Show of hands: who else remembers roaming neighborhood streets unsupervised until dusk during your elementary school years?
I have crystal clear memories of being allowed to bike the three short blocks to my friend’s house (sans helmet!) after school for playdates —and not of the hyper-scheduled variety. We’d usually hang out in her backyard, poking sticks in holes or making forts with paint cloths we’d scavenge from her garage. Occasionally we’d run into the house for snacks, but if the weather was good, we’d most likely be found outside. Sometimes we’d make our way through the neighborhood, sneaking through backyards or meandering down sidewalks. We never got into any real trouble, and neither of us ever got seriously hurt beyond a skinned knee or two.
I’ve written before about how the childhood of my youth seems rather far removed from the one my son and his friends have. A combination of helicopter parenting, a lawsuit-happy society, and our growing withdrawal from a true neighborhood mentality seems to be fueling the more boxed-in and rigid rule-oriented childhoods we’re seeing. Keep reading »
They say that your life completely changes when you have a baby. That this overwhelming sense of love makes you forget all of the sleepless nights and dirty diapers, the temper tantrums and crayon marks on the freshly-painted walls. Many new mothers declare that this is what they were meant to do: bring another life into this world. I suppose this is how I feel, too — except that I’m not a mom yet.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always known that I wanted to be a mother. I used to create elaborate scenarios with my dolls as my “babies” where I was their doting mother. When I was around 14, I began babysitting for one of the local church’s childcare centers a few Sundays a month; I’d spend a couple of hours watching after babies and toddlers while their parents attended services. I bounced smiling babies on my knees, fed them bottles as they looked up at me with their big eyes, and patted their backs and sang to them as they cried. In college I made extra money by nannying for a family during the summer. I’d travel with them and their three small children, taking care of them practically 24/7. At night I was regularly woken up because of the two-year-old’s nightmares. My alarm clock was the baby wailing for his first morning bottle. But even though they weren’t my kids, I felt that emotional tug deep inside my chest. Children make me feel a peaceful happiness — like you’re living in a world where everything is pure and beautiful. Keep reading »
This essay was published with permission from Gender-Focus.
My spouse and I are seeking permanent birth control, and the entire process has been difficult. At this point, we are sick to death of unsolicited advice on the subject (Pro-tip: If someone you don’t know says they’re not judging you, they are judging you.) Everyone’s heart is in the right place, I can only assume. People think they are telling us new information that will keep us from making what they perceive to be a mistake. I get that they’re trying to help. But we continually find ourselves defending this very personal decision to total strangers. So to keep myself from screaming, I’m going to outline why the condescension disguised as concern is totally unfounded. Trust us. We’ve thought it through. Keep reading »
I’m going to propose something that may seem radical, given the hysteria that single motherhood seems to conjure in American society. The typical single mother? She doesn’t exist.
As a solo-parenting mother (which is different than a single parent — this is a nuanced “issue” my friends!), I’ve searched high and low to find out if a significant portion of single moms are representative of the stereotype that politicians, moralizing religious groups, and census statistics tell me are single (puns!) handedly causing a rise in childhood poverty. All I’ve managed to find is a group of people as diverse as our married counterparts. Keep reading »
“Step … Stepmother, Stepfather, Stepchildren—the word ‘step’ can take on such a negative connotation to so many in our society. A family is a family. In my eyes, there’s no ‘step’ about it … It’s not easy being a stepparent, taking on a mother or father role in your new blended family and household. It can be incredibly intimidating … One thing that I know is, I will never replace their mother. I would never try. I will however love them with all I have and do everything in my power to help raise them in a loving, safe and proper environment … These two little boys came into my life for a reason and I think I came into theirs for a reason, too.”
—LeAnn Rimes writes on her blog her assorted thoughts on being a stepmom to Eddie Cibrian’s two sons. Personally, I think her attitude on this is pretty great. What do you think? [via Huffington Post]
“I grew up without a father around. I have certain memories of him taking me to my first jazz concert and giving me my first basketball as a Christmas present. But he left when I was two years old. And even though my sister and I were lucky enough to be raised by a wonderful mother and caring grandparents, I always felt his absence and wondered what it would have been like if he had been a greater presence in my life. I still do. It is perhaps for this reason that fatherhood is so important to me, and why I’ve tried so hard to be there for my own children.”
—Barack Obama shares his thoughts on being a dad in an essay in the latest issue of People, just in time for Father’s Day. Man, this is one adorable family. Keep reading »