MILF. The lovely little acronym that’s been around for at least a couple of decades but which became widely popular thanks to the film American Pie in 1999. The term MILF has penetrated our popular culture via mainstream and XXX films, websites and books devoted to the subject, and even my own peer group where the MILF label is occasionally bestowed upon one of us moms as a compliment to affirm that, despite our advancing age, wrinkles, and newly sprouted grey hairs; “You’ve still got it, baby”.
MILF’s existence still seems relatively unknown to the generations that have preceded mine. My 50+ year-old friends are unfamiliar with the acronym and react with wide-eyed astonishment upon learning that it means ‘Mom I’d Like to F@#k’. Back in their day, motherhood femininity was associated with domesticity and housedresses; not with looking svelte in a Lulu Lemon sweat suit while getting a pedicure and sipping a latte before heading to the grocery store and maneuvering a cart through the aisles while the 20-something-year-old checkout clerk is thinking to himself, “What a total MILF.”
While for some mothers MILFness may indeed derive from their internal positive sense of self, for others- including myself- I contend that the existence of MILFness can be a burden and a potential detriment to a mother’s sense of self. In my experience, MILFness has become a unit of measurement for mothers of my generation. It’s one more cultural standard upon which we evaluate our own selves in comparison to other mothers. Rather than MILFness serving as a reflection of one’s self-esteem it pulls females to focus outward on the more fluctuant, less reliable ‘other-esteem’. MILF is a loaded acronym, a double-edged sword that ideally should reflect a mother’s self-confidence, but conversely can set her up to think competitively and view our kids’ soccer field or the aisles of our local Target store as the playing field where feelings of inadequacy can creep up and grab hold.
American popular culture, in my opinion, has found a new dichotomy of femininity for mothers. No longer is our only option the puritanical Virgin vs. Whore thing; now we are offered the secular Frumpy Mom vs. MILF split. At least these latter options assume that both groups get laid. But wait, there’s more! Just in case one of these labels is not a best fit, my daughters will come to know that slut, vixen, ho, dyke, or cougar are waiting eagerly to be attached to their expression of sexuality.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly like the thought of someone thinking of me as a MILF (okay, so it’s no longer a secret). I am a product of my American culture after all, and my society tells me that retaining my desirability, my hotness, my f@#kability- even after becoming a mother- is something to strive for. I’ve bought in to it- literally (chic shades and ballet flats) and figuratively, “Is that cashier dude checking me out? Awesome.”
But, herein lies the internal conflict that I experience as a mama raising daughters: I struggle to navigate the paradoxical nature of ascribing to my culture’s newest definitions of motherhood femininity while at the same time loathing these narrowly defined options because they can prevent both males and females from honoring all the shades of gray in between the two polarities. These shades of gray range from the physical, economic, educational, and behavioral disparities among females, to the inevitable aging process that is as varied and diverse as women themselves, from the days when we moms feel like all we can commit to is putting on our granny underwear and a shabby pair of sweats to the nights when we don’t feel like f#@king our husband or partner until we’re actually f#@king.
It is my sense that acknowledging, embracing, and even celebrating these gradients as a mother can help to offer my daughters a broader definition of femininity and teach them valuable lessons on how to become whole rather than one (e.g., Frumpy Mom) or the other (e.g., MILF). What it boils down to- for me- is this: I am a mama on a mission to combat a MILFed-up culture that can limit both a mother’s and daughter’s view of herself and her place in the world. This requires that I operate from my higher, grounded, instinctual self and that this- not MILFness- takes nothing short of attitude, class, and style. Some days I’ve got it, some days, not so much.
It’s during these times of struggle; when I seem to lose my way and my ability to trust my instincts, when parenting my daughters feels dicey and uncertain, or those days when I’m PMSing and good-enough parenting isn’t even in the equation because my mood self-centeredly focuses on a pint of ice cream and a nap; these are the times when I want to be able to rely on my fellow MILFs (as in, Moms I’d Like to Follow).
I want to tap into the growing collective consciousness and awareness that our daughters are growing up in a world where their authentic voices and valuable contributions need to be nurtured and recognized. It is my belief that the best way to do so is to first look within- at our true selves- and then be willing to share our wisdom with each other, for the sake of ourselves and our daughters.
I invite you to follow me, fellow mamas, on this journey of mine to reclaim MILFdom as a collaborative, connected, communal force among us. So let me hear it fellow MILFollows- what say you about this topic or others that relate to it? I’m all ears (and open mind and heart too)!