Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post: Finding My Mommy+

This guest post is a part of the ongoing series, “What Motherhood Means to Me”, where I seek to highlight various perspectives on motherhood.

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Finding my Mommy+

By: Teresha Freckleton-Petite

I got married at the relatively young age of 24. My husband and I both knew that we didn’t want to have children for awhile. We had careers to build, money to save, the world to travel, and more schooling to complete. So we agreed to wait until we were at least 30 to start a family.

Fast forward eight years later and we finally decide to have a baby. During those eight childless years, I accomplished many goals such as earning a graduate degree, starting my own nonprofit, and establishing a social and professional network that could be the basis for a reality show (they were such a bunch of characters!).

When the time came to start TTC (trying to conceive), I was convinced that I was going to approach motherhood with the same drive, enthusiasm, energy, and dedication that I applied to all my other endeavors. Instead I got a sobering lesson in humility. The girl who excelled at her studies and received a full college scholarship, the woman who ran organizations and got awards for her charity work, was struggling with being a stay-at-home mom. Read the rest of this entry

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Guest Post: On My Definition of Motherhood

This guest post is a part of the ongoing series, “What Motherhood Means to Me”, where I seek to highlight various perspectives on motherhood.

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On My Definition of Motherhood

By: Nadirah Angail

It took me a while to sit down and actually write this. It isn’t that I didn’t want to do it—I did—but I was having trouble coming up with something concrete to write. I’ve been a mother for almost 2 years now, so I’ve got at least a little experience to draw from, but still, this is hard. I guess I’ll just have to walk you through my though process. Here goes…

Initially, when I think of motherhood, I think of having children. Simple enough, but no, that’s not what it means to me. There are tons of people that have children and are NOT mothers. Dig deeper, Nad.

Okay, so then I think about the fact that the word “motherhood” has the root word “mother,” which means we’re talking specifically about women here. That means there must be some difference between motherhood and fatherhood, but what is it? What is it that a mother does and a father doesn’t, and vice versa? No, I’m not talking about giving birth and breastfeeding (though I do think that has something to do with it). I mean beyond that, what makes a mother? Okay, Nad, you’re thinking and raising questions, but still no answers. You gotta do better than this. To the dictionary.

I clicked the trusty dictionary app and entered the words “mother” and “father.” The main definitions were pretty similar: “A woman/man in relation to a child she birthed/his natural child.” The second definitions were pretty close too, except for some small, but important, distinctions.

“Mother- a person who provides the care and affection normally associated with a female parent.”

“Father- a man who gives care or protection to someone or something.”

Both definitions mention giving or providing care, but one mentions affection while the other mentions protection. So, is that where my husband and I differ? He handles the practical aspects of parenting while I handle the relational ones?  Well, yes and no. He is very protective and I am very affectionate, but I’m also protective and he is also affectionate. Thanks a lot, dictionary. You still didn’t give me an answer. Okay fine, looks like I’m on my own with this one.

What I know for sure, without a doubt, is that I am the primary woman in my daughter’s life.  Later, she’ll be influenced by female friends, teachers and even celebs (hate to think about that part) but for now, it’s pretty much me (and her grandmother). So, as the main female in this little female’s life, I have an obligation to guide her toward certain things and away from others.

Toward self-love and away from self-loathing.

Toward critical thinking and away from blind following.

Toward embracing and acceptance and away from judgment and disregard.

Toward accepting her beauty and away from trying to fit into someone else’s.

Toward valuing inner and away from fixating on outer.

Of course her father will help with these things as well, but not in the way that I will. I will model for her how to be a woman. He will model for her how to treat one. He cannot step into my shoes and do my part, and I cannot step into his. When we have a son (God willing), he will show him how to be a man and I will show him how to treat one. So, that’s what it means to me to be a mother. It’s not so much about the cooking, cleaning, feeding and playing. It’s more about the guiding and providing an example of a confident, well-adjusted woman. Unfortunately, she will be assaulted by a barrage of messages about women and womanhood that only involve sex and superficiality. It is my job to steer her away from that.  With me pulling from the front and her dad pushing from the back, hopefully we have a pretty good chance of keeping her on the right track.

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Nadirah Angail is a Kansas City-based author and blogger. She has published two books and written many articles and blogs that speak to her interpretation of the female experience. Find more information about her at www.nadirahangail.com

Motherhood: Electric Boogaloo***

Cover of "Motherhood"

Cover of Motherhood

Last year, I found the Uma Thurman film, Motherhood, available in my OnDemand free movie listings on cable. I was somewhat excited even though I’d barely been aware of this film when it had been in theatres. I don’t even know anyone who’s seen this movie. Yet, I knew this movie was the bomb — as in, this movie is supposedly so bad that it only made $130 during its opening weekend in the UK! However, remembering that I’d also chanced upon an article discussing why films about mothers don’t do well at the box office, I decided to give Motherhood a chance. Plus, I was bored.

The verdict: It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen (That title belongs to Cyborg), but it’s certainly not good.

The film follows Uma’s character, Eliza, as she goes through a day in her harried mom life. She’s the first to wake up, serving breakfast and wrangling two children while her book editor husband blissfully (and unhelpfully) reads the newspaper. She spends most of her day attempting to write a 500-word essay for an online contest (top prize being a $3000/month gig at an online parenting magazine — as if!) in between shopping for her daughter’s birthday party, blogging, navigating a series of absurdly rude New Yorkers, and extricating herself from sticky situations that she creates for herself. Eliza also spends a lot of time pondering what motherhood has done to her sense of self and ambition as she was once an up and coming writer.

Motherhood should’ve been good movie. I should’ve felt like I could relate to Eliza and the feeling that motherhood can lead some women to defer or stop the pursuit of their dreams. Instead, I felt incredibly irritated with every passing minute of this film.  First, despite being labelled as a comedy, Motherhood is not funny. Not even an iota. Second, although the title is, Motherhood, we don’t see a lot of “mothering” going on. The interactions between Eliza and her two children, a 6-year-old girl and toddler boy, are almost at the periphery of the movie. The older child is at school during most of the film and the younger one tends to sit quietly in his stroller or car seat (save a scene or two).

Third, Eliza is irritating. I wanted to sympathize with her but I just couldn’t. Eliza runs into rude people a lot but instead of telling them to mind their own business, she engages them with unnecessary blather. Eliza makes a big deal about finding time to complete her daily to-do list yet finds time to clothes shop with friends. Eliza betrays a friend’s confidence publicly and then whines about it instead of properly apologizing. Eliza asks her husband to honestly critique her essay but she has a fit when she sees his criticisms. She then decides to run away to New Jersey an hour or so before the start of her daughter’s party  (the one she’s so harried about).

Ultimately I felt the film sought to look at some universality of motherhood yet it was really just another portrayal of motherhood through a very specific and narrow lens. Eliza is a white, middle class, heterosexual, able-boded, partnered, cisgender woman living in a well-off New York City neighborhood. Her concerns seem somewhat limited to that perspective. The reason she had to carry all of her shopping parcels on a bicycle? Her car got towed because a film production took over her street. It’s presented that Eliza is not as well-off as her neighbors but she and her husband are able to rent two apartments on the same floor using one income. While there’s nothing wrong with Eliza having that life, it’s not an experience that’s lacking in media representation and certainly not universal.

But what should a film addressing a universal motherhood look like? Should it be a series of short vignettes? An ensemble piece? Could one film really do that successfully? Is there even such a thing as a universal motherhood experience?

But I’m neither a film maker nor screenwriter. I have a lowly blog with a small reach. I’m also a mother whose experiences don’t always get represented in mainstream pop culture. I’m sure there are others who feel the same way. That’s why I’m starting a guest blogger series where the topic of Eliza’s essay — “What Motherhood Means to Me” — is explored through multiple lenses.

  • In 500-1500 words (give or take) share your insights on motherhood
  • Feel free to define “mother” in the way that best fits you
  • Feel free to stray from writing a traditional essay and use other media
  • Feel free to stifle those voices that might tell you your insights are unnecessary
  • Feel free to ignore those voices that say you’re not creative enough
  • Feel free to submit your insights even if you relate to Eliza’s experience of motherhood

Send your submission to navelgazingbajan {at} gmail {dot} com along with a brief blurb about yourself. I look forward to reading and publishing your insights.

***Yes, I’m aware that the Electric Boogaloo meme is technically reserved for shitty sequels, but this movie is shitty enough that I doubt there’ll be a sequel.

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