Books ó The Essential Hip Mama

The Essential Hip Mama


By Amy Diaz


The Hip side of parenting, Mom tales tell it like it is

The Essential Hip Mama: Writing from the Cutting Edge of Parenting, edited by Ariel Gore, Seal Press, 2004, 326 pages.

Itís never like they tell you.

Think about it. College brochures show you multicultural young adults in blazers measuring chemicals or in rapt attention at some professorís brilliant lecture. The reality? Backwards baseball caps and beer bongs. Bridal magazines paint a fantasy of Oscar-like glamor. Oddly, there are no pictures of two people fighting over whose turn it is to take out the garbage. Parenting books feature serene-looking women patting extended bellies and hugging impossibly clean toddlers.

Yes, Iím sure thatís exactly what itís like.

The Essential Hip Mama is a collection of essays, along with a few letters to the editor, factoids and assorted other literary tidbits, from the Hip Mama zine, the refuge of many a Doc Marten-wearing alterna-girl who found herself in a family way. The stories, some by zine founder Ariel Gore, donít bother with nonsense about the joy of motherhood. Instead, these essays focus on raising happy, healthy kids without losing yourself in the Barney/PTA/Wal-Mart world where society sometimes wants to pen up its mothers. And, yes, thereís a lot here about what society expects of mothers and why mothers must, essentially, fight the man. Hip Mama is the kind of zine that tells you how to get some peace for $2 (8 quarters and one pony-ride machine will buy you enough time to read an entire magazine article) and lets former/future writers, clubbers, sex workers, artists and professionals of all kinds talk about/get over their blues/guilt/disappointment about living in a world thatís more about cribs than careers.

Not every Essential Hip Mama essay is brilliant and plenty of them will seem to be trying a little too hard to be hip. But the book touches a range of experiences óf rom your plain vanilla married-with-kids to all sorts of single-with-kids (widowed, divorced, never married) to lesbian couples to women who still donít completely understand how they got where they are. And even the essays tinged with sadness have the humor that comes of hearing someoneís actual story.

Sure, this may not be your life but you know that the hip mamas here are at least telling it like it really was for them.

- Amy Diaz

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH