Sunday, May 30, 2010

Glee Clip

Okay - so I don't usually use this blog for anything other than my own musings.  But I am posting this clip from Glee from the Perez Hilton site (because FOX has erased all clips of this awesome scene from youtube).  I'm posting it because it is so bloody beautiful and touching.  I am posting it because every queer kid should be so lucky to have a parent like this.   I know it's probably preachin' to the choir - but I'm posting it because more, more, more, more people need to see things like this on their television screens.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Scoop - there it is ...

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Breaking News:

MSNBC Scoop - Sarah Ferguson is broke!

AQFGiR Scoop - Hey - me too!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

So I'm sitting across from a young (and I mean young like a pup here) resident at my doc's medical practice, answering questions which will lead him to deduce, correctly, that I have lost my stuff and need some antidepressants.  (Erm, I mean, will lead him to correctly assess my having fallen prey to a little post partum depression and anxiety... and still need some antidepressants). 

"Yes - I am experiencing feelings of exhaustion, unexplainable (and explainable) sadness, anxiety, blah, blah, blah."  "No - I don't want to off my children, hear voices telling me to off my children or voices of any other kind, etc. etc."  I respond to each question like a good little patient, even though they are annoying (and I think likely also questionnable tools for screening purposes.  But I digress). 

Then he asks: "Are you experiencing any guilt?"  I laugh.  And not like a delicate hee hee or even a nervous giggle.  We're talking full-on guffaw-y, snort-y, spit-flying-out-of-the-mouth kinda belly laugh here.  For a second, I think he is kidding around, being tongue-in-cheeky to distract from the seriously lame assessment schpiel.   Nope.

"Are you experiencing any feelings of guilt?" he repeat again, a bit louder and looking a little nervous, as if I've chosen that exact moment to lose my tenuous grip on reality.   Though I know it will probably scare the pants off the poor fella (who can't be more than, say, 24 years old), I find myself almost unable to stop laughing for a minute.   I'm a 35 year old mother of two, talking to a young man who may as well be a toddler, about my PPD (which I already know I have and just need a blooming prescription).   And it now seems exceedingly clear to me that whomever wrote the screening questions for PPD is most definitely NOT a mother. 

Find me a mother who says they don't feel guilty about their mothering, and I'll find you a big fat liar.

So apparently the whole lot of us are short some happy pills. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

mothering reflection #1

biggest lesson I've learned as a mama so far....

Never say "I'd never..."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

celebrity soundbytes make me cranky

I recently read this little article about Julia Roberts on MSNBC, who has been named People Mag's most beautiful person of the year (or whatever that bullshit accolade is properly titled).  It said:

In an interview with the New York Times, the 44-year-old Pretty Woman star – who is married to cameraman Danny Moder with whom she has twins Hazel and Phinnaeus, five, and son Henry, two-and-a-half – revealed that she loves her home life.

She said: "We are happy as clams. I am fulfilled by my own life on an hourly basis.”

She added: "Every little moment is amazing if you let yourself access it. I learn that all the time from my kids; children are so filled with wonder. My youngest son woke up at 5am the other morning and said to me, 'It's a beautiful day, Mamma!' What's more precious than that?"

I know that this little fluff article is meant to make us love Julia even more.  I mean, she loves her homelife, right? But it kinda just makes me want to punch her in the face.  Every moment is amazing if you let yourself access it?  You are fulfilled by your own life on an hourly basis?  Really?  Hourly?   It must be nice to have time to reflect on your own life on a hourly basis.  It must be especially nice to have time to reflect on your own life on an hourly basis and then have the added bonus of pleasantly discovering that you are, in fact, as happy as a clam. 

Family soundbytes from celebrity moms tend to drive me mad.  Why?   Because they make it sound all beautiful and effortless and charming and delightful.  Except of course, they neglect to mention the aid of their nannies and housekeepers and personal trainers and drivers and poolboys.   When you have these things, I suppose it's a little bit easier to feel chill and reflective and fulfilled by one's own life on an hourly basis, given that most of their hours aren't actually filled with the shit-work of parenting and house-hold maintenance.  I, too, would love to focus constantly on the beauty and magic and child-like wonder displayed by my children at 5 a.m.  (and 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. because there's a lotta kiddie wonder at my house in the night). But unlike Julia Roberts, I don't have anyone to hand them off to so that I can take a sweet-ass nap later (or go to a private yoga class to meditate, say perhaps on the hourly delights offered up by my life). 

J-Lo, after the birth of twins Max and Emme, wanted us all to know she gets up to do her babies nighttime feedings herself.  As if we are supposed to connect with this sentiment by thinking: Hey J-Lo - ME TOO!  Gee, maybe you are just 'Jenny from the Block!'.

Christina Aguilera would like us all to know that motherhood has, in fact, made her sexier.  I cannot even muster up the energy to respond to this wee tidbit of information.

And another article in this month's People Magazine about the lovely (and yes, I'm sure she is actually lovely) Julia has Ocean's Eleven (etc.) producer Jerry Weintrub waxing poetic about Roberts' mothering prowess:  "She's not a diva.  She's not afraid to get into an SUV and drive with the kids in the backseat."   I have two things to say about this.   First of all - anyone who has ever driven with screaming children in the backseat of their car will tell you that you should be afraid of getting into a moving vehicle with children, particularly one's own. Texting while driving has got nothing on driving with kids in the danger department.  Second of all - do we really need to congratulate celebrities for, like, driving their own children places?   Is this the standard of "good" mothering that they're being held up to?  If so - I'm here to tell ya that I am a fucking amazing parent!  The best.  I drive my kids places and get up with them in the night myself ALL THE TIME!

These are only a tiny sampling of the crap about mothering spewed by celebs and churned out by every magazine and media outlet under the sun.  I'm also sure much of these soundbytes are largely taken out of context.  But they still make me hella cranky (as you may have already ascertained). And the, "golly gosh, I'm just a regular (but extremely zen-like and fulfilled) person with millions of dollars and a butler" routine just doesn't fly with me.  Just once I'd like to hear one of them say... "you know - this parenting gig is great but it's bloody hard.  I don't know how people who have to do their own dishes/drive their own car/clean their own pool/etc. etc.  do it."  Or something along those lines.  Then maybe I'd be a bit more willing to be forgiving of their soundbytes, contextual or not.

And Julia - if you're out there, still wondering what could be more precious than being awoken at 5 a.m. by a wonder-struck child, I'm here to tell ya: It would be even more precious if the little bugger waited until 6 a.m to tell you  it was a beautiful day.  Really.  It would.  And if he waited until 7 a.m., it would be sweeter still.  But at 8 a.m. - it would be fucking profound.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  Although my little dude is prone to tantrums aplenty, they by and large happen at home.  Makes a girl's life slightly easier that way.   But today, we ended up in a Wendy's, attempting to have lunch when we should have been at home napping...

Some background.  I got a mighty marvellous and somewhat uncomfortable-making present for my birthday.  And that is the gift of someone else coming to clean my house once a month.  I love it.  It is SUCH a relief, mainly because, if I haven't confessed this a million times already, I am an absolutely crap housekeeper.  At the same time, it is uncomfortable-making because I am all feminist-y and get antsy about the politics of hiring someone broker than you to do your own dirty-work.  Know what I mean?  Anyhoo. 

My new lovely once a month cleaner was apparently startled and distressed by the utter grossness of my house and it took not one, but two hours longer than she thought it would.  SO - after haircuts, driving around for his sisters' car-nap, and an hour long gymnastics class, my Boy-o was done in.  But we got home to the kitchen being cleaned and the news that we needed to vacate the premises for another hour or so.  SHIT.  I thought maybe the lure of fastfood might solve the dilemma.  Enter Wendy's....

We waited in an excruciating long line.  As we stood there, I wondered to myself how much longer my Boy-o was gonna be able to hold it together.  He sat at our table, checking out cars and jealously covetting the fast-food headsets.  (He seemed mightily pleased when I told him he could likely have one of his very own when he became a teenager!).   I managed to juggle Girlio, the gargantuan diaper bag, trays of food, thingy's of ketchup and a highchair - no easy feat.  We sit down with our food.  I get Girlio's food arranged, then cut up Boy's chicken fingers.  I taste a piece of chicken to make sure it won't burn the little dude's mouth. 

BANG!  Lips aquiver. 

BAM!  Eyes well up. 

WHAM!   Commence wailing.

SMACK!  wordstumblingoutsofastthereisnotmakingsenseofthem. 

WHACK!  Pump up the volume.

BOFF!  Finally he enunuciates enough to demand that I take that piece of chicken "out of your tummy!!!" 

Yes- I got slapped by the public tantrum.  Hard.  I tried all the tricks in my bag.  I tried reasoning (Mama can't get the chicken out of her tummy, honey!).  Wheedling (PLEASE - let's just eat and then we'll go home an dhave a nap together).  Hugs.  Commiseration.  (I Know buddy - it sucks that Mama ate a piece of your chicken.  You're tired and pissed off.  I'm sorry).  Backrubs.  Bribery (Let's calm down and then you can have a sip of Mama's diet coke).  I try the whole toddler-ese business (which made me look like a total fucking lunatic and was not effective in the least this time.)  I tried limit setting  (Dude - if you can't calm down, we're going to have to go.)

And then, as every single eye in the entirety of Wendy's is firmly affixed to my person, I contemplate (with no small amount of panic and dread) how exactly I am going to get a screaming 40 pound child, a baby, a bag of fast-food and a diaper bag out to the car.  (We are clearly, clearly in need of a Superman for parents.  Glaring hole in the genre of superheros - just putting that out there in case any unemployed superhero is reading this now and looking for a new niche market). 

I decide to give it one last try  before attempting "exit impossible," even though I know in my heart that the poor little dude is done-in, and that this is a situation of my own making.  I say "Buddy - If you want to stay and eat in the restaurant, you need to make some different choices."  I clarify - "You need to make the choice to calm down". 

And then, from behind me, some woman (dining with a 6 or 7 year old child) decides, in her infinite wisdom, that she should open her mouth.  And not in a "gee lady, you've got the world on your shoulders right now how can I help kind of way", but rather a "I'm a really big bitch and I'm gonna pretend I'm a better parent than you way."  And she makes the ill-advised choice to say really snarkily to my child (after all, we ARE ruining her dining experience at WENDY'S), that he'd "better learn to make different choices".    (WHY WHY WHY do parents need to be judge-y jack-asses to each other?!?!? Stop. Stop. Stop it right now!).

I decide to pack it in right then and there, before embarassing my wife thoroughly by becoming a violent offender, but not before shooting this woman a look that should have caused her to wither up and die.  (I must have been having an off day).  

Somehow - I do it.  I drag the 40 pound child, carry the 20 pound baby, the diaper bag, and a jumbled bag of crappy fast food to the car.   Every time I let go of Boy-o to put Girlio in her carseat, he makes a mad (and I mean that in all senses of the word) dash back to the restaurant, through a crowded parking lot.  On the verge of tears, I finally solve this dilemma by holding the scruff of his shirt, pinning Girlio to the carseat with my head, and buckling her one-handed.  I take back what I said about the superhero job openning.  I'm my own superhero, God Damnit.  And then, I try for approximately 15 minutes to stuff the 40 pounds of exhausted, angry and out-of-control Boy into his carseat.  Do not underestimate the difficulty of this feat.  I will not need to work out for days. 


Head home.  Put children down for naps, 2 hours late, while cleaner is still cleaning.

(Why, oh why am I such a crap housekeeper?)



Saturday, May 8, 2010

to my kiddies...

You are the most amazing thing I have ever had a part in.

Every day you challenge me to think in new ways, to grow-up a little more, to change old habits, to play more freely, to love more deeply. 

Thank you for making me your mama.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Letter to My Wifey for Mother's Day...

Dearest Wifey -

You do not get nearly enough credit for being an amazing mommy.  Partly because I am the stay-at-homer, and partly because we live in a homophobic world that can render invisible the role of non-bio mom in a two mom partnership, I am usually the more visible mama.  So this is my paltry effort to tell the world just a few of the reasons why you are the absolute fucking bomb. 

So here goes:

1. You never, never, ever fail to thank your stay-at-home wifey for making you dinner.  

2.  No matter how tired you are when you get home, you still manage to muster up the energy and enthusiasm to go "sky-diving" with Boy-o, or give Girlio a ride on your shoulders; to change bedsheets and diapers; for bedtime and bathtime; to be really and fully present.

3.  No matter how much work you've brought home with you at night, the kidlets always come first, which often means your ability to get much needed sleep comes a far distant second.

4.  You spend your days doing genuinely hard, gut-wrenching kinda work that pays meh, when you could be doing "big-box" work that pays lots, because you honestly believe it will help make the world a better place for our kiddies.

5.  You work your ass off, and shoulder all of the financial burden of our life, as well as the financial worry,  so that I can stay at home with the munchkins, and that is no small thing.

6.  You tell me often how much you believe my stay-at-home contribution to our lives is as important as yours, and that's no small thing, either. 

7.  You are an adult who never lost their ability to play, and you always find joy in getting down on the floor and playing with the kids.

8.  You have a gift of being able to really relate to kids where they're at, in a way that makes them feel so valued and loved.

9.  You somehow manage to find a way to be gentle and measured, even when I am ready to lose my mind and ship them off to military school.

10.  It would never even occur to you that you should get up with the bubs less often than me, no matter how important your trial is the next morning.   (I am not sure you realize just how deliciously rare this is).

Though there are a million and one other reasons why you are fan-fucking-tastic, I just wanted to let you know that I think you are such a wonderful partner, and such an amazing, dedicated and loving parent.  From the time you helped me hold up my shuddering, labouring body, danced me through contractions, and cut each of our babies' cords, you've been there with me every step of the way on this wild, scary, wonderful, challenging journey.  

I know I don't say it nearly enough.  But - thank you.  For being such a kick-ass mommy, for being such supportive partner, for being you.

Happy (3rd) Mother's Day.


Your Wifey

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

making the case for anger - repost

This is a repost of an old blog, for my friend J, with whom I was discussing mommy anger over some fantastic red wine last night...


Now and then in my writing life, I've been "accused," subtly and not so subtly, of being too gloomy, disgruntled, biting, sarcastic and well, angry, about mothering and my experience as a mother. This is supposed to be a bad thing, because to call a mother angry is about the kiss-of-death in our cultural perspective.

*Mothers aren't supposed to be angry.*

 They are supposed to be good-natured and sweet, endlessly patient and kind, loving and cookie-bakin'. And ya know what?  I can sweetly, kindly, lovingly and patiently cookie-bake with the best of 'em (and my cookies kick ass. Really, you should try my Ginger Sparkles.  Just sayin').

But I also want to make a case for anger...

Let's start with all the things that being angry does not mean:

1. it does not mean that I am not insanely grateful for this beautiful family of mine;
2. it does not mean that I do not love my children immensely;
3. it does not mean that I do not find my life in many ways fulfilling, rewarding and generally fun.

So what then, might you ask, is putting the proverbial bee in my bonnet?

1. that unlike Julie from Julie and Julia fame, no one is reading my blog and raining down publishing contracts on my sad, sorry (and broke) ass;

2. that finding a balance between being able to nurture and sustain my family and being able to nurture and sustain myself often feels impossible;

3. that parenting books dealing with gentle and loving solutions to the extreme tantrumming problems we've been facing at home do not ever, ever, ever mention how to deal with said problems whilst at the same time gently and lovingly caring for a small baby;

4. that the sleep expert books dealing with gentle and loving solutions to the extreme baby sleep problems we've been having do not ever, ever, ever mention how to deal with said problems whilst at the same time gently and lovingly caring for a spirited pre-schooler;

5. that doing both of the aforementioned tasks is freaking impossible for so so many reasons, not the least of which is that I am chronically exhausted and depleted;

6. that I have managed to do not just one, but all of things I said I would NEVER do as a parent while attempting the aforementioned tasks;

7. that I regularly end my days feeling like an utter failure as a parent;

8. that I am inundated with helpful and loving (unsolicited) advice, which more often than not, makes me feel like even more of a failure as a parent;

9. that I passed over starting my PhD even though I really, really wanted to do it for me, because it was the right thing to do for my family;

10. that more often than not, books about feminism and parenting often refer to stay-at-home moms as being duped by the patriarchy;

11. that talking about post partum depression and post partum anxiety is still taboo (and that as soon as I mention PPD/PPA any un-fuzzy feelings get written off as merely 'hormonal');

12. that there are little real social supports for parents but plenty of judgement;

13. that the work I do is totally invisible;

14.  that I chip away at household tasks that by definition can never be completed.  There will always be a pile of laundry, there will always be a new sink full of dishes, there will always be new dust bunnies replacing the old ones;

15. that I really can't have it all;

16. that there's never enough time in the day, in the week, in the month;

17. that celebrity moms repeatedly drop soundbytes about how constantly and delightfully fulfilled they are with motherhood, while neglecting to mention the army of nannies, yogis, personal trainers, housekeepers, gardeners, drivers, poolboys and tutors that make such consistent joy and fulfillment possible;

18. that I get judged for kvetching about my kids (if I were a work-outside the home mom bitching about my bosses, no one would think poorly of me. Yes- I love my kids. As far as kids go, they are wonders and joys. But as bosses, they can also be really, um, challenging. And I'm gonna talk about it...);

19.  that not only is there no outside affirmation for the work that I do (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), but the most common response to my 'job' is poorly stifled surprise, pity and sometimes even disdain;

20. that I live in a world, country, city in which homophobia (both official and unofficial) will make the lives of my children more difficult;

21. that I live in a world with increasingly everpresent violence and hatred of all kinds, making me constantly worry about the welfare of my family and my children;

So yes. Yup. Uh-huh. Sometimes I'm mad. Pissed. Kvetched. Annoyed. Cheesed. Angry. I'm mad because parenting experts write theories that are fucking impossible to put into practice, resulting in me feeling like I'm a complete failure; I'm mad because mothers are held up to these impossible to fulfil standards; I'm mad because my kids live in a city where queers still get gay-bashed, where words like fag and dyke will find their ears. I'm mad because I mourn the pieces of myself I've had to give up. I'm mad because in order to be a "good mother" I'm not supposed to talk about the pieces of myself I've had to give up. I'm mad at myself for not being the parent I want to be.

I don't think it makes me a bad mother. I don't think it makes me a bad person. I'm going to go so far as to say I think it even makes sense to be angry sometimes.  There are many other moms, other parents, other people in general who rail against such expressions of anger and frustration at the catch-22 (or rather the multitude of catch-22's) of mothering.  These defensive responses, I think, only serve to emphasize the cultural muzzle we place on mothers speaking in real and honest tones about the complexity and difficulties inherent in their experiences.

In one of her many famous essays from Sister Outsider called The Uses of Anger, Audre Lorde wrote:  "Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a wall against which we will all perish, for they serve none of our futures."

I couldn't agree more.

I'm mad.

Why aren't you?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

my kid the booze-hound

I have a confession to make.  My three year old son has been slightly, um, well, drunk (actually, I think he might still have been two!). 

It was an accident, I swear.   My partner and I don't drink very often.  But every now and again, we'll grab a bottle of wine or some beer.  And more often than not, the leftovers sit in our fridge til I find a way to use the by-then skunky booze in some cooking. 

At any rate, after a particularly trying day of stay-at-home parenting, I was ready to lose it.  And at 5 o'clock, I still had an hour until my beloved arrived home to help child-wrangle.  So, I decided on a whim to pour myself a glass of wine (it only smelled a wee bit skunky, and I was desparate!).  I'm not going to lie here.  It was a generous glass of wine.  And then I put it on the coffee table beside where my wee hellions were playing, left the room exactly long enough to update my facebook status, and returned to find my glass of wine sitting on the coffee table.  Right where I'd left it.  Empty.  And with what can only be described as a shit-eating grin on the face of my three year old, there was no mistaking how it got that way.   Yes indeedy- he drank THE WHOLE THING! 

And so it came to pass that Boy-o spent the evening a bit knackered.  If you've ever wondered what drunkeness looks like in a toddler, he was really just a much more animated version of his regularly-active toddler self, that is until he collapsed, about an hour before his regular bedtime.  (Truth be told, L. and I might have joked that bedtime had never been easier...)   Yup - I got my kid drunk. 

I have another confession to make.  Though I probably should be guilt-stricken, mostly I just find my child's drunkeness funny.  But not everyone shares my sense of humour.  For instance, I made the mistake of sharing this story with our family doctor, with whom I have a semi-chatty relationship.  She was acutely horrified, and asked if we had a family history of alcoholism.  (We do not, in case you were wondering too.)     
Boy-o has always been interested in alcohol.  His very first temper tantrum was because he wanted a sip of my wine at dinner.  At the time I resisted - he was still in his high chair and it seemed a bit, well, derelict.   His interest persevered, and once at a wedding, he totally embarrassed me by running around after me and my glass of wine, shouting at the top of his lungs that he wanted a sip of "Mama juice," and making me look like a complete and total lush.   Another time, my partner had to pick up a bottle of wine for a BBQ, and took our son with her.  Upon walking into the liquor store, he had all the clerks rolling on the floor in laughter as he announced with what can only be described as sheer reverence: "WOW!  IT'S SOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!"  And then there was the time we were out for dinner and he was asked by a server what he would like to drink with dinner. To which he, naturally, requested "beer please!"    

Though my partner and I both find these occurences hilarious, we are well aware that others would use this information as confirmation of our terrible parenting.  However, I have yet to meet a child that isn't at least a little bit fascinated with alcohol.  And our philosophy (for the time-being at any rate) is that it's important for kids to see healthy, and generally responsible, alcohol use.   We'd prefer our kids hit their teenage years thinking "what's the big deal?"  rather than itching to get out, be a bad-ass and get, like, totally wasted.  And we also realized that making a big deal out alcohol made him even more interested.  So he gets sip of wine or beer here and there, as will his sister if she turns out to be similarly inclined.  Because we figure that a sip of wine or beer once or twice a month isn't going to kill them.  (At least not if I learn to keep my mouth shut about it to the kinds of people who can keep files on me and my lousy parenting.) 

So I'm curious about other folks do about their kids and booze.  Surely we can't be raising the only three year old booze-hound in town?