So I was ‘attending’ the inaugural Down Under Feminists Carnival being hosted by Hoyden about Town (a worthy monthly event – note to self must get butt into gear and submit something one of these days) and while I haven’t yet made my way through all of the attractions of the Carnival I particularly enjoyed this piece by blue milk. Blue milk hosts a discussion about the American ‘Slacker Mom’ movement, which is a conscious response to the ‘over – parenting’ trend, an accelerating tendency that has been in place for at least the last twenty years (if the tales of university students getting mother on the mobile to sort out their problems are to be believed). Reading the confessions of self identified ‘Slacker Mums’ sure made me feel a lot better about some of the parenting that goes on around here. That being said, most of the comments were more about the all too human moments that inevitably occur when looking after children. (Around here we had the case where a toddler drinking cup went through the kitchen window *smashing noise heard in background* instead of into the kitchen sink when thrown in anger by a tired mother). This type of confession (while cathartic and useful) is slightly different to admitting that one is a ‘Slacker Mum’ as a opposed to just having moments of being a slack human mum.
To me identifying as a ‘Slacker Mum’ is an admission that one is consciously trying not to be everything for one’s kids and one is letting them be kids, without having to micromanage every aspect of their childhood. To participate in this movement is to reject the ‘competimummying’ that is going on. (if you want to know what ‘competimummying is check out Best Parent Ever). It is an admission that its ok to let the kids get dirty, and is ok for them to risk limbs at the playground and its fine if they’re not a bilingual, ballet dancing, sports freak by the age of seven. So you can heave a sigh of relief and have a sip of chardonnay because there are other average mothers out there.
One of the problems that I have with the type of intense parenting that seems to have become the norm is the fact that this focus on perfect parenting comes at the detriment of both parent and child. This article discusses the dangers for the child of this type of parenting, but I wonder about the effects on the parent. If caught up in the competitive aspects of parenthood do you have time to enjoy the whimsical aspects of parenthood? Do you have time and energy to devote to other things that you may be interested in? Like, for instance, Feminism. Which apparently is still kicking having permeated the mainstream according to this article.
So lets have a round of applause for slacker mums and leave your children unsupervised in the sandpit while you jump on the internet and check out the Down Under Feminists Carnival!