's amazing how many people feel the need to tell you how your family should look/act/be like, and yet then when push comes to shove and you need support, aid, whatever it is. *poof* where are they now?
Lucy Dyer:everyone has their own idea what it is to be a "good" mum. trouble is,there will be some who push their idea onto others,which i think is wrong
Katie Klabusich:everyone has their own idea what it is to be a "good" mum. trouble is,there will be some who push their idea onto others,which i think is wrong
Katie Klabusich:Exactly, Lucy. And that's totally what's happening.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly Lucy. And how are they benefiting the family with those ideas? Odds are, they're not.
Katie Klabusich:It's the one area that complete strangers feel like they have a right to weigh in!
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. And there's no right answer. You're either not having enough (or heaven forbid ANY!) or you have too many kids.
Lucy Dyer:also,if you are not a mother,then its felt by some that you have no say,no idea,how it feels to be a mother,and so shouldnt have an opinion
Katie Klabusich:Yeah. Turns out, there is never a right number of kids from zero to "insert the Duggars here"
Avital Norman Nathman:Maybe 2 or 3 is the perfect number for the general public, but that doesn't mean it's the right fit for every family.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. And let's not even get into how these types of questions neglect to take into account issues of fertility, etc...
Katie Klabusich:Yeah, those questions can have triggers embedded in them.
Avital Norman Nathman:also,if you are not a mother,then its felt by some that you have no say,no idea,how it feels to be a mother,and so shouldnt have an opinion
Katie Klabusich:What if the people you're insisting have more tried and couldn't??
Katie Klabusich:I'll say it. That makes the questioner and asshole. ;)
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. In my case, it was a very consciously made decision between my husband and myself. But you never know!
Katie Klabusich:Every family should construct itself the way that works best for the members.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. And yet...
Katie Klabusich:If your family works with none or five kids, than that's who you are and how your family should look.
Avital Norman Nathman:I also hate how I would have people trying to pit my son against us. "Don't you *want* a brother or sister?" Um... back off.
Avital Norman Nathman:Yup. "Don't you want to be a big brother?" And you know, what, he does. So thanks for pouring salt on that.
Lucy Dyer:i was always told "i want never got"
Avital Norman Nathman:I mean, he also wants to fly and eat chocolate all day, so you know.
Katie Klabusich:Right? Persepctive.
Katie Klabusich:It's not like he's an isolated kid. I'm an only child. There are advantages to siblings; advantages to being an only.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. And here's the thing. EVERYONE has a story. For every story of an only kid feeling burdened or lonely, you hear tons of great ones. Or stories of awful family dynamics and sibling rivalries & fights
Avital Norman Nathman:or families where siblings are bffs. Anecdata people. Doesn't mean you have the right to force your choices on others. sigh.
Avital Norman Nathman:But, in the grand scheme of things, my essay is one of the "lighter" ones in the book, I'd say.
Katie Klabusich:For sure. And if you only want one, how great an experience growing up will your kids have if you cave to pressure and have additional? ("you" being the general pronoun)
Avital Norman Nathman:Oh, exactly!
Katie Klabusich:I'd agree -- but important, because every person I know with one kid is fielding that question.
Katie Klabusich:Do you have a favorite essay?
Avital Norman Nathman:Oh, it's definitely a common thread for many
Avital Norman Nathman:Oh, that's hard! That's like asking if I have a favorite kid! (haha, I do! See? having one has its perks!)
Katie Klabusich:Ha! I didn't ask for the best one. ;)
Katie Klabusich:You can have more than one favorite.
Avital Norman Nathman:But as far as the essays go, I really do love all of them in their own ways.
Avital Norman Nathman:Joy Ladin's is one that never fails to get me choked up.
Katie Klabusich:"Confessions of a Born-Bad Mother"
Avital Norman Nathman:I absolutely love Tara Bernier's poem that ends the book as well. You have to hear her recite it live. Powerful stuff.
Avital Norman Nathman:Yes! re: Joys. There are so many layers to her essay.
Katie Klabusich:Speaking of! I'll pause to tell people --
Avital Norman Nathman:Like, she knew from the start she was at such a disadvantage in terms of good mothering.
Katie Klabusich:check out the book's event page. So far Portland, Chicago and NYC she's coming your way! http://goodmothermyth.com/events-2/
Avital Norman Nathman:Oh, yes - thanks! And at every event there will be different contributors
Katie Klabusich:I never can resist a plug for projects I believe in.
Avital Norman Nathman:so that's always exciting - new voices, new stories, etc...
Katie Klabusich:I really gravitated to the section "In the Mama Trenches"
Lucy Dyer:i cant wait to get this book. :-)
Katie Klabusich:All of your writers are so real. Just REAL.
Katie Klabusich:i cant wait to get this book. :-)
Avital Norman Nathman:Thanks Lucy!
Katie Klabusich:That section felt confessional. Like being let in on the real mom experience.
Avital Norman Nathman:And yeah, that's a good section. I should note, that the titles of the sections range from real to almost sarcastic.
Katie Klabusich:But isn't that human?
Katie Klabusich:We can't be all serious all the time.
Katie Klabusich:Taking ourselves too seriously is how we end up buying into destructive cultural myths!
Avital Norman Nathman:And I hope people get that. The section "No Good Mama" has essays from LGBT women, adoptive moms, a mom who had an abortion, etc... so, very tongue in cheek
Avital Norman Nathman:But you'd be surprised by people who are like "but how can you call those moms no good!?"
Lucy Dyer:do you think how our own mothers taught/brought us up,influences how we bring up our own kids?
Avital Norman Nathman:do you think how our own mothers taught/brought us up,influences how we bring up our own kids?
Katie Klabusich:As an adult adoptee, I like the trend toward openness that adoption is taking in this country right now.
Katie Klabusich:Ugh. I'm sure they all hear it.
Avital Norman Nathman:Lucy - totally! One of the essay's by Gina Crosley-Corcoran explores that. She had a really rough childhood and feared whether or not she'd be a good mother.
Katie Klabusich:I cried on the subway while I was reading that.
Avital Norman Nathman:Katie - what did you think of Sarah Buttenweiser's essay in particular?
Avital Norman Nathman:Hers was about as open an adoption as you can get!
Lucy Dyer:cos ot be honest,i totally dont want to any kid of mine to grow they way i was. the thought that i could,scares me
Avital Norman Nathman:Sidenote: Sarah & I are good friends so I know more details about the adoption than the essay reveals, but she revealed a lot.
Katie Klabusich:I think it's super true to the adoption experience. She hits on a lot of the undercurrents of being an adoptive parents and therefore an adopted kid.
Katie Klabusich:You bristle at phrases like "real parents."
Avital Norman Nathman:Yeah, "real" anything always rubs me the wrong way.
Avital Norman Nathman:Real mother
Avital Norman Nathman:Real women
Avital Norman Nathman:etc...
Katie Klabusich:I got your real right here….
Katie Klabusich:"Well I didn't mean…"
Katie Klabusich:Yeah sure.
Katie Klabusich:Of course you didn't.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly.
Katie Klabusich:You really do walk around educating people. I thought she explained that really well too. Sometimes you tell the whole story. Sometimes you're just in a hurry. Sometimes education gets exhausting.
Avital Norman Nathman:Sarah is pretty open about the adoption, but yes - it can be exhausting after a while.
Katie Klabusich:Her perspective was especially interesting because she's a biological mother of three and then adopted.
Avital Norman Nathman:Yes, and her 3 sons are all older
Avital Norman Nathman:She has quite the spread, 2 teens, a tween and a 5yr old
Katie Klabusich:As an adult adoptee of a….well…challenging set of parents, it was healing to read a story written by someone who had chosen adoption and sees that as part of the fabric of the family.
Katie Klabusich:That's another thing the book is AMAZEBALLS for.
Katie Klabusich:Adults from all backgrounds. Reading parenting stories can be insightful and healing.
Avital Norman Nathman:I love that so many people apart from mothers have gotten so much out of the book. That has definitely been something I've been challenged on. "Why *just* mothers?!"
Katie Klabusich:I kept getting these weird looks on the train.
Katie Klabusich:Apparently I don't look like a mother.
Katie Klabusich:cos ot be honest,i totally dont want to any kid of mine to grow they way i was. the thought that i could,scares me
Avital Norman Nathman:Sarah was actually just telling me that a teen friend of her son's was in love with the book and couldn't put it down. That thrilled me to no end.
Avital Norman Nathman:Ha! And what does a mother look like? ;)
Katie Klabusich:I wanted to scream "SEE THIS IS WHY WE NEED THIS BOOK"
Lucy Dyer:a mother is purple with pink spots...no? :-)
Katie Klabusich:I don't have kids, but I am still judged through the lens of motherhood that our society has bestowed upon women.
Avital Norman Nathman:I love that :)
Katie Klabusich:a mother is purple with pink spots...no? :-)
Avital Norman Nathman:Oh for sure, single women, partnered & child-free women, etc... motherhood is the supposed pinnacle for all women :/
Avital Norman Nathman:and yeah, motherhood is (can be) great but we really need to stop purporting it as the end all and be all of womanhood
Avital Norman Nathman:ESPECIALLY if we're not prepared to back that up via policies & support in our society. Ahem.
Stacey Dunn:Especially when things don't go well. I have a disabled child, and if support is poor for typical families, it's even worse if one's child is disabled.
Avital Norman Nathman:Especially when things don't go well. I have a disabled child, and if support is poor for typical families, it's even worse if one's child is disabled.
Avital Norman Nathman:I can only imagine, Stacey. I've seen friends who have to fight tooth and nail for things like evaluations and then even more so for either benefits/aid/IEP type help.
Stacey Dunn:It's true. My last though while going under for cancer surgery is that they are going to screw up my daughter's IEP while I'm out.
Stacey Dunn:Thankfully, they didn't.
Avital Norman Nathman:It's true. My last though while going under for cancer surgery is that they are going to screw up my daughter's IEP while I'm out.
Stacey Dunn:(sorry, should have been was, in the previous comment.)
Avital Norman Nathman:oh my gosh, Stacey, I can't even imagine! Glad everything went well with the IEP, and hopefully with your surgery as well!
Katie Klabusich:For sure (sorry, Time Warner chose that moment to power cycle my modem >_< ) on all of that. Don't say you're pro-family, pro-child and cut SNAP and pre-K.
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly! Or ignore us when we demands mandated paid maternity leave
Stacey Dunn:Amen, sister.
Avital Norman Nathman:or paid sick leave
Katie Klabusich:Amen, sister.
Avital Norman Nathman:or flexible work hours, or better quality affordable day care
Katie Klabusich:Yes, yes, yes.
Avital Norman Nathman:or better maternal health care!
Avital Norman Nathman:I can go on and on :/
Katie Klabusich:And these issues, of course, like all issues disproportionately affection WOC and poor women.
Stacey Dunn:So very true!
Katie Klabusich:So very true!
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. And those are also the vocies not getting the airtime when discussing motherhood
Lucy Dyer:if you have money,your kid does well. if you dont - who cares. thats kinda their philosophy....and it stinks
Katie Klabusich:Yes. That's another reason your book is so fantastic.
Katie Klabusich:It's really intersectional -- so many DIFFERENT voices are included.
Katie Klabusich:if you have money,your kid does well. if you dont - who cares. thats kinda their philosophy....and it stinks
Avital Norman Nathman:I tried. There are SO many voices out there. I could have volumes of this book, honestly
Katie Klabusich:Allow me to lobby for volume #2!
Katie Klabusich:(Before I forget, Avital is giving away signed copies of the book! You can enter at her blog; it's super easy: http://themamafesto.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/the-good-mother-myth-is-here/ )
Avital Norman Nathman:But even money doesn't protect you from the horrible maternity health care in this country :( I mean, it obviously helps in certain situations (things like paid maternity leave aren't as critical, etc...)
Avital Norman Nathman:Oh, yes! Please enter! The contest ends tonight and I'm giving 2 signed books away!
Lucy Dyer:i'll enter...hope to do air mail! hehe
Katie Klabusich:Anyone who's ever had to spend time on hold trying to get coverage for a flu shot can only imagine getting individual maternity care covered.
Avital Norman Nathman:Yeah, it's rather incredulous how much we spend on maternity health care vs the quality :/ embarrassing really.
Katie Klabusich:Even if it's part of the insurance plan, individual patients have to do SO much lobbying.
Katie Klabusich:That's a whole other talk -- truth on health care. ;)
Avital Norman Nathman:Exactly. And the lack of education surrounding prenatal and postpartum issues too...
Avital Norman Nathman:oh, totally!
Katie Klabusich:Yeah. And it's not like we don't have country's to look to for field testing of programs that really changed the way children are raised.
Katie Klabusich:The support in almost every other country could be something we implement here.
Katie Klabusich:THAT should be what's judged!
Avital Norman Nathman:That would be a good start, and would at least make conversations surrounding motherhood and pressure more interesting to say the least.
Katie Klabusich:Well, I thank you for doing some amazing work to start that conversation!
Avital Norman Nathman:Like, here, have all the resources you need, then lets see what sort of internal judgement/competition (mompetition? blarghs) remains.
Katie Klabusich:You and your writers provide some great ammo for the fight to change the way we view parenthood.
Avital Norman Nathman:Thanks, Katie - I appreciate it. I hope more folks join in and raise their voices.
Katie Klabusich:Everybody go -- RUN! -- to follow Avital on twitter @TheMamaFesto and buy the book because it's FANTASTIC: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1580055028
Katie Klabusich:It starts with a few.
Avital Norman Nathman:Thanks! And I hope those of you near any of the events we're having can make it for an inperson discussion around all of these issues!
Katie Klabusich:I'll see you in NYC!
Katie Klabusich:Super excited!
Avital Norman Nathman:Awesome!!
Avital Norman Nathman:Me too :)
Katie Klabusich:Thank you SO much for chatting tonight. And I hope you'll come back any time you have an issue or piece you're itching to get talked about!
Avital Norman Nathman:Thanks again for having me Katie, and thanks to everyone else for chiming in and reading along!
Avital Norman Nathman:Oh, definitely!
Katie Klabusich:Thanks everybody!
Lucy Dyer:great tawk you guys. very interesting :-)
Katie Klabusich:great tawk you guys. very interesting :-)
Stacey Dunn:Thank you!
Katie Klabusich:Thank you!