MOM Museum: Reedy Press & Joshua Ginsberg’s New Book Secret Tampa Bay

The Museum of Motherhood is proud to be included in Joshua Ginsberg’s new book, Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure, published by Reedy Press.

This guide to the obscure helps unlock secret spots in and around the city including some of the most intriguing and entertaining surprises.

Join in a pirate parade, see live mermaids, or catch a flamenco dance performance at the oldest and largest Spanish restaurant in America. Wander through secret gardens, listen to bagpipe music, and sample a seemingly endless variety of hidden treasures in Tampa Bay. Also, of course, you can discover the art, science, and history of mothers, mothering, and motherhood at MOM in the historic neighborhood of Kenwood in St. Petersburg, Fl., “where art lives”.

Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure provides a deeper dive into the local culture, history, art and one-of-a-kind attractions as alternatives to the usual beaches and theme parks, you are sure to find it here.

Join author Joshua Ginsberg as he narrates his explorations through Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and the surrounding areas in search of hidden history, strange monuments, museums, oddities, antiques in this truly invigorating guidebook that is sure to provide many memorable experiences.

Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure is available wherever books are sold.

Thank you too, for the shout out from Natalie Taylor and Josh August 26th, 2020 on Tampa Bay Morning Blend News Show (ABC).

Please stay safe and stay strong. WE LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Order copies of the book: https://secrettampabay.com/
If you are interested in stocking the book at their place of business, write Reedy Press or Josh at the above website 😊

Please contact Don Korte at dkorte@reedypress.com to arrange an interview or appearance.

Book Details: Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure, by Joshua Ginsberg, ISBN 9781681062860, paperback 9 x 6, 208 pages, $22.50

Accepting Help

By Aster Woods

Can you imagine a scenario that would finally push you over the edge?

Or do you just keep telling yourself you can handle anything?

For people who care for others, hitting rock bottom is often an abstract principle. You do whatever it takes to keep on going. Because what’s the alternative? Really? People you love are counting on you. If you’re exhausted, you have to keep going. If you’re overwhelmed, you have to keep going. If your hands are shaking so badly that you break the plate you’re trying to clean, and then you burst into tears because you’ve failed to clean that plate, and then can’t stop crying, and then go numb and sometime later realize you’re still sitting on the kitchen floor…you stand up and finish the washing up, hands wrinkling in the cold water. Because you have to keep going.

I care for my mother. I need a break, I tell her. She doesn’t understand why; I explain that I’m struggling with my mental health, that I’m tired and stressed all the time. That I have been for a long time and it’s taking a serious toll.

She suggests I try chilling out.

I leave the room and scream into my pillow.

A few days later she hangs up the phone and beams at me. Your sister has agreed to help out while she’s visiting! Anger wells up inside me, hot and dry. Why on earth is it up to her? My sister knows the least about this situation, has no knowledge of how hard it is. Why on earth is she the one to decide if I get to have a break or not? Why does she get to choose when she takes care of our mum, but I don’t?

I know this is supposed to be a good thing. But panic overwhelms me. I have been resenting my caregiving but I can’t let it go. I have held it too tightly for too long. It’s who I am. Can I trust my sister to do it right? Is she going to mess up my carefully organized systems, making more work for me in the long run?

Or worse. Is she going to tell me that this is all easy, that I have nothing to worry about really, that my stress and frustration and despair and isolation are not valid emotions, but rather a symptom of my weakness and failure?

Why is accepting help so difficult?

Why can’t we put down this toxic burden of control? I want to relinquish this weight of responsibility so badly. I want to be able to move freely within my life. To do things that are only about me. I know that I can be a better person if I manage to do this and that it will mean I take better care of my mum; as people are so fond of telling me.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

But people are not cups. Filling yourself up again is difficult.

And this is what I think of as the heart of the problem: The stress is the only thing that enables you to get stuff done. The most sustainable option is to remain stressed, like a plane using less fuel to cruise than to land, refuel, and take off again.

Stress gets you out of bed in the morning, gets the kitchen cleaned. I can’t relax while there are the bins to take out; I can’t sleep properly if I’m also listening out for mum’s call for help.

To let go of my stress is to relinquish my responsibility; and that is an impossibility as long as I have people relying on me.

HAPPY 100 YEARS OF THE VOTE FOR WOMEN IN AMERICA

Today is the 100 year anniversary of WOMEN GETTING THE VOTE in America. This is such a big deal!

Hard to believe, I was born only 37 years after this law was enacted.

Suffragette Sitting Room, MOM, NYC

At the Museum of Motherhood in NYC, we had an area called the Suffragette Sitting Room, where mothers would come and gather with their infants under the banner of these fearless warriors who marched, protested, and even starved for the right to be considered equal citizens.

I always find a way to include these foremothers of the feminist waves in the college classes I teach and remember fondly

Housewives On Prozac Band

the days when my band, Housewives On Prozac, was privileged to play the great city of Seneca Falls, New York, raising awareness about many of the issues mothers in America face. Those outstanding problems continue to include a continued lack of federally mandated paid parental leave, affordable childcare, accessible & adequate healthcare, as well as the issue of those who are home caring for loved ones without pay or social security in America today.

Let us not forget also, the simple willingness to declare “All people are created equal” according to the as-of-yet unratified ERA Amendment.
Thankfully, the fight for equality, access, and respect are continuing. From the Women’s March in Washington in 2016 thru the present, I  am so grateful to those worthy and peaceful activists at work in the #MeToo and #BLM movements who also see goals worth striving for. Let freedom ring.
~ Martha Joy Rose, Founder MOM

Submissions Request – Each Egg a World: Stillborn Project

 

Adinda van ’t Klooster is making art about stillbirth.
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Adina organized the online exhibit, Each Egg a World after her own experience with having a stillborn child. Now she wants to help break through the “tremendous taboo” that she says thwarts discussion around stillbirth and hampers the funding of measures to bring the numbers down.
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To this end, she is inviting people who have suffered a stillbirth to contribute their stories to an online artwork which is set to be a highlight of the exhibition Still Born, which is due to tour later this year and in 2021 in London, Manchester and Newscastle (See full news story here online LINK).
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More than 100 people have already submitted their statements on their experience of stillbirth. This project is becoming a very moving piece of digital art as well as acting as a useful resource for raising awareness about stillbirth. Adina is looking for you to share your story. Click the egg below to see the exhibit. Click this link to submit to the exhibit.

(All art featured here by Adinda van ‘t Klooster)

Each Egg a World: Stillbirth

Featured Image Homepage: Porcelain Uterus: Fundal Height, imprinted porcelain, © Adinda van ’t Klooster, 2010, photograph by Colin Davison, 2017 

Let’s Talk About Monomaternalism

Explorations and Art by Aster Woods

What is Monomaternalism?

Monomaternalism, as defined by Shelley Park in her 2013 academic work ”Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood: Resisting Monomaternalism in Adoptive, Lesbian, Blended, and Polygamous Families” is essentially the pervasive notion that a person can have only one mother; it also privileges the bio-essentialist belief that only the birth mother is real. This notion naturally marginalizes the existence of adoptive parents, lesbian parents, transgender parents, inter-generational parenting (such as a mother-daughter team raising a child,) extended/blended families, and polyamorous families.

Let’s Unpack it!

As Shelley Park explains:

“Monomaternalism, as an ideological doctrine, resides at the intersection of patriarchy (with its insistence that women bear responsibility for biological and social reproduction), heteronormativity (with its insistence that a woman must pair with a man, rather than other women, in order to raise children successfully), capitalism (in its conception of children as private property), and Eurocentrism (in its erasure of polymaternalism in other cultures and historical periods)”

Monomaternalism’s patriarchal ethos has increased the pressure on mothers as they attempt to take care of their new baby within a vacuum, often devoid of support and under an overwhelming amount of pressure. While we are seeing a slow trend towards an even balance of parenting duties within nuclear families, society still has a skewed view of the responsibilities of the mother versus the father. The work being done, intellectually and culturally, to balance family dynamics will need to continue for several decades before a true equilibrium can be achieved.

Additionally, these parental gender roles can replicate in queer couples, with one partner bearing the weight of “motherhood” particularly if that person has physically given birth. Monomaternalism distances the non-birth-giving partner into an unreal and devalued form of parenting much closer to outdated archetypal fatherhood than traditional or contemporary motherhood. Additionally, we see withi8n monomaternalistic views the belief that the child themselves will suffer in a non-traditional environment; that only the straight, middle class, Eurocentric nuclear family is capable of raising a child successfully, and all other forms of child-rearing are to a greater or lesser extent covert forms of abuse. This particular belief is extraordinarily short-sighted as a large proportion of global cultures utilize an extended system of adults in order to raise children. The closed nuclear family is an outdated and relatively short-lived concept, as intergenerational households containing a number of different relationships and structures have been consistently the norm for much of our human history. I am also curious to see if, in the developed western world, we are likely to see a return to this family living structure as economic instability reduces the residential options of young couples, along with our improving healthcare and nutrition extending the average lifespan. It may become more normal for individual households to become communal, intergenerational extended and flexible arrangements, sharing childcare between them, as in other contexts.

Essentialism is a sociological theory that reduces a person to their biology, causing unsupported, widely erroneous claims.

“Antecedently convinced of biological essentialism, the romanticization of the biological mother-child bond shapes one’s phenomenological experiences of biological motherhood; those experiences then become “proof” of the essentialist hypothesis, making it a difficult hypothesis to dislodge.”

i.e. if a person is already convinced of biological motherhood being the only valid form of motherhood, the idealised view of the bond between mother and child forces that person to experience motherhood within that limited parameter (i.e. the biological bond is sacred and mystical) which then “proves” the original hypothesis, making a circular argument that is difficult to break. However, we have, as a society, a wealth of qualitative research and anecdotal evidence that proves that a mother-child bond can be profound to the point of sacredness in fathers and non-biological mothers.

What are just some of the negative consequences it has on families?

Competition among women for maternal status
This is especially prevalent when views differ on childrearing techniques, or best practices. At its most toxic, this can develop into a situation where the child’s autonomy is reduced and they are used as a pawn in a game they cannot understand. This situation can also play out inside a child’s mind, for instance after learning they have been adopted. It can cause significant emotional damage.

The erasure of many women’s childbearing and childrearing labors. 

A lack of attention to the ways in which women might— and sometimes do—mother cooperatively.
Much of the raising of children is devalued as only the biological mother’s input is seen as being true and valid parenting; although every adult who consistently interacts with a child has an influence on their wellbeing and development, this invisible labor is termed “babysitting” even when the adult in question has a societally valid link to the child (for instance, a grandmother or aunt.)

The treatment of children as private property.
This is a capitalist idiom that erases the rights of the child as an independent and autonomous person. Often used as a means of control within the context of punishment.
“I am your mother and you will do what I tell you to.”

The separation of children from mothers (and mothers from children) 

A lack of imagination concerning ways in which laws, policies, and practices could be transformed to better serve both women and children.
If a form of motherhood or parenting is not seen as legitimate it can have impacts far beyond the social; legal practices governing adoption and custody overwhelmingly privilege biological mothers and take little account of non-biological parenting. These have knock-on effects into child protection policies, family preservation policies, social welfare policies, tax incentives, census bureau definitions of family, school policies, hospital policies, employer benefit policies, and (in the case of diasporic families created through transnational adoption or by some other means) even foreign policy.

The maternal grief and guilt often suffered both by those who relinquish custody of their children and those who come to bear full responsibility for them.

Source:

Park, S. M. (2013) Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood : Resisting Monomaternalism in Adoptive, Lesbian, Blended, and Polygamous Families. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Mother-Daughter and The Unsaid Things/ FILM

By Emily Zou

In my last post on Obachan’s Garden, a Japanese-Canadian documentary, I wrote about how focusing on the stories of mothers and grandmothers is important in disrupting the way that we remember our history and ancestry. For this week’s post, I’d like to write more locally about the wonderful way that a mother-daughter relationship is explored in Greta Gerwig’s 2017 film Lady Bird.

You’ve probably heard of Lady Bird, which made waves three years ago for its painful authenticity; Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut went on to score five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, and Actress. The consensus is clear: Lady Bird has brought together a ridiculously charming cast and created a captivating vision of Sacramento, all with some of the funniest and most heartbreaking dialogue committed to the screen.

But motherhood and daughterhood is the movie. In fact, the original draft for the film was titled Mothers and Daughters. The title Lady Bird instead refers to the name that our heroine, Christine (Sairose Ronan) chooses for herself, a perfect example of how eclectically rebellious she is. Desperate to fly to the east coast, to find “real culture”, Lady Bird follows Christine in her senior year of high school, as she falls in and out of love, smokes weed, gets into college, passes her driving test and performs in musicals. All the while, she fights with her mother, Marion, (Laurie Metcalf), a father dealing with depression, and coming to terms with her family’s status in a class-stratified society.

While ruminating on having to talk to people about creating her film, Gerwig remarks in a 2017 NPR interview that “most of those people are men. And if they were raised with sisters or if they had daughters, they knew what it was… But if they didn’t, they had no idea that that was how women fought and how they loved, too. I think it was kind of like they were getting to look into a world that they didn’t know existed”. As more women take the helm in moviemaking, stories that only we can tell come to light and are shared. And its movies like Lady Bird, that capture how beautifully painful leaving home and loving it only after you do so, can be. It’s a story that honors motherhood and our homes that was created because of the women’s own experiences.

There’s one scene that really sums up what makes this film so special to me, it goes something like this: Christine is talking about her college essay with a nun, she wrote it about Sacramento, and the nun remarks that you can tell how much she loves the town. No, Christine replies, I hate this place, I just pay attention, but the nun asks, gently, “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?” Cut to her Mom, anxiously waiting for her in a thrift store.

See, love is not always gentle, is not always understandable. But the best love is often the kind that perseveres even when it’s not easy, even when it’s not wanted. The realest loves are embarrassing and irritating and overcritical, but you have to love something a lot to believe in it. To love someone not because they are worth loving but because they are someone.

Lady Bird is painful to watch because it’s real. Gerwig has tapped into this very egocentric teenage stream of worries and worries. You change so much in adolescence; you’re in a constant state of shame for some past iteration of yourself and how earnest you were in being that version of you. You’re always cringing because of the things you forgot to love properly or for the things that you didn’t appreciate enough. And of course, you think you know everything, especially once you realize that you don’t.

And so after seeing a version of you (a teenager) portrayed on screen, you have to take a moment to step back from being caught up in your own head and your own worries. You take note of your surroundings, the home you take for granted, and then the people that have become part of your home.

I remember talking about Lady Bird with my mom after we watched it; we were hiking up a mountain and she was displeased that I had watched a movie that deals with sex and homosexuality. She didn’t like it, and in trying to explain why it touched me, I found that there were tears in my eyes as I tried to describe the raw, heartrending ending scene. She pointed out the traitorous evidence of my emotions and laughed at me.

And I guess its moments like that that prove Lady Bird’s point. Gerwig quipped “I don’t know any woman who has a simple relationship with their mother or with their daughter”, and the very messy way we love our mothers and daughters comes across so effectively in her movie.

I don’t even know if I will even be going to campus in the fall (I’ll be a freshman), but I have become acutely aware of this strange, liminal space that I float in, still at home but not really belonging to it anymore. We owe such an existential, unpayable gratitude to our mothers for all of the trouble they went to allow us to live our little lives. I don’t really talk to my mom much these days, but even when we do, whatever I say never seems to be enough to capture just how deeply I am in her debt. How do you even begin to walk around all of the unsaid things?

I haven’t the faintest clue. But I’ll place my faith in whoever is penning my coming of age story, hoping that they’re as fond of me as Gerwig was of Christine. That it’ll all turn out okay, that I’ll finally have the courage to say Thank you.

(Even if it’s only when I’m 460 miles away).