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Why are we so darned responsible?

Categories: Bad Parenting, Wanna Fight About It?

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As parents, we walk a thin red line of responsibility. Suddenly becoming a small weak adorable being’s whole world is a wake-up call of sorts. Sleep in on a Sunday morning? Not so fast, bucko — there’s diapers to change, 4am feedings, or just plain crying-for-no-earthly-reason. And when that goes away, there is the sweetness of small feet padding in to the parental bedroom, a small warm body looking for comfort, the Sunday morning pancake ritual. Or early morning ferrying to cross country meets, basketball games, soccer practice. As parents we willingly make the shift from beer bong to Baby Bjorn. We do this from love. We do this because it is the right thing to do. And that’s as it should be, right?

Yes and no.

I think we go too far.
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What do your kids think of your life?

Categories: Mommy Angst, Wanna Fight About It?

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Last week, Work It, Mom colleague Lylah Alphonse from The 36-Hour Day wrote a post over at Yahoo Shine about what turned out to be a highly controversial topic — moms leaving kids. The post has more than 16,000 comments so far. That’s sixteen. THOUSAND. Ahem.

[Disclosure: Lylah's article is in part about me and she wrote with compassion and curiosity. I heart her much. A more detailed account of my story is here, but the short version is: I left my three younger children in custody of their formerly absentee-ish father, not to pursue my dreams but because I believed that by removing myself from a horrendously conflict-ridden situation, all our lives would be better. My children would have one home. My ex could step up to his potential as a father. The constant conflict would be over and everyone would be happier. And yes, there could be a space where I could pursue my dreams and be awesome.]
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Can teachers tell the truth about our kids? Can we take it?

Categories: Push my Button, Wanna Fight About It?

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By now you’ve likely heard the story about Natalie Munro, the Philadephia-area high school English teacher who was suspended last week for blogging rants about her students. She is said to have characterized them as “out of control” and “disengaged, lazy whiners.” I should also point out Munro was blogging on her personal blog, didn’t identify herself by her full name, and didn’t mention the name of her school or any individual students.

If you read the only post on Munro’s blog that is still standing — the other 84 posts have been removed — you can see more of the story. You get a picture of a teacher who became frustrated with the nature of things. Who among us wants to give 110% all the time when it consistently falls on deaf ears and seems unappreciated? Some of her students likely are disengaged lazy whiners. And many are amazing people who care about their future and the futures of all of us, but it’s the students who appear not to care who make things harder for everyone else.
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School photos must die

Categories: Wanna Fight About It?

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The only question is — will it be a long slow death or a quick merciful one?

Remember School Picture Day? I remember wearing a horrid plaid dress with my hair tied up in thick yarn bows thicker than my finger, filing in line with a jittery class, sitting in front of some strange camera-dude on the school’s stage, and being asked to Smile! and Relax! while posed in front of a fake leafy background. Suuure.

Snap. There goes another year, documented in Package B containing one 8×12, 4 5×7’s, 8 3×4’s, and a fistful of wallet-sized chips of me, suitable for giving away to classmates or to the relatives we don’t like very much.

When I was about 12 I visited another kid’s home and there in full public view were all the kid’s school photos, displayed like growing stairsteps along the wall, each year’s photo another snapshot in time of a changing incarnation. I wished mine were displayed like that instead of stuck away in some drawer somewhere where mine undoubtedly were, maybe. Not that I wanted anyone to actually see my awkwardness. But those 8×10’s of zitty detail have to live on in some fashion, right?
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Kids flying alone?

Categories: Mommy Angst, Wanna Fight About It?

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Two of my kids are flying — alone — across the country today. Flying alone with a change of planes usually isn’t a big deal for kids flying unaccompanied, because airlines insist that (for a fee) an airline employee take most kids to their next gate and make sure they get on the plane. But my kids are flying standby (their dad’s a pilot), which doesn’t guarantee two seats together for my two (14 and 10) and doesn’t actually guarantee any seats at all.

I’m about 85% okay with this, for a lot of reasons: they are seasoned travelers; they’ll be equipped with a cell phone for emergencies; they’ve been prepped with what to do if they get stuck at DFW; they did this once before; and last but not least, it’s what they need to do for us to see one another this summer.

I’m 15% not okay because, well, I’m a mom. I worry about things. Things happen in the wacky world of air travel. Kids get sent to the wrong destination. Or they’re forgotten, stranded.
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The changing tide of gender roles

Categories: Wanna Fight About It?

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Sorry, men, you’re becoming obsolete. Ladies? It’s your turn now.

At least, it is if you can believe this post in Monday’s Vancouver Sun, which claims that gender roles are changing (we knew that already, especially looking at Sweden’s new baby daddies) and that women in industrialized nations wield the purse strings, leaving men to chew hungrily on the frayed ends of the apron strings (if their beer-swilling compatriots not yet on the Mr. Mom bandwagon don’t laugh at them too hard).

Consider these statistics cited in the Vancouver Sun post:

  • Parents visiting North American fertility clinics are choosing girls, not boys, when they are given free choice of the baby’s gender.
  • In South Korea, 85% of women claim they want girls. Not boys.

(Girls are better, nyah nyah!)

And also these statistics:
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If we hate being parents so much, why do we do it?

Categories: Wanna Fight About It?

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Things were fine until I read the New York Magazine piece called “All Joy and No Fun” that has people like my friend and fellow writer Madeline Holler talking about it over at Babble.com. But I read this piece (synopsis: Parenting is work! Unless you live in Denmark! Which you don’t so boo hoo! But all these statistics — statistics! —tell us how unhappy we parents are! So hello, why would you even be one??) and everything got quiet.

They were talking about my life.

Examination of the Road Not Taken. Life Before or (God/Goddess/Whatever forbid) Without Kids. Oh, c’mon. We’ve all had those what-if thoughts. Like, What if we could just jump on a plane tonight and go to Paris! (Without worrying about passports, diaper bags, babysitters, or whether Paris has the ONE brand of yogurt that is the only thing your two-year-old will consume besides bananas and bread, which you are pretty sure Paris has.)

Some recent encounters:
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Sweden baby daddies changing the world

Categories: Wanna Fight About It?

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Hey there. Let’s take a trip to Sweden! If you go I can promise you a blond minimalist coffee table and a bag of frozen Ikea meatballs. You in?

Awesome. Let’s go.

The first thing you’ll notice in Sweden is the large number of dads pushing sleek Eurostrollers or wearing flaxen-haired Hanna-clad infants whose legs resemble gaily-colored dangling Swedish fish strapped to their father’s’ chests in Baby Bjorns. (I live in the Pacific Northwest and daddies pushing strollers are an oddly common sight here, but they’re usually wearing plaid, have a five-day beard growth and look unemployed.) It’s a growing number. Why? Because Swedish daddies stay home.

They have to.
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Siblings who fight: what to do?

Categories: Wanna Fight About It?

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Bickering. That’s what my parents called it. “Stop bickering!” they’d hiss menacingly from the car’s front seat. Immediately my brother and I would stare out through opposite car windows, biding our time so we could open the discussion again out of parental earshot.

Our discussions went something like this:

“I’m right!”

“No, I’m right!”

“I’m older, so I’m more right.”

[Silence. Age is sacrosanct. Every child knows that his place in the universe is predicated on age.]

Invoking the deity: “Mooooooom!”

Knowing everything that I knew about what it was like to grow up with an older brother and the fights that ensued, I went ahead and had kids anyway. Like squeezing out cookies from the cookie press that you drag out at holidays. One, two, three, four. And the kids fought. Mainly it’s Number Two and Number Three, since Number One is light-years older than the rest and Number Four has his own agenda. Fine, the other two more than make up for any lack of effort on the part of the others. Fight, fight, fight.

What’s a parent to do when siblings fight?
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Breast milk cheese: yum or ew?

Categories: Parents in the Media, Wanna Fight About It?

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It’s a slow news day when you Google “mother” and come up with 237 stories about cheese made from breast milk, but there you have it. My lactation inspiration for today’s post.

Breast milk cheese. Mmm. Daniel Angerer, a Manhattan chef, is making cheese from his wife’s extra breast milk. No, the cheese isn’t on the menu at Klee Brasserie, Angerer’s restaurant, though at customer request after reading Angerer’s blog about it, the cheese has been offered as a canape (with figs and Hungarian pepper, for those wondering how to serve a breast milk cheese). Yes, Angerer’s baby has plenty of breast milk otherwise. No worries there.

What’s interesting is the response this gets. Breast milk cheese, or in other words cheese made from milk that humans are designed to consume, causes humans to respond in ways that vary “from mild yuckiness to sheer revulsion” according to The Guardian.

Yuckiness? Revulsion? I’ve tasted breast milk. Hey, you’re there all day with a baby and a bag of Baked Lays, and you’re deciding between Regis and Kelly or reruns of Little House on the Prairie — what else can you do to liven things up? The baby drinks breast milk, right? Poisonous? I don’t think so. Why not check it out?
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