Mojo Mom and the Oprah Mom bloggers
The Oprah discussion really caught my attention because Mojo Mom was originally inspired in part by two Oprah episodes in the fall of 2002, where Naomi Wolf talked to small groups of women about "What Mothers Honestly Think about Motherhood" and "What Your Mother Never Told You about Motherhood." I appreciated the catharsis and truth-telling that went on, and I was surprised to see a backlash develop in the audience from other women who thought Moms should never complain about motherhood. At the time I was craving an honest conversation about motherhood, because my daughter had just turned three years old, and I was just starting to recover from burnout and get my mojo back. I decided to write the guide book I had wished I had when my daughter was born.
Back then, when I started researching Mojo Mom, many of the other books about motherhood were quite serious and academic. With the exception of Vicki Iovine's lighthearted Girlfriends' Guides series, I was mostly reading books like Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions, Susan Maushart's The Mask of Motherhood, and Susan Douglas & Meredith Michael's book The Mommy Myth. All good books, rooted mainly in feminst writing and sociology.
I wanted Mojo Mom to be thoughtful and well-researched, but written in a more conversational Mom-to-Mom tone, a book you'd be happy to give your sister or best friend for her baby shower, or discuss with your neighborhood Moms' group.
So just as I've reached my book launch with the updated Gotham Books edition of Mojo Mom, Oprah comes out with another show that is in theory very similar to the 2002 discussions.
But you can see how much lighter the conversation has become. It's all about truth-telling ("hilarious and outrageous" True Mom Confessions!), the down and dirty details of a Mom who peed in a diaper because she couldn't get out of the car on a road trip with children in the back. Actress Cheryl Hines talked about motherhood as an identity crisis, which I could really relate to, then showed off her home, her nanny, and her 5-year-old daughter's birthday party, with the mandatory alcohol to keep the adults happy (the whole "Mommy needs a drink" angle could be its own literary subgenre). Dooce came on an was her irreverent self, accompanied by other writers and bloggers from Momversation.
The guests experts on stage were Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth, authors of several books including I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids and I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper. These guides come across as sugary confections with the cupcakes and gingerbread men on the covers. I can understand why they are popular, because some days we all need a bit of commiserating. But in my view they only go so far--like the whole Oprah episode. The show never quite took that next step past the funny stories, to talk about how we might actually get beyond black humor to make our lives better.
That's the niche I see Mojo Mom filling. I write about a path that starts with self-care but keeps moving forward from there, to developing a partnership with your spouse, to thinking about your lifelong career path, and directing your mojo into a leadership and activism.
So dessert is fine, and you may even want to eat it first, but once you get your fill of cupcakes I hope you'll check out my book to think about your own life and how motherhood fits into the bigger picture.
Mojo Mom may be just right for you if:
You are a mother of reinvention, in your personal or professional life.
You are going through a life transition, such as kids going to kindergarten or leaving the nest for college.
You are willing to explore creativity as a way to jump-start your mojo, even if you haven't always thought of yourself as "artistic."
You'd like to develop a true partnership with your spouse and want to know where to start.
You want to end the Mommy Wars and debunk the myths of Opting Out.
You have an entrepreneurial spirit.
You are a social or political activist, and you want to work for causes that will help all families.
Who do I count as my writing peers now? Some of the women I read or interviewed for Mojo Mom include Karen Maezen Miller (Momma Zen); Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann, founders of TheMotherhood.com; Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, founders of MomsRising.org; Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, Amy and Marc Vachon of Equally Shared Parenting; and Dr. Pamela Stone, author of Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home. And I want to thank kindred spirit PunditMom for blogging about the Oprah show today, which inspired me to sit down and write out my thoughts, rather than go take a nap this afternoon!