Alpha Mommy Freaking Madness

Alpha Moms of the world unite. You now have your very own cable channel where you can (s)mother until your eyes roll into the backs of your heads. Alpha Mom TV is all about (s)mothering. As if it weren’t already a 24/7 job. Why does this make me angry? Why doesn’t it make me feel like I finally have found a place where I belong? Because this is just another example of the Cult of the New Momism. The smart-ass attitude in the book The Mommy Myth sums it up nicely (I blogged about this in February). To quote The Mommy Myth:

“We are urged to be fun-loving, spontaneous, and relaxed, yet, at the same time, scared out of our minds that our kids could be killed at any moment. No wonder 81 percent of women in a recent poll said it’s harder to be a mother now than it was twenty or thirty years ago, and 56 percent felt mothers were doing a worse job today than mothers back then. Even mothers who deliberately avoid TV and magazines, or who pride themselves on seeing through them, have trouble escaping the standards of perfection, and the sense of threat, that the media ceaselessly atomize into the air we breathe. . . like increasing numbers of women, we are fed up with the myth — shamelessly hawked by the media — that motherhood is eternally fulfulling and rewarding, that it is always the best and most important thing you do, that there is only a narrowly prescribed way to do it right, and that if you don’t love each and every second of it there’s something really wrong with you. . .

“This book is about the rise in the media of what we are calling the ‘new momism:’ the insistence that no woman is truly complete or fulfulled unless she has kids, that women remain the best primary caretakers of children, and that to be a remotely decent mother, a woman has to devote her entire physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual being, 24/7, to her children. The new momism is a highly romanticized and yet demanding view of motherhood in which the standards for success are impossible to meet.”

So, now, you can’t just be a “Stay-At-Home Mom” or a “Working Mother,” you must also be an ALPHA MOM. This conjures up images of a tigress defending her young or some such nonsense.

Alpha Mom TV says that you must “understand the meanings and functions of crying” in your infant, you must “be in sync with your child in order to develop effective discipline techniques,” on long car trips you must “ensure that traveling with children will be an enjoyable experience for the entire family,” and you must become a “parent doctor,” effectively diagnosing your child’s ADHD. (Except that it’s OK if the “parent doctor” turns out to be Dad and not Mom, judging by the lone photo on the entire Alpha Mom site with a Dad and his kids.) Let’s not even talk about the $35 sleeper oufits in the Alpha Mom TV Boutique. Pul-leeze.

Where’s the Alpha Dad TV? Or better yet, where’s the Alpha Parent TV? Or better yet, where’s Smart Ass Parent TV?

UPDATE: The New York Times Magazine published an article on Alpha Mom TV founder Isabel Kallman, who gave up her 100-hour-a-week senior-vice-president position at Salomon Smith Barney to raise her son (and then launched a probably 100-hour-a-week job as a TV channel CEO). But it really burns my butter when she says that raising her high-energy son was a harder job than the SVP job. So, let’s say this is true. Why aren’t we paying our childcare workers the same, or more, than SVPs make? Money quote by the director of admissions to The Sunshine Kids’ Club, where Kallman’s son takes music lessons (he’s two, BTW):

“They put more energy into it [parenting] than my generation. Like what’s the best stroller, the best nursery school, the best classes—all of it. It’s not like everyone doesn’t want the best for their child, but to me, it seems people these days have a more professional attitude toward raising their children. A lot of it is very intellectually thought-out and very scheduled, almost like they have a business plan for their children.” (Emphasis mine).

A business plan? Ug. It’s never enough, is it? Kallman seems to me to be a highly-intelligent, motivated woman who cares about her family and wants to help other women. She’s putting a lot of effort into this project. Why aren’t we putting the same amount of effort into raising the quality of childcare? Kallman has a nanny (there’s a photo of them together in the NYT Magazine article). She’s got the income, education and clout to start up a new TV channel. What could she achieve if she devoted herself to raising the quality of daycare nationwide, which could potentially help a lot more families? I doubt she ever will — what with having a nanny, a night nurse, a babysitter and an Alpha Mom TV intern — group daycare isn’t an issue that’s anywhere near her radar.



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