Upcoming event to support parents

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, next month, the city of Marshall’s Community Services Department will be offering the eighth annual Moms’ Expo, March 29 at the Marshall High School.

The idea for this event originated from Community Services employee Danielle Wilts. After Danielle came back to work from being on maternity leave after her third child, she admitted that she struggled with being a working mom of three kids. Danielle starting to wonder if she was alone or if other moms were feeling the same way. She then wondered if other parents could be brought together to support each other.

From this and soon thereafter, Danielle initiated a formation of a committee, and the Moms’ Expo was created.

For any parent, the feeling of being alone and exhausted or just unsure of how best to parent is shared by many. This could be why when Dr. Spock wrote one of the best-selling parent books of all time, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, he started the book with these sentences: “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

Baby and Child Care challenged the child-rearing orthodoxy of the early 20th Century — that babies should be fed according to a tight schedule, and that showing them too much affection made them weak and unprepared for the world. Instead, Dr Spock encouraged a more gentle approach to bringing up children, and told parents to trust their own instincts and common sense.

Novelist Anna Quindlen, who often noted the joys and isolation of new motherhood in her essays, once wrote, “Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can only be managed with a stern voice and a time-out. One boy is toilet trained at three, his brother at two.”

As mentioned, the pressures of a career and a family can be challenging factors when raising a family. In 2012, after resigning from a top federal position, international lawyer and foreign policy analyst Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote in her essay Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, “The decision to step down from a position of power — to value family over professional advancement, even for a time is directly at odds with the prevailing social pressures on career professionals in the United States.”

Or in contrast to feeling that you have to choose one or the other, author Joan Didion, known for her incisive writing and astute observations, documented in her writing about parenting the insecurities and the joys that come with rearing a child.

When Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne welcomed their first and only baby through adoption, Didion worried that she “would not be up to the task.”

Though not an uncommon concern for many new parents, it likely presented a particularly daunting risk for Didion, as it does for most mothers with professional careers. Yet she also remained skeptical of modern feminism, “There was a time in the 1980s when women felt they needed to make a choice between raising kids and working. I personally don’t think children want all the attention they get,” she said.

As we consider our own role in parenting, the Moms Expo can provide an opportunity for this reflection. The Moms’ Expo is an event that was created with parents in mind, a night to get away from responsibilities at home, network with other parents, enjoy a meal and listen to some great speakers.

Registration for the event, prior to COVID, was on an upward trend and while attendance is just one marker of success, participant feedback has been very positive.

To learn more about this event or to register, please contact Marshall Community Services at 507-537-6767.

— Sharon Hanson is the city administrator for the city of Marshall

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