‘Momism’ Claims Another: Mom Has Meltdown Over Son Eating French Fries

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Lately I’ve been reading a fantastic book called The Mommy Myth: How The Idealization Of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women. Susan J Douglas and Meredith Micheals write at length about how the concept of a being a “perfect mommy” has eroded more authentic experiences of motherhood by consistently scaring women into believe that they aren’t good enough at childrearing. Fathers are, of course, culturally exempt from such cultural antagonism, but the effect it has on mothers is very real and very detrimental. I was reminded of Susan and Meredith’s examination of mothers being asked to personalize their child’s every action when I stumbled across this post via The Motherlode. Allison Robicelli, a chef in Brooklyn who prided herself on cultivating her son’s artisanal food interests, cried for three hours when he ate a French fry.

Alison says on her blog that she has always felt very assured of herself when it comes to food, and she really wanted to share this love with her son. She writes:

…being the mother who can’t do much right but could do one thing better than just about anyone, that was so utterly important to me.  And there I was, sitting in the Bridgeview Diner in Bay Ridge, watching my son eating something with pure joy and exuberance for the first time in his life.  And it was a fucking plate of French fries.

As much as her reaction is understandable given her passion for food, her use of “being the mother who” alludes to some deeper roots. Allison’s fit of tears in response to her son’s delight at fried food evidences what Douglas and Michaels describe as the “new momism”:

…a set of ideals, norms, and practices, most frequently and powerfully represented in the media, that seem on the surface to celebrate motherhood, but which in reality promulgate standards of perfection that are beyond your reach.

Even though Allison opens her post by describing herself as “the worst mom ever,” her feeling of failure for her son’s preferences speaks to the ever-heightening pressures of motherhood.