In the Know ;
WHAT I REALLY KNOW
About the American Dream By Joanna Bressler, Santa Monica, Calif.
In 1972, I was 35 years old and
a single mother of a 10-month-old
daughter. One night, I was invited
to attend a gathering where Dr.
Benjamin Spock, America’s most
famous pediatrician, was speaking.
Only I couldn’t get a babysitter.
With some trepidation, I entered the hall carrying Amanda in the crook of
my arm. (No baby slings back then.)
A tall, elegant giraffe of a man loped over and
said, “I’m Ben Spock. May I hold her?”
Speechless, I handed her over, and she settled
into his arms without a backward glance.
“She’s 10 months old?” he asked. I nodded.
“My, my. She doesn’t have any
stranger anxiety at all. You must be
a very good mother.”
He leapt to the platform, Amanda
in his arms, and spoke at length while
she patted his face, tried to knock off
his glasses, and nuzzled into his neck
with a sigh of contentment.
That night, Dr. Spock talked about the American dream: how all Americans believed in it but
too many didn’t even come close to realizing it.
He listed the many inequities in our system.
At the time, I was feeling pretty inequitable
myself. I loved my baby, had a new Ph.D. and a
new job, but the absence of a husband/father
Proud mama in 1972
weighed heavily upon me. I had to fight hard
not to see myself—an unmarried mother with
an illegitimate child—as a second-class citizen.
I worried that others saw my choice as an irresponsible one. A few of my erstwhile friends
had said as much during my pregnancy.
But that particular evening, with my role-model
baby and the Benjamin Spock seal of approval, I
was living the American dream.
; YOUR TURN! Tell us what
you really know about make-believe.
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COURTESY JOANNA BRESSLER