I created this blog over a year ago in preparation for my very first conference presentation. I thought a blog would be a good way to communicate who I am and the kind of work I do (and would also make the business cards I had made for the same occasion look more complete). But, as you can see from my rather forlorn looking homepage, I have yet to make a post. I’ve started a few posts but somewhere around the first or second paragraph I lose steam. I read and re-read, worrying about the repercussions of revealing certain information about myself and my work. But today, I’ve decided to finally do it. Bite the bullet! Throw caution to the wind! And post a carefully edited and considered version of how I became interested in parenting. Here it is:
Just over ten years ago my sister shared some wonderful news with me; I was going to be an aunt! I have always enjoyed babysitting and making funny faces at babies so of course I was excited. I watched with fascination as my sister began the transformation into a mother; changing her eating habits, reading many different kinds of parenting books and so on. Soon, she was glued to the laptop every night, joining parenting forums and reading stories and advice to prepare for her impending motherhood. She shared a great deal of this new information with me and I was astounded by the sheer volume of advice that existed for new parents. I say “parents” but much of the advice focused on women and described what a ‘good mother’ should do. This was my first introduction to the idea of good motherhood and that, alongside the principles my sister adopted, abandoned, tried, ignored, approved of, scoffed at and so much more, formed the foundation of my current interest in the social conditions of attachment parenting.
In the last ten years my understanding of these social conditions has expanded and deepened (or at least, one hopes). I’ve come to recognize how the rules of good motherhood have changed with political and technological shifts in our society. I’ve also realized that good motherhood is experienced differently by different women. That may seem like an obvious point to make and it is, but the point of my work is to try to understand these differences and figure out what they mean for all mothers. I’m particularly interested in black mothers who occupy the unique position of being dismissed as bad mothers (often because they’re ‘domineering’) and being one of the sources of one of the most popular parenting styles today, attachment parenting. I’m interested in black women in the Global North who are often stereotyped as “welfare queens” (Collins, 2000) or “babymothers” (Reynolds, 2005). And I’m also interested in black women in the Global South who are sometimes revered as good mothers because they parent the ‘traditional’ way. There is a tremendous amount of diversity within these groups, of course, and I don’t expect to find definitive answers that explain the experience of black mothering for all women. But I am keen to find out what attachment parenting means to them and perhaps deepen my understanding of how certain parenting styles become popular and why.
Wish me luck!
Collins, Patricia Hill. (2000). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. London and New York: Routledge.
Reynolds, Tracey. (2005). Caribbean Mothers: Identity and Experience in the UK. London: Tufnell Press.