Arm pump!

Brian and I were having a conversation, as longtime partners sometimes do. He had just explained something brilliant about which I had previously been ignorant.

Brian: …well now you know.

Me: (without missing a beat) And knowing is half the battle! (Arm pump!)

Brian: (laughs heartily)

Me: That’s like an automatic response for me. I didn’t even have to think about it! You know, those 30 second segments at the end of G.I. Joe were my favorite part of the whole show!

Brian: (incredulous): What? Really?!

Me: Dude, you’re talking to someone who grew up to become a therapist! I lived for those segments! I was just hanging on through all the violence and sexism to see what patriotic American moral we’d be taught at the conclusion.

Brian: I bet Saturday morning cartoons shaped our whole generation, just 30 seconds of propaganda at a time.

Me: (clapping) Yes! I was like, Ooh! What cartoon wisdom will they teach us today?!

Brian: What was even better was when they dubbed over them with hilarity years later. **pause** Porkchop sandwiches!

Me: Agreed. What an American treasure.




The Sweet Spot

For the moment, this parenting gig is getting easier.

I can feel it.

When the kids were really little, even littler than now, I used to carry around baseline level anxiety that only quieted down once the kids were in bed for the night. It was this wired feeling, a hypervigilance of always having to dart my eyes around during adult conversation to make sure my kids were still in the room/not hitting anyone/weren’t peeing their pants/still breathing/what have you and I could never fully relax. Not really.

Lately though, I’ve been noticing that I don’t have to be quite so “on” all the time. I can go to the park with both my kids and know they aren’t going to run off. Or, if they do, chances are they’ll come back. If they want snacks they’ll always come back.

A more specific example that marks how my kids and I are changing with the times: we recently went to a pumpkin patch we go to every year. Usually, I have to bring and carry a load of stuff (water, snacks, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, the kitchen sink), I’m chasing the kids around, trying to keep them out of the mud, trying to get some pictures, making sure they don’t get hurt, or lost. But this year…this year was different. It was the chillest time, you guys. I even lost track of my kids from time to time and my oldest actually came to find and and tell me where he was going. My heart melted and my mind exploded.  I didn’t even know what to do with myself! My kids were fine! I was fine! I went and got a coffee and a pastry and sat my ass down!

It goes without saying that I’m enjoying this subtle and slow creep into the sweet spot of parenting that’s known as the primary school years. Dear goodness, my kids can be fucking adorable when they have reason to be. And for the life of me, I plan to enjoy the hell outta this phase before it gets to the hell on earth preteen and teen ones.

So bring on all the questions about bugs and spelling and life! Let’s tackle long division! Let’s start watching all the Disney movies and have spirited discussions about racism, sexism, and magic!!

Because y’all, for right now, I’m good. My kids aren’t as whiney as they once were. They’re less needy. They aren’t in mortal peril at all times. And they aren’t yet shooting heroin into their eyeballs. Not yet.

Right now, life is good.

Mamma Mia!

Before Brian and I got engaged and started planning a wedding, we would roll our eyes at all the wedding drama we saw around us, whether it was on TV or going on with people we knew.

We’ll never have to worry about that, we silently thought to each other.  We gave each other a knowing glance and a smug-filled nudge.

I would just like to say that I get it now and I apologize.

I get it and I have only been engaged for 3 months, haven’t picked a venue, haven’t signed a contract, haven’t dropped a dime.

From my perspective, the issues Brian and I have come across with our families are all about expectations and assumptions.

Allow me to back up and explain.

For the most part, traditional, rigid gender-based values don’t jive with me or Brian.   This applies to both weddings and everyday life, but especially weddings.

I also view modern weddings as being about the bride and groom celebrating their relationship the way they want to, nothing more.

I have heard so many stories and anecdotes about how couples getting married were pressured and guilted into arranging aspects of the wedding to suit a parent’s needs- everything from the type of venue to the food served to what guests were invited.  This does not fit in my view of what a wedding should be.

So what about money?  Many people also say that if parents are paying for the wedding, then they should get a say in what decisions are made.  On a larger scale, I despise that money equals speech equals power in this way.  This also does not fit my view of what a wedding should be.

In my own perfect world, I am open to suggestions from friends and family, but not pressure and guilt.  I am so very thankful for gifts of money with no strings attached so that I may be able to make my own choices along with my partner about how we want to celebrate our relationship with those closest to us.

While I didn’t expect my real world experience to be perfect and blissful, I did have the expectation and made the assumption that there wouldn’t be so much conflict.  I did assume (or just didn’t really think about) that parents wouldn’t have their own expectations, or that they at least wouldn’t impose them onto Brian and me.

We’ve run into conflicting values around gender-based traditions, and this is a huge hot button issue for me.  At first, not only was I shocked (because I didn’t anticipate this), but I was also very deeply hurt.  I took it personally, because most traditional gender-based traditions go against the core of how I see myself and how I fit in this world.  They are not fair, they are not equal, they are sexist, they are prejudiced.  They are not Brian and they are not me.

I had these moments of  do you know me at all?!  I was incredulous.  Beside myself.  This is 2012, after all, and I didn’t think I would have to explain values that are a given for me, that are common sense, especially to the people who are closest to me.  It hurt.

And then I got it.  I realize that these traditional values held by family members have nothing to do with me.  In taking a step back, I realize that the traditional way of doing things, the assumption that things will be done the way they always have, is also taken for granted; it’s a given for people who hold those values, same as me for my values.

I also get that those expectations parents have about their kids and how things will turn out to be actually have nothing to do with the kid.

I feel that at the root of these conflicts is the basic value that Brian and I hold in terms of our wedding being exclusively about us and our relationship and not about pleasing anyone else.  Of course we want our guests to be comfortable and of course we want all these people to come and eat and be happy and have a great time, but not at the expense of Brian’s and my values and preferences.

Separating these things out has taken the sting away, but it’s still hard.  I still feel hurt, as much as I try not to be.  I still wish very much that family members would magically agree with me on these values.  More realistically, we have requested that while we can’t expect people to understand or agree with our values, we at least ask that our values be respected.

One thing I worry about is the possibility of these conflicts in values to keep coming up as Brian and I go through the life cycle.  I don’t want to feel this as a burden moving forward in my life.

So far, these conflicts have made Brian and I really focus on what we want for ourselves and how we plan to achieve these things, and that has felt incredibly validating, uniting, and empowering.  It creates this magical us-against-the-world type feeling and really makes me wanna go hunt down some zombies with Brian by my side.

And, by getting married, that’s basically what we’re getting ready to do.

Update: You know what folks, sometimes when I am in a more easygoing mood about life, I read this post back and it sounds a bit too dramatic and overblown.  Please note that this post was mainly about me wanting to express myself and processing feelings, and that process is messy and weird.  The end.

Spell check doesn’t know how to spell ‘mammaries.’ True story.

Two Time Magazine employees are having a conversation at the water cooler.  In their doubled-up paper cups is wine, straight from the cardboard box in the fridge down the hall.

Time Maggy:  So, I have this great cover story on attachment parenting that people find controversial.  What should we put on the cover?

Time Zany:  How about a nice white woman lovingly holding an attractive, blue-eyed baby.  That sounds lovely, don’t you think?

Maggy:  Not nearly shocking enough.  I want this cover to say, “I’m a smug, trendy, extreme parent.  I parent better than all y’all and I am all up in your face about it.”

Zany: Hmm… how about sexy, pouty chimps doing that social grooming thing.  We could put them in bikinis.  I guess we’d have to wax their legs, though.

Maggy:  No way America is ready for that amount of leg hair, so true.  But seriously, we need to think of something over the top.

Zany:  Well, breastfeeding is over the top.  I mean, I lose my lunch every time some crazy mom decides to use her mammaries  the way they were intended.

Maggy:  You mean displaying them prominently in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?

Zany:  Bizactly.  And at Time we have to compete with that shit.

Maggy:  I’ve got it!  We’ll compete by showing one of the most natural, loving acts known to mammals in an unsmiling, hands-on-hips, no-nonsense kinda controversial way.

Zany:  And to make our audience even more uncomfortable, which means they’ll just have to buy the issue, we’ll replace the baby with a full-grown man.  On a stool.

Maggy:  Stay right there.  I’ll get the stool.

One of my mom friends suggested I write my reactions and opinions to this Time cover story making waves in the media.  She said that she’s interested in hearing the point of view of non-moms (or momily-challenged, if you prefer), and I thought that was an interesting idea.

First of all, I think they did a great job of taking a controversial photo that we all agree was meant to get attention and sell magazines.  Bravo.

What I find ironic about the photo is that it’s supposedly supposed to portray attachment parenting, and yet, I see emotionless faces.  Sure, they are literally attached at the boob, but they aren’t even looking at each other.  The kid is awkwardly standing (and I don’t know about you, but I don’t know ANY moms who prefer to breastfeed while both parties are standing up) and the mom looks more focused on challenging other moms out there and less focused on her kid…which I thought was the whole point of attachment parenting.

Shame on you, Time Magazine for the not-so-subtle mom blaming going on here.

Before talking about the parenting method itself –  full disclosure – I am not a mom.  I do have my own mom.  I also have some training in a certain variety of attachment parenting meant to be used with kids who have witnessed or been the direct victims of sexual and/or domestic abuse.  I have taught parenting classes to moms using these techniques.  This is not the same attachment parenting that is described in the Time article, but of course my training and experience is going to flavor my opinions.

I am a big fan of not going to extremes.  Being an attachment mom purist does not sound like fun to me.  I can’t imagine quitting my job to spend 24/7 raising kids, having them sleep next to me every night, having them in a sling every second.  For one thing, (according to the Time article) this method seems way too sexist in that it seems to assume that only mom can provide the great, nurturing parenting.  Dads are encouraged to help out by doing the dishes so mom can focus more fully on breastfeeding.  While that may work for some people, I don’t see that working for me.  I envision my future co-parenting life to be as balanced as possible, given work schedules and biology.  And that’s another issue – what happens if a kid is being raised by two dads?

Do I imagine using a sling with my kids?  Yup, sometimes.  Do I want and plan to be able to breastfeed?  Yes.  Do I consider the possibility of co-sleeping?  Perhaps.  Do I also imagine date nights away from the kids?  You bet.  Do I envision handing the kids to dad so I can go on a drunken bender?  Oui, oui.

To be fair, I really don’t know what it will be like or how I will feel once I have kids.  But I do know myself and I know my values.  And for me, it’s all about balance and flexibility.  I don’t like any rigid set of rules I’d have to follow.  I don’t like the mom blaming that results from not following said rules.  I say do what works for your family, and you let me do what works for mine.

And now for a rant on the problems our culture has with breastfeeding that were so beautifully triggered by the above Time cover photo.  First of all, it drives me insane when people sexualize the act of breastfeeding.  I don’t care what you say, Freud!  It is not obscene and it is not a sexual act.  It is nurturing, it is bonding, it is a woman using a part of her body the only way it was naturally intended to be used – to feed her frickin baby.

Somewhere along the line, our culture sexualized the breast and that got all entangled with breastfeeding.  Somehow, we’re more comfortable seeing breasts doing nothing but being hung out, pushed up, and squeezed together all over the place than we are seeing a breast feeding a kid.

What bothers me the most is when people who are uncomfortable being around breastfeeding moms try to make their discomfort the breastfeeding mom’s problem by saying that mom needs to cover up or go away or whatever.  It is my view that this is not the mom’s problem.  If you’re uncomfortable, I urge you to take a moment to wonder why and to find another way to manage your feelings other than mom blaming.

As for me and future parenting styles, all I can hope for is that my kids stay off the crack on weekdays.

Smells like sexism

Mr. Limbaugh, your sorta-kinda apology is not enough.

Read this Huffington Post article that contains the full text of the so-called apology here.

One of the few things you got right is that you are indeed absurd and you speak absurdities.  I am so glad that we agree on that.

I think we can all agree that you did indeed intend a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.  I don’t see how calling someone a slut and prostitute can escape the label of personal attack.  Please stop adding lies to the damage you’ve already done.

What you get so horribly wrong is that this debate on contraception is not about “personal sexual recreational activities.”  This is about women’s health, pure and simple.

How is it that health plans cover Viagra, where its only purpose is for personal sexual recreational activities, and not cover birth control, where it is used for a wide range of purposes, from regulating menstrual cycles to preventing ovarian cancer to preventing pregnancy?  What happened to “personal responsibility and accountability” for men, Mr. Limbaugh?  Based on your logic, shouldn’t men just deal with not having access to a drug that would allow them to perform personal sexual recreational activities?  This smells like sexism.

What pains me, absolutely pains me, is when people do not understand that by holding women back, you hold us all back.  (I recommend an amazing, inspiring book on this topic.)

And I refuse for you to hold us back, Mr. Limbaugh.

I refuse.

Ok, Mr. Limbaugh. You’ve gone too far.

Ok, Mr. Limbaugh.  You have pissed me off from time to time, but this time certainly takes the cake.  The following is the best (best meaning bestly matches how I think and feel) article (it’s an opinion piece) I have found so far on the topic of this whole Limbaugh-Fluke shitstorm that has erupted from the debates on whether religious organizations should be mandated to provide free contraceptives to women.

I’ll give you time to read this, then get sufficiently mad, then go scream into a pillow, then punch the pillow while imagining it is Rush’s face, and then come back. 

Done?  Not yet?


Cuz I’m not done being mad yet either.

First, women weren’t even invited to speak on this topic.  And then, one gets invited, speaks, and is promptly blasted by Limbaugh as a slut and a prostitute.

What year do we live in again?!  Maybe this is the world’s way of making sure that I don’t take all the successes of the women’s movement for granted, because this backlash has sure got me worried (and mad. don’t forget mad).

I am loving all the bills being proposed that shine light on just how prejudiced and sexist it is to block women’s access to basic healthcare.  I firmly believe that if men were the ones able to carry and bear children that we would not be having these debates.  Debates like these would be considered absurd.  And guess what?  They are.

I was lucky that my doctors at Boston College – a Catholic university – prescribed me birth control to prevent future ovarian growths. Others are not so lucky. And Rush – I don’t know if you have sisters or – god forbid – daughters, but at the very least I know you have a mother. Clean up your act. Your disrespect for women has NO PLACE in this world.  Not in 2012, and not ever.

Do people not get that if you take rights away from women that you end up hurting everyone?  Preventative healthcare saves lives, saves money, and it is a basic human right.  Last time I checked, women make up more than half of the human race.

The other key piece I don’t understand is why Republicans want the government’s hand out of business, out of healthcare, out of the environment, out of food regulation, but when it comes to women wanting to make decisions about their bodies, Republicans want regulation all over the place.


Now there is a call to urge the sponsors of Rush’s show to pull their ads to show that they don’t stand for his hate speech.  Quicken Loans, Sleep Number Bed, and Sleep Train have already pulled their ads. Sweet!

Sorry about this post jumping around a lot…this kindof happens when I am mad and hyped up on coffee and cocaine.  Maybe just coffee.

Now, if I was mean, I would go look up how old Mr. Limbaugh is and then start a countdown clock to the average age of death in the US.  But I won’t do that.  I’ll just keep being mad and speak out until this shit gets the stink taken out of it.