What I Learned...
Representations of Motherhood
Moms in the News
Throughout the semester, we had to present four articles of moms in the news and talk about how the mother was portrayed. It was fascinating to see all the different types of articles that were found. From the horrific and blood-curdling to the beautiful and tear-jerking, moms could be found in each category and all those in between. The articles showed the diverse array of mothers that are present in the world. There were strong and protective mothers, abusive and psychotic mothers, nurturing mothers, killer mothers, admirable mothers, "what-not-to-do" mothers, and so many others. After all, mothers are just everyday people with children, but once they have children, that seems to become their identity. Because of this, stories about murder and horrific events became even more nightmarish if it involved a mother. How could a mother poison her own child? How could she kill her kids? How could she abandon them and not care about the welfare of her child? Then there were the mothers that you admired. The ones that put their life on the line to protect their child. The ones who stood up for their child in tough situations. The ones who did everything possible to make their child happy. There are so many different types of moms in the world and all could be found in the news. I honestly had no idea that moms were talked about that much in the news.
Here are some of my favorite moms in the news:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRoqk_z2Lgg
Here are some of my least favorite moms in the news:
The Feminine Mystique
Moms in Magazines
From a representing mother standpoint, however, this magazine falls short. While we were looking at these 12 issues, we noticed that the only time motherhood was really brought up was in celebrity interviews. Even in these interviews, while they were asked about their kids and about being mothers, most of the interviews were focused on their careers and their hard work to get to where they've gotten and them as women, not just mothers. Again, this goes back to the women empowerment goal that this magazine has. Other than the celebrity interviews, the only other "motherhood" aspect we could find were small articles and tips on how to decorate your home for a party, what foods and drinks to serve (with recipes), and different ways and styles of decorating your home.
When we compared different magazines across different time periods, it was interesting to see how the content had changed. Magazines in the 50s/60s/70s seemed to be all about being the perfect wife and the perfect mother. There were articles about what your kids could do on a rainy day, recipes, how to decorate your home, what cleaning items work best in your home, and other very domestic articles. Now, however, there aren't very many of these kinds of articles, some have even disappeared completely. These changes in magazines reflected the changes in society. As it became more socially acceptable to be a working mother and a strong woman, magazines changed their content to reflect this. Articles went from cooking and cleaning and decorating to stories about powerful women and how to be more confident in your skin and taking charge of your life.
Moms in Music
I took a slightly different approach to this one. Growing up with working parents who both traveled, my dad was sometimes Mr. Mom himself and that's what got me started on this song. I think it was very different and unique to look at motherhood from another perspective. With this song in particular, I think it really showed just how much moms actually do. Instead of glamorizing the job, it painted a picture of day-to-day life. There was no smoke screen to hide the hard work that moms do. I think there is often a common misconception that moms, especially those that stay at home, do not do much with their time or their lives and they have it much simpler than those who work. With this song, I believe that a piece of this misconception is knocked down. The husband and father goes from thinking he has it easy and can watch TV and nap all day to realizing that taking care of the kids and the house and errands and chores and other various tasks is not as easy as it looks. The song puts on display the craziness that occurs every day and the fact that it is not always easy to handle. My favorite lines from the song are "I though there was nothing to it. Baby now I know how you feel, what I don't know, is how you do it. Honey, you're my hero." Being put in another person's shoes is a great way to understand just exactly what goes on and this songs realization that it is difficult to take care of all the mothering tasks and it can be stressful and he had no idea. Until you are put in those shoes, you never really know what is going on and how that person feels. I think this song was an incredible portrayal of mothers and really puts on display just how much moms do and how important and central they are to everything and everyone.
Moms in Music Presentation:Mr. Mom by Lonestar -- http://slide.ly/view/1bacd0dfefabd8b3c6fb71d445a3bff0
Some of my other favorite songs about mothers:
Like My Mother Does by Lauren Alaina
Somebody's Hero by Jamie O'Neal
Fore She was Mama by Clay Walker
In My Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride
Slipping Through My Fingers - ABBA
Mother Like Mine by The Band Perry
Moms in Novels
The novel that I chose to read an analyze was The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe. This book was particularly heart-wrenching because it explored the complexities that are often found in relationships between mothers and their children. This book was about an estranged mother and daughter who spend a summer together twenty years later to try to understand and learn about one another and mend their relationship. This novel showed the distance that mothers will go to protect their children, even if it is at the cost of losing their relationship as it did for Lovie (the mother) and Cara (the daughter). One thing that is not often thought about is that moms used to, and often times still do, have their own lives apart from their children. This novel explores how this separate part of life still has the ability to seep into family life and complicate things. Without the complication that presented itself, the mother and daughter might not ever have been estranged, but because it did, it affected not only the family life, but their individual relationship as well. Even more importantly, how the two try and work out their differences and understand each other's choices and lives delves into just how strong of a connection mothers have with their children.
Moms in Novels Presentation:https://www.smore.com/ua1yx-the-beach-house
Moms in Television
Like everywhere else, there are many different types of moms on television. Many of the mothers on television, like in magazines, have changed with society. Where you used to have moms like June Cleaver on leave it to Beaver who was typical stay-at-home mom, you now have moms like Rayna James from Nashville and Temperance Brennan from Bones who are working moms trying to balance work and family. When I looked at TV shows, I was curious how moms today were portrayed so I focused on the decade between 2005-2015. Between the five shows that I picked, I found a wide array of mothers. Overall, I think that these shows portrayed good qualities that mothers possess. While some might not be the "picture perfect" mother, they each had qualities that made them respectable moms and their love for their children was always portrayed. Each of these mothers showed that they have their child's best interests in mind and will do what it takes to make their children happy and keep them safe. I think the dedication that these moms have to their children is the most important quality that these mothers possess.
Moms in TV Presentation:
Moms in Films
Overall, this movie was a very positive portrayal of motherhood. Donna was a single, working mother, but she always made time for her daughter. Donna did everything in her power to make Sophie happy and to give her what she desired. Throughout the movie, you saw how much Sophie was like her mother and I believe that is a reflection of how her mother raised her. Donna was a strong and confident woman who knew what she wanted and as the movie goes on, you see Sophie as a strong confident woman who learned to trust what she wanted and go for it.
Moms in Advertising
Moms in Disney Films
One other interesting thing that I learned about these Disney films was their reasoning behind killing off the mothers. It was said that in order for there to be character growth, the mother could not be present. Their reasoning was that "the movies are only 80 to 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up. They're about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility." From that standpoint, it does make sense that mothers must be absent, but it was still a shocking and fairly unsettling realization. One thing to soften the blow... mothers often died trying to protect their child. I think that is one of the reasons it is more acceptable for mothers to be killed off in the movies. Their positive image is protected and their love for their child is seen in their sacrifice.
Cinderella simply has no mother in this movie. You have the evil mother in her stepmother, which is obviously not a good mother portrayal. The closest Cinderalla gets to having a mother is her fairy godmother.
In this movie, the mother and father die fairly early into the movie. This movie supports the theory of why Disney does not include mother figures. Without the love and support of her parents, Elsa loses herself and control of her powers, something I don't think would happen if her parents had still been around.
The mother in this movie died harshly. In this instance, the mother was trying to protect her unborn children from a predator. Unfortunately, she lost her life because of this. This was one movie where I actually noticed that it was the mother who died simply because it was such a big point in the movie.
Projection to Children and Teens
So what did I learn?
It was very interesting to see how not only moms viewed themselves and motherhood, but how the world did as well. Everyone has their own opinion on what makes a good mother, how a mother should raise their child, what a mother should do regarding not just her family life, but working life as well. It was interesting to see this idea manifest itself in the different areas that we studied. I loved seeing all of the different types of moms that our class found in the news and our conversations about them were always intriguing. As I've mentioned, one of the most shocking aspects of this class for me was seeing just how many moms are absent from children's books and movies. If mothers are such a huge part of our lives, then why aren't they as large a part of what children pay the most attention to?
I have learned so much from this class, more than can be summed up just on this page. After taking this class, I have even more respect for mothers and all that they do. It is hard to sum up what motherhood is and what it encompasses and what it means. The video that I have inserted below was the most eye-opening moment in this class for me. I think it is probably about as close as you can get to describing what motherhood is. I remember watching this video and being shocked by what was being asked of these people and once it was explained, I teared up and immediately thought, "Wow! My mom is awesome..."