Guest post by Megan of Velveteen Mind
I’m sick of Matt Lauer calling me names. We get along well enough over coffee every morning, though our conversations can be a little one-sided. However, over the last few months, he’s been getting a little too zealous in the name game.
If I’m not a Soccer Mom, I’m an Alpha Mom. If I’m not a Security Mom, I’m a Slacker Mom. I can’t just be a mom looking to go back to work after my kids begin school full time, no, I have to be a Comeback Mom. And please don’t make me register on the Good Mom or Bad Mom list. It never ends with these labels! Any NASCAR Dads out there have my back on this one? High five! Shake-n-Bake!
All of these labels for parents are getting tiresome. And it doesn’t end with parents. I heard a radio interview the other day about certain presidential candidates having the edge with Single Anxious Females, aka SAF’s. What? Are you kidding me? They need a name? A category? Metrosexuals certainly did and, look, it got them a TV show on Bravo!
Alas, it is all about marketing.
Shameless marketing, to be specific. While watching the TODAY Show on NBC (okay, okay, that’s where I see Matt Lauer every morning) a few weeks ago, they had on an author and her accomplice/ coiner-of-phrases talking about Alpha Moms, the subject of the author’s book or website or current cult du jour. When the interviewer asked the accomplice about how she came up with the term “Alpha Mom,” the woman actually said, “Well, [the author] needed a title for her book…” and then got a sort of startled deer-in-the-headlights look on her face. Oh, honey, you aren’t supposed to openly acknowledge that you came up with the term for marketing purposes only! You are supposed to at least pretend that it has some kind of relevance.
Ah well. Who are we kidding? And I’m such a sucker for it.
Just consider my coffee mug. Sitting here contemplating my mommyblogger coffee mug (because I am a Coffee Drinker, not a Tea Drinker), I would be a fool not to mention my current favorite distinctions: MommyBlogger vs. ThinkingBlogger. Do those two need to be mutually exclusive? And yet they seem to magically draw some kind of line around us, pigeonholing us, boxing us in and away from a larger audience. A larger community.
While at the playground the other day, I watched my toddler son running around with all of the kids, playing a little bit of tag, a little bit of hide and seek, a little bit of pretend tea party, a little bit of “race me!” He seemed to be oblivious to the fact that these games were being run by mini-gangs, mini-mob families. And honey, you are not a “made guy!” What are you thinking? What if they don’t want you in their group?
He didn’t seem to notice the lines I had drawn around these little groups of kids. You know, the GAP kids, the shy kids, the bad kids, the awkward kids, the bully kids, the too-old-for-babies kids. Heck, even the girls and the boys. He saw no barriers. He saw only potential friends. So he moved effortlessly in and out of the groups, never hesitating, and having a ball.
The labels were meaningless. But had he given them power, they would have prevented him from making a playground’s worth of friends.
While I was in college, I heard a friend respond to a question of whether or not the girl he was currently dating was his girlfriend or not that “my label maker is broken this week.” No more needling, no more questions, that was that. It was so simple and effective. And such a sound point. Just let them be. It’s enough just trying to figure it out for themselves.
Man, there is a mighty big playground out there. And my label maker is broken this week, so let’s see what new friends I can find.
Guest post by Megan of Velveteen Mind