Monday, April 30, 2007
Boston Mommy Blog: What prompted you to start writing essays about your two children, Poppy and London?
Robert Wilder, author of Daddy Needs a Drink: I’d been a writer and teacher for fifteen years here in New Mexico but I mostly wrote fiction. As I watched my kids grow, I saw dramatic things happen to them and me both internally and externally so I started jotting them down in my notebook. I thought that the stories I wrote would be for them when they grew up or maybe my dad but as I shared them with friends, I saw that others enjoyed them as much as I did or they were just being nice or drunk (or both).
Boston Mommy: You’re really honest about your parenting here. You wrote about your truly awful – though hilarious — experiences dressing up in costumes to please your children (as well as using said costumes to exact comedic revenge against a former pain in the neck student of yours). You dedicated a whole chapter to your son’s use of a colorful word and another on how you used to subject friends and family to your daughter’s singing and dancing routines. Were you ever concerned that people would criticize you or your choice of topics?
Wilder: I think if you choose to write about anything — lost love in Lapland or bodily fluids in Boise — you open yourself up to criticism. Part of being a writer is taking that risk so I suppose I was ready in a sense. My goal in writing the book was to try to accurately represent all the emotions (good, bad, and ugly) that go into being a parent. I think being a parent of young kids and a teacher of teenagers prepared fairly well more since I’m used to some sort of criticism on a daily basis. Mostly it’s about my haircut or bad fashion sense but my skin is pretty thick (and smooth because I just shaved).
Boston Mommy: Your chapter on traveling solo on an airplane with your children prompted this question: Do you think that fathers get more or less slack than moms when it comes to this parenting business? Why?
Wilder: I think we are attracted to the exotic. There are far more moms than dads out there being roadies for their kids so people notice more. We don’t gasp when we see a hamburger on a menu but we would if we saw braised horsemeat. I’m not saying that dads don’t work hard at being decent parents (I’m also not equating dads with horsemeat), but sometimes moms don’t get the respect they deserve because we’re accustomed to them in that role. That being said, I also think dads don’t get respect for things they do well like providing, barbecuing, and purchasing large flat panel televisions.
Boston Mommy: You were brutally funny about a friend’s pair of boys Mark and Mikey, one of whom you likened to a mini Telly Savalas. You spun tales of these two terrorizing other children, pooping on a slide in the middle of a backyard birthday party, running down kids with a motorized kid car and ransacking a sacred burial ground during a family vacation. Are their parents now your former friends, or did they find your pieces entertaining? Or do they not know about those essays?
Wilder: The family in that story are still our friends, and they see those tales as comic representations of that time in all of our lives. Let’s face it: some kids are wild enough to eat glass but that doesn’t mean they’re bad kids. My brother and I sent each other to the hospital more than once, and we’re both fairly decent citizens. I think a lot of parents look at their life and parenting as a work-in-progress and that’s okay. We’re all trying to do our best.
Boston Mommy: There was a dust-up earlier this year over a pair of “Today Show” segments about “cocktail playdates,” the name the news producers gave to gatherings where parents have an adult beverage while their children play. Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of "Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay," and Suburban Bliss blogger Melissa Summers were criticized for going on national television and admitting to imbibing alcohol in front of their children and while taking care of their children. Aside from the title, your book features a cocktail with a teddy bear stirrer and refers to beer as “12 ounces of liquid Prozac.”
What’s your take on the “Today Show” flap over parents and drinking? Do you think this was a tempest in a teapot?
Wilder: Even though we’re not related, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor represented Wilders well by looking great on television and making a funny joke that cracked the studio up. I think the whole issue is to be an adult about any of those issues whether it’s drinking around kids or letting your toddlers watch The Wiggles until their eyes glaze over. If you’re at home and not driving, it’s fine to have a beer outside with your kids as they play “Bratz in da White House” and you watch the sunset with your friends. Parents are under enough pressure without someone saying they can’t have a glass of wine around children. Does anyone tell dads not to dress up like football players on Sundays or use power tools around the kiddies? Hell no!
Boston Mommy: Anything else you wanted to mention?
Wilder: People can check out the “news” section of www.robertwilder.com for more information on my “Daddy Needs Your Stories” Father’s Day contest or read the new ridiculous reading guide I wrote for the paperback version of Daddy Needs a Drink. Cheers!
Friday, April 27, 2007
Wanna cast a vote in this “hot” blogger silliness? Go here.
Item #1: Nurse-Out at iParty (Like a Peace-Out, Only With Lactation)
Nursing moms and the folks at a Massachusetts branch of iParty have reached an armistice of sorts. Lactivists were planning on staging a nurse-in at the South Weymouth, Massachusetts iParty after a mother was recently harassed for discreetly breastfeeding her 2-month-old while sitting in an aisle. But the iParty people were so publicly supportive of breastfeeding, that the lactivists are now planning a “nurse-out” to celebrate the fact that iParty now embraces nursing.
Meanwhile, Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan said that she’s had enough of moms being harangued for breastfeeding in public.
Item #2: Will Farrell Encouraging a Toddler’s Potty Mouth
This Will Ferrell video (go here for the video), featuring a toddler spewing swear words and toting a bottle of beer, is funnier than it should be. (Warning, don’t play at work . . . or with kids around.) At first, I was appalled, but by the end, I was sending the links to my friends. One question that nagged at me though: Do you think a female comedian could’ve gotten away with this without being called a bad mother? (Thanks DadCentric for the link!)
Item #3: The Glee Club
My brother and mother now have more reasons to throw overripe tomatoes at my head at the next family gathering. I’ve got a new column in the May issue of Parents and Kids that addresses how sickly happy I became when my brother became plagued with the same insane kid-related problems with which I’ve coped for nearly nine years. Oh, and that I’m probably going to hell for my glee.
Item #4: The Pregnancy Storyline on “Lost” Creeps Me Out
Any “Lost” fans in the house? I don’t know about you guys, but the new storyline on “Lost” — that women who get pregnant while on the mysterious island all die — troubles me. And I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reason why it bothers me. It just does, particularly because there’s now a fertility expert among our beloved castaways who’s almost certainly up to no good.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
This time, the culprit was a manager at an iParty in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. While shopping for supplies for her daughter’s 4th birthday party, the mom of a squalling newborn decided to discreetly breastfeed her baby while sitting on the floor instead of letting the 2-month-old go crazy, according to the Boston Herald. Again, someone was offended by a mother’s nursing. This time the store manager scolded the mom because he was uncomfortable.
Again, another breastfeeding mother was made to feel as though she’d been streaking through the store aisles naked with a lampshade on her head. The mom told the Herald that the manager “stood over me and said, ‘You can’t do that here.’ . . . I’ve never felt that badly before.”
The paper reported that the suits from iParty promised to teach their employees to be “tolerant” of breastfeeding. Yes, and the rest of us will try to be tolerant of people who think that the act of breastfeeding is the equivalent of a peep show rather than simply a baby’s meal.
Their plan worked out just fine.
Until it was Jonah’s turn at bat.
That’s when I saw Casey bolt into the house, race to his room and then head back outside with a fistful of coins (23 cents to be exact, though he thought he had a dollar’s worth of change in his hand).
“Where are you going with that?” I asked as I grabbed Casey by the elbow.
He stood there. Face blank. Didn’t respond.
“Jonah!” I called outside to the eldest. “What’s going on?”
At that point, Jonah told me that, in lieu of fielding Jonah’s massive, booming hits across the yard, Casey had instead offered to pay his brother a dollar.
I’d say it’s going to be an interesting Little League interesting season.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Tom wanted none of this and forbade Lynette from selling risotto and pumpkin ravioli alongside pizza pies, saying this was “the end of the discussion.” Lynette, however, ignored him. Not only did the restaurant’s bottom line improve, but the local newspaper gave the restaurant a rave review for moving from “mundane” to “exquisite.”
“Power, it’s the type of thing most people don’t think about until it’s taken away,” Mary Alice’s voice-over intoned at the end of the show. What does all of this mean for Lynette and Tom? That he has no power, and she has it all? Does that mean that when he was in charge she had none? I guess, like a Rorschach test, it means whatever you want it to mean.
In other “Housewives” developments:
- Gabby Solis rescued her man’s mayoral campaign from a potential sex scandal.
- Carlos Solis, while still getting’ cozy with Edie Britt, pined away for Gabby.
- Susan Mayer finally grew a spine and told the sniveling British dude that their wedding is off.
- Police learned that the Scavos’ chief babysitter, Mrs. McCluskey, kept her dead husband in a freezer in the basement. Isn’t McCluskey the same character who ran the pedophile off the street for keeping pictures of little boys in swimming trunks in his basement? I guess babysitters on Wisteria Lane can be kinda sketchy.
And then I shook my head.
A Florida mom was nursing her 5-month-old.
While covering said child and lactating breast with a blanket.
And still, the breastfeeding offended some folks and she was asked to leave the restaurant named Houston’s, according to a press report.
Yet Victoria’s Secret ads aired on TV, billboards with images of scantily clothed models, teenagers walking around exposing their flesh . . . these things are A-okay.
But a mom nursing her child UNDER A BLANKET?
Characters: Mom (okay, me) in a Red Sox hoodie, 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son who insisted on wearing a Yankees cap (I’m hoping he grows out of it), and a guy in a Red Sox T-shirt.
Action: While the mom, daughter and son were sitting at a table next to a window minding their own business, a guy in a Sox shirt balanced his tray of coffees up on a window ledge outside so he could rap on the window and catch the attention of the kindergartener in the Yankees cap. When the boy, and everyone else at the table looked at him, the man slowly pointed to the words “Red Sox” on his shirt and then said, “Good game last night, eh?” (The kindergartener had gone to bed long before the game ended.) Then the man laughed, nodded at the mom — who was wearing the Sox hoodie and therefore was deemed a kindred spirit — and walked away.
What the mom wanted to do but didn’t: Chase the guy down the sidewalk and tell him that even though she wishes her son weren’t interested in the Yankees, he, sadly, is. Nonetheless, he’s a kid. He’s 5. And if you want to taunt someone, go find someone your own size, buddy, leave the kid alone.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Meanwhile, my trio have spent most of their vacation time either hounding me while I’m trying to work or engaging in battles for control over everything (the remote control, Legos, books, toothpaste, etc.). And I’m starting to get that pre-summer vacation panic that parents who work from home experience around this time of year.
On top of that, today The Girl has a consultation with a second orthodontist to see if it’s really necessary for her to be outfitted with a metal contraption in her mouth for the next year, and whether The Spouse and I really have to cough up one of our kidneys in order to pay for it (we’ll be offering up part of our lungs when it comes time for both of the twins to have braces at the same time when they’re 12).
Thus, I bring my harried mood to my weekly Thursday round-up:
Item #1: Daddy Needs a Drink
I’ve been reading Daddy Needs a Drink, by Robert Wilder. And I’ve been laughing. Out loud. (And not just because I’m overtired and undercaffeinated.) I’d definitely recommend this collection of essays for any dad (or mom) with a sense of humor. I’m going to see if I can wrangle Wilder to do a Q&A with me about his book. If you’ve got any suggestions for questions, post ‘em below.
Item #2: Ronald McDonald-Breastfeeding Brouhaha
Did you hear about the recent breastfeeding dust-up at the Houston Ronald McDonald House, the place where parents with very sick children stay while their children are receiving medical care? Well a mom of a 17-month-old wanted to nurse her child, who’d been undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, in a common area. But some people were offended by her breastfeeding, prompting a staffer to ask the mother to go someplace private to nurse. The story has grown as blogs have been picking it up. Today’s New York Times had a big piece on it.
I know some people get uncomfortable when toddlers are nursed, but honestly, can’t you just turn away and not look? I see plenty of things that make me uncomfortable on a daily basis, but I’m not going to demand that they be removed from my sight. By this logic (that breastfeeders should have to retreat in shame) the next time I see someone in a really bad outfit in a restaurant, or I see someone chewing with their mouth open, or cannot help but overhear a really insipid conversation between nitwits, should I get up and demand that a restaurant manager make them stop or do whatever they’re doing in private because I’m offended, even though they’re not hurting me or directing any of their behavior toward me?
Item #3: Mommies All Over the Boob Tube
The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting piece about the portrayal on moms on TV, focusing on the new comedy, “Notes from the Underbelly,” based on the book by my fellow Mommy Track’d writer Risa Green. The show’s cute. It has potential. I’m just waiting for it to really spread its wings and fly if ABC displays enough patience. When I look back at the first few episodes of “Sex and the City,” they weren’t the best, most crisply episodes the show had to offer over its run. That series needed a little time to blossom. That’s what I hope happens with this one.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
The essay, by the author of an attachment parenting book (no kidding!), essentially tells this generation’s professional parenting set to chill the heck out.
“While there have always been obsessive, overbearing parents, they usedI loved how the author, Katie Allison Granju described her parenting style:
to be the exception, rather than the norm. They were the kinds of
hyper-involved parents no one wanted to become; because as they lived their
lives solely through the prism of their parenting, it was believed they
produced the archetypal ‘mama’s boy,’ the child who was never allowed any
activities outside his parents’ watchful eye, and who was coddled and
protected from all conceivable risk. This type of childhood, we have always
believed, ultimately produced individuals who were stunted in their ability
to make bold moves or take leadership roles — or even function
Until recently, the essential tasks of parenting were
seen as nurturing and socializing children. Today, however, this simple
mandate seems criminally neglectful. Now, parenting requires constant
vigilance, unflagging attention to every detail of our children’s lives, and
ever present monitoring of their every activity.”
“I have often described my parenting philosophy as ‘benign neglect.’Now I don’t solely blame the parents for the rise of helicopter/hovering moms and dads. The parenting expert culture, as well as some of the parenting media, are culpable as well. With all the guilt-filled articles telling parents how they’re failing 24/7 and how they could (and should) better protect their children, it’s no wonder we’re in this mess.
Responsive parenting means just that: we respond to children’s needs. It’s
not the same as over-parenting, in which we anticipate, preempt, or take
control of our children’s needs and developmental tasks.”
Saturday, April 14, 2007
It’s the first video named, “Betrayal.” It’s worth a look.
practicality of certain maternity clothes (leopard print thongs?!); venting
about the zillions of pieces in kids’ toys that are constantly landing underfoot
(like “tiny plastic grenades”); or describing a game of Candy Land with her
family (when NO ONE wants to land on Lord Licorice).
I found her book to be as effective as one of those marathon
bitch-and-laugh sessions with another mom: it kept me laughing, even through the
(Image from Cool Mom Picks.)
Friday, April 13, 2007
Marlborough, MA native and “Desperate Housewives” star Marcia Cross is the People Magazine cover girl in its latest issue, talking about how lucky she feels to have beaten infertility, survived nine weeks of bedrest, filmed “Desperate Housewives” from her house, dealt with pre-eclampsia and gave birth to healthy twin girls.
Meanwhile “Brothers & Sisters” star Rachel Griffiths (who was awesome in “Six Feet Under”), talked to Entertainment Weekly about her role as a working mom of two on the ABC drama.
New episodes of both shows are slated for Sunday night. Hopefully “Housewives” will have a bit more excitement than last week.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Way back in December, I spent hours at my kitchen table with two laptops computers, a landline phone and a cell phone trying to call in and log onto the Boston Red Sox web site to buy tickets for the 2007 season. Two of the tickets I was able to purchase – for The Spouse’s and my birthdays – were for today’s game against the Seattle Mariners.
Only not only are sleet and snow in the forecast, right now there’s a driving rain. My in-laws are supposed to babysit, but won’t drive to our house if it snows/sleets. The worst case scenario would be that we have to scramble to find an alternative babysitting arrangement, haul our butts out to Fenway Park, only to find that we have to sit there in the freezing rain for hours and THEN they cancel the game.
I’ve had bad experiences with rain delays, like the four-hour delay my family experienced when we lingered at a game a few years ago in the middle of a lightning storm waiting to find out if they’d play.
I’m hoping they won’t screw us over today and that they’ll just cancel the game. Though I was born and raised in New England, I’m not a hearty New Englander. So sue me.
Item #2: “Grey’s Anatomy”
Okay. I’m sick of the repeats already. Tonight’s a show comprised of favorite clips from the past three seasons. And the new “Desperate Housewives” on Sunday was so dull that I didn’t even blog about it this week. (*snore*)
Item #3: “Medium”
One TV show that’s not in re-runs and that offers a great portrait of an average American mom (although one with psychic abilities), is NBC’s “Medium.” I wrote a piece on Mommy Track’d about why, in terms of its portrayal of balancing motherhood and work, it’s a nice treat.
The Wall Street Journal’s parenting blogger, Sara Schaefer Muñoz, wrote a great entry today on a topic that has become a particular pet peeve of mine: Kids’ homework assignments that require parents to complete them either with the children or to complete independently. (The Spouse and I have been given regular homework assignments by our children’s teachers.)
Now I have no problem with guiding my children, trouble-shooting for their assignments, making suggestions when they’re stuck or playing cheerleader when their efforts seem to be flagging. But some of the assignments my second graders get which require direct parental involvement can become too much in the context of the harried days in a dual working parent household with three kids.
Although, judging from Muñoz’s entry, with my rug rats still in grade school, I haven’t seen anything yet. She wrote:
“A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reader who said she was fed
up with teachers asking for parental help, including an extensive edit of a
7th-grade paper. ‘Shouldn’t the child edit their own paper?’ she asks. But she
says when she posed the question to an assistant superintendent, the
superintendent ‘proudly admitted to editing her [own] daughter’s senior AP
‘I am not sure I would hire her daughter or recommend her for any job or
college,’ she writes. ‘I would hope that any child in Senior AP English class
could write and edit their own papers.’”
I liken being a parent — at its very essence — to being a teacher to one’s own children where you’re charged with preparing your children for life outside of the nest, where they have to learn how to thrive on their own.
I, like the writer Muñoz quoted, get irritated when it seems as though work that the kids should be doing in school is put onto parents’ plates, or, worse yet, when parents are assigned homework. You see I finished second grade quite a long time ago.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Were those women there to celebrate their achievements? Is that why the media were clamoring to speak with them? Sadly, no. The students were there to address the revolting, sexist and racist comments a national media figure made last week which denigrated them, and, by extension, all young women.
The student athletes described how, in what should have been a triumphant weekend following the championship game, they were hounded relentlessly by members of the media calling them, following them and harassing their families all because a pair of reprehensible talk show bullies decided to take aim at them and call them names.
These young women, along with their impressive coach, didn’t take the insults passively. They bravely stood up to those talk show bullies and said they weren’t going to sit silent in the face of such egregious broadsides.
If I were the mother of any of those players, I would’ve been so proud of their cool in the face of such intense attention. As the mother of a daughter who lives in a society where women are judged mercilessly on every aspect of their lives, I was so very thankful that they stood up for what’s right because they stood up for not just themselves, but for all women, and for my daughter, an 8-year-old aspiring athlete.
We need to stand up to bullies. And fire them. MSNBC and the CBS radio station that employ Don Imus should do the right thing. They should put the ratings and potential profits from Imus’ show aside. And show him the door.
UPDATE: MSNBC has fired Imus and will no longer simulcast his syndicated radio program. Good for them. You could tell by the fire in NBC anchorman Brian Williams’ eyes last night, during the nearly 10 minutes he dedicated to this story, that he was ticked off. I only hope CBS Radio displays similar stones.
And for those who scream freedom of speech . . . Imus has every right to stand on the street corner and say whatever he wants to say without the government restricting his speech. He doesn’t, however, have a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants on the radio. Or TV. The station owners get to make those calls.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Thursday, April 5, 2007
And I’m not just saying I love Suburban Turmoil because the blogger who runs the site wrote really nice things about The Book – A Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum. Blogger and mother of a newborn, a 2-year-old and step-mom to two, Lindsay Ferrier was kind enough to say of The Book:
“. . . Meredith comes across as smart, funny and real. While so many
published writers have a bit of that face it, I’m better than you air in their
writing, Meredith’s stories read like she could be telling them to you over
coffee at Starbucks.”
She also added, “The truth is, I wish Meredith lived in Nashville instead of Boston because then I would show up at her front doorstep and refuse to leave until she agreed to be my friend.”
Back at ya sista.
Item #2: To Steal a Line From Dave Barry, ‘I’m Not Making This Up’
My 8-year-old daughter just came home from school all upset, insisting she had to immediately go to a friend’s house to log onto the internet – seeing as though I’m using my laptop – so, get this, her Webkinz, the plush, fluffy white dog she owns won’t die.
“Mom! There’s a rumor going around that if you don’t go on Webkinz World [online] your Webkinz might die!” Abbey said without a shred of incredulity.
I burst out laughing, as this was the funniest thing I’d heard all day.
“I’m serious!” she said, putting her little fists onto her hips. “There are people who want to close down Webkinz World.”
I . . . I . . . I had nothin’ but mocking laughter to toss her way. So I dialed the number for the neighbor’s house, handed her the telephone and off she went to save her Webkinz.
Item #3: I’m Wholly (Holy) Unprepared
We’re celebrating Passover a bit late and are having a total of 18 people at my house on Saturday afternoon. Swamped with work and with the specter of the kids hanging around tomorrow because they have the day off from school (it’ll be Good Friday and all), I haven’t done everything I need to do.
We still need an extra table and more chairs. We haven’t cleaned. And even though I got groceries delivered yesterday by Peapod (a local grocery store service that delivers large quarts of gin . . . uh, no, silly, of course they deliver groceries), they were out of some key items I needed, like (*gag*) Gefilte fish, a must-have for Passover dinner. Even though my sister-in-law agreed to take care of that for me, I’m now realizing that I forgot to order horseradish and few other items.
Then, on Sunday, we’ll also be partaking of Easter festivities with my parents. Only the idiot Easter Bunny at my house has yet to go out and buy stuff to put inside the Easter eggs for the Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. Oh, and my other sister-in-law is having an Easter egg hunt at her house tomorrow and I’ve done a big fat nothing to help her with that.
Luckily, ‘tis the season for forgiveness. (I hope.)
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
My 5-year-old gave me the first card he’s ever made solely on his own, and his first with a drawing of us holding hands. (Usually he draws his father or something from “Star Wars.”)
My 8-year-old son made me a Red Sox and “Gilmore Girls” themed card with a drawing of the Red Sox baseball logo and me, along with the inscription, “To: The Best Mom Ever.”
My 8-year-old daughter made me a green card (my favorite color, not representative of my residency status as I was born in the Commonwealth o’ Massachusetts) with a self portrait inside. She also enclosed a card from her best friend that included the inscription, “Happy Birthday Abbey’s Mom.”
The Spouse gave me a mushy card in which he called me a “remarkable woman” and added, “I do love the life we have made.”
They all gave me the third season of “Gilmore Girls” on DVD, along with a Red Sox zip-up hooded sweatshirt and a Sox pull-over hoodie. That night, after the kids went to bed, The Spouse and I split a huge chocolate bar and watched an episode from latest season of “Gilmore Girls” on TV, followed by “House.”
Color me happy.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
And, while I’m at it, why would the folks who put the NCAA basketball tournament games on television during the day do the same thing?
Monday, April 2, 2007
Mixed bag of stuff related to The Book — “A Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum” — and my parental screeds elsewhere:Mom-Writers Literary Journal, has an interview with yours truly about writing, motherhood and, of course, The Book.
Now that I re-read my latest screed on DotMoms, I realize I was in a particularly bad mood when I wrote it. It’s about how tired I am of parents judging one another so harshly, kind of a “can’t we all just get along” plea to moms, only minus the national news coverage.
The next epic chase for the American League championship. And, of course, for another World Series trophy, though, let’s be brutally honest, nothing could or would ever top the unbelievable trip known as 2004.
In honor of Opening Day, my 8-year-old Red Sox/Yankee fan ( I know! ) went to school today looking like a mixed metaphor: Wearing his old red Red Sox jersey with Johnny Damon’s name on the back, along with his navy Yankee hat. (I had my fingers crossed when he boarded the bus that he wouldn’t be tormented at school.)
I’m still workin’ on him. Subtly. Trying to show him how much more historic, epic and compelling the Sox are as compared to the Yankees, whose fan club he joined when his favorite player (Damon) defected to the Evil Empire to the south.
But somehow I think it’s a losing battle.