Thursday, August 16, 2012

You're a Hooker, I'm a Slut and We're All Drug Addicts

Welcome to the end of the world and it's all women's fault. Moms are staying out late, going out with other moms to have drinks. Our magical lady parts that have the power to control men's thoughts (or so I'm told) are to blame. Instead of being at home, cleaning something, we are out of the house, dressed nicely and drinking alcoholic drinks. After bedtime! On a school night! What is our country coming to?
The 40-Year-Old Reversion by Amy Sohn,
But according to one writer, some mothers in a New York suburb are taking this one step further and ruining it for everyone else. Amy Sohn, a writer looking for publicity for her new book, wrote a titillating article about her adult social activities, written as though it was no big deal:
"Once a month I get together with half a dozen moms from Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. We call ourselves Hookers, Sluts and Drug Addicts."
“Why do moms in my generation regress, whether by drugging, cheating, or going out too late and too often? Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care… In flux, jaded by parenthood, confused about work and life, mothers are bored. So we rebel, just like bored adolescents—except adolescents, at least, can say they are acting their age.”
Is this not what they signed up for, with marriage and parenthood? Am I supposed to believe that they have no control over their lives? I call BS - forgive me if I don't understand the controversy over this piece. Because this article (and the response written on is just another excuse to exploit women.
(Full disclosure: I'm a mother of 2 children under 10, married for 9 years to the same guy; we live in the suburbs of a large city and I have a full-time job.)
I don't understand  because, whether or not the "article" by Ms. Sohn is based in fact, it reads like the first draft of a pilot TV episode. It would be called "Bored Parents of the New Millennium.” No topic would remain untouched - wives cheating on husbands because they feel unappreciated, husbands soliciting women online because their wives are too tired for sex. Everyone going to the neighborhood block party - while the teenagers try to hide behind someone's house and make out, the adults are in the neighbor's driveway, smoking pot and thinking about switching spouses for the night. Maybe their teenage daughter can have the same pot dealer - it’s her teacher! It’s so wacky but so - real!
Notice an important part: while the article is called "The 40-Year Reversion", its focus is on the mothers in the article, despite the presence of more than a handful of jaded dads. Why are we shaking our fingers at the moms and just barely noticing the dads behaving badly? Women are scolded for “trying to act like men” but the guys are just relegated to being ignored for “acting like cavemen.” Oh, but that’s what men do. It’s a miracle when a man acts like a decent guy and a moral travesty when a woman isn’t a saint.
Moms gone wild: '40-year-old reversion' By Shanon Cook, CNN, Sat July 28, 2012
The response article on by Shanon Cook was fairly level-headed. While speculating whether or not Ms. Sohn's article was fact or fiction, she agreed to disagree with the stance that "all parents" are just like this. Everyone is looking for an escape from their unhappy marriage, nonstop parenting schedule and dirty dishes? Not so much. But for those that are unhappy, this behavior is nothing new. Shocking - people have been making poor choices since Adam and Eve. Cook makes the reasonable case that you can be in a committed relationship, be a responsible parent and still be yourself.
Being yourself means you still need time to do your own things - to write, to see friends, to see a band, to run 5ks, whatever you like to do. Yes, marriage and kids are a responsibility - there is more selflessness required than selfishness allowed. They go hand-in-hand. But that doesn't mean you can't still be who you are. If you're chained to the grindstone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Mommy mode, I would entirely expect that you to be desperate for something, anything that gives you a release.
Again, this article zeroes in on the moms - "Moms Gone Wild", it's called. Not "Parents Gone Wild." It’s again a given that the dads could act this way, but it’s against everything that mothers are supposed to be - innocent, incorruptible teachers and caregivers of our children. Being a parent isn’t “really” Dad’s job – it’s primarily Mom’s. Dads of the world, you should be offended by this article just as much as the moms.
But the people described in the "article" written by Ms. Sohn come across as simply impulse driven. I would wonder why Ms. Sohn would choose to hang out with them (if they exist), but considering she is likely making money off their caricatures, maybe she thinks they have a lot in common. Every time I go back to read, they fade more and more, because they seem so fake. In that little world, all of their actions seem reasonable because no common sense exists there. Or maybe we should consider occam's razor – (from Wikipedia) “other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one” – that these people just don’t like their kids, their spouses or themselves (yea, I went there). If that’s true, I’ve got to say – that makes me really sad.
I love my children - they are sweet and quirky. My son cuddles a mechanical train next to his stuffed dog at bedtime. My daughter writes letters to a fairy she believes lives in our backyard. I don't just love them, I like them. My husband and I, we drive them to school, we watch them spar or practice weapons (Yes, weapons!) at martial arts class. We spend time together as a family; we go out to dinner with other families, we have play dates with friends; we play board games together. We work on homework together and I still read to them before bed (and I write the fairy letters to my daughter).
I also like going on dates with my husband alone or we go out to see a band with friends while the kids spend the night at Grandma's. Or my husband and I take turns - I go out with friends to a movie and drinks while he stays in one night. Another night, my husband goes out to see one of his best friends play guitar at a club and the kids and I are having pizza night at home. He has to have a life, too.
Bottom line: We are far from perfect. But I love my children and my husband; they always come first. But I am also still me - I am allowed to have my own pursuits. Having a life makes me a better mother and wife. I am giving my kids, especially my daughter, a great example - how to be a functional adult woman who can choose to be who she wants, who doesn't need drugs, sex with strangers or any other shocking jolts of stimulation to get through the day. I don't need an impulse thrill because I'm happy. And that scares the shit out of the unhappy people.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Glen Arbor, MI, from the article Sand, Salt and Summer -
I love summer. The weather, the sun, being outside with friends. My summers are a lot different now than they've ever been - in some ways better and others not so much. Working an 8 hour job, for instance, cuts into my beach time. But I've also been able to take my kids to the ocean since they were young and watch the delight they have in the waves. No matter what, it's still summer.
Tom grew up going to the Outer Banks in North Carolina every summer - though he would be quick to say, not just GOING to the OBX. But staying OCEANFRONT. House - yard - beach. Sometimes his family would share a house with another family or Tom would bring a friend. But it was very laidback - they made meals in the house (no constant restaurant meals), there was no TV and there were always card games.
Trips to the beach were different when I was growing up. We lived in Michigan and going to the beach was driving to Lake Michigan. It's not a dinky little pond either - you can't see across the lake from the beach, it's so big. The water is fresh and its a bit warmer in August - but there are definitely no ocean-size waves. I still loved it. We would swim, build sandcastles, take tubing trips on boats and go fishing. I can remember scaling fish when I was younger in my pajamas and watching my dad gut it with a long knife.
There were other lakes we could go to - but that was "going to the lake", not "the beach". The only other lake that was almost up to par with Lake Michigan was Gull Lake, about half an hour away from my house. It was where the swanky people had summer houses or belonged to the country club, so they could have their boat stored there. My grandparents belonged - several times during the summer, we would have Sunday brunch at the club (best meals growing up!) and then stay the afternoon to swim and picnic on the grass. The water in that lake was (and still is), so clear, so clean, you could bottle it and sell it next to Deer Park at the store.
Tom also grew up belonging to the local pool, so he was in the water all the time. My family did not - we were connoisseurs of the sprinkler, water balloon fights and the local creek. Everyone had a bike to ride wherever they wanted, which was usually to the little league grounds and elementary playground to play games. Pick up baseball games and home run derby - hide and seek or tag around the playground - bike races around the circular parking lot. We would ride afterward to the Dairy Queen for ice cream cones or sundaes - turn in cans for the 10 cent return and hit the penny candy aisle - have lunch at the Root Beer Stand with huge mugs of root beer and cheese dogs.
Walkway to the Beach
Outer Banks, NC
My summers are different now, being married and a mother and a (gulp) grownup. But I'm grateful that Tom and I have been able to kind of merge them with the summers of our childhoods. We go to the Outer Banks every summer - sometimes with another family and sometimes just us. This has been a wonderful new ritual for me - the ocean is so much more extreme than Lake Michigan - and I love sharing the new experiences with our kids. It even makes jaded beach goer Tom seem younger. We plan our own crab feast with food from the local seafood deli and have lunch at Kill Devil's - the Outer Banks' answer to my Root Beer stand. Greasy burgers and fries, crazy chili dogs and the best ice cream on the beach.
We try to visit Michigan as much as possible - I still have yet to take the kids to Lake Michigan. I hope they will enjoy it as much as I did when I was a kid. But since they've regularly been to the ocean since they were infants, it might not be that impressive. We belong to our local pool, just up the road from the pool Tom belonged to as a kid. Both Belle and Baz have been on the swim team and this past summer, Belle was on the dive team for the first time. There are family dinners, outdoor movie nights and campouts - family games and races on July 4th, Memorial and Labor Day. You can always count on at least one other family to barbecue with on a lazy Sunday at the pool.
Our local pool dubbed "The Country Club"
I drive my family crazy with the pictures - I have almost no pictures of my childhood anymore, so anything I can take a photo of is precious to me. Pictures of the kids playing in the waves, burying Tom in the sand, building sand castles, diving off the diving board, eating ice cream with most of it on their faces, swimming in a swim meet, jumping in the deep end hand-in-hand with their friends, sleeping peacefully after a long day playing. Pictures of Tom and his mother, Mary, playing cards, cooking our crab feast or barbecuing burgers - pictures of Tom in the water with the kids or of him boogie-boarding in the waves like a big kid, or just sleeping on a beach blanket in the sand.
These are summer experiences I always wanted to have with my parents and sister growing up. For all these different reasons, we just didn't get to have them. But I still adore summer and I cherish the memories I have of my summers growing up in Michigan. Most of all, I love the summers now and the opportunities I have for all these new memories with my family now and in the future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The 2012 Olympics or a Meditation on How Inflexible I Am


If you own a tv, read a newspaper or have access to a computer, then you’ll have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now. Yay, pride for your country. Yay, look at all the hot bodies – whoops. Yay, nationalism! (drooooool, swimmers and gymnasts). Go USA! (don’t think inappropriate thoughts about people younger than you! *smack*)

I love watching the different events, especially with my kids. We talk about the different things the athletes might do to prepare. Baz and Belle wonder if they can learn to do any of the gymnastics moves in their martial arts classes (they can both do the splits already). We cheer on the swimmers(no matter that the race happened a good six hours ago). The kids want me to try doing the splits. Yikes, look how out of shape I am. This is in no way attractive.

I have always been a fairly active person. I grew up in a neighborhood full of boys and my mother ran a day care out of our house – nice, quiet moments to myself were hard to find when I was younger. I didn’t care – it was great. It’s a childhood setting I wish for my own kids. We lived in a small but expansive neighborhood where I could ride my bike all over without worry – no one offered me candy to get into a van. I walked to school from kindergarten to senior year – not once kidnapped. I played sports all throughout middle and high school and continued to take gym class – never propositioned by a coach. I worked out in the school’s weight room with the other boys and random girls who also liked to exercise – never asked out by a lesbian. It’s a world only a Republican can dream of – except with multi-national people. Whoops.

Then I graduated high school and started college, moved out on my own and started really working (and really drinking/partying). Full-time job with full-time college hours, late nights studying and hanging out with friends completely took away any exercise time. I eventually moved away and while adjusting to a new city, I was working two jobs and taking a half schedule of classes. Marriage and kids and work and before I know it, not only have I not exercised on a regular basis for a good ten years, I have the forty pounds or so to prove it. Not to mention a false feeling of thinking my body is still 18. Yea, it’s not.

Funny story – when my daughter was 9 months old, I was invited to play a game on my company softball team. I was so excited – I grabbed all of my equipment that I’d kept and laced up my cleats. I felt fine during a light practice and warming up, but on my first at-bat, I pulled a muscle running to first. In my mind, I was shocked. “F*ck, I’m old,” I thought to myself. Well, oldER anyway. Out of shape as well.

The Olympics have been like a wonderful daydream. Watching all of these awesome athletes push their bodies to the limit doing something they love. They make it look so easy, I can just imagine doing it myself. It takes me away from the realism of how I can hardly swim one lap in a competition-size pool or how I mostly walked my first 5K. Ah, reality. The bitter slap in the face we all need sometimes.

Best of all, the Olympics can be motivating, too. Where are my running shoes? This fatty’s on the move.