To Prevent A Predator
This morning I was watching AM Joy on MSNBC. One of her guests said they think this Brett Kavanaugh nonsense will help Republicans by energizing white, suburban women who have sons in college and are worried about false assault accusations against them. I turned to my husband and said, “If you’re a mother and worried about your son getting called out for assault, you’ve failed to do your goddamn job.” And since this is supposed to be a parenting blog, not just a screaming into the void about my depression blog, I thought I should do *my* goddamn job.
[First, white women, quit propping up the patriarchy. Learn something about history and feminism and race and class and intersectionality and quit being the goddamn worst. I can recommend some books! It’s gonna suck for a minute, realizing how terrible you’ve been, but then you get to be best!]
This is becoming a weird rallying cry, I saw something on Facebook about #HimToo – in which we should worry about our fathers/husbands/sons being accused. You know how you avoid getting accused of sexual impropriety? DON’T FUCKING TOUCH PEOPLE AGAINST THEIR WILL. DON’T BE A FUCKING CREEP. I dunno, seems pretty simple to me. I’m not worried about my husband/father/son getting accused of anything, because I surround myself with non-shitbags. (And, yeah, we can’t pick our fathers, and mine is far from perfect, but I’m lucky in this regard – he never made me feel shitty about my body or ogled ladies or was creepy. He told me I was smart and beautiful and wonderful just as I am. And while my stepdad could be a little on the inappropes side, I never got in trouble for telling him to not be a turd.)
But, seriously, let’s go to statistics. According to RAINN, a sexual assault happens every 98 seconds. So, less than the time it takes my microwave to make popcorn. And these statistics count men and women and children. Let that shit sink in for a second. Or for 98 seconds. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has this handy dandy fact sheet about false allegations. Educate yourself! I’m not even Nancy Googler and I came up with this shit in less than 98 seconds.
So, false accusations account for mmmmmmaybe 3% of reports, but 63% of assaults go unreported, and that means, if my math is right…false reporting is essentially bullshit. I’m not saying it has never happened, because women are just as capable of being trashbags as men, but let’s be really real for a minute and throw out false claims.
That leaves actual assaults. And if you’re a mom worried that your son or husband or father is going to be accused of something, what are you doing? Are you teaching consent? Are you sharing your stories? Are you listening to how they talk about women and making sure it’s with respect, even if the woman isn’t a relative??
I asked my girl gang about this, since most of them are raising boys. Because they’re a bunch of badass feminist babes, they’re doing the work. They’re teaching “no means no and stop means stop” and following up when their kids use those words. They’re setting boundaries and letting their sons know that everyone is in charge of their own body. They’re letting their sons be people, away from the harmful caricatures of toxic masculinity.
Because my boys have autism, things are a little different in our house. I’ve had the talk many, many times with Cal that we never touch people without asking them first. (We repeat this conversation every St. Patrick’s Day in regards to wearing green and pinching.) We’ve talked about bathing suit areas and how we’re allowed to touch ourselves as long as it’s in the bathroom or bedroom. We ask for hugs and kisses from the cousins. We stop when someone says stop, even if they’re laughing. If someone touches us without permission, we tell. Charlie is…well, he’s Charlie. (Although he does restrict privatetime to his bedroom, so that’s a fucking win.) I’m not worried about them being accused of assault, as statistically they’re more likely to be victims, especially non-verbal Charlie. So, yeah, my priorities are a little skewed.
And while we’re having this conversation, Lauren brings up an important point – fathers, what are you doing? Because putting this on mothers is just another burden. And, as we all know, fathers are role models too. If you’re a father, are you showing your son how to treat women? And not in a “be a man, be the breadwinner, don’t have feelings, say ‘yes, dear’ with a wink and a dismissive chuckle” way, but in a “your mom is an independent person with feelings and thoughts and I respect her and other women who are also independent people!” way. Do you truly co-parent, or do you sit passively while your wife/partner does all of the work? Are you the man you want your son to see every day?
Maybe we didn’t stop a likely assaulter and definite fratbrodingleberry from becoming a Supreme Court Justice. Maybe we have a human bag of vomit as President. Maybe we feel powerless when Mitch McConnell gets all het up on the floor of the Senate about GOOD WHITE MEN. But we have power over our children. And we need to wield that power responsibly. We have to teach them about consent and standing up for themselves and others. We have to teach them there is no “bro code”. That peer pressure sucks, but giving in is way worse. That only yes means yes and nothing beats a willing, enthusiastic partner. Teach your children well, and hopefully their parents’ hell will slowly go by.
Group Post: Awesome Dudes We Love
Because this is a feminist momblog, we spend a lot of space discussing women and our issues. However, we all know that feminism is for everyone, and we’ve each got some really fantastic men in our lives who may be underrepresented here. So, here’s a shout out to some of the rad dads we know and love and appreciate daily.
Dad – Pops, Old Man River, Groucho (that’s a new one I just made up but it fits, I promise). I would not be who I am without this man. LITERALLY. We are (nearly though not quite) the same person. Our political views are polar opposite (mine are correct, and his are not at all), but we still find common ground over cooking, Monty Python, and laughing at the misfortune of others. (Like the time he witnessed a dude in a tiny BMW think he was hot shit at the gas station, and he wound up pulling the damn pump out of the machine as he drove away. Oh man, did we laugh about that!) It’s a science fact that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and I think that’s what happened here. So sorry, Pops, this is all your fault but hey, I think you did a good job even though you probably have misgivings re: my appearance, taste in music, political beliefs, and my hatred of mayonnaise. Love you!
My Boo – I’ve talked at great length about THIS guy, and I still could write eleventy billion more words about him and how fucking rad he is. He’s got my back no matter what, he makes the best tacos I’ve ever had, he’s adorable, and he’s an amazing father to my son. He busts his ass every goddamn day, and inspires me to be a better mother, employee, friend, and person every goddamn day. We’re nearly 2 years in, and are still just as excited to see each other every day as we were then. The man talks the talk AND he walks the walk. Whatever this shit world leaves on our doorstep, I know that we can (proverbially) punch it in the face. I really cannot say enough good things about this dude, he’s the fucking best. Love you, boo!
My Little Boo – Yeah, I’ll count my kid here. He’s not quite a “man” yet, technically (even though WE WEAR THE SAME SIZE SHOE OH MY GAWD WHAT.), but shit, he certainly demonstrates a capacity for understanding as an adult does. (Not for everything, but for a lot of things, like how gay people are just, you know, people.) Being my kid cannot be an easy thing, I’ll be the first to admit that. And he’s doing a great job. His attitude is a little out of control at times (especially when he is busy getting BIGGER which is every other day I think.) But his attitude in general is kind, curious, hilarious, and understanding. We watch Wayne’s World and RuPaul’s Drag Race together, and he loves to draw with my Boo (and he’s really gotten quite good the more he practices – I’m super impressed!) Raising a child is fucking HARD. Especially when they’re smart, and they are basically YOU (I know from whence that attitude comes.) But I’ve got a great couple of dudes who make it enjoyable. Love you, Ham Guy!
My fucking homies – I’ve got a few tight homies who are rad and deserve a shout out here. My tight bros from back in the day, my boss, any pal I have who’s been there for me without expecting a “reward” for their friendship. I’m in the groom’s wedding party this year of one of these dudes! Super stoked. You guys, just keep on doing what you’re doing and always stand up and support women.
I am a world-class worrier. I worry to the point that if someone says “stop worrying so much!” I worry about why I’m so worried. Yes. I am a special snowflake. These days, the thoughts that keep me up at night are primarily focused around this rising tide of ignorance and hate that’s threatening to drown our country and the way that’s affecting my kid. I worry about how I will have to explain why some people hate his aunt and uncle because of who they love. I worry about having to explain why we are living in a culture where it is commonplace to have a mass shooting every week or so, and how he can protect himself. I worry about teaching him to respect everyone equally and treat everyone with respect and dignity and that no means no and not ever yes, and enthusiastic consent and drinking and depression and the why why why of everything. It’s so much.
But I am so thankful. Because as much as I am overwhelmed with the pressure and fear, I have a partner who is equally in this fight with me. My husband, an amazing father and a fantastic partner in life, who is hard-working and sweet and just as worried about everything, is in this fight with me. He’s just as involved in the (sometimes awkward) explanations and hugs and lessons that it’s taking to raise a child, especially a male child, in our society today. He is in the trenches with the boo boo kisses and teaching that colors are for everyone. Sometimes he is completely ignored and unappreciated by our son, who is going through a major mommy phase, but I see him, and I know others do too, and I am so proud to call him mine.
I come from a long line of strong women, for that I am thankful. I watched my grandmother do plumbing and electrical work around her house. I watched my mom research and do things on the computer most people my age can’t figure out. My Dads never treated me any different than the boys in the family. My family never told me I couldn’t do anything because I am a girl. Those things are important to me as I raise girls of my own.
We never talked about it though, my husband and I. I never actually said the words “I want to raise our girls to have no gender boundaries”. He just does it. He shows them that men can do the things that have historically been deemed “women’s work”. They see him do dishes and cook. Clean and do laundry. He takes care of the plants in the house. (I have a black thumb, I couldn’t keep a plant alive to save my life.) He also shows them girls can do whatever the hell they want. He has taught them to change and rotate tires, change the oil and do other car repairs with him. He just showed our youngest how to turn the water off to the house and had her help fix our leaking toilet and shower. Never once did he blink an eye or think it was strange for her to learn these skills.
He also allows them to be who they are. Some days that’s glitter and pink everything including a crown. Some days that sports jerseys and jeans with muddy shoes. He loves them and never judges them. My girls embody the mixed up world that is a young girl’s feelings and mind. They laugh, they are prissy, they fart while giggling hysterically, they are messy. They love makeup and cars. They dance and play basketball. They watch their dad closely as he holds open the door for them on their way into a building, and they return the favor on the way out. He sits through dance classes and has learned the difference between a lindy and a ball change. He also spent two weeks building a Lego VW Vanagon with them, including working engine and a peace and love poster. The girls have given him “makeovers”. He has had his toes done by them. He says that he doesn’t want to wear makeup outside the house but some boys do and that’s cool. He said he doesn’t want to wear dresses, but some people who were born a boy want to, and that’s cool too.
Bottom line is he doesn’t see limits for his kids just because they were born without a penis. He teaches them things he would have taught a son. He tells them to be kind to everyone. And love who they want (just no dating until they are thirty). He has taught them life skills, ways to be independent; the things I was taught as a young girl. But knowing their Dad has their back is the best thing he can do for them. Girls are complicated, girls are emotional, girls can be anything and everything they want and knowing that their Dad believes this too is the greatest thing he has ever done for them.
Here’s a small list of some of the stupid-awesome things my dad has done for me that have gone above and beyond the call of dad duty:
- driving me to see a friend’s shitty band play at Jaxx during a snow storm in high school
- driving into DC when I forgot concert tickets at home
- driving to Charlottesville to get me when my car broke down, then going back to get the car a few days later
- not disowning me for fucking up at college and allowing me to move back home after dropping out
- not dying when he had a surprise heart attack (very important)
- driving to DC in the middle of the night when I missed the last Metro home
- driving to somewhere outside of Baltimore in the middle of the night when my car broke down in the snow on the way home from a concert
- driving to Richmond at 2am to help me move out of a shitty ex-boyfriend’s house on no notice
- driving to Richmond in the middle of the day to help me move out of a shitty apartment on no notice
- providing legal advice when necessary (including “don’t do something that will require me to pick you up from jail”)
I’m definitely a fuck-up who has trouble showing how grateful I am, but I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without my dad – my #1 buddy. Thanks for everything you’ve done and continue to do (because I still don’t have my shit together), and for being one of the good ones.
I have an amazing partner. He’s my person in so many ways and I try to tell him that every day. He doesn’t just support me, he encourages me. He’s the reason I always have clean underpants and my credit score isn’t in the “YIIIIIIKES” category any more. He’s smart, he reads faster than I do (trust me, this is impressive), he’s interested in things, he makes me pee myself laughing, he’s got artistic talent and the swagger of someone who knows who the fuck they are. He’s been through some shit and has never given up. He’s the reason I have the (mostly) pleasure of raising two sons and I absolutely love parenting with him. He gets all the high-fives from me.
One of the biggest reasons I love him is because he listens. He sits through my intersectional feminist rants and pays attention and now recognizes The Patriarchy before I do (sometimes). He has never assumed I can’t do something or understand the world because I’m a woman. He respects me and my choices, he’s never shamed me for my past or who I am. He values my input and we have amazing conversations about the world and society. We don’t always agree, and we’re both okay with that, because we both realize the other is a fully-formed, autonomous adult entitled to their beliefs and convictions. He’s changed the way I view the world, and I’ve changed the way he does. He’s never been intimidated by me, at least not how most men in my life have been.
We are equals and partners. We have each other’s fucking backs no matter what. We trust one another and challenge each other and every goddamn day I’m happy that my life’s path crossed his. I love you, dearest, Happy Father’s Day.
LEGO Dimensions: The Bane of My Existence
There are a lot of huge, terrible things in this world. Like, a lot a lot. I don’t have the energy or strength to discuss those right now. So I’m going to rant about something that isn’t truly important but has made my life a sort of living hell. And that thing is LEGO Dimensions, or the worst video game in the world.
My oldest son is 14. Like most teens, he’s obsessed with video games. The autism might make this fixation a little more intense, but I’m sure a lot of parents can feel me on this. Video games for kids are terrible now. Not their content, but this new thing of buying a million add-ons for each game. There’s Disney Infinity and Skylanders. We have an extensive Amiibo collection, which, as far as I can tell, do absolutely nothing. You can unlock special suits and characters, but from what I can gather, you can also unlock those things just by playing the game. But, no, we need to spend $13 a pop for plastic figurines in a variety of characters and variations – Mario, Gold Mario, Fireball Mario, 32-bit Mario in classic colors, 32-bit Mario in modern colors, Mario with his arms in a slightly different postion. Seriously. It’s a load of bullshit. But Cal has always been a Mario freak and we indulge.
Guest Post: Get That Baby To Sleep
Today’s guest post comes from Althea Egon: I am a crafty geek, toddler wrangler and artist who is prone to wild fits of kitchen singing. I have been a bicycle mechanic, a teacher and a cubicle slave. Identity crisis is my middle name… My friends say I’m restless. Huzzah!
Although my husband and I didn’t choose to bed share with S…we ended up doing so because of her needs/temperament. I must admit that I didn’t even know what bed sharing or cosleeping was prior to having my own child! I thought that, “Duh! Babies sleep in cribs!” But try as we might a crib was not in the cards for our first born.
There are some benefits of bed sharing and this article does a good job explaining that it is not unsafe or detrimental. Western culture made the shift away from bed sharing, a practice the rest of the world uses in the majority. There seems to be lot of hostility and misinformation directed towards parents who do bed share or cosleep in the USA.
Obviously my daughter will not sleep with me forever and yes it can be exhausting. However because I choose to breastfeed (still going strong at almost 20 months) bed sharing makes night parenting much easier on me. Studies have shown that breastfeeding bedsharing parents/child are awake no more than children who sleep in their own rooms.
It has been hard because when I mention that I am exhausted… And well meaning people tend to judge our decision to bed share (a decision that developed organically) as detrimental to me and my daughter. I don’t agree with this theory. I am tired because I am a parent. Continue reading
Parenting While Crazy
I’ve mentioned a time or two that I struggle with depression. It’s a lifelong thing, I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t depressed. Sometimes are worse than others, but mostly, it’s basically like this: if there was a scale from -10 to 10, with -10 being superduper depressed and 10 being superduper manic, most people are at a base line of 0. My emotional grid’s baseline is, like, -2. Sometimes I dip low, sometimes I swing high, but day to day, I’m always a little depressed. Depression is my normal. My medication works as a…smoother, it bumps me to a -1 and keeps the lows brief and shallow so now I rarely get past a -3. Still, my outlook is always a little blue.
You as a 0 may ask, what’s that like? Well, let’s see. Imagine your mind is the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek (I’m a nerd, but my Star Trek knowledge is limited, so this isn’t going to get super out there for you non-nerds). There’s the big screen in front showing what’s going on, you are the Captain, and your emotions are manning all of the different stations and giving constant input and advice on how you go about doing things. I assume that in your mind, you as Captain, well, you stay in the big chair in the middle and you get the information you need to make decisions and your crew supports you and does as they’re told and mostly things go according to plan. And in those times that things go haywire, you and your crew work together to get back on course.
My mind, well, there’s a lot more chaos. A lot of the data I get isn’t right so I can’t make the best decisions to steer my ship. I have to get out of my chair to try and fix things, and my Spock is pretty incompetent. My crew doesn’t always speak the same language and they definitely don’t get along. There’s a lot of arguing and sabotage and laziness and things just don’t work right. There’s usually a mutiny brewing. My ship takes a lot longer to get to its destination, if it ever makes it there. Captain Me spends a lot of time and energy on keeping the ship going and so anything external can’t be dealt with properly. But, I’ve been captain of this ship for a long time, so I’ve gotten good with duct tape repairs and corralling the crew to get me where I need to go.
The Weight of Your Words
“You should really eat to live, not live to eat.”
My step-mom said this to me when I was around nine or ten. Before this, my body was something that propelled me on the playground. It was for fun and function. It never occurred to me that I had something to be ashamed of, or that food and eating was something I should feel bad about. In hindsight, this comment was probably not intended to be hurtful, and I’m sure it was promptly forgotten.It’s certainly not the worst thing ever said to me under the guise of helpful parenting. The problem is, those words were the first shots in the war against my body that has lasted for twenty plus years. Continue reading
A Short List of Terrible Nicknames I Have For My Son
Alternately titled: Get The Stink-Eye At Kroger, Guaranteed!
This is by no means a complete list, but here are some of the nicknames that fly out of my mouth when I refer to my child. I love him whole-heartedly, and I hope that he will forgive me for having some of THE WORST nicknames ever for him. Continue reading
Am I Not Worrying Enough?
So, today on the ol’ Facespace, a friend of mine posted that she’d witnessed at Target a woman who left her 8-ish-year-old-daughter alone in the girls’ department while she went to go, presumably, take a leak. My friend posed a question essentially asking if she was paranoid, or was there a crack in the woman’s judgment? After reading the comments responding to this post, I have to ask: What the fuck is wrong with people? The majority of people commenting said something to the effect of, “No! You’re not paranoid! I never let my children out of my sight ever because bad people!” Which, okay. I don’t agree, but you do you, and you know your kids better than I do! BUT! One person responded that he thought the mother should have her “uterus revoked” for committing such a heinous act of terrible parenting, clearly on par with Joan Crawford or Michael Lohan. This poor woman who NONE OF US KNOW at Target is now being judged, like, way harsh, Tai. Clearly, I don’t think this was my friend’s intent in posing this question on Facebook. Sometimes parents like to gauge where they stand. And, for the record, I don’t think my friend is paranoid for not considering this sort of thing whilst shopping for facewash, Oxiclean, a dvd copy of Meatballs, and a new sundress. If someone doesn’t feel that his or her child is ready to be alone in Target, then that’s that. But was the woman who went pee really deserving of all this bullshit? (Hint: NO.)
Losing Baby Weight Is A Bullshit Endeavor Sometimes
So, when I was in the middle of pregnancy and had finally gotten to the point where I had to put away all of my regular clothes and exist solely in Target and H&M’s approximation of semi-attractive maternity clothes, I convinced myself that a few short weeks after giving birth would find me sliding my skinny jeans back on and wearing all those cute tiny tops and adorable dresses that I lived in before I got knocked up. Never mind that there was an entire month where I ate nothing but candy. Never mind that my only weird pregnancy cravings was the giant soft pretzels covered in butter and salt. Never mind reality. Continue reading
“Maybe I’m Not Cut Out for This Gig” and Other Thoughts After Having a Fight with My Kid
My son is 6. I like it because he can tell me when things are wrong with him or what he wants to eat or about his favorite Avengers. I don’t like it because he can also tell fibs and ignore me and also sometimes act like a giant dick. And it’s times like those when I think, “I’m really bad at this. Like…BAD.” I’m not, say, Dina Lohan bad. But I know that he’ll be in therapy one day talking about how that one morning before school, Mom lost her shit and threw his bookbag across the room. Or dropped the f-bomb 34 times in a tirade about him not listening. Or. Or. Or. Continue reading