Commentary

Extreme Moms

Books like Bowling Alone get a lot of attention for chronicling the decay of civil society. Where are those voluntary organizations, those small platoons that bind us together? Says the author: Television, two-career families, suburban sprawl, generational changes in values–these and other changes in American society have meant that fewer and fewer of us find that the League of Women Voters, or the United Way, or the Shriners, or the monthly bridge club, or even a Sunday picnic with friends fits the way we have come to live. Our growing social-capital deficit threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, equitable tax collection, democratic responsiveness, everyday honesty, and even our health and happiness. But if the waning popularity of bowling leagues means fewer Americans join social groups, does the waning popularity of bellbottoms mean fewer Americans wear pants? What’s happening is more of an evolution of voluntary organizations. Old one’s drop off, new ones emerge. We may be bowling alone, but moms are now skateboarding together: Who are these crazy women? We are teachers, artists, system analysts, children’s book authors, stand-up comedians, marriage counselors, trauma nurses, furniture designers and “skate-at-home” moms. We are single moms and moms of multiples, home-schoolers and environmentalists, peace marchers and survivors of domestic abuse. We come from 10 states and range in age from 25 to 80. (Yes, 80. Liz Bevington of Santa Monica skates the boardwalks of Venice Beach on her wind-powered skateboard.) The International Society of Skateboarding Moms ââ?¬â?? even we smile when we say it ââ?¬â?? is about making time for play, no matter your age. It’s about staying fit (despite those half-eaten kid meals you’ve gobbled). It’s about dispelling stereotypes (moms as domestic divas, skaters as delinquents). It’s about living for the moment, if only for a moment in time. But mostly, it’s about the ride. For more on the evolution of civil society see The Ladd Report.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.