A few months ago, I was having a rough time with my son. This is not unusual, as he is going through a particularly ornery stage and I am stubborn as a mule who is really good at yelling but not much else in the discipline realm. I ended up calling my parents for backup, and put them on the phone with my son as I stood in the bathroom listening to the conversation. Most of it was great. My dad was telling my son that he needs to listen to me because I’m the Mom and I have his best interests at heart and all that. But then! Then he told my son that he needed to change his behavior because he is “the man of the house,” and I “need” him to take care of me and our home. And that’s when I almost punched a hole through the wall. Keep reading »
When I was just a young, crayon-happy little blondie, my mother thought it was the cutest thing when I drew on anything— even more so when I signed my work with a backwards ‘K’ and upside-down ‘E’. The less legible it was, the more precious. Unfortunately, one Chinese businessman will no longer experience that joy when his four-year-old son puts pen to paper.
The aforementioned little boy, who was accompanying his dad on a business trip to South Korea, had a grand old time doodling all over his father’s passport when his dad was busy working. And this kid went to TOWN with his Sharpie. He turned his father into a hairy-looking demon man, drew what I can only assume to be some sort of cat and other blob people with lots of dark, rough squiggles that suggest he may be having some bad dreams lately. But that’s beside the point. Keep reading »
We’re on the cusp of “bikini season,” if magazines in the grocery shore checkout line are to be believed. I’m sure you’re familiar with the wide variety of products — ones that remove hair, ones that firm up jiggly thighs, ones that promise to burn stomach fat — which supposedly get a body ready for a teensy two-piece.
Want to know my secret for getting a bikini body? Buy a bikini. Put it on. Voila.
But, we don’t live in a society that allows people to just put on a bathing suit and not think twice about it. Instead, we live in a time and space where we are inundated with messages of what the “right” type of body looks like. I felt and absorbed those messages growing up, and that was before the 24/7 barrage of media via the Internet. I remember going through my tween and teen years, always giving a second or third glance in the mirror. I never felt 100 percent comfortable in my skin. Keep reading »
“Wow” is all I have to say after watching this beautiful video that tells the story of Ryland Whittington, a bright, fun, loving little boy who happens to be transgender. Ryland’s story is fairly typical of many transgender kids — around age 3, he started rejecting a traditionally feminine presentation and self-identifying as a boy. The confusion soon morphed into feelings of shame and frustration. From there he could have spiraled into self-loathing, depression, and isolation, but what makes Ryland’s story different from so many trans people’s childhood experiences is that he also happened to be born with a truly amazing set of parents. Want to see what acceptance, understanding, and unconditional love look like? Hit play. [YouTube via Hypervocal]
“You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time. … I wanted to spend more time with my family. A year off was my birthday present to myself. I didn’t actually act or write. I was just a mum. I taught drama at my daughter’s school, cooked meals and had fun. I highly recommend others to do the same if they can afford it. … Sometimes in life you’ll have some things, at other times you will have other things. You don’t need it all at once, it’s not good for you. Motherhood is a full-time job. The only way I could have continued working would have been by delegating the running of the home to other people. I never wanted to do this as I find motherhood profoundly enjoyable.”
Because a celebrity hasn’t weighed in on working moms in, oh, a couple of days, here is Emma Thompson in the UK’s Daily Mail on her decision to take a year off from acting to stay at home with her 14-year-old daughter, Gaia, who is pictured. (Thompson also has a 26-year-old adopted son, Tindyebwa.) Recently, millionaire-with-nannies Gwyneth Paltrow complained that working as an actress is harder for her than for moms on a 9-to-5 schedule. Angelina Jolie responded that she has “much more support than most people” and “women in my position … shouldn’t complain.” Sort of in the middle of both points of view, Thompson explained to the Daily Mail how she just didn’t feel like she could juggle parenthood and work without a lot of help, which made her feel like she was missing out. The only way not to miss out was to put work on hold for a year. Keep reading »
“After Elliot Rodger murdered six young men and women in Isla Vista, California, word spread that he had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a developmental disorder that was also linked to mass murderer Adam Lanza. Did Rodger’s alleged high-functioning autism spectrum disorder lead him to go on a murderous rampage? No. And even making it part of the conversation is harmful and stigmatizing to those with autism. …
We’re not living in a world with an epidemic of killers with autism. We are living in a world where social awkwardness associated with Asperger’s syndrome leads to kids being bullying and isolated. I’ve spent 7 years seeking therapies for my son. From occupational therapy to social skills groups, these specialized therapies will help him develop meaningful interactions with peers and get through school. I’ve met wonderful kids and young adults with autism of various degrees of severity. Every child with autism is just as unique as you or I. These kids aren’t defined by their diagnoses any more than you’re defined by your physical appearance. When I tell you my son has Asperger’s syndrome, I want you to know that it makes him focused, quirky, driven and different. I want to explain that he sees a world you and I will never see. What I don’t want is for you to make a knee-jerk correlation to two deeply disturbed individuals. I don’t want you to see a ticking time bomb when you look at my third grader.”
I’ve noticed an alarming trend in the reaction to Elliot Rodger’s murder of six people in Isla Vista, California, on Friday — pointing to him allegedly having Asperger’s syndrome (which has yet to be backed up with a confirmed diagnosis) as if it somehow explains his actions and/or negates the views he expressed in his 140-page “manifesto.” That’s why I urge you to read what Maria Mora, whose son has autism, has to say over at SheKnows about why this focus is not only ignorant and harmful, but a distraction from the real issues. [She Knows]
“I’m not a single mom with two jobs trying to get by every day. I have much more support than most people, most women in this world. And I have the financial means to have a home and health care and food. When I feel I’m doing too much, I do less, if I can. And that’s why I’m in a rare position where I don’t have to do job after job. I can take time when my family needs it. I actually feel that women in my position, when we have all at our disposal to help us, shouldn’t complain. Consider all the people who really struggle and don’t have the financial means, don’t have the support, and many people are single raising children. That’s hard.”
–Angelina Jolie tells The New York Daily News that she’s fed up with super rich, famous moms with armies of nannies and piles of money complaining about how hard their lives are. You can almost hear her muttering “cough … GWYNETH … cough” between the lines here, can’t you? If you’ll recall, a few months ago, Gwynnie made some truly cringe-worthy comments about how her life as a famous, uber rich mom was actually harder than if she was a normal working mom with an office job. Leave it to Angelina to drop a truth bomb on GOOP’s distorted view of reality. [Us Weekly]
After almost two years at home with my son, I’m going back to work. As I’ve told people the news — family, friends, other moms, the checkout guy at the liquor store who sold me the celebratory champagne, the customer service rep from Citibank’s fraud department who called to check on my unusual activity – I’ve been taken aback by some of the responses. I assume the inappropriate reactions were simply people being dumbstruck by my good fortune, so I created a guide of what not to say when a woman tells you she’s going back to work.
Here they are, in a very particular order: Keep reading »
With the way the media shoves the “mommy wars” down our throats, I’m amazed that there isn’t already a reality show based on that concept out there. (Reality TV producers, this is NOT an invitation to prove me wrong). You could have a handful of women battling it out for their child’s love! Or society’s approval! They would earn or lose points based on whether they ate deli meat or soft cheese during pregnancy, whether they had a homebirth or a highly medicalized one, whether they breastfed their kids, used cloth diapers, only fed organic, stayed home or went back to work.
It would be exhausting to watch, and truth be told, there wouldn’t be any winners. This is exactly how I feel most days as I watch the “mommy wars” being trotted out as a way for women to pit themselves against other women in morning news segments, blog headlines and magazine covers. I still shudder when picturing TIME‘s infamous “Are You Mom Enough?” cover.
So it should surprise exactly no one that when I read Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest GOOP newsletter with her own thoughts on the “mommy wars,” I couldn’t help but cringe. Keep reading »
Motherhood. We all have a vision in mind of what it’s supposed to look like: warm, nurturing, saccharine, even beatific. Even the messier versions we allow — frazzled new parent anxiety, daylight zombies — still position the mother as with-it and in control. But what about the mothers who are anything but in control? What about the mothers who have an addiction in control of them?
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of a searing memoir, Drunk Mom, about her 11-month relapse into alcoholism after her son’s birth. A sober alcoholic, Bydlowska toasted her son’s birth with a glass of champagne. Then she began drinking regularly in the overwhelming new days of parenthood. At first her relapse was easy to hide, especially home alone on maternity leave with a newborn. But soon, the addiction metastasized into full-blown alcoholism once again, causing her to make dangerous decisions about her own and her baby’s safety and shrouding her relationship with her baby’s father in lies. When she finally makes it to rehab, the reader is relieved everyone is still alive.
Drunk Mom, which will be published in America on May 27th, is a discomforting read. It’s bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially those with idealized versions of what motherhood and womanhood “should” mean. It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read (and yes, I’m including Wild in that) both for it’s candor and bravery and for her narration. I understand addiction all the better with once-again-sober Jowita Bydlowska as the Charon to this Hades, our guide to the underworld.
I called Bydlowska in Canada where she lives with her now-five-year-old son.
Keep reading »