Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Mom Kvetch

So I got a haircut the other day.  I wasn't immediately in love with it (though, by the by, I was immediately in love with the styling product I bought with the haircut that you can use in wet hair, tousle and go.  NICE!)  Anyhoo - so I was freaking out a small bit on the way home, thinking that I had received a style that shouted "Mom Hair."  And then I paused to think about the utter ridiculousness of this freak out.   What the frig is Mom Hair, exactly?  According to various sites on the net, it's meant to signify any "low maintenance" hair-do, typically done after giving birth.  I guess maybe I had Mom Hair prior to becoming a  mom.  I was never one to spend an hour primping, straightening, blowing-out, up-doing etc., except for special occasions (I'm a low-maintenance kinda princess).  Is there such a thing a "Mom Face"?  Cause I think I might have that too.  A bit of mineral foundation, a splash of blush, some mascara and off we go.  Though again - this routine hasn't really changed post-children. 

It seems like "Mom Hair" is just one of many ways we put down women and insinuate that women 'let themselves go' after they become moms.  (As you may have already guessed, I think this is utter horseshit. I don't know about the rest of ya'll, but I know some pretty smokin' mums).   But it seems like when we have kids, we all of the sudden go from having been totally objectified to being totally desexualized, culturally speaking.  To put this in Monopoly speak : "Go straight from Whore to Madonna, and do not collect 200$" Neither of these two poles are ideal, nor, as you may have already ascertained by the title of this blog, are they appreciated by yours truly.  (As a bit of an aside, I have this friend who has made it her mission to flirt with other mamas, because as she so correctly points out, us mamacitas almost never get flirted with.  And she is right.   As an aside aside, she is also very good at it :-)  Anyhoo- what an awesome mission.  Motherhood does not equal dead, folks.  Just sayin').

We have many terms currently bandied about towards and about moms, their personalities and their appearances,  and a good chunk of them are used with negative connation.  MILF, or 'mother-I'd-like-to-fuck,' is problematic for a number of different reasons.  The first being the obvious women-are-here-just-for-your-viewing-pleasure attitude so prevalent in our delightful culture, and the second being the assumption that most mothers are not, in fact, fuckable (having naturally followed the course of nature and 'let themselves go' and/or having transferred all of their attentions from the attentions of other adults to the attentions of their children.   Terms like "yummy mummy" and MILF are supposed to be all "you go girl" but are usually used to "reward" women who haven't "let themselves go" (by patriarchal Western cultural standards, naturally) post-motherhood, thereby actually serving the purpose of becoming the exact opposite - a tool of policing mother's bodies, appearences and behaviours.  Cranky-making.

Then we have other designations for moms - We've already discussed Mom Hair.  Then you've got your  "Mom Jeans," implies that moms wear nothing but jeans because they have no one to impress but their children (as stay-at-home moms, natch).

"Soccer Moms" is usually said in a condescending tone, even by other moms.  According to Wiki,  "soccer mom broadly refers to a middle-class suburban woman who spends a significant amount of her time transporting her school-age children to their sporting events or other activities."    Boy-o did soccer this year.  And dance class.  And gymnastics.  And story time at the library.  And swimming lessons.  Am I a (insert tone of derision here) Soccer Mom now?  I'm not really suburban, but everything else fits.  Sigh.  So I guess I'm totally lame now (as if I wasn't already!)

"Minivan Mom" is another term of non-endearment used to describe moms.  Again - I've thrown around the idea of getting a mini-van.  Is this such a bad thing?  Are mini-vans really the kiss of death to coolness?  These terms both get thrown about, in my opinion, as a way to belittle the work of mom-ing. 

I wasn't cool (and by this I mean emphatically uncool.  Not even a little) before having children, so maybe this whole MILF/Mom Jeans/Mom Hair/Soccer Mom/Minivan Mom thing is a bit lost on me.  My wife thought I was pretty smokin' before having kids, and having kids doesn't seem to have changed her opinion.  I pretty much always wore jeans before becoming a mom, having been a student and researcher and social service-y type grrrl  for most of my life, so not much has changed in that department.  My hair changes on a regular basis, and I wasn't that obsessed with it to begin with.   I do drive my kid to soccer and gymnastics and dance class and stuff.  (But he's a bit young for public transit.)  And I drive said child to activities in a Kia Rondo folks.  Not a mini-van, but pretty damn close.  It's functional, pretty good on gas, it fits lots of stuff, and I actually think it's kinda saucy-looking (perhaps this is my "mom brain" talking though).

So - if all of those things mean I've lost my cultural capital (insofar as I had some to begin with), so be it.   I'm not really happy with how our culture doles out 'capital' to women anyways.   I'm a 30 something, stay-at-home-parent, mom-jeans-wearin', mom-hair-sportin', almost-minivan-drivin', take-my-kids-to-activities-all-over-town kinda grrl.  And you know what?  I've still got it.  And you know what else?  I'd still have it even if I did drive a mini-van.  

Oh yes I would.

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