Judge not….. Except for, when you should. (#momsbeauty)

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 ”Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged”

  We are all familiar with the sacred edict issued from ‘above’.  And, why such an ominous warning?  Well, let’s face it, casting out moral judgment isn’t humanity’s typical outlet, for demonstrating kindness and compassion to one another (See: the Salem Witch Trials, the Inquisition, hate crimes, declarations of eternal damnation; you catch my drift.)

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In the modern climate of political correctness, the notion of issuing judgment, or appearing “judgy,” has become utterly taboo.  Nonetheless, we obviously haven’t lost the need for exercising a little judgment, now and again.  Throughout our evolution we’ve  had to judge the world around us, for sheer survival’s sake.  From locating fertile land to being aware of potential poisons; from establishing effective building materials, to determining the locations on which to build our cities; we’ve long had to utilize our judgment, as a means to an end.

Of course, we’ve also had to judge one another.

Our entire modern, criminal- justice system is based on the concept of judgment.  When an individual, (in most societies) commits certain acts, society, represented by a judge and/or jury, maintains the right to hold a trial, exercise judgment and, if guilt has been determined, enforce a penalty.  Much of the world depends on this system, for maintaining order.

Arguably, we place faith in this arrangement, based on some universally, accepted notions of right and wrong.  The fact that virtually all of the world’s major governments and religions, pretty much agree on a core standard of conduct, (killing is wrong, stealing is wrong, raping is wrong) indicates, on some general level, the existence of an “essence” for human morality.

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It makes me nervous, that I am implying there is any real legitimacy to religions, especially, judging what is right and moral.  After all, religious judgment has been at the root of tremendous slaughter and persecution, and a driving force for, women’s and homosexual’s, inequality, throughout most of the world and human history.

Of course, even as many major religions offer guidance in how to judge, they also warn us not to.  Understandably so, casting judgment can be dangerous water to tread in.  One may easily be swept away, by the currents of moral, self-righteousness.

But, that doesn’t mean we should be erasing morals, all together.  We still have to maintain some kind of order, and respect for one another.  Group morality is still vital for functioning co-existence, especially as our numbers swell to nearly 7billion, of the same species, sharing a planet.

Currently, there has arisen the need for a reexamination of social mores.  This necessity has been greatly amplified, with the advent of the information technology age.  We now have access to other humans on a massive, previously, unimaginable scale, via social media.

We don’t yet know the full ramifications of all this exposure, and insight into the finite details of one another’s thoughts, images and lives, that sites like, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube, now afford us.  But, one thing is abundantly clear.  These days, we have monumental freedom to broadcast ourselves to the world.

   With great freedom, comes great responsibility.

   Sadly, despite such a wondrous opportunity for communication, in a brand, new dimension, we regularly see more, narrow minded, self-centeredness, than ever before.  Images and words are pumped forth, relentlessly, into social media.  Often with little regard for how they may impact, or be interpreted by, others.

The internet and social media are first and foremost, tools.  And, like many of the tools created by human hands, irresponsible or reckless use, can lead to injury.   If someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol hops into a car and mows someone down, they are culpable and face judgment.

Maybe we need to consider adopting a similar attitude, when it comes to the interwebs.

 

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Media hype surrounding the so-called “mommy wars,” defined by the inclination to judge others’ parenting choices, is certainly contributing to the back lash against being considered “judgy”.

What lies at the root of the ‘mommy wars,’ is, virtually, every parent’s insecurity, that we are not doing exactly the best thing for our child(ren).  It’s logical that parents will be prone to judging each other, when they’re confronted with differing parenting techniques.  It stands to reason, we all want to believe we are doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time, for our kids.

To accept that there are other ways doing things, forces us to question whether our own methods are the preferred ones, for ensuring happy, healthy, successful children.  (That is still the goal of parenting right?  Sometimes, TV shows like “Toddlers & Tiaras” make me question even that.  But, I digress.)

Self critique and introspection may be uncomfortable.  So, we express our insecurities outwardly in the ways our judgment manifests, often in a negative, even destructive manner.  Nowadays, the resounding message is, that we must never, ever judge one another.  We are repeatedly being told, that social judgment is harmful, and used only for tearing others down.

Underneath it all, (go on, you can admit it) as much as we may try and idealize, we continue to make judgments against things we disagree with, or find morally reprehensible.  We just can’t help ourselves.

We will, most-likely, continue to always judge, and be judged by, what we dislike about one another.  It’s unavoidable. Vegetarian vs meat-eater, pro choice vs pro life, ‘punk’ vs ‘prep’, liberal vs conservative, whatever our perspective, someone is bound to disapprove and judge. (I am deliberately excluding any kind of judgment based on racial, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or faith based, prejudice or stereotyping.  That’s just plain, inexcusable ignorance.)

The key is to prevent ourselves from deciding that a person is bad, simply because, we believe, they’ve made a bad choice.

This is a particularly big challenge, as it requires practicing considerable empathy. However, that’s something we should continually strive for. To understand each other, without having to blindly accept everything, everyone else does, as ok.

The real issue with discouraging judgment all together, is that we are stopping the conversation too soon. The sentiment has become: “Judge not.”  Period. We’ve forgotten the other piece to the puzzle.

Judgment has a destination.

We judge in court to get to a suitable penalty. We judge many aspects of the world around us, in order to better interact with, and make use of it.  We are supposed to judge. It’s part of human nature. But then we are supposed to do something with that judgment.

Even in the social sphere, none of us believing, that there is ever a time to pronounce judgment, would mean people were generally free to do whatever the hell they want, at whatever the cost to anyone, and everyone else. (which is, pretty much, where we are headed now)

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This ultimately won’t work, for all the same reasons anarchy doesn’t.  Even in the freest of societies, there is nothing wrong with a little conscientiousness.  In fact, the success of a free society depends upon it.

The information age is revolutionizing social interaction and thus dictates that we need to reexamine social mores.  Judgment has long been, and will remain, a tool for human interaction, with each other, and with the world around us.  It should be embraced for its potential, to aid, in self and group improvement.

An existence totally free of judgment is impossible. Pursuing it, a pointless ruse.

Our goal shouldn’t be a world free of all judgment.  It should be a world full of responsible, informed, empathetic, compassionate and most importantly productive judgment.  It’s not about having no judgement, it’s about exercising good judgment.

Let me put it this way,  how often are we told to, and must, “use our best judgment”?

As a parent how often does one have to make a judgment for their child?

90% of parenting is love. The other 10% is, patience and judgment.  That is our charge as parents, to exercise good judgment in the choices we make for our children, and to teach them to do the same.

I am not meaning to suggest, that we should all be steered towards being judgmental. Merely, that when we are inevitably faced with our natural inclination towards judging, we should embrace it as an opportunity to explore what we can do to better interact with, and improve upon, our world.   After all, we have to live up to our own ideals don’t we?

We mustn’t forget, judgment is supposed to get us somewhere.

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We need to begin to differentiate, between productive and counterproductive judgment. What we dislike we should improve upon. The exercise becomes: how to turn our judgment inwardly.

If I make a judgment, that I think someone is doing something wrong, then I must simultaneously ask myself, “How can I take some type of positive action, that works to right that wrong?”  I can’t simply condemn what I disapprove of, and shuffle along, shaking my head on the way out.

Shake my head and judge, is exactly what I did, when I saw a picture* recently making its rounds via various broadcast, and social media, outlets.

The image, initially posted to a personal following of 300,000 people on Instagram, before it went viral, featured a gorgeous woman.

She was posed in front of a full length mirror, phone in hand. She stood partially perched on tip toe, as if ready to take flight. Her long hair wafted, like an ebony cloud, behind her. A black, push up bra and matching, lacy panties, were the singular items of clothing, outlining her supermodel physique.

The eyebrows on her lovely visage were arced, in a pleasant way. Her mouth, though partially obstructed by her phone, was smiling with a hint of smirk. Her right arm was akimbo, hand resting, lightly on hip. The fingers of that hand, swept gracefully upwards, leading to the periphery of her belly, tan and taut. She was a vision of feminine beauty.

The caption beneath her image** read:

“I feel so empty… 4 days after [giving] birth,”

  *SCCCCRRRRRRREEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKKKKKKKKKK*              (that’s the sound of record the stopping)

Say whaaaaaaaaa??? Hunh?!??!!!

As the mother of 3 children, the youngest of whom was only 16 weeks at the time I saw this photo, to say this image, and it’s accompanying caption, left me with an intense, emotional reaction and many, many questions, is to be quite genteel about it.

“What’s the point of posing in her underwear, to 300,000 people, just to advertise the ‘emptiness’ she feels, immediately after birthing her baby?” I wondered.

Moreso, “Does she realize how her passive, aggressive gloating to the rest of the world has, at the same time, exposed her own shocking, self-absorption?”

Ok, so let’s put aside my immediate, visceral reaction to this woman’s, (we’ll call her “4 days post partum mom” or ’4dpp’) image and message, and just examine the facts.  She is 96 hours post partum, from a presumably vaginal birth  (we’ll go ahead and make that assumption, since she has no c-section scar, and she didn’t sneeze a baby out).  Women bleed for, hmmmmm…about 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery.

6 weeks of hardcore bleeding, worse than any period (hey, just keepin’ it real, y’all). During this time we wear specialized maxi-pads, which are, roughly, the length and width of a cereal box.

Did I mention this goes on for 6 weeks??  I can’t be sure what kind of camera trickery one might utilize, to create such a perfect illusion of ‘unaffectedness,’ as what ’4dpp’ achieves in the image.  But, in any case, mission accomplished.  Moving on….

Unless she had been quite underweight to start, this woman’s svelte form shows virtually no signs of having gained the recommended 25-35 lbs, which most women are typically advised to gain, while pregnant.  Combined with a complete absence of any visible stretch marks, this makes her look as though she’s never been pregnant, at all. As incredible as that is, and congratulations to her, that is far from the normal result, which the majority of mothers experience immediately after pregnancy and childbirth.

This woman obviously works out, and probably did throughout her pregnancy.  However, it’s important to keep in mind, that although moderate exercise can be enjoyed not long after giving birth, working out too hard, inside of the first couple of weeks to months after delivering, a woman can not only increase her bleeding, she stands greater risk of injury due to the loose ligaments and joints, caused by the relaxin hormone released during pregnancy.  (Relaxin allows joints in knees and feet to expand, to accommodate the weight of the baby and allows hips to open and flex during birth).

Do you see what I’m getting at here?  ’4dpp,’ in her zeal to show the world how ‘empty’ she feels, and with apparent obliviousness to her own genetic good fortune, has taken a totally unrealistic, fantastical and dangerous message, and broadcast it to the world. A message which will be, most likely, internalized by throngs of women and girls. That: “You too, can (and probably should), look like this 4 days after having a baby.”

Moreover, “You should want to.”

That’s pretty terrifying.

Pregnant

We inhabit a day and age where women have become so dangerously obsessed with losing post partum weight, that terms like “pregorexia” are finding their way into mainstream usage. *yikes*

    No little girl should ever see the picture, of a woman, 4 days post partum, posed in her bra and panties, baby nowhere in sight, looking like a supermodel, and be left with the impression that this is a facade she should preoccupy herself with replicating, immediately after having a baby.

Yet, our world is inundated with images like these. They are spewed forth into mainstream media by scores of celebrity mothers and wannabes who, under the insane pressures of the show business aesthetic, and thanks to weight loss resources not always accessible to the average jane, have lost the baby weight incredibly fast. Or, simply never gain it to begin with.

These moms, sometimes by default of their celebrity status and having their lives continuously documented, but just as often from simply gloating, are then spreading the message that all moms, normal everyday women, should also be making this their goal.

Let health be the goal. Let happiness be the goal. Let simply reveling in motherhood be the goal.

One side of the feminist in me says of ’4dpp’s picture, “It’s her body, she can do what she wants with it.” The other side of that same feminist voice says, “She is, consciously or not, contributing to a message, that encourages women and mothers to rip each other and themselves apart, on an even darker scale than ever before.” She’s broadcasting the twisted ideal, that a woman’s first and foremost priority, no matter the magnitude of her accomplishments (in this case, creating life) should continue to always be, her appearance.

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All the while the mother in me is screaming, “Womb-an!! Where is your BABY?!?!!? If you feel so ‘empty,’ how about filling your arms with that wonder of nature and infinite potential, you’ve just created!?!”

The mother in me laments, “Lady, it would appear, that you have completely missed the point.  It’s not about you anymore. Its about your child”.

Some may say this is an unfair sentiment to make, because her child is, hopefully, in the next room happily sleeping and well cared for and loved. But here’s where I take issue with what this image is really saying.

Part of becoming a parent is embracing the view, that every action you take, is an act of parenting your child. Every act becomes an accountable act. Everything you do, helps determine the children you end up putting out into the world, and just as important, helps shape the world that you create for your children.

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What ’4dpp’ mom, and many celebrities like her, appear to be manifesting, is a great loss in the battle for advancing woman and mother-kind.  Her one quick “selfie’ embodied a great defeat for the little girls of today, who will one day become the mothers of tomorrow. I shudder to think that the suffragettes of the late 19th and early 20th century, and later the feminists of the 60′s 70′s & 80′s, fought the battles they did, so that one genetic anomaly can tout her supermodel physique, across the internet, under the guise of “feeling empty,” 4 days after giving birth, and everyone is expected to be utterly blasé about the whole thing.

This woman has, intentionally or not, basically hammered another nail into the coffin of confused priorities, that has buried the true essence of empowered motherhood and feminism.

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Women who’ve just had a baby, and those newborn infants, are among the last truly sacred things we have in this world.  Those first few weeks post partum, are a spectacular time when we get to bask in the magic of what our bodies can do, what they can create.

Beyond being sexual beings, women are creators. That is something, truly worthy of awe and wonder. Sex is the means to the mystical end.  Life.

We worship a variety of versions of invisible God(s) in the sky, and yet, women happen to share that God-like power, of genesis and creation, right there in our little bellies.

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Not to be gettin’ all metaphysical and shit, but…….To be pregnant, is to literally be at one with the life forces of the Universe. It’s a brand-new, human life, created from simply the combination of 23 chromosome pairs, and the food the mother eats over 9 months.  It is an unbelievably ‘trippy’ and magnificent process.

To send the message that the very second a woman is no longer pregnant, and even during her pregnancy, she should be totally preoccupied with “how good she looks,” is neglecting the true wonder and power of pregnancy and  motherhood.  It’s doing a great disservice, to the very purpose of that sexy, female body and its incredible capabilities.  To send such a message is basically a form of bullying.

“Great! Good for you girlfriend! You look amazing!  You are truly a wondrous physical specimen!  That’s one hell of a body you are lucky enough to inhabit! I’m going to totally ignore the fact, that a live human just popped out of it 96 hours ago!”

Is that the reaction we are supposed to have?

We have an old tactic, taking on a new manifestation of violence against women; this new psychological, one might even say, spiritual violence, we are allowing against the sanctity of pregnancy, birth and motherhood.  If new moms want to parade their ‘hotness’ instead of cuddling their baby 4 days after giving birth, then that is 100% their prerogative.

However, once that choice is taken into the public domain of a 300,000 person internet following (and by default, through social media, on to millions), there is a factor of culpability to one’s larger community of fellow humans.

This mom, ’4dpp’, and many others like her, who feel so compelled to boast of how quickly they’ve shed the baby weight, have committed a criminal act against all women, mothers, and daughters of the world; ‘The Crime of Petty Distraction.’

This crime should be judged, as reckless, self centered and short-sighted to start.

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The world continues to judge us, as women and mothers.  And, we continue to put ourselves out there to be judged (see: ‘The Bachelor,’ every courtroom drama show on TV, every women’s magazine cover, ever, and of course people like our friend ’4dpp’).

Even as we shun the notion of being “judgy”, we are judging each other, for our perceived lack of, or overabundance of judging…and round and round we go, where we stop nobody knows.

Well, I personally refuse, to be blindly supportive of every decision, every person makes, in the name of “non-judgment”.

I think potentially, just as great as the damage done from negative judgment, is the loss of a sense of community by a complete absence of judgment.  If only ’4dpp’ mom had stopped to think that perhaps, her community of fellow women, mothers, humans, weren’t going to all be impressed by her instantly “hot” post partum physique.  Or, more importantly, if she had but briefly considered, the dangerous message she was perpetuating.  In other words, if she, and others with her same mentality, had exercised better judgment, we wouldn’t have the necessity for a word which describes pregnant women starving themselves, and thus their fetus, in the name of “beauty.”

These days, we’ve adopted a “laissez-faire” attitude. We totally embrace, even applaud, the self-absorbed, braggart (see: ‘Cribs’ ‘My super sweet 16′ and pretty much all of MTV’s other programming).  The end result is that for every person who, like myself, finds fault with images like the one of ’4dpp’, there are just as many people who are jealous, even impressed, or instantly made to feel insecure.  In other words, we’ve all been “affected.”

So….Did that come across as ‘Judgy’?

Good.

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It should.  I am judging.  I’m judging that what ’4dpp’ mom, did was thoughtless, egomaniacal, an act of aggression against her own kind.  I make no apologies for judging that her action was, in my opinion, morally wrong.

But, that doesn’t mean I think she is bad.

(Here, is where empathy really comes into play)

What if, the reason ’4dpp’ seems to have, I believe, so glaringly missed the point of what it meant for her to become a mother just 4 days prior, is that her own self-worth and perceptions have been badly warped by negative messages?

She may have been a victim of bullying or abuse. She may have been made to feel terribly insecure, and now needs acceptance and acclaim constantly, and from everyone. She may have felt undue pressure to maintain her appearance, by the media or other influences.  I can imagine any number of scenarios, that would lead to this type of attention seeking behavior.  Now as a result, she knows no other way, than to project her own subconscious need for praise and affirmation onto the masses.

Then, I cannot judge her. I can only judge her action, and the possible circumstances which led up to that action.

Though someone may have “their own prerogative” doesn’t mean their decision making is coming from a good and true place.

I can empathize. But I will not sympathize. I will judge, and I will judge without reservation.

And, as I judge, what I perceive to be a wrong in the world, I ask myself how I might counteract it.

If I believe ’4dpp’s’ actions may be, in part, due to a lack of positive messages, then what can I do about that?

The beauty of a free society and all this digitized, social media access, is, that I am equally free, to thwart, what I judge to be wrong, with my own message. That is part of why I am writing these words. This is my way of fighting back.

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My judgment against the actions of ’4dpp’ and her compatriots, has led me to want to balance the equation, with a message of my own.

My message is, #momsbeauty.

"My proudest moment as a mom!" #momsbeauty
“My proudest moment as a mom!” #momsbeauty

A shout out and a call to action, to the mothers of the world: To show us, via all the various tools of social media available to them, the moments of real beauty in motherhood.  Beauty, as defined by motherhood, not the “hollywood” aesthetic.  I’m asking moms everywhere to open up and let the world see them in some of their most incredibly personal, but also proudest, most powerful moments. Moments in which no matter what mainstream media might tell us motherhood is supposed to look like, they felt beautiful. 

 "This is one of her first pictures and i LOVE IT!  She was so tiny, less than 5 lbs!" #momsbeauty
“This is one of her first pictures and i LOVE IT! She was so tiny, less than 5 lbs!” #momsbeauty
"One of life's most incredible feelings, the power to comfort your child" #momsbeauty
“One of life’s most incredible feelings, the power to comfort your child” #momsbeauty

Accompanying this essay are some of the initial submissions to this “photo-moming” effort. Alongside the pictures, are brief captions, written by the moms themselves, describing the moment depicted. These images, and their sentiments, are quite resonating to me.  I cried with each new one I received, both for their beauty, and out of gratitude for the openness these mamas have shown me, and you.  What amazed me the most as they filtered in, was how unique each mother’s interpretation of #momsbeauty is.  A fact that should not be casually overlooked, in a day when, homogenous, beauty ideals remain all the rage.

 "I am doing a series of myself nursing.  I like this photo.  I feel like I am a milk maiden, for sure"  #momsbeauty
“I am doing a series of myself nursing. I like this photo. I feel like I am a milk maiden, for sure” #momsbeauty

Maybe I don’t have a 300,000 person following, or even a 100 person following.  It is simply my hope, that just by virtue of creating this message and putting it out into the world, I have made a positive contribution, in some way, to contesting what I disagree with.

"My babies all have the exact same shape feet as me. When I look at their perfect lil piggies, I am reminded that they really are pieces of me, and my heart, walking around this world" #momsbeauty
“My babies all have the exact same shape feet as me. When I look at their perfect lil piggies, I am reminded that they really are pieces of me, and my heart, walking around this world” #momsbeauty
"This was a family photo shoot and I couldn't get Lulu to look at the camera. I was just starting to get frustrated when she pet my face and started laughing. Best tension reliever ever. No eye contact. No perfect smiles. Just love." #momsbeauty
“This was a family photo shoot and I couldn’t get Lulu to look at the camera. I was just starting to get frustrated when she pet my face and started laughing. Best tension reliever ever. No eye contact. No perfect smiles. Just love.” #momsbeauty

My challenge in facing ’4dpp’s message, and the other ones like it, is to manage my judgment from an empathetic and productive stand point.  It is our duty, if we are going to make a judgment, to counteract what we dislike with an opposition, based in empathy. Not counteraction through negativity, physical or penalizing force; but by that of our own, constructive energy.

"Just [being] silly with my baby girl!" #momsbeauty
“Just [being] silly with my baby girl!” #momsbeauty
When I judge the actions of an individual such as ’4dpp’, I am judging that she has done something irresponsible and self centered, with rippling negative consequences. I am not judging her as a bad person, or a bad mother.

 "Here is a pic of me and my daughter Hadley. We are at Yale Child Study Center in CT participating in a study about cranial and brain development." #momsbeauty
“Here is a pic of me and my daughter Hadley. We are at Yale Child Study Center in CT participating in a study about cranial and brain development.” #momsbeauty

What I am judgingis that she has not acted in the best interest of her community, of women and mothers. I am also allowing my judgment to be guided by empathy, and following it up with, I believe, positive counteraction.

"For 18 months, the wake-up call was 4am.  You might think that I am not happy in this first moment after waking, but I am. I wake and we share wonderful morning time together.  She is my ultimate, inspiration and motivation to enjoy life." #momsbeauty
“For 18 months, the wake-up call was 4am. You might think that I am not happy in this first moment after waking, but I am. I wake and we share wonderful morning time together. She is my ultimate, inspiration and motivation to enjoy life.” #momsbeauty

 

"No matter HOW they get here, the real work starts with their first scream!  We are all warriors!" #momsbeauty
“No matter HOW they get here, the real work starts with their first scream!
We are all warriors!” #momsbeauty

Being free of judgment is not a realistic end. Being able to use our judgment, as a tool to motivate us in productive ways, is perhaps a more reasonable goal.

"Pregnant in Sedona.  Peaceful, tranquil, full of life" #momsbeauty
“Pregnant in Sedona. Peaceful, tranquil, full of life” #momsbeauty

 

I am all for withholding judgment, against the decisions people make, which, for the most part, impact themselves and their families alone (like, whom you choose to love or where you choose to live, what you do for work, what you choose to eat, or when, where, how and with whom you choose to raise your children). But, when you take an action and broadcast it to an audience of 300,000+, compounded into millions, by virtue of social media, there should be some awareness and sense of responsibility.  This applies to all of us.

This VBAC and home birth, mom of 3 said: "Taken right after my homebirth - no make up and exhausted but so so happy!" #momsbeauty
This VBAC and home birth, mom of 3 said: “Taken right after my homebirth – no make up and exhausted but so so happy!” #momsbeauty
" It felt amazing holding my newborn and 18 mo old!" #momsbeauty
” It felt amazing holding my newborn and 18 mo old!” #momsbeauty

We all have to share this planet, no man, woman or, perhaps most importantly, child, is an island.  We are interconnected because, we are built to be.

"My little girl had a temp. of `104. I couldn't get her to stop crying and was terrified. I decided to try to distract her with the camera and the instant she saw us together, she smiled. I had to cover my mouth, because I started to cry. I was so relieved" #momsbeauty
“My little girl had a temp. of `104. I couldn’t get her to stop crying and was terrified. I decided to try to distract her with the camera and the instant she saw us together, she smiled. I had to cover my mouth, because I started to cry. I was so relieved” #momsbeauty
 "This is the day I officially became a mama (but wouldn't know it for 2 more weeks).  We had been told exactly 6 months earlier that I would never have a biological child and that I would need to use an egg donor.  We got a second opinion, tried IVF, and ended up retrieving only one egg during our first cycle.  That one egg miraculously resulted in my son, who is about to turn 1 on January 18.  This picture was taken minutes before he was transferred back into me as an embryo." #momsbeauty
“This is the day I officially became a mama. We had been told I would never have a biological child and that I would need to use an egg donor. We got a second opinion, tried IVF, and ended up retrieving only one egg during our first cycle. That one egg miraculously resulted in my son.  This picture was taken minutes before he was transferred back into me as an embryo.” #momsbeauty

With social-media technology rapidly advancing, we need to be encouraging a sense accountability, and an appreciation for how our messages can impact the greater human community at large. I do believe judgment is an important tool for accomplishing that.

"When week 40 turned into week 41" #momsbeauty
“When week 40 turned into week 41″ #momsbeauty

We are more in touch with, and aware of, the most finite personal details of each other’s lives, even as we remain strangers to one another. We will vulgarly insult and viciously argue to the teeth, behind the glow of a screen. Yet, we’re hardly able to articulate an “excuse me” when someone bumps us along the street. There is an unsustainability in the way we are communicating and interacting with one another these days, which must be dealt with.

"My kids kept interrupting my workout, so I improvised my lifting equipment. Kinda feel like a superhero in this shot" #momsbeauty
“My kids kept interrupting my workout, so I improvised my lifting equipment.” #momsbeauty

 "I took this picture shortly after I saw that article with the [4 days postpartum] mom.  I am 14 months pp after baby two. I [may] not love my belly anymore but traded it gladly for my babies. AND I feel like a warrior for housing two fetuses, before they became healthy humans." #momsbeauty
“I took this picture shortly after I saw that article with the [4 days postpartum] mom. I am 14 months pp after baby two. I [may] not love my belly anymore but traded it gladly for my babies. AND I feel like a warrior for housing two fetuses, before they became healthy humans.” #momsbeauty
Additionally, we must learn to follow through on our judgment, by turning it inwardly. As we judge, we must simultaneously hold ourselves to a higher standard.

 "A middle of the night post-nursing session pic. Before, staying up all night meant something much different than it does today." #momsbeauty
“A middle of the night post-nursing session pic. Before, staying up all night meant something much different than it does today.” #momsbeauty

I don’t want my daughter receiving messages like the ones ’4dpp’, and others, have sent. But no doubt she will, to some degree, just by virtue of them being out there.

 "Up all night cluster feeding and when morning came, he only wanted mommy. All mommy wanted was him." #momsbeauty
“Up all night cluster feeding and when morning came, he only wanted mommy. All mommy wanted was him.”
#momsbeauty

But hey, now #momsbeauty is out there, too.  And I believe, that really does count for something.

"Participating in ciclavia event.  Biked about 27 miles that day with our baby boy and I nursed him while we went" #momsbeauty
“Participating in ciclavia event. Biked about 27 miles that day with our baby boy and I nursed him while we went” #momsbeauty
 "I took this right after I nursed in public for the first time. I couldn't be bothered with the nursing cover and it was so easy and freeing. I had never considered the political and social stigmas of breastfeeding before becoming a mom. Proud to report we NIP ALL.THE.TIME now! " #momsbeauty
“I took this right after I nursed in public for the first time. I couldn’t be bothered with the nursing cover and it was so easy and freeing. I had never considered the political and social stigmas of breastfeeding before becoming a mom. Proud to report we NIP ALL.THE.TIME now! ” #momsbeauty

No matter how #momsbeauty is received, and regardless of what kind of judgment my message may face, at least, my personal judgment, has found its destination.

Photo on 11-15-13 at 2.22 PM #4
“The author, with her 3 little creations.” #momsbeauty

 

*There are so many images out there that could’ve been inserted here, but this one struck a particularly personal and resonating chord, and so I chose to focus on it alone.

**I have chosen not to include the actual image I am describing in the interest of not giving its negative message more attention, than I already have. If you care that much, and haven’t already seen it, you could go find it, but my description is pretty accurate. :)

If you would like your own image of #momsbeauty included on Takes A Village, please email it to julie@takesavillage.net.  When do you feel most beautiful?

Do you judge? Do you find fault with others judging? Have you experienced being judged? How do you interpret ‘productive’ judgment?

Let us know your thoughts on this issue, in the comments section below!

Posted in Adjusting to Parenthood, Beauty, Behavior, body image, Bullying, celebrating diversity, Community, competitive parents, Exercise, Gender Roles, Genetics, Health, natural, New Baby, Parenting, Parenting Advice, Photography, Pregnancy, social awareness, Stereotypes, Theory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Giveaway! Five Days of Gifting with Laurence King! Day 5: Dog Postcards

dogThanks to Laurence King Publishing for providing our readers with this wonderful  opportunity to win and peek into their amazing titles, all bursting with art and creativity!  This is the final day of our LK gift giving guide and giveaway bonanza!

Last but not least, we’re featuring Dog Postcards.  They are exactly how they sound, only way cooler!  The adorable retro styled illustrations by Polly Horner are a unique gift idea for dog lovers, pen-pals, or dog loving pen-pals!

The sleek, portable little set includes wall-worthy depictions and facts by  dog trainer Emma Aguado on twenty one notableWire_Fox_Terrier breeds, my favorite being the Welsh Corgi, but I’m biased a bit.  Other furry fellas include a dalmatian, pug, whippet,  and the less familiar saluki, to name a few.  Available on Laurence King’s website for $9.95, this is a great stocking stuffer or a self serving gift – you’re likely to get mail from its recipient!

A new dog owner myself, I have a soft spot for our fuzzy friends and also love the idea of more written Welsh_Corgi_Pembrokecorrespondence.  Email is fast and efficient, but there is nothing like receiving an actual piece of mail, especially when it’s adorable!

WIN!!!

Laurence King is kindly providing a Takes a Village reader with their own set of Dog Postcards… enter easily below…

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Special thanks to Laurence King for providing a Dog Postcard set for our review!
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Giveaway! Five Days of Gifting with Laurence King! Day 4: My Wonderful World of Fashion Stamp Set

fashionOk, people day four of exciting Laurence King giveaways is in full effect!  You may remember how much I love Nina Chakrabarti’s awesome activity books.  I’ve previously and glowingly reviewed her My Wonderful World of Fashion it’s sequel, and more specific, My Wonderful World of Shoes, are both fantastic.

Now she has introduced the My Wonderful World of Fashion Stamp Set!  It includes ten stamps, featuring shoes, handbags, bows and other fashion items, plus two inkpads. This is an awesome follow-up gift to those who are already fans ofstamps2 Nina’s whimsical, tribal-like work or even a great introduction.

The stamps open the door to younger mini-fashionistas, while still providing a springboard for the more seasoned, already drawing tween and teen set.  These, are great for adding to a page, or as the beginning point for a very fashionable work of art.  The dress, polka-dot bow, purse and others can be a fun base to be expanded on, or a great accessory stampto a larger work.  Designers can choose between pink and black ink from the set, or of course implement their own- endless possibilities!

Available for $19.95 on Laurence King’s brilliant website, My Wonderful World of Fashion Stamp Set is a fashionable gift for any season!

 
 

WIN!!!

Laurence King is at again, spoiling our readers with another fantastic prize!  Enter to win My Wonderful World of Fashion Stamp Set easily below…

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Special thanks to Laurence King Publishing, Ltd. for providing a set for my review! 
Posted in Crafts, Creativity, Do It Themselves, Fashion, Gift Giving, Gift Idea, Giveaway, Holidays, Toys, Villagers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giveaway! Five Days of Gifting with Laurence King! Day 3: The Super Book for Super-Heroes

super bookDay three already of our Laurence King gift guide!   Here’s a super idea for the artist on your list!  The Super Book for Super Heroes is a crime-fighting, ass-kicking collection of activities that will inspire and instruct the action oriented artist on your list!

English Illustrator Jason Ford has created this action packed 128 page activity book brimming with super fun opportunities like creating hilarious super villains and heroes.super2 My favorites are the evil clown and the Human Fly.  I also love the ingenious pop out masks and paper-doll style build-your-own superhero, complete with stand.

In addition to the scenes and characters to be completed, there are also step by step instructional pages providing lessons on sketching a flying hero, a running hero, and even an invisible hero – the action need not stop when this book is full!

super3

There are too many clever pages and illustrations in The Super Book for Super-Heroes to be described in this short review, such as drawing a map of your neighborhood and time travel to the dinosaurs.  I highly recommend you see for yourself; it’s available through Laurence King’s website for $15.95.  Order soon, Christmas is coming! OR…. win one….

WIN!!!

Laurence King is generously providing one Takes a Village reader with a copy of Jason Ford’s The Super Book for Super-Heroes!  Simply enter below….

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Special thanks to Laurence King Ltd. for the press copy for my review!
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Giveaway! Five Days of Gifting with Laurence King! Day 2: My Amazing Bubble Writer Stationary Kit

bubble writerSometimes even the most passionate of all pen-pals needs a little inspiration.  We have just the gift to add some fun and flair to any correspondence!

London-based illustrator and bubble letter aficionado Linda Scott, has created My Amazing Bubble Writer Stationery Kit, a one-stop shop for colorful sheets, postcards, envelopes and stickers to brighten your pen-pal’s day.

The fun, stylistic stationery is perfectly designed for a teenager and also well-suitedbubble2 for the eight-going-on-sixteen year old in your life, like my own daughter, who loves this set!  With 8, sheets, 8 postcards, 16 envelopes, and 19 stickers the fun will last for a while.

From the author of How to be the Best Bubble Writer in the World Ever! and My Monster Bubble Writer Book, this clever kit also includes a guide to bubble writing that will assist in creating one’s own bouncy, vivacious bubblepenmanship.  Sold on Laurence King’s website for just $12.95, this set will thrill both the writer in your life and the receiver of their creative output!

WIN!!!

Laurence King is kindly giving away one My Amazing Bubble Writer Stationary Kit to a lucky TAV reader!  Simply enter below!

 

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Special thanks to Laurence King Publishing, Ltd. for providing press copies for my review!
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Giveaway! Kicking Off Five Days of Gifting with Laurence King! Day 1: Let’s Make More Great Placemat Art

placemat coverSome of you may remember award winning illustrator Marion Deuchars‘ unique, imagination provoking style from Let’s Make Some Great Art and Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprint Art.  Well she’s back again with Let’s Make More Great Placemat Art, just in time for your holiday shopping.

Printed on sturdy, perfectly placemat sized paper, Let’s Make More Great Placemat Art is 36 pages of activities perfect for occupying a tiny tot through a doodling adult at mealtime or anytime.  With 4 sets of 9 different prints, this book can easily becomeplacemats-latest-files-5_1 a family project or provide a budding artist with material for several versions of a mat.

Deuchars’ signature style cleverly includes fingerprints and handprints as the basis for some pages, utilizing the prints as a building block for larger drawings of birds, animals, monsters, and more.  At $12.95 this activity book  will provide many dinner-hours worth placemats-latest-files-4_1of fun and conversation starters too.  Laurence King books are available directly through their website.

Other activities include a DIY comic strip, drawing your favorite meal, and a sparse yellow page with a solitary fingerprint centered on it inspired by russian painter Wassily Kandindky’s quote, “Everything Starts from a Dot”.  Like Kandinsky’s theory, Let’s Make Some more Great Placemat Art is an excellent starting point  for for a child seeking mealtime entertainment and inspiration.

 WIN!!!

Laurence King is generously giving away a copy of Let’s Make Some Great Placemat Art to a very lucky Takes a Village reader!  Simply enter below for your chance to win!

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Special thanks to Laurence King Publishing, Ltd. for providing press copies for my review!
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The Recycling Reality: If this doesn’t shock you, consider yourself impervious and carry on

First, let me start off by clarifying something. I am not an “environmentalist”, nor am I a scientist. I am simply a mom, trying to do the best I can for my kids. Except, that there’s nothing much simple about being a mom. It is a life of macro and micro thinking, long term and short term and instantaneous decision-making, a life of responsibility. Being a mom has been a lesson in responsibility for me. For example, I did not start out caring any more than the next person about the particular issue of recycling.  I recycled for the most part, but I wasn’t hyper vigilant about it. I assumed, as I think most of us generally do, that America is on top of recycling and is making leaps and bounds in terms of more efficient waste management. That is until I began traveling around the country with my husband and our 3 kids.  My husband works on locations frequently. If we want to be together as a family we must join him, or not see him for months at a time. We stay in hotels and residence inns, for months on end.IMG_20131206_125618_798

As I am sure most of you are aware, the trashcans in hotel rooms are tiny and fill up quickly, so I am ALWAYS taking out the trash. Well, of course, I ask about recycling at each hotel we’ve stayed in, from Louisiana to Georgia, Arkansas to New Mexico. Each time I’ve been met with a polite “No”, or even in the case of a few housekeeping staff, an actual snicker, as if they were thinking, “This isn’t California, hippy.”  It’s true that living in a place like California, it’s easy to believe the illusion that America is all doing their civic duty to reduce, reuse, and recycle. And I accepted that maybe

Unsorted trashcan
Unsorted trashcan

not everyone is on the same page, “Oh, well they just haven’t dealt with recycling here yet. It’s not THAT big a deal…Right?”  And I proceeded to throw my trash in the little bins, and empty them every day.

Soon, I got a little irritated though, “This is a lot of bottles, cans and cardboard,” I thought.  “They could easily be recycled.”  And I began to take the extra step to collect my recyclables and look for municipal recycling bins or centers, where I could properly dispose of them. But then I began to think about the hundreds of rooms in each of these hotels, and the thousands of patrons who occupy them each year.  Not all of them are taking these extra measures and at once not one of them is even being presented with the OPTION to recycle.  At that point, I went beyond being irritated and started getting pissed…”I have 3 kids!! Who are these hotels to be making a profit while they stack up solid waste on MY kids’ planet?!? How hard is it to implement a systemic recycling program when you profit in the billions??”

I didn’t like that feeling; that these industries, hospitality, fast food and coffee chains, and the like are basically “punking” my kids and stealing their world from

What's left sans recyclables.  Biodegradable food waste!
What’s left sans recyclables. Biodegradable food waste!

them, without the slightest inclination to be held accountable.  If someone were to come in your home and start wrecking shit and trashing the place, wouldn’t you have a right to press charges and hold them accountable?? Same principle here…

“Going Green!” it’s the catch phrase of the day, perhaps the era. And it should be. We all know and understand the concept of “unsustainable practices”, and so we do our duty as good concerned citizens. We buy our Priuses (despite the lack of an effective, safe means of EV and hybrid battery disposal, and the fact that they require the consumption of 2 separate fossil fuels to operate, but that’s a whole other story), and of course we all do our best to recycle, all the time.  Well…most of the time.  I mean it’s not like we deliberately didn’t recycle that plastic bottle or soda can we chugged on our way back from lunch, or on a walk through the mall. We simply didn’t see and/or didn’t have time to find, a recycling bin. It’s just one bottle or can.  And how about all those cardboard containers, and plastic cups and paper wrappers from our fast food takeout? Or the packaging our kids’ toys come wrapped in, often, a mountain of plastic and cardboard 3 times the mass and volume of the toy itself. Odds are, we either don’t think about recycling those items, don’t want to take the time to separate them out or just as likely ask that, we simply aren’t consistently presented with a properly designated recycling bin, that’s at the same time easily accessible (what are Americans, if not lovers of easy access?).

Despite some major gains made, by the success of a variety of municipal recycling campaigns, recycling is for most of us, not the law. It is still very much reliant on voluntary effort within individual municipalities, and the effort of the individual.  And, let’s face it, recycling can be hard, time consuming and inconvenient.  It’s just this one can, this one bottle, this one box… just this one time, and I’m just one person…I’ll recycle next time, I promise.

So I decided to do a little research and look at the actual numbers to see how that “one little can or plastic bottle” actually stacks up. What I quickly discovered horrified me (it is CRUCIAL you read to the end of the list, there’s a serious twist).  Here goes.  Did you know:

The US sends the equivalent of 82,000 football fields at a depth of 30 feet, to landfills every year.

 

Over 7 billion pounds of PVC are thrown away in the U.S. each year. Only 18 million pounds of that, about one quarter of 1 percent, is recycled.

 

Although recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy required to manufacture new ones, only around 50% of all cans are actually recycled.

 

The average American produces 4.5 lbs. of trash per day. This equates to on average of 9.24 times our own body weight in trash produced by each of us, every year.

 

Only the equivalent of 1.6 lbs. of trash per person per day is recycled, or around 30% of the trash we are producing.

 

Part of the problem is a lack of accountability amongst the corporations that are leading the charge for encouraging disposable waste, like the hospitality, coffee chain and fast food industries.

 

Recycling for the most part remains unlegislated except for a few examples, like Philadelphia, New York, & California.

 

Around 54% of a hotel’s solid waste can either be recycled or reused.

 

Removing paper, plastic and other recyclables from the garbage, hotels can trim their waste disposal bill by as much as 50 percent

 

Only 40% of all hotels actually have recycling programs

 

The average quantity of unsorted waste materials for Radisson SAS hotels was reported as 6.82 lbs. per guest night in 2002. On the other hand, Scandic Hotels, which has an extensive waste management program, reported an average of 1.13lbs of unsorted waste per guest per night

 

It’s dangerous to believe that just because some businesses, cities, industries and individuals are working to recycle and reduce and reuse, that all of them are. For example there are stark differences between how recycling is handled and manifests in places like Arkansas & Louisiana, versus California or New York City.

 

All in all only some 30% of all solid waste produced in the US ends up being recycled. The other 70% or 175 million tons ends up in landfills.

 

Landfills have a system for storing waste that has already been repeatedly shown to be faulty.

 

Landfills are typically lined with layers of clay and plastic liners, which are supposed to prevent leachate seepage into the surrounding environment. These plastic layers, over time are shown to routinely fail and breakdown due to simple exposure to household chemicals.

 

For a 10-acre landfill this can mean allowing between .2 and 10 gallons of leachate (i.e. toxic wastewater) to escape into the ground, per day.

 

In 2008, only 23.1% of glass disposed of was recycled, and only 7.1% of plastics and 21.1% of aluminum.

 

About 31% of solid waste generated in the US in 2008 was containers and packaging, or nearly 77 million tons. Only 43.7% of that was recycled.

 

There is over $300 billion worth of trade deficit between the US and China each year (guess who’s winning).

 

The US imports $456.5 billion from China each year. Much of which are consumer goods packaged heavily in wastepaper.

 

The majority of that waste paper packaging is not recycled and we in fact turn around AND pay the Chinese to dispose of it for us.

 

THE NUMBER 1 U.S. EXPORT TO CHINA IS TRASH

 

The US exports $8billion worth of trash, mostly wastepaper and scrap metal, to China every year to be disposed of.

 

There are 19,355 “incorporated places” i.e. cities in the US, but only 9,000 community curbside recycling programs.

Next time you are in a hotel or a Starbuck’s or a McDonald’s look around for a recycling canister; if you don’t see one take a pic and post it to twitter, fb or instagram under #trashsanity.

Atlanta Starbucks: No recycling though the city provides free recycling!
Atlanta Starbucks: No recycling though the city provides free recycling!

Recycling isn’t just something that we’ve accomplished and can now get complacent about. Recycling programs have increased by 100% since the 90′s, but they would have to QUADRUPLE that just to break even with the trash we are CURRENTLY producing, not to mention what’s already been dumped and what’s to come, as our planet’s population continues to climb, and with it consumption. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to ensure proper waste disposal, reduction, reuse and recycling.

When we begin to also take consideration of the “China Factor”, it quickly turns into an issue of our virtual patriotic duty to recycle. The future of our Nation, Our Planet and Children depends upon personal vigilance and work by all of us to take responsibility and hold ourselves accountable in the effort to Reduce consumption and Reuse and Recycle wherever and whenever possible. As we do so, we must simultaneously hold the people and companies that are responsible for the greatest amount of waste output, to correspondingly offer conscientious waste management and systemic recycling programs.

With our current waste management and landfill system we are literally trying to sweep our problems under a rug… and the thing I’ve found about doing that: it just makes for a dirty house.

This is what I currently have to go through to recycle at a Marriott hotel in Atlanta. Pay attention to the conversation at 2:15. Please share and sign the petition. The link to the petition below is the start of my personal crusade to encourage responsible waste management by the country’s leading trash producers. Our number 1 export to China is trash, $8 billion worth of it every year. We are making our #1 creditor richer by hiring them to take out the garbage, even as they are taking our jobs.

We need to stop poisoning the planet and our country’s future. Starting with this video of my own first hand experience, with trying to recycle in yet another Marriott hotel without a recycling program. I am no environmental expert, but I am a mother of 3 kids ages 4, 2 & 5 months, and I truly feel that I must DO SOMETHING, to end the unsustainable practice of pumping disposable waste into our landfills or paying China to dispose of materials that can easily be recycled. There are many other excessive producers of waste, in the customer service, hospitality and restaurant industries that are next on my list to be petitioned. However, I am starting here with what I have already gone through first hand, simply trying to be a responsible citizen, and more importantly a conscientious mother.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/marriott-corp-you-need.fb40?source=c.fb&r_by=9588784

Sources:

My Personal Experience
Alexander 2002
Bohdanowicz 2005
cleanair.org
Essential Guide
EPA
Environmental Justice
Greenhotelier, 2004
NY Times
science.howstuffworks.com
us.census.gov
Wikipedia
Posted in Child Advocacy, Community, Environmental, Greener Living, Recycling, Villagers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who’s Afraid of a Mama’s Boy?

My older son only recently turned 2, and already the term has reared its ugly head. Maybe he reached for me, or called earnestly for me, in the company of some acquaintances or other family members, and his action was quickly followed by the response of “Aw, he loves his mama. Just make sure he doesn’t turn into a mama’s boy!”  Just hearing the 2 words in conjunction, causes me to bristle. What exactly ISbaby-blue the problem with being a mama’s boy?  Why should I buy into an ideal that seeks to deliberately sever the loving bond of trust and total security that I, as their mother, provide to all of my children, male and female?  And who exactly stands to benefit by my sons, especially, turning away from the influence of their Mother?

I can’t think of anyone, other than their future mate, who will place greater priority over my sons’ well being than myself, and their father do. Yet, even at his tender age the subtle, and so utterly counter intuitive message, to question his need for his mother, is already pervasive.  Does he really need protection from me, his creator, who carried and bore him to the world? I protect, feed, clothe, bathe, heal, teach, discipline, play with, comfort and love him. But the message is as clear as day, that remaining under my influence is not in his best interest, and will actually make him less of a “man”, even an undesirable or unsuitable mate. It’s insulting.  It’s hypocritical. It’s illogical. And it’s downright bullshit.

Interestingly, I have always found a direct correlation between how a man treats his momheartmother and how he treats me.  Sometimes this actually forced me to evaluate whether I was unintentionally acting like a man’s mother, thereby reenacting the dynamics and behavior patterns of their relationship.  I have ended romances purely on the basis alone, of how a man treats his mother.  In one particular instance, I actually walked out on a date, when he casually referred to his mother as a ‘bitch.’

How one interacts with one’s mother is often an indication of how one will engage with the world. Yet, having a loving, strong bond with mom, especially for boys and men, is often interpreted negatively.  We all know, because we’ve been told: No one1boyflowers002 wants a mama’s boy, but why not? What’s the real root of this association between loving and listening to one’s mother, and being spineless, a weakling etc…?

There is no question that, especially for boys, being linked to their mother is negatively correlated with weakness. Yet our mothers are so often the strongest people we will ever know.  As more families are headed solely by single mothers and more women increasingly move into the workplace and achieve higher level degrees and earn higher salaries, women’s position in society, the workplace and the home, is rapidly shifting.  Yet, instead of being afforded greater respect and admiration, mothers are still being ushered to the bottom of the list, when it comes to who society tells us our boys and men should be influenced by.

When we throw around the term “mama’s boy” it immediately conjures images of a prissy boysap, a man with no backbone, whose life is governed and his decision making perpetually under the influence of, dear ole mama.  Whether there is any truth to that imagery is quite subjective, and yet that’s what we have all been trained to believe.  Calling a male a Mama’s Boy is really saying to him, “You are Not a Man.”

What is it we are so afraid of mother’s telling their sons, that we would put their very manhood up for debate?

I think the real question is: who stands to lose the most if men listen to their mothers?  Now, some women, and a majority of trashy women’s magazines, would say that it is daughters-in-law who have the most to lose, by a man under the heavy influence of his mom.  Personally, I believe that this is, in fact, just another item in the long list of society’s ploys, to pit women against each other.  This ties into why there’s such disdain for mama’s boys. Women are constantly being told that we are the catty ones, the ones subject to flights of PMS induced, emotional fancy. We hear the message repeated throughout our lives, that we are the creators of petty conflict.

And what a successful distraction that has turned out to be.  Women are force-fed the belief that we should keep our priorities focused on competitiveness between each other, over things like “thigh gap” and being a ‘MILF’.   All the while women/mothers are still continuing to handle the household work (it is well documented that even with 2 working parents, women still do the majority of house work) and are increasingly the primary income earners. Yet, society hasn’t given up on convincing us, and especially our male children, that they shouldn’t listen to us, that we are not to be trusted.  The real truth is, the people who are the most afraid of a united front of women, and sons who put priority on their mother’s words are, quite simply, the warmongers.

If boys put their mamas before they put, for instance, their country’s need for foreign oil, and the supposed message of spreading “democracy,” this country wouldn’t windating-a-mamas-boy any wars.  If moms were the greatest influence in the world, in all likeliness, the world wouldn’t have any soldiers. Despite the message pumped forth by mass media propaganda, it is in fact, not women or mothers, who drag us all into their petty, self-serving conflicts.  The patriarchal, military industrial complex needs volunteers to give their lives to its wars and mass murders in the name of power and acquisition. If men decided that their family was of a higher priority than their patriotic devotion to the narrow focus driving political gain and corporate greed, there would be far fewer individuals to lose their lives in battle. This is not to discount the women who have proudly stood beside their male counterparts to serve our nation, losing their limbs and lives on the front lines. However, it is hard to argue, that war and the priority placed upon military fortitude, is still very much a masculine ideal.

What does the undesirability of mama’s boys really say about modern societal values?  When we encourage men to separate from their mothers as early as possible but conversely, our daughters are expected to remain ‘daddy’s little girl’, forever.   The notion of a woman as forever her “daddy’s girl” perpetuates the idea of women woman-in-boardroom_645x400remaining subservient to men, from infancy to adulthood, and further serves the powers that be.  But there is currently a shift in the actual dynamics of power, influence, and income earning potential between men and women, in both the home and workplace, that society’s message isn’t keeping pace with.  With more households than ever before in history, being headed by single mothers, the hypocrisy that underlies the mockery of mama’s boys becomes glaring.  If boys are less likely to have fathers in their lives, and they are at the same time, interpreted as “wussies” for simply being guided by the influence and priorities of their mothers, it seems logical that there will be more and more confused, lost little boys out there.

The outcome of this could be, for example, the advent of ridiculous, disgusting behavior like the “knock out” game, which is a game in which young males seek “sucker” targets, like old ladies, and run up and literally sucker punch them in the face, an obviously revolting behavioral display that has quickly gone viral.  And maybe it’s because these kids are lacking not only the counterpart role of a father in their lives, but the belief that listening to their mothers for too long will make them social pariahs.  Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the antiquated attitudes and priorities of yester-year, which our children are subjected to. Especially now, as the disparity between those values and the reality of the lives kids are leading, grows ever wider.  At this point, I mean really, what have we got to lose?…Who’s afraid of a Big, Bad, Mama’s Boy?… Not me.

Posted in Behavior, Community, Development, Gender Roles, parent-child activities, Parenting Advice, Politics, social awareness, Stereotypes, Teaching Compassion, Villagers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Open Discussion on Losing My Child at the Hands of a Drunk Driver: How Do We Honor the Victims and Prevent More?

It’s often been said children don’t come with instructions.

The same can be said about coping with death or navigating our Government.

I believe it was Kenny Rogers that said he became a “man” when his father passed away.  No matter our chronological age or legal age , as long as our parents breathe we are still a child to someone.

Most of us plan our lives around growing old and watching our children get married and then turn us into grandparents. We make plans for our final days with Wills, and Trusts , Life Insurance and what our children should do when we pass away.

As we watch them grow up we have fears and worries , yet we do our best to keep them safe and teach them about the dangers of the world. When the bridge to adulthood and eighteen candles are placed on a cake we as parents breathe almost a sigh of relief. We did it. Little did I know when my twin daughters turned eighteen it would only be a few short years before I stood in a court room and quoted our thirty-fourth President “There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.” How often I have said in the past almost two years a child needs us MORE after they turn eighteen.

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December 14, 2011, it was a Wednesday a little after 2p.m. when I received the most horrific call of a parents lifetime. A call that would not only change my life but the lives of my family as well.

My eldest daughter was the caller and I could barely understand her. I managed to understand one of her younger sisters was in ICU. I didn’t know why and at the time I didn’t understand which hospital. All I knew was I needed to get to my daughter and get there FAST.

My eldest son was home and I said to him we need to go, we need to go now. Amber is in the hospital.  So the thirty mile drive began , feeling more like a hundred miles. The calls back and forth trying to figure out which hospital and WHY. I finally knew where , which hospital but I still didn’t know why.

Being the San Fernando Valley part of Los Angeles all kinds of things went through my mind on that drive. Was she at the bank when it was being robbed ? Was she somehow shot in a drive- by ? Never once did I think it was a car accident. Later I would find out in reality it wasn’t an “accident” that took my child’s life , it was a choice.

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We spent almost a week at Northridge Hospital the longest wait I have ever been through. What went on during that week is a book by it’s self. It took over fourteen and a half hours for us to be notified . Even though Amber’s current drivers license was locked in the hospital safe. The CRASH was on what I refer to as the 13th going into the 14th it was 12:15 a.m. so legally December 14 . Fire station 100 responded and it was incident 13 of the day. Amber was sent to the coroner on December 20, 2011 and we were not able to lay her to rest until January 5, 2012.

The person that killed my daughter was not only drunk but under the influence of Methamphetamines and also had traces of THC in his system. He was injured and said he couldn’t recall if he was driving, this after saying he wasn’t driving, even though paramedics removed him from the drivers seat using the jaws of life. This person also had 8 warrants for his arrest and a suspended drivers license for over five years at the time of the crash.

We were told of all kinds of “enhancements” that would add charges and time to the offender’s case. Much of this was idle talk I would later learn. I had to make formal requests and pay fees for the same information the offender got through his Public Defender. The offender had access to information even I couldn’t get and he was aware of her pregnancy before I was. Yes he was told she was with child while I had to read it in her chart.

Our case was pushed through rather fast compared to some in Los Angeles. We were never told of his arraignment so we were not present. My precious daughter was laid to rest January 5, 2012 and her killer was sentenced just one week before her would be 21st birthday. May 24, 2012 we heard the Judge tell the offender he was not a bad person. He was sentenced to 6 years with one year given for good behavior. Little did I know at the time it was in the paperwork he would serve only 50% of his time. Not the 85% we were told he would do. Sadly after delay after delay and excuse after excuse he plead open out of fear the case would be transferred. How someone gets good behavior time when they were in the medical ward and or in a wheelchair is beyond me. How good behavior is given when an inmate contacts the family of the victim and still has access to Facebook is beyond me also. At the end of the day he was only charged with ONE count 191.5. (a) Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152,154662_287650984689169_353947833_n or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.

There were many charges he could have faced and his warrants magically went away. Time served or dismissed.

It’s coming up on the 2 year mark this December and yes he still has an active Facebook.

I have had several meetings over the past over a year, yet I feel I haven’t made much progress.

Senators, Assemblymen, Councilmen even a Congressman I have met with. Sadly little time is actually given and seldom is there any follow up let alone action. I have given them article after article of lenient sentences along with repeat offenders. I have given suggestion after suggestion only to be told ” That will never pass here” or other empty excuses.

old-timey-drunk-guy-mdWe have become a society and a State that has more pity and compassion for the criminal than the victim and the surviving families. With over crowding and AB109 driving under the influence or driving distracted or impaired is of little priority , even though it kills innocent people every day. California is number 2 in deaths per year from DUI crashes , only Texas has more than us. Wyoming has an average of 50 deaths per year yet they are still working on lowering the number.

The number of grieving parents because of a impaired or distracted driver is staggering. The penalties are appalling and show no respect let alone value to life. I have been thrown into an arena I had no idea was so very complicated. Our society still is far too forgiving and accepting of these preventable deaths. These are choices that result in people being killed yet its still treated far too lightly.

Yes inmates have access to Facebook even though it’s “not allowed” . I have a petition online and yes his account was reported to the judge, the A.D.A. a Senator , the prison and others. With no results.

I also have a petition online for awareness because even though “ignorance is no excuse for the law” it seems when it comes to DUI ‘s “Knowledge is key” .

Please click sign my petition to enforce No Access to Facebook in prison and to label Every Bottle and Every Can with a reminder of the perils of DUI.  We can make change!

Did you know that injuring a person in a DUI is a violent crime and killing someone in a DUI is NOT?!

Sad, when given a chance to more seriously address DUI penalties it seems our officials failed us. How does this make sense let alone happen? AB 1462 (Mendoza) Under current law, felony vehicular manslaughter crimes (Penal Code sections 191.5(a), 191.5(b), 192(c)(1), 192(c)(3)) are not violent felonies within the meaning of Penal Code… section 667.5. Consequently, violators of these laws may earn up to 50 percent conduct credits. However, driving under the influence and personally inflicting great bodily injury (Vehicle Code section 23153 with a Penal Code section 12022.7(a) enhancement) is a violent felony within the meaning of Penal Code section 667.5. Therefore, violators of this offense may only earn up to 15 percent conduct credits. Due to this inequity in credits, a drunk driver’s maximum sentence will be less if they kill a victim than if they inflict great bodily injury upon a surviving victim. (THIS IS INSANITY !!!)  I’m finding it’s more than difficult to find anyone who is willing to take on DUI legislature.

While inmates are suing the State and having hunger strikes and making demands, who is remembering the victims?

While a drunk driver who posts a confession on youtube becomes a “hero” and a “celebrity” what about his victim?

Did you know that killing some with a DUI is what’s called a wobbler ? This means a killer can be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor for killing someone. Did you know a convicted offender can get as little as probation for killing someone with a DUI? Did you know offenders can do online classes and victim impact panels?safety-image-dont-drink-drive Did you know offenders even show up to court and required classes drunk?

Did you know a woman who killed a Fireman while she was drunk driving got one year house arrest and is still able to work and drive to and from work?

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest hurdles is many in office have had DUI’s here are just some http://stopthemaddness.org/pols.html

Please follow what’s going on , as its not good. Public Safety has taken a backseat and our families are at risk.

Anyone who has been affected is more than welcome to join me in my mission. Anyone who wants change so we have a safer place for our families is welcome.

This is the closing of my Victim Impact Statement …

To hear the court warn the defendant “If you do this again and someone dies you will be charged with murder” is like putting a knife in my heart. It makes me feel like my daughter was a practice drill or a learning experience. To be possibly given leniency this time yet a harsher penalty “next time” means another mother might be standing before the court experiencing the same indescribable pain and grief I am.

Amber’s life was not lost, it was taken by someone who made a choice. I made a choice to have a child I named her Amber Rose, like the golden essence of our lives. She was growing up into a talented, loving young lady. In a matter of moments a bad and fatal choice by the defendant took away all those good choices forever.

In the words of our 34 President Dwight Eisenhower:

“There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child.  Things never get back to the way they were.”

I was born and raised in Southern California. Back in the day when people knew their neighbors and watched out for one another. I have four wonderful children one of which was killed by a drunk driver. I have now become a mom on a mission to spread, awareness, education and hopefully change some of our laws and penalties regarding dangers on our roads. I have connected with too many grieving moms of preventable tragedies through this journey. Hoping to find others locally who wish also to make the much needed changes for safer roads for our families.

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Giveaway! My Monster Bubble Writer Book ~ Monstrously Good Fun (and learning)!

monsterbubblewriter__1e0b6a_useIs there a doodler in your life in need of some inspiration?  Want to provide them a project other than drawing all over your paperwork, bills, and their homework assignments?

Linda Scott has created an artistically productive solution for the dawdling doodler. My Monster Bubble Writer Book is 144 pages of eerily entertaining activity.  Linda is an established illustrator, with many campaigns and exhibitions under her belt. She is also the author of this book’s predecessor; How to Be the Best Bubblewriter in the World, Ever!  Her experience and imagination both shine in this latest title.

The book’s title pretty much says it all. There’s monsters.  There’s bubble letters.  There’s monstrous bubble letters! Tons of variations; fuzzy, furry, slimy, slinky, creepy and cuddly apply to both the creatures and word art alike!

Fun for different ages, my five and eight year olds are both having lots of fun creating and coloring their own monsters, while the elder also enjoys practicing her own bubbly fonts. Older kids (and adults) could easily kill hours learning lettering and design skills with My Monster Bubble Writer Book.

Check it out…

 

Published by the uniquely artful Laurence King,the gift-worthy My Monster Bubble Writer Book is available online and in stores for $16.95 – a bargain for the quality and quantity of these pages!

WIN!!!

Laurence King Publishing is kindly offering a Takes a Village reader their very own copy of My Monster Bubble Writer Book!  Simply enter via Rafflecopter below!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Special thanks to Laurence King Publishing, Ltd. for providing press copies for my review!
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