Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Keeping it Real

I received an email tonight from a fellow mom. Really, it was more of a detailed confession of all of the things she’d done wrong today as a mother. It ended with two simple words: “Parent fail.” Her email both broke my heart and made me super angry because you see, she’s really a terrific mom. But today, she must have used someone else’s measuring stick to make that call. It troubled me in particular because motherhood and parenthood for that matter, is definitely not measured or won or lost on a battle by battle or day to day basis. We’re in this for the long haul people. Did your child watch six hours of TV today or eat pizza for dinner every night this week? What really matters at the end of the day?
Let’s just admit my own bias here. If we are measuring this stuff on a day to day basis, I’m assuming I would have done a pretty shitty job by most people’s standards. I brought my son to the grocery store in a rainbow colored clown wig and pajamas because it was the only way I could get him to the store. We’ve probably watched at least six hours of Disney over the past two days and my daughter can do a spot on impersonation of Candace from Phineas and Ferb that is unsettling for a two year old. Also, Ruby would only eat an all-yellow dinner tonight (corn, mac and cheese and pineapple) though I guess I should view this as an improvement over last night’s dinner, the stale hot dog bun. Even as I write this, my poor neglected children continue to scream their heads off at 9:30pm as I ignore their pathetic little fatigued bodies which are still on west coast time after our trip to California last week. We are nearly half way through the week and have done no clever do it yourself projects that have taught them anything.  We did try to trace our hands with chalk in the driveway though that really didn’t teach us much of anything, other than the fact that we have fat hands. Glamorous, right?
Parenthood isn’t about perfection. How could it be? At its core, it is the business of imperfect humans raising other imperfect little humans to the best of their ability. And loving them with everything they’ve got. There is no real yard stick for that. Facebook and the proliferation of Instagram would have you believe that everyone else’s children are living some glossy pictorial straight out of Parents magazine, where perfectly coiffed children frolic in the ocean as the sun lilts behind them and they smile coyly from beneath a well placed sun hat (that the perfect child does not remove). It’s not real. It’s all spin – it’s what they are putting out there for us to see. Trust me, I wasn’t instagramming the moment before that one where Ruby was face down eating sand and screaming her head off because I wouldn’t build a sand castle with her.
We are who we are and I hope if I teach my kids nothing it is the fact that we are real and flawed and it’s okay to be real and in fact to love yourself because of all those flaws, not in spite of them. You see, that’s the real secret teachable moment of parenthood: teaching our children to love themselves just because of who they are, and to not waste any time on this precious earth chasing some perfect idealized version of themselves or their mommy.
Think back on your own childhood. Do you remember a perfectly sucky day when you were three years old? Probably about as a much as you remember a pretty great one from when you were three which is not very much at all. I think a lot about and write about my own childhood and particularly my mother. She was with me until right after I had my first child, and then she was gone. And so I don’t have the opportunity to ask her ever, was I like that? Did I do that? Did you get frustrated? Did you let me wear my pajamas to the grocery store? I just can’t remember. 
What I do remember was that she could curse like a truck driver sometimes, that she fed me some frozen turkey covered in a purple sauce that was definitely not for human consumption, that she ate a bowl of chips in front of the TV in her bathrobe almost every night, and that she let me watch Dallas when I was in Kindergarten. Let’s face it: it was Dallas - that’s no Nick, Jr. She wasn’t perfect and I loved that about her. She was real and in my memories she makes it okay for me to be that real with my own children. Because I think about how much I loved her and our time together, and realize it’s not about any of those things. It’s about who she was, not what she did on any one day. She was a lifetime of love and compassion and good humor and kindness. She was in it for the long haul. As parents, we all are. So stop judging and love yourself. Because today was just today. And really by most standards including mine, really not a very bad one at all. You’re a good hard working mommy teaching your baby about love and compassion. It’s a lifetime of work and cannot be won or lost in one day. So soldier on and keep it real mommas J

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wait – Why the Cluck Are We All Talking About Chikn?

And more importantly, why do we all keep spelling chicken that way? Are we all in on the joke or the conspiracy? Seriously – what’s up with that? But I digress. This post isn’t about chikn or chicken. It’s about two very important things I strongly believe:  1) all Americans deserve the same equal rights, and 2) without question liberals have absolutely zero political savvy and are the stupidest people on the planet. And I say that as a liberal.

Let’s start with the second point here, for no other reason than the consistent misspelling of the word chicken is making me feel more stupid so I’ve decided to do things in the wrong order. Why are we so bad at this? Why didn’t we see a cheap publicity stunt trap being set for us a by a chicken warlord? Why did we all fall for it?! What the cluck! Here’s a shocker people: the proud patriarch papa of a southern based bible belt fried chicken joint gives lots of his private profits to support the Defense of Marriage act and other efforts to solidify that marriage is defined legally as between a man and a woman, and to thereby strip the entire LGBT community of the right to marry. Raise your hand if you are surprised by this? So then, Mr. Top Chickn or Chicken or whatever decides to give an interview where he speaks openly about where his chicken money goes. And what do we all do? We act freaking surprised and self-righteous, which, by the way if you are wondering is exactly what Mr. Chicken thought we would do. And then suddenly you have Mayors stepping out of the woodwork saying that Mr. Chicken can’t sell his chicken in their cities because of what he believes (which by the way people, is I’m pretty sure illegal – you know blocking someone from making a living based on what they say or believe) – that’s right, I’m looking at you Menino. And voila! You have Dan Cathy’s dream – the silly liberals running around talking about boycotting chicken and guess what you have, not a logical engagement on the importance of ensuring civil rights for all? Nope – you’ve got a debate on freedom of speech and religious freedom. And everyone is shelling out their money to buy waffle fries in support of Dan Cathy’s right to free speech. Um, is anyone catching the utter stupidity and irony of this?!
Why, oh why dear liberals do we always fall for such obvious schemes? Why do we always muck it up. This was a well timed PR scheme from the beginning. It was never a debate about the rights of Gays and Lesbians to marry. And we walked right into it. We run around pointing fingers at others who threaten to, let’s say hypothetically boycott JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman, and then we argue to do the same thing when it supports our own point?! It’s like saying the other side is a bunch of religious hypocrites who are really total pervs who cheat on their wives, and then TWEETING PICTURES OF YOUR GENITALS. Why do we do this stuff, liberals? Seriously, why?
It makes us look dumb and it makes us look like hypocrites and it obscures really excellent points about how folks, particularly folks who are strict constructionists, ought to ensure that they apply the same strict constitutional approach when reading that beloved doc as it applies to the equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by all Americans. Not just the straight ones.
Let’s get to the point. I think Dan Cathy is a total stool pigeon. I think he is about as smart as one of his chickens right before they become the spicy chicken sandwich deluxe. So I don’t eat there because he was smart enough to tell me exactly where my chicken money would go, and I think that’s crap. But calling for a boycott or a kiss-in or being all surprised when the whole debate gets re-framed on your ass just proves that once again liberals, we looked silly and outplayed. This debate is important and serious. It involves the loves and lives of our parents, friends, neighbors, children who deserve equal rights in this country – the right to marry. By no means should any of us be talking about chikn. Or chicken. Ah F*(&^&*^!!! it.