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Mar 19 2014

I Don’t Make Homemade Play-Doh and I Don’t Feel Guilty About It

By at 4:24 pm


I see that sheet of paper every time I drop the girls off at preschool. There’s a green one in my older daughter’s classroom and a yellow one in my younger daughter’s. Each page has three columns: one for your name, one for the date, and one for the color of Play-Doh you’re going to make for the entire preschool class.

In almost three years of sending my girls to this preschool, which I absolutely adore, I have never once signed up to make Play-Doh. There is just nothing appealing about it to me, and besides, there is no question that I would screw it up. (Don’t tell me how easy it is; I can burn water, people.) I try to compensate in other ways–I volunteer for various tasks that don’t require me to go into (or even near) my kitchen, and I read stories and do crafts for Hanukkah and Passover. I know the school has enough Play-Doh (or at least I think they do), and I know that I am contributing in other ways, but I just can’t seem to shake the guilt I feel over all of it.

A few weeks ago, I Facebooked a picture of my daughters at home, cutting multi-colored lumps of Play-Doh into a million little pieces. My dear friend and fellow Kveller Tamara Reese left the following comment: Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 5 2014

Potty Training Taught Me That Some Things Are Better Outsourced

By at 10:48 am


It occurred to me recently that though my boys are perfectly potty-trained–which is good because they are 6 and 9–I actually had no idea what to do when my daughter’s turn came around. Odder, still, was that it wasn’t because she’s a girl and girls train differently. What rattled me was that I hadn’t potty-trained my older children…my sister had.

It all sort of happened by accident. My oldest trained late because of issues with his digestive tract, so potty-training was more like an adult conversation than a child manipulation. He’s smart. Scary smart. He was interested in the internal mechanics. Potty-training was more like a seminar, complete with multi-media, entitled: “This is how your digestive system works.”

But with my younger son, I had just had a new baby, and my older sister came over to hang out and spend plenty of cuddle time with an adorable newborn girl. I don’t know why, but she suddenly said, “Let me see if I can get Izzy to use the potty.” She’s just funny that way. Three hours later, success! I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I was so busy with my newborn, I hardly even reinforced it after. She spoke to him when she saw him, asked how he was doing, made bargains and even told him to call her when he had something to brag about. “Mommy, can you call Auntie Francine so I can tell her I pooped?” Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 3 2014

New Study Confirms Breastfeeding Benefits Were Overstated

By at 10:18 am


Writing a blog post discussing the merits of breastfeeding is not unlike taking a steak in your hand and casually, slowly, trailing said steak along the bars of a lion’s cage. I’ve found this out the hard way on several occasions. Each time I’ve written about breastfeeding, I’ve been amazed at the tempest that ensues.

I’m a slow learner.

According to an Ohio State University study comparing siblings fed differently during infancy, breastfeeding might not be any more beneficial than bottle-feeding for 10 of 11 long-term health/well-being outcomes in kids aged 4-14. In fact, asthma was found to correspond more to breastfed than bottle-fed subjects. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 24 2014

News Roundup: Jewish Montessori Day Schools Are Trending

By at 4:26 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


-Parents are trading old-style Jewish day schools–which are deemed too clannish and stale for the modern generation–for the Montessori model. The Times profiles two Brooklyn-based Montessori schools that straddle the line between innovative education and tradition. (The New York Times)

-Studies of Romanian orphans reveal the long term effects of childhood neglect on the brain. One orphan, Izidor Ruckel, now 33 and living in Boulder, wrote a book about his lonely childhood and subsequent rocky relationship with his adoptive parents. (NPR)

-In Salon, Elissa Strauss observes that the latest trend in the ongoing “mommy wars” pits “bad mommies” against the “good,” but–ironically–the “bad moms” can be just as obnoxious and sanctimonious as their “good” counterparts. (Salon)

(Then read Kveller contributor Courtney Naliboff’s defense of overachievers and “good mommies” here.)

-Prompted by the recent New York Times expose, Invisible Child–which followed 12-year-old Dasani, highlighting the plight of 22,000 homeless children housed in New York City shelters–incoming New York mayor Bill DeBlasio moves over 400 children living under the worst conditions into better residences. (New York Magazine)

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In Defense of Overachieving “Good Mommies”

By at 11:37 am


When I read about the Evil Eye as a kid, I imagined it as an eye in the sky, ready to glare at anyone who boasted of their accomplishments or counted their chickens before they hatched. But the Evil Eye is, and always has been, other people. recently published an essay by (Kveller contributor) Elissa Strauss discussing the new tyranny of the “bad mommy”:

Instead, today’s bad mommies are as smug, and even sometimes smugger, than those good mommies they aimed to resist. These parents, products of a culture that thinks it is just so hilarious to tell parents to “Shut the Fuck Up” while telling their kids to “Go the Fuck to Sleep,” are the new sanctimommies. These women take real delight in being the “worst mom in the world,” “scary mommy,” the “world’s worst mom,” “bad mom” and  “bad mommy.” Most of these women don’t really consider themselves bad moms (I doubt anyone who writes regularly about being a “bad” mom could really possibly be one), but instead take the position as a way to assert their superiority to the “good ones.” Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 6 2014

A Public Apology to My Friend

By at 10:52 am

A public apology to my friend

Yesterday I wrote a post that I deeply regret writing, and now I would like to post a public apology. My stomach is tied up in knots and my face feels red as I write this, but I think it is important to do so anyway.

I wrote about my approach to managing my kids on snow days, and in the process, I threw a fellow mama (and a friend of mine) under the bus. I publicly dismissed her parenting style, and then went on to write about why mine was so much better.

There is nothing acceptable about what I wrote, and I want to publicly apologize to my friend, and to everyone who read the piece.

For years now, I have read blog posts and books that offer all sorts of suggestions about how I should be raising my children, many of them under the guise of “everyone has their own style of parenting, but this is just how I do it.” This is precisely what I did, as if it’s supposed to make it all OK. It doesn’t. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 5 2013

There Is A Difference Between Mom and Mommy

By at 7:02 am


I hear the cry of “Mom!” in my house more often than I hear the telephone and doorbell combined. This is what happens when you have elementary-school age children. The semi-feral cry of “MOM!” can preface anything from “He hit me!” to “Am I done practicing piano?” to “Where ARE you?” If only their eyes worked as well as their mouths.

I hear “Mom” all the time from my second grade boy and my third grade boy. Which is why, I suppose, I shouldn’t have been shocked when I heard it yesterday from a new mouth: that of my not-even-2-year-old daughter.

“MOM!” G yelled (we are not yet masters of ‘inside voice’), in contrast to her usual “Mommy!” She was proud of herself, I could see, and she was savoring the taste of a new, “grown-up” word on her tongue.

But that’s a promotion I don’t want. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 25 2013

When Your Biggest Mommy Rival is Your Own Mother

By at 3:59 pm

grandmother and motherMommy Wars are usually about mom vs. mom: tiger vs. helicopter, attachment vs. baby-wise, French vs. Israeli. But what do you do if the biggest challenge to your mom identity–and your biggest potential mommy rival–is your own mother?

For the past almost 10 months, we’ve been living with my parents. Our necessary experiment in multi-generational living has shown me how great it is to live with extra adults to take on raising a child. The benefits far outweigh the cramped living space. Having a toddler is a lot of work, much more so than I ever imagined. It’s mentally, emotionally, and physically draining (and of course also rewarding). Having grandparents in the same house for support is beyond helpful, especially from my mom who is a wondermother. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 19 2012

Why I Stopped Calling Myself an Attachment Parent

By at 1:07 pm

According to Dr. Sears, the person who originally coined the term attachment parenting in his popular books about child rearing, “attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.”

“Well, sign me up!” was my first thought when I read this eight years ago when my second daughter was just an itty-bitty thing. Who doesn’t want to bring out the best in their baby and themselves? There was no question! I had tried other parenting methods, but this one promised something far more important to me than a baby who can learn the alphabet by aged 2 or a baby who sleeps 10 straight hours a night. This method seemed to be promising me a baby who was not only happy, but who would have a life of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence–something I never had. I quickly recalled how painfully shy and awkward I was as a child, then I got online and ordered myself a sling. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 20 2012

Don’t Call Me Mommy

By at 6:13 am

mommy t-shirtI’ve wanted to write this vent for a long time, but felt like it would be a waste of time. Who cares, I told myself, about me objecting to getting called “Mommy” all the time–by people who aren’t my kid? I’m called “Mommy” constantly by random people who are looking for my attention as a parent–people like marketers, conference coordinators, headline writers, product developers, book authors, kids program creators, and bloggers.

PLEASE stop calling me “Mommy.” Read the rest of this entry →


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