Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Judging Mommy (or Shweesh! One Dang Long Post!)

As you know, I'm a momocrite who has plenty to say about moms who tweak my vibe. This ranges from infant edumoms to strident athleti-moms to humorless twitmoms to perky dullmoms to smug multimedia moms and so forth. All that said, I reserve my greatest judgment for those moms who see fit to judge badmoms most harshly.

Yes, yes, the irony is not lost on me. But let me make a distinction: I think it's good to bash moms who think they're on top. But bashing moms who are down? Not for me. I don't want to talk about Britney here. I want to talk about this freaky woman named Nancy Grace who heads up this insane so-called "news" show, which I have insanely been watching while stashed temporarily in my father's vacation apartment in Crabtown during the course of my move. And in this my father's apartment television is available to me and anyone who knows me well knows that when I see television I become insanely addicted to it and cannot believe it and must simply talk about it as much as possible while in the throes of its miserable and shamefully delightful clutches.

Meaning that every night now I flick on the Teevs for vast blocks of time. I might start with Rock of Love, and then I tune in for a bit of Flavor of Love, this indescribable piece of nonsense involving onetime Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav, a tiny little whacked out man waving chicken wings at various potential love matches. Only one thing stops me from watching Flavor Flav for too long: when he starts making out with gigantic Brigitte Nielsen (whom he calls Bridget), I look for something else. *Those of you who have seen this guy: Did you know: Flavor Flav is a classically trained pianist? Freaktastic!

BACK TO THE POINT: Last night I couldn't stomach seeing Flav and Bridget, so I ended up on watching this incredibly nasty and graceless Nancy Grace woman unfolding her incredibly nasty little show before my disbelieving eyes. I am probably the last person on the earth who had not known of NG prior to last night's TV marathon. For anyone else still blissfully unaware of her: she is this witchy little ball of anger with a furiously shellacked head of golden hair that seems itself to send messages of ZERO TOLERANCE and HOT DAMNIT I'M A REPUBLICAN! and so forth. Moving on to what really ticked me off:

Last night Nancy spent about thirty minutes on a BREAKING NEWS STORY about a woman who went out to ostensibly buy birthday presents for her 9-year-old boy and instead spent the night out, drunk, and only returned in the morning to find policemen waiting for her. Apparently her little boy had called 911 and though he hadn't said anything on the line, the cops came anyway to find him looking after his 2-yr-old sister. Or something.

Okay. So OBVIOUSLY this is a horrible story. And OBVIOUSLY this drunk woman is a freak show and a menace and a bad parent in this particular moment of her surely quite miserable life. But there's another dark side to this and it's the shellacked demonhead dispensing fury and judgment from the seat of her news show. Seriously, I could not believe the venom with which this Nancy Grace judged the wayward mother. She went completely ape, and more or less uttered a stream of wounded outrage for half an hour because it's all deeply personal to Nancy Grace. From what I can see Nancy is or was some kind of lawyer. Maybe even a judge. Which would make sense for she sat at her desk fulminating and frothing at the mouth over this BREAKING NEWS STORY and passing lavish judgment on the shamed losermommy for a good half-hour, without pause. She had a panel of experts on the show too, but whenever they started speaking about rash legal judgments or not taking children away from the mother quite yet because they didn't have enough facts and the woman had never done this before, yadda yadda, Nancy interrupted and practically levitated with anger. I firmly believe that had she been within physical range of this sad pathetic woman, Nancy herself would have personally throttled her. Because Nancy is a new mother, a point to which she alludes to throughout her show.

Which brings me to my very long-winded point: self-righteousness and outrage at bad mothering. This is what makes me most ticked off of all. Ayelet Waldman wrote about this phenomenon far better than I can. And it is a phenomenon: this desire mothers have to cast blame onto those who are down. This need of "good" sanctimommies mothers to fall upon "bad" mothers with such devoted impassioned glee.

Nancy Grace pointed out correctly that the children in this case were endangered by their mom's reckless, selfish, etc. etc. act of abandonment. I am sure that mom will be prosecuted. I am sure she will lose her children. Maybe she deserves it, maybe not. But does this need to make the news and be dissected by a professional white-collar upperclass conservative SANCTIMONIOUS mother, complete with call-ins from similarly outraged mothers? Why? To what end? People, nothing actually happened to these children. Something could have happened, yes, but it didn't. In other words, nothing happened that ought to make it to the top of a news show on CNN no less, and be dissected for thirty minutes. This is the sad miserable crappy story of one family in this country, a story to be hashed out in the miserable small town where it happened. National news? I don't think so.

Here's an irony: maternal love does not make us soft. Love for our children brings out a hardness in us. Or, at least, some of us. Through the process of loving our own children we come to hate those who don't do right by their own. But is it really their children the Nancy Graces of this world are fighting for? Or is it simply that NG and her ilk enjoy kicking a dog when it's down? Because it makes them feel good and right and moral and on top of it. Pa.The.Tic.

This episode reminds me of a conversation thread I participated in a while back on a blog called, ironically, Slackermoms-R-Us ("where moms are cut some slack"). For the record I like this blogger and don't find fault with her post. It's the comments that took me aback. Maybe some of you remember the case of the Missouri pediatrician whose child died of overheating in her car seat? A terrible, appallingly weird accident where the two doctor parents each thought the other had dropped the child at daycare. If I remember correctly the mom had the dad meet her at the hospital where she worked; she was late and wanted dad to drop baby at daycare and park her car. Dad never got the message right; he picked up the car but did not know the baby was in it. The baby died.

A ghastly story. Which the blogger was simply reporting. But the comments! Ohhhh the sense of superiority and certainty with which women weighed in on the mother, on how negligent, how screwed up her priorities etc! Few of these people saw room for human error and absurdly dreadful but plausible misunderstanding between father and mother. Few of these commenting mothers saw room for mitigating facts (that maybe the baby was asleep and in a rear-facing car-seat and thus the father did not know she was in the car; that maybe the part of the mother's cell phone message about dropping off the baby at daycare before parking the car had not made it through to Dad). Mostly the commenters stroked their own maternal egos, and passed judgment, and swore such a thing could never happen to them because, you know, they are good mothers. Unlike this woman. One might read in their words that this woman whose child had just died deserved to have this happen to her. Because she was a bad person who did not care enough about kids. Like that makes any sense. A pediatrician who doesn't care about kids. Especially her own.

Just unbelievable. I think only I (posting as someone called "Amanda") and one or two other chicks tried to stick up for the poor bloody woman. Just imagine her life: First, she loses her child under circumstances so cruel and devastating as to be almost surreal. Second, she has to face the smug mothers of America. The Nancy Graces in houses everywhere. So for this mother, it's a double dose: I'm sure she blames herself. And just in case she doesn't, we'll do it for her.

As you can see, the mood is light here in the Crabcorner. I blame it on watching that toss, NG. Because when I see other mothers beating a mom when she's already in the gutter, I don't know about you, but I feel for the target. Even if she's a bad mother. If anything I identify with the bad mother more in these circumstances because I don't want to and can't connect to the good mothers strapping the badmommy to the ducking chair. If it means choosing between Nancy Grace and the bad side, I know where I'm headed. Heck, maybe that drunkmommy was watching Nancy Grace that night and thus simply had to dash out on her kids and drink herself into a coma.

Sorry to be a titch humorless today and a lot verbose. It's all this moving, man. And the TV. Get me away from the TV! It's like a car accident. I have to look. Especially when it gets late. But tonight I'm skipping all depressing news shows, from Barack's losing his big edge to NG's losing it in general. Instead I think I'll watch something worthy. Like Charles Bronson in Deathwish 4: the Crackdown.

Anyone else feel the self-righteous twinge of self-righteous anger when self-righteous moms get all...self-righteous on each other?

New post today at the bloglet: Help me answer the question, "Mom, when am I getting a baby sister?" Because my first answer ("When your dad gets another wife") isn't really working well for Crabtot.


Matter Of Fact Mommy said...

i don't think anyone has commented BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T HAD TIME TO READ THE ENTIRE POST... jeez, that was a long one! but i'm with you 100%. i remember a story last spring/summer, i think - where a woman left her baby in the car all day and the kid died (pretty sure it was a different story than the one you reference) and i was the ONLY mother in my office to STICK UP FOR neglectfulmommy.

anyway, awesome post. reading this post reminded me of how you inspired me to start blogging. to give all non-sanctimommies a place to chat and stuff.
as far as the baby sister question... you had better get started, you don't want a screwed-up only child, DO YOU?! ;)

workinthatpreppy said...

tell her...she's so perfect, she's all you need? i wrote a post yesterday about over doing it, but edited to say count my blessing...i need to get real...

workinthatpreppy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jwoods said...

My take on the crazy-judgmental-mom (Nancy Grace, in this case) is that it's the only way she can deal with the scariest part of motherhood: the knowledge that her kids are vulnerable, too. "If I do everything right and am totally completely perfect in every way, nothing bad will ever happen to my kids--bad things happen to kids with bad mommies, not kids with perfect mommies like me." That's the thinking.

But here's the thing: we have friends whose 5-year-old boy died of cancer. They are excellent parents, good people, take good care of their kids, and he died anyway.

I think mothers like Nancy Grace just lack the cojones (or, if you prefer, emotional maturity) to understand that we're all human, we all make mistakes and that horrendous things happen to people whether they make mistakes or not.

Whoa, sorry to bring down the mood here. But the NGs of the world really get to me...

Anonymous said...

If you're tired of self-righteousness, the whole Deathwish cycle of movies might be one to skip.

Crabmommy said...

you HILARIOUS beast! You caught me at my most self-righteous.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Grace makes me absolutely crazy. I am pretty sure she isn't a mother, however, if she were ... her children most likely would abandon her for a night on the town.

It is not her point of view that bothers me most but the manner in which she delivers it. She speaks as though she has some sort of 'all knowing powers' into the minds and motives of others.

The term 'alleged' has been stricken from her vocab.

While were beating up on CNN anchors, OH MAN would I love to kick Lou Dobb's arse!

Emily L. said...

Love your blog!
On a Tv bender myself, but rescued by Mo'nique! She was doing stand-up at a women's prison and saying "I am one step away from being you"..."one bad decision away.."

Going to try to apply this to all the mommy-nesses that bug. Let's make it a game! Figure out what it would take to put you in their shoes. --- Especially diverting when you want to spank THEIR kids.

kpmac said...

Nancy Grace is vile, as are others of the same ilk. But what passes for news in general these days is not much better. On that subject, I enjoyed reading this.

I don't have much to add. You've said it all. Love your blog and bloglet. So glad I've found you.

tonypark said...

Random observation #2...

The word S(CH)WAG was used in a movie I was watching on a business flight the other day. The movie, Juno, about a teenage pregnancy, was a bit boring, but the SWAG reference related to stuff new mothers get at baby showers.

My observation is this...when you hear a new word (courtesy of the crabmom in this case), why do you then start hearing it everywhere?

Is it a word that is being increasingly used or have my brain and ears simply become attuned to it and are now searching it out?

Anonymous said...

I've never seen NG or heard of her until now, but now I have no desire to know any more! God she sounds like horror on wheels. I'm with you on the tendency of santimommies to jump on the holier-than-thou bandwagon. Sickens the hell out of me. I usually end up sticking up for the beaten down one, and then get these looks and comments...ooooh!
[Just realized you had your own special little blog outside of the cookie one...I'm quick on the uptake!)

Mary Anna said...

I LOVE to HATE Nancy Grace. I oftentimes catch her during the 2 a.m. feeding with my little leech. Apparently she won fame during the OJ trials or some BS like that and now that she finally found a hubby and had her twins, she's the best mother ever. In fact, she invited you to nominate other good moms like her to be profiled on her website!

Anyhoo, I do a killer NG impersonation - it's too bad I haven't put one up on youtube yet.

I think we have all done something that other mommies would find appalling and we all need to remember that we're not as perfect as our children think we are (nor are we as bad as our mothers think we are!).