Representations of Motherhood

by Mallory Martin

Survey Monkey Assignment

All throughout the semester, it was really interesting getting to see the opinions of mothers that I actually know. I think the most rewarding part was reading all of their advice to new mothers. Almost all of their responses including some version of the phrase "cherish every moment". I think this shows how mothers are usually rushed around getting to all of their kids activities and aren't even given the chance to slow down. I hope that I will be able to remember that for the future.

Moms in the News

One of the common themes during the semester with the representation of mothers in the news has been the gross negligence by mothers that has harmed their children. We have heard stories of mothers who have abused their children, some who have actually killed their children, and others who just seem like they have no idea what their doing and their children suffer because of it. On the other hand, we have seen some heart warming stories, like the mother who walked her son to school there and back every day. No matter the story, it has really shed a light on how the media portrays mothers, and its usually one extreme of the spectrum: either the angel of a mother, or the devil of one.

Novel Presentation

In The Goodbye Quilt, Susan Wiggs tells a story of a mother and a daughter setting off on a road trip to drop Molly off at college. Throughout the novel, Linda, the mother, has a lot of growing to do just as her daughter does. At the beginning of the book, Linda seems like the stereotypical mother who will not let go of her daughter, and sort of wants to live vicariously through her. She definitely sympathizes with the majority of mothers in world by only being known as "Molly's mom" for so long. But during the adventures they have on this road trip, Linda begins to find herself again, someone she has not known for a very long time. By the end of the road trip, she is able to finally let go of Molly, and this actually sets her free. She is able to have a life of purpose through quilting and enjoying what she loves.

Magazine Project

While looking through Parents Magazine & Better Homemaking from the 1960s it was very clear to see that mothers were only seen the domestic sphere. In every single advertisement, it was always the mother who was taking care of the kids, who cooked and cleaned, and who would be the ones buying these products. Also, just about ninety percent of the articles were directly written towards mothers, only about five or six out of every edition were directed towards fathers, even though its supposed to be "Parent" magazine. Obviously the most popular topics are child rearing, and family home guides, but another interesting topic is how girls are represented as a whole. In many articles, girls are seen as only being able to be a mother or a secretary when they grow up, while the boys can be doctors and lawyers. Overall, women are mostly seen as mothers to their children and servants to their husbands.

Advertising Project

The advertising project was interesting to say the least. I used three pretty controversial ads: a Mr. Clean ad that insinuated mothers should be cleaning, a breast feeding ad (shown to the right), and a Downey ad which made a little girl seem like a nerd because her mother didn't use downey. I didn't anticipate to have such different answers when it came to the free response for this project. For example, the breast feeding advertisement gained wide controversy. One woman believed that mothers need to be "less selfish" and should never breast feed in public, while a good amount said that women should be able to breast feed in public, they should just to it modestly under a cover. It was also interesting how they reacted to the Mr. Clean ad, because a good amount of them said cleaning is not the most important thing, and it should not be made to look that way.

Music Presentation

This was definitely one of my favorite projects of the whole year, because it gave the opportunity to look back at a lot of adorable pictures of my mom and I. I also loved the fact that I got to use the song The Best Day by Taylor Swift, because it has always been one of my favorites. It was awesome to be able to go through all of the lyrics, and think about all of the times that my own mom has been there for me no matter what. I loved that I was able to show her this video, and she loved being able to watch it. This project definitely helped me to appreciate my mom even more.

Mothers on Television

While examining the mothers of the show Pretty Little Liars it was impressive to see that all of the five mothers represented a different stereotype. Ella Montgomery represents a mom who is always there for her family, even when things aren't stable while she is getting a divorce. Ashley Marin is the type of mom who will literally do nothing short of bribery with sexual favors to keep her daughter from being arrested. Veronica Hastings portrays a mother who is distant, but is always expected better things from her already very intelligent daughter. Pam Fields shows her love to her daughter by always supporting her. And Jessica Dilaurentis is the mother who is unstable because of the loss of her child. It was interesting to see how perfectly the show has given mothers the whole range of representation.

Mothers in Film

In Mary Poppins, we are given an unconventional view of a mother portrayed by Julie Andrews as Mary. My favorite part about Mary Poppins is that she uses the childrens imagination in order to teach them life lessons. She does have many mother like qualities, like making sure the children to their chores, and are not getting into trouble, but she always makes sure that Jane and Michael are having fun while they do it, and definitely adds magic to everything. Mary is able to put life back into the Banks' life, and gives them the chance to move on once she is done. I think this shows how she is able to do what is best for the children, and for the family as a whole.

Interview

Unfortunately, I was unable to interview my grandmother, but I was able to interview my mother, who is a grandmother. I thought it was really rewarding to be able to record the interview for future generations to be able to listen to later on in life. Being able to hear my mother talk about her childhood, and tell me about who made a big influence in her life helped me to understand how she was raised. I think I will definitely be asking her even more questions about her childhood in the future, because it is so cool to see how your parents grew up.

Dear Mom,

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Seriously, thank you for every single sacrifice you have ever made to make my life the way it is right now. You are the definition of awesome, and I am so blessed to be your daughter. I can't say enough of how much fun it has been to grow up with you as a mom. Thank you for taking me to Disney World every year, and loving the magic as much as I do. Thank you for coming to every soccer game, even though you were freezing half of the time. You have been such a great example of what I want to be when I am a mother, and I hope I am able to remember everything I have learned from you. You will always be my best friend.

Love,

Mallory