Don’t Mess with Mamas

Can anyone ever forget that creepy feeling they got when watching Rebecca De Mornay’s nanny character breastfeeding the baby in ‘The Hand That Rocks the Cradle’? Well, kinda creepy. Those of us with chronic milk supply issues have been known to scream out “where’s that crazy breast-feeding nanny when you need her?” as we scan the want ads for a wet nurse.
That movie title comes from an expression that long acknowledges that mamas are powerful. Shaping the next generation is a big job but our power does not stop there. A recent article in the New York Times quotes a study confirming what we have long known at Mabel’s Labels – mamas can make or break your business. More than ever, women are making the buying decisions for families and looking to each other (and not advertising) for information on products. Mama customers are a force to be reckoned with and you had better serve up top quality product and customer service. If you don’t, a mama can take you down with one blog post and no amount of advertising will dig you out of that hole.

Mamas have solid social networks and a strong online presence where we are willing to share our opinions about everything from what stroller we like best to how many cup sizes we’ve dropped since finishing breastfeeding.

A couple of months ago Motrin got it ALL wrong with the mamas when they put out an ad that slammed baby wearing. That advertisement will likely go down as a case study in the “Do Nots” of marketing classes everywhere. The ad received a strong response: mamas everywhere were talking about it on their blogs, twitter and mama message boards. There was a mad flurry of outrage that caused immediate ad removal and apology. But, it was too little too late – the mamas had spoken and the result is what is now known as “Motrin-gate”.

To see the ad:

If the ad has enraged you, here’s the spoof to cheer you up:

The moral of the story – don’t go messing with the mamas. We are a powerful online force who will voice our objections all over the Internet. Sadly, the folks at Motrin learned the lesson about the hand that rocks the cradle the hard way. We are mamas, and you don’t want to hear us roar!

Is This a Joke?

There have been a couple of recent incidents that made me wonder if I was the victim of a practical joke. Apparently not. Apparently I just have a life where ridiculous things happen. Do you ever feel like maybe you are the punch line? Three events come to mind for me:

1) On a recent 15-hour flight with my five children, a 9-year-old boy who was traveling alone was seated next to me. Yep, that’s right – put child traveling without parents next to the pregnant mother traveling with five. So there I was, reading with him, encouraging him to eat at meal time, setting him up with my kid’s DVD player, tucking him in for the night, etc. When I asked the flight attendant if it was indeed a joke among the airline staff, she simply stated that they had hoped he would just ‘blend in’. I noted that while I may be a bit thick at times, I did happen to notice the extra child for those 15 hours.

2) Last week I e-mailed our local soccer organization requesting that one daughter be placed on the same team as a little friend in the neighbourhood. I explained that I was having my sixth c-section at the beginning of soccer season and my kind neighbours had offered to help out with car-pooling. The soccer club responded saying there were no guarantees, then went on to say they were short volunteers and would I please coach or convene the league this season. OK, wasn’t the whole point of my request that I can’t even get my own kid to her games?? No, I’m not going to volunteer to coach or convene the league!

3) Report cards came home. One evening daddy-o and I entertained each other reading the canned report card comments out loud, tears of laughter rolling down our faces. Some of my personal faves included:

“She uses planning skills effectively to create media texts for different purposes and audiences.”

If anyone knows what that means, please fill me in.

“He should explore a variety of conventions and techniques encountered in familiar media.”

Ummmm, OK, we’ll get working on that one.

“She demonstrates traveling in a variety of ways using different pathways with a considerable degree of skill.”

Does that mean she can skip in one direction and then quickly gallop in another? Wow, I knew my kids were clever but this takes the cake. Clearly all of the money I’ve dumped into dance and gymnastics is really paying off.

So if someone out there feels like jumping out and yelling “you’re on Candid Camera”, I’m ready for you but I have a funny feeling that I could be waiting a while.

New Year’s Resolutions:The Anti-List

Don’t we suffer enough? Is it really necessary to put extra demands on ourselves just because we flipped another page in the calender? Personally, I have given up such luxuries as sleep and sitting down while eating since 1999, and I have the feeling I’m not alone. Did you miss the memo confirming that we’re doing the toughest job on the market – parenting small kids?

Every January 1st we set ourselves up with irrelevant and impossible goals, leaving us feeling like failures when we don’t achieve them. Mamas should really be exempt from this “resolutions” tradition. In fact, maybe we should take it one step further and have some anti-resolutions. I think two biggies on the list should be:

1) I will not diet.

The notion of depriving oneself of food when we indulge in so few pleasures is bordering on cruelty. Sure it’s good to be healthy but there’s nothing unhealthy about having the well-earned muffin top. Worry about that later and for now put a sign on your fridge door that says “Can you pinch an inch? Do you give a shit?”

2) I will not get suckered into a gym membership.

Time to get real – women who don’t even go to the bathroom alone are not likely to become regulars at the gym. Gym memberships are only wise investments once you no longer have a small child handing you toilet paper and flushing for you. Until then, build up a sweat the good old-fashioned mama way – chasing kids around the park, pushing double strollers through the neighbourhood, and hauling around a toddler, baby and three bags of groceries all at once.

If you just can’t start 2009 without some sort of plan for change, try these on for size:

1) I will not feel guilty.

Cut yourself some slack already. Chances are you’re not the perfect mother, partner, friend and sister because she is a mythical creature. Just try to be patient and do your best. When you screw up, just try to do better next time. Guilt takes up a lot of energy and energy is something we mamas need to conserve.

2) I will not care what people think.

Easier said than done, but worth every bit of time and energy you sink into it. You’re the mama and the boss of your little peeps. Who is better suited to call the shots – you or your meddling in-laws or the nosey neighbour? Go with your gut and to hell with the rest of them. You can even say that to them if you like.

So mamas, here’s to us for 2009! Let’s agree that we’ll consider 2009 a success if we get through it with our last few strands of sanity still intact.
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