Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

17
Jun
13

Women in Opposition to Mommy Blogging: A Modest Proposal for a Mini Revolution

As a followup to Father’s Day, I thought I’d propose something: an end to Mommy Blogging. Why is this a followup to Father’s Day? I read an article yesterday about Daddy Wars being imminent, which of course made me think (a) awesome (100% of the workforce feeling there are unfair demands on their time is a heck of a lot more compelling a reason to change “time macho” policies than 50%), and (b) God, can’t we stop with the Mommy Wars before branching out into both genders?

At the center of Mommy Wars are, of course, the Mommy Bloggers: people who have decided to take it upon themselves to chronicle every piddly thing their kids do (or they do with/for their kids) and publish it. The idea is a nice enough one. The results, however, have arguably been divisive and injurious to blogging in general, women’s psyches, and kids’ futures. Let’s take each argument on a case-by-case basis:

1. Mommy Blogging is Bad Blogging:

This is a fact, full-stop. Why? Because Mommy Blogs are insanely boring to read. Who gives a shit about your kids’ every move, and about your every move as a parent? Nobody. Which is why you’re blogging, because even the kids’ grandparents are avoiding your calls at this point.

There is something fantastically freeing about being able to write about anything you want in any style you want. That is why we love blogging. But not every Courtesy www.psychologytoday.comthought that enters into your head (or your kids’ head) is worthy of being memorialized on the internet. If you want to tell someone about every little thing your kid does, get a dog and talk your fool head off all day.

Quick note: Why, you may ask, are Mommy Blogs so powerful and well-read if they’re so terrifically boring? Moms feel guilty about not doing enough, so we tend to seek out proof that we are in fact as terrible/lazy a human being as we’d suspected.

2. Mommy Blogging is Bad For Kids:

This is another easy-to-prove one. Your kids are probably awesome little people. But even the awesomest little people don’t need everything they do validated/commemorated in order to know they’re awesome. On the contrary, beginning early with a constant need for validation with your kids is one of the best ways to ensure they never grow up. If that’s your goal, great. But if you want to raise confident, independent young people, psychologists agree that constant validation of every action may not be the way to go (at any age).

Not the most interesting thing he did all day.

Plus, if your kid really requires that every meal he eats be something organically farmed at home, then lovingly prepared and presented inside a modified bento box, then you may be in danger of raising a total asshole.

3. Mommy Blogging is Bad For Women:

“But Mommy Bloggers seem so sweet! And they’re so aspirational!” Feh. Granted, some people who engage in basically any activity are nice, and then there are some assholes. But there are two problems here: (1) anonymity exacerbates the assholery (Don’t believe me? Check out Urban Baby’s message boards, on which you will find, as Tina Fey so expertly put it, “some of the worst human behavior I’ve ever seen in my life.” Really. Those boards, which masquerade as something aspirational and helpful, are just excuses for racist and classist assholes to get together and be racist and classist. And (2) the “Mommy” moniker makes it seem as though these people are all united under a single umbrella. The truth is that there are dicks who are moms, and there are awesome people who are moms. Forcing a community out of the name your kids call you is ridiculous.

As for the “nice, aspirational” sites, the problem is that they’re too white-washed. All the problems are so relatable and sweet, and all the solutions are so easy and perfect. Mommy Blogs have done for motherhood what Photoshop has done for body image in this country: it’s taken a problem and made it exponentially worse, simply by whitewashing it too much. I think of it like Botox for the internet: incapable of showing displeasure, lest it seem less appealing.

In the face of this 24-hour-a-day saccharine facade, women of my generation have been assaulted by these constant reminders that we’re not doing enough. The result has been depression rates that are not only double those of men, but also higher than women have ever experienced before. I’m not saying that this depression rate is due to Mommy Bloggers, but they are certainly part of the problem, and the easiest one to fix (i.e. don’t read them, and tell other people to stop reading them). There is no earthly reason why, after spending all day feeling like you haven’t spent enough time on your husband/job/kids/house, you should “relax” by reading about how somebody else woke up, dressed her kids in clothes she made herself from hand-dyed fabric, spent all day wowing her employees with her amazing capacity to be both a high-powered boss and a great friend, then welcomed hubby and kids home with a fire-grilled organic pizza made from home-ground wheat and tomatoes from the organic garden, spent all night painting with the kids, then sent them to bed, ran 10 miles, and blew her husband for hours. Oh, and that reminds me of an important point, all-too-seldom pointed out:

4. They’re Lying

That day above is hyperbolic, to be sure, but it is also exactly the kind of thing that people like Gwyneth Paltrow are trying to market. It’s important to look critically at these lifestyle websites, because it is 100% true that they are great publicity, but total and utter bullshit. There are simply not enough hours in the day to have completed the aforementioned hyperbolic day, and no one should therefore feel bad if they don’t. Even Dame Goop is full of shit. According to her own schedule“I wake up at 7 a.m., I get [the kids] fed, and I get them dressed in their uniforms, any bits of homework are finished,” Paltrow explained. “I take them to school. She [Apple, now 9] gets dropped off at 8:25 a.m., and he [Moses, now 7] gets dropped off at 8:45 a.m., so we have a croissant together in his school dining room and we do reading together. Then I go home and I work for one hour on all the e-mails that come in overnight from L.A. Then I exercise from about 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Then I work on Goop [the digital media and e-commerce company she founded] pretty much the rest of the day until I pick up my kids and then they have various activities.”

In other words, she works (blogs) for about 3 hours every day, if she doesn’t shower. Also not included in the schedule: cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and spending time with her husband. Now I don’t mean to tear only Gwyneth Paltrow apart, but she’s really the best target, since she’s (a) not going to read this, and (b) not going to care if she does (how many people who have Beyonce on speed dial give a shit if someone thinks they’re insufferable?). But she’s the perfect illustration of my point: she’s aggressively marketing herself as perfect, and is chiding those of us who are less than that to do as she does. But she doesn’t take into account the fact that even she doesn’t do as she does.

Long story short (too late):

Mommy Blogs need to stop being a thing. Which is why I am founding the Women in Opposition to Mommy Blogging group (obnoxiously acronymed WOMB). After all, a WOMB should be a safe place, and a comfortable one, one in which no one will judge you for feeding your kids formula or skipping piano lessons because you’re exhausted after a long day.

So let’s put an end to a competition in which none of the competitors could possibly fight (or win) honestly, set some realistic goals for ourselves and our families, and stop defining ourselves by what has or has not been through our vaginas.*

*end of rant**

**for now

21
Dec
11

Why Not A Nice Ratatouille?

This was all inspired by this product:

And this question:

WHY???????

A lifetime ago, I taught fitness classes at the YMCA. During my tenure there, I cannot count the number of people who used to ask me for weight loss advice and/or personal training secrets. My answer was always the same, “Eat less and exercise more. If you burn more calories than you take in, you’ll lose weight. If you don’t, you won’t.” Out of the innumerable askers, a very numerable minority took me up on it: one. Only one person out of the throng responded to the harsh reality that 1500 calories = 1 pound, no matter how you slice it or dress it up. Everyone else went for a gimmick (“Ooh, if I do a boot camp, I can eat whatever I want!” “If I only eat protein, I can eat as much as I want!” “If I starve myself for 10 days, then I can eat whatever I want for 5!”).

It’s a human trait to try to find the path of least resistance. It seems to be an American trait, however, to so stubbornly pursue shortcuts. We seem to have been so pampered, we’re on the verge of become imbecilic brats who can no longer understand what it is to take medicine that doesn’t taste exactly like an Orange Julius.

The dressing up of the problem, then, has become big business. Want to get into a good school? It can’t be that the answer is to work hard, be as well-rounded as possible, and let the chips fall where they may; instead, you must game the system in the specific way these handy dandy books’ll tell you. Want to lose weight? Drink this magical elixir (juice) with these magical pills (speed) and watch your appetite disappear (while your blood pressure skyrockets)! Too much trouble to dress yourself? Never fear! Now you don’t have to even go through the trouble of putting on a velour track suit; now there are Pajama Jeans!

I’m not going on another anti-consumerist rampage here. My problem is actually the lack of understanding we as a country show that sometimes medicine is medicine. And that’s not always that bad. There are ways to make it palatable without losing what it is in the first place.

To wit: a French friend of mine was talking to me about the huge business that is recipes for children’s food here. She said she’d been over to a friend’s house and said (very well-meaning) friend was showing her a trick to get her kid to eat carrots: just roast them with honey on top. My friend was perplexed and asked the best question ever: “Why not a nice ratatouille?”

What an excellent question, and an excellent response to all this craziness. Instead of going overboard on gimmicks and tricks and trying so hard to never ever have to realize that something might be unpleasant, why not use a simple method to make it palatable? Want to look better when you roll out of bed? Get nicer pajamas. Better yet, stop caring so much whether or not anyone sees you in pajamas. Want to get better grades? Go to class, take notes, then do the assignments. Want to lose weight? Keep going to the gym, then skip a meal once in a while (or cut back on the ones you already eat). Why not a nice ratatouille indeed?

13
Jun
09

Sarah Palin Secretly Thinks Jokes About Molesting Willow Are Teh Funneh

‘Kay, so anyone who’s not up on the Palin-Letterman feud, buckle in, cause I got a lot to say about it. Here’s what happened:

The Palins visited NYC, and attend a Yankees game with Giul911ani. Letterman, to paraphrase, said the following about their trip:

1. The best part was that they got to go to Bloomingdale’s to update Sarah’s “slutty flight attendant” look.
2. The worst part was keeping their daughter away from Eliot Spitzer.
3. The most surprising part was when their daughter got knocked up by A-Rod during the 7th inning stretch.

The Palins got livid, and released the following statements:

“Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too.”

– Todd Palin

“Concerning Letterman’s comments about my young daughter (and I doubt he’d ever dare make such comments about anyone else’s daughter): ‘Laughter incited by sexually-perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/NY entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands – that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone’s daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.'”

– Governor Sarah Palin

First thing’s first. Read that statement given by Sarah Palin again. Sweet weeping Jayzus on a popsicle stick, have you ever SEEN so much punctuation trying to reign in a pointless ramble (aside from here)?!?! The unnecessary parenthetical, followed by a colon followed by her quoting herself within her own statement. Of course, there’s then the dash, the repetition and artless nature of her speech…the whole thing is seriously mindblowing. It reads like someone who not only doesn’t speak English well, but just doesn’t understand the nature of language and communication (i.e. that it should convey to someone else your interior monologue, rather than just reflect it directly). Now, I ramble. I know this. But in official capacities, I tend to err on the side of brevity if I want to be taken seriously. I mean, really. An elected official sat down to write an official statement, and this is what she came up with. Let me edit this fer ya, elite that I am: “Any time a member of the bi-coastal elites uses his or her celebrity to make light of the tragic molestation and sexual exploitation of minors in this country, I take serious offense, but never more so than when the victim of the satire is my own young daughter, who merely wanted to see New York, not enter the political arena. Mr. Letterman should be ashamed of himself.” KTHXBAI.

Anyway, given Sarah Palin’s total lack of understanding of the basics of communication, even with her precious journalism degree, I am starting my own “birthers” movement, postulating that Sarah Palin was born a turtle, and is therefore ineligible to be Governor of Alaska. Run with it, kiddos!


So, anyway, in true Letterman form, he spent 7 minutes smacking them down, claiming the jokes were about Bristol, saying they were tasteless, and driving home the point they were jokes. To which the Palins followed up yet again, with Todd issuing another terse, simple, but to-the-point statement, saying that, since their 14-year-old was the only daughter on the trip with them, they’d assumed the jokes to be at her expense (truth be told, so did I).

Sarah, no longer to be trusted around the writing bit, responded via Meg Stapleton, Sarah’s spokesperson:

“The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show,” Stapelton said in an email to ABC News. “Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”

So jokes about Willow getting molested really are hilarious. But only when her parents do it. *shudder*

04
Jun
09

Coed Boardrooms Make More Money

I think I must be dreaming. Could this study really have been done, published, and publicized?

In case you’ve missed the unfortunately named Katty Kay on her media junket, she’s a BBC journalist who’s recently co-written a book with Claire Shipman called (in part) Womenomics. In it they do actual studies (as re-reported by the illustrious Economist) that prove that the companies that employ the most high-ranking women make the most money. More incredibly, they have found that the companies do better if they don’t pretend the women are no different than men in management style or priorities. Their conclusion is that the economy would exclusively benefit from employing more women in high-ranking jobs, paying them equally, and allowing them to be women.

I can vouch that I would have been much more productive these past months had I been allowed to work from home until a spot for my baby in a good daycare had opened. It would have spared me countless hours of worry, not to mention trips to pediatricians and specialists (her unhappiness in the bad environment manifested itself in failing health). Plus, working from home could have provided me a way to work flex hours, thereby increasing my workday and my productivity.

In Spain, this is usually allowed (I encountered, amazingly enough, a uniquely American situation), and actually taken to the next level: applying the same rules to men. Paternity leave was just the latest in what has been a part of the culture. Men in my university routinely take charge of their young children, taking them to and picking them up from daycare, and bringing them into the office or taking days off to care for them when they are sick. It yields an environment that rewards the whole family for being a family, and makes the workers feel more wholly appreciated.

So, yes, it seems like a dream that someone has proven that this method is more efficient and productive. Especially as I’m job hunting. So, thank you, Katty Kay, for my future interview’s talking points.

13
May
09

Cheerios Are Officially A Drug

What I’ve always suspected turns out to be true, according to the FDA: Cheerios is classified as a drug. Of course they are. Just look what the kids do for them:

Citing a clinical study, the product labels also claim that eating two servings a day of Cheerios helps to reduce bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the FDA letter says.

Those claims indicate that Cheerios — said by General Mills to be the best-selling cereal in the United States — is intended to be used to lower cholesterol and prevent, lessen or treat the disease hypercholesterolemia, and to treat and prevent coronary heart disease.

“Because of these intended uses, the product is a drug,” the FDA concluded in its letter.

As a relatively new mom, I’d already figured this out. My child, born and womb-bred in Spain, has no interest in Cheerios, while her cousins go batshit nuts if they’re out. There can be only one explanation: The addiction was formed in the womb. Mom ate ’em, baby’s addicted. It works. Just ask crackheads.

21
Apr
09

Occam’s Razor, Fugue-ish Feeding, And Why I Love Dissent

Suffice to say, I have just had it with all kinds of medical practitioners. Midwives, nurses, doctors, and specialists…I’ve been awash for the last month in all their sage wisdom.

“Your daughter needs to eat more carbohydrates. She must have potatoes during every meal and desserts after. And, no, rice and beans don’t count as carbohydrates.” “Your daughter needs a tube in her ear to prevent ear infections.” “Her ears are fine.” “She has thrush, which could signal an autoimmune deficiency.” “She absolutely does not have thrush, and she’s perfectly healthy.”

This has all put me in the mindset of Dr. House, especially as I keep repeating the same medical history to each so-called “specialist.” So here’s the mystery we’re trying to solve:

My baby’s spent the first 7 months of her life in the 10-25% of weight, and the 50-75% height. When she started at daycare, she was upset. Really upset. Like, hunger strike upset. She refused all nourishment all day, and any given to her was promptly vomited back up. When I would pick her up, she would only accept breast milk, since she was looking for comfort. This went on till her first birthday, and still does to some extent (she will throw up any breakfast she eats upon entry through the door). It has, up till now, taken a month straight of visits to specialists to explain to her doctors, then, why she has dropped to the 3% in weight and 10% in height (or lower).

Also, they can’t figure out how she keeps catching ear infections.

Egads, man, when did the simplest answer to something become so goddamned elusive? I couldn’t understand this until listening yesterday to the latest “specialist” in baby care, but now I think I get it: They cannot tolerate variations on a theme.

The doctor was pounding me with rapid-fire questions for a half an hour, trying to get me to give her an example of my baby’s daily diet. Thing is, she doesn’t have a set schedule, and her tastes change daily. The doctor could not compute this, and got more and more agitated until she started barking orders at me, telling me EXACTLY what she had to eat and when. Why does my baby have to eat cereal for breakfast and not rice and beans, if she so desires? I got no answer. She did, however, go on to tell me my daughter was likely vitamin deficient, or otherwise malnourished, without a single test result to look at…just because she was confounded by a baby who ate what she wanted when she was hungry.

My husband and I have always been against excessive schedule-making when it comes to parenting, but never have I been more against it than I am now. I used to just think it was healthier for a child to be able to be flexible as far as nap times and meal times go (especially since we are public transportation junkies), but now I think it’s healthier for society in general. This is part of a larger parenting quibble we have with traditional parenting mores: “Because I said so” is a ridiculous answer to any question.

The progressive dumbing-down of societies (all this happened in Spain, but it could be anywhere) is becoming so rampant, it’s starting to terrify me, and I just see this manner of illogically foisting rules on people over whom you have authority as a highly contributive factor. Why not encourage a child (or patient) to know the reason he does what he does, or doesn’t do what he doesn’t do? Kids actually like information (hence the ubiquitous question, “Why?”), and sometimes light-hearted reasoning can really help (My nephew, who won’t eat almost anything given to him, finally ate his fish sticks when I explained that protein is what your body utilizes to grow. The terrifying prospect of being shorter than his baby cousin suddenly spurred his appetite to never-before-seen heights.)

In short, if my child’s doctor doesn’t like my daughter eating dahl for breakfast, then 😛

07
Apr
09

Palin Vs. Johnston In Greatest White Trash Cage Match Ever!

One side’s boasting a recent meth lab arrest. Pretty good, but the other side fires back with a sister-in-law repeatedly breaking and entering for the purpose of robbery. One side blabs to the tabloids, another shoots it down, and the first side goes on that bastion of journalistic integrity (“The Tyra Show”) to defend his “good” name.

Here’s the part that kills me. If you have any political advisors whatsoever, they all tell you the same thing about this sort of deal: Just say you don’t comment on your child’s personal life. Period. Done. End of story. Or you say that your children are trying to find their way in a compex and very adult situation the best they know how. What you DON’T do is the following: shoot back with claims that he’s lying about the whole thing. For chrissake, does no one in the Palin camp understand how to keep scandal OUT of the headlines? Oh well, here’s hoping they never learn, since this is fucking hilarious.

“Levi has never lived under the same roof as Bristol or any of the Palins,” Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton told CNN.

In an interview that aired in full Monday on the Tyra Banks Show, Johnston said he moved in to the Palin household shortly before the birth of son Tripp last December.

“I just wanted to be there for her when she had the baby,” Johnston said, adding the two were allowed to share a room.

“Do you really think the governor and Todd would have allowed that,” Stapleton said in an e-mail.

Screw? Sure. Have a baby? Absolutely. Be forced into the public eye at the GOP convention? Most assuredly. But LIVE TOGETHER??? There’s no WAY Mother Of The Year, Sarah Palin, would let her young daughter take such a serious step with an eqyally young and stupid boy.

I tend to believe this, though. After all, this was the only move I thought Sarah Palin made in this whole debacle that sounded both logical and good for her child and grandchild. So of course it had to be balderdash.

Personally, I just think Palin’s getting worried Michele Bachmann is taking her wingnut white trash mantle, and is trying to claw her way back on top. Here’s a hint: Less talk about your mundane teenage pregnancy scandal, and more talk of armed revolution!