(Trigger Warning: Discussion of incest and childhood sexual abuse.)
The greatest gift my father gave me was a passion for art. As a pianist and composer with a Master’s degree in Musicology, he infused our home with creativity throughout my childhood. He encouraged me to find my own outlet; instead of sports teams and debate club, my extracurricular activities included violin lessons, piano lessons, drawing classes, painting classes, dance classes, theater camp, and color guard practice. You name it, I tried it.
The day we discovered my true passion was the day my father brought home a video camera. As I started to experiment with filmmaking as a medium of expression, he shared with me his advice about being an artist: “Never compromise your artistic vision for mainstream success.” “Art should never be restricted to those who can afford museum admission or concert tickets – create art that can be accessible to the public.” “Look for the art around you in every day life and draw inspiration from it.” “Let art drive everything else in your life.”
My memory of my childhood is hazy, so I can’t remember if our talks about art started before or after my father molested me. It happened so casually, so blatantly, that I assumed it was normal, loving behavior. Given the way he would constantly praise my appearance, talk openly and explicitly about sex, and encourage me to feel comfortable walking around naked in front of him, I did not realize that what happened to me was abuse until I was an adult. Today, we no longer have a relationship. I have nightmares about hearing his voice when I pick up the phone. Looking at photographs of him makes my stomach churn. But as I write this, I am listening to one of his recordings over and over again, straining to hear the words I know he will never say. Keep reading »
New mothers in the United Arab Emirates are now required by law to breastfeed their babies for two years, according to a clause in the country’s Child Rights law. Mothers who cannot nurse would be provided with a wet nurse by the government. One viewpoint held by the council is that children have the right to be breastfed, according to Islamic teaching; another compared not breastfeeding — just giving your baby formula — to child neglect. Keep reading »
When a woman attempts to find some semblance of “having it all,” she automatically becomes demonized. We can’t seem to rise up in the ranks — whether it’s in the corporate world or in politics — without our personal lives, particularly our mothering skills, being called into question.
The latest female politician in the hot seat is Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who is running for governor on the Democratic ticket. She has recently been skewered (again) for having been both a young mother and a single mother. The focus circumventing her actual politics (like her support for women’s reproductive rights) and instead revolve around how she is as a mother. A reporter for Fusion even asked Davis to respond to a blog post by Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol Palin — seriously, her — that called Davis a woman “whose ambition and ego were so big she couldn’t have both a career and kids at the same time.” Both Jessica Luther and Carolyn Edgar wrote insightful pieces this week explaining why these allegations are egregious, erroneous, and just plain clueless.
I could spend hours picking apart what is wrong about these attacks. Instead, I’d like to note that we hardly ever see male politicians skewered for their parenting. We look past that aspect of their personal lives — for the most part, barring a mistress or financial scandal — and focus on their politics. A male politician who is also a father gets to be, first and foremost, a male politician. But a female politician who is also a mother? It’s completely different. Keep reading »
Well, well, well — what will they think of next? Would you believe there is such a thing as grandma showers? Yes, as in a party for a grandmother-to-be, when either her daughter or daughter-in-law is preggo. You know, to give her tons of attention and get her all stocked up on supplies for the baby nursery that will be set up in her house when junior comes to visit. Read more on The Stir…
Earlier this month, the head chef of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, Grant Achatz, made headlines when he tweeted about some of his patrons:
The facts: Dinner at this chi-chi eatery restaurant requires a $210+ non-refundable/exchangeable tickets to be purchased two to three months in advance, and they’re only good for the date and time that you paid for. The dining couple in question had a babysitter that fell through. Not wanting to waste their reservation or the money they had already paid, they ended up at Alinea with their eight-month-old baby, much to the chagrin of their fellow diners and Chef Achatz. Keep reading »
Black gay dads Kordale and Kaleb recently found themselves inundated with hateful comments and messages when their Instagram account, featuring photos of the couple with their three kids, caught the attention of ignorant (and often racist) homophobes. Many of the hateful comments have since been deleted — and they’ve received an outpouring of support — but the experience prompted Kordale and Kaleb to submit the following statement to Huffington Post’s Gay Voices blog: Keep reading »
There never seems to be a moment where young parenthood isn’t in the spotlight. But it’s gotten a recent boost this week after the The New York Times reported on a recent study purporting that shows like MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” have helped in the reduction of teen pregnancies. The study suggested as many as 20,000 teen pregnancies were prevented in 2010 because of young adults watching those shows.
Many outlets have been reporting on this study, but very few are including the thoughts or opinions from those they’re talking about. So, after the jump, here’s a roundtable discussion conducted over email with Gloria Malone and Natasha Vianna, who are both tireless advocates for teen moms and their families.
Keep reading »
Emily Winter is not just one of our freelancer writers. Once upon a time, she was also a highly suspect little girl whose parents — both lawyers — made her sign an affidavit to confirm to the Tooth Fairy that she really did lose a tooth she claimed to have lost. She even searched in her Alpha Bits cereal looking for it! Fortunately, her Notary Public father signed off on the document, so she was free to accept renumerance from the Tooth Fairy. Ah, lawyers.
Read Emily’s full affidavit after the jump: Keep reading »
“Today, the choir will sing, but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry. If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here.”
It’s not often the Catholic Church does something that I actually like. So I am very pleased to read that when Pope Francis baptized 32 babies yesterday, he first told all the mothers sitting in the pews of the Sistine Chapel not to feel shy about breastfeeding. How awesome is that? Last month, the Pope also told an Italian newspaper that he encouraged a mother to nurse her hungry child in the church, even though she seemed hesitant to do so — perhaps out of fear that it would be frowned upon by fellow churchgoers. Hey, it happens practically everywhere else. By encouraging nursing moms to breastfeed when they — and their babies! — see fit, the Pope is making a strong statement that breastfeeding should not be looked at as risqué or sinful. That’s a message moms everywhere need to hear. [Independent UK] [Image of breastfeeding mother via Shutterstock; image of Pope Francis via Getty]
It’s no secret that becoming a new parent can be one of the most trying times in a person’s life. Seven years later, I can still vividly remember those first few hours and days together, despite the foggy haze of sleeplessness I was in. A plethora of hormones coursed through my body, screwing with my emotions. I’d be happy but I’d cry, I’d be sleepy but couldn’t quell the anxiety that gripped me. I had read countless books and taken a few classes in order to prepare me for this moment. I still felt completely out of my depths.
Welcome to motherhood.
Thankfully, I had an incredible support system: an equally tired husband who had managed to cobble together a month of paternity leave (through FMLA, using up paid vacation, and taking unpaid time off), parents and in-laws who lived no more than two hours away, a doting doula who helped me not only through labor and delivery but with breastfeeding as well, eager friends, and even a visiting nurse provided by the hospital via our insurance. I was fortunate and privileged. Besides many sleepless nights and some stained shirts, I escaped my son’s infancy relatively unscathed. Yet, the same can’t be said for everyone. Keep reading »