Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where's Your Mom?

Clicking through the channels, we came upon "Dancing With the Stars: The Announcement." Five women ... Brandy (who took Kobe Bryant to her senior prom), Baby from Dirty Dancing, a starlet with a strange name, Florence Henderson (yes, Mrs. Brady) and then, as if the devil himself had created the perfect storm of pseudo-celebrity, humiliation and self-abasement, the fifth and final contestant emerged from behind the curtain. 

Bristol Palin.

Even now, ten minutes after seeing it, I have goose bumps and a queasy feeling in my gut.  Sweetheart, where is your mother?  Can I take you in and show you that there are other options available to you?  Whoring yourself to an intrusive public, greedy for a glimpse of where is she now may not be the best example for you to set for your little one.  The poor kid already has a father whose naked self is displayed on newsstands everywhere.

You are a very public single mother, with easy access to any media outlet you'd care to call.  I loved your People interview back in May, 2009, where you said that teen pregnancy was "not a situation you want to strive for."  You moaned about missing hockey games and having spit up on your graduation gown and I loved your honesty and your forthright descriptions of the day to day drudgery of your life.  My favorite quote is here:
"Girls need to imagine and picture their life with a screaming newborn baby and then think before they have sex," she tells PEOPLE. "Think about the consequences." 
Right there - print it on every billboard at every intersection - that's the message in a soundbite.  I was so proud of you for being so honest.  I applauded your notion of becoming a spokesperson to discourage teen pregnancies. It felt like a grown-up way to handle a difficult situation.  It was what a responsible mom would do.

Although I was glad that your baby had his grandpa and aunts and uncles around,  I was asking the same question back then:  where is your mother?  Grandma Sarah stresses that there are no nannies in the house, but I didn't read anything that indicated that she was around the house, doing her share of the co-parenting.  Nope, she was out making speeches and quitting her job and going on tour while you were home learning to be a mom.  It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a mom around to answer questions and set an example.  Or maybe Sarah was setting an example.... just not the one I wish she were showing you, Bristol.

Like watching a train wreck, we stuck around for the next commercial  break when the men were announced.  David Hasselhoff and some jocks and then there you were, Bristol, sitting on the edge of the end of the couch, bravely clapping your right hand into your left as if you were at another of the interminable political rallies at which you and your siblings and your on-again-off-again-Levi-guy were displayed like trophies to an admiring and insatiable public.

I'm sure that the money was enticing.  I'm sure that a publicist was able to convince you that there's a small window of opportunity in which you can grab your 15 minutes of Warhol-ian fame (Do you know who he is, honey?  He had a lot to say about surface and substance and meaning or the lack thereof.) But did you ask your son's pediatrician what she thought about it?

I suppose that I might be singing a different tune if you had looked just a little bit happy to be there.  I kept looking for some sign of joy, of beginning a new adventure, of testing your physical limits... of something, anything that would alleviate the over-riding sense of shame that you are sitting on a couch, a faux-star in a faux-universe, where teen parenthood is trumped by the glamor and glitter of what passes for reality these days.

I'm disgusted with the whole thing.  And I'm serious, Bristol. If you want to come over I'd be glad to dispense all this advise in person.  You may not need parenting, being one yourself and all these days.  But everyone needs a mom......

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