Sunday, September 29, 2013

Am I Teaching Sexism?

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MAMA: Tiny Pants, do you want a sandwich for lunch?
TINY PANTS: Only if I can make it myself!

BIG PANTS: Mama, can you get me some milk?
MAMA: You can come get it yourself now, or you have to wait until I finish this if you want me to get it for you.
BIG PANTS: I'll wait.

The first thought that ran through my brain was that boy better marry a capable woman because he will never learn to do anything for himself before he graduates high school.

I was then blinded by the flashes and bells as I realized that was the most sexist thought ever. If I am admittedly a pretty staunch feminist, why is my first thought that my son needs a woman to take care of him? And why am I raising a boy who needs a woman to take care of him?

Am I raising my son to be a sexist?  

I was raised by strongly feminist lesbian parents who did not rely on men to do anything. In complete disregard of my stated goal to become a princess, they taught me to clean the house, do my own laundry, mow the lawn, shovel snow, change a tire and the oil in my car and complete some basic home repair.  I graduated high school ready to be a functional adult. 

I accidentally discovered that Big Pants is an excellent folder of laundry, something he has hidden from me for years. He generally falls back on feigned helplessness, which I buy into.  I caught him folding a shirt perfectly when he thought I was downstairs. That little faker. When I asked him about this, he said I was the one who taught him to fold. I DID? WHEN??

Apparently then, I am raising a child who is capable of doing things, but prefers to make Mama do it for him. I am teaching him that that is my job, and he may extrapolate that it is a woman's job to wait on men from my overly-tolerant behavior.

When looking for a mate, he may only seek out women that pamper him instead of a strong woman that challenges him to continually strive to bring his best to the table.  In other words, I may be driving him to date someone I would want to constantly poke with sharp objects.

I am going to fix this starting today. 

MAMA: Big Pants, why did you walk up to my computer and leave your half-empty milk glass next to my elbow?
BIG PANTS: Can you bring it to me?
MAMA: Sorry, Big Pants, I never aspired to be a waitress. It's not my job to wait on you.
BIG PANTS: Well can Tiny Pants bring it to me?

Maybe he's not becoming a sexist. Maybe he's just lazy. Maybe I am just looking for an excuse NOT to wait on him hand and foot. Maybe I need to realize it is not my job as a woman and mother to cater to his every need, and it is my acceptance of sexist notions that needs to change. 

Day Two of teaching Big Pants independence:

BIG PANTS:  Mama, I am thirsty.
MAMA: How can you solve that problem yourself?
BIG PANTS walks away.  Ten minutes later he reappears.

BIG PANTS: Mama, I'm thirsty.
MAMA: You have half a cup of milk in the fridge. You have a gallon of milk in the fridge.  You can solve that problem yourself. You have the tools.
BIG PANTS: Mama, I love you so much…will you get me milk?
MAMA: Nice try kid.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

An Open Letter To The Mother Screaming at her Kids

Image courtesy of

An Open Letter To The Mother Screaming at her Kids in the Family Changing Room at the YMCA Last Night:

Perhaps you didn't know that we can hear you.
Perhaps, you don't care that we can hear you. 

Regardless, thank you for yelling loudly at your children in the family changing room across the hall from ours.  

I, too, was struggling with uncooperative kids in the changing room.  I, too, was screaming loudly.  My children, just like yours, weren't listening.  That is, they weren't listening until they heard you. Then they got quiet.

"See?" I asked the children, "Getting kids out of the pool is frustrating to all mothers! It is not just me!"

We stopped and listened to you yell.  You used the same words I did, about not putting their dry pants on the wet floor. Words I had just been screaming and my children had been ignoring.  You also threatened an immediate bedtime if they didn't listen.  You sounded just like me. 

I told the boys, "Mamas yell. It's not because her kids are bad. They are good kids just like you, but just like you they don't want to leave the pool and their Mama is getting frustrated, just like me."

I would like to say I didn't have to yell for the rest of the changing room experience, but I did.  I did yell a little quieter, and the boys did listen a little quicker.  

Thank you Mama, for not only making me feel more normal, but for showing my kids that I am not the only Mama who yells.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Becoming Mama

Today Big Pants turns the big 8. 

He can hit a baseball
He can ride a bike
He can tie his own shoes
He can ride in a car without a booster seat (although he doesn't want to)
He can pour his own milk 
(OK, this is turning into a list of things he can but doesn't want to do.)

The point is that he is BIG. This morning we snuggled in bed and talked about the day he was born, until his morning breath outweighed his cuddliness and he got kicked out.  It was a tender moment for a few minutes, anyway.

On the ride to school, I reflected out loud that today was the day that I became a Mama, that before today I was a girl, then a woman, but not a Mama. To which Big Pants replied, "Yeah, on this day you became a Mama, but you mean a few years ago, right?"

Wait, what? A few years ago? How about eight years ago?!?! 

To his 8-year old brain,  the idea that I wasn't always a Mama is too much to wrap his brain around. I was born Mama, I grew up Mama, I will always be Mama.  I never was anything but Mama, and maybe, in a way, he was right.  Maybe I was always his Mama, before he was born, just like I was a woman before my body developed.  Maybe the day he was born was just the first time anyone else knew I was Mama.  After all, I didn't radically change overnight.  My parenting theory had been developing since I was a child who said, "When I have kids I will never make them…."

When is a dancer born? The minute they hear music? The minute they first put on shoes? Or does the dance always reside inside their souls, from the minute they open their eyes for the first time?

Before I had children I mothered animals, spouses, and other people's children, but  I would never have called myself a mother. Still, everything that makes me Mama was a part of me then. It only burst into fruition when I had children of my own.

What was the moment when I became a mother? The moment I conceived? The moment I gave birth? Or was it the moment I became competent? The moment I no longer felt like an impostor?  Perhaps Big Pants was right, perhaps it was just a few years ago when I hit my stride.  But perhaps I have always been Mama, waiting to bloom.

© Ziggiau | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hey Guys, I remember - Childhood Sucked

There are always people talking about how being a grown up is worse than they bargained for, how they don't like being a grown up, and how they just want to go color in their fort.  

They must have had better childhoods than I did.

Top 10 Things That Sucked the Most About Being A Child (and why I would never go back).

1. You have no control over what you eat.
2. You have no control over where you go.
3. You have no limited access to your friends and unlimited access to your brother. (who smells.)
4. You have an assigned bedtime and you don't like going to bed.
5. Other people make all the rules that you have to follow, and they yell a lot if you don't obey.  Sometimes they spank you or send you to your room.
6. School is boring.
7. There's a lot of repetitive homework.
8.  90% of your teachers appear to hate children. 
9. You aren't old enough to watch the really good movies.
10. No one wants to kiss you yet except your mom.

I'm leaving off things like doing chores and having too small of an allowance, because these things suck universally, regardless of your age.

Childhood was a time when you had absolutely no control over your fate and were legally bossed around by everyone older than you.  It was not a time of  unlimited play and rolling in daisies.  I would not go back. I would not be 10, or 20, or even 30 again, and I do not understand those who lament being a grown up.

Being a grown up rocks.  You get to make the rules. You get to pick out your own clothes and your own dinner, and stay up late if you want to, or go to bed at 7:00pm. You pick where you live, what friends come over, and you are old enough to watch any movie you want to, even the really dirty ones.  People want to kiss you. No matter what demographic you are, someone will think you are hot, and no matter what turns you on, with the internet now you can find them rather easily:

Geek Love! 
Curvy Girls Rule! 
Fan of People Who Breathe Air!
People Who Like People With Some Sort of Genitalia!

Life can be hard. Relationship drama, work trauma, money refusing to grow on trees, all of that stuff sucks about being a grown up, but all of that sucked in childhood too.

Maybe everyone else had a mother that gave them nothing but candy and cash every morning when they woke up. Maybe everyone else had birds singing and squirrels dancing on rainbows as they walked to school. I didn't.  I walked to school because i wasn't old enough to drive. And it was cold sometimes, and it rained sometimes, and it didn't kill me, but it wasn't fun either. 

This makes me think I am too nice to my children. I better start meaning-up so they want to grow up, too. the last thing I want is a child who spends the rest of his life wishing he was back at age ten.   Seriously.  I am making their childhood all carousels and birthday parties and ice cream.  This will make the rest of their life pale in comparison, and the rest of their life is proportionally a lot longer than childhood. 

Let the beatings begin!  More rules! Less cookies!  Let me help you to hate your childhood so you will really enjoy being a grown up!

Or maybe you will get used to being happy, maybe your little brains won't get pre-wired to tolerate depression.  Maybe giving you the best childhood I can will lead you to demand the best adulthood possible.  Maybe I am setting the standard appropriately high. 

Nah, I'll probably have the type of kids that stay home until they are forty. Who am I fooling? 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Beef Stew, Only-Mama Style

My Best And Most Awesome Beef Stew Ever.

I like to cook sometimes, like when the planets are in alignment and I can't think of anything to write and I'm not ready to nap.  What I don't like to do is follow directions.  I hate to be told to do. It gets my dander up.

Today I decided to make beef stew, and although I know how to make predictable, mediocre beef stew, I wanted to make really excellent beef stew.  Knock your socks off beef stew.  Beef stew that was, I'll say it, savory and scrumptious. But I don't like to be told what to do. Not by my parents, not by cookbooks, and not by online recipe websites. 

I didn't want to do it the way they told me, because then it wouldn't be creative and personal and all things good. It would be simply following directions, and a monkey can follow directions, so where's the satisfaction in doing that well?  Instead, I found two completely different recipes online and flipped back and forth between the two, mostly following a lot of both of them.  

Here's my beef stew mash up recipe:

- beef that is sold in a package already cut up into stew sized pieces. I have no idea what cut of meat it is or how much it weighed.  It just looked appropriate. 
- week old left over already cooked sausages, probably of italian or polish descent.
- mushrooms, one package, not two as the recipe specified, because who wants two packages of mushrooms in their stew? Besides mushroom growers, of course.
- celery
- carrots
- onion
- red potatoes, not white, because they are cuter and easier to cut and everyone accepts that it is ok not to peel red potatoes. It's like an unwritten racist law that all white potatoes must be cleansed of their sins, I mean skins, but red potatoes add color and interest with their skins intact.  
- parsley
- bay leaves (it is totally OK if you accidentally drop them on the floor first)
- rosemary
- salt 
- pepper
- flour (we call this Aunt Jemima's pancake mix in my house)
- cornstarch
- "burgundy" wine, whatever that is. I drink Pinot Noir.

1. Place raw meat, flour, salt, and pepper in a ziploc bag and shake to thoroughly coat beef pieces.  Well, all that recipe reading and emailing of ingredient lists left me with a ziploc bag and no flour in the house, and no desire to go back to the store to get it, so I used pancake mix instead.  Yes, I do this all the time, and no, no one can ever tell.  It's just like flour, except with magic extra things that make it pancake-like but not in a beef-negative way.  It's fine. Really.

2. Brown coated beef in oil.  Add Worcestershire sauce. Oh, shit, I almost forgot the Worcestershire sauce! I had to add it fast, before the meat was half-cooked, so I didn't have time to measure. I just sloshed enough around to darken the top side of the pieces of meat.  It smelled good. It worked.

3. While the beef is browning, add 2 beef bullion cubes to two cups of water in a different pot. Or, if you missed the part of the ingredient list that specified bullion cubes and bought granules like I did, just pour some water into a really big pot and add a couple big tablespoons of granules.  Again, it smelled right and turned the appropriate color. Close enough.  

4. Cut up about half a bunch of celery and most of a pound of carrots, something resembling the equivalent of three white potatoes worth of red potatoes and throw them in the bullion water. Add the browned beef.  

5. Take the beef cooking pan and pour however much pinot noir is left in the bottle into it. Measuring cups are for the weak!  Add cut up mushrooms. Let it simmer until you are done cutting up the week old sausage then throw all of that into the big pot.

6. Cut up some onion, like about half an onion, as long as that much doesn't make your eyes water. Place onion in the beef/mushroom cooking pan with a bunch of butter.  Drop butter on stove and scrape up with spatula and throw in pan anyway.  Add way too much minced garlic from the jar you've had in the fridge for God-knows how long.  Take some garlic back out because you realize that you are not really trying to kill Dracula here.  Wrap up excess minced garlic in tinfoil and place in ziploc bag and then throw out so you don't accidentally stink up the house.

7. Try to measure out a teaspoon or two of rosemary, but accidentally pour in double the amount.  See? Measuring spoons are useless.Don't even waste your time with them.

8. Throw the garlic-onion-butter mixture in the big pot.  Take the bay leaves that neither recipe called for but you know your mother always used so you found in the fresh produce section and were all proud of yourelf.  Nevermind that someone accidentally spilled them all over the floor in the check out line and you felt too guilty to put back so you bought them anyway.  Wash them off. Add a couple to the pot.

9. Remember that you were supposed to add parsley.  Try unsuccessfully to open plastic seal of parsley with your teeth, give up and use a knife as quickly as possible because you were supposed to add this special ingredient like forever ago.  No time to measure. Add a  little more because parsley is really just like dried up grass, isn't it? I mean what is its purpose in life besides adding greenness?

10. Stir and taste periodically for 2-3 hours.  Add pepper because you think it might be too bland.  Add more pepper until you think you might have added too much pepper and ruined it.  You didn't. It's fine.

11. Go back online and google, "How to Add Cornstarch to Stew" and follow the directions very carefully twice.  The first time add the carefully measured teaspoon or three of cornstarch to one cup of cold water, mix to form a slurry, and add slowly to your pot of boiling stew.  Note that nothing happens.  Worry about diluting stew broth with more water, so carefully remove one cup of stew juice (or something similar to a cup, because all the measuring cups somehow ended up in the dishwasher already although you don't recall using them. Oh, pancakes for breakfast. Right.) and put the juice in the freezer to cool down because cornstarch thickening is science and if you don't use cold water you will fuck this shit up. Wait an hour or maybe only fifteen minutes. It's hard to keep track when you are hungry.

12. Start to add the cornstartch to the beef juice and accidentally pour in double.  Stir helplessly to form a  slurry in a confused manner until your dinner guest offers to do it for you.  Let them.

13. Make everyone wait an extra fifteen minutes after they said they were ready to eat while you whip up a can of refrigerator biscuits.

14. Serve stew in bowl.  Bask in the adoration of your dinner guests. 

Do you see why I get all insulted when my mother implies that I don't know how to cook? Obviously, I am fabulous in the kitchen.  Best.  Stew.  Ever. 

A Personal Story of Government Assistance

An old childhood friend and a stellar blogger has started a fundraising campaign to help end hunger in the wake of the House voting to cut food assistance programs by thirty-nine billion dollars. You can read her blog about it here. For those of you, like me, who find big numbers hard to visualize, here it is numerically:


That's a lot of money. 

I thought I would take the opportunity to share my own story of governmental food assistance, in the hopes it will help put a face on the issue.

My mother and father divorced when I was a baby.  My mother, who had dropped out of college in her twenties, had a decent job but not a great one.  She knew that although  she could support two kids on her own with the job she had, she could never give us a better life than living in a trailer, just scraping by.  My mother made the hard decision to apply for food stamps and go back to school.  By the time I was in kindergarten, we lived in a house we owned.  My mother had achieved her goals and now had a good job, a bachelors and a masters degree.  That is what the program is designed for.

When I was divorced with two small children, I made the heartbreaking decision to put them in daycare and go back to work.  I confidently applied for a lot of jobs; it had only been two years since I had quit my career to be a stay at home mother.  I called my old employer; not only did they not have any jobs open in my former position, but the last time one opened up over 200 people applied, including 8 attorneys. (Let me note that my position did not require a degree.)  

I found two part time jobs, one a mostly a work at home job, and I made ends meet.  I got free health care through a local hospital, and I got WIC.

WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children, and it is similar to food stamps.  You have to qualify financially, but you also have to prove a nutritional need.  In other words, you have to be doing something wrong in the feeding department to qualify.  They decided I gave my son too much milk.  Every few months when I went to the office, I had to get instruction on how much milk to give my child, complete with displays of empty cups showing correct sizes.  The children had to be weighed and measured and have their fingers pricked. I got about $100 a month in coupons for specific cereal, milk, juice,dried beans, and cheese. (The program has since expanded to include $25 a month in vegetables and even allows recipients to shop at approved farmers' markets.)

The women who staffed the office, and it was all women, were very nice.  They would do whatever they could to help you qualify, and although they lectured me, they did it nicely and apologetically, and  also praised me for what I was doing right.  As a mother of young children, this generally means having kids grow.  You get a lot of points for having kids exhibit growth at appointments, and also for having children that don't scream and run around waiting rooms excessively.

When you stand in line at the grocery store with a baby, everyone coos and makes faces at the baby, until you pull out the large green WIC coupons.  Then they look at you like you are a druggie, or have a communicable disease. WIC coupons cause extreme delay to everyone, as every item must  be rung up as an individual sale; four items, for transactions, four opening and closing of the cash register drawer.

Also, only certain brands qualify, and in the year I received WIC, I never once used every coupon.  Things would always have to be put back or argued about as the incorrect brand, size, or color, and the cashiers were rarely willing to send a runner to get the correct one.  Once that coupon had been signed, there was no going back. An incorrect one was retained by the cashier and put in the garbage.  Using coupons often meant leaving the store biting back tears, and I tried very hard not to do it when I had the kids with me.  

Still, I was grateful the program existed.  I made too much money to qualify for food stamps, and that extra $100 a month helped.  As soon as I got a raise at work I quit the program. I don't tell many people about that time in my life, but I feel like I used the program appropriately.  I got help when i needed it for just as long as I needed it.

I still have friends who receive WIC or food stamps, and all of them are parents. Some are in school, some are stringing together chains of temporary jobs, some are working long hours at low paying jobs. All of them are doing whatever they can to make life function just until that next job, next raise, next stage in life. I do not know how any of these people would feed their families if they lost their food stamps. 

When the Stay at Home Pundit messaged me about joining her fundraising campaign to end hunger, I decided I would share my own experience.  Although I am hesitant to share my own story, I am happy to do so if it will get even one more person to click the link and donate, or convince just one person not to sigh in exasperation when they wind up in the check out line behind someone who is receiving food stamps, WIC, or some other assistance.

Donate a dollar, donate food to your local food bank.  If you have nothing else, donate a smile to the mother in line ahead of you using those big green coupons or swiping their food card.  It might be your friend, your mother, your daughter someday. 

Clicking the image below will take you directly to the fundraising page.

Blogging To End Hunger

Friday, September 20, 2013

In Case You Aren't Yet Tired of Me Talking About My Boobs

Some of you may know that I have big boobs. It is possible that I might have mentioned it once or twice before, and maybe even devoted a whole post to them once. Maybe.

I have struggled with finding the perfect bra for years, so imagine my elation to discover that Jockey had a whole new idea for sizing bras!  I gleefully sent them $20 for my sizing kit, which consisted of "volumizer cups" which Dog was nice enough to model for me:

My Dog Hates Me

a tape measure with rainbow colors,

Ooooo, Pretty!

 a gift certificate for $20 off my first purchase, and a white net lingerie bag. (Not photo worthy.)

I was shocked and amazed with how fast it came.  I debated which size bowl my boobs best fit into, which was a little tricky.  Eventually I decided on this one:

Wow, my Boobs are huge.

I ran to my computer to order my perfectly fitting bra, sized 32- 10,  only to find they don't actually make them in my size.  Sigh. They were super nice and apologetic and refunded my money so I have nothing bad to say about Jockey. They also promised to make more sizes soon, but I wasn't waiting around for soon.

I stuffed the kit in my closet (because I can't throw anything away) and today my kids and I found them.  Of course, the first thing they did was use them as football pads and to pretend they were pregnant.  Interestingly, they were too young to realize that they could make fake boobs out of them, for which I was grateful on the on hand, but drat on the missed photo op!

We found other uses though:
Boob Hat Selfie!

Tiny Pants joined the Navy:

And we had some snacks:

Free bowls!

And ended the day using them as boats in the bathtub and as mini-hot tubs for small toy animals. And that is the story of how Jockey failed at helping my boobs find a home but succeed in keeping my kids busy for an hour.

No,  Jockey did not sponsor this post. I kind of hope they never see this post, actually. I may not be the spokesperson they are looking for.

Here's someone else who did not sponsor this blog - Panache, makers of my new favorite bras. They come in a wide variety of sizes and hold up even if you accidentally always throw them in the dryer.  Because I love them so much and because I feel the pain of every woman out there struggling to find inner peace through bra-happiness, I am giving them a free plug. They don't call them super bras for nothing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Germ Extravaganza!

Thanks to TheCubicleRebel for the great art!

Children are little bags of germs, and not air-tight ones.  In fact, when they get around other little bags of germs children, they stick to each other and meld and mix until it becomes one great big giant Germ Extravaganza.

I suppose, if i were hip and cool, I'd call it Germapalooza but I'm not hip, I'm quasi-literary so Extravaganza it is. Besides, if you say both of them out loud you will notice that Extravaganza! uses not only more facial muscles (good for toning) but also more upwardly tilting muscles which will make for "good" happy wrinkles instead of downward tugging "bad" wrinkles from saying words like germapalooza repeatedly.

(Yes, I did just receive questions about why I was sitting here saying Extravaganza! over and over. No, my answer was unsatisfying to all involved. Yes, I'm sure my blog would be better if I deleted the last paragraph, but then i would've to delete this paragraph as well, and that becomes a deletion of 2/3 of today's writing and we can't have that.)  

Germs. Back to germs.  Children have them and they give them to adults, although we don't want them at all. We have things to do like work and grocery shopping and volunteering at school and making life function for everybody, and we don't want to do it sick.  Worse yet, we don't want to entertain sick, bored whimpering children who are too sick to go to school but not sick enough to just lie on the couch and sleep like we really want to do but aren't able to do because we are adults and we have to get all this stuff done or the world will collapse.  Children don't even know how to  be sick.  They don't sleep and they get bored and they fuss and whine and spread germs around  like they are buttering the entire surface of the house and there's a prize for not missing a spot.

Kids are gross. Kids don't believe in kleenex or hand sanitizer or washing any part of their bodies, including their hands, EVER. Unfortunately, there's not a real strong solution to this.  I met a man once who had a theory that all children should be laminated (with air holes) so they could be wiped clean more easily, but I think they would lose their hug-ability, and let's be honest, one of children's best redeeming features is their snuggly nature.  We need to keep them soft and somewhat pliant, I think.

I'd like to encase them in a non-permeable bubble of warm clear life-sustaining jelly that they could breathe and eat and would have the added benefit of protecting them when they fell off their bikes. You could hug them through the jelly bag, too, or sit on them if you need extra seating at a party.   I need someone to invent this for me, double quick.  I can't imagine why no one has yet invented such an obvious solution. 

previously posted on Blogher

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Buying Good Ass-Jeans

I have an ass. I sit on it every day, so I know it is there. I do not, however, have any idea on its relative goodness or badness.

I also have tits. (We are going with the word "tits" here because "tits and ass" was a common term in the 1980's when I came of age. Sorry if it offends you.) I know a lot about my tits, which bras and shirts make them look good, what makes them look like a sausage in a too-tight skin. I am intimately acquainted with my tits and how to showcase them to their full advantage.  

Not so my ass.  I suppose I have a moderately good ass, because historically I have wound up with "ass men" instead of "tit men" which i never understood because my ass was just there, and my tits were both there and fabulous. Maybe it's because I can't see my ass that I don't appreciate it?

Sadly, because of my lack of ability to figure out my ass's best characteristics, I am unable to buy a good pair of "ass-jeans" on my own.  I try on jeans. I look at my ass over my shoulder, and it just looks like….my ass in jeans.  I am completely baffled.

I once had a pair of what I thought were the awesomest ass-jeans ever when I was twenty.  My then-boyfriend, soon to be ex-husband, walked by and said, "Wow, your ass looks huge in those jeans!"  I took them off, defeated.

My only method of self-defense is to bring a friend with me to try on jeans, and ask her if my ass looks good or not.  Luckily, Asterisk is always willing to shop with me and give her solid, un-wishy washy opinions on my ass.  All I can do is trust that her opinion is the correct one.

I mention all of this because I just bought new jeans and I am flying on pure faith that they are the best ass-jeans in my closet.  I am about to go to a bar and want to wear jeans, and want them to look good, and I have no freaking idea if they do or not.  

This is yet another example of how although I present as a feminine, reasonably attractive female, I just feel like an impostor. Where do people go to learn about buying ass-jeans? What is the correct ass standard for a woman my age?  Does anyone have any good ass-jeans rules of thumb?  

My mother went to a finishing school type of thing, where they learned to dance and what gloves to wear with what dress and other things female.  I propose that someone institutes a modern version, that includes how to pick out jeans and what shoes go with what outfits.  Since my drag-queen roommate moved out when I was 26 I have been impaired in that department as well…. 

Trying and Losing

Punt, Pass, and Kvetch

My son competed in his first ever NFL sponsored Punt, Pass, and Kick competition yesterday, and came in third out of three kids. It was a very sad day for a little boy who loves sports more than life itself.

It was also his first time losing anything ever.  You see, he only plays on local recreation department sports teams that don't keep score so as not to hurt anyone's feelings.   He keeps track of his own stats, but no one else is looking.  This has taught him about who appears to win and who appears to be good at sports, but not much about who actually wins and how to deal with actually losing.  

I said a lot of trite things yesterday, like:

You are right, it wasn't fair. A lot of things in life aren't fair. You have to learn to cope with unfair situations and not let them get the best of you.

and I said, 

It took a lot of courage to get up in front of a bunch of strangers. It can sometimes to be harder to perform well when a lot of people are watching.

But i did not say, "You tried your best, that's all that matters."

Because that is crap, and I try not to feed my kids crap if I am paying attention. Life doesn't reward trying and failing, actually.  I am proud of him for trying. I am sad that he failed, because it made him so very sad. But I was also a little glad he lost. Trying your best and failing does matter. It shapes who you are as a person.

You see, my kid won't do things he is bad at. He wouldn't even try to ride a bike until third grade.  He shies away from anything that might not come easy.  He flat out refuses to try difficult things and becomes an angry, frustrated ball of tears if you try to show him something, like an easier way to tie his shoes.  He is really a pain in the toches  about it, and he is just like I was as a child.  As a kid, I learned quickly to never try my hardest, because then I could lean back into the excuse that if I had really tried I wouldn't have lost.  I could protect my fragile ego from that horrible feeling of being bad at something and floundering around in front of everyone. You can't lose if you don't try.

If i had learned to try and fail and realize that I wouldn't die from it, learned instead to sit with the pain then move on, i probably would have been a lot more successful in life.  The spoils go to those who try, fail, and try something else, or try the same thing differently.  Life rewards risk-takers that have learned how to cope with failure. Life does not reward people who say, "I could have done it if I wanted to," and I know this the hard way. It's a lesson better learned in third grade then when you are thirty.

And Kid, I am proud of you. I will love you no more if you win and no less if you lose.  Mama's always on your side, and I hope to heck you don't let this stop you from trying next time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Rant About Grown-Up Fun

Now that I am 40, I know the value of a good bra, a good man, and a good friend.

I know how to install tile flooring and how to make a recognizable Pokemon without the benefit of a pattern. 

I know that staying out past 1:00 am guarantees at least one child will wake up at 6:00 am.

I also know that having children doesn't mean you are no longer a woman, and that family oriented fun does not negate the need for grown up fun.

There are a lot of touchingly sappy quotes going around Facebook that go something like this:

 "Now that I am a mother, 
fun consists of watching Disney movies
and snuggling on the couch, 
not going to bars! 
"Like" if you love your family
and are proud of being a mom!" 

It's not an exact quote, but you get the picture. I am here to tell you that this is a whole heap of steaming hot crap.  Not only that, but I think it even qualifies as misogynist bullshit.

"What,what?" You say? If you are thinking, "But I clicked "like" on this! I do love my family! "  It's OK.  You got sucked in to some anti-woman sentimentality disguised as motherly love. I have, too.  It happens, but let's look at it a little deeper.

Here's the problem; it assumes that once you become a parent, all other needs you previously had have disappeared.  As a single parent, I have been able to reclaim the part of me that is still woman not not just mama, and I hope every woman does the same.

Here's some other things I have learned:

1.  Sex is better after having children. The illicit nature of hiding from children adds to the spice of it, but also after getting to know my vagina up close and personal while a baby pushed its way out of me, I am a lot less squeamish. I'm less inhibited. I'm proud of my female power.  Giving up a healthy sex life after you have children is not noble, it's stupid.  You had needs before, you have needs now.

2.  Sometimes bars suck and are a total drag.  If you are married, you probably look back on your bar days and, if you believe the internet quote mentioned above, you remember what a colossal disappointment going out was.  But here's the thing; sometimes bars are wicked fun.  Sometimes you dance or sing karaoke or someone flirts with you or you laugh too loud at things that aren't really funny. Sometimes they are really groovy.

3.  Giving up your own brand of fun, whether it's dancing at bars or winning trivia contests, does not make you heroic or a better mother. It makes you prone to being short tempered  and bitchy.  

I may not be a role model for much of anything, but I do know how to have fun, or at least my own brand of it. I devoted myself to a well-rounded 40th birthday week, and this is what it included:

A romantic getaway with my romancer of choice.

A family dinner with presents and cake with the children.

A girls' night complete with instruction from a professional burlesque dancer, followed by a trip to the local saloon.

I got to wear a tiara and boa in public, and at the end of my birthday week, Tiny Pants was wearing my birthday tiara and Big Pants had adopted my marabou boa as a pet snake. It was a win for everyone.

My children were a part of my birthday, but they weren't the only part.  My children are wonderful, sweet, loving little beasties that I adore to the ends of the earth, but they are not grown up companions, and turning into a mother did not negate my life as a grown up.   

So you love to cuddle your kids and watch Disney movies on the couch? Rock on!
But I hope you also get to :

Have crazy sex with your preferred partner. (For most of you this would be your spouse. I hope all you marrieds still rip the pants off your husbands or wives regularly.)

Enjoy inappropriate laughter with your besties until tears roll down your face.

Do things that are a little outrageous and fill you with joy, and don't feel bad about it.