The XX Factor

Mommy Cards: Cute, Cloying, or Identity Crushing?

Who needs a “mommy card”? There are plenty of moments in the life of a mom, working or “non,” when it is very handy to be able to produce a card with your basic contact information on it. You’re offering Sam an occasional ride to hockey? Call me. Want to discuss the new Montessori teacher somewhere where the kids can’t hear? Send me an e-mail. Playdate? My thoughts on the merits of various ski programs? Let’s talk later, here’s my card.

Until now, that’s where the working mom has had an advantage. She may need to add a home phone, but the means is there, no scraping the car floor for a leftover school flier or napkin for her.  With the advent of the “mommy card,” moms with no business affiliation can likewise affect a more graceful exchange of information. Cute as all-get-out, the ” mommy card ” includes space for your name, phone, and e-mail and an optional extra line: “So-and-So’s Mom.” You can also, in case you’re afraid your new acquaintance might remember your child’s face but not his or her name, include a picture. (Yes, there are daddy cards too. With a gridiron and a space to preserve your masculinity by promoting your fave team: Go Pack!)

That’s cute. It’s practical. But is it also, as fellow bloggers like Sadie Stein at Jezebel suggest, a soul-crushing abdication of your entire non-mom identity? The faux-business-card equivalent of using your kids’ photo instead of your own on Facebook ? Is the possessor of the mommy card saying, “I am my children, and my children are me”?

That one’s pretty clearly in the eye of the beholder. No one worries that our children are usurping our identities unless she’s worried that her children are usurping her identity, which I think may come with the territory of the first few years of mothering. Becoming a mother is an identity flip; no matter how many other roles you play in life, one of those roles is now irretrievably linked to someone else. Some women accept that too enthusiastically for the first few years. Others struggle too hard against it. Most women, working or not, relax into the dual role. For those that don’t, a mommy card probably won’t be the deciding factor.