By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
One of my escapes is reading Good Housekeeping. When it arrives in my mailbox, I usually take that afternoon “off,” and spend it on my porch swing, sipping coffee or wine as I page through it. Mostly, I read it and find the pleasure in all of the things that I am not going to worry about. The best recipe for mu shu shrimp? There is no way my picky son will put that anywhere near his mouth, so I’m not going to cook it. How to make the craftiest seating cards for a dinner party? Not gonna do it because my dinner parties are self-serve buffets. How to reorganize your closet so that it is color-coded? Not practical in my tiny hole in the wall. Lose five pounds by doing sit-ups before you get out of bed in the morning? I'd rather just hit the snooze button. It’s not that I find this information or these suggestions laughable or useless or anything like that. I do not mean to sound condescending or snobby about it. I love Good Housekeeping. It’s just that most of its contents don’t really have anything to do with the kind of household that my husband and I maintain. And yet I faithfully read it. Why? Because every so often there is something that works for me. [Like the suggestion to use a cup to amplify the music from my iPhone (March 2013, p. 29). I’ve been walking around with my iPhone in a coffee mug for the last four weeks. It’s brilliant.] And I really do find comfort in the feeling of being free from having to do any of the things that the GH articles suggest that I do to make my home, myself, or my family happier, healthier, or prettier.
Posts from the ‘Motherhood’ Category
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
By Sandra Trudgen Dawson
Those of us who watch Downton Abbey regularly should not have been surprised that Sybil died. After all, series one began with the death of the Crawley heir on the Titanic as well as the untimely death of the Turkish gentleman during sex with Lady Mary; series two saw the death of the footman from war wounds and the sudden death of Lady Lavinia from the 1919 influenza epidemic as well as references to the deaths of thousands more during WWI.
So why was Sybil’s death so shocking? Was it because Sybil’s character was one of the most likeable in the series? Or was it that we don’t associate childbirth with maternal death anymore? Or was it the class-ridden patriarchal arguing amongst three men—middle-class Dr. Clarkson, knighted Sir Philip and hereditary Earl, Sir Robert—as Sybil exhibited what today are considered clear signs of pre-Eclampsia. The headache, swollen legs, proteinuria, epigastric pain and confusion were clinical signs that worried Dr. Clarkson and the other female members of the family, but not, apparently, Sir Philip. As the three men argued over whether or not the signs and symptoms were normal or pathological, the rest of the family, including Sybil’s mother and husband, stood helplessly by.
By Cheryl Lemus
Two nights ago I ran across a story about Farrah Abraham, who set off a firestorm when she posted online that she waxed and tweezed her 3-year-old daughter’s eyebrows because she had what Abraham described as a unibrow. The moment she admitted what she did, people called her insane, ignorant, and labeled her a “bad mother.” Farrah Abraham is known for her appearance on Teen Mom, a show that glorifies teenage motherhood and turns its participants into minor celebrities. Now as a mother myself, I could throw myself into the mix and condemn Abraham for falling victim to the rancid consumer culture that plagues motherhood, but I'll refrain mainly because I, as well as most mothers, have acquiesced to the rampant consumerism that shapes our opinions, criticisms, and habits of mothering. In fact, when it comes to beauty and clothing, many mothers have become comfortable with our children mirroring our fashion choices. There are many reasons for this, but seemingly since the 1950s middle-class mothers and daughters looking like twins or looking older/younger than they are reflects changing norms regarding girlhood and motherhood. Girlhood and motherhood has become increasingly sexualized, as the pressure to look older or younger has grown.
By Cheryl Lemus
Well today’s the day that Americans decide if whether we will have a 45th president or we'll keep our 44th president. If you are a regular reader of Nursing Clio, you are well aware that we do not hide our political affiliation and we are all waiting with baited breath for tonight’s results. Regardless of the outcome, we cannot assume the war on women is over. Starting on Wednesday, this war will change. If Romney wins, well, who knows what Mittens has in store, but it is safe to say that the war will escalate. If Obama wins, the war will subside a bit, but we cannot let our guard down. If we are going to win this war, we need to set our sights on an enemy that has remained largely in the wings, although there are a few who have made their way onto the stage. Our real enemy is not the white male blowhards, who use politics to advance legislation that openly limits women’s rights. No, the real enemy is the conservative woman who uses a warm smile to distract you from the fact that she is using her well-manicured hand to strangle your vagina. Our true enemy has a vagina, not a penis.
By Cheryl Lemus
So I was dealing with a bout of insomnia tonight and while I was sitting in front of my computer (which I know does not help), I came across a Huffington Post piece on The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which has just been introduced in the Senate. The bill, which mirrors one introduced to the House in the spring, would require that employers make workplace accommodations for pregnant workers. You know, like giving a pregnant worker regular bathroom breaks. But, not surprisingly, it faces opposition by, that’s right, Republicans. Republicans see things a little differently. See, to them, that baby bump and its need for “accommodations” will kill profits. Don’t you know that requiring an employer to allow a pregnant woman to carry a water bottle during work or making them give her routine bathroom or rest breaks will cause an economic burden? The GOP, made up of primarily desperate white men clinging to their hegemony, are not surprisingly holding steadfast to their antiquated notions of pregnant women (and women in general). With many big businesses funding (and running) the GOP, the party of “pro-life” reveals its true colors yet again by stipulating that an individual's well-being should not get in the way of profits. At the same time though, most Americans do not recognize a pregnant woman as an employee. Although there are 77 million women in the workforce, many of whom are working in low-wage jobs, a pregnant worker is not the norm. A pregnant woman is not a worker.
Sex education is tricky stuff. We've heard some about it already here on Nursing Clio. And many of us awkwardly shuffled through it one way or another in public school. The only real "talk" I remember from my parents was a noticeably scientific explanation from my microbiologist father, which pretty much cleared up my curiosity at the time, I recall. The public school side of it was mostly anatomy
About two weeks ago, Nicholas P. Carfardi of the National Catholic Reporter, wrote a brief opinion piece and asked who was more pro-life, Obama or Romney? He argued that although Obama is clearly pro-choice, he is actually more pro-life than Romney, because Romney profits from abortions and supports cuts in federal spending that might actually increase the abortion rate. Carfardi did not go further to redefine the term pro-life or call on Catholics and other anti-abortion groups to address this term in a more nuanced and complex manner. I wish he had, because he may have addressed the hypocrisy that lies beneath the term. Look, as a self-exiled Catholic, I am very well aware of the Church’s stance on abortion. I am also familiar with the history of abortion. But that is not what I want to focus on today. The term “pro-life” needs a new definition. There is much more to being pro-life than just praying, preaching, marching, and legislating for the rights of the fetus. Being pro-life means supporting the rights of babies, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. If you are going to claim you are pro-life, then you must support the life outside the womb, not just the one attached to the umbilical cord. So, are you really pro-life?
Recently, a Facebook app came out called Unbaby.me that blocks pictures of children in your news feed and changes them to something more “entertaining,” like cats. Now, I love Lolcats and Anxiety Cat memes as much as the next person, but really?!? If we are discussing Facebook etiquette, then let me chime in. I can’t begin to count how many posts could qualify as annoying. Let’s take drunken bar pics or updates from playing Farmville or Lose It calorie counter apps or even those Ecard memes. How many are considered acceptable before they cross into “you are getting on my nerves, can’t you post something else” territory? Moderation in all things is my mantra- kid pics or other. But let’s face it: it’s a choice to subscribe to a friend on Facebook (or even to have them as a friend on Facebook), so why is an app needed specifically for blocking baby pictures?
Happy Birthday baby girl! Today you are six. It really does seem like yesterday that I held you in my arms just minutes after your birth. I remember thinking at that moment (and throughout my pregnancy) that having a girl was not going to be easy. As a historian I am painfully aware of hard it was/is to be a female. Yes, women have achieved quite a bit, but there are many individuals (male and female) who think gender equality will lead to the end of human existence, and who are hellbent on placing women within the box of inequality.
Breasts are everywhere in popular culture. This is nothing new. And yet I’ve been struck in recent years by the resurgence of the breastfeeding body in visual culture and contemporary art. It’s apparently a big deal (i.e., magazine-cover newsworthy) that Salma Hayek, Alanis Morrisette, Tori Spelling, Kourtney Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera, and many other celebrities breastfeed their babies.