I love the opening lines of Avital Norman Nathman’s new book:
“Her kids have always slept through the night, and even if they don’t, she still manages to look like she has had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. There is always a well-balanced, home-cooked meal on her dinner table. She either happily stays at home or holds down a fulfilling job while still finding time to join the PTA, run the school’s book sale, and makes it to every single soccer game. Her house is absolutely spotless, and if it’s not, she can effortlessly laugh it off. She has the energy and desire for a happy and adventurous sex life, and her partner is always satisfied. She is crafty, creative, and embodies the perfect blend of modern woman and hipster housewife. She is usually white, middle to upper class, heterosexual, and neither too young nor too old.
But above all… she’s a myth.”
This books is edited and compiled by Avital Norman Nathman, founder of the Mamafesto blog, With a foreword by Christy Turlington Burns and boasting the contributions of notable writers such as Jessica Valenti, Sharon Lerner, Lisa Duggan, and your very own Erika Lust (!), this is a wonderful compilation of essays about what it REALLY means to be a mom … straight from moms themselves.
Speaking firsthand as the mother of two small girls, the perception of motherhood is so warped by nowadays thanks to social media, advertisements and the perceived social pressure to put on our best “Stepford Wife” impression no matter what our reality is. To be honest, these ridiculous pressures are so normal for most women, regardless of whether they are a mother since the outside world seems to tell us every day that our body image, career and income, or sexuality aren’t good enough. There are some days as a woman when it feels like it’s you and your self-love against the world.
And I think being a mother amplifies this feeling. When did such an empowering, ancient and life-affirming experience of procreation turn into a war? Because if it’s not you against Pintrest and cleaning product ads, then it’s you versus other moms who perpetuate the “good mother myth” by refusing to acknowledge that their life is anything less than that.
Of course I was delighted when Avital approached me about writing an essay! Like all the rest in the book, it is deeply personal, not especially glamorous, and sometimes brutally honest. But you know what? That is exactly the kind of wisdom I have always appreciated, and it is the only way to dispel this myth (or the others that plague women) for good.
So if you’re another kick-ass parent who wants to read the real stories about panic-inducing overwhelm, using weed instead of wine to get through the terrible twos, or even this porn director’s parenting trials and tribulations …