Mama Madison: Moms go mad (ison)

We can have our own parenting style, can't we?

In her new book Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist living in Paris, extols the virtues of Seine-style parenting. According to the author, French babies sleep peacefully through the night at three months old and eat perfectly balanced meals in lieu of the constant snacking associated with American kids. Her overall take on petit Jacques vs. little Jack? Les enfants Francais appear to be better behaved than their whiny, obnoxious and over-indulged American counterparts.

Hmmm? So French moms stay thin on wine and cheese, get to buy their clothes in the birthplace of haute couture, AND have children that would never make a scene in the checkout aisle at a supermarket? It kind of makes me wonder if the Sorbonne offers a crash course in child rearing. But it does beg the question if one can really perfect this kind of parenting if they don't actually speak French? Or wear a beret? Or if the only "French" food their picky nine-year-old might deign to eat is the "fry"?

It was just about this same time last year when I thought about adopting another hot book-based maternal style, "Tiger-Mom-ing" . The experiment was a bit of a bust, though. I have little doubt my lack of Chinese ancestry might have part of the problem. But the bigger issue was my children's complete unwillingness to stick with a musical instrument at all, let alone practice multiple hours a day. And give up sleepovers? That was a total non-starter for my 12-year-old.

It would probably make sense for me to attempt mastering a cultural parenting stereotype that falls in line with my actual ethnicity. You know, a Jewish Mother. And although no one's written a guidebook recently, I could brush up by reading some Philip Roth.

But I just don't think I have the physical stamina necessary to channel Sophie Portnoy . Becoming "the patron saint of self-sacrifice" and "one of the outstanding producers and packagers of guilt in our time" is surprisingly exhausting. And neither of one of my sons is showing any signs of wanting to be a doctor.

I am a woman who can barely open a can of chicken soup. You can forget about me making it from scratch. Yep, I am motherhood-cliché failure even on my genetic home turf.

But all this has gotten me thinking, could there be such thing as Madison mothering? And if so, could this finally be a parenting style I might be able to master?

I've started pulling together my list of things that would set the Mad City mom apart. For example, is there anywhere else in the world, or the U.S. for that matter, where "recall" might be one of a baby's first words? Or where such a hefty percentage of parents know exactly which car seats are rated highest for old Subarus or late model Toyota Prii?

Where else but in Madison could mothers debate whether their children would have taken full advantage of the proposed Edgewater redevelopment's ice rink? Or consider home schooling not because the schools are too liberal, but because they aren't progressive enough?

I could come up with semi-truisms around baby-wearing, backyard chicken raising and Dansko clogging. After all, I have yet to go to a PTO meeting where the Swedish footwear didn't appear to be mandatory.

But I'm searching for a few more ideas to help flesh out the book -- if you have any, just send them my way. Because Isthmus Parenting: The Surprising Benefits of Raising Kids on X-number of Square Miles Surrounded by Reality has a really nice ring to it. And if Pamela Druckerman and Amy Chua can have success making all other parents feel mildly inferior, I sure want my crack at it, too.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Talking about race with Families for Justice

Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?

Mama Madison: Checking it twice

If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.

Mama Madison: Managing holiday lists

I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.

Girls on the Run of Dane County marks a decade of changing young lives

On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.

Mama Madison: Mom dates are hard

You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.

Mama Madison: No judgments with No Excuse Mom

If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.

Mama Madison: Introducing kids to your CSA box

At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).

Mama Madison: Changing tables, changing times

My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.

From museum to school with MMoCA

"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.

Mama Madison: Coping with toddlers in a Wisconsin winter

I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.

Mama Madison: Melissa Wardy pushes positive messages

I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.