Narratives of Disability, Motherhood, and the Politics of «Normal»
Edited By Priya Lalvani
Constructing the (M)other is a collection of personal narratives about motherhood in the context of a society in which disability holds a stigmatized position. From multiple vantage points, these autoethnographies reveal how ableist beliefs about disability are institutionally upheld and reified. Collectively they seek to call attention to a patriarchal surveillance of mothering, challenge the trope of the good mother, and dismantle the constructed hierarchy of acceptable children. The stories contained in this volume are counter-narratives of resistance—they are the devices through which mothers push back. Rejecting notions of the otherness of their children, in these essays, mothers negotiate their identities and claim access to the category of normative motherhood. Readers are likely to experience dissonance, have their assumptions about disability challenged, and find their parameters of normalcy transformed.
Chapter Eleven: Mothering in the Panopticon (Susan Baglieri)
Mothering in the Panopticon
She leaned over and placed her hand on my knee. “Here comes the hard part,” the teacher with kind eyes and soft voice started. We are sitting side by side, surrounded by piles of papers, children’s books, and binders in the small office space. Barbara had completed the task of explaining the program’s developmental checklist and showing me samples of work to illustrate what my eldest son—then three years old—had accomplished. The “hard part” for which she was preparing me was the point at which she recounted Jason’s problems and struggles, weaving them into a troubling narrative.
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Memory work is slippery work. Stories are shaped in the moments of their remembering, imagining, and telling, as much as they are formed in relation to events originally ordered in space and time. I am conscious of the craft at work in sharing stories of our lives, and mindful of the works of D. Jean Clandinin (2016) and Bronwyn Davies and Susannah Gannon (2006). Each speak of the tenuousness of claims to objective and stable narratives, in favor of the purposeful or collectively meaningful narratives that are cultivated from the messiness of lives lived. The way we recall events and make stories of them are mosaics of our self and others, within innumerable contexts. We become our selves in relation to the ways in which life is encountered and later remembered. We are...
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