We’re still talking about Martha. Sure, for a while we stopped talking about Martha the cultural phenomenon and started talking about Martha the convict and Martha, wearer of ponchos, but now we’re back to Martha and the Meaning of Martha. (I don’t need to tell you which Martha we’re talking about, do I?)
Here’s what Barbara Gill, author of Changed by a Child (Main Street Books, 1998), wrote about Martha 10 years ago in Minnesota Parent:
“[This is] what we most resent about Martha: she stands for a lie. The lie that you can do it all perfectly, by yourself, smiling the while. In spite of the pictures of Martha making southern-fried chicken at a mountain campsite, or stepping out of the chicken coop, or demonstrating the 26 steps to a perfect cup of tea, we don’t believe that Martha does all those things herself. We laugh when we read the calendar entries that have her dividing the irises the day after her return from Mt. Everest. The Martha we see is not real; she is a carefully constructed image.
But we are real. Real working women trying to walk a line between our various identities, a line between what we would like to do and the energy we have to bring it about. We don’t want to be superwomen or martyrs. We want to do our jobs and be decent mothers and make our homes comfortable and pleasing places. So we search for the narrow space between what is possible and what is practicable, what is desirable and what is doable, making our way toward an as-yet undefined model while we leave rejected models behind.”