"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Recongizing the Diversity of urbanMamas

We were surprised the other day, when we heard in passing that urbanMamas seemed to be a homogeneous community geared toward "privileged" stay-at-home moms.  The judgment felt ironic to hear, especially since this site is maintained and operated in the off-hours by a handful of mamas, who are all full-time working mamas.  We receive many emails and requests in any given day, and we do our darndest to publish all of them.  We hear from stay-at-home mamas, single mamas, working mamas.  We are middle-income mamas, lower-income mamas, and higher-income mamas.  We are mamas who live in Portland, and we are mamas who live beyond.  We are all of it, here on urbanMamas.

Maybe it's us, but we pride ourselves in the diversity among us.  We love all of you, mamas and papas and many other caregivers, who come to urbanMamas to contribute your honest thoughts and respectful perspectives.  And, they are not all the same.  It rang true when we flipped through comments in a recent thread on saving for college.  We are in different places, financially.  We are different parents, philosophically.  We are have different backgrounds, inherently.

We all have struggles as mamas, and we are here to share thoughts, commiserate, find support.

Certainly there is a certain profile of the mama who feels most comfortable actively participating in our daily conversations.  But, we know there are more of you who read than who comment.  We are certain that our urbanMamas fabric is complex and deep.  We have heard from over a hundred of you as you introduced yourselves a la We Are Family, and we want to hear from you again.  How do you consider youself privileged or underprivileged?  Are you a stay-at-home mama, work-at-home mama, work-out-of-home mama?  Are you single or partnered, car-free or car-less, straight or gay?  Are you white, black, brown, red or purple?  How do you feel marginalized or alientated by our conversations?  How can we, urbanMamas, provide you with more of a voice, represent you more? 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I am a single full-time working mama and have been for the last 7 years. We have a good life, but not good enough that I feel "privileged" by any means. I work outside the home 5 days a week and inside the home 1 day a week, and that is in addition to my work as a mama! I am white, I am straight, I am partnered. I feel sometimes alienated by conversations here because my child is 10 and I feel the bulk of information here is geared toward parents of younger children. However, I don't feel as though I need more of a voice, and I am the only one who can represent me more. Here I am! :D

I have enjoyed hearing about and learning from the many viewpoints exchanged here at urbanMamas, both those who share my "profile" and those who don't. I agree with Staci that the conversations seem aimed at those with younger children but I do benefit from that since my child is only 2.5 years. I do recall many posts aimed at children a bit older, which I enjoy from a "what I might expect" perspective. I am living in Portland, married, have 1 child, and do not garner an income presently but I feel privileged in that I am getting to do what I want to do on an almost daily basis...basically, that my "wants" are matching up with my reality.

This is just one resource I use to find out about issues in my community which may affect my family and I understand that those who post are going to be those who have found or taken the time to participate. While some of my personal characteristics are not going to change (race/sex), others will or may (financial status/age, etc.) and so I relish opinions and topics of all sorts--I likely will benefit that information sooner or later!

I am a married, white, sah mama with a 2.5 yr old and a second on the way. We live in inner SE Portland and are FAR from wealthy, partly due to the fact that I am not working, but that is fine with me. I feel privledged to live in an area where we can survive on only one income, to have some great friends with kids of a similar age, and to have as many resources as we do for families in Portland. Not every topic posted interests me, but many of them do. I check up on urbanmamas just about every day. Having been to other mama-related message boards, I am always impressed with the extremely thoughtful and intelligent comments on urbanmamas. I can't tell you how many times I've been heard saying "I just read a really interesting post on urbanmamas..." 99.9% of the time I just read the comments, and only once or twice have I ever commented. I love urbanmamas!

As a (white, Jewish, married)writer and stay-at-home mama, I find UM to be a fascinating window into the world of mothers on different paths than me, particularly work-outside-the-home mamas (since, by default, most of the friends I hang out with during the day are also at home).

I do feel that at times there is a slight bias among commenters (not UM itself!) that we can all afford to shop at New Seasons or take pricey vacations. However! Someone not in that demographic almost always steps up to make a gentle reminder that we're an economically diverse bunch around here. Honestly, I think anyone who characterizes Urbanmamas as a hangout of "the privileged" has simply not been around for very long.

As for me, in my own scheme of things, I do feel privileged, simply because my husband and I got into the housing market here 10 years ago and were able to buy a house one modest income could pay for. I realize this puts me in an enormously fortunate position, even though the life we live is not what anyone would describe as lavish.

Like Rasa, I find that I enjoy lots of different topics here - even things that don't affect me so much anymore (anything involving babies and toddlers makes me realize how far I've come!)

And when I read the Activistas section, I feel very fortunate to have found a diverse community of mothers who want to make a difference.

I am a married, white, stay-at-home mama who is starting to try to also work at home. I have a 5-month old daughter. I'd consider myself smack dab in the middle of middle class. The budget is definitely tighter now that I'm not working fulltime and I'm always on the lookout for free fun.

I started reading Urban Mamas when I was pregnant. From the perspective of someone who has a new baby, I find that Urban Mamas tends to focus on older kids-- but that's okay. I'm looking forward to all the fun activities suggested by mamas on this website.
I especially like the 'free' or 'inexpensive' discussions for activities, clothes, and toys. I also enjoy the parenting discussions--i.e. sleep.
From an economic standpoint, I'd say this website is pretty diverse. People often suggest a wide range of activities-- from free to pricey-- to do with kids. It also seems quite diverse in lifestyle, too.
I wish I could be more helpful with things I'd like to see on this site.. but I think it's terrific as is! I'm always learning new things about our community. Thanks so much, Urban Mamas!

I am a white, married, part-time- outside-the-home-working mama. I can't afford to stay-at-home full-time and can't afford to work full-time because daycare costs make it pointless (I work evenings and weekends and the kids go to grandma's once a week). We have a full life but our only vacations are camping and going out to eat or date-night is very rare. Our clothes come from resale shops or are hand-me-downs but are perfectly lovely. We shop at New Seasons because we prioritize sustainable, local foods but really watch the sales, buy in-season produce and generally eat simple, inexpensive food. And we do a lot of u-pick in the summer.

We consider ourselves lucky since there are so many who have so much less than we do. The only reason I might apply the label "privileged" to our family is because we could make more money but we chose our jobs to minimize our stress levels and maximize family-time. Not the traditional definition of privileged but so many people do not have that choice to make.

OK, so I have to admit that I post regularly on Activistas, but I read & comment, as well. And read and commented a lot before Activistas sprang to life. I am white, married with two kids. My parents are divorced; my sister-in-law is trying her darndest to have a baby on her own. We are middle income, feel very fotunate to have healthcare, and grateful to have moved here when we could afford to buy a home (our first).

I work 32 hours/week outside the home and am grateful that my boss allows me to not work the normal 40, and that my husband 100% supported the reduction in income that came when I dropped 8 hours/week. My husband also works only 4 days/week outside the home (he is a cabinet maker with his own small business). We both cut from 5 days when our first child turned one in an effort to reduce days & costs in child care.

One of the many things I love about uM is that the commenters bring so very much perspective to each issue - often times perspectives that I would never hear in person. This online thing enables me to "listen" to far more voices than I would in just my offline life. I wonder if other cities have such an excellent resource - where you can submit a question an get 20 thoughtful replies from othger parents who have 'been there'? What makes uM so different from a standard "read about my life and my opinons" blog is its reader-driven posts.

Who/what the heck am I? Well, I'm old enough to remember an article in the Village Voice about 10 years ago that we thought described me, my husband, and our friends: "The Impoverished Elite." Overeducated, voluntarily underpaid, white, middle class or higher in our ambitions and tastes [art snobs, that's us] but not in our income brackets. We have a wonderful toddler daughter. We both juggle schedules that allow each of us to work both outside and inside the home. We had our child late in life.

I appreciate this site greatly. I've posted, I've sent queries. I find the informational aspect of it more helpful than the empathetic part - but that is just me. Clearly others find emotional support here. Also, I suspect I'm older than a lot of you who post and who maintain the site. That makes a meaningful difference for a few reasons. 1. I didn't come of age in the blogging era; I feel uncomfortable posting personal feelings and personal occurrences on a public website. 2. As an older mom, my needs and wants are a little different than yours. [I hope one day Urbanmamas will initiate a "When Gravity is No Longer Your Friend: Maintaining Your Figure After 40" post or "how to Navigate Menopause while Supporting Your Daughter Through Puberty" discussion.]

However, I do think it depends on how you define "diversity." I don't see a lot of postings from lower-income moms who are really struggling to make ends meet - and by this I mean women who are working long hours and then coming home to do it all at home; or mothers who are out pounding the pavement looking for work. I don't see a lot of contributors who are on food stamps or government assistance - they may be reading, but they're not posting. Zinemama mentioned that there are assumptions here that everyone can afford to buy at New Seasons. I'd go a little farther than that. And maybe you can argue that poor parents don't have access to the internet like the regular readership does, but I wouldn't be too certain about that. As a positive proposal to make us more economically diverse, it would be nice to see Activistas discuss policies that particularly impact poor children in this city and in this state. Frankly, I think it would be interesting if Activistas just did a basic primer on how friggin' hard it is to live on a limited income in Portland - perhaps a "Benefits 101" or something.

My two cents, take it or leave it. This is a very helpful site, and I've noticed that you are quick to respond to constructive feedback, so thanks for all of that.

I am Asian and a first generation immigrant. I am married, with two kids (ages nearly 5 and 2.5), living in Portland, and work full-time outside of the home. Even though I consider my family middle class now, it wasn't so long ago that I was part of the lower income class. Growing up poor is not something I would wish upon anyone, but even though my childhood wasn't privileged financially or anywhere near the traditional definition that AmyS points out, it was rich core values that I believe attributed to helping me get to where my current family is now.

I find it interesting that some of the things I recall embarrassing me greatly about my family as a child (the hand-me down and homemade clothes, the extreme penny-pinching, only being able to attend free activities, etc.) are things I find myself integrating into my own life even though we have the financial means to do more. I am also finding that some of the issues I struggled with in childhood, my husband who is Caucasian with a different socio-economic background, also experienced. Personally, I think many of us parents despite socio-economic status or race struggle with many of the same issues. If I had one desire for the site is to be able to present new questions and issues from a perspective that makes it open enough and allow anyone from any background to feel comfortable enough to comment on. I get so much more value from ideas and opinions from differing perspectives.

Where to start? I am a single mom of an almost three year old daughter and I fall into the lower income bracket. When her dad and I separated (at 5 months) I went from middle class to having to start over. I returned to school full-time and work part-time. All my free time is dedicated to my daughter. I'm not one to post here, as I typically do not have the time. I just wanted to let everyone know we are out here and reading. However, it would be nice to hear from more single parents, but overall I am grateful for this forum.

I'm a full-time working (outside the home) mom to a 2.5 year old son. My husband works part time and is a full time student. I get a lot from reading the posts on UM, and I do occasionally respond to posts when the topic interests me (as this on does). I can see the diverity in the posts and the comments from other moms and that's great. When I read the posts about activities to do with your kids, they often skew toward the stay-at-home mom, as they are almost always daytime activities (I do appreciate the "weekend warriors" info!). I just chalk this up to the fact that there is more fun stuff set up for kids during daytime/weekday hours, rather than UM being geared to only one type of mom.

I love Urban Mamas. As the site and readership has grown, I feel less comfortable getting really personal, but that's okay. UM is such a great resource for so many people in so many different ways. I am married, white, with 2 children. I have no idea what class we fall into, I just know we're always looking for the bargin, and are willing to spend money on some things more than others. I feel that this is a pretty diverse group; I always find my worldview is given a new perspective by the posts I read here. Thanks for that! I don't want to live in a bubble.

Hmmmm... I am white, broke, straight, hubby in school, stay-at-home but with a babysitting job that I do for a couple hours a week for extra income. We live on student loans and food stamps, but I don't feel underprivileged. There are so many resources out there for people like us, and I feel like we have everything that we need for a rich, full life... except where we live. We're in Oregon City, and I desperately want to come join all the PDX moms in their little community. I hate being 2 freeways away from everything you guys are doing!

The timing of this post seems to be working well for me, I'm new here, for some reason I haven't found urbanmamas before. Think of me as an urban mama in exile, as we live out in Washington County, suburban Portland. I'm closer to the fun than Makeshift Mama, above, but feel the pain as it really can s*ck at times to have to get in the car and drive 25-45 minutes to get to the rich wonderful diversity that the city has to offer.

Economically, I qualify as privileged -- I can afford to be home without suffering financial hardship. But I think all of us could use more support, more compassion, more sisterhood in our lives -- I know I could. Since I am not familiar with the people or the conversations here yet, I'll leave it at that for now, and look forward to spending time getting to know you all and share ideas.

I am a white married mom of a 2 year old. I work three days a week and stay home the rest. I feel grateful for what I do have, but I don't think I am 'privileged.' My car is a 2000, I shop at WINCO and Big lots along with Anne Taylor and Gap. I love my family and love my life. I couldn't ask for more (except for free time!). Urban Mamas has been a great resource for me & I enjoy seeing others opinions about the same things I am going through.

I expressed concerns about uM not being representative of all mamas. I wrote to the powers that be several months ago, and really was not heard. Folks were too hurt to hear was I was saying. You simply have to read what folks post about paying for family portraits or child care or enrichment classes to bear that out. And it's not about hurting people's feelings (at least for me) who are more "privileged" than others. Understand that when you make statements about how you can't understand how people 1) aren't saving for college, 2) are only paying $X amount for childcare, etc. how exclusive it makes the uM club.

I have had friends in grad school who were on the Oregon Health Plan and food stamps, even though they had parents who helped them out financially (paid rent, child care or co-signed mortgage). That is privilege, though they would claim "starving student" status.

More than just me, have felt isolated in uM world. I'm lucky and blessed in that I have a patchwork of places to seek support. As I said in my letter to the uM bosses, I worry for that mama for is just finding her place, like I was. The one who can't pay $600 for child care, is shopping at WinCo, and occasionally splurges on a trip of CHucke Cheese just to see her littles face light up. Where is her place here? Will she be judged by UMamas who would NEVER cross the threshold of that pizza serving rodent?

I have seen some appallingly classist statements sometimes 'round here. But I notice that there has been a bit more inclusiveness amongst the uMamas here lately, brown bag withstanding.

I think we all have to weed through the information to find what resonates with us and works for us. We can only speak from our own experiences, if it's first-hand advice or tips we're giving. Can a forum like this be edited to exclude comments that could be perceived as classist? I'm not sure that it could be, or that it should be, as long as the comments are respectful and informative. The best way to get more diverse representation here is for mothers (or fathers, or guardians, or grandparents!) of all stripes to post and contribute! I would love to hear from anyone and everyone who wants to post here - I think we all benefit from the widest possible range of perspectives on everything from the range of childcare costs to how to get snot out of a toddler's nose. (FWIW, I'm white, married, one child, 40-hours-per-week office job, caring for my own mother, first generation college grad, paycheck to paycheck, likes long walks on the beach ... etc)

More than three years ago, Jen and I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia and her wonderful family. It was at that point that we got tangled in the web that is UM and have never looked back.

Since that time, we I have contributed to UM sometimes with posts, sometimes with comments, and sometimes as supporters - in-kind and financially. We are regular readers to the degree that time allows the parents of two kids with a business and way too much going on to be regular readers of anything.

Three years ago in the world of blogging was basically the Paleozoic. Fire was still a quaint novelty. Clearly, I am not entirely unbiased on the world of UM but I am hard pressed to view the past three years of discussions, posts, etc. on UM as being less than true to the mission statement of being respectful and welcoming.

I think that UM provides a more varied outlook than other parenting sites I have seen. Further, unlike many other sites that have emerged since the stone age of blogging the purpose of UM remains to facilitate conversation and connections rather than selling advertising. I believe that controversial subjects are raised and addressed on UM without overt bias. Spirited but respectful conversations are allowed and even encouraged.

I don’t agree with everything I read on UM but that is one of its strengths. Like Angela, I prefer to live life outside of the bubble and I know that I can always jump into any conversation with my two-cents if I am so moved - and have the time (two events that don’t always coincide).

Most importantly, I feel like the majority of what I read on UM – post and comments - is authentic and that quality is sadly lacking elsewhere as blogging moves from grassroots expression to commercial content production. So that’s how I feel about UM, and here are my answers to the original query:

I am a proud father of two incredible kids that make me smile everyday. I have a lovely, fun, intelligent, caring wife who brings out the best in me and who is my partner in life and business - and yet we still get along...

I have healthy kids (although you would never know it this winter) and health insurance, I had the opportunity to go to college and did so, I am a home-owner (well, a mortgage holder) and business-owner. The reality of having a new and growing business is that some months we manage our household through the magic of credit cards but we are more privileged than many in this country and most families in the world.

Anyhoo, I am happily married, straight but far from narrow-minded, I have the luxury of being able to choose to only have one car and I am a LA-born Chicano, so mark me down as brown and proud - Viva La Raza!

Peace,

Tony Fuentes

I'm a white mother of two, consider myself queer although I'm in a heterosexual relationship (amazing how motherhood and its routines erase my sexuality at times). I'm a stay-at-home mom and graduate student -- we have a home that's a bit too small and a budget that's a bit too tight but I'm happy that I can stay home and still have somewhat of an intellectual life beyond kids. We aren't going to Hawaii anytime soon, but we can afford a bit of a vacation now and again -- a hotel room at the beach sort of thing. I feel very, very middle class.

I have found UM to be a great place, although sometimes, I realize that I feel judged just because someone states an opinion about how they have chosen to mother their children. I think that's my own issue in a way -- I don't know if I ever feel totally secure in my mothering decisions...I'm always sure there is someone out there who is more patient, more pure, more energetic. Does anyone ever really feel 100% confident in how they parent???

ProtestMama, none of that is just exclusive to this community. That is life. There will always exist a line of judgment from some people.

How do you suggest to people that they censor how they live? People can always check their privilege and consider their words, but why should I be ashamed of what my family has worked hard for? I have seen an astounding amount of inclusiveness in the forum compared to most internet communities.

I am a big fan of um and think that the folks that are running it are doing a great job- kudos to you all.

Me: Divorced, raising my 5 year old primarily on my own. Work outside the home full time. Caucasian. From back East originally, in Portland 13 years. Interesting question - I guess I identify with being middle class. I wonder what qualifies as middle class.

I am not sure that I think there is a diverse representation in the posting responses. It does come across as a liberal, very portlandesque attitude. I think I relate to many aspects of that perspective but I am not sure it seems very diverse. I think the topics posted are very interesting most recently the 529 & mammas-relating posts. I am very impressed with the activistas since that is unfamiliar territory for me. I think what I like most is when something on uM rings true- whether a post or a response.

I agree with the other posts that it would be great to see more posts on lower income issues or financial issues. I am also interested in other family sets-ups besides the traditional married with 2 kids situation. I think there are so many kids being parented outside of a traditional mom/dad household and I would like to see more of that perspective.

Kristin,

The answer to your question: Does anyone ever really feel 100% confident in how they parent??? Is "NO."

Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something...most likely a book or video...

Ciao!

Tony

I'm caucasion, long-divorced, raising one daughter without the presence of her father (his choice). I'm in my mid-forties; my daughter is 10. I work about 50 hours weekly in healthcare administration. I do not have a college degree; in fact, there are only a small handful of college graduates in my family "tree". I had a lower-middle class/working class upbringing here in Portland; although my current income would certainly define me as "middle class", I feel stuck in the DMZ between middle class and working class; I can't really identify with either. I worry about money ALL OF THE TIME, but I never have to worry about not being able to buy groceries either, even if it means that last supermarket trip of the month, right before payday, ends up on a credit card.

As with some of the commenters above me, I am a bit older (as is my child) than what I perceive as the "typical" urbanMama and her kids. I also think that I'm economically a bit lower on the scale than most.

I do read here frequently and comment on Activistas occassionally. I will admit to a sort of morbid fascination with the things that become topics of discussion here (guilt over donating plastic toys comes to mind), but I have also found value in some comments/discussions.

There is certainly quite a classist/elitist vibe at UM, but as ProtestMama commented, there has been a little bit more of an air of inclusiveness lately (although there is a long way to go). I would like to see that continue to grow, and if the UM "core" really feels like it's important to be representative of all Portland mamas, there has got to be some outreach and some more mindfulness that we're not all alike and we don't all necessarily share the same values and passions. We do, however, all love our kids.

A lot of days the best I can do is throw what I've got at the parenting "wall" and hope that whatever sticks isn't going to kill us both. It's hard to relate to other moms who really anguish over what I perceive to be insigificant details of childrearing. Part of that's my personality--I'm a decider, not a ruminator. But I'm trying not to judge. And I'd hope for the same from other UMamas who read here.

Oh, and I wanted to applaud anyone and everyone who musters up the courage to ask for more diversity, more inclusion, more of a voice for the underrepresented. It's hard, it takes guts, it's rarely met with open arms, but it always needs to be done, somewhere.

Outreach - Sheryl, you hit the nail on the head. A gentle invitation to those who otherwise feel like they're on the outside looking in. Cheers.

I'm white, jewish, married mama of 1 who was pleased to read I'm not the only over 40 mama on this list! I'm self-employed outside the home, so any time I can't work (illness, snow) is money I don't earn. We fit the middle-class, perhaps upper middle-class, but husband & I are fundamentally savers & get very anxious when we're not saving "enough."

We shop often at New Seasons -- BUT that's because we DON"T take vacations, drive cars that are more than 4 & 10 years old, take public transportation when we can, and are paying for daycare.

In essence, I think we are typical of many urbanmamas in that we have been thoughtful about our values, and spend accordingly. We differentiate between what we need and what we want. I will do without a lot of things in order to shop for meat & produce at New Seasons. But that's all I buy there --otherwise you'll see me at TJs, costco, or FM. Most of our daughter's clothes are from consignment shops or my hunting through the clearance racks. I last bought clothes for me about seven months ago. We haven't started the 529 plan yet (but intend to).

We eat home most nights, haven't seen a movie in almost a year, read all our books from the library, recycle & compost, walk to the park, farmers market & library whenever possible, both because of costs and because it reflects our values.

We feel passionately about public education, and I worry greatly about this state's willingness to be mediocre in education. Both of our home states have world class public education but Oregon is our home. What to do about it when we live in a state where tax is considered a four-letter word?

I don't the readership of UM is only priveleged folk.

I mostly agree with ProtestMama. Not that I feel excluded, per se, but just that alot of the conversations seem geared toward those with a bit more disposable income than my family has. (Okay, we have no disposable income. We actually fall short about $200 each month just paying our bills.)

But this is actually the life my (I-call-him-my-husband-even-though-we're-not-actually-married-or planning-on-marrying-anytime-soon) partner of 6 years and I chose. About six months ago we gave up two decent paying jobs to move to Portland, because the quality of life we had in NY was just not what we wanted. Sure, we had two cars, a four bedroom house on 1/2 an acre and beach access, but we had no time to enjoy it. I commuted 3 hours every day to work (and it was only 16 miles away), on top of my 45 hour work week. DH managed a nightclub and taught guitar lessons--ie, we didn't see him pretty much from Thursday night til Monday afternoon. And our boys were going to end up in such a racially screwed up school that we just had to get out of there.

So we're here. We're poor. We're car-free (although we do do FlexCar). We're white. We're vegetarians. We're adding another baby in June, to our family of two boys (ages 5 and 3). I am mostly a sahm, mainly due to the fact that it would cost more to pay for the 3 y/o to be in daycare than I would make in a week. It's a struggle, starting over, when we had it so easy back East, but we know this is where we want to be, so we are willing to work through the tough times. We've done it before.

As far as the age thing...it's kinda funny to read so many posts about feeling like the other mamas are part of a younger generation. I usually feel the exact opposite, like most of the mamas are about 10 years older than I am.

But, for all that, I love UM. It's the first place I go to when I want to see what's going on around Portland--although we generally end up at the playground anyway.

My family's someone non-traditional (I'm black -- my husband isn't; in addition to our newborn daughter, we are also raising my niece & nephew, ages 6 & 9).
We recently decided that I would stay home, as I'd essentially be working for daycare money (looking at the places we thought *might* work best for our kids). I'm lucky in that I can freelance for my (soon-to-be) former employer, so I will not be completely bereft of income. My spouse has a decent job at an awesome company, and it is my job to manage our family funds. Sales are our best friends, though we both are occasionally overindulgent with ourselves and the kids.
(Honestly, no one *needs* $22/lb cheese, but that is the sort of thing to which we occasionally treat ourselves.)

I am an infrequent commenter and asker of questions, but value uM greatly. There is almost always something that we can use. Weekend Warriors is incredibly helpful for getting us out of our too-small house and to something the big kids can enjoy. The recent discussions on saving for college, however, were the most useful posts I've seen here. It's prompting discussions we might not otherwise have had.

i'm a caucasian, almost 30, part-time self-employed, married (but not straight-identified) visually-impaired mom of an almost 2 year old, in a household on the westside (yep, the burbs) which can best be described as painfully middle class.

i feel like i have several points of intersection with urbanmamas, and several points of dissent (as does probably everyone). there are moments when i utterly relate (the cost of childcare discussion, for example) and those where i do not (the perennial "can i survive without my car?" debate). yes, there can sometimes be a more-urbane-and-affluently-hip-than-thou tinge to the site, but i also see that changing recently, which is promising.

i'd say more, but my eyes are bleary from a day of work, and sheryl said it all much more eloquently.

working hard does not always result in more money or resources.

A lot of people work harder than anyone with time to post on uM, yet are NOT homeowners or college grads or business owners.

The CNA at Marquis wokrs much harder than I, and gets paid less. And doesn't get to volunteer at school the way I do.

Is empathy that hard "priviledge"?

I'm with ProtestMama on this one. I read UM to see what is going on around town and to get some info, but I wouldn't call myself a UM. For one thing, "school" here means only PPS, when there are many other school districts in the extended Portland-Metro area. That was alienating to me, until last week when I started homeschooling. :)

The thing about Portland, and I see it reflected in UM, is that if you are east of 82nd ave, or in Oregon City, Clackamas, etc you don't exist. I realize it is called URBANmamas but there are a lot of mamas who check in here who aren't in the hip close-in areas.
Out here in the outer eastside we have no Trader Joe's or New Seasons, but there are a LOT of parents out here and most of us are far from upper-middle or middle-class, yet were are very involved parents. You see us at OMSI all the time! We recycle! We have organic gardens!

Anyhow, I'm white, married, atheist, work part-time (eves and weekends when dh is home because we can't afford childcare), am older (40), and have two children. We homeschool because school just wasn't doing them any favors, we missed each other and doing all the fun things we used to do, and I have sort of radical views regarding compulsory education hidden under my plain exterior.

The conversation here about guilty over donating plastic (shudder!) toys made me cringe, but I still come here to read people's views and to garner information about local family-oriented events. And yes, I do think people here try very hard to be respectful and polite. I think outreach is a great idea and I'm very glad to see this topic addressed.

Well, I guess uM just got a little more diverse. I am a married, African-American, full-time sahm of two (3yrs and 3 weeks). My family and I live in Atlanta. I found uM one day when I did a google search about birth control and found the discussion so wonderful that I bookmarked the page. Now, I pop in every now and then to see what's new/ interesting.
Economically, my husband and I make sacrifices so that I can stay at home with our children. We constantly look for the best deals on food, clothing, vacations, etc. We never have to struggle to pay our bills every month, although sometimes there is very little left for extras. I think it is a blessing and an honor to be a sahm.

PM, that person never said anything that showed a lack of empathy. Nor did they say that working hard inherently meant more money. Maybe for that person it did and why should anyone begrudge them that?

I kind of agree with "privilege" and feel like talking about where to have portraits or shopping at New Seasons doesn't scream elitist or classism. Discussing one's way of life isn't meant to exclude anyone unless words are used that degrade or demean another person's way of life.

I am a relatively new Portlander, transplanted all the way from Florida. I have been married for 5 years, am white (but my husband is Peruvian and Puerto Rican) and we have one 2.5 year old boy.
We are college graduates in our lower twenties and technically middle income but have had a variety of circumstances force us to live much more meagerly than most other mom's I know. For example, we do not have a car; we bike, walk or bus everywhere, often. We do not own our own home, do not have health insurance, do not have cable, no home phone, and buy clothes second-hand.
While I work from home full-time and raise my toddler simultaneously, my husband has had a hard time finding a steady job since moving to Portland, which has added some significant strain.
I do feel when I read UrbanMamas that the average fellow reader and the authors are wealthier than I, usually in references to how much they spend on childcare or where they shop, and sometimes it makes me feel like it would be hard to actually find friends within this group.
However, its really cool that you posted this and to be able to read the diversity of the responses. Thank you!

Hey, those of you reading but feeling excluded - please chime in! I, for one, want to hear from you. What are your concerns? What are your questions? What are the topics you want discussed? Give us your parameters, open yourself to a variety of ideas or opinions, but whatever you do - delurk! ProtestMama? Sheryl? Others? Consider this at least one gentle invitation from the crowd ... really. I bet there are more of us struggling with similar issues or thinking similar thoughts than you realize, and we are just waiting for you to speak up ...


Thank you thank you for opening this discussion. I am married, middle class, working, Hispanic, and have a 15-month old. We are a one-car family that lives in inner NE pdx. I have also felt a sense of self-righteousness on uM geared toward stay at home mamas... especially in the vein of "I put my child first and so therefore I am staying at home". I don't ever hear from the mamas that put their child first and therefore are working, when that is just as plausible.

I work 36 hours/week, and I would say there are two good reasons that I work:
1) We didn't buy a house 10 years ago. We bought it 1.5 years ago, and well, housing costs have outpaced wages.
2) I enjoy it. I am a mama who is using her strengths and talents outside the home as well as inside the home. Work gives me confidence, self-reliance, multiple perspectives, and I have many role models - dads and moms - that I work with that I can constantly draw on for support and advice. I think our son benefits from all of this. Not saying that a sahm can't have any of the above, but I don't think there are many voices out there who are speaking on behalf of working mamas. I work (partly because I have to, and partly because I want to) and my child comes first. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

I have juggled my working schedule from 28 hours, to 32 hours, to 40 hours, and now down to 36 hours/week, trying to figure out the correct financial and emotional balance for work and family. We could probably figure out how to make it work financially without my job by making some major changes (e.g. moving), although I am the higher income earner and all of our insurance is through my job. We are planning on having at least one more child, so for now we're trying to pay down the house so that in the future our job schedules can be even more flexible (my husband works full time now), with the possibility that one of us won't have to work.

As a result, any time I spend with our child is precious, so it's pretty darned focused on him. It's an intense life right now, but we are carving out a path that feels right for us.

Working has also brought out the activista in this urban mama. I am starting to understand some of the struggles that women are enduring in the workplace before me and with me, from unpaid leave to substandard breast-pumping rooms, to quantity and proximity of child care near employment, to the need for more flexibility in work schedules. My eyes are opened, and I will continue to push my workplace to strive to be better, encouraging and empowering more women to be engaged and active in the workforce, even after children. We need mama perspectives in every field!

Thanks again for the thoughtful and lively discussion, and thanks for turning criticism into a chance to hear our voices.

It's interesting to note the 'sponsor urbanMamas' text on the lefthand sidebar which states "Be seen by 40,000 unique visitors monthly." Obviously only a small portion of those visitors choose to comment or post. Those people who post and comment are the ones who are shaping the fabric of this community. And the great thing is that it's not an exclusive club - just speak up if you want to be heard.

I've been reading and participating in urbanMamas for about two years and am grateful for the work that the moderators do to keep this community going. I've seen a number of contentious issues discussed here in a civil manner, which tells me that those who maintain this site plus those who participate encourage respectful debate and dissenting views.

Of course there's a demographic here which seems to mirror the demographics of Portland as a whole, which is to be expected. Mostly white, mostly mid-range socioeconomically, mostly liberal, mostly straight. Fortunately, I also feel that this group of mamas/papas/etc. is very welcoming of people from other backgrounds.

For the record, I'm an asian, married, heterosexual, middle-income, liberal, religious, nonprofit-working, part of a one-car family, almost 40 year old mother of a 2 year old. And I love that there's a woman in Atlanta who is part of Portland's urbanMamas! Gotta love the internet!

I'm a daily reader/UM junkie who never seems to get out to any of the events (maybe I spend too much time reading). I'm married, white, in my late 20s and have a 19 month old son. My income says I'm middle class, but my load of student loans makes me feel poor on many days. I'm a full time high school teacher, which means I work 60 hours a week 10 months out of the year. (I'm working right now, at 10 pm, in fact). I wish I could work part time, but with the student loan payment bigger than my house payment, I don't think I'll make that happen any time soon.

I grew up pretty close to poverty, but felt pretty rich as we were always doing fun things in my family and I had the benefit of attending a private college (primary on scholarships, but not entirely) Compared to life at the private college, Urbanmamas does not seem elitest at all, but in the realm of things it sort of might be. I LOVE IT all the same. I feel connected to the mama community even if I don't participate in it as much as I would like. I love having the oppurtunity.

This is funny...just yesterday my friends and I were discussing uM and how sometimes we feel that some of the content is hard to take in, but it doesn't stop us from coming back daily!

I am a 39 year old, white, single, straight mom of a 2 1/2 year old girl. I have lived in Portland for 10 years. I was raised upper middle class, but if I am really honest with myself, I would have to say I am a living an upper middle class fantasy with a lower-middle class budget in a lower middle class neighborhood. But my standards haven't changed, so I am always struggling financially, and I want my daughter to have everything she needs to be happy, which sometimes takes money, but sometimes takes time, something that is a commodity for us, with me working full time and her in day care full time.

With having to watch our budget in order to be able to afford our house, day care, and an occasional vacation (family is all in New England), sometimes I am overwhelmed by some of the posts I see here. The whole thing on plastics, purging yourself and buying all glass or tin foil, aluminum cups...all I can hear in my head is cha-ching! And toys. Wooden, German toys. We get most of our toys from Value Villiage, and maybe a few treats here and there from Target or Toys R Us. And birthday parties...I can't imagine saying no to gifts, when sometimes it's the only new toys my daughter will get for most of the year! After reading some of the posts, I feel like I may be failing my daughter, and other times, like I may be failing the mama community. What if I only get invited to No Gift parties, and then invite those families to our parties, where gifts will NOT be turned away? I just get a tightness in my stomach when I hear what other families here do. Too many toys in your house? I'm just worrying about making the heating bill this month!

I also would like to see more diversity. To hear more from adoptive parents and foster parents, gay families, families of color, more single moms, single dads, different cultures, and clearly, different socio-economic classes. I liked a comment someone made about giving all of their plastic toys to Goodwill, and then wondering if that was ok, to pass them along to a poor family who couldn't afford anything else. Sometimes I think we need to treat these things as more systemic. The plastic issue for example. Some of us really don't have options to replace all of our storage containers, etc. It seems to me that we should be talking about the unfairness that if middle class people have this awareness that plastic can cause problems for children, then what are we doing to make sure this reaches all classes, so the kids of poor families don't get the trickle down effect and maybe whatever medical issues or developmental problems that these plastics can lead to? It's like the fact that the more money you have, the better school you can send your kid to, so the poor kids end up languishing in the underfunded public schools since their parents don't have the time, energy, or knowledge to try to make things better within the system. How do we make things better for the next generation of poor kids? It's great to make small changes at home, but it's not going to solve the bigger, core problems.

Although, the small changes are important, and I will not belittle them, and I will make the changes I can, and probably think of others I can make, and maybe feel guilty for the ones I can't make. To tell you the truth, I am sticking with my Take and Toss sippy cups, which I never toss, and I for sure will not be putting in the microwave! I'm guessing I'm not alone on that one!

Sorry for the long post. I have been thinking about it since I read the post this morning, and I have had a lot of thoughts. Dispite all I have written, I love uM and will continue to read it daily, skipping over the things that do not apply, and soaking in all that does, laughing and getting angry with things I do not agree with. I have never felt that the site was elitist or classist, I just think that folks from different sides of the issues should not feel afraid to post what is on their minds. I will make more of an effort to do that in the future (tactfully, honestly, and respectfully, of course!).

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this!

I am a white, married, mother of one. I would classify us as working class and worried about money--always. I stayed home with our child for almost two years and in that time we were on food stamps and living off of credit cards that are maxed out now and sending us to bankrupcy. Having food and paying the bills are still an issue although now I work part time out of the home in a stressful job that we need in order to pay the bills. Working more doesn't really work out for us because childcare is so expensive and we have no family close by.

Our child has always had health insurance but neither my husband nor myself have and that is a huge burden. I am one of two or three college educated individuals in my entire family. We do shop at New Seasons, Fred Meyer and Safeway and that is because eating organic food is a really important thing for us. Vacation entails visiting family (usually very stressful events) and only takes place every 3-5 years. We live paycheck to paycheck. We definitely feel wealthier than many in this country and the world. Being poor certainly adds a certain level of stress to our household that I would be happy to let go of, but I don't think our child wants for anything.

Although I do not agree with, relate to, or understand everything posted on UM I love this site. It's not possible for everyone to relate to everything posted here. I find a lot of useful information and take what is helpful. Occasionally I post but usually just read. I'm very grateful to the diversity of thought I find here, although of course a wider diversity should be something we always strive for.

Thank you, all of you who post here and help out a mama when I need it. All of our experiences are different and I value that.

I would really, really like it if more readers would e-mail activistas with ideas for posts, issues they face and would like to see discussed. truth be told, with two kids under five and a 32-hour/week job and no family in town, I can only write so much and be aware of so much. That's where YOU come in! Help me expand activistas beyond my issues, which is where any 'writer' (if I can even call myself that) starts. And whether or not we would all be great friends, for me, the key on activistas is whether we can work successfully together to make the kind of change that will improve family life for the whole spectrum of families living in this country on a whole spectrum of issues. thanks in advance for filling the activistas inbox!! i look forward to all of the great ideas you all will send our way!!

I am so thankful for urbanmamas! I work outside the home . I do not participate in any playgroups, and I don't have many friends with kids. Urbanmamas allows me to be in touch with other moms, get information, ideas and support. The support was especially appreciated during my first few months back to work when I was struggling with maintaining milk supply and sleep issues.

Sometimes the posts do seem one-sided, like the college savings post. But I usually chalk that up to the fact that most people only post when they are really comfortable with a subject. I would post about what we are doing for college money, because I feel pretty good about what we are doing and think I have some ideas I could share. I would not post about testing for lead or foregoing plastic toys because, well, I'm not doing either. Oops! But I appreciate reading those posts because I am exposed to new perspectives and I get some great ideas. In fact, I've actually started saving plastics for the master recycler because of a post I read on urbanmamas!

I hope we can all work to be more inclusive, because I would love for all moms out there to get the information and support that they need.

This is a perfect opportunity for me to thank whomever it may be for making UM available. Thank you!

I moved to Portland 8 months ago with a 6 month old baby. I didn't know (and still don't know) anyone with kids. And even more tragic, I really knew nothing about kids or raising one. I had (and still have) TONS of questions!

I found your website and I can't tell you how much it has helped me. Not only did I get quick and easy answers about technical questions - teething, diapers, housing, etc...- I immediately saw that there were other people out there that were also overwhelmed, also tired, also never in the mood to have sex, also asking the same questions, etc... I would like to point out that for me, it really made no difference what "type" of person was responding to the posts. It was the fact that people, in general, were feeling the same as I was. And it was a huge relief.

And yes, sometimes I smirk when I read about everyone getting rid of plastic toys because I could never afford to only buy my kid the nice wooden ones. And sometimes I laugh when I read about the people who are choosing to not own a car because they think its a good idea - we just don't own a car cause we can't afford to buy one. But I really love that we are all caring, we are all trying to do the best that we each can and that we all have our own stories. What I've been doing is sort of taking the suggestions that people write and then morphing them to fit into my life/wallet size.

I guess it would be nice to know that the people responding are from all walks of life. I think the only way to make that happen is to let everyone know that UMama's exists! As my friends begin to have children in far away places I tell them to begin looking at Urbanmamas. I don't think it's necessary to be in portland- lots of mama's elsewhere need support too! And it really is just an amazing pot of useful info for anyone, not just people in Portland!

To add to the list: I am white. Jewish. From NYC. I was 29 until two weeks ago. I live with my daughter who is 14 months and my babies daddy. I am a stay at home mom, not because we can afford it really, but because I feel that it is priority for us that I do. Secretly, I can't wait to return to work and I love reading about the mom's who go to work everyday. (Go super mama's!) Before getting pregnant, I worked at a drug rehabilation in SF. Babies daddy is a house painter. He's Polish/native american. From Detroit. We definitely live paycheck to paycheck, although I'm in denial about being poor and you could find me at the coffee shop some days with my sleeping baby, drinking a latte that I've bought with quarters. Only baby has health insurance that grandma currently pays for (thanks mom!) Neither of us finished college, and unfortunately we haven't begun saving for babies college yet either (unless you count her piggy bank).

That's all. Again, thanks to all of you who take the time to organize this and those who take the time to post comments. They have REALLY been so helpful to me.

i've been reading um regularly for a long while now. mostly i find that it's a great resource. sometimes it seems geared toward folks with more money, fancier cars, gym memberships and better dressed kids. only sometimes though. (portland monthly's really got the market on that. but i read that anyway too.)
i do chime in here when the mood strikes me. like now.
who am i? caucasion, female, not young, far from wealthy but not poor (i grew up dirt poor so i know), part-time work out of home & at home combo, married, 1 kiddo who's 4.5, mostly liberal, mostly environmental, somewhat mental, etc, etc.
i'm really glad um exists. thank you for all the work you peeps do.

I am white, married, sahm (well, I work one or two days a week) of one child, over 40 (me, not my child). We don't own or have a savings account.And I love uMama.
Perhaps the reason uMamas seems to represent the sahm is because we have more time to post comments, and more of a desire for adult conversation.

As is often the case, a demographic that needs more representation lacks the resources-- time, money, education, etc.-- to lobby for it. And, sadly, that is found the whole world over, not just on this website.

I love this topic--even though it can raise hackles! The comments that have been posted illustrate to me what I like about uM: intelligent, articulate women taking the time to post thoughtfully about things that matter. (I should say "people", not "women"--sorry, Tony! How non-diverse am I??)

I do agree that urbanMamas has a very Portland, upper-middle-class, liberal vibe. However, it's the same vibe I get walking into Sip & Kranz, or Whole Foods...and it doesn't turn me off or stop me from going. It's just there. White, liberal, upper-middle-class folks are people too and there are tons of them in Portland. :-)

The hard thing is that growing divide between upper-middle-class and working class. Anyone who doesn't see this growing divide has never been to Winco late at night, or ridden a city bus. I would consider myself middle class, but I'm definitely poorer than my friends who still have a double income. I am white, college-degreed, and I work 6-8 hours a week, and run a nonprofit from home, which I love and wouldn't trade for anything. I love being home with my toddler daughter, and we take advantage of every free library storytime and the occasional indoor park. It is HARD to be the only one in my group of friends with hand-me-down furniture, no cable, older cars, and having to severely limit my lattes...but then I see women with toddlers waiting out in the cold for TriMet, and I'm grateful for my clunky old car. I am thankful for our drafty old house--one that we can afford, even though it will not be filled with Crate & Barrel sofas anytime soon.

I think we mamas are just like any other human: we become used to what our own life is like, and it's hard to see beyond our own experience. I always thought I had grown up in a pretty typical middle class family until I went to college. I remember the culture shock I went through at this small, private college when I encountered the Land of J.Crew & Abercrombie & Fitch. No one wore clothes that were not brand-name and nothing was over 2 years old. I was suddenly very aware of my Sears/Target/Gap Outlet status (that was before Target was "cool"!), and I think I'm very conscious of that now.

I am very proud of the fact that my daughter wears Hanna Andersson, Ralph Lauren, Petit Bateau, and Le Top--thanks to careful garage sale-ing and consignment shopping. But I wrestle with being proud of this--who am I trying to impress? The "cool" Portland moms? Her little playmates? My friends? If my daughter is dressed well, does that prove to others that we, too, are upper-class and therefore worthy of your time and consideration?

Hmmm. Must ponder. This is a classist world, but how am I buying into it? Thanks for making me reflect!

Hi folks,

The mamas needed some help on the domain, so I was doing some late-night work and read this post. The comments are interesting to me because I wonder about the "priviledged" concept.
I'm a white male, 37, with an engineering degree. I'm married to a wonderful woman who is also a engineer (and a urbanMama). We have two wonderful boys, 4 and 1.
I think we would qualify as sort of priviledged. While many would disagree, I don't know that that has brought a direct amount of happiness. I think what's made us happy as a family has been luck and love. We both have wonderful parents who aren't divorced and love their grandchildren. My parents are here in town (PDX). Both my wife and I have great employers and she gets to spend at least one day a week working from home with the kids. Other days my parents hang out with one of our kids or they go to daycare to learn about getting along with others. I can't imagine a more lucky combination. I can hear the chorus of "yeah that's easy for you to say", but the best things in life are free and most of the worst are because of bad luck, not because of things we've done.
I would encourage mamas (and papas) of all socio-economic backgrounds to comment and send in questions and requests. We should have conversations about 529 plans, private schools, and the latest Volvos. But we should also in turn discuss child poverty, nutrition on limited budgets, state sponsored healthcare, free activities, and other things as well. The moderators "are who they are", but they are all wonderful people and they want to make this site work for *everyone*, I promise.

Protestmama, actually my official title as one of the urbanMamas that works behind the scenes is - bossMama 3. Well, that's not really the way we roll. Among the thousands of emails and comments (over 600 just this month) we get, we can only sift and respond to so many; and some are easier to tackle than others. Hurt feelings? Overwhelmed is a more apt description on any given day.

Privy to the thousands of questions uM receives and posting hundreds of discussion threads on the site driven my the emails we receive, I do wonder what happened to "there's no such thing as a stupid question?" We post as many of the questions as we can trying not to marginalize or make assumptions because the purpose is to be a resource to all types of parents. What surprises me is that no matter what the question is, someone out there has experienced it or can respond to it. Who knew? And the respectful and supportive response is comforting to those seeking insight to their question. To me, no matter what the question, it adds value to our parenting perspective.

I just read all the new posts, and THANKS AGAIN UM for starting my morning with a jolt! I am awake now. I love hearing from all these different people, which is why I check in with this site almost every day. I was thinking about the folks who feel uncomfortable when reading about the lives and choices of others, me included, and I want to give you a gentle suggestion that maybe it is good to push your edge a little. Expand your awareness of others' perspectives...even if it makes you uncomfortable. It is inherently tolerance building. It might occasionally piss you off, but that's okay too. I always find it interesting to explore what makes me the most uncomfortable, and why. Like going over to my son's friend's house for the first time the other day, and literally getting lost in the house (it was so big.) I was so uncomfortable I could hardly breathe. But I think that says more about me and where I mentally am right now than it does about them. You know? Keep up the good work ladies, and KEEP POSTING EVERYONE! Read and write without judgement as much as you can and we will all learn a lot.

I have been reading this blog since I found it when I was 5 weeks pregnant. It has been a wonderful resource and I have been impressed with the broad spectrum of types of mothers that can be found on UM. Thanks UM for all that you do for this online community. I am always referring people here!

I agree with Amy in that you have to look for the information that works for you - ignore the rest. Post your two cents when you want to offer up some advice. Don't judge or be quick to take offense.... just good rules to love by.

I am a white, happily married, republican , work from home 80%time, and proud mama to a 5 month old girl. We have some luxuries- like a part time nanny - but I still clip coupons, shop consignment, and bargain hunt. We believe in attachment parenting and I make my own baby food but use disposable diapers.

Are a goodly amount of UM posts, news, calendar items, and discussions elitist and catering to only one segment of our city and therefore -- to this mamma -- either irrelevant (at best) or insulting (at worst)? Yep--absolutely. But I still check in weekly, because amidst what is, for me and my family, fluff / specious / unattainable, there are gems of wonderful honesty & soulful sharing (plus a few good calendar listings) that bolster me & goad me further along my path(s) of motherhood.

As for why I usually lurk / not post: partly personality (not a joiner, introverted, tired & cranky); partly perception of living on the outskirts of your community & wary of "dialogue" w/potentially oblivious or even hostile insiders; and ***mostly*** because I use UM as one valuable resource of information, but *not* as an online community.

I've been reading uM for the last 2 years or so since moving to Portland and love the resource and community that it is. In fact, call me a nerd, but I kind of consider the collective of urbanMamas my other girlfriend...it seems that whenever I have a question I run to uM to get suggestions, or when I have a few free minutes to drink a cup of tea and relax I can be found reading a post or two on uM, and inevitably, when I'm having one of those "poor me" moments, someone posts a question or comment that reels me back to reality and I remember that a) it's not that bad, and b) I'm definitely not alone! My husband and I are currently in the midst of making a very difficult, life changing decision, and I cannot tell you how many times I've wanted to slap up a post to ask you all for advice about it! Surely he'd think I was nuts if I came to him and said, "the urbanMamas think we should..."

I'd agree with the poster who called the vibe very "Portlandesque" but that's one of the things I love about the site, and I've appreciated the thought provoking discussions and the inspiration from others to make small changes in my lifestyle. We still have a house full of plastic toys, drink out of plastic cups, and drive an SUV but since reading the blog, I've become a bit more thoughtful about how I shop, we walk more and drive less, and eat organic. In my opinion, if you think this site is elitist or classist, it's definitely of a Portland-nature...no one's judging me because my diamond isn't as big as theirs, but rather because their recycle bin is fuller than mine!

I'm currently home with my boys but find that I feel much more balanced as a woman and mother when I am working part time. I appreciate that we have the means to make that choice, and that we dont have to lose sleep worrying about the cost of childcare or how to pay the bills each month. I spend money of jeans and bras--my butt and boobs need all the help they can get, but the rest of my wardrobe comes from the clearance rack at Target or Gap. I'm 32, white and married--saggy boobs are a universal concern, aren't they?

I am have been reading this thread very great interest. I have also figured out how the feed thing works so I'm pretty proud today.

Debby, I always read your posts and comments with great interest, because your experience resonates with me so much.

bossMama3 - I actually did have an exchange with one of you boss mamas and it was she that said she was hurt that I thought that uMs isn't as welcoming to folks who fall outside the demographic. Most of the response was coming from a pretty hurt place so that's why I felt not heard.

all the mamas who ripped me a new one abut classism. I you wandered into the MAC club or a patrons dinner for the Museum or the Symphony, and found yourself in the middle of a conversation about East Coast boarding schools and "any parent who cared about their child would of course send them to Choate. . ", would you feel welcome at that table? Would you want to share your struggles about paying for a nanny share or saving for college with these folks? Would you feel a commonality with them? Or would you clam up and go somewhere else? When folks talk about paying the price of people's rent for portraits, it can be off-putting. I don't know why it's so hard to acknowledge that.

I'm the type of chick that elbows in and plops down with everyone and anyone. I don't expect an invite, so I know I have to create my own place at the table.

Part of that is growing up in a very diverse part of the country and moving with a small child to a pretty euro-centric little city. It's changing, but S-L-O-W-L-Y.

I'm a single mama by choice, originally now a single mama with a kid whose father is dead. I'm 40 (shhh! don't tell) and identify as a African American mama, mama of color, mother of a teenager (its own special HELL)etc. My walk in this life has been so informed by being a black single mother first in America and then in Portland. It has radicalized me in a way that I can't properly articulate. The disparate (sp?) treatment of our children, resources, schools, jobs, mating pool, it's crazy!

Sex ansd race did not impact me as a single carefree chick, at all the way it does as a parent. at all. really. promise. When I moved to Portland I saw how much more people of color were marginalized than where I came from, and poor people of any color/ethnicity are just not even considered much of the time.

Phew!

I'm having difficulty reading comments beyond this page, but I think that a later commenter invited some input on what we moms who are feeling a bit excluded would like to see here at UMamas. Here are some topics that are of interest to me:

~~Beyond taking out a second mortgage for private tutoring, what resources are available for academic help for average or below-average acheivers in elementary and middle school?
~~Body image and development in pre- and early-adolescent girls.
~~Emerging sexuality in pre- and early-adolescents.
~~Nutrition for this age group. How to feed these kids decent food (not necessarily organic, local) on limited time/limited budget.
~~Peer social issues in that same age group. And tools to help these kids overcome the shadow of having parents that don't fit in with the (mostly)Mama crowd at school.
~~It's hard to get a kid involved in school and other extracurriculars when transportation is necessary in the middle of our (have to, no choice) workdays. Solutions? Reasonably priced, working Mama/Papa friendly ideas?
~~Expanding Weekend Warriors to include more ideas that are appealing to the non-preschooler or early-elementary set.
~~More discussion/support for the single Mamas. And what about the families with no Mama, two Mamas, and all of the different shapes, sizes and colors our families come in?
~~Resources for when we need help, and when we have help to give. A lot of families fall into the crack between qualifying for social services, and just not having enough to get by. There are people like me who don't have a lot of time or help to give, but would like somewhere to channel it when we can.
~~Helping kids of all ages over the hump of changing school levels (e.g., pre to elementary, elementary to middle). And what about that hump us Mamas have to get over when we drop our babies off at school for the first time with all of those HUGE children?

Well, that's a start.....

--Raising a Daughter in a World Still Preoccupied with Rigid Gender Stereotypes, anyone? Sweet Goddess, you moms of teenage girls are fearless.

I'm a married mother of two, work full-time and am privileged enough to spend two of the five days working from home.

My humble opinion is that it is truly up to the individual whether or not they feel like they are "outside" or not. It's all in how you look at things, isn't it? Finding your own voice, and using it with confidence goes a long way to eliminating the feeling of solitude. Well, then again, if you alienate yourself by pushing others away with said voice, I guess that's another matter. lol.

This is only one forum, as wonderful as it is, and can any of us truly get complete fulfillment from just one forum/area/source in our lives? I know that this is an incredibly diverse audience, with many different views on parenting, politics, religion, etc., and that's what makes it endlessly interesting and entertaining and addicting to read and contribute to.

Instances where I may feel that my views are not represented, or when I feel that I'm completely on the other end of the spectrum of a posting, I can choose to post my own outlook (therefore bringing a different perspective), or just come back to a different posting on a different day...it's my choice. The variety is what makes it so rich.

Urban Mamas has been an invaluable resource for me and my family. I enjoy it immensely and recommend it to all my mama friends. Thanks for being out there for all of us, in all our diversity!

You all are awesome. All of this commentary is great. Everyone bein' honest and communicative. uM will be even richer for it. I sort of love it when people (including myself) get feisty, it feels real.

Who am I? We lived in Portland for 3 lovely, albeit wet years. We moved back to CA for a promotion and to be close to fam.
More specifically: 37, married, college degree worked 10 years before kids, sometimes struggling sahm (struggle: $ and identity), just makin' it financially, seeming end all be all to 4 yo girl and 2 yo boy, fierce liberal(Thanks Dad.), christian (Jesus was a radical liberal, don't let any tell you otherwise.) gardener (Thanks Step-dad.), reader, music lover, emerging environmentalist (Thanks Portland.), wine drinker and some other stuff.

This site is what we make it. The content aprox. 95% our commentary (I'm guessing).
As they say at my girl's school, "Sharing is Caring." he he. But, really... share your thoughts and knowledge, get stuff off your chest, if some one is "more urbane than thou", share your perspective. We can take it and we'll be better for it.


Personally, I use urbanMamas much more for the practical than the social. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet and I shy away from the social part of it for a number of reasons. I find it hard to justify spending time on my computer for much of anything when there are so many other things I could be doing. I have a great social circle outside my computer and I feel very supported as a wife, friend, mama and communitymember. That said, my circle is composed of others who are mostly just like me. I'm realizing urbanMamas is a place where I can hear other's voices - other's with life experiences different from mine - as long as they speak up. I have plenty of discussions with folks who have the same basic parenting and life styles, but not as much with those who have a very different perspective to lend. If we all speak up, with respect and with honesty to who we truly are...well, I would really value that, and might carve out some more time to spend on urbanMamas.

Oh, and I'm a white, college educated, married stay at home mama with two kids. But there's a lot more to me than that ;-)

This is an interesting conversation, and it brings up some thoughts. I am definitely privileged. I am white, married and have one child. I was born into an upper class family and I have an inheritance ... I work part time and my husband is self employed. I know how lucky we are.
Some of these issues strike home with me in a different way that I have seen expressed here. If your questions are about daycare or paying for kindergarten or whatever the "class" issues are ... does that mean it should not be discussed? When I was younger I was once told I couldn't state my opinion on a topic because I had money. (I think the issue was suburban sprawl and the affordability of homes). What do you think, is that right ... should people like me keep their mouths shut because we just don't understand?
I also think this relates to how some people seem put off if some mamas say they don't want too much plastic around, or they want to buy organic, or whatever (or for me ... I was one of the anti-Santa folks). If someone states an opinion or relates something about their life, why is that seen as an attack on others?
I really like UM ... I'm not interested in all of the conversations, but it is a great resource. I think you all are doing a great job.

This post and the comments that follow has been VERY interesting.

I also find it interesting what individuals consider as "diversity" in terms of qualifiers or labels. I'm not saying there is a "right" way to do so either, but it's just interesting to read a lot of posts saying "I'm white, I'm queer, etc." when, IMO, diversity goes so much further and deeper than race, class, sexual orientation, etc. And when we put our identities out there, then what?? It seems like maybe there is a feeling of exclusion by some UM members based on various identifiers but I'm not sure what the intended outcome is. Are people interested in sub-group get togethers based on these type of commonalities, for example? Or is it just an issue of awareness and checking assumptions (ie, saving for college topic)? I'm just trying to figure out the heart of some of the concerns, and potential ways to work towards a stronger sense of an UM community.

It seems like everyone here agrees that UM would benefit from more diversity and more diverse views expressed on the site, but I wonder how exactly that can happen. Maybe it's just each reader spreading the word to more people and encouraging other friends and "urbanmammas" to post. The more people who read and participate, it can't help but be more inclusive through the process.

There are often things on UM that don't personally resonate for me either, but one site can't be the "all" to everyone, nor should it be expected to be such. As others upthread have said, people should take what they can that benefits or interests them and leave the rest.

Protestmama, I would really encourage you to go ahead and submit some questions or topics or anything on your mind for discussion that you don't think is being fairly represented here ... really. Rather than asking others to censor their own experiences or contributions, why not chime in with your own perspectives so that others can benefit? I am quite positive, as a person who does not consider herself privileged by any means, that you would give me an opportunity to offer lots more than what I already try to offer here through my occasional comments and questions. It's probably fruitless to ask anyone to apologize to you for offering up info from their own lives. More productive to work toward helping to balance the content by pitching in.

I agree with this last string of comments. I can't say I read much of the plastic toy post, but I'm feeling kind of horrible for whoever asked the question. In this country, it seems pretty safe to mock whoever you feel is well off - it's totally condoned as a prejudice. But here, online, you have little idea who that person is, what background she comes from, what her merits and contributions to society are, or what she's dealing with in her own life - autism, miscarriage, heart disease, breast cancer, death of someone beloved, threats to her job. TJ, you are so right - diversity has more meaning than this conversation grants it.
I like this site, especially - but not limited to - the practical, such as how you deal with cloth diapers and their smell. There is plenty here that gets on my nerves - particularly the souls who feel judged simply when others describe a different way of raising children (and who then get plenty judgmental when denouncing the perceived offense - talk about a beam in your eye.) But for every comment like that there are dozens by people who make me laugh or open my eyes to something new. I appreciate them, and this site.

I love UM topics, especially this one...they all just make you stop and think, which I know is what I need most of the time. I too, would love to see more topics inclusive of different income levels as well as different lifestyles. These types of topics can only make us realize the extraordinary community that we as mamas are surrounded by everyday and make us feel a connection.
Me...I'm hispanic (which sometimes makes me feel like an outsider)married, 2 magnificant kids(4 and 2), work 2.5 days outside the home, graduate student, and have a budding craft buisness. My husband says we're not privledged, but emerging affluent. I think we've just made good choices and have been damn lucky. And to tell you the truth, sometimes I need to hear/see how others are living, because it causes me to stop and think...to maybe stress less, to do more, to do less, to help more or just be plain thankful

I'm one of the founders of this site, and I might seem like privilege from the outside, but inside, I'm thoroughly screwed up! I'm a caucasian, with an Ivy League MBA, a comfortable not-quite-six-figure income (I work from home), a home desperately in need of renovation in SE Portland, three very young boys, and the obligatory husband. I'm very passionate and an overachiever so I often come across as trying to state my perfection, when really, I'm desperately grasping at straws.

I'm feeling especially vulnerable this week, as my five-year-old has just been "educationally diagnosed" as "emotionally disturbed" and will likely end up continuing at the "special" school for months, if not years, to come. even worse, much of his imbalance is caused by the chaotic home life we've given him (and we're trying to fix, slowly, now). the good news: he's brilliant! so there's that.

I want everyone out there to read urbanMamas and contribute. but I doubt we'll ever be able to shake the undercurrent of judgment -- I'm as guilty as the next mama of the occasional judgmental statement. my kids watch too much TV (though I've severely limited it in the past several months after brow-beating by our therapists & pediatric types); I was the one who bought all that plastic crap at Goodwill, and recently sent it all back; I own (but don't drive, we haven't had it insured in nearly 2 years) an SUV; I live check-to-check though I'm trying hard not to.

I really do love my kids, though sometimes I do (behind closed doors) a terrible job of showing it. and I want so much to make our community a better place. I think when it comes down to it, we're all scared -- scared that we're not as good a mama as the next gal, scared that something we do is unknowingly screwing up our children, scared that we'll lose our job, scared that if we talk to the other mamas at the park, they'll look down their noses at us and talk about how misbehaved our children are, in sotto voce, to their children. or maybe that's just me...

I'll happily post more on financial issues.

I have not:

Asked for any apologies; .

Told people to censor themselves; I don't censor myself

Told people not to post anything

For heaven's sakes; some of my best friends are privileged mamas.

uMs is not FOR all mamas, that is clear. There may be topics that interest for non-target audience. It's for certain type of mama and papa. People may say differently but certainly from the reaction to what I've posted and the assumptions and accusations, it's clear that we should "get in where we fit in" and that may not be here. Other posters have posted about feeling "out-of-place" here before I ever posted here, that was not my invention. And it really isn't about uM making ProtestMama comfortable, activism and advocacy really isn't about personal comfort. I hope the struggling mama who comes across uMs feels welcome and heard.

I understand it messes with folx self-concept to acknowledge their priviledge. The first time a friend told me about the able-ist and heterosexist privileges I have, it took me a minute, too.

This thread began w/ us specifically being asked to tell more about why we feel marginalized or alienated... Some of us then did so; and some others [not all, but more than I woulda thought] replied by basically saying "well it's you, get over it." So why bother pose the question in the first place? Is that a dialogue where people are heard, honored, recognized? And why dump it all on ProtestMama? I've followed her comments on other threads for sometime. She's certainly not been shy about participating on uM.

I agree with your comment anon.2. i'm not sure why people are dumping on protestmama. she speaks her mind respectfully. isn't that what we're suppose to do here? i almost feel like there's bullying going on here at times by some posters. (i'm not talking about the uMamas themselves. i know some of them from running htc with them. lovely ladies, all open minded and genuine. they can't possible be held accountable for people's posts and comments.) but who doesn't remember the whole thread on where to buy a cow? that got very personal and mean. and then the whole discussion on pb&ellies. people said the restaurant sucked instead of giving helpful criticism and critique. we're suppose to express different views on here, as long as it's done respectfully (which i think protest mama has done) and without bashing. and sorry lea from the mama friendship thread. you bashed a lot of people when you said, "oooh suburbs." it's a lot more respectful to just say, "I prefer the city and luckily we can afford it."

i think people use the anonymity of the internet to say things that they would word differently in a face to face conversation. we need to remember that these posts are not like sitting in the privacy of your living room having an honest conversation with your best friend. they are public and they can be hurtful (emotionally and in some cases professionally.)

No one dumped on PM. Please show me where anyone wasn't as respectful in their disagreement as she was.

It's an OPEN FORUM. ProtestMama spoke her mind and others spoke theirs. Seriously, why all the angst? No one got nasty, some of us felt compelled to disagree with PM and now you're acting like we don't have the right to do so?

anonunpteen said it best. There seems to be an allowed finger pointing of classism and insensitivity by posters who seem financially comfortable. If someone asks about college savings or wooden toys or where to get family photos, they aren't willfully excluding anyone. If someone says "if you love your kid you'd only buy wooden toys", then they are being a complete prick. Sorry if some people here don't feel a need to kowtow to people whose delicate sensibilities are insulted by people discussing their day-to-day lives. 75% of the topics on this site are irrelevant or inapplicable to me, but I'm not going to cry in the corner about it.

Yes, this reply is cranky. It's the internet, your mileage may vary. This message board is one of the nicest and most generally attempting to reach out as any I've seen. STOP COMPLAINING and feel free to make posts about what YOU want to talk about.

I suspect that this is actually much less about what people DO say and discuss here, and much more about what people feel might not be welcomed or understood here. It's about feeling silenced (even if we are only silencing ourselves) because we want so much to come here and get mama wisdom and information, but we're afraid to ask because the louder voices *seem* to come from a much different position (more money, more organic, more SAHM, or whatever). For example ...

I was lost at sea without any fellow-mama wisdom whatsoever when I was forced to start feeding my daughter formula, and I wanted desperately to make the very best possible choice next to breastfeeding with some advice from others in the same boat. I was scared and needed basic information - I even needed someone to explain to me exactly how to mix it and how on earth I could take it with me on errands (never did figure that last one out). Could I post about that here? Hell NO, not without getting at least a few slaps across the face ... there is just no way. And I was way too fragile and vulnerable and worried and exhausted at that point in my new mamahood to risk it. I would have crumbled if someone had said to me (as if I hadn't heard it a million times already), "Have you tried fenugreek?" or shamed me or told me how my daughter was going to grow up retarded and full of allergies. I really, really wanted to ask the uM community, but I felt marginalized because I was not a successful breastfeeder, here in Portland of all places.

But, have I felt a desire for successful breastfeeders to "acknowledge" what I see as their privilege (or at least such wonderful good fortune) to the formula feeders, somehow? Nope. I just know that I don't happen to fall into that beautiful category of lactating mothers. I'm not exactly sure what kind of acknowledgment Protestmama wants others to make, or when, or even how they should know that they have crossed the threshold into privilege and now owe an acknowledgment - but I do wonder if she isn't really just trying to say that she's not sure her topics would be welcomed here, that she's afraid (or angry, or whatever) they might even be mocked, and that she wants some indication that this is truly the welcoming forum in claims to be. How do we indicate that? I have no idea, other than just following through on the promise to be inclusive and respectful.

My big reveal of my formula shame is used here to illustrate the point that this place cannot be everything to every mama every time - it isn't always the place for me, and it won't always be for you. BUT - if you are courageous enough to provoke the dialogue in this thread (which you are, obviously), please be courageous enough to move forward by contributing topics and questions and information from your perspective. Like Sheryl did, in the comments here. Every mama will benefit. I should have been braver, and submitted that question about formula. Who knows who I would have helped along the way. Be the change ... ya know?

It must be something about the internet that makes us get to this point in the conversation. I don't know what the answer is ... maybe we all need to be a little less sensitive and a bit more accepting of views that are different than our own. You can't get more personal than parenting as a topic! And the internet is not really good at blending this very personal with the anonymity of this type of forum. I think I must plead guilty on some oversensitivity myself.

wow what a discussion, and so illustrative of what keeps drawing us back to this site. the sheer number of responses to this post is proof enough, i think, of just how many of us are out there, and in how many different shapes, sizes, and sexes (hi tony and chris!).

for all those mamas who, like me, spend more time sinking than swimming in the financial ocean, please let me know what your life is like! a lot of people have bandied the word 'forum' about in these comments with little attention given to just that fact -- this is a forum, which means that its content, by and large, comes from you. us.

my skin comes in tones of peach and alabaster, my lovely little family has been living on food stamps and tips with enough medical (and now educational) debt hanging over our heads to sink a small island, yet we STILL buy at new seasons and co-ops. this may mean that i'm often scrounging under cushions for bus fare, but i just can't figure a life that doesn't include food that i feel good about eating. we don't often buy toys -- or clothes, for that matter -- and when we do, uMamas is the first place i check for ideas. my child is neither bored nor underdressed, so we are content with how we have arranged our lives. sure, it's plenty hard. and there are many posts here that don't apply to our situation, but i often read them anyway because i'm curious. i don't feel left out by others' concerns. when i've had concerns, i've asked, and the response has always been compassionate and fulsome. when posts don't interest me, i don't read them.

i am very sorry to hear that there are those who have felt under-represented, either because of their life situation, location, color, creed, or what-have-you. isolation is just not coded into our DNA, and i'm sure there are many more of us around here who would love to step in and lend a word or a hand.

this is possibly the most truly democratic gathering of people i've encountered -- i'm not talking elections, either -- and i love that everyone who speaks here has a voice. props to the mamas who made it, and to all of you who read.

Seeing, it may be too late for you, but if anybody else is wondering... You take powdered formula with you by measuring it out in little bags or containers (generally one scoop for two ounces - we usually made three-scoop bags). You bring an empty bottle or two. When you need it, fill the bottle with either water from a handy tap or bottled water that you carry with you and mix. And yes, because you are smart and always prepared for an unexpected disaster, your diaper bag will be filled with water and powder and it will weigh eight million tons. But as you know, breastfeeding moms have their own heavy burdens - just maybe not so literal.
I totally understand why you would have been afraid to post that comment. And I totally respect your attitude about it. You are being the change right now.
Sorry to hijack.

And if you want, they sell specialized bags to put the powder in that are sort of shaped like funnels. You put the powder in the wide end and seal it. When you're ready to use, you rip the tip off the small end. They were fine, but not necessary. They used to sell them at target, but I'm sure any of the big baby stores would have them too.

I made a comment like this earlier but now, I wanna make it personal. ProtestMama -- YOU have a lot of courage, a lot of strength for calling for more inclusion, for more diversity. It is never easy to confront something that feels exclusive, so THANK YOU ProtestMama for taking the step to do so.

catmom - thanks!! it is too late for me (i was never so happy as the day my daughter was far enough into solids to free me from my house for longer than an hour, when cheerios could be her snack instead of that Scarlet Letter of a bottle), but i should totally submit this question just so it shows up in searches for others. (and for anyone who wonders, i would do it so differently next time around, with glass bottles - instead of those plastic liners that would leak if you shook them - and one of those 99 cent whizzy IKEA blender sticks!) (-: i gotta say, it feels good getting this wisdom from you even though it *is* too late - I feel less alone. hooray for courage.

Has anyone else noticed that Protestmama is now over at Activista, ripping on Lisa's idea to invite guest activistas to share their perspective? Because Lisa is going to *invite* others (which in Protestmama's mind means that it's "invite only" and exclusive, apparently). For god's sake, what does she want? i was keeping an open mind, but i think there might be some flaming going on here. Protestmama, you're kind of ruining any point you may have started to make, here. I think you're just having fun stirring things up.

And seeing both sides -- so been there -- tried with all of my hella might to breastfeed (to those who think there was one more herb, one more lactation consultant, one more hour of pumping, etc I didn't try -- NO, there WASN'T), so, you are not alone. If you had posted, I would have not have judged you, I would have felt less alone.

Actually, I have posted at Activistas quite a bit. maybe you never paid attention until now. I am not new to the board. And I'm sorry that any dissenting opinion is seen as "ripping a new one". As I said earlier in the thread I wrote to the mamas that run this board several months ago on this topic. I have commented on many threads including ones where others have talked about feeling isolated here. At those times I have offered support and told folks to take what they need and discard the rest.

That is a seperate conversation. But since you'd like to bring it here. . . .An open call was made for panelists for a brown bag that was held today. In the original post, it said that folks who volunteered would "talk" with the planners. It was a closed process and I was not offered the opportunity to even talk to the planners. After the panel was set, I was given the reason that they had agreed to only five panelists. I volunteered as soon as the original post went up.

I have commented on many different posts throughout my time at uMs. I think it's intersting that some people have decided to attack me more vociferously than they have ever attacked anyone that' made a classist statement. I remember a mama calling a certain negiborhood marginal because there were a lot of $600 per month apartments nearby. I'm the only one that said anything. I wish someone else would have.

All posts on uMs must go through the powers that run the board. I can't just post as you would on a different board. Decisions made are not open. Which is fine, if you agree with the general thrust of things but if your voice differs, you can get shut down pretty effectively.

AT, it hasn't seemed that you are really that interested in what I'm saying because you've clearly skimmed my comments. All this hand-wringing is not "what I want". I just want people to look at what they do and how they exclude folks whether it's purposeful or incidental. No to censorship. Yes, to taking up for folks whose experience may me dissimilar to yours. Yes, to having some open process about how decisions are made that affect how information is disseminated. Some people don't post or comment because they're afraid they won't be welcome.

If casting me as the devil incarnate is the necessary by-product to make folks think about perspectives, that's cool.

Seeing both sides, as someone who has been in that very vulnerable, always-assumed-I-would-breastfeed-now-what-the-hell situation, I just want to say that I think this is one place where folks would not have given you a hard time. If you'd asked advice about building your supply, yep, the fenugreek advice would come out. But I think mamas here are pretty kind about this sort of thing.

And, not that I know any of the details of your situation, or if you plan to have more children, but I'm here to say that for me, everything worked the way it was supposed to the second time around. And having been on both sides of that fence (especially in pdx!) has made me very mindful of the difficulties women can have, and pretty much eliminated any judgemental attitudes I may have had before the milk hit the fan with baby #1

before I take my leave, thank you Kristin. I appreciate it.

I have a teenager I can argue with that can call me unfair. That's mostly about my stand on cell phones and solo trips to the Mall. And my propensity for particpating at her school. Trust that between flat-irons and lipgloss, I've got all the "stirring things up" I can handle. Those of you with teenagers know what I mean.

seeing both sides: I had a mama friend, our babies were two months apart. We were at a party and I found her sobbing in the bathroom. A mutual friend who had a baby also called my friend Anne "selfish" because she couldn't breastfeed. Anne eventually had five children. That was her roughest pregnancy and the only one that she couldn't breastfeed. It broke my heart.
The mama who called her selfish, wasnot the picture of the abstaining mama, but the BFing thing is so deep with us mamas that a comment like that destroyed her mama-steem. I say all that to say, had I read a thread like that I would've been supportive. Even with what I know I have to remind myself of Anne if I even think of raising an eyebrow about BF vs. FF. Mamas just can't win, can we?

enough of ProtestMama's ramblings, I'm more tired of typing than you are of reading.

Not that anyone is probably reading any more, but.....wow. I started thinking about what I wanted to say here yesterday evening, didn't get the chance, and now I am amazed at the conversation this has sparked. UM is the only website of its sort where I have spent any time at all, and I have always accepted it as par for the course that it comes from and speaks to a fairly limited demographic.

Leaving the financial details out for a minute, there is a definite common thread of thoughtful, deliberate, liberal living. I read posts and comments from and by people privileged enough to have the time and luxury to reflect on life, and to develop a certain amount of self-righteousness about that life in the process.

It strikes me after pushing through the 80-some-odd comments, that the conversation hasn't developed much. There is a lot of reflection going on about our own choices, our own lives, and a lot of self-identifying, but not a lot of true reflection on some of the tougher questions that have been raised.

I read a lot of defensiveness in the face of accusations of classism. Why is it so terrifying to look at ourselves, our lives and our choices, and wonder for a minute if they are really as right as we hope they are? If our most deeply held beliefs are offended by a little bit of scrutiny, perhaps we need to step back and question those beliefs.

We all struggle daily to be who we are and where we are. All of our struggles are unique to each of us and our families. There is certainly a lot of support on this site, and a lot of practical information. But it is hard to deny that the majority of us who spend time here, who comment and post, are from an educated, liberal elite. To become defensive in the face of a statement like that is to bolster the case of those who feel excluded.

It is late (for me) and I am not sure how much sense I am making. But thank you to ProtestMama and others for raising the tough questions, and for jabbing all of a us a little bit. I know that I appreciate being made aware of my own close-mindedness and insular thinking.

I am the mother of a gorgeous little girl with Down syndrome. In order for her to have the life any mother would dream of for her child, I need to spend a few years asking people to open their hearts, eyes and minds to who my girl really is, and who she can be.
If I am going to ask this openness of others, I certainly need to strive to live it myself. And if that means people like ProtestMama need to call me out when I am missing a closed door in my soul, or slighting by my thoughtlessness a group of people who are off my radar, then I need to send out a huge THANK YOU to those people willing to wake me up.

Don't be afraid to question, to think, to open yourself to a new perspective. That is how we grow. And whether we are watching our kids grow up, our gardens sprout or our bread dough rise, isn't growth what it's all about?


I haven't had a chance to read all of the comments (there are so many!), but the one complaint I have about UM is that there does not seem to be any representation of the Vancouver area. Yes, in comparison to Portland it's not exactly "urban", but I'm sure there are still lots of Mamas there. I actually live in both worlds - work and friends in Portland, school and other kid stuff in Vancouver, so I'm interested in both areas. I don't know that this is any fault of UM, which is to say that I don't feel intentionally excluded, but there have to be others like me out there who would benefit on some north-of-the-border info, right?

Abby, I would like to hear/read more about your and your daughter's life, living with Down syndrome. Would you & the uMamas consider featuring topics along these lines?

I tell you what, I keep coming because this site has been a welcome source of information and connection that just isn't met anywhere else. And one reason I like it is that it's private if I want it to be. When a topic is posted, I find myself looking for the "regulars'" responses becuase, while I don't know anyone here personally, I feel like I've developed a group of folks who I'm connected to. How many people out there take their deepest personal experiences, their "mama failures" so to speak, and open them up for everyone else's opinion? The bulk of the really meaningful conversations here, do you miss work, do you agonize over going to work, how do you keep your marriage together, how do you recover after losing it with your child, how do you cope with the loss of the dream over your child going to his neighborhood school, all of those conversations started because someone put a perceived personal failure out there for all of us to witness. The other stuff, where do you shop, what does your child play with, those are just details. Relevant and important to some, not so much to others.

So, here's my strategy for hanging in there with the site. I read. I cry. I get angry. I wish I could do more. I post, maybe. And I roll my eyes and get over myself when I'm looking in a mirror and realize some things aren't life and death.

tl - I am another Clark County mom. I moved from SE Portland to Ridgefield in September. I love it out here, and I am definitely a country mama, but I too would love to hear more about what it going on out here, and to connect with some other families.

And Blai -- thank you for your interest in our story. I would be happy to share more on one level or another. For starters, did you see the recent post on activistas about the All Born "In" photo exhibit at OHSU? I would encourage all of you to check it out if you have the time to go down there. It will be at the Center for Health and Healing for a few more days anyway, and then it will be up at Doernbecher. I worked closely on that project, and it is exciting to have our message out there in a public spot.

Also, if you want to read a piece a wrote about a year ago, you can click here and it will take you there:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/30/AR2007033001835.html
It's a long link, but it works.

Thanks again for your interest. The journey as the mother of a child with Down syndrome is nothing like what I expected and feared when I learned the diagnosis. Our life is as full of joy as I ever could have hoped, and I have a whole new take on the "normal" every day stuff of life.I will think about finding a way to share more of it if people are interested.

I guess I have to say that I'm disappointed in some of the hostility towards ProtestMama. When I was working for a nonprofit organization some time ago, the group went through a rather painful process of recognizing its own racism. In that process, I felt a tremendous amount of defensiveness. I came to recognize that that feeling of defensiveness was me coming up against my own sense of comfort, my own perceptions, my own "isms." Today, when I feel that defensiveness, I recognize it as a learning opportunity, a time to look at my own racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Perhaps we can all look at this as a learning opportunity. One good place to start is with Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Knapsack." I don't know how to do hyperlinks, but it can be found at....
www.case.edu/president/aaction/UnpackingTheKnapsack.pdf

Good news! Abby might well be a Guestivsta in the near future. Plus, there are posts on Down's Syndrome issues over on ActA, most recently on 1.24.08: http://www.urbanmamas.com/activistas/2008/01/all-born-in-pho.html. Hope they are useful.

As the mama who put this post together, I want to acknowledge everyone who has offered their thoughts and perspectives. I personally appreciate it, as these are things that I think about every day.

When we started urbanMamas about 3 years ago, we wanted to create a place where mamas could come and connect, both online and in real life. At the time, we were concerned first and foremost about the one commonality we all shared, being mothers.

Through our conversation here, we know that there are all sorts of mothers in all sorts of situations. We can do everything to say we are all-inclusive, but we are not necessarily all-inclusive here on urbanMamas.

There are many conversations hosted on uM are not pertinent to me. But, when a mama has questions, we are happy to be the forum. We have been continually impressed with the degree of honesty and respect that we've been afforded here. We only ask that you speak from your own experience for the sake of sharing and to not judge others.

This community is, in large part, defined by those who actively contribute to it. For this, we appreciate the oodles of emails we get each day suggesting topics or posing questions. We encourage you to continue to do so, and we particularly encourage those to email us those questions on topics that are rarely discussed. The breadth and diversity of conversation keeps us growing and learning.

I have made statements before that alientate others. I like to drink wine and I know that is a privilege for me to spend my bucks on a non-essential beverage. I have also heard statements that have alientated me. When I once spoke at a previous job they wanted to play some music of gongs in the background, and that infuriated me because gongs are associated with East Asian music and - while I am Asian - I'm not East Asian.

I grew up in SF. My parents are immigrants. They did everything to make sure that we had a good education. When I was a baby, my mom sent me back to the Philippines to live with my grandparents because my parents had to work and couldn't take care of me. Our early childhood was eating cheap TV dinners and spent living with aunts, uncles, grandparents. My mom worked particularly hard growing up. I'd say that I didn't see her much. (But my dad let me eat in his bed eating KFC and watching TV, so that was the advantage to all those overnights my mom worked.) My education and my parents' support of me is my privilege.

I am married, with a husband, and have two girls. When we had our first daughter, we were living in an expensive city (NY) and really had to work. Now, I would say that we work because our work at our nonprofits is satisfying. We are both Filipino and wonder about ethnic identity as our girls grow up.

I am the 'bossmama' that ProtestMama emailed several months ago. I thought that we were having an exchange that would lead to more suggestions on how to make our community more inclusive because, as I've mentioned before and as ProtestMama had said in an email to me, we can still come off sounding exclusive despite our best intentions.

I probably sounded as if I still wasn't "getting it" and that is why our conversation never flourished.

What we have now is a sentiment that uM is a valuable resource that even ProtestMama takes time to frequent and participate in. We also have a sentiment that we can represent more views from different types of mamas. I think I started this conversation because I knew that there was all that beautiful diversity among us, and indeed there is.

Send in your questions, keep on commenting, look out for other ways to meet and connect, suggest your own ideas for the calendar. This community is created by what you all have contributed. We, as moderators, can only control so much.

I wanted to add a few quick thoughts as a social worker who reads uM daily and posts often. I know that mental illness and substance abuse/addictions are a big part of life for many individuals and families. I know there are a lot of people who can relate and offer support and resources. This might be a good place to post questions as mamas. I know there has been a lot of support for moms with kids with disabilities or learning differences, and I have loved to see that, as these are the things that bridge the gap between us all. I have worked in the medical/mental health field for years, and I can tell you that most of the things I have seen are not discriminating between class/race/sex, etc.

Also, I have received some great feedback from other moms, when we lost our pet, when I lost my job (Sarah Gilbert, it does happen, even to single moms living check to check, but guess what? When you build up your support system in advance, you don't necessarily lose your house...that's the good news. The bad news is it takes a bit of time to stop having the "termination" dream, even after getting a new, better job!), and many other topics I have had posted over the years. I am so grateful to uM for letting me post information about my single mamas' group, and for being the catalyst for the JMamas (Jewish Mamas) group last year. You also gave me the opportunity to let folks know about the Donor Sibling Registry for parents who used anonymous sperm/egg donors. If you look at all this, it's not the normal, everyday topics (diapers, toys, clothes, neighborhoods) but it seems to fit right in. So I think there is a good foundation for a more diverse mix of topics in the future.

To those who formula fed...I can just imagine your fear of ridicule by the breast feeding hoards. I had a huge struggle for the first 3 months with BFing and I was always in pain, but I had somehow brainwashed myself into thinking I was going to BF until I could no more. I actually had to speak to a therapist about it. It was not a great experience for me, although I am glad I did it. But I think it is time for us to respect that the information is out there, and people make personal choices, whether due to need or preference. I have a hard time understanding why someone might not try to BF from day one, but in the long run, it might be better for them and their baby for many reasons. I am learning now that many people do not breast feed because they need to be on medication (sometimes for their mental health) that may pass through the breast milk and is not safe for the baby. Imagine being someone with a mental illness, whether newly diagnosed, or ongoing, and trying to explain why you choose not to BF without letting go of information that they don't necessarily feel is anyone else's business. Maybe at times, there is more than meets the eye, and we should save our judgements until,or if, we hear the whole story.

Thanks again everyone for your fabulous input.

ProtestMama -

I don't think Privilege was implying anything against empathy or saying there aren't hard working, very hard working people that don't make enough to make ends meet out there.

But I can relate. There's a tone in this community that if you are financially comfortable that you need to apologize and feel ashamed of your comfort.

Why is it that people who are comfortable must feel ashamed of their wealth in order for those who don't have the same to feel justified in their existance? My husband and I donate a large percentage of our annual income each year to poverty-related non-profits and other non-profits. We both volunteer a tremendous amount of time to help solve the problems in our community. We plan to teach our child that she has a duty to contribute to her society in a charitable manner, no matter her socio-economic status.

And yet, there are those who villify us simply because we are "haves" vs "have nots".

I rarely contribute to this forum but when I do, I tend to contribute ideas that can be applicable to everyone, not just those who can afford something extravagant. I like knowing what is free or inexpensive, both for myself and for my friends. Yet, I have this feeling that if you were to meet me, you would "brand" me because I am a "have". That disturbs me. IMO, it is unacceptable to create barriers & discomfort for ANYone.

"I you wandered into the MAC club or a patrons dinner for the Museum or the Symphony, and found yourself in the middle of a conversation about East Coast boarding schools and "any parent who cared about their child would of course send them to Choate. . ","

This statement is so unfair and presumptive. I belong to the MAC.
I am a Patron member of the Portland Art Museum.

I have NEVER, NEVER, NEVER heard a conversation about East Coast boarding schools or Choate. Both my husband and I went to public schools and I went to a boring state school for college. I have never been in any situation where either of us were deemed "unfit" or anything else because we went through the public school system.

This kind of assumption is so divisive and yet somehow it is OKAY to the poster because we belong to the MAC and go to black tie events?

My husband and I are normal people. And so are most, not all, of the people we know at the MAC and who are Patrons of various organizations around town (who are the ones funding discounted memberships and free days to those organizations).

We clip coupons. We look for bargains. Yes, we are NORMAL. And we're tired of stereotypes and labels just as much as everyone else. I don't generally comment when people make assumptions about me or those like me but this is ridiculous. We're all human. We all have hangups and making assumptions about a person simply because of their socio-economic status or the clubs they may belong in is just as wrong as judging someone who qualifies for welfare (and I know more about that than you may know).

Do you really want diversity (all socio-economic, race, religion, etc) or just more of certain groups? Because the quote above certainly does not make someone like me feel welcome. But maybe that's the goal.

If I was Olivia or Hau, I would put the ki-bash on this post. It's totally spun out of control and has become so negative and counter-productive.

* I feel the discussions on class and privilege are crazy. If you feel that way, I really think it's on you.

* Hau and Olivia are incredibly down to Earth. I have full faith that they use their best down to Earth judgement in choosing questions to post.

* Those who comment are represented and those who don't aren't. I have commented plenty of times in defense of the unpopular viewpoint (the necessity of Target, circumcision, etc.). Who cares? I get something off my chest and maybe bring a new perspective to someone.

If it weren't for the majority of really awesome, level-headed and thinking uMamas who regularly participate, this post/comments would have left me not wanting to ever check back.

Monica in Cali, I respectfully disagree. I think there have been a lot of opinions posted here, and a lot of discourse, but there has not been an insulting tone, only a back and forth discussion. If someone started slinging racial slurs, or telling folks to "pull themselves up by their boot straps" I might agree with you. But there are a bunch of tasty nuggets popping up within the adversity, and it would be a shame to shut that down due to a few dissenters. So I hope this thread goes on and on. And as many said, if you don't relate, or don't want to read it, go on to the next thing. uM can't be all things to all people, and this is an example. I for one want to see more, and more. Thanks.

I have to TOTALLY agree with anonymous above and have to back up the statements made in that post. I found ProtestMama's examples about East coast boarding schools really unfair and classist. Why is reverse classism, or rather, sweeping generalizations about those at an upper class, somehow OK?

I refuse to feel "guilt" for being white. This is in reference to another post. Maybe it was Kristin, who gentle say that we all suffer from whatever 'isms' she suffered from? I'm not upper-class, and I'm more privileged (luckier) than some, less than many. I'm not the child of immigrants, so my story doesn't have that impact, but we all have a story. And you won't necessarily *know* anyone's whole story, ever. Not on the Internet.

I have a career and a boss and extended family, all of whom could wander onto this site, so there are lots of things that I prefer not to air in public, though my life's experiences would make a great counterpoint to things that are written here.

I think UM generally covers a range of issues that appeals to a pretty homogenous group of parents. And there's nothing wrong with that - it's run by a group of mama friends who not surprisingly share similar (not same) world views, interests, etc. The blog seems very mainstream Portland to me: liberal, middle-class, eco-conscious, etc, and some of the discussion topics are interesting to me so I’m grateful that it exists due to the work of a few hardworking mamas. I’m also very happy when readers bring in diverse perspective and I feel that the organizers generally seem to want the blog to feel welcoming and inclusive to a diverse readership.

But I definitely understand how many parents would feel marginalized by the blog topics, discussions, or follow-up. For example, the UM approach to the discussions about public schools – which is clearly a mama issue. Some parents raised concerns about the equity of the Portland Public Schools system during the blog discussions about charter schools, the PPS brown bag lunch, and the transfer policy school board meeting. However, there is an unwillingness or lack of interest from blog organizers to provide a forum (meeting or online) to continue a discussion specifically about equity in our public schools. From my perspective it’s clear that there is a deliberate marginalization of this issue. (“We are here to talk about school choices, not about the pros and cons of school choice.”) It’s disappointing to me because as a mamas group (and especially as an activist arm of a mamas group) I would welcome a forum where people feel comfortable sharing information and ideas to help make the public school system work for all our children.

I believe that if mainstream liberal Portland was as aware of how we all fit into and impact our social environment as much as our natural environment, we would never allow such a regressive public schools system that PPS currently provides. (From what I’ve heard the public school system in Beaverton and other suburbs is more equitable.) Mainstream eco-conscious Portland is very community-minded about the larger natural environment and we take individual responsibility for protecting it, but we generally support institutional racism and classism in our school system and accept that families should make individualistic decisions about schools even when those collective decisions harm a large segment (not all) of our city’s low income and minority children – the groups that are sometimes marginalized or alienated from the UM (and mainstream Portland) world.

But the public schools issue is just an example to illustrate the point about how UM can alienate or marginalize some parents with a different worldview about what is important for our families and community. The bottom line is that I completely respect the UM organizers decision to facilitate discussions and forums that they feel are relevant and important, because it’s their group. But when UM frames some discussions to purposefully limit debate about a particular mama-related issue, it does make the UM blog posts calling for wide-ranging perspectives and the desire for a diverse blog community seem ineffective and a little insincere to me. It sometimes feels like there is more interest in appearing to serve a diverse group of parents than actually doing it. I’m sorry if I have offended anyone, but I really wanted to support the comments made by Protest Mama, anon.2, Sheryl, Kristen, and others, and also to share my perspective with the large number of responders to this topic who really seem to value hearing and learning from a diverse range of perspectives and opinions. Thanks.

"But when UM frames some discussions to purposefully limit debate about a particular mama-related issue,"

I'm generally a lurker on this site, and a rare one at that. But I do understand why UM would limit debate on certain issues.

I don't think the premise behind this is to limit or squelch discussion on those topics but debate isn't appropriate for every conversation.

Not every conversation needs to change the world. There is a time and a place for that. I didn't read the PPS discussion (not ready for that yet in my house) but as someone who will be looking into that topic soon, I'm not interested in debating when I'm starting from ground 0; I'm interested in information.

Why do we have to make every topic debatable?

If I choose not to breastfeed and am looking for help with formula, is it necessary for someone to argue the benefits of BFing? Or if I choose to BF and am having a difficult time, is it necessary for someone to discount my troubles by telling me that formula is just as good so don't bother?

All of these topics have merit but there is a time and a place.


I don't think that providing rules for a conversation is meant to marginize or alienate anyone. It just helps to say, "This isn't the time or place for a debate; it's about information."

I've been reading these posts with great interest over the past week. we're all people. parents. every other identifier makes us a diverse community. imagine what the conversations would look like if we were all exactly alike? blah!

homogeneity be damned. i enjoy the opportunity to read other perspectives & experiences; that's how i learn to understand and relate to others, and more importantly, how i raise my children.

racism, classism, breastfeeding-ism, plastic toys-isms... why judge? we're here to learn from each other.

as for me, i'm 33, have 3 kids (2, 5, 8), own a business, teach college full time, am renovating a drafty, cold, giant victorian house, and am into the life portland promotes: organic, sustainable, blah, blah... i drink beer, garden, go camping, have chickens/dog/cat, make decent money, am often less than tactful, smoke the occasional joint, am an activist in my own style, and come from a tiny, redneck hometown in montana.

and it all makes me who i am, without a doubt.


to get to the other point of the original post, however, my one comment about exclusivity at UM stems from access as a mama-baby oriented business owner: while one business is obviously an active sponsor and contributor to the site (and i have nothing but admiration & respect for tony, jen, and milagros!), i can see how additional access to information from other businesses would benefit the UM community.

I am a 29 year old married mother of 2 boys with a girl on the way in April. I work part-time outside the home and 24/7 inside! I have found great help and support on urbanmamas (although it can't replace the face to face friendships of other women and moms!). I appreciate the plethora of information one can find on anything from potty training to bedtime routines to doctors and schools. We are probably right smack in the middle of middle class and live a pretty modest life. However, with baby #3 comes the decision of whether or not I should continue to work part-time or stay home (would I just be working to pay for childcare??) and with this decision comes financial implications. I appreciate the diversity and have found lots of ideas on how to have "Free Fun" in Portland over the last couple years. Thanks UM!!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment