Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fighting over the oxygen mask

Before the attendant started her spiel on a recent flight, my daughter, Faith, leaned over and asked me a question. "Do you mind, if that thing falls down," she said pointing up to the compartment overhead, "Can I try to put it on myself?" In the many times we have been on the plane to grandpa's, she has always been a serious student of flight safety instruction. As a toddler, she took out the laminated card and looked intently at all the pictures, stopping especially at the giant slide coming out of the open door in the fuselage. She knows it's protocol for "adults traveling with children to put the mask on themselves before helping the children." That always seemed so selfish to me, but I guess they don't want the adult croaking just as she pulls that elastic out to stretch over her head. Faith isn't worried about dying, I don't think. She wants to put it on herself because she wants so much to be independent and she's only seven! I'm still walking the tightrope of wanting to encourage her confidence but not wanting her to fly before her wings are strong enough.
This airplane memory and the parenting lesson behind hit came to mind when I got an e-mail news release from a colleague at Macon State College. I thought you might enjoy this:

"Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Contemporary Narratives of Motherhood" will be the topic of a lecture by Dr. Lisa Hammond, associate professor of English at University of South Carolina-Lancaster, at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in the Macon State College Theater. This event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Women’s Studies Association and the Office of Student Life.

For more information, contact Dr. Monica Young-Zook (471-5735) or Dr. Heather Braun (471- 5774).

"Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Contemporary Narratives of Motherhood"

Isn't it always mom's fault? Mothers are consistently blamed in contemporary media and politics for a wide range of troubles in American culture, at the same time that they are held up as romanticized angels in the house. When contemporary women write their experiences of motherhood, they face many preconceived notions of their roles, both with their readers and with their own lives. Negotiating those varied roles and staying true to their own experiences is almost as challenging as comforting a toddler who's fallen off the swingset or a middle-schooler who asked a girl out and got turned down... maybe more, because first Mom has to find out who she is herself.

Lisa Hammond earned her BA from Francis Marion University and an MA and a PhD from the University of Alabama. Dr. Hammond’s scholarly research focuses on American women writers, composition and technology, and gender issues in culture. Her work on parenting rhetoric has appeared in the National Women’s Studies Association Journal; and her latest article, “Revisioning Gender: Inventing Women in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Nonfiction” appeared in Biography. Dr. Hammond, who is also a poet, won the 2006 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize, for her collection Moving House, which was published by Texas Review Press in 2007. She is currently on sabbatical working on her book, Books, Babies, and Blogs: Contemporary American Women Writing Motherhood.


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