Friday, August 25, 2006

Smug SMUMs
Today, a non-TV topic. In this past Saturday's Globe and Mail, the ever-original Rebecca Eckler decided to write a feature on SMUMs, or "smart, middle-class, uninvolved mothers." Becks didn't mention that the piece had already been written by someone else for the L.A. Times on August 5th. Both articles were influenced by Helen Kirwan-Taylor's confession in Britain at the end of July. (Good to see Ecky is coming up with unique topics, as always.) All of these articles were written to one end: to see how many angry mothers could fill the letters to the editor pages with their anger and fury. And, as I roll my eyes, I shall now weigh in. ;)

Several things bother me about the attitudes brought forth in these articles. First, you have these "moms" coming forward saying, "Hey, motherhood is BORING and EXCUUUUUSE ME if I don't find every waking moment of my child's existence completely exhilarating." What? Not every waking moment of motherhood is full of happiness and light?

Duh. And guess what: not every moment of marriage is full of kisses and roses. If these women think they're offering the revelation of the century, they haven't been hanging around enough mothers. Of COURSE parenthood has its moments of boredom. But my problem with these articles is that the women are suggesting EVERY moment of parenthood is boring, and they're snubbing any woman who thinks differently. My response to that is, Then maybe you should go out and find an imagination. Sure, sometimes I'm standing in the playground with my daughter while she's climbing the slide for the umpteenth time and wants to go down and I'm thinking of other things I'd rather be doing, but A) her face as she goes down the slide makes it all worth it, and B) I can't stop thinking that some day she'll look at me and go, "Playground? Are you KIDDING ME?" and I'll long for the days when something as small as going down a slide was endlessly fascinating to her.

But these moms don't stop there. They dub themselves SMUMs, and take pride in the fact that they have nannies raise their children (their claim, not mine), that they've bowed out of their child's milestone moments to go get highlights put in their hair, and that they'd rather be with their friends than with their children. The real jaw-dropper is the woman who says that she took three months of maternity leave for each of her children, and then stuck them with a nanny to do the rest of the job. The question is, Why did you have more than one child?! As my husband put it when he read these stories, clearly these women see their children as accessories, as little trophies of privilege. They believe in some insane notion that if you get married, you have to have the kids, even if they bore you to tears (their phrase, not mine).

These women are parading their "uninvolved" status in their children's lives as feminism, as if being a loving, caring, involved mother is somehow anti-feminist. Those women who spent years in university only to become a stay-at-home mom are clearly just giving in to a paternalistic society who forces them to stay barefoot and pregnant in a kitchen.

But it's these self-proclaimed SMUMs who are the anti-feminists. Rather than just stating, "Hey, I'm bored by my kids, and that's that," they have to make a pre-emptive strike, lashing out at the moms who might have a problem with what they're saying. They've deemed mothers who might have a problem with their statements SCAMs (the statement is obvious), or "smart, child-centred, active moms" whom one SMUM defines as "the superachieving moms who hand-letter birthday invitations, spend their days in imaginative play with their toddlers, bake from scratch and joyfully embrace each moment spent with their supergifted offspring."

So either you're completely uninvolved in your child's life completely, and would rather be partying it up with your girlfriends, or you're a smothering Mrs. Cleaver meets that woman who runs the Baby Einstein corporation. There's no in between, according to these articles.

I don't bake from scratch. I do play with my toddler, but not all day. I emailed my daughter's birthday invitations. But yes, I do embrace each moment spent with my daughter.

Do I judge SMUMs? Yes, I do. Am I judging them for their admission of child boredom? No, because I think it's a fair thing to say. What I dislike is that they have to take it SO far, and say they'd rather be in a hairdresser's shop than with their child, that they'd rather have another woman raise their children than do it themselves, that they constantly long for days when they could just go to a movie at the drop of a hat. THAT is what bothers me. Have they considered all of those women who have been trying for years to get pregnant, to no avail? I bet they'd LOVE to be bored by their children right now. Do they stop to see the hypocrisy in their statements? That, "Hey, if you want me to believe that you love every moment of sitting on your couch watching your kid watch Barney, then you are LYING" attitude that they take? They are judging ME. And all of the other moms who are offended by these statements.

Yes, I went back to work after I had my daughter, but only after spending nine months on maternity leave (my husband took the next three) and agonizing over leaving her with someone else. I often question the fact that I'm making money working in publishing while someone else is content to make money taking care of my child, and think, what is WRONG with me, that I'M not the one taking care of her? Yes, often in the middle of the night when she wakes up yelling for me, I nudge my husband and say, "YOU do it" and go back to sleep, but when it's my turn, I tell myself over and over again as I sit in there rocking her back to sleep, "Soon she'll be too big to do this. Enjoy it while you can, or you'll regret it later." And I do enjoy every minute of it.

Yes, parenthood is boring for a small percentage of the time. Bravo to the women who say that, who say, "You know, sometimes I think about my old life and I really miss it," because so many of us have. But when you decide to take it to the next level, and hurl insults and stupid acronyms at those who disagree with you, you're taking it too far. These "uninvolved" mothers should shut up, not because they don't have a right to their opinions, but because they're not stopping to think about what those now-published opinions will do to their children many years down the road, who grew up being put to bed by their nannies while their mothers were off apparently pushing feminism forward by writing about how boring those children were to them.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I'm Back, Babeeeee
Honestly, my serious ineptitude will soon be a thing of the past, I PROMISE. For the last week I've been trying to log on, and blogger wouldn't accept any of my email addresses, it wouldn't take my username, and I couldn't remember my password (it's what happens when you do everything from one computer that just has cookies, and then you try to switch to another!) But thankfully, after much hardship, I realized I was using the wrong username (duh) and now I'm back. And I have lots to say.

Hell's Kitchen: Sorry, Virginia; Gordon Ramsay isn't Santa Clause. I was happy with the results of this show. While I actually liked Virginia a lot, the girl would have been lost in a kitchen on her own. Heather was FAR more talented and skilled in a kitchen, though I must say, Gordon Ramsay certainly had his work cut out for him with those two. It's too bad he had such a bunch of yahoos to work with from the beginning. Can't FOX find anyone out there who is an actual chef, or is the fun in throwing a bunch of idiots in a kitchen and wondering who will set themselves on fire first?

Entourage: This week's episode was HILARIOUS. Ari was at his personal best. Martin Landau is brilliant in the role of the aging movie producer, and Ari's frustration with him mirrors his same frustrations with E in season one. I LOVE this show.

Rock Star: I've only recently started watching this show and I was hooked immediately (seriously, my taste usually doesn't run to reality television unless it's America's Next Top Model or Amazing Race, but in the summer, what else can ya do??) I thought Lukas was weird as hell the first week (I can't remember what he sang, but his back was to the audience the entire time) but now I'm weirdly fascinated by him. Not to mention he looks exactly like Hawksley Workman, a BRILLIANT artist from Toronto. (If you don't know who he is, start with Last Night We Were the Delicious Wolves and prepare to be awed.) Hate Patrice, and I hope she goes soon. I kinda like Storm, but I think she's rather insincere, too, so I don't want to see her win. Magni is pretty cool, and Delana rocks.

Thank You for Smoking: I just saw this movie last night FINALLY (I'm so out of touch these days) and frankly, I was rather disappointed. I'd heard from SO many people that it was this awesome film, but I laughed once, when Rob Lowe's assistant commented that Lowe was obsessed with "Asian shit." Otherwise it was just a stylized satire of lobbyists, which I wouldn't have minded if it hadn't have been anti-smoking lobbyists. It turned a tobacco lobbyist into a hero, and that was just... weird.

Little Miss Sunshine: Or maybe I was disappointed in TYFS because it wasn't Little Miss Sunshine, which is the best movie I've seen in ages. I laughed, cried, and wanted the DVD. And I think that happened just in the opening credits. GO SEE IT.

I have some more to say on a completely different topic, but I think I'll post on that separately. In other news, my book is at the printer, and while it was there a photo agency came through with a photo of Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond on Lost). No matter where I looked, photos of this guy didn't seem to exist. My publisher tried every agency, photographer, even tracked down his agent, all to no avail, and then he made some appearance on the weekend at the Creative Emmys and boom, photo. And my wonderful publisher is now going to change one of the photos in the final section and flip in the Cusick picture instead, which has me seriously doing happy somersaults. Well, not really, or I'd probably throw out a hip, but I'll watch my toddler do somersaults and pretend it's me. :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Let's Hug It Out, Bitch"

OK, so let me first explain that I'm one of those people who always started diaries on January 1st, and I have reams of diaries with no entries beyond February 10th. So it should probably come as no surprise that I excitedly set up a blog about a month ago, made two entries, and then abandoned it. But it's been a busy month. I handed in the almost-to-last part of my Finding Lost manuscript on June 30th, and it was edited. In July I had to read a Dickens book, as I've mentioned, and finish the final chapter in the book, which was creating a map and a travel guide to the filming locations for the show in Oahu, Hawaii. These last two chapters sort of hung over my head as the two things I needed to do, and the moment they were FINALLY done, everything ended up right back in my lap at the proofreading stage, and I had two days to go over it. I had to choose the photos, place them in the book, and write captions, and as of August 2nd, the beast finally went to the printer, and I've finally been able to breathe again.

Of course, around that same date, we moved my daughter from a crib to a toddler bed, and a whole other can of worms has been opened. Needless to say, my evenings are still pretty busy.

But I am pleased to report that once Lost was off my plate, my husband and I finally began watching Entourage, one of those shows I've been dying to watch for ages. We bombed through all of season one in about two nights (it's only 8 episodes long), then watched season two over the following week, and this past weekend finished off season two and watched all of season three so far. It's brilliant. Crazy brilliant. I can't recommend this show enough.

But confession time: I'd actually seen the pilot months ago, and thought it was an awful show. I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to watch a show about a dullard of an actor who has an evil agent and three hangers-on who are a bunch of sexist pigs. I've always thought Elvis's "Memphis Mafia" was a disgusting display of a bunch of people using someone for their money, and a pathetic guy who gave them the money because he wanted his "friends" close by. But the pilot of Entourage is typical of most HBO shows. I remember watching Six Feet Under's pilot and thinking, "Eh." It took me about 3 months to get around to watching episode 2. The Sopranos similarly left me a little cold, though I still went right into the second episode. Deadwood didn't do it for me, either. In all of these shows, HBO packs so much backstory into the pilot that the show becomes a massive history lesson, and it's only on the second and third episodes that it eases up a bit, and you start to get to know the characters. Then Sal just has to has to sneer, or David just has to give that look to Nate, or Ari looks like he's going to strangle his cellphone, and I'm laughing.

So watch Entourage if you're not already. It's a fabulous show, and very funny. And make sure you watch it with someone else, because like most comedies, it's funnier to watch it with friends. Any reference to Johnny Drama's resumé, or Ari's comments to Lloyd (and Lloyd's comebacks) are worth the entire show.

P.S. I tried six times to post a photo with this blog, but I'm apparently technologically illiterate, so it won't be happ'nin. Here's hoping I can figure out what I'm doing wrong...