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  • Finding Femininity

    “Mamma, can I paint my nails?” was not a question I expected my two-year old would ask me.  Not that I have anything against nail polish, but since I never paint my nails I wondered where The Munch had been exposed to this practice.  But then I remembered how her sexy babysitter has red toes, and then realized of course The Munch wants her feet to look sassy like hers.

    The Munch is often around women.  She observes how they behave, and identifies herself as a female like them.  When I spend time with my friends and Munch, she sees herself as one of the girls.  You know, a couple of gals hanging out, just one happens to be slightly bossier than the rest and infinitely more dramatic considering The Munch is ready to cry without any shame under any circumstance.  Actually, come to think of it she fits right in.

    Munch is beginning to notice elements of femininity and wanting to apply them to her own being. But part of her fitting into this world of feminine culture means that she is enacting behavior that is way beyond her years.  For example since a few of my friends are pregnant, The Munch looks at that as an experience she should be having too.

    Munch: “Mamma, I have a baby in my tummy.”

    Toni: “You do?”

    Munch: “Yeah, it’s a teeny tiny baby.  Do you want to feel it?”

    Toni: “Sure.”

    Munch: “In my tummy, my baby has her paci, and her bottle, and her toys, and her teddy bear, and a lollipop in case she gets hungry.  Can you feel the toys in there?”

    Toni: “I sure can Munch.”

    Simone De Beauvoir talked about how we are born male or female, which determines our biology, but masculine and feminine traits are purely a socialized phenomenon.  She believed there was nothing inherently different about baby boys or baby girls, and that gender is enforced through conditioning.

    I love Simone De Beauvoir and even named my dog Mona after her, but now that I have a daughter I feel conflicted by her hypothesis.

    I don’t see myself as intentionally conditioning my daughter to have feminine traits.  I am not even sure I consider myself to be all that feminine.  It is not like I go around wearing pink talking about my period all day. I just sometimes where pink and talk about my period on the days it’s happening.  Is my womaness a genuine part of my personality, or just something I picked up as a child from other chicks who picked it up from other broads who picked it up from other skirts?

    Is this something that I should be stopping?  There is nothing overt I am doing to make Munch interested girly shit.  These are decisions she is making on her own volition.  I never pushed baby dolls in her face and demanded she play with them.  Those were the toys that she naturally gravitated towards. Maybe that is because she sees me mothering her, and in turn wants some to mother- because I am her example.

    How can I break this cycle of conditioning femininity when much of this influence is a consequence of my simply existing, and allowing her to observe other women?  Femininity isn’t something you find under a rock, but discover through being around other females you adore.  The young emulate adults the admire, and even if I am the biggest “tom boy” in the world, there will still be traits she picks up from other broads she respects.

    Kind of like The Munch being really excited that her “poe nails” are painted red just like her babysitter’s.

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  • The Selfish Madonna

    The romanticized vision of the mother is as a selfless being that radiates unconditional love with endless serene expressions.  This vision is depicted in countless paintings of ‘mother holding child,’ many of which are of the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus.  I guess if I were Jesus’ mother I would be all peaceful and calm – since he was always turning my water into wine.  But for those of us who didn’t spawn holy beings, there are some pretty high societal expectations of the mother.

    There is this perception that mothers are supposed to prioritize their kids above and beyond their own needs at all times.  Yeah… kinda.  I mostly do that.  In a lot of scenarios.  But I think all moms have moments when they can be a little selfish.

    Lets take my mom as an example.  That will be fun. Won’t it Mom!?  When I was a kid, every holiday my mom would leave little baskets outside my door filled with treats.  Okay, relax.  This isn’t the selfish part.  So I would wake up in the morning and find this delightful indulgence of candy and chocolate.  Relax… I am getting there.  I would be so grateful for this lovely display that I would often save my gift.  You know… like to eat it later. I would then come home from school and the head of my Easter bunny would be gone.  So would the tail. Don’t even get my started on my Halloween candy. I don’t know about you, but coming home to your Valentine’s chocolate replaced with the empty wrappers was pretty traumatizing for me.

    There are so many things that I do for The Munch that takes into consideration her desires before my own.  But sometimes I just do what I want to do.  Like hide her favorite book so I don’t have to read it 48 times that morning.

    There are moments when I feel like pursuing my career, taking time for myself, or doing anything without her is selfish.  Of course people assure me that isn’t true.  Fuck, I can tell myself that is bullshit – but it is hard not to feel conflicted at times.  I would like to say that the time I spend away from her makes me appreciate the time I spend with her more, but I really hope she sees it like that too.  As much as a think it is vital for a mother to have a life outside her children, living parts of my life not including The Munch can feel crappy.

    I guess this is the modern conundrum.  If I were a cave woman, I would have her strapped to my back in a fur satchel and bring her with me until she was old enough to harvest and hunt for her self.  You know.  Like 6 months.  We would work together side by side and I wouldn’t have to make any of these hard decisions.  And maybe I would steal some saber tooth tiger meat when she wasn’t paying attention, but I wouldn’t touch her wooly mammoth blood because that is just wrong.

    Biologically I am bonded to The Munch in this unique and profound way.  The mother child connection is one of the most mysterious and meaningful unions, and that is why it has this reputation in the imagination of society.  But psychologically it is really important for me to continue evolving without her.  Maybe part of that process is slightly selfish, but this is going to be something she will go through too when she is a mother, so hopefully The Munch will understand that no decision is simple when you become a parent.  Especially when it comes to Halloween candy, because you better believe I am going to eat all of hers too.

    (Check out my mom ready to go after Munch’s lollipop!! She is not fucking around!)

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    April 9, 2013 • Family Drama, Mommy Mind, Musings, Parenting, Working Mommy • Views: 2536

  • Share Bear

    Some cultures don’t have the word “mine” because everything is considered “ours.”  For them, personal possession isn’t a concept because all property is communal.  Although I think this is a beautiful notion, I was raised in an environment where my Dad’s popcorn was his, and to even think of taking some I had to consider what life would be like without fingers.

    American individualism means that we are very attached to the idea of “I,” “mine,” and “me.”  The person is more important than the collective.  Although we are taught values, and to honor other people by being aware of their needs, that doesn’t take away that our filter is clouded by the idea of “how will this effect me” more than “we.”

    I would say that I am a generous person.  I am giving with what I have: my money, my time, my home, my love.  But when I view something as mine, and feel ownership over it, I don’t like to share it.  I mean, of course I do share – after all I did graduate from the 3rd grade.  But I do so begrudgingly.  More because I don’t want to say “no” than actually wanting you to have a bite of my cupcake.  And to be honest, I say “no” a fair amount too.  I guess I really like cupcakes.

    But since having a child I have had to share everything with her.  I shared my body with her when she was living inside of it, I shared my precious lady parts with her when she burst out of them, I shared my boobs with her as she survived off of them, I share every single thing I eat and drink with her even though she backwashes and her hands are gross.  And you know what? I want to! I even ENJOY sharing with her.  Those crazy mommy hormones make sharing with her feel better than having myself. I would rather The Munch had the last bite of avocado because it is more important that she eats.  My excessive love for her means I want for her more than I want for me.

    But everyone has their limits.

    Last night when I was putting The Munch to bed she decided she wanted to bring my teddy bear into her crib.  Now, I now I am a grown ass woman, but I have been sleeping with a stuffed animal my entire life and that is my teddy bear.

    Toni: “Munch, that is Mamma’s teddy bear.  But it back on my bed please.”

    Munch: “No I want to bring your bear in my crib.”

    Toni: “No sweetie.  That is Mamma’s.  You have all your babies, your seal named Penguin, your weird vagina looking monster thing… Mamma only has one bear.  So can you put him back please?”

    Munch: “No but I want to bring him in my crib!!! Please Mamma.”

    Toni: “Okay Munch.”

    Did I want to share my bear with her?  No. Not at all.  Did I say yes? Of course I did. I am her mother and my love is unconditional.  And because the second after she feel asleep I took it back.

    (Tell me that is not a vagina monster???)

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  • Are All Kids OCD, Or Just Mine?

    Kids are really into routines.  I guess it calms their frenetic child minds when they can expect what is coming next.  I can see how that would be comforting.  It must be unsettling having no sense of time, never knowing what day it is, and having some giant who speaks mostly in tongues orchestrate your day.   Insisting that they know best when you should sleep, and that you shouldn’t suck all the toothpaste off the toothbrush.

    I am empathetic to The Munch and her particularities.  But sometimes I notice that she gets obsessed in really peculiar and somewhat irrational ways.  Like she has to line up her toys on the bathtub rim in a perfect line, will only wear tights and never socks, eats popsicles only after they have melted, or insists on cutting off all the tags clothes because she thinks they are itchy.  Well actually, I totally relate to the tag thing and do that myself.  I have 45 shirts with holes in the back collar.  I have heard that an obsession with tags touching skin is a mark of high functioning autism but whatever.

    The Munch needs things to be exactly how she wants them to be, and if I don’t honor her eccentricities it is like I tied up her Elmo doll and sodomized him in front of her.

    Example 1:

    Munch: “My hands are cold!”

    Toni: “Here Munch, I have your mittens.  Let me put them on you.”

    Munch: “No I don’t want to wear them! The thumbs are floppy!”

    Toni: “Munch look, they are hardly floppy. I will pull them tight.  See.  Not floppy.”

    Munch: “THEY ARE FLOPPY! Take them off!!!!!!!!!”

    Toni: “Okay fine!”

    Munch: “Ahhhhhhh! My hands are cold!”

    Example 2:

    Munch: “Mamma, cut my sandwich.  I want two pieces.”

    Toni: “Okay.”

    Munch: “No! Now it’s falling apart! Fix it!”

    Toni: “Well, I can’t un-cut it Munch.”

    Munch: “The top is sliding off!!!”

    Toni: “Here, you just have to hold it tight.”

    Munch: “Ahhhhhhh it’s slipping!”

    Toni: “Munch I can’t glue it together?”

    Munch: “Put it back together! Un-cut it!”

    Example 3:

    Munch: “Are my babies in my crib for night-night?”

    Toni: “Yes, they are in your crib waiting for you.”

    Munch: “Other Baby, Old Baby, Water Baby, Car Seat Baby, New Baby, and Headband Baby?”

    Toni: “Well, I think I forgot headband baby.”

    Munch: “NO!! I NEED HEADBAND BABY!!”

    Toni: “But I think she is in the car so lets see her tomorrow.”

    Munch: “I NEED HER!!”

    Toni: “Munch, you have like 100 babies in here. Lets just wait to see her until tomorrow.  She is sleeping in the car.”

    Munch: “Go get her!! Go wake her up!! She is lonely!!”

    Toni: “ Fine… I will go get her.  I will be right back.”

    Munch: “Thank you Mamma.  Is my computer in the crib?”

    Toni: “No Munch, your computer is down stairs.”

    Munch: “But I need my computer in the crib!!”

    Toni: “Well, that actually makes a lot of sense to me.”

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    April 3, 2013 • 2 years old, Baby Brain, Behavior, Eating, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 1598

  • When you are talented you don’t have to be pretty

    Although the culture at large is obsessed with physical beauty, being an attractive woman can become the defining attribute of your identity.  Men of course can be vain and care deeply about their appearance, but there will still be societal expectations of him beyond his defined cheekbones and sculpted buttocks.  Yet for a woman, sometimes, just being pretty can be enough.

    When a woman is gorgeous it can excuse her from being anything else.  That is why it is always surprising when a stunning girl also happens to be smart, or good at science, or interested in politics.  The “sexy professional” is a concept so absurd by cultural standards that it has become a cliché Halloween costume… in the realm of myth, fantasy, and the ridiculous.

    Even though I know all this, and can identify the meaninglessness of judging women for her looks, I still do it everyday of my life.  I will flip through a magazine or watch a movie and think: “Well, she is not that pretty.  Her left eye is lower than her right and she has this weird dimple thing going on when she talks.  Her forehead is too small and there is a something funky going on with her left ear.  Oh, and her ass is kind of flat and flabby.”

    What am I even talking about?? Why do I do that?

    First of all, all these women are somehow in the spot light and therefor have even more pressure to be aesthetically perfect.  Which is bizarre considering how many foul looking men are able to be in that same position but are critiqued on skill alone.  Then I realized that the women I evaluate the most are the ones that I am not blown away by their talent.  I mean they are okay, they don’t suck, but they aren’t brilliant.  When a woman is really masterful at her craft, be it Lena Dunham, Adel, Brittany Howard, Meryl Streep, Toni Morrison, Janice Joplin, Virginia Wolf, Martha Graham… I don’t give a flying fuck in a rolling doughnut what they look like.  I will maybe rip apart Brittany Spears for her hair extensions showing and having a frozen grin plastered to her face, but that is because she is only mediocre at singing.

    So being excessively beautiful may stunt your growth as a human, artist, or thinker because people’s expectations of you will be lower.  You wont have to push yourself as hard.  Beauty can conceal your averageness.

    Supposedly I am not supposed to tell my daughter she is pretty all the time because that will infect her psyche and she will start to believe her beauty is tied with her self-worth.  No doubt.  This is true, and I down with this idea.  But I also don’t want her relying on her lovely face, and be unexceptional in the rest of her life, because it was too easy to invest more in her genetic disposition.  That sounds lame!  I would so much rather The Munch impress people with her endless genius than her tits or ass.  Of course I don’t want to give her a complex and never acknowledge her adorableness, but at the same time most insanely attractive people are also insanely boring.

     

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    March 18, 2013 • 2 years old, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Musings, Women's Business • Views: 913