What I have learned this semester

Amy Stark


This semester I was able to see a broad and diverse range of how motherhood is portrayed in various medias. Although each media type portrayed mother uniquely, I was able to see some overall commonalities. First off, it seems that the media often portrays mothers as perfect, beautiful super-moms who never miss a beat or mess up. There is a high expectation for what a mother should live up to in things like advertisements and movies. In reality, most mothers are not perfect, and we were even able to see the complete opposite side of the spectrum through our news-stories presentations. It seemed that news outlets would often use stories of horrible mothers to make for shocking stories. This leaves us with little in-between, or moms who mess up sometimes, but are supportive nerveless. I felt that the media has a hard time conveying the deep love and devotion most mothers feel towards their children. My favorite project was the surveys and ad-project, because I got to hear feedback about the material I was learning from real moms. I loved getting to read how real mothers felt about the media, as well as what they thought it meant to be a mom.

I really enjoyed the layout of this class. I preferred frequent, less-stressful projects over test-heavy grades, because I never felt like I had to cram things in and I found the projects to be both enjoyable and informative. By getting interactive with the material (like survey results or old magazines), I was able to formulate my own opinions and see a diverse range of information on the topic of motherhood. Also, the course benefited my presentation skills.

To my future child, I would tell them I have learned that being a mom is hard, and I will not always get it "right" or be perfect. No matter what, I will always love you, and I will do my best to raise you to be the best you can be and provide you with as many opportunities as I can! I will work hard to set a good example for you by being kind to others. I will do my best to not let the little things cause me stress, and I will try to enjoy every moment with you, because everyone tells me kids grow up so fast! I want you to be able to tell me everything, like I have with my mom. I will not constantly scrutinize you for making a mistake, because that is how you learn. I hope that you can always see through my concern for you, and know that it comes from a place of love, just as I have learned that lesson with my own mom.

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My Life on the Refrigerator Door

This novel is about a single mother and her teenage daughter who each lead busy lives. They are brought together when the mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, and tragically separated when she passes. I really connected to this novel. When I was about six years old, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Being an only child I was very close with my mother, even at a young age, and the thought of losing my mom deeply devastated me. Similar to the events in the novel, the experience was one that bonded us as mother and daughter and taught us to never take each other for granted. Fortunately, unlike the novel, my mom beat cancer and has remained cancer-free ever since.

My Life on the Refrigerator Door portrays mothers as strong and brave. The author made a point to represent Claire’s mom as a motherly figure who always knew the right thing to do in each situation.

'The Good Mother' movie

This movie portrayed a divorced mom with a young daughter. At the start of the movie, the mother can best be categorized as uptight. Even in the flashbacks to her childhood, she always adhered to the rules.The mother starts dating again, and gets caught up in a whirl-wind romance with a man who she introduced to her daughter. The film takes a turn when the ex-husband (and father of the child) accuses the new boyfriend of being inappropriate with their daughter. The movie goes on to show the court case and custody battle the goes on after this accusation. After finding out that the mom and her boyfriend had intercourse next to her sleeping daughter, even though her mom knew she was sound asleep, the judge lost sympathy for her. The mother is portrayed in the film as loving, but shows how even loving mothers can make costly mistakes, as she ends up losing custody of her young girl due to her actions. She ends up feeling like a failure as a mother, despite the endless support she gives her daughter.
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Mothers in the news

This semester I presented 4 mothers in the news articles...

  1. Son numerously writes about having to hang an ugly painting his mom made for him in his home just as she had hung his tacky childhood artwork.
  2. A mother, who was clearly on drugs, was arrested after she "accidentally" dropped her baby in a rushing creek and failed to call authorities.
  3. Police are on the hunt for the mother of a newborn found buried alive, but miraculously still alive.
  4. A mom of two type-1 diabetic children uses her photography skills to give a voice to other children with diabetes, free of charge.

After researching news stories on my own and listening to the news stories my peers came up with, it seemed to me that mothers were either portrayed as totally incompetent or as supermoms.


We conducted 3 surveys this semester, where we had to get 20+ mother to answer various questions we had come up with as a class. My favorite survey was when we asked about what advice they would give to new moms. I recall almost have of the respondents said they wish they had slowed down and worried less, and instead enjoyed more time with their kids. It was amazing for me to see the diversity of opinions among moms. I learned that each mother has a unique experience, and no two mothers can or should be compared.

Magazine project

We are able to examine magazines from several decades ago to see how the times have changed. We found many articles regarding both womanhood and motherhood that would get highly scrutinized if published today. For example, I read a weight-loss article that centered its argument around getting rid of the "fat-disease" which followed the tale of a young mother's journey to shed the pounds. By doing this project, I realized that magazines were how many woman gathered information just a couple decades ago. Without the internet and information right at your fingertips, many women turned to magazines for information about how to run their households. I read one article that highlighted the symptoms of a cold and flu, followed up by how to treat them. Additionally, many of the ads and pictures in these magazines were rather stereotypical and "traditional" (white, attractive, rich, put together families of 4).
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