MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

By

GENDER DISAPPOINTMENT: What it is, how it feels, how to handle it (LINK)

MEET OUR NEW INTERN! Dee Shaffner (Merritt) is a first-time college student at Cayuga Community College in Fulton New York. Dee is currently workings towards her Associates’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Psychology. She is a single mother to 3 wonderful (and extra silly) little boys, Lucas, Logan, and Liam. In addition to being a mother and a student, Dee also works at Mother Earth Baby and is a La Leche League volunteer.

We are thrilled to welcome Dee for a remote internship in blogging over the course of several weeks. She will be researching and writing on topics related to motherhood, gender, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. She hopes to gain additional insight from her research and share that knowledge. Her desire to support other mothers stems from her personal motherhood struggles as well as from questions and concerns, friends, mothers, even strangers have approached her about through the years, She will share some of her perspectives as part of her internship for MOM.

GENDER DISAPPOINTMENT: What it is, how it feels, how to handle it.

The day of the gender reveal during pregnancy can be an exciting one! When I went in for mine, I was so confident I was going to have a girl. The ultrasound technician concentrated on my belly as I lay under the thin cotton blanket on the table. Then, suddenly, pointing to the grainy image on the ultrasound screen, the tech announced in an excited voice that we were having a boy. My heart sank. This was not anything I was prepared for, no one ever mentioned to me that I could feel devastated about the gender of my baby, I felt so ashamed. All I could think of was how I was told in classes, and from other mothers, that all the effort and pain from pregnancy and labor goes away and nothing else matters when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time. But, I could not imagine holding a baby boy. I felt shattered.

Lying on the table, hearing the technician’s words, I squeezed my partner’s hand and forced out a smile. After I got dressed and left the room, I convinced myself there could be a mistake. The images were so blurry. There was still a chance my baby would come out a girl. Months later, during the labor and then as my baby was delivered, I heard excited voices announcing, “Congratulations. You have a baby boy!”

I felt a wave of disappointment and a surge of shame. These were the same feelings of shame I felt the first time I was told I was having a boy. I didn’t dare say anything out loud. I forced a smile.

This happened to me 3 times. Yes, I am the mother of 3 boys. Over the years I hoped the desire for a daughter would disappear. I love my children and this is not something I need to defend, but my heart still aches for other possibilities. Gender disappointment by definition is when an expectant parent experiences depression or anxiety when the sex of a baby does not match their preference. As I find myself continuing to struggle with my emotions, I have since learned many mothers and fathers also have gender disappointment. Though the journey is different for everyone, complex feelings, sadness, and feelings of longing are all part of this syndrome.

Admitting to gender disappointment can be hard for anyone. A person may feel hesitant to say much about it because they do not want to be judged by others and be seen as ungrateful or neglectful parents. For myself, feeling ashamed was a heavy weight on my shoulders, I love all my boys, but the love did not come at first sight. I had to learn how to love them. Since exploring this topic over the years, I have come to find out that my experiences were not unique. While expressions of gender-fluid behavior are prevalent in contemporary culture, and a mother can still teach her son to sew and a father can teach his daughter how to hunt, some parents continue to experience a lack of connection. They worry that they will never be able to fully bond with their child.

Social pressure on expecting parents can add even more depressive weight. Hearing from a stranger in the grocery store who says things such as “you already have 3 boys, so you should just give up on trying to have a daughter,” makes my blood boil. I have come to assume that these people, in an attempt to make small conversation, just do not really know what to say and they just repeat what has been said in the past, to them.

Other examples, of perhaps well-intentioned individuals wanting to insert themselves into an individual family narrative, can ultimately be unhelpful or even hurtful. A few of these are:

(You do not have any children.) “Oh, when are you going to have children?!”

(You have 1 child.) “Oh, when are you going to have number two?!”

(You have 2 same-gender children.) “Oh, well your next one will be the opposite gender!”

(You have 3 children.) “You are going to have to even those children out!”

(You have 4 or more children.) “Oh goodness! Your hands are full, you should stop having children!”

The comments can hurt. I would always get so bothered when people would tell me, I am a “boy-mom,” no, I am not just a boy-mom, I am fully capable of being a mother to girls too, I am just not one, yet. And, I may never be, but whether I am, or I am not, the deeply personal decision to have a child or not have a child is not something that is up for public scrutiny, nor are the complex feelings many parents grapple with.

Thankfully over the years, there is more support and literature for parents struggling with gender disappointment. We all love and care for our children intensely. But for those of us going through this experience, these emotions might not ever go away. As a mother of boys, I focus on finding ways to bond with my children even if I am not a big fan of dirt, trucks or farts. I also recognize that as humans develop the nuances of sex and gender do not necessarily follow a binary path. I seek moments of abiding joy and acknowledge the importance of seeing every child for who they are, apart from their gendered behavior.

For me, seeking professional help was also very beneficial, Facebook has supporting group pages, there are articles on a variety of websites that share personal experiences. The book Altered Dreams…Living With Gender Disappointment, written by Katherine Asbery, was a source that had helped me at a time when Google had “no related search.” I have come to realize that it is okay to feel gender disappointment, even if it does not feel right to feel that way. Finding others to talk to about these emotions, cultivating a sense of humor, and reaching out for additional resources are all ways to navigate the complicated terrain of motherhood. It is important to not feel alone on this journey. That is why I am sharing my very personal story here.

By

Community, Caring, and Education [CLICK]

Next_GenerationThe Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M.) is an exhibition and education center dedicated to the exploration of family – past, present, and future. We highlight the many roles of women throughout history and in contemporary culture.

In our museum space we provide mothers, fathers, youth, caregivers, and mothers-to-be insights into what they will experience as parents and how to handle it. We educate them about the emotional and physical aspects of child rearing, exposing them to different global traditions, and giving them insights into the context of mothering in the social sphere in which mothering is done.

Institutions can create a positive sense of community and an increased sense of connectedness. We share library books, films, collaborative art projects, and conferences, often at little or no cost to make cultural literacy available to those who might not otherwise have access to these types of resources.

The need for M.O.M. is highlighted by the work of the feminist movement, the gender agenda, and global women’s health initiatives.

Precedence for M.O.M. has been established through the initiatives of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the International Museum Of Women and the First Ladies’ Library. They are all positive contributors to expanding education about women in history. But our intense focus on the motherhood, fatherhood and caregiving roles opens the conversation to unlimited opportunities for exploration and documentation within the sphere of procreation and sustainability, not to mention how humanity hopes to evolve.

The development of a “Motherhood Movement” during the last twenty years as well as other mother-related literature and the explosion of “Mom Blogs” and awareness of the “Mommy Wars”, have impacted the vast social, economic, and cultural landscape. Thus, the expanded museum exhibit space and educational facility that we envision will be eminently worthwhile. Together we will be putting the subject of motherhood and family on the map.

Our long-term goals include the acquisition of a permanent physical space to house M.O.M. as we continue to develop our traveling exhibits and online initiatives, which include courses in Mother Studies, the MOM Directory, and the student run, Institute For Family Research and Development.

By

Serving the Community & Educating People – YEAR END DONATIONS

Partners_BadgeThe Museum of Motherhood is supported by its founding non-profit 501c3 Motherhood Foundation Inc; serving the community and educating people since 2005 with programming, classes, events, and exhibits. Please support M.O.M. and help us establish a permanent home in a physical location in Manhattan. Any amount helps us continue our activities online and in person and is tax deductible. THANK YOU!

MUSEUM OF MOTHERHOOD CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

btn_donateCC_LG

Early History and Significance KEY FACTS – MOMmuseum.org/MOMmuseum@gmail.com 877.711.6667 — Conceived in 2003. Trademarked and Application for 501c3 Non-Profit Status through Motherhood Foundation Inc., 2005. Traveling exhibits & Conferences and Online Presence 2006-2010. First full-time exhibition space opened UES Manhattan 2011.We are the first and only facility of its kind.
Mission The Museum of Motherhood is a science, art, and history center that explores the subject of motherhood, fatherhood, and family – past, present, and future.   Our mission is to start great conversations, create thought-provoking exhibits and share information and education from diverse, inclusive, multicultural perspectives.
Reach The museum had approximately 20,000 visitors between September 2011-April, 2014 at its 401 East 84th St. location. Gymboree franchise owners Deb Whitefield and Barry Hanson donated a 2,500 square foot space. Annual academic conferences gathered yearly and featured international panels of presenters including participants from Russia, Israel, Brazil, England and Australia, as well as representatives from a wide variety of American universities.Travelers from Angola, Mexico and the Netherlands (to name a few) made the museum a destination. Interns from local colleges and high schools made up approximately 60 volunteer and research participants each year. The museum served the community offering support, classes, and a play space.
Building Needs Goals include obtaining a permanent facility.
Vision The museum programs aim to shed light on caregiving, global family traditions, new technologies, fathers, the art of motherhood and women in society, thus supporting families and educating future generations.
Phased Application The museum was able to leverage community volunteers, and interns, plus a small staff to implement it’s programming, website and mission, but needs a real estate donation and robust executive board for further development. Business took in approximately $4,500 per month plus corporate donations: tours, party rentals and daily play space usage. M.O.M. received a MAP grant from American Alliance of Museums 2012-2013.
Current Status Pop-Up exhibit on display at Manhattan College Aug-Dec. 2014. MOM Conference and Hall of Fame planned, May 2015. Book fair is planned with Barnes and Noble May 6-10th to raise funds for M.O.M. Advisory Board is active. Director is online, blogging with social media, and has three interns and active community volunteers.Please contact founder M. Joy Rose about our current goals.

By

Meet Our New Intern, Jenny [CLICK]

photoA 2010 graduate of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, Jenny Nigro first became interested in the topics of motherhood/maternity during the summer before her senior year. She spent the time both working as a mother’s helper and interning for a non-profit that supported pregnant and parenting teens in her community. In working with the teens, she observed how social institutions (the education and healthcare systems, for example) systematically deny teen mothers options for healthy choices on behalf of themselves and their babies. The resilience demonstrated by the clients of the program empowered Jenny to ask questions about ways to broaden resources for mothers, regardless of race, class, or age. Following college, she spent some time in the domestic violence field – both at the state level with the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence – and the local level, working as a case manager for a domestic violence service provider. She has returned to these questions about expanding access for mothers and is now supporting motherhood in a different way – working as a nanny while pursuing training to become a doula. She is excited to explore her intellectual curiosities about motherhood and society vis-a-vis the immersive platform of the Museum of Motherhood. @Spinningest_Jen

By

Exploring Motherhood In The Academy

Martha Joy Rose has been at the Graduate Center in New York City exploring the subject of motherhood through the Digital Humanities. You can see her blog at the CUNY Commons (CLICK HERE). If you have something to add, please contact Ms. Rose directly: MOMmuseum@gmail.com.

Motherhood in DH

Motherhood in DH

By

Meet Our Newest Blogging Intern, Rozita!

Hi everyone!

My name is Rozita Alaluf, I’m the new graduate student intern for Museum of Motherhood!

Currently, I am a first year MA student in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University.

Born and raised in Turkey, I received my BCom degree with majors in psychology and

international management at McGill University.

I am also a certified yoga teacher who hopes to draw upon alternative therapeutic outlets in addition to established methods.

My interest in women’s well being started truly early. Growing up in a country that

ranks 123rd in the attempt to close gender gap (among 130 countries worldwide), I

learned at a young age how women might suffer in various ways as a result of the social

order. This awareness, combined with my fascination with psychology, led me to

M.O.M. where issues related to women’s health are discussed openly. I am particularly

interested in the role of spirituality and culture in transition to motherhood.

In this blog, I will explore a variety of subjects related to motherhood and women from a

mental health perspective.

Please let me know if there are any topics you’d be interested in reading about!

I hope the conversations started in this blog can inspire all of us intellectually and

encourage constructive actions in our communities.

Warmly,

Rozita

IMG_4076