Augmented breasts, work-out clothes, and school drop-off

While we all appreciate the fact that when you invest in something, you want to show it off. But is school drop-off the appropriate time and place to be flashing your augmented breasts? Must you wear your leotard or your fitness pants or your hot-pink cami top when you take you 8-year-old daughter to school? Exactly who is the audience for such a show? The other mothers, who are perhaps more mature and don’t feel the need to compete with their daughters? The fathers, who are for the most part dressed in some professional attire and headed into the office? The kids?

And don’t tell us you are going to go workout immediately after dropping little Jane or little Johnny off at school. Even if you are, every gym has “state-of-the-art” locker-room facilities, saunas, showers, etc. You can and you should change there. But let’s be honest, the “I’m going to workout” excuse is really just a lie. We see you in the same offending outfit sitting at the local cafe, often with other moms who have similarly bad sartorial taste. You look like a collection of tarts hoping to turn a quick trick.

Do us all a favor. Grow up and act your age. You’re a mother, not a teenager. Perhaps your husband and his philandering friends enjoy looking at your heliotropic breasts, your liposuctioned thighs and ass, and your botoxed face, but the rest of us don’t.


Fatherhood is not some impoverished male motherhood

In a recent article in the NY Times on the paucity of men in the counseling world (“Need Therapy? A Good Man is Hard to Find“) a professional/academic psychologist from the University of Texas, Austin, makes the following statement: “In the same way that there is something very personal about being a mother, something very important to female identity, the experience of fathering is also very powerful.”

What is disturbing about this sentence is the fact it was said and printed in the first place. Why would anybody think that there was something special and defining about being a mother but deny that a similarly special and defining experience affected fathers? Particularly today, as fathers share more of the child-rearing responsibilities, such a statement is condescending and insulting. It purports to combat a common assumption about men/fathers as devoid of feeling and attachment, as uncaring. But it really reaffirms those assumptions, in part by the revelatory nature of the claim, in part by the professional credentials of the person making the claim, and in part by still devaluing the experience of being a father:

  • The reader is meant to be surprised by the statement, it is meant to be a revelation.
  • The claim is all the more important because it came from a trained professional who can unearth these human experiences in ways we common folk cannot.
  • Interestingly, fathers are not a type a person but a type of action, “fathering” sounds a lot like “fathering a child” and very little like “being a mother”.
  • And, in the end, there is only something “very powerful” about fathering that is not, apparently, something “very personal about being a [father], something very important to [male] identity.”

Something is amiss in our purportedly modern society when professionals (and the broader public) continue to disparage the role of fathers. Men are assuming more responsibility for raising children. Increasingly, men are stay-at-home fathers. And many others would probably opt to be stay-at-home fathers if economics allowed it. So why do we insist on denying to them some equality of attachment to their children? Why is it men cannot form bonds with their children that extend beyond the paradigmatic, emotionally shallow “fathering” with its connotations of “siring offspring” and “bread winning”?

If there is “something very personal about being a mother, something very important to female identity,” there is something equally personal about being a father, something very important to male identity. Stop making fathers into second-class parents.

One Father, Two Kids, No Hellion

In a marked contrast to Lazy Mom with Little Hellion, a father walked into a restaurant today carrying a toddler and holding the hand of a slightly older child. He walked over to a table and sat down. The toddler teetered about his chair while his older child sat across from him, wobbling on the chair. Dad and progeny sat there and had some food and drink. He read a book to them and at one point took them both to the toilette. When they got ready to leave, the older boy headed for the door. The father called his name and told him to wait. The little boy wandered back over to stand by dad. As the three headed out the door the father said they were headed over to a local playground.

A few noticeable things about this scene. First, dad left the stroller outside. That’s right mommies out there. He left his posh stroller outside on the sidewalk. He didn’t rearrange the entire restaurant so that he could shove his double-wide stroller and ass between the tables and chairs and park some Winnebago-sized pram next to his table. No. He was considerate enough to leave the damned thing outside. He brought in with him his two children and a small bag that seemed to have a bottle and some diapers in it (again, not an overnight bag into which he had crammed supplies for a trek across the Yukon Territory).

Second, he kept his kids by his side! He didn’t let them terrorize other customers. He didn’t offhandedly bark at them to stop doing something while talking to his friend. No. He paid attention to them. He actually read to them. He talked to them. He bounced one on his knee. And let’s recall that he had two kids, a perfectly ambulatory little boy of ca. 4 and a toddler. Somehow he was able to keep them under control.

Finally, when he did have to say something to one of his kids, he made clear both what he expected the kid to do (or not to do) and conveyed to his child the importance of minding. Amazingly, the child paid attention and did what he was told to do. No yelling. No nagging. No threats. Just a clearly stated command.

I don’t think this father was Superman or anything. But it doesn’t take Superman or an army of nannies to keep kids in line. He was simply engaged and clear about his expectations. And his expectations were socially responsible. He didn’t assume that the rest of the world would adore his offspring or had any obligation to put up with them. He and his kids seemed to enjoy themselves while there and walked out excited to go to the playground.

Maybe he could lead a parenting workshop for Lazy Mom and parents like her.

“Don’t Climb Up There…”

Her little terror is running around the cafe, climbing on chairs, grabbing food and plates from tables, and generally ignoring her injunctions. Perhaps because she doesn’t mean them. It is clear to her 3-year-old that she doesn’t mean them. The mother has already lost the opportunity to establish her authority. And now we, the rest of the world, will have to pay the price.

As Little Hellion is pulling at cups on the counter, mom is sitting on her ass explaining to another woman that he is “willful” and “stubborn,” that he doesn’t listen well, and that he is difficult to control. Note, her efforts to corral her child has extended only so far as saying “Don’t climb up there,” said over her shoulder as she continues to talk to the woman at the next table over.

Exactly what makes Lazy Mom think that Little Hellion will mind her? Oh, nothing. She clearly depends on the rest of us to endure her child and her parenting techniques. The rest of us have to move our drinks, pick up our bags, hold on to our food so that Lazy Mom doesn’t have to tend to her child.

Lazy Mom tells Little Hellion to “Stay right there, by your sister” and watches him dart off across the restaurant. And rather than reprimand him, scold him, explain in soft and empowering words that such behavior is inappropriate, she simply plopped her ass down on the couch and resumed a conversation with yet another woman.

Moms don’t have a monopoly on lax parenting, on the assumption that everybody else must bear the burden of raising their children or getting out of the way, but such moms are incredibly common out here on the Mainline. They let their little darlings maraud around spreading destruction. In some demented and twisted version of Rousseau, they turn their kids loose in the social wilderness, assuming that a radically unstructured and disciplined upbringing is better for the child. It’s like Emile for the rich and privileged. Emile wandering amongst the Range Rovers and BMWs.

But no, that’s giving the moms too much credit. Madame Bovary is probably more the model. They don’t seem to realize that parenting is work. That it is tiring. That is a thankless task and requires constant attention. They refuse to admit that they are no longer young, single, and free of responsibility. Rather than raise their children, they compete with each other to see who is the most attractive, whose vacations are the most “exotic.” Children have become something you have, not a person you raise.

Little Hellion just hit me with his lolly pop. Not accidentally. He stood next to me, looked at me, grinned, and smacked my arm with his sucker. When I asked him not to do it again, Lazy Mom told me she would take care of him. Her solution: “That’s not nice, Little Hellion.” He giggled and walked away armed with his sticky lolly pop.

Sorry Lazy Mom, that’s not the appropriate response.

Roaming Bands of Mainline Moms

Mainline Moms congregate, they convene, they assemble. They seem to precipitate out of thin air, suddenly filling public space with fashionable diaper bags, posh strollers, Avent bottles, Table Topper®s, and blather about vacations, nannies, and accessories. And like most other packs of animals, they quickly forget that anybody else exists. They appropriate chairs, clog walkways with paraphernalia, talk louder and louder, and generally take over all available space like some living fluid that has been poured into a cafe. They lose all sense of decorum. They assume that everybody in the coffee shop or restaurant wants to hear about their privileged lives and shares their hyper-exaggerated opinions of their progeny. And if any of their offspring happen to be ambulatory, they let them range freely and widely. Again, apparently assuming that the rest of the world loves their children as much as they do. Anybody who doesn’t share their myopic, navel-gazing worldview, anybody who refuses to drink their Kool-Aid, is immediately and loudly vilified.

Mainline Moms dissipate much as they arrive, seemingly without warning or cause. Evidence of their having been there often clutters the tables and floors—disheveled chairs and tables, cheerios, wrappers, dirty plates and cups, half-eaten bottles of organic, vegan baby food.

While they frequently seem like nice enough people when alone, Mainline Moms are unbearable in packs. They are like manicured, botoxed, lifted, augmented, and liposuctioned hyenas.