Save the breakfast in bed, chocolate, flowers, and handmade macaroni necklaces. This Mother’s Day, I’m after something just a little bit more. On a day created to honor and respect all mothers, I feel that we sometimes fall a little short. And so, I humbly present to you my list of alternative Mother’s Day gifts: Keep reading »
Pop star Shakira gave birth to her son, Milan, back in January. Since then, she’s been hard at work promoting her new gig as a judge on the NBC show, “The Voice.” As part of that promotion, Shakira spoke with US Weekly and weighed in with some thoughts on motherhood:
On getting her pre-baby body back: ”I mean, I guess our mothers and grandmothers weren’t under the pressure that women of today are after delivering a baby. My dad says that there’s nothing better than a little meat on the bone! He likes my mom a little chubby. So she was never under the pressure to get back to her old weight, and she never did, actually! But it’s different, I have a career, and that’s the only part that’s been a bit stressful because I knew that I’d have to come back here to do ‘The Voice’ two months after I delivered a baby. I didn’t have my four months maternity like every woman on Earth has. So I’m not trying to complain, but it’s been a process full of challenges in my life. I’m still a few pounds over! Zumba has been pretty great for me even during pregnancy. I did it almost until the end.”
Sigh. That’s a whole lot to unpack. First, I have to admit to busting out a cackling laugh at Shakira’s seemingly naive lament over not having her “four months maternity like every woman on earth has.” But then I remembered Shakira is Colombian and — oh yeah — it’s pretty much just the United States that is completely screwed up when it comes to mandated paid maternity leave. I’ve ranted about this before, but honestly, it never gets old. The U.S. is one of only four (FOUR!) other countries in the world that does not provide any sort of mandated paid maternity (or family) leave. Keep reading »
This past weekend, I spoke on two panels at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy’s reproductive rights conference. One of my panels, “Bringing Social Justice to the Family Table,” tackled how to combine an activist lifestyle with family life. Along with three other panelists/mothers, I spoke about how to foster awareness of the world around us and how to engage our children in social justice issues from an early age. We spoke about our pre-kid lives as activists and how we wove it all in when we became parents. For many on the panel, including myself, that involved work in the reproductive rights movement.
I’ve written before about how becoming a mother has only strengthened my pro-choice beliefs, and I made sure to reiterate that stance while on the panel. I think there is a fear surrounding motherhood, that the moment you pop out a baby, all other aspects of your identity cease to exist and you become solely “mommy.” While there was certainly a period of transition while I figured out how to connect this new aspect of my identity with what was already there, I eventually found ways to make it all work harmoniously together.
When my son was only a few months old, I placed him snug against my chest in a baby carrier and manned a table for Planned Parenthood during a sidewalk sale event in my town. I handed out condoms and pamphlets on birth control and STI prevention while discreetly nursing my son in his sling. I spoke with people about the best ways to schedule appointments while my gurgling baby babbled happily away. Nobody seemed to bat an eye at the fact that my son was with me as I volunteered. Keep reading »
One of the worst terms surrounding motherhood is “the Mommy Wars.” To be fair, “Mommy Porn” is a really close second (thanks, 50 Shades of Grey!), but when it comes down to it, my disdain for the Mommy Wars knows no bounds. Not only are these “wars” sexist-as-all-get-out — I mean, have you ever heard of the “Daddy Wars”? — but they’re also steeped in a hell of a lot of privilege, something that is rarely acknowledged in all the news stories, magazine covers, and internet blurbs that love to trot out the term. Keep reading »
New York City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) has recently launched a new ad campaign aimed at teen pregnancy that has caused quite a stir — and rightfully so. The campaign employs some of the most shameful tactics I have ever seen in the name of preventing teen pregnancy. These offensive ads (pictured after the jump) feature crying babies and blaming language that the HRA hopes will turn teenagers off from becoming parents.
Much of the wording places the onus of teen parenthood directly on the mother. Only one ad talks directly to young men (focusing on how much money he’ll have to pay in support), while the rest weigh heavily on the shoulders of young women, with one specifically focusing on how it’s highly likely a teen mom will end up raising her baby alone.
Is becoming a teen parent ideal or easy? No. Nobody is saying it is. But the way to go about preventing teen pregnancy isn’t by shaming and blaming those who already are young parents. The money that was spent on this horrible (and most likely ineffective) ad campaign could have been put to better use in more widespread comprehensive sex-education programs within the city. Keep reading »
It’s no big secret that one of the many battles the feminist movement fights against is its own poor PR. Many see feminism as the other “F-word” due to stereotypes that paint feminists as mean harpies with no sense of humor who hate men, makeup, bras, and shaving their legs. Despite the majority of feminists falling way outside these parameters, there are still many people — women in particular — who write off feminism as “not for them,” without bothering to dig a little deeper and explore if that’s truly the case.
Enter: Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success and Style by Jennifer Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudúlph. Their book, out this month, acts as a guide to help young women understand how feminism is not only great for the world, but for all aspects of their own lives as well. Keep reading »
For all intents and purposes, I had a pretty textbook pregnancy. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred, but that also didn’t mean it was all rainbows and unicorns.I’ve always wondered why they call it morning sickness, when for many people it lasts all day. At least, that’s what it was like for my when I was pregnant with my son. I’d wake up feeling nauseous and no amount of Saltines or ginger chews left by my bedside table to nibble on first thing ever helped. I felt the equivalent of sea sick all day: unbalanced, dizzy, and foggy. For the first few months, my weekends were spent in gentle yoga classes when I could afford them or lounging on my couch catching up on grading.
My weekdays were much less bearable. I taught high school social studies and I always had to be “on” and engaging, despite my roiling stomach that hardly gave me a minute’s relief. More than once I would call out a hasty plea to “please read page 44 and I’ll be right back” before booking it to the nearest bathroom and hugging the questionably clean toilet. But “morning” sickness was only the tip of the iceberg. I also had to deal with sweaty teenage boys who thought cologne was an acceptable coverup for post-gym stink (it’s not), as well as whatever horribly pungent odors wafted up from the cafeteria. Keep reading »
I recently received an email from a talent agent who is working with a production company specializing in reality television. This particular company, which has produced a number of popular (and apparently award-winning) reality shows, is looking to turn their lens on families. They reached out to me as a potential subject.
The talent agent started his email by complimenting my writing and said he enjoys following my work. Flattery will get you
nowhere everywhere. He suggested that this opportunity might be a way to share my “expertise and insight” with a larger audience. He provided a few more details, then invited my to set up a time to have an on camera interview with them to see if it was a good fit.
And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the slightest bit tempted. Keep reading »
New York Times’ writers KJ Dell’Antonia and Bruce Feiler recently went head to head over parenting for the latest “Room For Debate.” Their discussion focused on whether moms or dads more often take the lead when it comes to parenting, and more importantly, why?
This particular debate is an age-old parenting topic. In an era where women are constantly reminded about “having it all” despite stereotypical gender roles being enforced, it’s no wonder that we’re still discussing who takes on what when it comes to parenting. For a long time, parenting actually meant mothering by default. It was traditionally assumed that men were the wage earners while women were the caretakers, no matter how much that “ideal” didn’t match up with families that needed two incomes to stay afloat. Regardless of the advances in equality accrued by feminism, that traditional framework has been a hard one to shake off and families still have trouble when it comes to equal parenting. Keep reading »
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. I spent the day reading, writing, and thinking about abortion. I’m clearly not quite done.
I’ve never had an abortion, but that doesn’t mean that I — like many women — haven’t been in a position where I ended up considering having one. I certainly thought about abortion when I was 17 and completely freaking out after my first time having sex, both an unexpected and unwanted event. In the painfully long two weeks that I had to wait until I was finally able to take a pregnancy test, I considered all of my options, among them abortion. While I thankfully didn’t need to make any sort of choice in the end (except to head to a doctor for a full battery of STD testing), just knowing that abortion existed provided me with some sense of comfort in all of the swirling chaos that comes with being a teenager suffering heartbreak and confusion. Keep reading »