Will Nancy Help the Moms?
When Judith Warner's book Perfect Madness reached the shelves a year or so back, it wasn't immediately clear that she'd become a forceful political advocate for mothers. Yes, the book did end with a slew of policy proposals. The majority of the pages offered cultural analysis, though, and more often than not, Warner seemed to tread perilously close to blaming mothers--affluent, over achieving, hyper-perfectionist mothers, the prime focus of the book--for the malaise upon us. The book's political ending was nice, but it felt tacked on. How, after all, would improved access to quality daycare really make life easier for the mom committed to hand painting paper plates for her child's birthday party? The blogosphere, especially, took aim. The lack of online word limits allowed an almost limitless analysis of Perfect Madness, and most bloggers were relentlessly critical of the book.
It's time now for a second look. Judith Warner has taken the celebrity the book afforded her, and has used her access to the New York Times Op-Ed page to become a singularly strong political commentator on motherhood and work.
Her latest piece, "The Family-Friendly Congress," was published the Friday after election day. That's two days after we woke up to the new morning in America in which Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco grandmother and mother of five, will take over as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Op-Ed is now hidden behind the veil of the pay service NYT Select, but you can read it here, courtesy of Donkey OD.
Warner's response: hey, it's not enough that Pelosi's a mother. We need Nancy Pelosi to use her new power to legislate real policies that help all of us through the mess called our family and working lives. It's not enough for one woman to gain political points and power with the rhetoric of being a mother and grandmother. Now that she's won, the rest of us want the real goods.
So read Warner's Op-Ed, and follow her provocations: Is this a new dawn for raising issues about women, family and work? Is this surprise turn a chance to see real and positive change? We know what we want, so what will we mothers and parents and fathers do now to raise our needs in the strongest and most visible ways possible?