Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

I just read this blog post over at Abandoning Pretense in which Kristen Mae gives the thumbs down to all those “Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids” lists floating about, and I was like, “Whew! Thank God someone is letting me off the hook.” I’m all for people pursuing positive parenting with patience and aplomb (sorry, got a little carried away with the alliteration there), but never? NEVER?

“Never” reinforces this sort of oops-you-did-this-BUZZ!-now-you’re-a-terrible-parent vibe that I’m basically totally sick of. Like, I’m barfing guilt already, people. Let’s take it easy. Kristen sums up my feelings at the end:

Most of us are working really hard at being the best parents we can be, and we’re doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too. We are good parents.

Yeah. So take that, internet jerks.

That said, there really ARE some things you probably shouldn’t say to your kids. I’ll list them out, in case you’re just about to say any of this. It takes a village, after all.

Word Graphic - Things You Really Shouldn't Say to Your Kids

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids

1. Finish your cocaine or I’ll feed you to my shark.

2. I regret letting the aliens drink your blood every night. Tuesdays? Yes. Every night? Too much.

3. Sometimes I watch you sleeping at night and just cry. Oh, no…not in the good way.

4. Heads up: I’m gonna be real drunk at this parent/teacher conference.

5. Wanna take the cinnamon challenge?

6. Take the cinnamon challenge or I’ll feed you to my shark.

7. Hold this land mine real quick.

8. I wish you were more like your sister, if your sister was like someone else’s kid.

9. Hey! That stove is hot! Ehhh…go ahead. We have insurance.

10. Feed my shark or I’ll feed you to my shark.

If you’re saying any of those things, you probably are a terrible parent. Take your internet shame, you! Take it and like it!

p.s. you’re subscribed to Abandoning Pretense, right? Because you should NEVER tell your kid not to subscribe to Abandoning Pretense.

Admit You’re a Feminist for International Women’s Day

Back in 2012 I realized I am a feminist—albeit with a little hesitation. Claiming to be a feminist, after all, can carry a lot of pressure, and a good deal of judgement. People see feminists as shrill, bossy, angry hordes of women coming to rip men apart with their pointy feminist teeth. Snap!

I am a feminist graphic with empowered fist

So I thought, “I’m not shrill or angry. I don’t want to chew on the souls of men…maybe I’m not a feminist.”

We’re also in a really interesting time in history. It’s like the smelling salts have been snapped, and we’re all getting a jarring new look around. Organizations like Miss Representation, Feminist Frequency, and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media are doing the painstaking work of really inspecting what we see and hear in TV, film, and advertising. Through that process a lot of really normal and accepted stuff is being called out as sexist. Misogyny lurks under so many things we really dig (Blurred Lines, anyone?), and one of the roles of feminism is to really look at our world, and call creepy, sexist BS for what it is. But if you’re in the shower singing Blurred Lines and thinking, “This is my jam!” and then you read about how it’s a bunch of creepy, sexist, BS that normalizes rape, suddenly you feel like a creepy sexist who normalizes rape culture. Hmm…(It’s okay. You probably aren’t.)

Feminism also tackles a whole host of topics, some of which might make you uncomfortable. Like the roles of women (and men) in the workplace. The roles of women (and men) in the home. And reproductive rights, which necessitates the use of the word vagina. (Why is vagina such a scary word, you all? 7th graders say it in health class.)

And that stuff? That makes feminism feel like a club that you’re not in.

But unless you’re the mayor of Crapville, you’re probably a feminist. Here’s a test to find out:

  1. Do you think women are just as important as men?
  2. Do you think it’s wrong and bad for women to be beat, groped, harassed, or raped?
  3. Do you think that babies need parents, and that women and men should be allowed to take time off from work when said babies are born or adopted?
  4. Do you think men can be whatever kind of person they want to be? That they don’t have to be strong, or violent, or void of emotion?
  5. Do you think women can be whatever kind of person they want to be? That they don’t have to be subservient, or demure, or “pretty”?
  6. Do you believe that all people are valuable and we should treat them that way?

Did you answer “yes” to most of those? Well, friend…you’re a feminist.

We’re not going to agree on everything. We feminists—we’re going to have differences and diversity just like anyone else. We’re going to muddle through all of these topics, push back on norms, and bumble around quite a bit. And you’re not going to feel like you’re doing it right.

But you don’t stop being a parent because you don’t know all the answers. You don’t stop voting just because the issues are complicated. You don’t stop shopping until you straighten out your economic theory. You dive in. You work it out. You take it easy on yourself and your fellow humans. You know there’s room to grow.

It is actually important to use the F word

The more people freely say, “I’m a feminist,” the less people will associate feminism with harpy witch women who hate men. The more men say, “I’m a feminist,” the more we can use feminism to improve men’s lives too. (Want to see a man doing some badass work for feminism? Look no further than your favorite Star Trek captain.) The more people throw their weight behind feminism, the faster we’ll progress.

And you know what? We need feminism in a bad way. Click that link and check out aaaaaall those reasons.

I promise once women get equal pay, I won’t care if you call yourself a feminist or not. When women and girls stop getting raped, then executed for it, I’ll leave you alone. When girls don’t get shot in the head for wanting education, when parenthood and earning a living can co-exist, when johns are prosecuted more than the underage prostitutes they rape, when women earn the same pay for the same work—WHEN I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE A LIST OF THIS CRAPPY STUFF, we can abandon the word feminist on the side of the road. It will have served it’s purpose. Until then—and it’s gonna be a while—pretty pretty please use that F word.

So, congratulations! You’re a feminist!

Go celebrate International Women’s Day by claiming feminism as your own. Tell your friends and family to join in on the fun. Let’s make a ruckus and do some good work. I’ll raise a fist in the air for you.

I’m Getting Over a Brold

sad

Image by Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Depression is stupid.

And it has a weird rep that makes already crap-feeling people feel more isolated and alienated. Which is dumb.

So, I have an idea. Depression needs to be a thing that you can say you have without any sort of weirdness attached to it. Like when you have a cold, no body gives you that weird I-hope-I-don’t-send-you-over-the-edge-with-my-response-to-you vibe when you mention that you need to stay in that night. Because a cold is a cold. It’s a thing that a lot of people deal with, and it sucks, and you work through it. And depression is not entirely unlike that. It’s a cold for your brain.

Thus, periodic bouts of depression will henceforth be known as brolds.

Next time you’re feeling crappy and you had a dinner date planned but really you can’t do anything other than cry and watch old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy—no big deal. Text your pals that you came down with a nasty brold and you’ll catch up with them next time. Or if you have a mound of work to do, but depression is sucking the gumption straight out of your head, send an email to HR explaining you’ll need a sick day or two as you deal with your brold.

Once the idea catches on, we’ll see over-the-counter brold treatments popping up all over the place. They’ll mostly contain caffeine pills and pictures of baby animals. It’s not meant to be a cure, just a little something to help you weather it.

The truth is sometimes brolds just come; there’s nothing you did to get in it, and not much you can do to get out of it other than wait with a cup of coffee and an internet full of baby ducks. But sometimes you need go see a doctor and get some more serious meds. But either way, it’s just a brold. Don’t freak out, people. It’s just a brold.

So there’s my idea, you all. I’m full of them. Got another problem that needs to be solved? Send it my way. Though it might take me a bit to get to it—I’m getting over a brold.

Oh, also…go watch this TED talk by Kevin Breel for some more awesome thoughts about normalizing depression.

The Parent Olympics Storified (& Stanley Broke the Internet)

First things first; The Parent Olympics were awesome. I think most of you were out having Pho and planning your gubernatorial campaigns, so live viewing was a touch on the skim side. Not to worry though, folks; I storified it. Now that you have a full belly and a clear campaign strategy, hop over to Storify.com and check it out.

ParentOlympicsStorifiedScreenCap

My favorite moment? This one:

FavoritePOMoment

Plus all of this awesome stuff:

Seriously, go see the whole shebang. Good times. Jerrod was an amazing co-host, and made the event that much better. Really that’s a compliment for me—I make awesome decisions. High five, me.

Less awesome were the antics of Stanley, the horribly obnoxious internet drunk. Oh, Stanley, I could just punch you in the mouth.

See, what happened readers—and you may have noticed this last night—is that Stanley hopped on my computer while I was participating in my own Parent Olympics. And wow—can that dumb guy screw stuff up. In the process of posting and unposting the Storify version, posts were pushed to the blog, and then pushed to Facebook, AND Twitter, AND LinkedIn, AND (I assume) Barack Obama got copies of them. Because the internet is tricky, drunken Stanley published a couple of posts with just a link, some with some jibberish-looking code, and one with a selfie of him after he abandoned his pants. (Gross, Stanley.)

The lesson? Don’t let a drunk/angry/possibly imaginary old man get his hands on the internet. You know he’s just gonna break it.

So sorry for that, you all. Stanley is terrible and we should ALL punch him in the mouth. I may have bore the tiniest bit of responsibility in the whole debacle, so please accept my apologies as well. But mostly let’s get really angry at Stanley.

p.s. When I was all stressed about the social media cacophony emanating from my blog, I did what any reasonable person would do: watched internet videos of cats. It was almost worth the stress and frustration to come across these gems. (ht Cute Overload)

The Parent Olympics

Two weeks ago the winter Olympics opened with great fanfare, and athletes from all over the globe gathered to have their skills tested and their hard work put on display. They squinted their eyes as their grit and determination pushed them toward medal podium. They held their breath, wondering if it was worth sacrificing so much for the love of the games.

Simultaneously, another Olympics carried on, the opening ceremonies for which are held daily as tiny feet march down the hall, ready to break even the strongest competitor. The competitions are held in living rooms, bedrooms, family vans, and playgrounds. These games have no end, and no real winner—only survivors. They are…

The Parent Olympics

Tonight at 5 PST/7 Central, Jerrod from Never Had One Lesson (@jerrodkc) and I (@HelloMelanieC) will bring you live coverage of the games on Twitter. So stay tuned for such events as:

• The Bedtime Sneak-and-Crawl

• The Get Anywhere on Time, and

• The 30-minute Clean Shirt Event

Are you a parent warming up for your next event? A relative watching a brutal tumble? An innocent bystander now covered in ice cream after a mini mall meltdown? Join us: #ParentOlympics

See you in the arena.

background image in graphic by John Keogn via Flickr licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Good Morning, Snuggles

I have about eight—drat, no, seven—minutes to pound this out. Seven minutes to cobble some words together and jam them onto this screen here, and hope they make some kind of sense. Tick tock. No pressure.

It’s been a while. Things in my life are basically freaking bananas all the time. I had another kid last year, (hence the pregnancy post) and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t just suck all time and energy right out of your life. I mean, sucking like a vacuum in a cartoon where all the forest animals and leaves and pine needles and newspapers and old people get sucked into it. Like that.

When this new lil’ babe was born, beneath the torrential avalanche of need, I extended myself a little rope, tied to the boat of sanity. That rope was this: you can’t do much more than this, Melanie. You just can’t. You’ve got two people that need you all the freaking time, the idea of “me time” is laughable, and parenting is about as easy as threading a needle with an invisible worm. So to make it I had to let go of my dream to-do list, and pare it down to something simpler. It turned out about like this:

• Get out of bed

• Survive 10 hours until Stephen comes home

• Do not slap strangers as a result of exhaustion and anxiety

• Hug the girls really and truly at least once a day

• Don’t stress-eat all the food in San Diego

It’s a pretty limited list, but I know it’s within my capabilities, though just barely.

(Crap, I’m out of time, you all.)

So, good morning, Snuggles. I’m still here and alive and I still want to write and I want to hug your blessed little faces with my thought pukes. Even if it’s only seven minutes at a time.

Five and a Half Tips for Surviving Your New Baby

So you’re having a baby! Huzzah! Soon you will have the minor task of being solely responsible for the health and well-being of an entirely helpless, dependent human. Don’t freak! I’ve got five and a half top-shelf tips to get you on your way. Like so:

Clean That Thing Off

If you’ve grown your baby in your very own uterus, have someone clean it off before they thrust it on you for the first time. Newly minted babies are gross (truth), and your affection for them is what keeps you from abandoning them in the forest like a spooked mama fox. Don’t let your first remark about your little rascal be, “Ick.” Give yourself the upper hand and have someone give that kid a good once-over with a towel.

The Puke Luge™

Baby Puke on the Couch

The night before this happened we were like, “Hey, should we scotch guard the couch?” and then we were like, “Nah, that’s a lot of work and the can says we’ll probably blow up our house.” Then I didn’t use the Puke Luge™.

Babies like to puke up a lot of the food you so carefully funnel into their little gullets. Prime targets for said puke are the third shirt you’ve put on that day, and your newly cleaned couch.

To avoid both scenarios, use my patented 2-step Puke Luge™ solution. First, don’t burp the baby over your shoulder rather, hold the baby upright on your lap, holding a burp cloth beneath her little chinny-chin-chin (fig. A). Then, place the other end of the burp cloth on a pillow next to you (fig. B). This creates the luge track on which your baby’s puke will be safely corralled, shirts and furniture left unsoiled.Puke Luge

The Baby Straightjacket

Babies like to claw the crap out of their faces, making you look like the Freddy Kruger of parents. Not great. Your options for resolving this are: those baby mittens that stay on for roughly the amount of time it takes a mouse to sneeze; cutting your baby’s nails, which will definitely result in lopping off some of your baby’s finger; or the baby straightjacket (also known as swaddling).

The baby straightjacket is the clear winner, in my opinion. If you can get a nurse to teach you, that’s best (those people do not mess), if not, the Mayo Clinic has some pretty pictures to show you.

Hold on to Those Maternity Clothes

Again, if your baby is grown in your very own body, immediately following birth you’ll be like, “Ohmigosh I’m so skinny!” Then you’ll see a mirror and you’ll be like, “Sixth month of pregnancy redux? What the heck?”

Yes, that’s the dill, Pickle. You’re just gonna have to be okay with it.

If It Seems Weird, Maybe it IS Weird

Babies do all kinds of weird crap, but some of it is normal weird, and some is weird weird. As a new parent, you totally won’t know the difference. (Awesome!)

If something seems weird, check it out. Don’t worry about seeming like an ignorant, overprotective wacko of a parent. You probably are, but don’t worry about it. Most doctor’s offices have a nurse that you can talk to on the phone before racing to the emergency room. Also, Google is pretty good at giving you a little pre-info.

Embracing the I-don’t-know-but-it-seems-weird mantra probably saved my kid’s life, so I’m a fan. (All the credit for that goes to my husband. He’s a better person than I am. (Why am I left alone with the kids again?))

Sub-point: Watch out for Internet Weirdos

Google is great for doing a quick WTF check on lots of stuff. The Mayo Clinic and WebMD are pretty solid resources. However, the internet is chock-full of weirdos because there’s no test you have to pass to spew opinions all over our shared info web. So when you search for “gassy baby,” you’ll inevitably find the person that says, “I gave my baby an enema with a straw and a diet coke.” No thanks, moonbeamdaddy43. We’re gonna pass on that.

Have I left something unaddressed? Well ask away! I’m an internet weirdo with an entire website all to myself, so clearly I’m qualified.

Jerry Finds a Lady; I’m Not So Sheepish After All

Remember last year when I was all, “Jerry Seinfeld thinks only people with penises are funny and that kinda makes me torqued and I think maybe I’m a feminist but I’m not sure because I don’t know what that means exactly“? Well…it’s time for an update.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee - Season 2, Ep 1

Season 2 of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee launches today and—lo and behold—Jerry found a lady comedian. (Sarah Silverman to be precise.) Was that so hard, Jerry?

I mean sure, it took you a whole season of dudes before you were able to search the world for ONE female comedian, but hey, one is better than none I suppose. It’s a teeny bit disappointing that, by the looks of the trailer, Ms. Silverman is the sole female comedian of the season (gack!), but I guess I’ll try to let it slide. We can be friends again. I know you’ve missed me.

And I have to admit, a lot of good has come for me out of Seinfeld’s missteps. It was his omission of the female gender that got me thinking about what’s important to me, and what it means for women to be underrepresented in basically ALL OF THE THINGS. It got me thinking about what kind of world I want my daughters to live in. It got me thinking about what I’m willing to fight for. It got me feeling that maybe I’ll take on the label of “feminist,” with whatever judgements and assumptions it might come with.

Because you know what? It sucks that women are being raped in alarming numbers in our military. It sucks that Disney feels the need to give strong female characters big boobs, small waists and perfect hair. It sucks that we pigeonhole the crap out of kids when it comes to their toys. It sucks that some people are totally on board with domestic violence. (WTH, people?!)

I think about all that stuff and it makes it a lot easier to toss aside the sheepishness and use my voice, however small, to make the world a tiny bit less puketastic. It’s a good use of time. If I wasn’t doing feminist things I’d probably just be playing online poker or eating too many cookies, so no big deal.

So that’s where I’m at now. I figured it’s only fair to let Jerry know that I see and appreciate his efforts. And I want to let you know, dear readers, that I’m a feminist for good. A miserably pregnant, sassy, loud-mouthed feminist. So, you know, watch out for that.

And what are YOU up to? Let’s all catch up in the comments, k?

Some People PAY to Raise Children. I Know. It’s Crazy.

Meet our great friends Amy and Paul Reams.

Amy and Paul Reams, their daughter Lucy, and a spot for their soon-to-be adopted kiddo

The Family Reams. Too cute.

Aren’t they the cutest? Like a tiny, furry, baby puppy, I tell you. They’re also talented, and friendly, and a thousand times more thoughtful than I am on my best day. And cute. Did I mention cute? Look at this.

Amy and Paul Reams, tired people working on their adoption

Yeesh. But you can’t hate them for being A+ people. The world needs A+ people. Not everyone can be as delightfully sour and wrinkled of brow as I am—the world needs balance. So for every puckery wiseguy like me, there’s an Amy or Paul to keep the wheels of the universe greased. It’s a magical thing.

And people like Amy and Paul, while also being wonderful and funny and radiant, do other stuff to make the world better. Like paying a crap ton of money to be scrutinized to death so they can get a kid that will eventually, most likely, smack them in the face. Or puke on them. Or whatever crazy thing the kid is going to do. Because ALL kids are crazy, no matter what.

That’s right, people like Amy and Paul adopt.

It’s a bit of a foreign thought to me that people are like, “Sure! I’ll pay twenty grand or so to be judged relentlessly by your adoption agency so I can let a tiny tyrant drive me batty for the foreseeable future.” What the what? And some people say, “Oh, and make sure I get one with Down Syndrome.” Or who’s HIV positive. Or someone whose bio parents abused them and they need help keeping the pieces together.

Any one of those scenarios—even sans-Down Syndrome or HIV or parental abuse—is mildly terrifying to me. So, to pay money for that makes me feel a little panicky/pukey. But not so for the Reams’. In fact, I have quite a few very good friends who have done this same thing. Quite a few! Isn’t that insane?! (Please don’t clue them in to the fact that I’m a queasy scaredy cat. It’s nice having such amazing friends. Don’t mess it up for me, okay?)

So, because the Reams’ are the good kind of crazy, and they want to pay that crap ton of money for another ride on the parenting tilt-o-whirl, Stephen and I are gonna help them out. And I’m gonna invite you to do the same thing. Because it’s fun! And you get to support good crazy people without actually having to be one yourself. (Sooo up my alley.) Plus, one of the ways you can help is just buying coffee, which you were probably going to do anyway, right? You’re out of excuses. Click these links below and go bananas.

Learn about Amy and Paul’s adoption journey

Their blog is fun and witty and totally well written. If you’ve never known anyone that is going through the adoption process, it’s a totally fascinating window into what it’s like. It’ll give you a whole new appreciation for adoptive families. They have a PayPal donation link on the side if you’re the PayPal type.

Buy Coffee, Give the Reams’ Some Bucks

Just Love Coffee is a cool organization that sells coffee, and donates money from each sale to families that are trying to adopt while also providing a living wage for women in developing countries. Pretty nice. Paul and Amy also have someone matching all donations from Just Love Coffee, so for each bag of coffee you buy from their link, they’ll get $10. Awesomesauce.

(UPDATE: Perfect timing: In honor of Memorial Day, Just Love Coffee is giving 10% off orders through May 27th. Use MEM10 during checkout.)

Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to the Reams’ through Lifesong

Use account number 3711 and “Reams Family” on the donation form.

Stephen and I are so honored to have Amy, Paul and their daughter Lucy in our lives, and we can’t wait to meet their new addition when he gets here. If you can help them out, that would be super rad and you’d earn 1000 awesome points from me. Come on. You know you want those awesome points. Get a-goin’. High fives.

Happy Motherhood Survival Day!

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Sorry this cute little thing will smack you in the face one day. Next round's on me.

I just got hit in the face. Hard. Happy Mother’s Day?

Okay, so it’s technically the day before Mother’s Day and I’m being a bit dramatic. But I got hit in the face by my kid real hard, so I kinda think I get a pass.

Now I need to say this: by all accounts, my daughter is a kind, thoughtful, well-behaved child. She’s smart and funny and awesome. I say that not to brag about my kid, but rather just to point out that the best case scenario as a parent is that your kid will be kind, thoughtful, and well-behaved before and after she smacks you in the face.

That’s just parenting. That’s the gig. It’s some kind of insane, child-rearing blood sport. Lord help us.

So let’s buy dumb crap and alienate people!

I read this Salon article by Anne Lamott the other day called, “Why I hate Mother’s Day.” And while I usually just smile too much, nod, and hug my computer screen when I read her work, I sadly have to disagree with this one—at least a little.*

I think Mother’s Day can be kind of stupid and obligatory, but only because we’ve framed it wrong. Mother’s Day isn’t about claiming that mothers are better than other people, or somehow more valuable. They’re not. There are zero requirements to becoming a mother. Stupid people become mothers all the time. Big deal.

I don’t think you somehow become more of a person when you become a mother. Your value is there from day 1. You’re valuable just because, and there’s no amount of marrying or procreation or anything else makes you more legitimate as a person. So we can stop mother worship as a holiday. It creeps me out.

But I kinda need Mother’s Day, okay?

I don’t need pink cards, or flowers, or certainly one of those swoopy necklaces or whatever. It’s not about that to me. You know what it’s about? Survival. I need a day when people that are important to me say, “Hey, I see you over there, and I know you’re just barely making it. Good job and I’m sorry and here’s a beer.”

It should be called “Motherhood Survival Day,” where all mothers are acknowledged not for doing it all right, or being magically worth treasuring, but just for making it through another year. Just for making it through an unending torrent of questions and comments about your daily activities, objections to whatever plans you’ve laid, several-times-daily accidental injuries to your person or property, unbridled emotions and—yes—the occasional southpaw smack to the face.

I come into and out of too many days feeling battered and bruised, not knowing if I can stitch together enough scraps of my remaining sanity to hold myself together. And I’m guessing a lot of mothers feel that way, too.

I’m sorry. I see you. Hang in there.

So, following last year’s tradition, I’ve whipped up a few Mother’s Day greetings for you to use if you wanna keep it real this year. Send and receive them with high fives and snuggles from me, okay? Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Let's call it a win that you haven't pulled out all your hair yet.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, You're makin' exhausted desperation look goooood.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Thanks for not abandoning me, even though I'm being a little a-hole.

*it should be noted that I love Anne Lamott to freaking bits and if you haven’t read her work you absolutely should. Bird by Bird is an all-time fav of mine (thanks Matt!). Go check her out.

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