Be Back Soon...

Much like our beloved television show, Mad Men, we will be taking a hiatus. Unlike Mad Men's staff, it's not because we're negotiating large salaries. We'll be off for a few weeks as one of us travels and the other moves her household across town, but we're looking forward to more discussion of manners and modern motherhood in the weeks to come.

Friday Frivolity: The Princess and the Pantyhose

So, maybe Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (nee Kate Middleton), is technically a duchess, but if People magazine is to be believed, the wife of Prince William is currently responsible for a remarkable resurgence in sales of the 70’s and 80’s staple, nude pantyhose. In photos of her recent tour of North America, the duchess can be seen in a variety of fashion forward dresses, skirts, and yes, sheer stockings. Amused? Intrigued? Want to know more? Then, we recommend The Great Pantyhose Debate on What Kate Wore, or Can Kate Middleton Bring Back Pantyhose? on Jezebel. Just don't blame us if you find yourself, in a fit of nostalgia, running out to buy a package of L'eggs.

* image of K.M. from People
* image of L'eggs from Favorite Brands of the Boomer Generation. (who knew L'eggs would make the list??) 

Renovation as Right of Passage

There comes a time in many a modern mother’s life, when she decides to renovate her kitchen, or maybe even the whole house.  While this might initially seem like a good idea, there will undoubtedly be times during the process, in which she wonders, ‘why exactly did I sign on for this?’ It could happen when the blaring of power tools at 7:30am makes it impossible for her to hear or speak to her children anywhere in the house.  It could happen when she contemplates the freshly fallen powdery dust covering the dresser tops, the mantels, the entire household, and wonders what toxic and neuron-killing contaminants lurk therein. If these two renovation hazards don’t get to her, then the unstoppable, never-ending teeny tiny questions and decisions most certainly will.  Cabinet knobs or handles? Polished chrome? Satin Nickel? Antiqued brass? What exact shade of white for the trim? What will look dated? What will stay classic? Where to splurge? Where to remain frugal?

Eventually, she may even avoid her email and voicemail, knowing that they contain something along the lines of, “We need to figure out a spot to put that sewage ejector.” Or, “there's a problem with the cabinets you ordered: we can’t fit them in the door.” Or, “the floor tile has been back ordered for 12 weeks.”

Of course, a modern mother is lucky to be able to renovate and the final product will hopefully be thrilling, possibly even life-changing. The wise renovating mother can take heart in knowing that so many others have gone through this exact scenario, and even lived to tell the tale. She might even think of this “renovation phase” as rite of passage, a major life event that can be both exhilarating and lovely but also with some serious unpleasantness. Not unlike giving birth. Giving birth to a new kitchen/house/ bathroom.  

Friday Frivolity: Sparkling summer socializing

In this season of weekend visits and summer socializing, the modern mother will likely (hopefully) find herself at an adult dinner party. We can only imagine the company will be amiable and the conversation convivial.  However, should our modern mother find herself trapped by an obnoxious bore, or shifting in her seat as the conversation dies amid nervous laughter, we then hope she has read this recent piece from the New York Times: The Life (and Death) of the Party by Bruce Feiler. Mr. Feiler not only offers ideas of how to extract oneself from a monotonous tête-à-tête, but also suggests a few fun general questions, like, “How many of Michelle Bachman’s 23 foster children will vote for her for president?” We could add a few more, like, “if you had to emigrate and could choose any non-English speaking country, which one would you choose?” Or, “What was the first concert you ever went to?”  Readers, do you have a favorite question for general conversation?

Happy reading, and enjoy the weekend!

* image from the Style Files

Toddler Nation

The war is over and those on the side of glamor, sophistication and adulthood have lost.  You may, dear readers, have varied reactions to this news.  The first being, "How do you know?"    Secondly, "Is this such a bad thing?" or thirdly "Viva the revolution!  Down with the ageist separation between adults and children.  Elmo for everyone - put the sippy cup next to the Macallen 17.   Let's push on through til' midnight listening to senseless toddler prattle and the Velvet Underground. "

As for the how do you know - this is a most indelicate story and those of you prone to squeamishness might want to skip to the next paragraph.  The facts, as unbelievable as they are, are these: the modern mother had taken the modern father out to a very nice wood-paneled steak restaurant in Boston for his birthday dinner.   So, the tone  was festive - jacket no tie, dress and heels, linger over each course, make the most of a nice evening out.  Around 9pm the lady of the couple excused herself to freshen her lipstick in the ladies' room.   You can imagine her shock upon entering the lounge to hear a screaming toddler and a mother loudly and repeatedly urging the young person to "push those poopies out."  This diatribe went on for all to hear for the short time the modern mother was there and possibly long into the night.  (!!!!!!) Now, obviously biology is venue indifferent and when you have to go you have to go.  But if the young person was home in bed where she belonged it might have been a much better evening for parent, child and innocent victims alike.  Needless to say, this episode was something of a "buzz kill" for the modern mother.  She has sadly come to expect such behavior in many, many places (library, aquarium, playgroup, coffee houses) but somehow in such an elegant setting this was all so very wrong. 

Now the true libertarian will say, if these parents want to to take their child out for a $100 meal on a Saturday night at 9pm that is their right.  After all we wouldn't want to children to think they are second-class citizens.  Brilliant.  In that case let's give them licenses, voting rights, draft cards and firearms.

Forget the smoking and trans-fats bans in public restaurants, this author wants a toddler ban or at a minimum a 7pm  curfew for all people under 13.

Thank you.

Friday Frivolity - The Mod Modern Mother

If the well mannered modern mother is feeling mod she might want to check out the new-to-us site ModCloth.  

 The retro-inspired site feels a bit Anthro

a bit Betty Draper

and a bit 'it just ran off the runway'! 

Hooray, the modern mother who prefers not to hoof it to the mall now has one more reason to stay home and shop.

  Enjoy the weekend.

Pictures from ModCloth of course.

Mother-In-Law Gone Wild or Daughter-In-Law from Hell? You Decide.

A friend recently sent us an interesting piece from the The Huffington Post.  It is an series of emails from a prospective mother-in-law to her prospective daughter-in-law which the future DIL decided to share with the wider world.  The Huffington Post and London Evening Standard (UK) deem the MILs emails "obnoxious" (HP) and Bourne the "mother-in-law from hell" (LES).

As a mother and someday very far in the future possible mother-in-law one might be surprised to find herself - if the behavior described in the emails is true - thinking the MIL has a point.  However, perhaps the MIL's approach was not the most sound.  A quiet lunch at Claridges or tea at the Ritz might have been a better venue for a bit of coaching.

Dear reader, here are the goods, take a look and let us know what you think.

The Pursuit of Happiness

 On this July 4th the modern mother finds her thoughts turning to the memo that started it all:  The Declaration of Independence.  ( After all, now that John Hamm has signed on for three more years of Mad Men - what else has she got to worry about?)

More specifically she is thinking about the Pursuit of Happiness.  As you have doubtlessly noticed there is much talk these days about 'making happy'.   Which most scholars argue is not exactly what the founding fathers had in mind.

One example of 'making happy' is the article in the Atlantic entitle How to Land Your Kids in Therapy  Why our obsession with our kids' happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods  by Lori Gottlieb.  In summary, the author shares her professional realization that being your child's BFF and doing everything in your power to boost her self esteem might not be good for her in the long run.   Then we have The Happiness Project  by Gretchen Rubin.  #1 New York Times bestselling book, blog, life style and now on Jeopardy!  This 12 Step Year of The Happiness Challenge program is an international success.

 Naturally this modern mother wishes happiness for all.  She certainly doesn't want to be surrounded by melancholy/disgruntled grade-schoolers, friends and citizens.

Yet, one wonders: is happiness something that can be willed or imposed on oneself or ones children?  Can you ever really "make" yourself happy in any real and lasting way?  Is happiness an end in itself or is it a byproduct  of a content life?  Is looking for happiness like looking for love or enlightenment?  Is happiness something that hits you over the head when you have stopped searching for it and gotten on with the business of life?

There is a Harvard Study that has been asking What Makes Us Happy and following the same people for 70+ years.  If you have the time - it is an interesting read.  The brainy folks at Harvard have come up with some good conclusions.  Not to spoil it for you but their conclusion is that happiness has more to do with personal connections, "displaying mature adaptations," education, and a healthy lifestyle than willing yourself happy or having your parents intervene if you get a "B" or don't make the varsity team.

However you spend it, we hope you have a very Happy 4th of July!

Friday Frivolity: Pinterest

This week, one of us has been so obsessed with a new website, that she has not managed to write a single blog post.  How could that be? How could I not find the time to laud the emerging revolt against homework, comment on combating recipe clutter, or ponder if obsessing about a child’s happiness dooms him to misery? What could possibly be more interesting than raging about the lot of the suburban mother?  Well, take a look at Pinterest.

On Pinterest, one can collect images from anywhere on the internet by “pinning” them to your "pinboard." Tag it with a comment or two, and thus assemble an online visual catalogue of decorating ideas, crafty things, books to read, beloved shoes, vacation destinations, whatever.  I might even say it's kind of like a mixture between facebook, tumblr, and Twitter, if I knew anything about Twitter. 

The best part, of course, is social: connecting with friends to see what they’re pinning, or scrolling through the boards of people who are more stylish, sophisticated and better connected. Since each pin has a link back to its original source, browsing through pinterest can lead to some of the funkiest corners of the internet.

Just what every modern mother needs: another way to fritter away hours online. Impossible to resist, when images and ideas like these await: 

Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

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