cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

a measure of fame - October 20, 2005

Over the past week, two articles in which I feature prominently have appeared in major newspapers (one, subsequently syndicated across dozens of papers across the U.S.). People are saying, "I saw you in the paper!", people are asking to be in my mama's group, people are calling to set up phone interviews with me. I was almost on the radio, save for one producer who couldn't figure out how to contact me. (Reading this, media peeps? Simply email me: mama @ cafemama.com. Thanks!)

The first and most widely-read mention was in the New York Times. How it came about: Brian Braiker, a reporter for the paper and new dad himself, read my post on Blogging Baby about how Truman sleeps on his tummy. He decided - because of that, or because of his own Googly interest, I don't know - to write an article on how parents are flouting the rules on SIDS because, well, babies sleep better on their tummies.

It's a well-written article, and I was smug to see that the chairman of the AAP's committee on SIDS validated my justification - that I was essentially choosing which risk factor to accept (I think that if I'd chosen "smoking" as a risk factor to accept, it wouldn't be news at all, which is the subject for an entirely different blog post). Tacit approval of your parenting style in a world-leading print publication by the country's leading expert in the field - not a bad day's work if you ask me.

The second reference didn't mention me by name, nor did it appear widely across the nation. But it struck me much more deeply, and it inspired me in a whole different vein. It was this essay, by Su-Jin Yim, in the Oregonian, about my "mama's book group." She had been working on an article on the cooperative culture, and had stumbled across me. It was more than a year ago, in the summer, and we were fueled by wine, pregnancy, and communal mama love.

I wrote about it at length on Blogging Baby, and I'll let you read it there. One thing it inspired me to do, every day, is to encourage people to talk about reality, in all my roles. I've talked often with my friends about how, when you're newly married, you never want to talk about the negative parts - especially to your friends who've given you expensive gifts and spent untold hundreds attending your beautiful, picture-perfect wedding. Even if your negativity is minor - the ordinary frustrations of living with another person, the sexual juggling that takes place after the birth of a baby, the always-charged battles over time spent with in-laws - it's hard to come clean.

It's triply, quadruply, 10 times the truth with parenting. No, mama-ing. Being a mama is hard, hard, hard. Especially in the first few months, especially when it's your first child, especially when you don't have a lot of moms around who speak the truth. Somehow we moms believe that we should be naturally good at mothering, that it should be as easy as creating that perfect flaky crust for pie while we fold four loads of laundry and smooth our handmade, ruffly, unspoiled aprons, our fifties curls upturned just so. But it's not so easy, and if we don't speak the truth, nobody knows.

I love being a mama, I love being a wife to my husband. But in both roles, I'm often more than frustrated. I'm often ravingly mad, angry at the universe for sticking me with this impossible task. Just as often, I'm meltingly happy, eternally grateful for all God has given me. In the same minute I look adoringly into Truman's brown, brown eyes, his daddy's eyes, I wish that he would settle down for a second already so I could get some work done!

Speak the truth, people. It's our most powerful weapon against isolation, frustration, depression, social meltdown. Speak the truth, and drink coffee. We'll all be the better for it.