We are not alone: The ARM conference

Last week I went to Toronto to present Martyred Moms to a group of amazing women (and one man) who comprise the Association for Research on Mothering. My head is still spinning. Heading to the conference, I feared that I might be shunned for exposing my struggles about mothering. I soon discovered that I was not alone in expressing “maternal ambivalence.” In fact, I learned from a presentation by Ivana Brown, there is an ever-increasing literature on the “negative” feelings we share but don’t express. I learned that mothering as I know it, that is “intensive mothering,” is relatively new on the horizon. Many of the older mothers there expressed some horror about the current environment. All of this was deeply reassuring.

But then.

On the last day, Andi Buchanan, who is a wonderful bridgemaker and writer, gave a presentation on the “Escalation of Cool.” According to Andi, it is now cool to be a ‘bad’ mom and “the escalation of what it takes to be a ‘cool mom’ is turning out to be just as constricting and impossible as the old cultural expectations of what ‘good mothers’ should be like.”

Oh no! I want to be cool, I really do. But I’m not trying to constrict anyone else. I just want to be free of the cultural ideal of self-sacrifice. Do we really have to constrict ourselves to fit an image? I really believe that if we are living a satisfying life, we don’t have to judge others or measure ourselves against standards.

Read the exchange I had with ‘good mother’ here.

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