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Editor's notes

April/May 2008:
The mothers' movement in the United States

In the parlance of pop psychology, my personality falls into the typology of "seeker," as opposed to "soother." For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with the subtleties of the patterns and systems that shape my experience of the world. And because I'm not a saint, I've been especially sensitive to patterns and systems that constrain my personal freedom and happiness.

As I've grown and developed as a woman and a human being, I've gained a few insights into how external patterns and systems become internalized and play out in our intimate lives, and how cognitive and emotional patterns which are uniquely part of my own unkempt, inner word influence my outlook on social issues. The outcome is that I raise a lot of questions about why certain motifs seem to take hold on a grand scale, and why we, in our society and workplaces and relationships, continue to do things the same old way when it's obvious that the system is not working very well, except for a few people with lots of money and power. Eventually, this line of thinking led me to conclude that it's not enough to change the rulers -- we need to change the rules. And that's how, just a little over five years ago, the Mothers Movement Online was born.

The problem with being a seeker is that it can get you into trouble. In my case, the underlying impulse is to pull everything apart so I can rearrange all the pieces in a different way that works better. Living with a seeker in your midst is not necessarily conducive to a healing or cozy ambience -- just ask my husband and kids. But it is favorable to growth.

For the last ten years, I've been deeply involved in the formation and mobilization of what is popularly known as the "mothers' movement." (In fact, I have been credited with popularizing that phrase.) But because I'm seeker, I'm constantly pulling the movement apart to see how we might put it back together in a better way, or at least in a way that is favorable to progress and increases the odds that the movement will achieve its stated goals, whether the objective is "improving the lives of mothers" or creating a society "where the work of taking care of others is values, supported, at the center of public discussion and a priority in public policy." I dearly love my many friends and colleagues in the movement, but I've been known to say and write things that make people feel uncomfortable or downright pissed off at me. For example, I've repeatedly raised irritating questions about the models we use to articulate the politics of motherhood in the United States, and whether any mothers' organization that exists today has a sufficient structure to organize mothers and others for effective, inclusive change work.

Reader, I cannot help it. My endless questioning and compulsive need to pull things apart to better understand their nature and function is one of the more annoying aspects of honoring my calling, and I like to believe it does more good than harm. But sometimes -- okay, often -- it compels me to chip away at the foundations of beliefs and practices that are supportive of changing the rules, but not all that productive in terms of getting the job done. In other words, the feel-good quotient of my analysis and reporting on developments in the mothers' movement can be on the low side. In my essay, Power In A Movement, I discuss the recent progress of the middle-class motherhood movement, and explore structural and conceptual gaps in the movement's expression -- and the expression of the progressive movement overall -- as a social change movement.

Also in this issue's Features section, a powerful commentary by Gretchen Hunt on why Immigration Is A Mother's Issue; an informative article by Arthur Emlen, Professor Emeritus in social work at Portland State University, on why successful working families need flexibility in multiple domains of daily life, and how working mothers make compromises to create the flexibility they need and want; and an spirited essay by Lisa Frack on her work with the Activistas in Portland, Oregon, including Lisa's no-nonsense analysis of the benefits and challenges of organizing mothers for change.

In Essays, Kathleen Furin delves into the Hot Moms movement -- and wonders whether claiming our right to pursue hotness is a liberating trend for mothers, or simply adds a new twist to the culture of judgment that already surrounds us. And in Anniversary, Jampa Williams looks back on the awakening of her opposition to the war in Iraq.

In my notes for the February/March edition, I mentioned the distractions of activism and how it's become clear over the last few months that my growing interest in change work interferes with meeting my editorial goals for the MMO. (Note to my infinitely patient and loyal readers: this situation is not likely to improve between now and November 4.) Reviewing and summarizing new material for the Noteworthy page has always been one of the more time-consuming aspects of publishing the site, and launching the blog earlier this year has partly, but not entirely, solved the problem. In this edition I'm taking a minimalist approach to the Noteworthy roundup -- we'll see how that works out. You'll find highlights of a new state policy resource on breastfeeding and the workplace, a report on the real rate of economic insecurity among working families, and a new study on gender disparities among Americans who worry about economic insecurity and the risk of economic hardship. Don't forget to check out the Get Active page for new conference listings.

The June/July issue of the MMO will focus on Maternal & Infant Health: Global Issues; submissions are welcome, and will be accepted through June 30. The August/September issue will focus on Families with Special Needs -- the submission deadline for that edition is August 15.

If you have questions about supporting the MMO as a contributing writer, please email editor@mothersmovement.org. (For more information about upcoming issue topics and submission deadlines, download the full 2008 Editorial Calendar, or visit the Submissions page.)

To MMO contributors, past and present: thanks to every single one of you for adding your stories and perspectives to this one-of-a-kind project. And as always, thanks to MMO readers everywhere.

In solidarity,

Judith Stadtman Tucker
Editor, The Mothers Movement Online


April/May 2008

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