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 »
“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 »
This kind of bullshit makes my blood boil: the New York Post‘s cover today shows a picture of New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray with the headline, “I WAS A BAD MOM.” It references an article that just came out in New York magazine about McCray’s life in which she writes about her difficulties balancing work and motherhood.
But did McCray actually ever call herself a “bad mom”? Of course not. Keep reading »
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 »