The Parenting Industrial Complex

When I was pregnant with The Boy, we received a lot of parenting books. We got one on raising little scientists, and one on raising an emotionally intelligent child, and…I don’t even know, because I didn’t read a damn one of them. I just don’t put a lot of stock in what books say about how to raise a kid, because, every kid is different. My two kids are nothing like each other, so if I followed what a book said about how to raise them, I’d be doing it right for one and not the other, because they just  need really different parenting techniques.

The only parenting book I’ve actually read is one about getting your kid to sleep, because The Girl is 2 and she still will not fucking sleep through the night. I mean, some nights she does, and then other nights she’s up crying every couple of hours for no fucking reason. I am so fucking tired that I got desperate and read this book, and you know what? She’s still not fucking sleeping through the night. I’m so fucking tired…where was I? Oh yes, parenting books. Reading that book about sleep taught me one thing: even a good parenting book (and this one wasn’t bad) can’t always solve your parenting problems. At best it can give you some ideas to try, one of which might help you.

And at worst, it will make you feel like shit. It will make you feel guilty for doing things differently than the author suggested. And it will make you feel like you must be a bad parent, because its “scientifically proven” parenting methods didn’t work on your child. It’s especially shitty for parents of kids with disabilities–way to make parents who already feel “not normal” feel even more so, you jerk!

I call the parenting book industry the Parenting Industrial Complex. Because, it’s actually not just books, it’s also products. They make you think that if you buy this book, or that baby carrier, or that high chair, or those diapers, or that crib bedding, or this stroller, or those toys, that your child’s life will be better, and that your job as a parent will be easier, and that everyone in your family will magically be happy. And if you don’t, your child’s life will be ruined, you’ll struggle at parenting, and everyone in your family will be miserable.

And it’s not just books and products either–the internet is filled with parenting advice articles. And they have awesome titles like “7 Ways You’re Making Your Child’s Tantrums Worse” or “The Top 10 Ways Moms Sabotage Their Child’s Potty Training” or “What This Mom Wished She Knew Before Her Teen Attempted Suicide.” What the fuck, internet? Like I don’t already have enough mom guilt to navigate, you gotta go with the “click here or your child could die” headlines? Seriously? And you know what? Those articles are so full of shit. I read a tantrum one the other day that said “Hug your child when they’re having a tantrum.” ORLY??? When The Girl is having a tantrum, she screams “DON’T TALK TO ME.” I’m pretty sure a hug is gonna make things worse. That’s some pretty fucking awful advice for my kid.

But crazy headlines like that are how the internet makes its money. Like, if I were trying to get this blog to get page hits, so I can sell advertising revenue, I have to turn the headline into something that’s going to draw people in. And as local TV news learned decades ago, scary headlines reel people in. Emotional manipulation sells, man. It sells better than an article that says “Who the hell knows what’s the best way to calm your toddler down? Every kid is different. Here’s 10 ideas, none of which may work for you, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent.”

What we, you and I, have to do is to NOT click on those headlines, and instead click on the blogs and read the books and buy the products that aren’t sold to us based on our fears. We need to seek out the writers who say “I know you can do it if you just trust yourself. It won’t always be perfect, there will be pee on the floor, but you will get there.” There are plenty of them out there–we just have to cut through the click-bait and the guilt-books that the Parenting Industrial Complex are trying to sell us, and find the good stuff instead.

I have a good excuse to be flaking out on everything for a while

So, I got diagnosed with breast cancer on Wednesday.

No, that’s not the start of some sick joke.

Last week, I found a lump in my breast. They scanned it on Monday and said it looked extremely suspicious, so they did a needle biopsy. The results came in on Wednesday. As of last night, I am Stage III, with more tests to be run.

I’m now in doctor appointment hell. I am being poked, scanned, drawn on, and turned radioactive. So many people have squeezed my boob. SO MANY.

Right now, it looks like this will be a tough fight. Right now, things are dark here. But not as dark as the anger that is fueling my fight. Cancer doesn’t realize who it is fucking with. I will destroy it. I will strangle its babies, drown its pets, and burn its house down.

I will be blogging this, too. I can’t NOT write. But everything is a little raw at the moment, and I’m not ready to share them yet. Also, I’m literally at so many doctor appointments, it’s hard to find the time. So, expect some of my regular post topics for a bit longer.

I don’t say this enough, but I think you guys know just how much you, my readers, mean to me. I love you and I am grateful for you. I hope you’ll stick with me through this ride.

Mom Bloggers as Feminist Warriors

You know, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, because actually, this topic is what made me think “Hey, I should start a blog so I can write a post about that.” And then, like, I started writing and other stuff came out first instead of this topic, and I sort of forgot about it. In fact, I think maybe I thought I’d already written the post, but I hadn’t, I’d just talked about it. Chronic sleep exhaustion does funny things to your brain.

When I was in college, I was an unpaid fundraising intern for a feminist non-profit, and one of my duties was to help out at the annual fundraising dinner. Now, in DC, these events are suuuuuper common, but if you’re not from there, you’re probably not as familiar with what a big fundraising dinner is like. Basically, imagine the biggest hotel ballroom you’ve ever been in, filled with big round tables, and people in cocktail attire sitting at said tables eating a fairly generic chicken dinner and drinking Chardonnay while listening to people on a stage talking about how great the organization is that is hosting the dinner. That’s it, that’s basically the event. And, the tickets that get you the generic dinner are like, I dunno, $100 a person or whatever. This was 20 years ago and I don’t remember what the going rate was back then, but it was waaaay over my college student budget, but that’s OK because I was working the event, so I got in for free. A lot of the seats at our dinner were bought by wealthy and/or large companies that supported our cause, like, Nike bought a table at this dinner–that is, they paid for 10 seats. But then they didn’t send anyone, so their table sat empty, except for me and the other unpaid intern who was working the event with me. Which was awesome because then we got to drink all the wine for the table. (Actually, we just drank some of it and took the rest home with us.)

So, my job at the dinner was to staff the name tag table with the other intern, and hand out name tags to the guests as they arrived. At one point a short elderly woman walked up to the table in front of the other intern, who said, “Can I help you?” And the woman sneered, rolled her eyes and said, “Betty Friedan” in the most condescending voice I’ve ever heard. That’s when it registered in my brain that this woman was THE Betty Friedan, the one whose book I had read the previous spring for a women’s studies course. She DID look like the photo on the back of the book, except much older. I handed her name tag to her, and she took it without smiling or saying thank you. Clearly she’d been insulted that my co-intern hadn’t immediately recognized her and said, “Oh Ms. Friedan, we’re so glad you’re here, may I get you your name tag?” What a bitch. It totally shattered for me my hero-worship of the woman who many see as the mother of second-wave feminism because of that book, The Feminine Mystique.

And now I get to my point about mom blogging and feminism. Friedan’s book was about how women like her–educated, upper-class and upper-middle-class white women–felt being housewives in the post-World War II era. Here were women who in our era would be likely to be doctors or lawyers or hedge fund managers or CEOs, but in those days, the only career that was considered acceptable for them was homemaker. It wasn’t like today when women of that income and education can choose between a career in addition to motherhood, or choose to just stick with motherhood as their career. Instead, it was unseemly for women of that social strata to be gainfully employed once they were married, so, despite having degrees from prestigious colleges, they kept house and raised their kids, whether they felt fulfilled by that life or not.

What was radical about Friedan’s work wasn’t just that she was challenging the idea that the best thing for women is to be homemakers. What was radical, what was game-altering, was that she was talking about what women’s lives are really like. Not the idealized images we saw in advertising, and not an academic analysis, but what they were actually living. She was writing the truth of her experience, and using it to say, “This is why things have to change.” The personal became political, and women everywhere realized they didn’t have to pretend to be happy anymore, that they weren’t alone, that other women felt it too.

And THAT is exactly what mom blogging is. It is women writing the truth of their lives. They’re writing about the poop stains on the carpet, and the choice to let their kid eat the food that fell on the floor, and the frustration with their toddler who still WILL NOT SLEEP. It’s powerful stuff, and the reason it’s powerful is because it is the truth of their experience as women at this point in time, in history, in their lives. And when they do that, it gives other women license to say, “Hey, I feel that way too. I’m not a bad person for feeling this way–I’m not alone.” I really can’t say just how important that feeling is, the feeling that you’re not alone, and that it’s OK to feel the way you do, AND, that it’s to talk about what you’re living. That’s what Friedan gave us, and mom bloggers are keeping up that tradition.

So, keep rocking that mom blog, you guys. Speak your truth. Because you’re helping women everywhere to find their strength.

Children’s Television Survival Guide: The Good Night Show

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post for my Children’s Television Survival Guide, and that’s because there is a lot of really horrible children’s television that no amount of positive attitude or creative interpretation or irony can make palatable. Literally, children’s television is that bad. Especially the junk my kids have been watching lately, most of which has been driven by the tastes of The Boy. But recently I decided that we should go back to basics and start watching the Sprout channel again. Now, that’s dangerous, because they show Caillou. But if you can figure out when that crap is on and avoid watching it during those hours, it’s actually not a horrible line-up. Our favorite time to watch is at the start of The Good Night Show, which is the subject of today’s post.

Basically, the set up of the show is that Nina, the host, is hanging around a tree house in her PJs (don’t worry, they’re tasteful) with a stuffed-animal-puppet named Star, who is, unsurprisingly, shaped like a star. Nina and Star engage in witty banter…OK, not really, they just chat about whatever the topic of the day is, and then introduce the cartoons. Nina also does some “yoga” with some little kids that they call a “Sprout Stretch.” The other night, it was basically doing I’m a Little Teapot but without the singing. And, Nina can speak a little Spanish, so she teaches Star a word in Spanish every day. They do a craft too, but not usually during the stretch I’m watching with the kids.

Maybe I’ve watched Death to Smoochy one too many times, but I feel like Nina’s in on the joke when I watch her. Like, sometimes she’ll look at Star or the camera or whatever, and she just gets this look that says “Yeah, I know how silly this is, I’m talking a puppet.” Like she’s stifling a laugh. I feel like if I met Nina in person a cocktail party, she’d be cool, and not like Uncle Fran. (No seriously, you HAVE to click on that link, it’s so awesomely inappropriate! But make the kids leave the room first. God, I miss Almost Live.)

The Good Night Show was actually one of The Boy’s favorites when he was The Girl’s age, and I think that’s because he was in love with Nina, the host. She’s gorgeous but in a non-threatening way. What I love about Nina is that she’s soothing. Because, it’s bed time. I don’t need Dora screaming at my toddler and winding her all up when it’s time to go to sleep, I need someone calm. The Sprout Stretch is not aerobic exercise, it’s a stretch. She sits calmly on the couch and talks. She smiles a lot but isn’t bouncy. It’s relaxing after a long day to see calm, pleasant Nina on my TV screen.

And now I feel so calm, I need a little nap. Thanks, Nina!

How We Talk To The Boy About His ADHD

I’ve never been the kind of parent to tiptoe around a subject with my kids. Like, when The Boy asked me in the car one day (Mother’s Day, actually, he was just about to turn 6) how a baby gets into a mom’s tummy in the first place, I said, “This is probably going to sound weird, but it’s the truth: grown ups do something called sex, and what that is, is, a man sticks his penis inside a woman’s vagina, and then some stuff squirts out of the penis, and it mixes with an egg inside the woman. But the egg is tiny, not like a chicken egg, it’s just a little speck, and then it grows slowly over time into a baby. Sex is something grown-ups do, not kids, and it’s also a topic that can make parents feel uncomfortable, so it’s a good idea not to talk to your friends at school about it. Let their parents tell them, OK?” And The Boy was like, “Huh. OK.” The Hubs helpfully pointed out that the stuff that comes out of the penis is called semen and it’s little tiny things in the semen called sperm that do the mixing with the egg. And I was like, “Oh, good point, The Hubs.”

Did I feel mildly weird about it? Sure, I mean, I don’t talk about semen and vaginas every day, and certainly not to a kid, so it did feel a little outside my comfort zone. But it would have felt weirder to be like “We’ll tell you when you’re older” or “That’s private” or “There’s a magical stork that does it.” I just find that the best way to handle a situation with my kids is to tell them the truth, in as straight-forward a way as I can, instead of tiptoeing around it. It’s like ripping off the bandaid, there’s some minor discomfort for a second but I feel a lot better in the long run.

So, we’ve done the same with The Boy’s ADHD. The day he got diagnosed, we sat him down and I said, “So, remember when we talked to your doctor about how you have trouble focusing in class? Well, he suggested that we talk to one of the people who works in his office to see if they think you have something different about your brain that’s making it harder for you to concentrate—it’s called ADHD. And the person DOES think you have it, and thinks that maybe there’s a medicine you can take that’ll make it easier for you to focus. So, we’re going to try out the medicine starting tomorrow, and see if it helps.” And he was like, “What’s the thing called again? That they think I might have?” And I said, “It’s ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s basically a fancy way of saying your brain works a little differently and that makes it hard to concentrate.” And he was like “Huh. OK.”

The next day, we checked in with him quite a bit about how he was feeling on the meds—we’re obviously a little worried about side effects, and we wanted to make sure it was working. At one point, The Boy and I were sitting at a table while he ate lunch and I said, “So, how does your brain feel today?” and he said, “I can focus better.” And I said, “That’s great!” And he said, “I like learning about how my brain works. Like Rudy did.” And I said, “Sure, Rudy learned about his dyslexia and that made it easier for him to learn, huh?” And he said, “Yeah, I like that.” YES! We always talk about Rudy and his dyslexia when we watch that movie, and how he had to learn about how his brain works differently, and how much easier it was for him to learn after he knew how his brain worked. It made me so happy to see him make that connection to his own brain, because Rudy really is one of his heroes.

Last week, The Boy asked me if we knew anyone else who has ADHD. And I told him about one of our adult friends who has it. I said, “In fact, she told me she takes the same medicine as you. Would you want to maybe talk to her about it sometime?” And he said, “Yeah!” And I said, “She told me when she started taking the medicine, she felt like everything was buzzing. Like, everything around her. Did you feel like that?” And he said, “No. That’s awkward.” (That’s one of his favorite words now.) And I said, “Well, I’m glad you didn’t feel that way. You know, maybe we could do a play date with her and her kids, and you could chat with her about ADHD.” And he was like, “Yeah, that sounds great!”

The other night, after The Boy’s meds had worn off for the day, I sat down with him for reading time, and man, it was brutal. He was resistant to even trying to read a book he’d picked out at the book store that weekend (it was a Star Wars Angry Birds book, so, definitely one I knew he’d like). So I said, “Sweetie, is it hard for you to focus now that the meds have worn off for the day?” And he said, “Yeah, it is.” And then IMMEDIATELY calmed down, and was ready to try to read. It was like the frustration just melted away. We got a couple pages in and it was clear he was really struggling to focus—his eyes were darting all over the page instead of looking at the words, and the book was already one that was pushing the boundaries of his reading ability. So then I said, “How about we try this other book that you’ve read already, since it’s hard for you to focus right now? Would that be better?” And he said, “Yeah, that would be better.” And he was able to pull it together to read the other book to me.

What I took away from that experience was this: when The Boy struggles with focus, it can make him feel VERY frustrated. But he’s not yet at a point where he realizes that his ADHD symptoms are why he’s frustrated. So, if we talk about it, name it, openly and without shame, then he isn’t so down on himself. He can say, “Oh, this is because my brain is working differently” and then the layer of frustration with himself that goes on top of the layer of inattention is peeled away. When he understands why he’s struggling, he doesn’t feel so shitty about struggling—he knows there’s a reason why it’s happening, and that it’ll be better the next day when he’s taken his meds again. Just like I feel better now that I know what’s going on with him, because I know it’s not some fault in my parenting that’s making him struggle, and I know how to help him struggle less.

I also learned that reading a brand new difficult-for-him book after his meds have worn off is probably a really dumb idea that I won’t be repeating! Duh!

Cocktails with the Cult: The Thin Mint

Last year, I threw a big cocktail party at our house as a fundraiser for the March of Dimes. I raise money for the March of Dimes every year because their volunteers helped us get through the NICU experience (it was a March of Dimes parent volunteer who introduced me to the concept of the pump and dump when I really wanted a cocktail during those dark days) and because the research they’ve funded over the years probably helped save The Boy’s life. What’s that, you say? You want to make a donation to our family team in this year’s March for Babies? Well, isn’t that sweet of you! CLICK HERE!

Wait a minute. Is this a cocktail recipe or a fundraising pitch? Hahaha, it’s both!

Now, where was I…oh yes, cocktail fundraiser. Being a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, I know how much people love Girl Scout cookies and how they jones for them after the sale is over. I figured people would pony up a nice fatty donation to have the chance to come to a cocktail party at our place that featured Girl Scout cookies AND booze after the sale was over, when it was too late to buy cookies. So, I bought a zillion Girl Scout cookies, and began surfing the Internet for Girl Scout cookie cocktails, and created a Facebook event, et voila! We had several hundred bucks for the March of Dimes and a lot of happy friends. It was AWESOME.

The cocktail that was the biggest hit of the evening was the Thin Mint (although the Samoa cocktail was also well-loved, but since we just had a delicious coconut cocktail last time here on the blog, you’ll just have to learn about that recipe next year!). You’re gonna love this. It’s strong and sweet and looks amazing. But you’re gonna need some supplies. This is a fancy drink for a special event, not a toss-it-together-when-feeling-lazy cocktail. OK, here goes.

First off, the glass. You want to get some chocolate syrup–good stuff if you can afford it. I went with Dilettante’s chocolate syrup–they’re a local company that makes amazing chocolates, and if you’re ever in the Seattle airport, you should get a mocha from their stand instead of the Starbucks at the food court. Shorter line, better mocha. Alright, so, pour the chocolate syrup in a puddle on a plate and dip the rim in it.

Then you need some crushed up Thin Mint cookies. Smash them in a plastic bag with a mallet, run them through a food processor, whatever. Then put them on a plate too and dip the chocolatey rim in the cookies.

Now the drink. I actually made pitchers of this, so I could just pour some in a glass to serve, but here’s the recipe for one drink:

2 oz. chocolate mint liqueur (I used Crave brand)
1 oz. vanilla vodka
2-3 splashes chocolate bitters

If you’re making an individual drink, you can shaker this one, but since I used pitchers, I just stirred it.

This one is deceptively strong. You’re gonna need a designated driver, you guys, I’m not kidding–especially because it’s so amazingly good, you may be tempted to have more than one! Cheers!

Talking Down

When The Boy was in the NICU, the room he was in had 6 babies in it. (They didn’t have private rooms, just areas they could screen off around each incubator. This meant that you got to know the other families, which was great–some of them are still his friends today.) The first couple of weeks, all the kids in his room were boys, and then one day, a girl moved in. I don’t remember her name, but the nurses all joked that The Boy had a girlfriend now. Except, the girl wasn’t like the other kids in The Boy’s room–she screamed a lot.

Preemies don’t scream a ton–if they’re on a ventilator, it’s not physically possible, and if they’re not, they just sleep so much because they’re really busy doing all the growing they would have done in utero, which is a LOT of growing. And it’s much harder work to do it in an incubator than in the womb, so they just need a ton of rest.

But there are lots of reasons why a baby might end up in the NICU besides prematurity. For example, I have a friend whose son was born full-term but with situs inversus, like The Boy has, and they kept him in the NICU for several days after he was born to try to make sure his abdominal organs worked properly and he wasn’t going to need surgery. Babies with birth defects often end up in the NICU. And I know tons of people whose full-term babies had jaundice that required a hospitalization.

And then there’s the drug-addicted kids. The Boy’s Girlfriend was one of those kids, and that’s why she screamed so much. I mean, I’m not an addiction specialist, but I’ve read enough about it to know that detoxing feels pretty shitty. And when babies feel shitty, they scream. Which is why The Boy’s Girlfriend was screaming. How do I know that’s what was going on and it wasn’t some other medical condition that made her feel shitty? Because her mom was clearly, obviously, visibly high when she visited the baby in the NICU. And because the grandma openly discussed it in the family waiting room. After a few days of screaming, The Boy’s Girlfriend stopped screaming, and then she went home with her grandma.

I noticed during our time in the NICU that the staff spoke to the drug-addicted parents differently than they spoke to us. The spoke to us more collegially, more as team mates or peers. Whereas, parents that they didn’t see as stable, the staff tended to speak to in a more didactic style. For example, the doctors and nurses tended to go into more detail when explaining what was going on with The Boy, and they dug deeper into how he was progressing and how it compared to an average 27-weeker.

I get why a NICU team might not throw all the details at a parent who’s clearly high as a kite. I mean, I’ve never used drugs, but I’m betting that a woman who just gave birth and is high is probably not going to be capable of processing all the information that’s available in a NICU. It’s hard enough to understand it all when you aren’t high. But also, I think they felt protective of the kids under their care, and were worried what would happen to them when they left, which has to make it hard connect to parents who were so clearly unstable and might not even be the one raising that child after discharge. With us, who they could tell were going to take good care of The Boy when he went home, they were more open about why they were doing a procedure a certain way, or why the doctor had chosen a certain respiratory intervention, or whatever. They embraced us as partners in his care, and we became friends. And they were very supportive of us–they asked us how we were feeling and just did the things that friends do when they know you’re hurting. I would imagine it’s hard to build that kind of relationship with someone who’s high, and who you know might not even be the one who ends up being the care-giver for that baby after discharge.

I’ve noticed the same didactic style when dealing with some other medical professionals, particularly with specialists who don’t see us as often and don’t have the chance to build a rapport with us. And actually, so have some other preemie moms I’ve spoken to. One of my preemie mom friends told me recently that she had a particularly stressful appointment with a specialist for her son. She left the appointment feeling awful, and threatened–that if her son didn’t improve in a certain area, then the doctor would punish them with a more serious medical intervention. I’m sure the doctor didn’t mean for it to come across that way, but I’ve actually had the same feeling with some doctors myself. It’s as though they blame the parents for the child’s medical conditions, rather than seeing the parents as teammates in trying to help the child thrive.

That “threat” of bigger interventions is actually one of my pet peeves from my time on bed rest before The Boy was born. When one of the NICU docs (the only one without great people skills, as it happened) came to talk to me about what the NICU was like and the statistics on outcomes for preemies, it felt like she was saying “You better keep that baby cooking in there, or else.” But, that presumes I have any control over when  my body goes into labor. Like if I just want it bad enough, I can choose when my baby is born? Uh, no, I can’t. And of course, I wasn’t on hospital bed rest for long before I DID go into labor. And then I got to feel guilty about that too, as though it was somehow my fault that I couldn’t stay on bed rest longer. And we wonder why preemie moms need therapy to get past their feelings of guilt over their child’s birth? It would have helped if that doctor had said “I hope your body cooperates, but we know it might not, and that’s not your fault.”

As if that wasn’t enough to make you feel like crap, one of the worst parts about having a kid in the NICU is not being able to parent them the way other parents can. You can’t just pick up your baby and hold him or her when they’re hooked up to machines and in an incubator. So, a lot of NICU parents don’t feel like “real” parents. And that means that when a NICU staffer talks down to you, or otherwise limits your authority as a parent, it really hurts. My worst memories from the NICU involve the very few nurses who limited our involvement in The Boy’s care. On my darkest PTSD days, that’s the feeling that I re-live, and I find myself thinking of all the things I want to say to them, or rather, scream at them. And when a specialist talks to me that way now, I still feel that “you are not a real parent” feeling. It’s really painful.

If you’re a medical professional and you’re talking to a parent whose child is not well, I hope you’ll think a bit about whether you’re speaking to those parents as partners in that child’s care, the way most of the NICU nurses did with us. If you aren’t, I hope you’ll start. And if you are, I want to say thank you–medical staff like you make it possible for parents like me to get through the tough times with our kids.

Beth’s Classic Film Club: All About Eve

Is Mean Girls one of your favorite movies? Well, how about if instead of being a comedy, it was a serious film? And instead of Lindsey Lohan being a well-meaning kid who learns her lesson and apologizes, she was a lying, manipulative actress who would do anything to get ahead, including stabbing her friends in the back and trying to steal their husbands, and only fake-apologize for it? And how about if there were dudes in the movie who were just as mean as the mean girls? DARK. And that is why The Hubs, who will watch any horror movie and not wince once, is terrified by our next film club selection: All About Eve. And when you ask him why, he says, “Because horror movies aren’t real.”

All About Eve won 6 Oscars and a Golden Globe–let’s talk about why.

OK, first off, Betty Davis. BETTY FUCKING DAVIS. Now there’s a woman who could act. Her character in this movie is so deeply flawed, and yet, you want her to be happy. You can’t help but love her even as she’s being a horrible spoiled brat who shits on everyone around her. She delivers some amazing lines in this film that would be cheesy if anyone else said them, I mean, anykne, even Kate Hepburn. At several points in this movie, I begin to wonder if flames are actually going to shoot out of her eyeballs. She’s vulnerable and powerful all at once and it’s amazing.

Then there’s my favorite character of the film, Addison DeWitt, played by George Sanders, a hell of an actor (he was great in Ivanhoe, too) who won an Oscar for this part. DeWitt may be the most viscous, consciously self-serving jerk in the history of film. I believe he may have invented snark. He disdains everyone and everything, including himself. He says things like “While you wait, you can read my column. It will the make minutes fly like hours.” He is a character I love to hate.

The supporting cast is wonderful. A young Marilyn Monroe (who was virtually unknown at the time) plays a night club dancer trying to break into theater. Thelma Ritter is sassy, as she is in every role she plays. And Gregory Ratoff is fantastic as Max the hapless producer. Oh Max, if I were you, I’d need some Bromo Fizz too.

And then there’s Eve, played by Anne Baxter. I’m afraid to say anything, because I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, but…yeah. Eve. I think we’ve all probably known a few Eves in our lives. Or perhaps we’ve been Eve ourselves. Ponder that as you watch the film.

And also ponder the film from a feminist perspective. Think about women supporting each other in their careers, or not. Think about today’s discussions of supermoms, and what we know about what roles there are for women in film as they age. What is this film saying about all that, and is it right? Could you remake this film today or wouldn’t feel dated? Who would you cast as Eve? Leave me your thoughts in the comments.

I am fascinated by All About Eve and I find something new in it every time I watch it. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do, and I hope it doesn’t give you too many nightmares!

We both love our kids

You guys, I’m super excited. Today is a big day for the momming community because it’s Moms for Moms Day! CT Working Moms and their awesome Campaign for Judgment Free Motherhood have teamed up with to organize moms around the net to show their support for moms to stop judging and being judged, and to come together to support one another. Which, you guys know that’s TOTALLY what this blog is about, so I’m super excited to be participating, with the post below. If you guys dig the message, jump in the mix today on Facebook or Twitter, with the hash tag #moms4moms.

I have a cousin in Wisconsin who I haven’t seen since we were kids, but we’re Facebook friends, so we keep up with each other’s lives. She’s got two kids, and she loves NASCAR and professional wrestling. Like, she posts on FB about how she loves or hates some NASCAR driver or how happy she is that some wrestler brought in the pain or whatever it is you say about wrestlers, is that what you say about wrestlers? I know nothing about NASCAR or wrestling. I watched WWF back when it was still called WWF back in law school when I was dating The Hubs, because The Hubs and his roommates watched it, but I never really got it. And NASCAR? I know even less about it. Is there a driver named Jeff Gordon? that sounds familiar? something something Junior? It’s just not my thing. But you know what? She’s my cousin, and we do have one thing in common: we both love our kids. (And the Seahawks.)

My college BFF is a Republican. She’s also a church-every-Sunday Catholic and her oldest son is an alter boy. We all know I am a heathen, and I am most definitely not a Republican. She also doesn’t drink and doesn’t eat dessert. Have you read my Girl Scout cookie cocktail recipe? But you know what? She’s my BFF, and we both love our kids. (And Star Trek. And very bad puns.)

Our neighbor who runs the daycare where we send The Girl (and where we send The Boy during school breaks) is a vegan Mormon. That means she doesn’t drink coffee (GASP) and she doesn’t eat bacon. I love bacon so much. Pig really is the most delicious animal, isn’t it? And we’ve already discussed my heathenism. But you know what? She is an awesome neighbor and an awesome child care provider, and we both love our kids. (And going on cruises.)

Everyone in this world is different. Every kid is different, and every mom is different. But the longer I live and the more moms I meet, the more I realize that our differences are interesting and worth acknowledging, but what’s really powerful is that no matter how different we are, we all love our kids. I feel like if we can all remember that every mom loves her children, maybe we can stop judging each other for our differences, and focus on what we have in common: our love for our children. Because when moms love more and judge less, we can make the world a better place, for all of us, and for all of our children.

I was going to finish with a photo of me and my local BFF because she loves to run, and I hate running. But you know what? I love her new baby and I don’t want to share my nasty cold with him. So instead, I’ll just share a link to her blog here so you guys can go over there and share some love with a new mom!

Things Not to Say to a Preemie Mom

So, I’ve talked a bit about what the NICU is like and how to be a good friend to someone whose baby is in the NICU. Now it’s time to learn some things you should never, ever, ever say to a woman who just had a preemie. And yes, people actually say this stuff. It’s not because they’re horrible people, it’s just that if you haven’t had a preemie, you don’t understand what it’s like or why these comments would hurt a preemie mom’s heart. We all put our feet in our mouths sometimes and that doesn’t make us bad people. It just means we need someone to explain things to us. As always, I’m here to help, not judge. Her we go!

1. “You look like you didn’t even have a baby.” Oh man, where do I even start…let me begin with the preemie mom’s perspective here. When you have a preemie, one of the many awful feelings you have is that you don’t feel like a “real” mom. You’re not doing the things that “real” moms do–hell, you may not even be allowed to hold your child. So, a comment like this adds to the negation of your experience as a parent, that is to say, it makes you feel even less like a “real” mom. Also, I get that you’re trying to compliment the mom on her weight loss, but how about we don’t comment so much on women’s post-partum bodies? How about size isn’t a thing for women, especially when they just gave birth? How about their actions, like their dedication to their child, are worthy of praise instead of their weight?

2. “You’re lucky your labor was so much easier since the baby was so small.” I even said this one to myself, as I was trying to find the bright side of this nightmare I was living. But seriously? Nobody is lucky to have a preemie. It’s not something anyone in their right mind would ever want. And whatever physical pain you avoid by having a tiny baby, you more than make up for in emotional pain. Don’t try to find silver linings. Just accept that having a preemie is a shitty, shitty thing.

3. “I hope my baby comes early.” NO NO NO NO NO. No you don’t. Look, I get that the last month or two of pregnancy sucks. I had a full-term baby too. I know what swollen feet and insomnia and peeing every five minutes and heartburn and baby feet kicking your ribs are like. They suck, it’s true. And none of them is worse than the NICU. You don’t actually wish for the NICU. Complain away about your symptoms and wish it was your due date already and I will be right there with you…but do not say “I hope my baby comes early” or you’ll probably get an earful from a preemie mom about what bradycardia is.

4. “Sometimes it’s hard to understand God’s plan.” I can’t even with this crap. Just go read this and understand it applies to any medical crisis, including the NICU.

5. “I guess the baby just wanted to come out.” Oh yes, The Boy really wanted to be a preemie. He chose this. It’s all his fault. Because babies choose how and when to be born. They sit up in our wombs and say “I think today I’ll tear my mom’s bag of waters so I can live in an incubator for a couple of months.” Because they can talk. Are you trying to express that “shit just happens and this wasn’t your fault”? Then say that instead. Don’t blame the kid. I don’t like it when people blame my kid for things that weren’t his fault.

6. “Wow, you’re really paranoid about germs.” Paranoia means that a person is behaving irrationally. It means they are afraid of something that isn’t really a danger. Preemie parents are not behaving irrationally when they hole up at home during the winter. They’re literally following doctor’s orders. Preemie lungs aren’t like regular baby lungs–they’ve been damaged by the very machines that kept them alive in the NICU. So, they don’t get over colds the way that non-preemies do. The Boy had pneumonia twice before he turned 2, even with us avoiding germs as much as possible. If we don’t bring our lung-damaged child to visit you during cold and flu season, please do not be offended, and please don’t minimize our fears. They are based on medical advice, not paranoia.

7. “You guys are such great parents, you really should have another.” Look, I appreciate you see me as a great parent who you think should have more kids. That’s a nice compliment. But, you’re suggesting I put myself in a position where I may have to go through the worst experience of my life a second time. That’s terrifying. The Hubs and I came to it in our own time, but the pressure from friends to have another was not productive. In fact, it made us less likely to have another. Adding stress to someone who’s experienced a trauma is not helpful.

Preemie moms, got any more to add? Share them in the comments!