Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Napkins and "Obsessive Parenting"

Our napkins were recently discussed by Bhawna Saini on her "Yellow Mellow Life" parenting blog in "Of Obsessed Mothers and School Lunches."

She asked me to answer some questions, and generally made me sound like a better parent than I am. While I might admit to being a person with obsessive compulsive tendencies, I'm not sure that these compulsions necessarily spur me towards better parenting.

My general impression is that parenting in public does not often garner positive feedback. Perhaps this is because I am the mother of two rowdy, contrary boys. Throughout the last 12 years, while standing over a shrieking toddler flailing on his back on a New York City sidewalk, or wrestling a Swiffer Mop away from a 4 year old in Whole Foods, or trying to keep the boys from kicking each other in a crowded subway car last week, rarely does someone tell me that I am doing a good job.

Posting the napkin images online, however, is a very public instance of parenting.  People comment that the napkins are evidence that I am a caring, attentive mother. Other people comment that I am misguided and clearly have too much time on my hands as well as a household staff, and am probably damaging my children...And that parents like me who post things online are just pathetically looking for attention for themselves.

I would say that none of the assessments above is accurate, except, of course for the last one.  The napkins do not indicate that I am a notably good or bad parent. I am posting them at this point at least partially for my own promotional benefit.  Pathetic self promotion is part of the job description for visual artists. I make other stuff and I post that also. Here's another self promotional bit:

Posting the napkins online does have one pleasant non promotional benefit: it has given me an opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. Bhawna of "Yellow Mellow Life" lives in India. I had to look at her blog fairly carefully to be certain of that, as many of the reference points in her posts are the same as they might be if she were a person living in Brooklyn.
Thanks for writing about the napkins Bhawna.


  1. Being a parent is joy, however, parenting is often a dreadful topic because there is so much judgement going on.
    To tell you frankly, when I was a new mother, I was like the epitome of love and care. Four years into motherhood, I have faced desperate situations, terrible tantrums and endless arguments with a four year old. I have lost on more occasions than I have won. I accept that I am not that loving and caring anymore. All this has made me realize that mothers are neither good nor bad, they are just mothers.
    It doesn’t matter if you are doing what you do for self promotion or for becoming a better parent, as long as you do it because it brings you joy! Why do you think I do DIY with my daughter? Not necessarily because she enjoys it but because it lets me keep my sanity!

  2. Thanks again for taking the time to write Bhawna!