By Abby Placik
During our childhood, we took what our mothers did for us for granted. She made sure we received home-cooked meals, washed our clothes, and tucked us into bed at night. Whenever we had concerns or fears, Mommy was there to comfort and assure us that everything would be fine. It never occurred to us that our mommies might have desired some support of their own.
In The “Playgroup,” Elizabeth Mosier, a lecturer in Bryn Mawr’s creative writing program, investigates the challenges of balancing a career and motherhood with honest acumen. The novella was published in September 2011 by Gemma Media as part of its “Open Door” series designed to promote adult literacy. Mosier said she designed “The Playgroup” to attract “reluctant readers:” exhausted mothers who do not have much time to read for enjoyment. She explained that writing for the Open Door series “appealed to me mostly because of the wide variety of ways we were able to interpret. I wasn’t dumbing down the content. I wasn’t simplifying complex ideas.”
The protagonist of “The Playgroup,” Sarah Holloway, an art therapist, hopes to hide her maternal inadequacies by joining a playgroup. Mosier modeled the plot to be easily relatable for mothers of diverse backgrounds. She noticed how the widely discussed book “Mommy Wars” ignited fiery debates among career women and homemakers.
“What’s interesting to me are those same things we share,” Mosier said. “To me that’s more what a novel is supposed to do rather than take that polarized view.”
Within the past few months, Mosier has promoted “The Playgroup” through fund-raising events to elevate awareness about adult literacy. On Wednesday evening, March 14, an assemblage of students, professors and family friends attended a book reading and signing at Goodhart Theater. This was the first event during which Mosier did not use the novella to fund-raise for adult literacy, but rather to share the diverse experiences of motherhood. In her opening speech, Mosier said that motherhood was similar to a “second adolescence” and that mothers were “all in that same perilous situation when we’ve decided to be responsible for another human being.”
Even though Mosier primarily intended “The Playgroup” to appeal to mothers, she also sparked much discussion among students and professors.
“[Balancing a career and motherhood is] an issue all women face,” said Nora Scheland, BMC ’15. “As Bryn Mawr students, we are encouraged to become leaders in our field. [Motherhood] is not a black and white situation.”
“Often the father is able to have a job, but if it comes down to one of the parents needing to make a sacrifice, that parent is almost exclusively the woman in the relationship,” said Amelia Eichengreen, BMC ’13.
There have been a variety of courses offered at Haverford and Bryn Mawr that pertain to this current issue including, Self and Society, Inequality in Labor Markets, The Family in Social Context. Professor Marissa Golden said that she might incorporate “The Playgroup” in her course Women, Work, and Family.
“One of the goals of the course is to provide insight into what’s its like to be real mothers and real fathers in the twenty-first century,” Golden said.
While “The Playgroup” seeks to examine this issue through its protagonist’s experiences, it is not meant to be a treatise. In any stage of life, even as as young adults, we retain the capability to reinvent ourselves to suit our ideas of competent and satisfying lifestyles.