Magazine Review: Brain, Child (Spring 2009)

Are you a mom whose brain cells haven’t all died? Are you tired of 7 Fun Ways to Make Your Child Gifted/a Pro Athlete/Chess Master articles? Rather looking for say 60 pages to keep your smarts? Then grab yourself a copy of Brain, Child.

Brain, Child calls itself “the magazine for thinking mothers” and they ain’t kidding.

The Spring 2009 issue took forever for me to read because after each article I had to put the issue down, stew in my thoughts on the subject, reflect, and repeat for a few hours to a few days. Drugs, sex, swearing and not living with your children – what say you? Oh, don’t fret, there is an article on fashion. But instead of a spread on what is hot for the pre-tween set, we get an engaging piece from Mylisa Larsen about what she learns about fashion from her four-year-old daughter. For part of this essay, I thought that perhaps I wrote it in my sleep & sent it in. Larsen & I share free-spirited girls who like to thumb their nose at fashion rules by matching stripes of one color with plaid of another on top of a butterfly print. Larsen experiments with fashion after years of belonging to the “comfortable shoe club” with amazing, yet predictable results.

If I had to label this issue, I’d label it “The One with My Friends in it.” Katy Read’s essay on non-custodial moms is heartbreaking yet enlightening to a world that baffles me, yet I also understand. Rebekah Spicuglia, whose story was also told in a WMC op-ed, summarizes her decision to not have her son live with her. She opens her heart and decides what is best for her son, not her, not what others expect her to do, but honestly what is best for her son at that moment in time. Spicuglia is representative of why some women do opt not to have custody of their child(ren) after splitting with the father – they are in school, they need to focus on reentering the workforce and so on. They aren’t out “finding themselves,” rather they are being responsible to themselves and their child(ren). Jill Miller Zimon talks about why noncustodial moms are a growing population and that society needs to recognize them for what they are – moms. Other friends mentioned in this issue include Devra Renner, who is discussing the hope military families have that the Obama administration will help them out on a variety of issues, including some that may benefit all families and PunditMom having an ad on the back cover.

Johanna Bailey and Joan Marcus both muse about whether or not exposing your child(ren) to something “adult” (drugs and swearing, respectfully) is harmful or not. Bailey makes a strong case that talking frankly and vividly (with all the details her step-father did with her in an attempt to scare her) with children about your past drug use could have a reverse effect. She speaks from hard-earned experience. Marcus’s father was the stereotypical swearing sailor. She grew up with not just his swearing, but watching Rocky Horror and appears to be a well-adjusted adult. I do wish that Marcus had explored the difference between general cursing (shit, fuck, hell) to racist and misogynistic epithets. She touches on it, but then lets it go. I say that because I ponder the same thing. Is it so wrong for my daughter to hear me cursing out CNN, yet again, versus hearing hateful words come from my mouth? OK, you could make a case that calling the latest GOP talking head an asshole is hateful, you know what I mean. I also wonder how many times Marcus will get asked to comment on High School Musical versus Grease.

As you can see from my profiling barely half of the pieces in this issue, this is not your usual mother’s magazine. I have to admit that when I first picked up Brain, Child after I had my daughter, I felt intimidated by the pieces. Gone are the smiley baby pictures on every other page. In its place is real, hard, cold, loving content meant to make us think. Thus for the newbie readers, go grab a copy and go slowly. You have three months to read each issue before the next one shows up on your doorstep or your bookstore. If your local bookstore doesn’t carry it, ASK for it.

AND if you want to subscribe (I’m going to finally do it!) there’s a neat package deal in the magazine. You can sign up on your own for $19.95 (newsstand is $23.80) for a full year. OR you can find three momma friends, subscribe together and get each subscription costs only $14. That’s a medium cuppa soy chai in savings! And I do believe this offer is only good with the special form in the magazine.

Disclaimer: I can’t recall how my relationship with Brain, Child began, but I’m sure they pitched me the idea of reviewing them on my blog and I said yes. The issue I read was a review copy. Future copies will be paid out of my own jean pocket.