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A Museum the World Needs

Photograph by Twenty20

The big news in my hometown of Chicago is that George Lucas is moving forward on the creation of his Star Wars museum. Social media erupted in cheerful choruses, thrilled about the prospect of a museum built like a spaceship showcasing Star Wars movie sets and a model of the Millennium Falcon. While I love Star Wars as much as the next Generation X'er, the museum I really want to see is one dedicated to Contemporary Motherhood (with exhibits that are very different from existing motherhood museums).

I've already drafted a proposal.

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First, the museum will be located in a major metropolitan area, next to the football stadium or the city's most famous landmark. Why? Listen, it's the hardest job in the world, so don't tuck us on some side street next to the Museum of Tiny Sewing Needles or the National Mustard Museum. We want prime real estate, and we want plenty of good parking (for cars and strollers).

The first exhibit in the Great Hall by the entrance will be a collage of black-and-white pictures of mothers around the country doing all kinds of mother-y things: Making nutritious snacks, giving the nanny directions to the pediatrician's office, writing a to-do list that is seven pages long, getting up before dawn to catch the cross-town bus to work.

It will be creepy and controlling, like the advice that mothers get every single day.

If you follow the spiral staircase down two flights, you will find yourself in the Sleep During Motherhood exhibit. It's interactive, so a surround-sound audio will warn, over and over, as you descent the stairs: "Sleep when the baby sleeps." It will be creepy and controlling, like the advice that mothers get every single day. Museum goers will enter the sleep exhibit and choose a comfy bed to lay down in, but as soon as they close their eyes, a small child will yell "MAMA!" in their ears.

The next room will house a huge mural that spans the whole length of the room. The mural, titled "The Mommy Wars," will show the two sides of the so-called Mommy Wars squaring off like Jets and Sharks from West Side Story. One side will show mothers with briefcases, cell phones and spreadsheets that show their stocks rising and falling. The other will show mothers in workout wear and well-worn clogs headed to a play date or to the local organic market. If you press a button, you can hear a real, live mother narrate her experience from the trenches.

There will be a Privacy in Motherhood Display on the second floor, but there will be nothing in there because there is no privacy in motherhood.

For those museum goers who are 18 years or older, there will be an exhibit called, "The Sex Lives of Mothers." In addition to a well-worn copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and posters of Ryan Gosling, there will be a small screen showing Mom Porn in the corner. Mom porn images include dads offering to take kids for the afternoon, planning dinners for the week and making the pediatrician appointments.

Your reward is a trip to the café, where you get to eat a "Mother's Lunch," which consists solely of food that children have left behind on their plates.

In the Multitasking Display, you will be handed a stack of 10 cards, each with a task that must be completed in the next 15 minutes. In that time, you'll have to run to different stations around the room. For example, you will have to make an appointment at the allergist for your youngest, set up a play date for your oldest, plan the family vacation, send a card to your mother-in-law, buy a cake for the block party, clean up a Lego mess, run to the dry cleaners, jump on a conference call, attend parent-teacher conferences and remove a stain from your favorite Tahari suit.

If you succeed in the multitasking room, your reward is a trip to the café, where you get to eat a "Mother's Lunch," which consists solely of food that children have left behind on their plates. Feast on crusts of bread with a dollop of peanut butter or a hardened corners of mac & cheese, then wash it all down with half a sip of lukewarm skim milk (organic).

Some of the exhibits will be seasonal. Late spring would have an exhibit about how mothers put together their children's summer plans. A giant matrix will be projected onto a plain white wall. In the fall, there would be an exhibit about returning to school and setting up play dates with people you abhor and enduring homework power struggles.

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Off the main hall would be a huge display case showing "Pants of the Stay-at-Home Mother," which would show the progression from cute-but-baggy boyfriend jeans all the way to the stretched out, faded black yoga pants from Target.

So what am I missing? What other display or exhibit should be included in the Museum of Contemporary Motherhood?

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