Tuesday, February 24, 2015

almost famous

I've already shouted this from the rooftops, but just in case you were in your parents' basement at the time, I wanted to let you know, I'M GOING TO BE IN A BOOK. WITH PAGES. Or, like, pixels. Whatever floats your boat. And you will be able to buy it on Amazon, which is basically my baseline for legitimacy at life. But it's cool, no big deal, I'm totally chill about it ;)

I'm really glad this worked out for me, though, because there is no way my white dimpled butt was gonna propel me to internet stardom. My buns are less glazed donuts and more... soggy cornflakes. Not exactly the stuff faux fame is made of.

See, there I am. Further. A little further. Keep going. There you go.
Save the second-best for second-to-last. I definitely read that somewhere ;)
Anyway, in case you can't tell, I'm pretty stoked. I mean, I have no f*cking clue what I'm doing. I definitely feel like a total rookie hanging out with the All Star Team, but I'll take it!
"You have no frame of reference here, Donny.
You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know..."
(^ Me, asking questions about Book PR) 
In all seriousness, I am honored to be featured on this roster of awesomeness:

Jen Mann of People I Want to Punch in the Throat

Bethany Kriger Thies of Bad Parenting Moments

Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying

Alyson Herzig of The Shitastrophy

JD Bailey of Honest Mom

Kathryn Leehane of Foxy Wine Pocket

Suzanne Fleet of Toulouse and Tonic

Nicole Leigh Shaw of Nicole Leigh Shaw, Tyop Aretist

Meredith Spidel of The Mom of the Year

Rebecca Gallagher of Frugalista Blog

Rita Templeton of Fighting off Frumpy

Darcy Perdu of So Then Stories

Christine Burke of Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Amy Flory of Funny Is Family

Robyn Welling of Hollow Tree Ventures

Sarah del Rio of est. 1975

Amanda Mushro of Questionable Choices in Parenting

Jennifer Hicks of Real Life Parenting

Courtney Fitzgerald of Our Small Moments

Lola Lolita of Sammiches and Psych Meds

Victoria Fedden of Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds

Keesha Beckford of Mom's New Stage

Stacia Ellermeier of Dried-on Milk

Ashley Allen of Big Top Family

Meredith Bland of Pile of Babies

Harmony Hobbs of Modern Mommy Madness

Janel Mills of 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of

Kim Forde of The Fordeville Diaries

Stacey Gill of One Funny Motha

Beth Caldwell of The Cult of Perfect Motherhood

Sarah Cottrell of Housewife Plus

Michelle Back of Mommy Back Talk

Tracy Sano of Tracy on the Rocks

Linda Roy of elleroy was here

Michelle Poston Combs of Rubber Shoes In Hell

Susan Lee Maccarelli of Pecked To Death By Chickens

Vicki Lesage of Life, Love, and Sarcasm in Paris

Kris Amels of Why, Mommy?

Mackenzie Cheeseman of Is there cheese in it? [< ME! Well, kind of. By the way, creating and maintaining a fake identity is kinda stressful. I am so glad I am not in witness protection or I would definitely be dead.]

Tracy DeBlois of Orange & Silver

The book is slated to come out March 27th. It'll cost some dollars, and it'll be money well spent. Promise. As my PR debut, I may try to work out a deal with Depends so that you're covered when you pee your pants laughing. Can also be used as tissues for unexpected tears. I'll keep you posted ;)

Real book.
Just in case you  missed it.
Coming March 27th.
In the meantime, if you haven't read the first one, go here.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

is this a girl fork?

The other night we were reading a story - Digger Dozer Dumper, a book about trucks. I like it better than the best-selling Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site because it refers to some of the vehicles as "she," as opposed to the latter, which assumes that all rough and tumble construction play must be engaged in by males. (Hey, I'm already deconstructing children's books. Don't get me started on heteronormativity and gender binaries.) At the end it asks "Which truck do YOU want to be?" and the kids always pick their favorite. Well that night, Colby picks this little baby bulldozer and says, "I hass to be dat one cuz I'm a grill [girl]." I did a screeching cartoon double-take like, "W-W-W-WHAT?!" And promptly launched into a lesson on feminism and gender equality for my two- and four-year-olds. The point being, this is something that I think about a lot. (See, e.g., "I wear The Pants" and "the bedazzled bulldozer.") It is something that is very important to me. And yet, apparently, somewhere along the line I seem to have dropped the ball.

This was just the beginning of our recent spiral into the abyss of gender dichotomy. Last week, the kids were "helping" me set the table. Colby walked up to me and asked, "Mama, is dis a 'grill' fork?" What in the actual f*ck?!

Lately, Colby has also taken to saying things like "Take off my shoes for me cuz i'm a pwincess," "I cant frow away dis gawbage cuz i'm a pwincess," and "Carry me! Pwincesses don't hass to walk wif dare own legs."

It is with great regret that I must hereby tender my resignation as a card-carrying feminist and gender-studies aficionado. Where did I go wrong???

I meant to write this post in December when people were flipping out about the "No Gender December" thing, but, it's February now. Whoops. Anyway. I'm not saying I would want to raise a genderless child like Storm or Pop, or that I advocate using the term "purple penguins" in lieu of pronouns. But. I wholeheartedly support the notion that we should let kids be who they want to be, wear what they want to wear, and play with the toys they want to play with, rather than forcing them into these cute little pink- and blue behavior boxes,

Of course, this is coming from the person who dressed her daughter solely in hot pink for the first year of her life, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. I remember when I was pregnant with Colby, I originally didn't want to find out the sex of the baby. I said, "It doesn't matter, anyway. Whether it's a boy or a girl, it's wearing big brother's hand-me-downs. I'm not going to buy a bunch of pink frilly shit just because I have a daughter." I lied.

Seriously though. Why do we care so much? Why is this the first question anyone asks (myself included) of a pregnant woman? Is it a boy or a girl? It really shouldn't be such a big deal. But it is. People care. A lot. I know someone who had SEVEN children in attempts to get a son. What do you think is going to be SO different about lucky #7? And how do you think that makes girl chiles #1-6 feel?

One of my good girlfriends from college is pregnant with her first. She didn't want to find out the sex of their baby, but her wife did, and the wife won that argument ;) They were telling me about the night they found out - they had the doctor write down the sex and place it in a sealed envelope. They went out to a nice romantic dinner. They slowly opened the envelope together, reveling in the suspense - and - SURPRISE! It's a girl!

But my friend's initial reaction was less than ecstatic. Her wife was good-naturedly giving her a hard time as we were discussing it because M's first comment was, "We'll just have to make her hang out with dudes, because that's the only way she's going to turn out cool." I was like, "M! YOU are a girl! And YOU are cool! WTF?!" Next, she said "Well, I guess it's good she's a girl. I'll be more careful with her that way." Seriously?! Granted, M played professional rugby, can deadlift my body weight, and is a general badass, so my "Yay, another pretty-pretty-princess" remark was less than well-received. But still. I've written about this before. Why is this still a thing? Why do we attach such significance to the shapes of our bits and pieces? Why do we harp on the handful of immutable differences as opposed to the vast majority of things we have in common with the "opposite" sex.

I used to tell people that I didn't believe all this "boys will be boys" versus "sugar and spice and all things nice" bullshit, and that each child springs from your lady parts possessing a personality in full. Based on my sample size of two, I would tell you that MY boy is sweet and sensitive and dramatic and MY girl is tough and strong and chill. But then we sent them to preschool, and in return, got Star Wars/Ninja/Laser-Bwaster Boy and Pink Kitty Cat Pwincess Grill.

I don't want to say it's NOT okay for them to like those things. But it definitely makes me sad that The Boy now says things like "Pink is for Grills" and The Girl asks if her f*cking fork is sufficiently dainty to be held in the fragile female grasp. (I'm still not sure what that's all about. I think it might be because I only like to eat with the larger dinner forks, not dinky little salad forks, and my kids know this, so maybe "grill forks" are actually the big manly ones? ;))

Anyway. I know some people still think there's a place for traditional gender roles. But I am not one of those people. I have friends who refer to certain tasks as "boy jobs," and I just can't get behind that. Yeah, my husband is a little taller and a little stronger, but he's also afraid of spiders. He does lunches and dishes, I do dinner and laundry. We both take out the trash. I run the arachnid amnesty program, and he is in charge of taking dead rodents out of the pool filter. (I won't go so far as to call that last one a boy job. In fact, I am quite certain Colby would mind this job far less than her brother OR her dad. But I will say it is not a job that plays to my natural skill set. Nor is cooking, for that matter. But somebody's gotta do it!) I can't imagine telling my daughter (or my son) that they are any more or less qualified for a particular task just because they're male or female. In my mind, we're better at certain things and worse at certain things because we are all unique, individual people, not because our predilections are predetermined by the existence of an X or Y chromosome.

I'm not saying we have, as a society, or even as a household, achieved complete gender equality. Far from it. As a woman and a wife and a mother and especially as a female-mom-lawyer, I know that we still have plenty of ground to cover on that front. But you better believe I am going to do everything in my power to ensure that any obstacles or impediments to my daughter's journey based solely on the fact that she's a "grill" are not going to come from me. The same goes for parameters and expectations surrounding my son's potential. I just don't see any advantage to be gained from doggedly adhering to these stereotypes that no longer serve any purpose.

Have you ever heard of the term "skeuomorphism?" According to Wikipedia, a skeupmorph is a "derivative object that retains ornamental design cues from structures that were necessary in the original," e.g., "pottery embellished with rivets reminiscent of similar pots made of metal, and a software calendar that imitates the appearance of binding on a paper desk calendar." Or like how the "phone" button on your cell phone looks like the handset on an old landline.

This is how I feel about traditional gender roles. Maybe, in cavemen times, there was a purpose for these roles. I was not there, so I do not know. However, whatever purpose they served has long been rendered moot. Sure, they're comfortable and familiar. But we do not need them anymore. If they were just harmless decorative rivets on the fa├žade of life, that would be one thing. But when these outmoded biases result in a gender wage gap that starts from the time they're earning an allowance, that shit's got to stop. It's time to confront these stereotypes and step outside our comfort zones. Even if you're kinda old-fashioned, are you really okay with your daughter earning 78 cents on the dollar for doing the exact same job as a man? That's just some straight bullllshit. It actually boggles my mind that this is still happening in 2015.

My next post will tell everyone how to magically solve this problem. I will then win the Nobel Peace Prize, and retire.

Just kidding.

I have no f*cking clue how to solve the problem. But I'm going to start with my own little sample size, and go from there. Because sometimes that's all you can do. And if everyone else does the same, then maybe, just maybe, we really will figure it all out someday.

Until then, just remember: Little girls like superheroes too (even if they're called Bat-Grill Pwincess). And real men wear pink. But we call it "Nantucket Red."

And for your reading pleasure:

"What's Your Kids' Wage Gap? Boys Paid More, More Profitably," by Soraya Chemaly on Huffington Post. "Fathers are the gatekeepers of their daughters' ambitions." Oh dear. P.S., don't read the comments.

"Five myths about the gender pay gap," by Vivien Labaton on The Washington Post.

"Raising a genderless child: Possible?" by Emily Sohn on Discovery News.

I also really loved this, which points out that it goes both ways. "Here's why we have to stop labeling our boys," by Robyn Passante on The Washington Post. "I want girls to be on their radar as people just like them, not as pink sparkly objects of their affection, so that when they do eventually feel that tug of attraction for someone, they see all of her, not just the parts they want to touch."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

the scale of suck

Suckage is relative. I've talked about this before. I even drew a nifty little graphic. (See Fig. 2, below.)

The take-home lesson is = Life is hard and good, but it's way harder for some and way good-er for others.

I don't mean to sound like some sanctimonious schmuck. I'll be the first one to bake cupcakes for your pity party. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you're having a rough day and someone points out that it could be a lot worse. I just think that is extremely unhelpful. So. I'm not ever going to say that to your face. But. Maybe, sometimes, we could stand to say it to our own faces.

Case in point. This weekend I took Miss Colby Jean to a classmate's 3rd birthday party, which is basically my own personal definition of hell. While attempting, and failing, to make small talk with the other moms, I totally stuck my foot in it, as I am wont to do.

Me: Do you just love having short hair?
Other Mom: Well, it wasn't exactly a choice. It all fell out during my chemo.
I am such an idiot.

The moral of the story is this: Don't ever ask anyone about their short hair. Or if they're pregnant. Or if they have a good relationship with their parents. Or if they do Crossfit or eat Paleo.

I, for one, give you free license to bitch and feel sorry for yourself whenever you damn well please. I find that being honest about my struggles as a mom and a human being is cathartic, and also, makes me feel less shitty and less alone. I love that there are places on the internet that you can go (Pinterest is not one of them) when you are having a bad day and you can be grumpy and real and people - sometimes people you don't even know - respond with "Amen!" and "That fucking sucks!" and "You got this!" and "Preachin to the choir!" Probably this is just because I'm not popular enough to have haters, but nobody ever rains on my pity parade, and I really appreciate that. But. A little perspective can be good, too.

So anyway. Here I am, thinking, "Awkward socializing at a toddler birthday party is THE WORST THING EVER!" And I will continue to ferociously sympathize with anyone who has to undergo similar instruments of torture. Yet, I was painfully, gratefully aware on this perfect, sunny, Sunday afternoon, of this ridiculously positive and kick ass mom kindly reminding me, in so many words, that my life is not that effing bad. "Actually, no, you asshole. THE WORST THING EVER is being diagnosed with CANCER when you have a 2 year old and a THREE MONTH OLD, and having to undergo surgery that prohibits you from picking up your newborn baby (and your big-little-boy) for six weeks, and undergoing months of chemo and radiation, and continuing to receive twice-monthly infusions, with another surgery scheduled soon, and feeling cautiously optimistic, but not knowing for sure whether you are going to live long enough to throw a three-year-old birthday party of your own."

I think my eloquent response was something along the lines of, "Holy shit."

I quickly followed that up with a nonsensical monologue of things I could do to help:

Child care: Absolutely! My children subsist mainly on things that are orange. Is that okay?
Home cooked meals: Technically possible, but if you're already nauseous you might not want to hitch your horse to this wagon.
Cupcakes from a boxed mix?
Legal advice on corporate fraud?
I can give you the number for a mediocre housekeeper...
And provide... ummmm..... non-denominational prayer-like-thoughts? Knock-knock jokes? Dude. I don't even know what to say.

My next thought was, "Wait! Why on earth are you the class mom?!? Can I help take any of that responsibility off your plate? We have that gift basket thing. I can do that! Gift baskets are right in my wheel house!" Her response? Oh you guys, her response. She said she decided to take that on because (a) She "wanted to have something to do besides feeling sorry for herself" (and, you know, her part time job as a therapist, and two small children, and FUCKING CANCER). And (b) because she might not have another chance. Waaaaaaaaaaaaah.

SO. Yeah. Sometimes, terrible toddler birthday parties can serve as wonderful reminders of the fact that you made some tiny humans and they are incredibly amazing and beautiful (and quirkily psychotic) little creatures, and you are ALIVE and you are here to watch them grow. And those are not small things.


"Jennifer Green-cheese, or whatever your name is" (< courtesy of one of my many hilarious cousins-in-law)

to see the scale of suck in its original incarnation, click here