The Mommy Card: Feminism and Motherhood

At my beautiful (or as his dad’s strict gender role mentality would correct me, “handsome”) nephew’s second birthday party about a month ago, I noticed a stack of brightly colored business cards depicting a stick figure family frolicking in the park. Not for the mom’s photography business, these were so-called “Mommy business cards,” designed to be exchanged among moms for the purposes of setting up play-dates with their respective children. As Mama described them as I expressed my incredulity over the existence of such a product, “They’re business cards for women who wish they had real jobs.”

Blue-Owl-Family-Mommy-Business-Card_1A quick Google search nets a whole list of paper product sites that cater specifically, or at least have a dedicated market for, Mommy Business Cards. Popsugar’s parenting off-shoot, “lilsugar,” breaks down a few of the options:

• “Vistaprint: Vistaprint is a longtime online purveyor of regular, affordable business cards, and seeing the opportunity, it jumped on the mommy card bandwagon. It now offers tons of cute design templates for mom cards that are easy to customize and order online.

• The Mommy Card: Run by an actual mommy, The Mommy Card features well-designed templates for moms and dads. Parents have the option of including one or several photographs on the card or none at all.

• Paperlicious Momager Cards: Paperlicious calls its version “momager calling cards,” and its designs are pretty simple and clean
looking. They get points for using 100 percent recycled fiber paper.

• Moritz Mommy Cards: Artistic types will appreciate the Moritz designs, which are beautifully detailed and sophisticated.

• A Touch of Whimsy: These mommy cards are hip and modern, featuring bold argyle patterns and the super trendy owl motif.

Comments on this particular article range from, “this is one of the most pretentious things I’ve ever seen” to “I can see how a stay-at-home would want something like this . . . it’s not for me though” to “If you don’t want to give people your professional card, a personal card is a great way to go.”

mommy-calling-cards-2sides-brown-orange-horizontal-w-envA co-worker mama from Deerfield, IL, a wealthy, white-as-rice suburb, immediately knew what I was talking about when I asked if she had heard of these cards, but she smiled as if to say, “I know that they’re strange,” and remarked that their actual use was rare in her community.

Jenny Lawson, the author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, blogs about Mommy Cards thusly on her blog at the Stir:

As a parent, you are expected to associate with other parents who have children the same age as yours. I’m not sure exactly why but I suspect it’s because bears are less likely to attack large groups of people.

I’ve been told that it’s because motherhood can be isolating and that mommy-and-me playdates are a great way for moms to relax and enjoy each other’s company. I don’t know who started that rumor but it’s extremely misleading, as most mothers leave those groups feeling exhausted, judged, and even more lonely than before. This is why you should choose friends based on whether you like them or not, rather than solely because they had unprotected sex in the same month that your IUD failed.

One of the medium-tier factors in my decision not to have children (which is, I’ll definitely admit, not set in stone at my mid-20s age that I think is definitely too early to know which path your life could take) is that, no matter how amazing of a miniature Gloria Steinem I could raise my child to be, the two of us would have to socialize with *shudder* the “mommy and me” crowd. I don’t want my daily conversations to consist of apples-to-apples formula comparisons and ‘breaking news’ on new-release stroller models. I firmly believe my brain would stroke out in revolt.

But, and it’s a big but (pun always intended for that turn-of-phrase), not all moms are empty shells of mom-info. I would even take the
relative non-risk of putting this out there: most moms are real people! Stay-at-home (my mom was stay-at-home) and working alike, bet you women with used uteruses can converse about books, television shows, politics . . . any number of non-reproductive topics.

Now here’s the other big but. It’s not a matter of can, but of will.  There will always be easy conversations, regardless of parental status.  These are the kinds of discussions that you begin knowing your companion will not only not challenge your points but will even reinforce them with his or her own anecdotal evidence.

For example:

“The rain today is making me feel even more tired than usual!”

“Me too.  And I was running too late to grab a latte this morning.”

“I’m thinking about going out to get some coffee at lunch.  McDonald’s has the new Pumpkin Spice Latte that I want to try.”

“Is it better than the Dunkin Donuts’ Pumpkin Spice?”

As evidenced in the example, often these easy back-and-forths take the form of therapeutic bonding.  We complain, compare complaints, and offer solutions – wash, rinse, and repeat.  When two or more people have a stressor in common (and for all the joys of parenting, it’s still a stressor), their interactions can very easily fall into this same pattern each time they meet.  Each participant must actively choose to relate to one another on a different level if they wish to break the cycle.

So Mommies don’t have to talk about Mommy Stuff all the time.  Just like working women don’t have to give an hour-long play-by-play of their latest office political drama.  A woman’s full identity and capacity shouldn’t ever be able to be summed up in one line, one word . . . or one business card.


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