Category Archives: Parenting–toughest job out there

I love you, therefore I hit you…er, SPANK you. {How Christians conflate love with violence}

Once again, child abuse is in the news. This time, a star football player beat his four year old son with a branch, leaving welts and marks all over the child’s body.

In the wake of his suspension, Peterson’s supporters are quick to claim we’re all mistaken. Ignore those welts, please. Adrian Peterson is REALLY a loving FATHER! His former coach:  “he’s not a child abuser” and he’s “gentle toward children.” Peterson’s mother: when you “whip those you love, it’s not abuse, but love.”

I’ve heard this line of reasoning so many times I could barf. I have a whole chapter in my book called Love is Patient, Love is Violent. I’ve written before about how Christians conflate hitting with love.

And as my friend, Matthew Paul Turner pointed out, Christians often support spanking as the “false gospel” of godly child rearing.

You guys, we have a severe problem.

Too many Christians believe violence against children is love.

We call it “spanking” instead of “hitting.” We call it “discipline” instead of violence. 

Violence by any other name is still violence.

Think about how children view spanking. The author of Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren, once wrote:

When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with.

The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence.

Next time you are tempted to spank your child, think about it from a child’s perspective. In their eyes, you might as well be throwing rocks at them.

Even so, in defending spanking we often hear people say: “I was spanked as a kid and I turned out alright.” Um…no, no you didn’t. By defending spanking, you have turned out to be someone who perpetuates violence against children.

I get it. Those of us who were spanked are usually quick to say “we deserved it.” We defend our parents: “They were doing it out of love!” It’s really hard to look at what our parents did and say: “My parents hurt me.”

It’s even harder to say: “My parents permanently damaged my brain.”

And let’s be clear. That’s what spanking does.  Spanking damages a child’s brain:

Researchers found children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders…What is spanking associated with? Aggression. Delinquency. Mental health problems. And something called “hostile attribution bias,” which causes children, essentially, to expect people to be mean to them.

This is the sad, scientific fact: if you were spanked more than once a month for more than three years, your parents spanked your brains out. Literally.

When I read this, I cried.

Because. Um. I got spanked WAY more than once a month.

Now, let’s talk about “hostile attribution bias.” This means you live your life expecting people to be mean to you. UM. WHOA. Hi, self. My ingrained response to the world is that people are mean and scary and out to get me. I am constantly surprised when people love me–and I have to repress the urge to be suspicious when they are kind.

Here’s my default thought process: What do they want from me? Why are they being nice? They must have an ulterior motive! Don’t they know I’m a bad person? I can’t trust them! BLOCK THEM OUT.

The hardest thing for me to do is receive love. There, I said it. I have a huge fear of intimacy because I just don’t trust people. This is my trauma wound.

I can’t go back and change my past. But I can change my future. I don’t have to perpetuate the cycle of violence. I can do something different. You can, too. Our children deserve it.


More reading: 

We were like horses, it was our parents’ job to break our wills

How many more children must die before Mike & Debi Pearl are held accountable?

The cognitive dissonance of “Biblical” child-training

Why does Christian media minimize child abuse?

Even God does not try to break our will: why ‘breaking’ a child’s will is NOT Biblical

Note: I will delete any and all comments that defend the abusive “child-training” practices of Mike Pearl, James Dobson, Bill Gothard, the Ezzos or the Duggar family. I’ve already had that debate a bazillion times and I’m over it. My comment box is a safe place for survivors of childhood trauma. Period. My blog, my rules. You no likey, go write your own blog.

“Pornography is sexually traumatizing an entire generation…”

I recently read a disturbing article–written by the former editor of a pornographic magazine– about the devastating effects Internet porn is having on young people. Porn is literally rewiring children’s brains:

The compulsive porn users’ brains showed clear parallels with those with substance addictions…The most shocking testament came from Professor Gail Dines. Regarded as the world’s leading anti-pornography campaigner, she has interviewed thousands of men and women about sex and pornography. ‘When you interview young women about their experiences of sex, you see an increased level of violence: rough, violent sex,’ she says. ‘That is directly because of porn, as young boys are getting their sexual cues from men in porn who are acting as if they’re sexual psychopaths. Pornography is sexually traumatizing an entire generation of boys.’

Not only is Internet porn traumatizing, it’s addictive. And “letting our children consume it freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house, or handing out vodka at the school gates.”

This horrifies me on so many levels. It’s just tragic that not only does porn rewire a child’s reward center in the brain, it also changes the child’s perception and expectation of sexual experiences. Furthermore, an addiction to pornography can result in real-life consequences like broken relationships and job loss.

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t been super vigilant about this, simply assuming that talking with my kids about “inappropriate content” on the Internet would be enough.

So, what do we do to protect our children from pornography? Ideas? Suggestions?
Have you experienced the devastating impact of porn? How? (Anon. comments ok!)

Why I didn’t dump my God-issues on my kids

IMG_5147Even after experiencing spiritual abuse and heartbreak, I kept taking my children to church. It wouldn’t have been right for me to unload all my God-issues on them. I needed to protect their spiritual well-being. This meant protecting them from stumbling over my disillusionment and bitterness.

Despite my own pain, it was still my maternal duty to give them some kind of connection to a faith community if only because I don’t know what the future holds for my children. Of course, I hope it holds happiness. But I don’t know what kind of realities, disappointments, setbacks, disease or losses they will face. Ultimately, I didn’t want them arriving at adulthood without having God-awareness sown into their souls.

I didn’t want to cheat them of having a solid faith identity simply because Mommy could barely sit through a church service without having a panic attack.

I know of families who drop their kids at church while they go have coffee or run errands. I tried doing that but my children protested. They wanted me there. A strong faith identity is formed in children when their families attend church together. And while I believe that authentic faith is more about inner transformation and relationship than it is about how frequently you attend church—when I did take a break from church, it just wasn’t ideal for my children. They missed me. They begged me to come back. How could I resist this face?


Yes, there are traumatic divisions within the Christian faith, but if we can’t find a way to work through this, who will? Yes, I am hurt and broken but I still wanted to find the good—and yes, I still believe the good exists.

Eventually, connecting with Mary brought me back to Jesus. And this past year, my husband entered the Catholic Church, too.

This Fall, all five of my children will enter Faith Formation classes at our local Catholic Church. My oldest three are going into their 2nd year and the twins are starting their 1st year. This means that Easter 2014 is gonna be a big deal around here as the oldest three will get baptized, confirmed and take First Communion. And Easter 2015 is gonna be big, too, with the twins doing the whole First Communion-with-adorable-white-dresses-and-veils shebang.

Honestly, I never expected we’d end up here. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would raise my children Catholic, I would have laughed hysterically. WHAT?! You mean, I’m leaving one cult to join the BIGGEST cult of them ALL?! Ba ha ha. Get out.

But here we are. And I gotta say: the Catholic Church has got its issues–just like any other institution run by human beings. But as we attend Mass together, our love for this ancient church grows deeper and deeper.

Now, if only I could teach them to genuflect properly!

Why Summer Break should be ABOLISHED! {a desperate missive from behind the locked bathroom door!}

We’ve reached that point in the summer where all the trips have all been taken, the crafts crafted, the sunburns burned, the camps camped, the library trips all tripped out and now the mothers are going cross-eyed from providing 24/7 entertainment. I mean, “educational activities.” I mean, ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT.

During this last month of Summer Break, our children are lying around like fattened sloths, one hand in a huge bag of chips, feet propped up on the couch, staring with glazed-over eyes at a re-run of Sponge Bob.

And the mothers have locked themselves in the bathroom with the new Civil Wars album and US Weekly. Well, I’m not being entirely honest, here. I’ve locked myself in the bathroom with my laptop and noise-canceling headphones. Same-same.

I have a good excuse. I have WORDS that must be shed abroad in the hearts of the US Education System; mainly, it’s about damn time we abolish this stupid thing called Summer Break. Of course, I’m ONLY saying this for my children’s sake. I would never suggest this because *I* need them to go back to school–heh-heh, what sort of mother would do that?

The point is, this whole summer break thing needs to stop. Children don’t need breaks. Mothers do. Children should work year-round. You know, to prepare them for this thing we call Adult Life. Summer break used to be about work, anyway. Harvesting crops. Baling hay. Sifting the wheat from the chaff, or so I’ve heard. Back in the day, children weren’t taking summer breaks to lollygag around the house whining for MORE GO-GURTS! but taking summer break to work their asses off on the family farm.

So, if we’re not going to abolish summer break, we should at least re-institute the family farm. But wait, no. This reminds me. Last year we had the “Brilliant Idea” of letting go of our gardener because: TEACH THE BOYS HOW TO MOW THE LAWN. Even better, we got a push mower. Because HARD WORK!

And now my yard looks like it belongs to Miss Havisham. I like to call it “Crunchy.” Or eco-friendly. Or “Wild California.”

But I digress.

Let me put it this way: NOTHING GOOD is happening on Summer Break after August 1st. This last month of summer is simply unfettered, full-on, unapologetic, indulgent gluttony and laziness. Our children MUST learn! They MUST work! NO MORE SUMMER BREAK because Mama has a stack of US Weekly’s to read.


Princess-Free Zones & Fundamentalist Parenting

Muddy TwinsMy twins love playing Princess dress-up. They also love playing in the mud, playing with their brothers’ Legos, counting beads, stacking Tupperware, collecting rocks, throwing said rock collection in the pool, baking, wrestling, making “art sculptures” out of pool toys, painting, bike riding, peeing in the bushes, playing soccer, eating donuts, eating tomatoes, playing hide-n-go-seek and playing Let’s Get Married.

Now that I think of it, they play Let’s Get Married at least once a week. I might need to create a Marriage-Free Zone. You know, because I don’t want them growing up thinking MARRIAGE is THE ONLY option they have as girls. *wink*

Look, I just can’t get worked up about this new trend in enlightened parenting; aka. Banning Princesses. I just don’t see the reason for getting all fundamentalist about it.

If a little girl is an entitled, spoiled brat with a raging case of Princess Virus, it has little to do with pink tulle and tiaras. But it has everything to do with spoiling the child.

Here’s where I confess I’ve also purchased Barbies for my daughters. GASP. GAG. BURN ME AT THE FEMINIST STAKE.

Still, I understand the concern: conscientious parents don’t want to raise helpless little princesses who naively believe Prince Charming will ride up on his silver steed and whisk them away to a Happily Ever After. I get it. We want daughters with pluck, tenacity and courage.

But Banning Princesses isn’t the way to accomplish this. By banning princesses altogether, parents unwittingly create a greater desire for it. There is nothing more delectable than forbidden fruit.

I’m not denying our society is experiencing a glut of spoiled, entitled kids. But I am saying it’s tempting to look for an easy target: ah! Cinderella! SHE’S the problem! OFF WITH HER HEAD. Oh, wait. I’m mixing my fairy-tales.

My point is, it’s far more difficult to examine the ways parents spoil their kids. I’m pretty sure spoiled children existed long before Disney Princesses. And spoiled children will continue to wreak havoc on society long after Disney Princesses have bitten the (pixie) dust.

That said, there’s a difference between allowing your daughter to play Disney Princess dress-up and turning her entire life into all-princess-all-the-time. You know what I’m talking about: the little girl whose bedroom looks like a Princess exploded all over the walls, curtains and bedspread. The little girl whose parents actually call her Your Royal Highness. The little girl who just can’t understand why the world doesn’t come running at her every beck and call? Yes, that’s what we call Princess Excess.

And Princess Excess is just the other side of the Princess Banning coin.

In other words, Disney Princesses aren’t bad; excess is.

Here’s an idea, read The Brother’s Grimm fairy-tales with their bloody-toed step sisters and eye-plucking-out-crows. And then soften the blow with Disney’s Cinderella and all her adorable, singing mice and bibbity-bobbity-boo-ness.

Moderation, friends, is what good parenting is all about. At least, that’s what my fairy godmother told me.

Doe-a-deer has a puh-china

My five year-old twins learned a new word from a friend. Puh-china. They had many thoughts on this word: what it is, where it is and also, that one time? When they fell? On their bike? They hurt-ed their puh-china. They were deeply amused when I offered the proper pronunciation.

“Vuh? Like van?” they crowed, cracking up in hysterics. “Nooooo, Mommmy! LIKE YOU EVEN KNOW!”

“I didn’t learn that word until 4th grade,” my 8th grader drolly remarked.

My how times have changed. Oh, for the days of yore when the most scandalous word my little kids said was the “s” word; you know, stupid. It’s funny with a big family because younger siblings seem to grow up so much faster than the older ones. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but when the twins busted onto the scene they stole the show. And our dignity.

Time was, we sent out annual Christmas cards and enrolled our kids in All The Proper Activities. We did Mommy n’ Me and weekly library trips and flirted dangerously with that thing called cotillion—which, I later realized was just a fancy way of saying “table manners.”

But the twins’ arrival in our lives heralded a new season. Or, rather, became a harbinger of doom for our highly Orange-County-ified parenting egos. It was a necessary death, I can see that now.

Still, it was a slow, death-by-a-million-little-embarrassing moments—like when your twins start shouting PUH-CHINA! in Trader Joe’s at four-fifteen in the afternoon while all the Responsible Parents are picking up their gluten-free kale and raw quinoa for a properly whole-paycheck dinner, followed by a side of cotillion no doubt.


Actually, comparison was the first thing to die. Mainly, out of sheer exhaustion. Something had to give and, frankly, I just couldn’t worry about what other parents thought of me anymore. Not even when I got passive-aggressive mass emails from Room Parents wanting to know if Those Parents Who Haven’t Volunteered Yet could be troubled to bring in a container of disinfectant wipes and, p.s. teacher’s gift money is past due! #SaveOurSchools #ForOurKidsSake

When I was feeling particularly undignified, I bolstered myself with poetry, particularly the words of Elizabeth Bishop whose poem, One Art, is about love lost but never mind that. I appropriated it to my own means: dignity lost. Because “the art of losing isn’t hard to master;/ so many things seem filled with the intent/ to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”

It’s no disaster I began repeating to myself in grocery aisles, in church pews, in the company of parents with 2.5 children.

And you know what? It’s really not. It’s really not a disaster when one of your twins—the melodramatic one—throws herself upon the floor of Peet’s Coffee and wails about wanting a MABLE-NUT-CONE!

Because she’s absolutely right: maple-nut scones are delicious and as you scoop her up and waltz out of the coffee shop you can whisper in her ear that yes, life is terribly unfair but it’s also bursting full of wonderful things like free sunshine, raindrops on roses. And whiskers on kittens! BRIGHT COPPER KETTLES AND WARM WOOLEN MITTENS!

This is the second lesson in mastering disaster: you really must break into song because children are easily distracted by the sound of music. Indeed, the way I see it, the butcher’s case at Albertsons is aliiiiiiive with the sound of doe a deer, a female deer.

Granted, your middle-schoolers might skedaddle to the produce section while you yodel through the meat department but your little ones will gape at you with shining eyes. Your heart will suddenly explode with the unabashed epiphany that nobody—not nobody, Mama!—can be The Best Parent to your child except you.

Yes, you with all your quirky, undiginified ways because in the end, all they really want is you and I’m not sure why it took me five children to figure this out but the Universe works in mysterious ways, so they tell me. And yes, sweetheart, doe-a-dear, a female deer has a puh-china. I think. I don’t know if that’s the official name, use my iPhone to look it up on Wikipedia.

Oh, that’s another dignity loss/disaster. Screen time. When my Big Kids were little, I was all about the limited screen time. The restrictions. The rules. The reading of books before the watching of PBS and educational movies, so help me Rhonda. I was so progressive back then, dammit.

I miss my old, progressive self like I miss my size zero jeans. Which is to say, not at all.

[SIDEBAR: Because what IS a size zero, exactly? Is that like Coke Zero for denim—all pretending to be Diet Coke but with sucky taste and 1,000 calories of self-importance? Last time I checked, being zero wasn’t all that great. Being zero meant being nothing and I’m not nothing, I’m something. In fact, I’m the most important something to my kids, stretchy yoga pants and all. But I digress.]

What I really want you to know is that I had a long, responsible discussion with my twins about puh-chinas. We discussed all the necessary things and I made gallant promises to re-up my classroom volunteerism, master the art of losing my dignity and also, introduce them to quinoa. Who knows? I may even enroll them in cotillion–because CLEARLY we needs some manners up in here.

But when the twins asked me why boys have “lines” coming out of their bodies, I said we can wait until they’re in 4th grade to discuss that. After all, there’s only so much disaster I can master.

Why “disappearing” into motherhood is NOT a betrayal of feminism

My youngest babies are almost 5. I’m coming out of the Little Years. A season of life is changing and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life. I can already sense the changing seasons. All my children are in school I have more time to focus on my writing. I just finished my first book and I’m ready to start on my second. But may I just say? THANK GOD I WASN’T TRYING TO WRITE A BOOK WHILE MY BABIES WERE LITTLE.

I’m going to say something “controversial” here but I really think it needs to be addressed, especially in light of this recent article which claimed mothers were “disappearing” because….wait for it..they (gasp!) used pictures of their children instead of themselves on their FB profile picture.

This is precisely where some feminists get it wrong (and I say this as a feminist).

84% of women WANT to stay home with their children. Most women WANT to raise their own children. Most women do NOT see it as a “sacrifice” of female identity to throw themselves wholeheartedly into raising their babies.

Instead of berating mothers for talking about strollers at dinner parties, why not understand that when a woman is raising her babies–THAT IS WHAT SHE TALKS ABOUT. Just because I didn’t feel compelled to Keep Up With the Men while I was raising little ones doesn’t make me a “disappearing mother.” What I talk about at dinner parties doesn’t define my feminism any more than the pictures I post on FB.

I am so incredibly SICK of feminists demanding that women Be All Things To All People At All Times. How is this any different than the oppressive patriarchy we all despise? So, I give birth to a human being and suddenly, I’m supposed to follow the feminist rule book about NOT talk about what I pack in my kids’ lunch? Because that’s NOT what the MEN talk about?! Give me a break!

Come on. This is sexist tripe. This is reverse sexism! Feminism shouldn’t require women to act like men, talk like men or be like men. Feminism should CELEBRATE femininity and let women BE.

Yes, I wrote a book. And yes, I am well-read. And YES, I am educated.

But do you know what the truth is? MY CHILDREN MEAN MORE TO ME THAN ALL OF THAT.

There is not ONE book, there is not ONE thesis, there is not ONE damn dinner party that is more important to me than my kids. Real feminism does NOT force me to choose between my career and my children. My children will win every time.

And if I post pictures of my children on FB it’s because my children are IMPORTANT to me. Hell no, I won’t apologize for that.

Also, womanhood has seasons. During the season of young motherhood, I was so BUSY that I couldn’t even hardly catch a breath of air. Now? My children are getting older and yeah, I can write that second book. I can keep a social calendar. I can attend dinner parties. So, what? I’m more feminist now that I’m a “working” mom? Ridiculous.

I will never, ever, EVER regret the ELEVEN years I spent as a stay-at-home mom. Those years are just as much a part of my feminism as my newly emerging writing career will be. I will NEVER regret all the firsts I witnessed. I will NEVER regret “sacrificing” my “identity” for my children during those years. To be honest, it was a pure gift to be able to stay with them. The most precious gift of my entire LIFE was that I was able to give myself wholly to my children during their early years.

And if it meant that all I could talk about for eleven years were strollers, lunchpails, diaper rashes and preschool–THEN SO BE IT. My feminism encompasses the WHOLE of my female experience.

Yeah, it’s nice that I have a writing career now. I’m super happy about it. But I am so thankful that I was able to embrace those early, little years of my children’s lives without feeling pressured by ridiculous, strident feminists to ALSO keep up with everyone else.

I “disappeared” into motherhood and I’m damn proud of it.

Who says kids outgrow naps?

There are very few problems that can’t be solved by taking a nap. Chronically grumpy kids? They’re sleep deprived. Irreconcilable differences with the husband? Go to bed early and deal with it in the morning. Having trouble solving that algebraic equation? Take a nap, baby. Take a nap.

Napping is pretty much my go-to parenting advice. When my children were really young, I adhered to a strict napping schedule. I planned my entire DAY around their naps. Nothing–and I mean nothing–preempted of the inviolable law of napping.

There’s this hugely popular parenting idea that kids outgrow naps. Who thought of this crap? Kids don’t outgrow naps! Heck, I haven’t even outgrown them! The only people who think kids outgrow naps are….kids.

Now, that said: I do have a kid who is not a Good Napper. Meaning, he’ll climb in bed and read quietly for an hour. But he can’t really sleep during the day. Which is fine. He has learned to respect the rest of us who ARE good nappers. And after an hour of downtime, he’s much calmer and more well-behaved.

I’m also a firm believer in early bedtimes for children. I have this sneaky suspicion that many behavioral problems can be directly attributed to late bedtimes. I’m always stunned to hear how many young kids stay up past 9pm. My little ones were always in bed by 7:30pm. Even now, my older kids are in bed by 8pm and can read until 8:30pm (my oldest sometimes stays up later to finish homework after ballet).

But the point is, children are not little adults. If children don’t get enough sleep, they explode all over the place the next day.

Here’s the thing: nobody thinks you’re cool if you believe in napping. In fact, it’s COOL to skip napping, to be all revolutionary and FUN and not sleep. Don’t believe me? Just try it.

Start adhering to a nap schedule and notice how many times adults (not to mention your kids) think you’re a loony bin. If you really want to kick it up a notch? Start going to bed early and notice how many people still text you at all godforsaken hours of the night.

Nobody writes songs about how going to bed early is awesome. Heck, right now Snoop Dogg has a song out wherein he literally CELEBRATES not going to bed! So what we go out! So what we don’t sleep! We’re just havin’ fun! We don’t care who sees!

Confession: I love that song way more than I should. ALSO: I hate that song.

Basically, I think there’s a conspiracy against a good night of sleep. It starts with this underlying idea that sleep is Wasted Time. It is fed by another idea called: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Thirdly, it assumes that being sleep deprived is fun.

Maybe I’m just an old lady now but I can assure that being sleep-deprived is not fun. I mean, sure, it sounds all fun and exciting to stay up until 3am–but only if I can sleep the whole next day. Problem is, I have kids.

Maybe I need to move to a country where taking a nap isn’t just normal, it’s expected.

Clearly, I need a siesta.

Sex, Lies & Mommy-Blogging

I’m glad Mommy blogs weren’t around when my firstborn was a baby. I might have killed myself, quite honestly. I always go a bit crazy after I childbirth as it is–PPD, roller-coaster hormones, sleep deprivation–and I’m fairly certain all the pretty, popular and practically perfect Mommy blogs would have thrown me over the edge.

All the beautiful home-births! All the cloth diapering! All the homeschooling of your children (in Latin!) before they turn 3! Not to mention all the organic oatmeal containers re-purposed as side-table lamps on Pinterest.

Ultimately, all the daily reminders that no matter how hard I try, I suck as a Mother. And also, why have I never thought to upcycle my cloth diapers into new window curtains? Because I’m a terrible mother, that’s why!

Maybe Al Gore invented the Internet, but sometimes I think Mothers invented the Mommy-blog the better to eat their fellow Mommies, my dear.

If I were a New Mom right now? I’d be so intimidated. But thankfully, I’m an Old Mom and very content to have given birth to five human beings, none of those births being anything other than ugly, brutal and bloody. I did not call my hypnotist or doula to help me achieve a “beautiful birth.” The only thing I called for was: “DRUGS! MORE DRUGS!”

After childbirth, I did not dress-up in a cute little nightgown and post pictures of myself on Facebook with the caption: “Placentas don’t taste that bad, afterall!” In fact, I did not even watch myself in the mirror as I pushed out babies.

I did, however, get to see a geyser of blood hit the ceiling during childbirth–which detail is NOT part of ANY Birth Plan that includes words like “beautiful” or “spiritual experience.”

Look, even my Birth Plan wasn’t planned. But it did include words like: THIS IS ***** INSANE, MOTHER***** HOW THE **** AM I SUPPOSED TO ******OUCH! OUCH! I’M DYIIIING!!

All I’m saying is, I’d like to return to a simpler time when mothers were allowed to have ugly births and weren’t held up for public scorn if they decided to (horrors!) formula-feed their babies. What’s so hard about just saying: “Good for you!” and meaning it?

Instead, we’ve got all these Mommy-Designer/Lifestyle blogs that make motherhood seem like one transcendent dream of all-organic, water-birthing, co-sleeping crocheted tricycle wheel covers.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with pretending like your life is a lovely dream. This is why I like to peruse Martha Stewart books–because her dreams are so pretty. But here’s the difference: I understand she has a full-time staff of people staging, photographing and editing her dream to make it look real.

The trouble with Designer/Crafting/Cooking/Lifestyle Mommy blogging is that it appears as if these Mommies do it all without any outside help. As if, baby, they were born this way. Being a Proverbs 31 Woman just comes naturally! And don’t forget to like my Facebook fan page so I can send you a free sample of all-natural vitamin supplements!

Nobody ever mentions how last week they had to call Poison Control because their toddler guzzled some bleach–(oops, can’t let anyone know you use bleach because then you might lose that sponsor who is paying you to promote their all-natural cleaning products on your blog!!)

These falsehoods are only made worse by the putting on of superior airs, the passive-aggressive language that suggests if you reeeeeeally loved you children, you wouldn’t send them to public school or give them anything other than The Very Best.

The main problem I have with these ideas are that they seek to define Motherhood–indeed, your entire identity as a person–by the way you bake your bread, decorate your house or educate your children.

And that’s a definition of womanhood I wholesale reject mainly because it only works with a small percentage of the global female population; ie. upper-middle-class, privileged.

So, if feminism is to move forward, I think we Older Moms owe New Mothers the space not to feel crushed under the pressure of pretending it’s all so very perfect. Wanting to be a good mother is good. New mothers want to give their babies the best. But this urge can easily become an unhealthy, hurtful compulsion when you’re comparing yourself to your favorite Mommy blogger who somehow manages to run four miles a day, homeschool her six children and take beautiful, well-staged photos of her all-organic, gluten-free dinners–without any paid staff or outside help.

I used to believe in Only The Best For My Children and now I’ve mellowed a bit and believe in grace and good enough and sometimes Chicken McNuggets.

I believe in working hard and in giving myself a break. I believe in blogging about real life and not making anyone feel like a crap-Mother after reading my posts.

Mostly, I believe there are many ways to mother well. And you are the best mother for your children so don’t let any blogger (myself included!) make you feel otherwise.

As a wise sage once said (and I’m paraphrasing, here), it’s better to be imperfectly YOU than to be a perfect imitation of someone else.

I don’t know who said that but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Mommy blogger.