A not terribly groundbreaking debate on noncustodial motherhood begins at about 16:20 minutes into the episode, but it ends with the acknowledgment that different models of family and childcare can work!
News for May 2011
To The Contrary
Talking with Sherry Bracken
My Mother’s Day interview with Sherry Bracken has been posted on The Big Island News Center. You can listen to the half hour discussion here. We talk about everything from astrophysics, to my mother, to the inspiration for my first novel to Hiroshima in the Morning. She is a thoughtful, warm and very smart interviewer. Thanks Sherry!
Reading on The Drum
I am reading from Hiroshima in the Morning on The Drum Literary Magazine, “a literary magazine for your ears,” featured this week and archived forever with a lot of other great readings and interviews. Check out the magazine. It’s definitely worth your time!
Happy Mother’s Day
“A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”
–Dorothy Canfield Fisher (who, coincidentally, has a dorm at Goddard College named after her).
Isn’t it strange?
Comments on my article on The Huffington Post yesterday featured many protests to my suggestion that, if we really think single motherhood is bad for women and children, then maybe we, as a caring society, should think about how we can help. Essentially (paraphrasing here):
“Why should I give up my hard earned money to someone else?”
Meanwhile, comments on my tribute to my mother on Salon, which also ran yesterday, seemed to indicate a belief that mothers should sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their children and families, in the heartbreaking and difficult cases where those two are at odds. I did not leave my children, and I am so grateful to have found an unorthodox way to balance my needs and my children’s needs so that both are met. So sad, though, and so ironic when placed next to the comments on the other article, to read that quite a few people think:
“My mother left us and found her happiness, but she should have stayed because one person’s happiness is less important that the happiness of several (her children and family).”
One or several? Me or them? Is it just mothers who we require to be selfless, when the rest of us clearly don’t want to be?
The choices, and the solutions, cannot be so black and white. We are human, after all. Love and compassion are part of what we are. There has to be a way to empower us to help ourselves and enable us to support and serve others so that no one is ruined, abandoned, or lost.
Blaming single moms
Here is an article on the Huffington Post today about single motherhood, in which seven out of ten commenters seem determined to prove the statistic that seven out of ten Americans think single motherhood is “bad for society.” When did we become so selfish? Without empathy, without community, every one of us is lost.
“Is it that old bugaboo, the welfare mom, raised most recently in connection with Natalie Portman? In defending his comments about the actress, Mike Huckabee claimed, “most single moms are very poor, under-educated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death.” Not true. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, 80% of single mothers work and less than a quarter receive public assistance. But fighting and accusing and attacking is what captures our attention. How many of us were able to escape Ann Coulter’s nationally televised claims that single motherhood is “a recipe to create criminals, strippers, rapists, murderers”? Here is that dire warning about my children being ruined coming back through a bullhorn.
“These are our children she is talking about. Our next generation.”
Read the whole article here, or on the top of the main Divorce page if you get to it today.
A tribute to my mother
On Salon today, an essay about my mother. Here’s a sneak peak:
My mother was always there. She was a 1950s housewife, living in the ’60s and ’70s. Whatever my siblings and I needed, she gave: hand-sewn prom dresses; homemade Christmas ornaments; she pulled up a stool and offered step-by-step advice (through the locked bathroom door I refused to open for, oh, an hour) about how to insert my first tampon. When I confessed to her, as a child, that I had stolen candy bars from a local store, she helped me believe life could go on and be righted, and it was that safety, that lying together in my bed, that ensured I would never steal anything again. When I was 15, and broke my arm falling off a runaway horse, careening straight downhill behind my house in the rain, I didn’t cry — it didn’t even hurt — until I laid eyes on my mother.
Read the whole piece here.
The Globe and Mail
I’ve done close to one hundred interviews, between research for my three books, Why She Left Us, Hiroshima in the Morning and my next novel just completed, Shadow Child. Now, I get a taste of my own medicine! I had a wonderful, spirited conversation with Sarah Hampson, a writer for the Globe and Mail, which went through so many topics in only one hour. According to her recounting of it, I said my children “don’t annoy me”!
Ha! Well, I probably said it because they don’t. I love them. And they both crushed me in Scrabble Slam last night.
From the article:
On Mother’s Day, her boys will be with her. They will cook pancakes or waffles together. If it’s nice out, they’ll go for a walk through the botanical gardens. “I’m a better mother because I’m not concerned with ‘shoulds’,” she says. “Now that I’m divorced and I have them for specific amounts of time, I can give them my full attention when I have them.”
The full article is here.