Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mommy's out there today! I am so grateful for the little boy who came into my life a year and a half ago and made me his mommy. I would never want anyone else to call my son and I am blessed and honored that I get to be his mother. 

Henry Ryan, you are the greatest joy in my life and I will forever be grateful to know you and love you. Thank you. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

my stance on the TIME Magainze insanity

okay you knew it was coming. I was going to have to write a blog post about this. I just cannot deal with it anymore. 

Let's get the disclaimers out of the way:

1. The copy on the front of this magazine is horrible. "Are you MOM ENOUGH" is ridiculous and unfair. There is no such thing as being "mom enough" and breastfeeding doesn't change that. It is SO wrong of this article to pose that question and to by extension suggest that if you aren't nursing your child (at all or for an extended period of time) that you aren't "mom enough". Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

2. The way this photo is posed is just absurd and on the whole, the photo is staged for ultimate Shock Value*. The model is petite and her son is very large which makes him look far older than three years old. Also, this is obviously not at all a "traditional" breastfeeding position to be in. I don't know about you but I have never nursed my toddler while he's perched on a chair. Sure, toddlers are acrobatic in their nursing however this is outlandish. Not to mention that the toddler is dressed like a teenager. 

*however, I would like to say that I hope that someday I live in a world where a mother nursing her toddler is NEVER shocking.*

Anyway, all of these things were done by TIME Magazine to sensationalize their the subject. Like a predator, they went in for the kill and they did it in a big way. I fully believe that their intention was to cause drama. Which, fine, good for them, it sells magazines in an era when magazine sales are on the decline but it sucks to be a mother in the middle of this shitstorm that they have created. Furthermore it especially sucks to be a nursing mother in all of this and it especially, especially sucks to be an attachment parenting nursing mother in the middle of it all. So that's why I am writing.

So I have come to chime in here because I feel like if I don't I will literally explode. 

See, the Internet has always had this dramatic "mommy war" going on about parenting. Co-sleeping vs. CIO (Cry It Out), Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding, Attachment Parenting vs. Mainstream Parenting. Whatever. You name it, the internet has found a way to make it dramatic. 

My stance has always been and always will continue to be that mothers should support mothers. Women should support women. And, call me idealistic but people should support each other. 

We live in a world where CRAZY SHIT HAPPENS every single day. There are people walking into schools with GUNS and SHOOTING CHILDREN. There are men kidnapping young girls and locking them in sheds where they spend YEARS as personal sex slaves. There are people putting out cigarettes on their kids arms and worse. And yet here we are having a big old freak out because this mother is still nursing her almost four year old child. 

Are you kidding me?

I just don't understand how someone who feels that extended breastfeeding is right for her can get THIS much backlash. How is that even possible? She's just FEEDING HER CHILD. What in the ever living hell is wrong with that?

And what exactly is "extended breastfeeding" you ask? Well, I'll tell you, fascinated blog readers: Extended Breastfeeding is basically defined as breastfeeding your child after one year. YES that's right - ONE YEAR. You know, those tiny little 12 month old babies who can barely walk and who can't talk yet? If you keep nursing them it apparently gets to be called "extended breastfeeding". Welp, as someone who is still nursing an 18 month old, I suppose I qualify as a mother who is nursing for an extended period of time although to be honest, I feel like I'm just nursing and that's it, no quantifier required. (and let's remember the American Pediatric Association suggests nursing until age 2).

Since this article has come out, the response has been overwhelming and awful. Hatred, insults, and disgust have been common responses. I myself have been called crazy for suggesting that it is okay that this woman nurse her child and that she practice Attachment Parenting. Further, it's been insinuated that nursing an older toddler is disgusting and borderline abusive. ABUSIVE!? WHAT THE HELL??

I have to stop right there because the irony of it all just astounds me. See, nursing a child is an experience that is quite literally on the opposite end of the spectrum from abuse. Seriously. If they could make a chart which contained atrocities on one end and loving acts on the other, breastfeeding your child would be on the polar opposite from molestation and abuse. It is quite literally the OPPOSITE experience. I cannot stress that enough. This child in the photo above is being LOVED not abused. And while I question his mother's right to exploit his image in this way without his consent i know that her endeavor to continue nursing him is a loving act. And I know that she did this to try and normalize breastfeeding. Which is honestly an insane phrase anyway if you think about it. How is it possible that our society has reached a point where breastfeeding - THE MOST NATURAL ACT IN THE WORLD - needs to be normalized??

And let me just add this because it fully needs to be said: people who sexualize breastfeeding have a LOT of issues of their own that they are projecting onto a beautiful act that has NOTHING to do with sex. Let's repeat: People who sexualize breastfeeding have issues of THEIR OWN that they are bringing to the table. Breastfeeding has NOTHING to do with sex. And newsflash: BREASTS ARE MADE FOR FEEDING CHILDREN. I know you'd never be able to tell this from our crazy culture that we're in but breasts are NOT just items for men to play with. They actually serve a REAL purpose here and that purpose FIRST AND FOREMOST is to FEED CHILDREN. Ahhhh!

And really quickly I need to move on and address the issue of Attachment Parenting, which is what this article pretends to be about. Attachment Parenting is the other thing that is coming under attack here and that's crazy too because just like anything else about parenting styles: it's NO ONE'S DAMN BUSINESS. 

As long as there isn't abuse or mistreatment of a child involved people need to be allowed to parent however they want and that's that. No one outside of a therapy session or a courtroom gets to tell anyone else that they're parenting wrong. 'Nuff said. 

Attachment Parenting is based on the concepts laid out by Dr. Sears. He believes in three basic principals of parenting: Breastfeeding (gasp - extended breastfeeding at that!), co-sleeping and babywearing. That's it. People who follow those behaviors and who believe in attending to the needs of their children first and foremost are Attachment Parents. There's more to it than that and maybe someday I'll write a post further detailing it all but that's the basic gist of it. 

However TIME Magazine jumped on the concept of Attachment Parenting because they sniffed around online and saw that there were a lot of debates involved on the Mommy Message Boards about co-sleeping and breastfeeding and whatever else. They decided to imply that if you don't do these things you aren't "MOM ENOUGH" because they knew that the vast majority of people DON'T parent this way and it would stir the proverbial pot and generate a lot of buzz. 

Well I applaud you TIME for a job well done but I hope you know that Karma is only a Bitch if you are so I'm fully expecting you to get dicked over sometime in the near future. 

There's no such thing as being Mom Enough. There's no Right Way to parent and there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding whether you do it for an extended period of time or not. And just for posterity's sake, there's nothing wrong with NOT breastfeeding either. 

We're all just parents. We all want what's BEST for our kids. We all want them to be healthy and happy and nurtured. We want to raise strong, independent, functioning members of society and we need to build each other up, not tear each other down on our journeys to just survive parenthood and have our children become good people. 

Let's get back to the things that REALLY matter: the violence and drugs on the streets, the poverty in our OWN nation, the fact that school programs are being CUT every single day and that people are being told they AREN'T ALLOWED to marry those that they love. These are REAL issues, guys. Not how long someone lets her child breastfeed. Get a grip and quit being so damn judgmental. No one is perfect but at least we're all doing the best we can.

Friday, May 11, 2012

violence against women for extended breastfeeding? Do something about this.

I am in the middle of composing a blog post in reaction to the Time Magazine article.

However something more pressing has come up and I need to share it here.

This morning I read a post on a locked thread about something that was said on a Morning Radio Show in NY. The morning personality who goes by Coop had quite a lot to say about how HE would treat his wife if she had the audacity to nurse her son for an extended period of time and pose on the cover of Time magazine.

I have posted the original thread below so you can see what was said. Something needs to be done about this, this is the EXACT kind of thing that perpetuates violence and hatred towards women in our society. It is disgusting to me that this was said and that it went out over the airwaves to thousands of people. Here is the post that I read this morning

*PLEASE NOTE: i am not the original poster below. I did not hear the show, I do not live in the area however this needs to be shared in a public forum and I am taking it upon myself to do so here:


"I am so angry I'm shaking right now.

I was driving into work this morning and I had WPDH on the radio during the Coop and Kricket show. They were discussing the mother breastfeeding a 3 year old on the cover of Time Magazine. Coop went into this rant where he called the mother a whore and went on to say:

"What I blame is the husband-or should I say domestic partner since they're in California. But I blame the man. He should keep better control of his woman and get his boy to grow some hair down there. If that wouldn't fly. If that was my wife, they'd find her in a suitcase in my basement."

I'm so filled with shock and anger and rage right now. It goes without saying I won't listen to that station again. I'm going to write a letter and boycott advertisers too.


Follow up on WPDH Rant

In regards to my last post I called the radio station to complain.

I was informed that Coop was a loving husband and father, that he had strong feelings because felt that it was mental abuse, and that "while he might have been a bit too strong" he certainly didn't mean women should be killed for breastfeeding.

I was also told that I was the only one to complain (I hope he was lying) and invited me to call into the show on Monday (Why? Coop already made it clear to me I should be controlled by my husband and deserve to be killed.) Anyway, if you're so inclined...

WPDH (845) 471-1500
2 Pendell Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12602
VP / Market Manager: Aaron Hyland x150"


If you feel that this is unacceptable please let Aaron Hyland know. I have emailed him and received a response that he is looking into it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fun what is it good for (read to the tune of "war! what is it good for?")

by Gretchen Rubin - buy it here

Recently I've been thinking about the concept of Fun and what precisely "having fun" means to me in application in my life. I'm not completely losing it, don't worry, these ponderings have been sparked by the fact that I am reading The Happiness Project and Gretchen Rubin devotes a large portion to exploring the concept of fun and what fun means to her.

Fun. Hmm. What a novel concept! Or is it? Do I have to stop striving to have FUN just because I'm an Official Adult with an Official Mortgage and an Official Car Payment every month (not to mention my very Official Husband and Official Child pulling on my leg 23 out of 24 hours a day)? Does Fun have to get put on the back burner just because I have bathrooms to scrub and laundry piled up or because I legitimately enjoy Real Grown Up Things such as discussions about what the government's social responsibility is towards student loan forgiveness (especially when considered in relationship to the unemployment rate) or things like the role that the media plays in defining adolescent girl's sense of self? Do these hallmarks of adulthood prohibit me from prioritizing the implementation of Fun as an actual priority in my life? Previously I would have maybe shrugged my shoulders and said something like, "well, fun isn't really a top priority, is it?"

But that's hogwash I say! (and just to prove how much I've changed already I used the word "hogwash" which is a fun thing to say, especially in declarative statements as I've used it here)

But what IS Fun anyway? What does it even MEAN?

Gretchen Rubin suggests throwing out all of your otherwise preconceived notions of fun and to just figure out what is actually fun to you. I liked that and I found it interesting to consider what is ACTUALLY fun - not just what I feel that I should enjoy.

I remember when I was younger I went through a similar revelation. I had recently gotten out of a serious long term relationship and I found myself asking, "What do I like to do?" For so many years my free time and interests had been all wrapped up in this guy I had been dating that I hadn't really stopped to wonder if I was doing things that I enjoyed. Turns out, I wasn't.

I started exploring who I was without him. What movies did I like? What music? How did I want to spend my time on the weekends or after work and school?

It was an interesting endeavor to walk down that path of discovering who I was as an independent individual. In fact, that journey was what shaped me into the person I am today. For the first time in my life I was willing to be single and free and to determine what all of that meant.

But now that I am a mother, this whole concept of fun takes on a new meaning for me. I'm back in the thick of it again: being all wrapped up in someone else 24/7 to the point that I've forgotten about myself (at least this time the guy I'm all wrapped up in is my beautiful and perfect son and not some douchebag).

But still, the pattern repeating itself is not lost on me and I've received the message loud and clear: I have to make time for ME again because I'm forgetting who I am and what I like. Turns out, when I have a few free minutes, I don't really wanna turn on Sid the Science Kid or start building a giant pyramid with Duplos. Hard to believe, I know.

I just have found that I spend my days so busy and, really, so obsessed with taking care of other people that I don't even stop to think about what might be fun for me. Fun? I snort at the idea and roll my eyes. Who has time for fun?

Well, the truth is - I do. I must. If I don't remember to make time for fun, there will be no point to life and I will end up feeling resentful and depressed and then I'll be cranky and mean and that's just a no-good combo for any of us. Trust me.

So fun. What do I find to be fun?

I started by doing something that I find Fun that most people probably don't (see? I'm a quick learner): I made a list.

I was surprised by how easy the list came to me. It all just poured forward without much thought and I was excited about that and about all of the ways that I could still have fun. I sat there typing my list on my iPhone in the dark with my son sleeping next to me and I even kind of giggled to myself at the end of it. I've still got it. I can still have Fun.

So here it is, my list of things that I think are Fun. It's still evolving and growing and I'm still not 100% sure that I'm going to even do anything with it but for now, it's exciting to me that I'm even thinking about this and that I even am bothering to stop and wonder how I'm going to integrate My Idea of Fun into my life. This is progress, people. This truly is progress.

oh, and disclaimer: please don't judge me on my list. Some of it is hopelessly self-serving or consumer-obsessed. Just let that part go. What are my ideas of fun:

- Photography: both taking and editing photos
- Reading a good book on the couch for hours
- Taking a bath
- Going to the theater and seeing live plays and performances
- Watching stand up comedy
- Going out with girlfriends and gossiping and laughing while drinking wine
- Zumba I think
- Doing art projects: painting, decorating t-shirts, coloring, making posters, drawing, etc.
- Listening to NPR - specifically Fresh Air with Terri Gross and This American Life
- Writing persuasive arguments and essays
- Reading and editing other people's work
- Public speaking about a topic I know about and am well versed in
- New agey kinds of seminars
- Going to therapy
- Reading self help books
- Blogging and interacting with people online
- Funny websites and memes (lol cats, cakewrecks, autocorrect fail, I waste so much time, hey girl etc.)
- Reading and finding out other people's secrets (post secret etc)
- Looking through family photographs; doesn't even have to be my family
- Singing songs with Henry and playing games with him. Running around the park and just laughing together in general
- Staying within my weight watchers points. It's a game
- Board games (but not monopoly really)
- Card games especially spades
- Walks on the beach
- Long philosophical talks
- Listening to Wayne Dyre and a ton of other spiritual/motivational people
- Going shopping and buying new clothes! best ever
- Getting new electronic things: phones, computers, iPads etc. I love the first few days of using them
- Playing video games. Omg the best.
- Talking on the phone with a good friend
- Exchanging emails with someone
- Battle of Wits with my husband
- Picking out cute outfits for Henry
- Cleaning small objects that dont usually get cleaned.
- Putting on makeup
- Driving a car with the sunroof open while wearing sunglasses
- Getting a new purse. Especially if it's fancy or designer
- Markers. Writing in markers. Especially if they're sharpies.
- Giving gifts, planning gifts, making gifts and wrapping gifts
- Writing meaningful cards for people
- Buying small presents for people for no reason
- Planning big parties and events
- Decorating my house
- Baking and cooking - ESPECIALLY vegan baking
- Making slideshows set to music
- Birth photography
- Watching chick-flicks
- Eating chocolate
- Eating cake
- Going out for a fancy dinner

So there it is. My super-duper long list.

Please share yours with me too. What do YOU like to do for Fun? Do you think you can find some time to make Fun an actual real priority in your life? I hope so! I really do. For me, too.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

let the sun shine, let the sun shine in

Being a mother is amazing for thousands of reasons. One of them is that it reminds me to stop and ENJOY the moments of life. 

The other day my son spent thirty minutes playing in our curtains. The sun was streaming in, it was early in the morning, and he had the greatest time just laughing and running through the sheer curtains. He spun around, he draped them over his head and giggled as he walked forward and the curtain fell from his face. He ducked behind it and peeked out at me, laughing hysterically when I replied with surprise each time I saw his face. 
And it made me stop and think to myself - "wow, how amazing - to me, those curtains are just there. But to him, they're amazing, they're fun, they're catchers of light." And I just want to live life more like that - more like how he does. I want to look at the things I see every day and take JOY in them, to play in my life and to see how the world looks through the filtered light coming through a sheer curtain in my livingroom. 

There are so many lovely things to learn happening all around us all the time. It's just a matter of opening our eyes and being willing to see.

times they are a changin'

I am in the middle of working on a blog redesign as I mentioned before. 

I'm going through a personal transformation at the moment and I want my blog to reflect that. A lot is going on in my life and I truly believe that I have grown quite a bit in the past year-plus. I've come to a realization and that realization is pretty big and pretty important to me: it's time for me to step fully into my life and into my purpose. 

I've known for many years what my purpose is and that I am meant to have a life of service. What that means for me is that it is my job on this Earth, in my own way, to help other people. I have been in contemplation of what this means in application for a long time even though deep down I've always known the answers. The truth is though, the answer of what my life is meant to BE like scares me, it's hard and it involves risk and requires me to get open and honest and in touch with my true self and honestly, all of that is SCARY and difficult. 

Because of all of this I've spent quite a while ignoring my true purpose, my "calling" in this life. I've tried to come up with alternative ideas, tried to bury my head in the sand and do something else. I've tried to just find contentment in other pursuits. Of course I've never been happy though, I've never truly felt like myself - why would I? I've only partially been embracing who I am meant to be. The truth is, and I know this now: we are who we are and eventually our lives will take the shape they are meant to, no matter how much we resist or pretend to be someone else.  Might as well just be honest and get to it right away. That's what I'd go back and tell my earlier self if I could (well, one thing anyway).

I don't know about you, but it's my fundamental belief that life has purpose. Maybe that's obvious and you just shrugged your shoulders like, "duh". Maybe not though, maybe that phrase is lame to you and you think I sound all gimicky and silly saying something like that. I have no idea and it doesn't even matter. Life has purpose and there is MORE to life than just what we see and what we know as fact. That is something I KNOW to be true.

I know it's trendy to be an atheist and to think things like what I just said are stupid. Go ahead and click the 'x' in the tab above if that's how you feel because it's gonna get a lot more new-agey up in here in the future. I know it's eye-roll-worthy to a lot of people to believe in something more - something deeper to this life. I don't care if that's how you feel, though. I am over it. I have spent a lot of my life trying to hide my beliefs and my feelings because I don't want to be judged or mocked and I'm not going to do that anymore. Because I have always known that there is more. 

I don't proclaim to know what that "more" is. Let's be real - I have no idea. But I believe in the energy of it all and that's enough for me. 

Fundamentally it's important to know that life has meaning. Whether that meaning is derived from an omniscient force or whether that meaning is derived solely from ourselves - life has meaning. We can ignore it, pretend there is no meaning, put our heads down and just get through each day ignoring anything larger than ourselves and our tasks at hand but none of those responses can nullify the meaning of life. Life is big and it is more than just ourselves. No one person is truly an island and that fact alone gives each life value. 

So that said, I believe in the value of each life, and I believe in the value of my life and furthermore I believe in the value of YOUR life. Whether you believe in it or not - it's there.  

I am going to follow my heart and become truer to myself. And I'm going to take this blog along for the journey - wherever it may lead.  

I'm not fully ready just yet to divulge all of my big plans but they're coming and I hope you stick around for them.