One of the projects I’ve been working on lately has inspired me to dig deeply in my own backyard. I’ve long been a fan of the many feminist thinkers and writers who have unpacked the elevated (and at times impossible) expectations our culture places on mothers—standards I’ve often found myself internalizing, despite the fact that I should know better. So I’ve been thinking about what these expectations mean for those of us raising kids with food allergies, an increasing population (perhaps as much as 8% of all children in the U.S.) that continues to baffle scientists and parents.
In our case, our ten-year-old has multiple, life-threatening food allergies—something I’d never even heard of when I was growing up. Two months ago, I wrote about how this invisible disability challenges us to rethink inclusion in school for The New York Times Motherlode blog. Now I have a personal essay about the impact of good mother myths on those of us caring for kids with food allergies in the forthcoming book The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality. (Girl w/ Pen founder Deborah Siegel has an essay in it as well.)
Editor Avital Norman Nathman is expanding the conversation and wants your ideas about the following question: what’s a good mother? The details are here:
I want to hear from YOU about what it means to be a “good mother.” The Good Mother Myth shares the stories of women across the country (and a few outside the US!), all breaking down the concept of the stereotypical good mother. But I want to hear more! With each voice added to the collective narrative of motherhood, we are one step closer to showing how rich and diverse motherhood can be. It is not a stereotype that can be boxed up and used to pit women against each other!
So, tell me – what does being a “good mother” mean to you? Write up your response (100-500 words) and send it along with a photo, 1-2 sentence bio and any links to your website/social media to TheMamafesto@gmail.com.
So please join the conversation with your thoughts about what being a “good mother” means to you, wherever and whoever you are.
Follow Heather on Twitter: @heatherhewett.