A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

It’s Time For Mad Men (And Women) to Stop Scorning the Stay-at-Home Mom

Editor’s Note: Sure, it’s been a year since the end of Mad Men, but people get busy and there’s a whole heck of a lot of TV to catch up on. If you haven’t made your way through this series and are particularly averse to having it spoiled, STOP HERE. COME BACK LATER. 


I’m not one to place too much stock in the cultural significance of popular television shows, but it’s been a year since AMC’s popular “Mad Men” series ended, and I’m still thinking about poor Betty Draper – the ultimate cautionary tale for stay-at-home moms.

If you never watched “Mad Men,” here’s a quick debrief: Betty Draper is the archetypal 1950s and ’60s housewife. She gives up her modeling career to stay at home, aimlessly cares for her children, and lives a soulless existence in the suburbs.

Then, in the penultimate episode, she is diagnosed with a terminal disease. It’s cancer, of course: a cancer which she learns has already begun to attack her body and will continue to wither her away. Until she dies.

In a show about advertising, it’s hard to dismiss the subliminal message in Betty’s demise. And, in case you missed it, the episode where Betty learns of her diagnosis aired on Mother’s Day.

While other characters lie, cheat, abandon their children, and engage in other morally and legally inappropriate behavior, their story lines get tied up, allowing them to live happily ever after. Even Don Draper – philanderer, liar, identity thief – finds redemption on a seaside retreat in sunny California. Betty, meanwhile, finds herself on the quick ride to death. All of which proves there is no crime worse than being a bad stay-at-home mom. 

You might argue Betty was a symbol for another era. But today’s stay-at-home mom is under the same type of scrutiny. If you’re too involved, you are a helicopter parent and over-indulgent. If you let your children run free, you’re deemed negligent, or possibly arrested. Sometimes it’s tough to know which way to go. I often vacillate between not letting my children walk down the street without a security detail and shooing them away so I can sit and have my coffee in peace.

Even my own mother (the ultimate arbiter of how bad a mom I am) criticizes me on both counts. The other day she found me helping my son with his school project.

“Why are you doing that for him?” she asked.

“I’m not doing it for him. I’m just helping.”

“He’s old enough. He can do it himself,” she said.

“He’s having a hard time,” I said.

“You’re babying him. You don’t need to do everything for him.”

The next day she came over to find the kids playing outside in the yard. She walked inside the house and saw me typing at my computer. Okay fine, I was playing “Candy Crush.” But she didn’t know that, so her response seemed a bit harsh.

“You ignore your kids all the time,” she said.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom for a time, before returning to work when we were older. She played both roles. Yet, her criticism of my parenting style magnified a few years ago after I quit my “real job” to become the primary caregiver. Sometimes I’m not sure if there’s a subliminal message in her disapproval.

I’m at the stage where stay-at-home mom does not feel like an apt descriptor anymore. (To be honest, it never did. I mean, rarely am I home. As the old joke goes, if I’m a stay-at-home mom, why am I in the car so much?) The fact is, few of us will be stay-at-home moms forever. Our children grow. Many of us will find our way back to gainful employment. If we’re lucky it might even be meaningful. 

When that time comes, how will we view those who stay home with children for a period of time? Will we be more accepting, or will the disdain for the ‘50s style housewife still linger? And years from now, how will we react as our sons and daughters raise their kids, and make the hard choices regarding whether both parents work or one stays at home?

Of course I’ll be passive-aggressively judging my future daughter-in-law – that goes without saying. But will I accept that everyone else is doing the best they can, no matter which choices they make? 

By the end of “Mad Men,” even Betty Draper began to transition from her stay-at-home mom status to go back to college. But re-entry into gainful employment won’t be her epithet. It’s 1970, and the treatment for her lung cancer won’t come in time for her to earn her degree. Her fate is sealed. 

And ours? Is death, metaphoric or real, still an acceptable narrative arc for someone who stays at home? “Mad Men,” the series, is over. We can only hope that the end is in sight for our ailing view of the stay-at-home mom.

 

Comments20x20 ExportCreated with Sketch.
Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

It's a girl for Chanel Iman!

Iman and her husband, New York Giants football player Sterling Shepard, welcomed their daughter into the world on August 10 and called her Cali Clay Shepard. "You were worth every push [and] every contraction," the proud mama captioned an Instagram photo of the happy family.

The popularity of the name Cali has declined since the name peaked in 2014, when it was ranked 201 on the Social Security Administration's list of the most popular baby names. It's since fallen to 288. (The alternative spelling made popular by a character on Grey's Anatomy, Callie, ranks higher, at 188, but also peaked in 2014).

The popularity of her name may be waning, but little Cali herself is already very popular online. She's four days old and her Instagram account already has 7,600 followers.

It makes sense that Cali is already active on Instagram (well, her parents are active on her account) as her mama announced her pregnancy on the platform back on Mother's Day.

Congrats to Iman and Shepard on baby Cali's arrival! We can't wait to see more beautiful baby pictures on Instagram. 🎉

You might also like:

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

Most moms claim to be wine's biggest fan but often admit to knowing little about what's what (or even how to buy wine they like). And while you don't have to be a sommelier to buy a great bottle of vino, having a few wine smarts in your back pocket can mean the difference between a substandard cork pop and the perfect sip.

That's why we partnered with the wine pros at Winc, a subscription service that creates and curates wine from all over the world, to develop this simple primer that will help you identify the flavors you like best—and get them delivered to your doorstep.

Where to start

The simplest place to begin is between red and white.

In general, most people have an idea if they prefer one or the other, which is why Winc lets their members start the selection process with that simple question. Red wines tend to be more full-bodied, higher in tannins (more on those later), and are typically served at room temperature or slightly chilled. Whites are often lighter, crisper, and are typically served chilled.

But the great thing about the wine world is that there are always exceptions to the rule, which is why Winc refines monthly suggestions based on user feedback. "If you enjoy the wine and want to understand why, go on our site and look at how earthy it was, where it's hitting on the flavor scale to help you learn more about your palate," says Brooke Matthias, Winc's Director of Product.

Light vs. Full-bodied

Remember those tannins we mentioned? They're a naturally occuring compound in grape skins, seeds, and stems that give wine a more dominant, heavy flavor. (Think about steeping a tea bag for too long. That bitterness? That's essentially the same effect tannins have.)

While some people dislike the drying sensation tannins cause when drinking wine, they also help create wine that marries well with food because the wine won't disappear on your palate after eating something meaty or fatty.

If you're looking for something lighter, reach for a wine with a higher acid content. Acidity can be compared to tartness (think of biting into a lemon wedge) and typically produces the same "puckering" response of drinking something slightly sour, like lemonade. In wine, it tends to give your pour a crisp, clean sip without a lot of aftertaste or heaviness on the tongue.

Sweet vs. Dry

Many newbie wine drinkers often prefer something with a sweeter taste until they've had a chance to diversify their palate, but sweetness in wine isn't the same as sweetness in dessert.

"There's a difference between residual sugar and something that has a higher fruit concentration," Matthias says. "A lot of people think their wine is sweet, but it's actually fruity. And just because it's high in fruit flavor doesn't mean there's residual sugar content in the wine."

Sweet-tasting wines often taste strongest on the front of the tongue (where the majority of sweet-sensing taste buds occur). Drier wines can be either higher in tannins (for a more bitter flavor) or higher in acidity and tend to have less fruit concentration.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Of course, the best part of figuring out which wines you prefer is experimentation! That's where Winc comes in.

When members first sign up, they take a flavor quiz to determine their current taste preferences. From there, Winc puts together a customized box of four wines based on your preferences—and delivered right to your doorstep. (Note: Someone 21 years or older must be present to sign for the box.)

With each monthly delivery, you can look up your wines to learn more about what you like about them (are they earthy? fruity? full-bodied?) and rate what you like best. Those ratings help Winc's experts to carefully select your future deliveries to cater to your specific palate.

Prefer to take charge of your own destiny? Winc also lets you sub in bottles of your choice (the perfect opportunity to try the wine with the cool label or the funky-sounding name).

With each delivery, you get a more and more personalized experience targeted to your own taste buds—and learn more about what makes your perfect pour. Now that's something we can raise a glass to.

And just for Motherly, enjoy two complimentary bottles (a $26 value) when you order from Winc. Happy shopping, mama!


Currently, Winc does not ship to Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Utah.

This article is sponsored by Winc. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


You might also like:

In many ways, having a baby in Alaska is much the same as in Alabama: All babies need food, love and care. And all parents are responsible for navigating the life transition. But the expense associated with welcoming a baby? That sure does vary widely based on where in the United States the baby is born.

After assessing 26 key metrics—including infant care costs, child care centers per capita, delivery charges and more—data analysts from WalletHub determined Vermont is the most ideal state to welcome a baby in 2018.

On the other end of the spectrum, parents in Mississippi were disadvantaged by the state's higher infant-mortality rates and lower distribution of midwives or OB-GYNs per capita. (Although folks in southern states generally saved the most on average infant-care costs.)

"If local authorities want to attract families in their area—and for a host of societal reasons, it would behoove them—they should continue to strive for greater public safety and more family-friendly environments," Jeff Wallace, a business advisor and assistant professor at Snow College, tells WalletHub.

To make the rankings as credible as possible, the experts at WalletHub divided the 26 measures into four categories: cost, health care, baby-friendliness and family-friendliness. Then each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing favorable conditions, such as low costs or better delivery outcomes.

While the list is focused on the best places to have a baby, experts who weighed in on the findings said there are much longer-term implications. "Children are more likely to be successful when they grow up in communities that feel safe, have families that are connected to each other, and offer support services if the family needs them," says Steven Meyers, Ph.D., Director of Undergraduate Psychology Programs and Initiative for Child and Family Studies at Roosevelt University. "Local authorities can establish these as priorities when they decide how to allocate resources."

Here are the 10 states we should look to for examples:

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.