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parenting

The way we were
Parenting

When Dads Are The Best Moms

8 comments

One of my earliest childhood memories is of a burly, 6’4″ man sewing a red silk cherry tomato onto my ballet recital costume — a lime green “head of lettuce” tutu ensemble. I remember how ridiculous the tiny needle looked in his gigantic hand as he put careful, tiny stitches into the delicate fabric.

“Where’d you learn how to sew?” I asked my dad.

“The army,” he answered as my gaze fell on the rose-laced white sewing kit perched daintily by his side.

Back then, there was normally a much clearer delineation between the work that men and women, dads and moms, do. And a whole army of large, khaki-clothed men threading needles and mending tears (or sewing on silky appliqués, depending on the need) felt like a very revolutionary concept.

Nowadays, gender stereotypes are fading fast, although a video of a multitasking dad still goes viral, and Dove (the people who brought you the “Campaign for Real Beauty,” and “The Movement for Self-Esteem“) has now glommed onto men, talking about all the ways Dads care with their #RealDadMoments digital campaign.

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Gotta love other people's children...
Parenting

How to Deal With Other People’s Kids

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Here’s the thing about other people’s kids: they’re not your own.

I know that seems obvious, but it’s a really important fact to keep in mind as you encounter them throughout your own parenting journey.

Take for example, the infant years. After giving birth to my son, “we” joined a mommy’s group. I bared my breasts and every single insane post-partum emotion with women that I’d just met. Whether or not we’d get along was beside the point; this was a baptism by fire into the world of other people… and their children.

Luckily we all got along pretty well, and it turned out that breeding at the same time was enough to keep us together at least for that first brutal year. We spent endless hours hashing over all that ails us First World peeps: how to get the kid to sleep through the night, break a pacifier habit, wean, and move on to solid food.

For the most part, I quickly learned that what worked for others seldom applied to mine. I took comfort, however, in discovering this basic fact of life: Everyone struggles. And nobody sleeps. This remains true probably until the end of time.

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The Bitch'in Manifesto word cloud
Parenting

The Bitch’in Moms Manifesto

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This year for Mother’s Day, I wanted to give my peeps something truly Bitch’in… so I’ll leave delivering the sweet cards, bath products, scented candles, flowers, chocolates, and soothing herbal tea assortments to your family.

Instead, I bring you THE BITCH’IN MOMS’ MANIFESTO:

1. We Love. It begins and ends right there. A mother’s love is unconditional, but we don’t forget that applies to ourselves too. (In other words, we make time to do things like take showers or join the roller derby.) That’s a WHOLE LOTTA LOVE.

2. We Embrace Impermanence. Ages and phases, as they say — this applies to our kids and us. Life is flux; resistance is futile. So do we do our best to hang on to the shit that really matters, like our values, and let the rest of it roll. Seriously, we bitch’in moms know how to LET IT GO.

3. We Know Perfect is a State of (An Unstable) Mind. Imperfection is where the creativity, excitement, and joy are found. This doesn’t mean we don’t strive for perfection; we just recognize that it’s not about the destination, it’s all ABOUT THE JOURNEY.

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Two weeks with bored children or this? I think there's no question about what's more dangerous...
Parenting

Spring Break Won’t Break Me, But Summer’s a Killer

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Once upon a time, Spring Break meant freedom. Released from school, work, and general obligations, it was an annual rite of winter passage where the only thing mandatory was R&R on a beach somewhere and a tequila shot or two (or six) with a warm beer chaser.

Cut to today, where the word break takes on new meaning; as in your spirit.

It’s bad enough being a working stiff and watching friends and colleagues flee while the grindstone still has you by the nose. But add a kid or two or more, throw in the fact that this year spring school vacation weeks are wildly out of sync — having started the week before Passover and ending up to a week after Easter — and by the end of it all, you’ll need not just a vacation, but potentially institutionalization.

While I have several friends who love it when school is out, as schedules are much looser and the early morning shuffle slows to a crawl, I am so not that mom. From the time my children were infants, I craved routine and dependable destinations for sweet predictability. Even when I was fully freelance and theoretically had total flexibility, the thought of an unstructured week struck fear and a fair amount of loathing in my heart.

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The way we were
Best o’ the Bitch, Parenting

A Mother’s Prayer for Her Teen Daughter

13 comments

Dear Lord,

Firstly, should we set the record straight here, once and for all? In all your creative capacity, the bringing forth of the world’s greatest and most awe-inspiring highs and equally hideous lows, should You not be addressed as Dear Lady?

Did you not conceive the human race, and I’m thinking particularly teenage girls, in Thine own image?

I think Thy knowest of what I speak, for the female teens are the ones who elevate mere mortals to incredible heights, starting with The Beatles through Justin Bieber (btw, nice going on the recent self-smiting you’ve induced on that sick pup!), onward to “1-D” and beyond.

May my daughter crush equally on girl pop stars too, as even I shed a few tears at the end of Katy Perry’s Part of Me movie. Please dear Lady, allow her the creative vision, drive, generosity, and spirit of Ms. Perry, but never, EVER let her date John Mayer. Apparently he’s back on the market, so now would be the time to grant my child extra protection.

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The Perfect Mom - Powered by rainbow gas
Parenting

Perfect Mothers & The Art of Not Knowing

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Motherhood, like all other ages, has its distinct social strata. Much like teen stereotypes (jock, popular, bully, freak, burn-out, geek, dork, etc.), there are the protypical mothers: tiger, helicopter, lawnmower, free-range; or if you are less about cryptic buzz words, there’s the best friend, the by-the-book, the martyr, the me-first, the emotional wreck, the control freak, the hands-off, and the scatterbrain.

Despite the fact that I’m one who has never done so well with cliques, I’ve managed to have my moments fitting into just about all of the above descriptions.

There is one, however, that is the white whale of ’em all, and as a lifelong Type-A, maxi-zoom dweebie, it’s also the one I secretly aspire to be: The Perfect Mom.

You know her: she’s the one that’s always in the know (although not a know-it-all; she’s far too political for that). From the second she birthed her child with nary a cuss word on her lips nor a broken sweat on her brow, she has the whole motherhood thing dialed in and down cold. From Mommy and Me through to the Ivy League, there is not a teacher, coach, or school administrator that doesn’t know and love her, which makes her privy to precious insider information.

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Queen Bey, the patron saint of us working B's
Bitch’in Life, Parenting

Flight of the Working Mom Bee

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When I was a little girl, my BBF and I had this game we played that we loved more than anything. On her rickety old record player, she’d pop on “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and we’d whirl around in crazy circles until we dropped from joyous exhaustion.

Cut to four decades later, and we are still doing that frantic dance, albeit not to the urgent strains of Rimsky-Korsakov’s classic, nor is it just for fun and kicks anymore. And although she now lives across the country from me, we still reach as far as we can — through email, texts, and by Bluetoothin’ like a mo’fo on my way to work/her 15-minute lunch break — to hold each others’ hands as we are whipped around in life’s frenzied flow.

My BBF has been back to work full-time for the last few years and she’s my touchstone now that I’m in the thick and full(ish) time myself. We like to discuss the horrors of long school vacations, the utter terror of a child’s weekday illness, and the anxiety that snow days or “teacher enrichment pupil-free” days bring. And we also enjoy daydreaming up the ways we’re going to make our exhausted faces and aging bodies look and feel better…. just as soon as we have a minute to breathe.

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Thank you, Universe, for loving bad moms...
Best o’ the Bitch, Parenting, Pop Culture

The Good Thing About Being a Bad Mother

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Every once in a while the Universe tosses me a blog theme I can’t resist, and last week, Big Mama had something she wanted me to hear loud ‘n clear: Bad mothers can be pretty damn awesome.

Keep in mind that the word, “awesome,” has a dual meaning; it can be either most excellent or most terrifying.

I like words that swing both ways. Take for example “Bitch’in.” First off, I love reclaiming the word, “bitch,” because I am a feminist (and a dog lover). And then I really dig the next layer of meaning, when something or someone is a bitch, or tough to handle. On the other hand, when something’s really great (and if you are a Valley girl especially), it’s bitch’in.

I was thinking about all of this when the aforementioned Universe threw a bunch of dicey maternal characters my way, which I’ll now toss to you for consideration:

First, my son had an essay question about Charles Dickens’ classic, Great Expectations, and I paraphrase: There are several bad mothers in the novel. Explain why they are awful, as well as how the terrible consequences of their actions are wrought on their children.

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A view of the combatants meant to pacify the parents corps
Parenting

Parents’ Last Stand

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The minute the first pee stick shows a red line, you’ve enlisted.

As the months progress and you choose to serve in the Parents Corps — a volunteer army if ever there was one — you are fueled by the joy of preparing for your new charge. Pregnancy trains your body to behave in new and somewhat brutal ways, leaving it both reformed and exhausted in the process. Your partner is put through the paces too, mentally and sometimes physically, as together you prepare for the unknown tiny combatant that’s about to change your life forever.

Then the baby finally comes, and suddenly you understand that all the Lamaze breathing, nursery painting, and childproofing you’ve been doing has been a sorry boot camp for the rigorous realities of real deal parenting.

Feeling unsure of my “parenthood is a battlefield” analogy? Consider this: who besides infants torture helpless captives every few hours by waking them to jarringly loud noises and worse (i.e., flying excrement)? If you thought, “the enemy,” and then immediately took it back, don’t be so hard on yourself. You were actually a P.O.W from the aforementioned pee stick. And the Stockholm Syndrome of loving your captors beyond reason is the hallmark of your parental tours of duty (and doodie).

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Grand Theft Playground
Parenting

Grand Theft Playground

4 comments

Saturday night in the suburbs —

(The Mother is in the background, making chicken nuggets and broccoli for dinner. Boys are gaming):

Boy One: Any crimes yet?

(A bus careens over a curb, briefly flies down the sidewalk, runs over an innocent bystander or two, and then slams into a pole.)

Boy Two: Not yet, but there will be. Oh yeah, there will be.

The Mother opens her mouth to say something, and then shuts it.

Flashback, earlier that day —

It is a picture perfect morning at a local park. It’s early, so it’s relatively quiet. Today the competition on the softball field will be intense, and warm-ups are as focused and serious as they would be for any pro ball team. The Mother slips away to use the restroom, which is on the other side of the park. As she leaves the bathroom, drying her hands on her jeans, she glances up and realizes what an amazing park she’s standing in.

The play structures are brightly colored, fanciful, and suggestive of an enchanted wonderland. There are sturdy sunshades strategically placed so that the sand is never hot and sunscreen, although recommended, is never necessary. It’s early enough in the day that it’s not overly crowded — just a handful of children digging, running, sliding, and playing.

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