Monday, May 07, 2007

Embracing my Inner Retro Mom

One of my favorite bloggers, Susan Wagner of Friday Playdate and Friday Style, is writing a new feature over at ParentDish this summer. It's called Retro Mom, and I love it. I love her whole embrace-it vibe, where she says that this summer she's going to reclaim her inner '70s housewife, inspired by her memories of her own stay-at-home mom back in the day. The 1970s day, that is--which is also when I was a child, with my stay-at-home mom. So I can relate.

I'm not sure why I find Retro Mom so fun and joyful. Maybe because I'm sick to death of hearing about Leslie Bennetts' book. (No, I haven't read it, though I've read a ton of reviews and blog posts on it, and I can't even go there, because it's just too tiring to even imagine writing a critical analysis of her whole shtick, even though I feel like I should; I feel like my blog (and other) writing is made for stuff like that. But I just don't have the energy. All I will say is, Judith Stadtman Tucker, editor of The Mothers Movement Online, has some great things to say about it in the current MMO issue's editor's letter. Check it out.) I'm sick of thinking and worrying about the work vs. stay-home debate. It's a refreshing change of pace, this idea of taking on the role of at-home mom with enthusiasm and aplomb--not to show anyone else up or to be Ms. Perfect Mother, but just...for fun. Not just do it, but do it RIGHT--and not to make anyone else feel like they're doing things wrong, either.

Come on--doesn't it sound kind of fun to, just for awhile, just as an experiment, make elaborate fruit-Jello salads and teach your kids hopscotch and collect empty toilet-paper tubes and pieces of wrapping paper and cotton balls for an arts-and-crafts box? Bake a casserole each afternoon and supervise little projects like homemade finger paint? Maybe not; maybe I'm nuts. But this is definitely appealing to my inner self-competitive side, the part of me that commits to a goal and does it all the way. I like the idea of, if even for a summer, being an Alpha Mom.

I think one reason all this appeals to me is that it implies a sort of in-the-moment, devil-may-care attitude about being home full-time (an attitude that would no doubt fill Leslie Bennetts with dismay and disdain). I'm tired of constantly thinking about, as a friend of mine put it over the weekend, "what's the next step." What comes next. As in, what comes next, after the babies get a little bigger? What comes next, when they start preschool or kindergarten or....? What's the next step, after being home for a few years with small children? Are you going back to work? If so, how? When? How much? Same career? Different one? Why? What's next?

Why do we always have to think about the next step? (Oh, Leslie Bennetts, I'm not asking you.) My friend was pointing out that when our mothers were home with us, there wasn't the expectation that anything "next" was going to--or had to--happen once we were three, or four, or five. It wasn't assumed that a woman HAD to find an additional career at all, beyond raising her children and managing her house and household, if she didn't want to. Today, it's all about the next step, and it's hard for me to imagine what it would be like to let go--even temporarily--of the back-burner, chronic, humming worry about what I'm going to do next, when I've (presumably) been home with my girls long enough. What if there is no long enough? What if the now is what's next?

Does that make me a Retro Mom?

6 comments:

Christopher Tassava said...

Huh. I feel very out of it, because I hadn't even heard of Bennetts' book until your post (and the links you provided). But from the reviews, it sounds like just the sort of elite mirror-chamber talk that is bothersome and even pernicious in so many settings (economics, politics, social change - all domains in which Bennetts' book purports to operate). She sounds like someone who's not too willing to accept criticism, too.

And but so, a few years' exile in that old job of mine sure taught me to to try hard to at least tolerate, if not enjoy, the moment, so I fully support "embracing your inner retro mom." Worring more abou right now and less about the evening or the fall or 2010 is just a good thing overall - and that includes thinking about when the vacuuming will get done! (I'll be happy to scrub the sinks and toilets every day if it means more time to make cotton-ball animals with Julia.)

Just FYI, though, I prefer Martinis to Manhattans, though a nice dry bourbon Manhattan would start the evening nicely. A simple glass of scotch would be fine, though.

Question said...

"Come on--doesn't it sound kind of fun to, just for awhile, just as an experiment, make elaborate fruit-Jello salads and teach your kids hopscotch and collect empty toilet-paper tubes and pieces of wrapping paper and cotton balls for an arts-and-crafts box? Bake a casserole each afternoon and supervise little projects like homemade finger paint?"

Nope.

Shan said...

Heh--I'm sure you're not the only person to have that reaction. ;)

Question said...

The kids will be here next week and I bought some playdoh. Does that get me any retro aunt points?

Shan said...

Definitely! But if you do something that involves glue, you're really in the game.

Ms. Wobbly Bits said...

I know this is an old post but I just found it and I COMPLETELY agree with you and yes it does sound like fun!