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 »
When a neighbor’s dog began attacking their four year old son, Jeremy Triantafilo. Tara (a stray who was adopted into the family six years ago) put one of her nine lives at risk by heroically going after the dog and interfering with the attack. Tara’s courage and compassion saved the young boy’s life and captured our hearts. Watch the video on Your Tango…
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.
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Mother’s Day is when advertising distills motherhood down to home-cooked brunch, a bracelet, or a fragrant bouquet. But for far too many people, the relationship with their mom is a complicated one. Not all mothers have been nurturing and caring; not all daughters and sons have overcome the trauma of their childhoods as adults. There can be a lot of love in a mother-child relationship, but also a deep well of pain. That’s why The End Of Eve: A Memoir, by Ariel Gore, is the perfect antidote to Mother’s Day.
Several years ago, Gore, who is the editor of Hip Mama magazine, was happily in a relationship with her partner and raising a college-aged daughter and a toddler son, when she got some news. Her narcissistic, emotionally abusive mother, Eve, announced she had cancer.
So, Gore and her family picked up their lives and moved to spend the last couple of years caring for Eve — who, in turn, made everyone’s lives difficult in every possible way, like reporting Gore and her partner to Child Protective Services for (nonexistent) child abuse. But Gore was dedicated to both caring for her sick mom and trying to keep her relationship with her girlfriend together.
As a memoirist, Ariel Gore is gifted: she is able to tell a heartbreaking story of illness and betrayal with the perfect mix of respect, humor and irreverence. I called Gore at home to talk about The End Of Eve, which I absolutely devoured. Our conversation is after the jump!
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It always amuses me when something concerning pregnancy, birth, or parenting pops up as a “trend.” Odds are, that “trend” has been in practice for ages, but most likely in non-urban, non-privileged, non-U.S. areas. Take, for example, the notion of using midwives to deliver babies over OB-GYNs. Only when it hit Brooklyn and the New York Times Style section covered it, did using a midwife become a trend. Nevermind the fact that midwives remain the only option for maternal health care in much of the developing world! They’re also the preferred choice in places like the UK: midwives perform 80 to 90 percent of all low-risk births in England.
Recently the “trend” of doing stuff with your placenta post-delivery seems to be resurfacing. I say resurfacing because I feel like I’m always hearing stuff about other people’s placentas and what they’re doing with them. From burying them under a tree in the front yard to dehydrating them them into capsules, eating them , or using them as art pieces. Recently, Nick Baines wrote a piece for UK Guardian in which he described in great detail the various ways he ingested his wife’s placenta after the birth of their son. Keep reading »
Breastfeeding: it’s one of those heated topics of motherhood where everyone has an opinion and they’re not afraid to share it. For me, nursing was just something that was a part of having a baby. I was breastfed, I grew up among women who breastfed, and it was assumed that I would as well when the time came. After a bit of a rocky start, I got the hang of it and had a successful three-year run nursing my son.
Personally, I’m a proponent of breastfeeding, as there are numerous benefits to it for both baby and mother. But I’m also fully aware that we live in a society that is not set up to help support women who want to breastfeed. When debates surrounding breast milk versus formula arise, I’d rather attack the system rather than individuals. That’s why I appreciate the new documentary “Breastmilk” by filmmaker Dana Ben-Ari, which follows a handful of new mothers to learn more about their breastfeeding journey and the challenges they face. There’s no stigma or judgment about choices here. Instead, it’s a refreshing look at breastfeeding in today’s society and the challenges and joys that come along with it.
I had the pleasure of talking to Ben-Ari about the film to learn more. Our conversation, after the jump: Keep reading »
When Nate and Erica Eaton found out they were expecting a second child, they were shocked. They figured their friends and family would be surprised too, so they put together a video that switched up the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to share the good news in a this clever video. If the quirky announcement they made for their first pregnancy is any indication (Nate is a newscaster for WRIC news in Richmond, Virgina), they must be really fun parents! In my humble opinion, the real star of this video their adorable baby, who pretty much steals the show. [Just Jared]
Wioletta Komar, a 25-year-old mom of two, is demanding an apology from the retailer Sports Direct after she was forced from of their stores for breastfeeding her son. Komar was waiting for her father, who was to trying on a t-shirt, when she began to nurse her baby son, Daniel. “My son started crying, so I wanted to feed him. I sat on the bench near the shoe rack,” she told UK’s Daily Mail.
Then, an employee of the Nottingham, England shop approached Komar and told her that she could not nurse in the store due to “company policy.” The employee suggested she head to McDonald’s, which had a “baby and mother” room. Other customers were disturbed by the situation and helped Komar push her stroller outside. “It made me feel very upset. I was shaking and I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I was allowed to be there, but what could I do?” Komar said. I can’t help but think that any woman would react the same way to such a stressful situation! Komar made her way outside and into the rain to finish feeding Daniel, where she couldn’t help but cry. “I can’t understand why a baby has to be punished for being hungry and why I need to feel like a criminal when I just want to feed my baby son,” she said. Keep reading »