LeapFrog Tag Reader Winner!

And the winner is . . . Kelly, who said:

We LOVE Dr. Seuss around here! And while I’m all about reading to my kids, there are days that I can’t read Fox in Socks more than twice in a row without going cross eyed! Both kids (5 and 2.5 yrs) can recite the first few lines of Cat in the Hat already, actually… which doesn’t stop them from insisting that they HAVE to hear it yet again. And If I Ran the Zoo, and Cat in the Hat Comes Back… and Horton (either one)… the list goes on of course. The only one they don’t love is The Lorax… it makes my son sad, he says. :-(

Anyway, they would LOVE something to help them read when I have to be making dinner or something, you know, unavoidable. ;-) The only thing I think would be a problem for us is the limited memory. 5 books?!? Hmm. Well, reading straight through, that wouldn’t keep my kids busy too long – but it seems the books have activities and games on each page too, so that would definitely help. But I do think I’d need to keep the computer handy and be pretty familiar with the software to switch the books out frequently, because I can see us buying the entire Tag library! Dr Seuss? Check! Cars! Princesses! Plus classics – gotta love it! Only one I’m not sure of is that Kung Fu Panda one… I’d have to review that before giving it to my son. Oh, and I don’t think we’d use the Spanish ones… although… it would be an interesting way to intro the language a little, I guess.

Congratulations, Kelly, and thanks to LeapFrog for sponsoring this giveaway.

Joy in the Journey

Dick and I were pretty much ruined by our degrees in English. We can’t help dissecting books and movies, and, especially, the talks given at church by our fellow church members. We’re a tough crowd, and we’ve got a long list of pet peeves. But a couple weeks ago we heard one of the best talks ever, by a sweet lady who moved in down the street a few months ago. I didn’t expect to enjoy the talk, as I could tell she was referring to her notes (pet peeve number 1), and because she seemed to be spending a lot of time introducing her husband to the congregation (pet peeve number 3).

But Deb’s talk was simply fantastic. I got teary-eyed several times, and Dick said it made him nostalgic for our kids, which was silly because all three of them were sitting between us in the pew. Most of all, it inspired me, as all good things do, to try a little harder to be a little better. I’ve found myself in the weeks since referring to her insights about motherhood as I go about my day.

I asked Deb if I could post her talk here, and I’m excited that she said yes (and very glad then that she had written it out). I thought it might also be a nice way for people who aren’t Mormon to see a good example of how lovely our church services can be. (I’ve made a couple edits to preserve privacy.)

Finding Joy in the Journey – 15 March 2009

by Debby (alpinedeb at yahoo dot com)

“Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family.”

President Thomas S. Monson

First of all, many of you don’t know us.  We moved here in November from up in Highland.  My name is Debby  and my husband is Stan.  We met online, which in 1972, meant we met on a blind date.  We married in August of 1973.  We have two grown children, one daughter and one son.  Both are married and both have one daughter and one son.  It’s so hard for me to believe that I am a Gramma of four! But it’s the very best part of my life, being a Gramma!  Part of my Joy in the journey is seeing my children strive to raise their own children up in righteousness.

I am pretty goal-oriented.  Three weeks ago, when Brother Smith called us in to ask us to speak, he gave us our topics.  Mine is “Finding Joy in the Journey”.  Stan’s is “Celestial Marriage”.  That prompted me to set a goal.  My goal for the last two weeks has been to do everything I can to show Stan the meaning of a real Celestial marriage.  I found real Joy in the Journey demonstrating to Stan that he and I are going to be together “forever”!

Stan and I work hard to find joy in our journey. We made a commitment when we got married that we wouldn’t fight and yell in our home.  Do you know that Brother Bateman has NEVER yelled in anger at me?  Oh, I’m not saying he’s perfect!  He’s just committed, he’s just kind, and he’s just humble.  He loves to serve others and is always willing to help a friend or neighbor.  Stan enjoys old music and makes a hobby out of digitizing tapes and records and making family videos, and I have to admit, he’s pretty good at it!  He enjoys (or pretends to enjoy) cooking breakfast on Saturday morning.  The best part is that he also enjoys CLEANING UP!  How many husbands do that?  He enjoys yard work and I can’t to see what he does with our poor, dead yard.  He loves his grandchildren and will lie on the floor with them and play trains or cars for so long that someone will have to help him up.  He likes to tease and kid anyone around him, and he’s pretty good at that, too!  He’s mellowed out a little from that, though.  He no longer will dump a glass of ice water down your back then run!

There are a couple of stories I love to tell about Stan that will tell you what he is really like.  I don’t tell them to embarrass him or make him feel prideful.  I tell them because they epitomize who he is.

When we lived in West Valley, we loved going for a car ride just before sunset.  One particular day we drove past a man sitting on the sidewalk.  He wasn’t very clean-looking and we paid little attention to him.  Then Stan saw an over-turned wheelchair several yards away from the man.  He immediately made a u-turn and got out.  When he asked the man what he needed, the man said, “I was riding up the sidewalk and hit that bump.  My chair tipped, throwing me out and then tumbled away from me.  I’ve been sitting here for hours and no one will stop and help me.”  This man I married retrieved the chair, up-righted it and dusted it off, then I helped him lift this poor helpless man into his wheelchair.  He shook the man’s hand and we drove away.

We had some friends in West Valley who had six children and were really struggling to provide for them.  Very dear people who were striving to keep the commandments, but couldn’t afford much.  We went up to their home one Saturday night to visit.  Stan somehow found out that Dan didn’t have any shoes to wear to Church on Sunday.  His had worn out and they couldn’t afford more right now.  Without even a moment’s thought, Stan asked him what size shoes he wore.  When he heard that he and Dan wore exactly the same size, he slipped off his own shoes and handed them to Dan.  I don’t remember exactly what Stan said, but Dan took the shoes and Stan drove home in his stocking feet.

That’s the kind of man Heavenly Father gave me.

As for me, I have a hard time being serious about anything and would just as soon make fun of something, anything!  I love to laugh and I love to make others laugh!  I love to do all the domestic stuff that mothers do, sew, bake, crafts, scrapbook, and I am a total computer nerd.  According to my son, I am the nerdiest nerd of all the nerdy nerds!

I loved having teenagers in our home. They are so spontaneous and fun to be around (most of the time!)  I loved the midnight runs to get a drink, the cheesecakes in the middle of the night, the wooden spoon drum-fests, and the water fights in the kitchen!  Not that our kids were perfect either.  They weren’t.  And I certainly wasn’t the perfect mother.  I just wanted them to remember that I knew how to find joy in our journey.

I have a deep and abiding testimony of this Gospel and its teachings.  I love our Prophet and I love the Lord.  I love my Savior Jesus Christ.  When I think, really ponder the sacrifice He made for me, I can’t even comprehend His love for me.  I believe with all my heart that He knows me by name, He knows what is in my heart, and He knows my desires.  How can I ever thank Him for what He is to me and what I am to Him?

I think one way we can begin to repay our Savior is by keeping Him close to us so that we MIGHT have joy in this journey until we can return to Him.

Most of my topic, “Finding Joy in the Journey” comes from our beloved Prophet, Thomas S. Monson’s talk in General Conference last November.  He says, “Day by day, minute by minute, second by second, we [go] from where we were to where we are now.  The lives of all of us go through similar alterations and changes. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching comes the changes.  This is our one and only chance at mortal life – here and now.  The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief.  The greatest lessons we are to learn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.  I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that future when you will have time to do all that you want to do.  Instead, find joy in the journey – now.”

Often times as a young mother, I became focused on all the things that “needed” to be done.  The laundry, the making of the beds, the meals, the shopping, and don’t forget the ever-present dishes!  I have always been a little more playful than responsible, but I thought that other people would judge me for having a less-than-perfect home.  President Monson says, “If you have children who are grown and gone, in all likelihood you have occasionally felt pangs of loss and the recognition that you didn’t appreciate that time of life as much as you should have.”

I have often felt that exact way.  I remember one particular time when I just HAD to clean out the refrigerator.  My then three-year-old son was lonely because his sister was in school.  He kept whining and bugging me to pick him up.  I resisted and ended up getting angry at him and making him go take a nap, because I had an “important” job to do.  Now I realize that HE was my important job.  That certainly is not the only incident I could relate.  I DO feel those pangs of guilt and remorse for not making Tyler the most important chore of the day.

For a while, I was obsessed with all the smudges, marks, and dents that plagued our newly remodeled house.  I frustrated over the strewn clothing, shoes, and backpacks.  I stressed over the unbelievable amount of laundry two kids could create.  Now?  Sometimes I would love to have a tiny little handprint on my newly cleaned sliding door; some baby toys strewn about the family room (oh, wait, I DO have baby toys strewn all over my family room!).  And as the Prophet said in his talk, I “miss them profoundly”.

I find comfort in the fact that my kids don’t remember our home being neat and orderly.  What they remember is the long car rides where they had Mom’s undivided attention, driving the car in the Church parking lot, wrestling on the unmade bed, lying on the floor and coloring, doing donuts in the snow with the car.  Says President Monson, “Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family.  One day each of us will run out of tomorrows.”

We all have stress in our lives and we must deal with that stress the best we can.  But we should not let stress get in the way of what is most important – and what is most important almost always involves the people around us.  Don’t just assume that the members of your family KNOW you love them.  SHOW them.  Let them know.  Regrets don’t come from kind words or affection shown.  Rather, regrets come when such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the very most to us.  Don’t be like I was, letting a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

Author Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” **

President Monson tells a story of Jay Hess who was shot down over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  For two years, he was kept captive, his family not knowing if he was dead or alive.  His captors eventually allowed him to write home but limited his message to 25 words.  What could he say to them, not knowing if he would ever see them again?  What counsel could he give them? Let’s take a minute and imagine what we would say in his position…..

He said, “These things are important: Temple marriage, mission, college.  Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.”

Everything, EVERYTHING in this life is given to us by a loving, caring Heavenly Father.  EVERYTHING.  Life itself is part of those gifts.  How can we NOT rejoice in ALL that He gives us?  How can we NOT be joyful?

Doctrine and Covenants 88:33 “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?  Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in Him who is the Giver of the gift.”  We should be thankful for ALL our gifts, not just the good ones, AND we should be thankful for the Giver of those gifts.

The ancient Roman philosopher Horace admonished, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year.”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told by the Apostle Paul, “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God.”

Let’s recall the story of the ten lepers.  When the lepers saw the Savior, they called out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  Jesus told them to go show themselves to the Priests.  When they obeyed Him, they were healed.  Only ONE of the lepers came back to show his gratitude to Jesus for the gift he had been given.  He gave glory to God for the blessing at the feet of Jesus Christ. Luke 17:12–18

I want to be that 10%! I want to show God that I am thankful for ALL my blessings, even if I don’t feel like they are blessings!

When you are truly grateful for something, you find more joy in it.  Our lives, our children, our trials, our sorrows, all are a gift from our Heavenly Father.  The Lord gave Joseph Smith a revelation about gratitude.  He said, “In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is His wrath kindled, save those who confess not His hand in all things.” D & C 59:21

President Monson asked us to live with gratitude in our hearts and fill our days, as much as we can, with those things which matter most.  He asked us to cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed.  He also asked us to show gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He said, “Let us follow Him.  Let us emulate His example.  Let us obey His word.  By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.”

One of the best gifts bestowed on me, is the talent to play the piano.  I’m not accomplished and have had very little training, but I love to play.  One of my favorite things to do is bear testimony TO my Father in Heaven by playing music that edifies Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.  It’s a way for me to show gratitude to Him and it gives me joy at the same time.  I like to play privately, not for an audience, but I would like to bear you my testimony at the piano now by playing “How Great Thou Art”.  As you listen, please know that I am truly grateful for my gifts, good and bad.  I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me in spite of myself and my mistakes, and they know me and remember me from the Pre-existence.

May we leave here with a stronger resolve to be more grateful for the things that have been given to us and more willing to enjoy this journey called mortality, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Everything Zen

Dick likes to tell himself that I am irrational, emotional, and prone to lose my mind in times of stress. I think he had to read The Yellow Wallpaper in school and has flashbacks whenever I get a tiny bit upset that things are blowing up around the house.

Earlier this week I thought I broke my computer, and instead of freaking out, I calmly filmed it so I could show Dick just how placid I can be.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3890440&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

jane is calm from jane on Vimeo.

Impressive sang froid, non?

The truth is: the internet is probably as good as your garden-variety anxiety medication for suppressing the desire to indulge in a completely justified snit. And now that I’ve conquered my frustration with electronics, it’s time to convince Spot that it’s truly not necessary to tell me every single thing that crosses her mind throughout the entire day. Unfortunately, two-year-olds are about as logical as your average bundle of software, so this could take awhile.

Confessions of a Religious Fanatic

So, I have this feminine complaint. Very feminine and very complaint-y. After Dick’s and my customary Sunday afternoon nap, it was very apparent (olfactorally speaking) that he or I (or both of us) had a serious complaint. Is that you? I asked. I don’t know, he said, Is it you?

How awkward. (As if sex itself is not awkward (but fun!) enough.)

Being the martyr-like female that I am, I assumed that it was me (which it was). But how awkward. I certainly didn’t want to see my gynecologist about it. Ick. (I know, I know, I’d rather discuss it online, but I do have a point, if you can bear with me.)

So I went on WebMD.com, which has this great tool where you choose your symptoms, and view the possible diagnoses, read up a bit more about them, and then pick what’s wrong with you. My ailment was very apparent from the description. VERY. But before I got to that one, I read through the other possibilities:

*cervicitis (may be caused by STD)

*yeast infection (not enough good bacteria, not caused by STD)

*lice (“close contact”)

*trichomoniasis, chlamydia, herpes, HPV (all usually caused by STD)

The only bad thing about WebMD (versus, say, a real doctor) is that I start to wonder (especially late at night) … What if I have one of these other things? (What if I’ve got cancer and have only 6 months to live?) How well do I really know my husband? Can I trust him? Do I trust him? It doesn’t help that every few months there’s a House episode in which one spouse has to okay a form of treatment for the comatose spouse, a form of treatment that will be deadly if the person has never, ever cheated, but will save their life if it’s at all possible that they “slipped up” just once. I hate those episodes. Because it always turns out that in addition to lying, everybody cheats.

(By the way, I do trust my husband, and, as Tara pointed out, it helps that you can rule out the STD-caused problems.)

I spend a good deal of my time thinking that, as a minivan-driving Mormon, as a Christ-loving Christian, as a politically-conservative woman who hates Republican family-values hypocrisy, I’m really not that different from the other women in America.

I’m pro-life, but conflictedly so. I stay at home with my children, but I envy women with corner offices. I grind my own wheat and make my own bread (sometimes), but I would feed my girls Chick-fil-A every day if I could. I never miss a Sunday at church, but I nag Dick to let us watch Slumdog Millionaire, without the Clearplay turned on. (He stays firm, though.)

I have other, more serious sins, and other, more redeeming aspirations, but in short: I usually think of myself as an American first. Not so different from all the other American women who might read the same sorts of books and try to teach the same sorts of values to their children. Though I was married a bit young (21) and gave birth a bit young (23), I don’t think of my experience or expectations as being so out of the ordinary.

Until I start thinking about sex.

I read newspapers and blogs and think, well, so those politicians cheat and those parents think abstinence is unrealistic (if not also un-desirable) for their children, but surely most of us, the “us” that I count myself a part of, we all know that chastity and then fidelity are the right thing. Right?

And I keep reading, articles about studies and comments about real life, and I think, somehow, in my poor confused brain, that I can be cool, and hip (if that’s even a good thing any more), and most importantly, cynical and jaded, and REALISTIC — and, hey, I know that people cheat and kids don’t wait, and the world isn’t one sparkly montage of virginal unicorns in fluffy pink meadows.

But I’m hung up on wanting it to be. (Even if it means losing — if I ever had — my cool card.)

And then I watch a movie like He’s Just Not That Into You, and I am forced to the embarrassing conclusion that I, at age 31, college-educated, well-travelled to twelve countries on four continents, not a perfect example of anything myself; that I am in fact, compared to the rest of the country I love:

I am a religious fanatic.

How else do I explain being so thoroughly nonplussed by the acceptance and glamorization of extra-marital sex? I thought I was the target audience for the movie, based on the previews, but my life and my ideals, the life and ideals I want with everything in me for my daughters, are basically incompatible with most modern romantic comedies, and especially this one.

I really did think I’d like it, even before I knew that it quotes and creates a scenario from Some Kind of Wonderful.

*Spoiler Warning*
If you’re going to see He’s Just Not That Into You, I’d recommend you not read further, but what I’d really recommend is that you skip it (the movie). It pretty much sucks, especially if you have a sister whose husband left her and you can’t stop thinking about how much this movie would make her cry.

In He’s Just Not That Into You, the women are helpless, codependent, static characters incapable of growth or insight. The Jennifer Aniston storyline is rewarding, especially the part where Ben Affleck shows up unexpectedly. But why should a woman have to surrender and decide she was in the wrong to want marriage after seven years of living together, in order to keep her man? (Though I confess that if a man washed my dishes without my asking, I’d probably do anything he asked, even if he did look like Ben Affleck.)

The Ginnifer Goodwin/Guy from the Mac commercials storyline is a little bit cute, but it shows the Mac guy learning and changing, and the Ginnifer person stagnating at the irrational-obsessive level of infatuation. While the Mac guy grows up, she’s completely incapable of sustaining a mature relationship. And sex is not anything special, just something that accompanies dating like broken marriages follow Angelina.

And don’t get me started on that Will guy from Alias. Poor Scarlett Johanssen is in serious danger of being typecast as the whore of Babylon, and if I pass her in the street, I’ll probably slap her for Jennifer Connelly. In other words: Will cheats, and he’s a scumbag. The end.

So, fine: I’m a religious fanatic. But what does that mean?

It irritates me when people talk about how much worse the world has gotten recently. Because I read that part in the Bible where Cain killed Abel and that other part where those one chicks slept with their father. War has been happening forever, and I don’t think calling prostitution the oldest profession is hyperbole.

So I don’t think that the reality has changed that much. But our perception of the reality, our acceptance of the reality, has changed, not for the better.

And I’m far from perfect. I don’t honestly really know that many people who were perfectly, 100% chaste in thought and deed before marriage. But I know some. And the older I get, the more important it seems.

I don’t want to sound (or be) all evangelical or fundamentalist or fanatical (too late), but the truth is that if I could have one thing for my daughters, it would be chastity and virginity for them AND THEIR HUSBANDS before marriage.

When did that become the most outlandish, crazy thing? When did it become naive to consider abstinence a realistic and worthwhile goal?

When did it happen that I feel ninety-seven years old when watching a movie about twenty- and thirty-somethings?

Why is a determination of “unrealistic” considered the death knell to chastity and fidelity by some? There are a lot of other unrealistic ideals, like an end to poverty and war, but I don’t see any caring, conscious human being suggesting that we throw our hands up and turn our attention to making poverty and war as safe as possible for everyone. As if poverty and war can be made to be SAFE.

As if the fact of their inevitability somehow requires a relinquishment of the ideals of prosperity and peace.

Last week I got back in touch with a girl who was one of my best friends in eighth grade. We stayed in close contact throughout high school, but I haven’t seen her in fourteen years. She is now married with three daughters, and her husband is the boy that I was in love with for all my middle school years. In my mind, I was Anne and he was Gilbert Blythe. If I’d had a slate, I would have broken it over his head in order to increase the romantic parallels. (Of which there were many, not least being that we “hated” each other after being madly in love for approximately four months. I think he probably did actually hate me, or you know, didn’t care, but I was (not-so-secretly) pining, ever-hopeful, until my family moved away when I was thirteen.)

True love, at eleven, is pretty silly, of course. But, oh! did I love him. We met in fifth grade, in a tiny town, where elementary school ended at fourth grade, and we imagined ourselves quite grown up to be included in middle school, and especially the middle school dances. I still remember how it felt to dance with him, so close, so slow, so many hormones and so much heat. He was the first boy I ever loved.

We never kissed. We were chaste. (And yes, Mom, you were right to decide I wouldn’t go to any more dances until I was older, even so.)

The feeling I still feel for him, and for his wife, who was such a good friend to me, is overwhelming, when I think about it. I want their happiness, though we are not connected by any ties except old friendship, almost as much as I want my own.

And we never even kissed.

I cannot express to you how glad I am about that.

Chastity before marriage, and fidelity after. These things might be hard. They might be incredibly unrealistic, and uncool, and weird, and fanatical.

(And if my daughters are as imperfect as me, believe me — my idealism and my God do not in any way preclude understanding, compassion, repentance, and forgiveness.)

But chastity is what we are aiming for, and I’m not going to apologize or accept marginalization for that.

I thought they would be lovely glimmering purple stones.

When we were looking for a house last year, I wondered a lot about the people who design houses. I think men must design most of the awful kitchens. Men who never stand at a kitchen sink and wish they could watch the kids playing in the backyard and feel the sun on their faces. These same architects plan bathrooms without windows, inconvenient laundry “rooms,” and parlors too small for any real use.

I don’t study design, but often it seems that a few simple modifications would improve the traditional dishwasher layout or the turning radius of those kid-tastic car carts at the grocery store. Too often I wonder, “Are you kidding me? Who designed this?” We can put a woman on the moon but can’t devise a way to keep a toddler from running through a roll of toilet paper in under twenty seconds?

When the Wat-aah! people asked if I’d take the Wat-aah! challenge, I thought: Here’s my chance to BE THE FOCUS GROUP. Really, if companies want to improve their products, they should pay me to discover every possible thing they should fix on the current prototype. They could pay me by hour or by the stupid design flaw, and I’d be rich.

The problem is that most people, companies included, can’t handle the truth. They just want to hear that they’re fantastic and that their product is basically mankind’s last and greatest hope for lower gas mileage, more obedient kids, and thinner thighs.

I suppose as an aspiring blogger I should tell you I love Listerine and the American Egg Board and Crayola washable markers (I really do love those!), but I cannot tell a promotional fairytale (LeapPad won’t be able to get your kids out of the house if a fire starts, and Hanes is not a substitute for two miles around the track), which is why I probably won’t be getting any more products to review or giveaway.

But the Wat-aah people asked for very little. Just put the bottles of Wat-aah in the fridge next to the soda and record what happens, they said. I even told them (a bit loftily) that I don’t keep soda in the fridge for the kids. (My Mountain Dew and the Coke Zero reside in the pantry so I have to add lots of ice which means it’s like drinking water basically). I don’t even keep juice, usually. (Just the occasional juice box for trips or extreme bribery situations. Juice boxes are a big treat around here.) That’s fine, said the Wat-aah person, just put it next to whatever you have and see.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3827241&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

Sally, Susan, and Spot Take the Wat-ahh! Challenge from jane on Vimeo.

So here’s what happened. This is the unrehearsed, unretouched recording of our fridge movie. Susan didn’t want to make a fridge movie, which was odd considering how concerned she usually is about where her next bite is coming from, even if her last bite was only five minutes ago. She wanted to do a Sleeping Beauty movie, but once we filmed this one, she and Sally and Spot spent another couple of hours taking turns directing each other in subsequent fridge movies. Sally was so eager to be in any movie that she helped me clean out the fridge in preparation. Which was one of my incentives for doing the review — I knew the spector of virtual shame would force me to excavate those last moldy onions.

It’s kind of hard to see the fridge, so this is what the kids saw:

It was probably unfair that the Wat-aah bottles weren’t standing upright next to the juice and water and soda, but the bottles are too tall for a shelf in the fridge at kid level. The large size also makes it look like “Mommy’s special water.” Even my girls, with their race-horse/camel bladders won’t drink more than six and a half ounces in a sitting.

Which leads to my final thought on Wat-aah, a product marketed to children that a) Looks like Mommy’s drink, b) Tastes like “water,” (which is free* and perfectly-flouridated in our city) and c) Is too tall for the fridge at kid level: “Are you kidding me? Who designed this?”

Jane

*Water isn’t really free, but we pay for it whether we drink it or not, out of the tap.

**If your product is up to the “Are you kidding me? Who designed this?” Challenge, email me at whataboutmom at gmail dot com. I think we’re on a roll.

blind!

today i put a cloth on my eyes and Callie had to guide me around.once i slammed into the fridge.
it was not fun at all (knocking into the fridge part).we went outside so much i really hurt from knocking into things.

The Case Against Motherhood

In many religious and socioeconomic circles, purposeful motherhood has emerged as a holy calling, a vocation of supposed significance to the well-being of our children, the structure of society, and the future of civilization. But the benefits of purposeful motherhood aren’t well-documented in the literature. And motherhood itself is perhaps a selfish luxury whose perpetuation will lay waste our resources, pollute the environment, devastate our planet, and cruelly prolong the human condition.

Worst of all, motherhood condemns women to an endless existence as . . . women.

Several months ago Dick asked me if I hate being a mother so much, and I have considered it often since then, using that episode as a litmus test for new friends. If they empathize, we will get along, and if they confess that they are “natural” mothers who delight in all things nurturing and domestic and bucolic, we probably won’t.

Motherhood is stifling and restrictive. You have to keep your house clean, because there are magazines with beautiful pictures of well-kept houses. You have to read the same (gentle) discipline books and belong to the same groups and encourage the same activities that all the other mothers do. You have to craft and grow organic vegetables and scrapbook and wait to shower until everyone else’s needs are met in full.

You can’t shape and change motherhood to fit you and your likes, wants, needs, and desires, because there is only one way to mother, and that’s the way that is in vogue right now, with a very narrow segment of the population, of the United States, in the 21st century.

If you want to be a good mother, and for a post-feminist woman, Madonna-like motherhood is imperative: you must live up to Angelina Jolie, a perfect paragon of effortless, elegant parenthood, only dismissing that past-history nonsense about her brother and the blood, and poor Jennifer Aniston and the whole Billy Bob thing.

Oh, I once threw myself whole-heartedly into the motherhood nirvana. I grew my babies under my heart, birthed them, nursed them, loved them, but then I remembered all the other things I should be doing. All the things my children were forcing me to deny myself. My husband walked out the door each morning to work, and I raged that this was my life.

Then one day I read in Freakonomics that the legalization of abortion was significantly correlated with a drop in crime. I researched further and realized that our earth is irrevocably endangered by the hordes of children we’re bringing into it. My orthopedic surgeon told me that pregnancy hormones aggravate my shoulder’s connective tissue problems.

In short: Motherhood is clearly wrong for everyone. Anyone who would contemplate (or worse, promote or support) motherhood is an embarrassment to humankind, a betrayer of the ideals of freedom and liberty, and a disgrace to feminists everywhere.

Because motherhood is a biological shackle. Many women (myself included) have children because our hormones whisper (like clashing cymbals) that a warm, soft bundle of humanity to snuggle is the most desirable of all things on earth. A woman who listens to her body and marries her intellect to her instinct and emotion is an abomination. Intellect (however fallible) alone should rule.

Motherhood precludes any meaningful work on the part of the mother. Instead of striving towards the greater good of all humankind in an office with desks and computers and conference calls and Very Important People, the woman who is ensnared by motherhood might choose to be that most extreme and shameful of all things — a woman who stays home with her children.

Even if she does return to work full-time, part of her attention and caring and energy will always be reserved for those parasitic weaklings at home who sap her drive and meddle with her priorities.

But the stay-at-home mother is the worst. Instead of leading or defending or promoting the free world, she is selfishly ensconsed in her diaper-lined harem, with no thought for anything beyond her small sphere. What cares she for the economy or the Middle East or great books? Clearly none of these things will ever affect her or the children in her care, so they couldn’t be of less interest.

And what of her barren day-to-day life? She earns no paycheck, so she has no concept of independence or self-reliance or the confidence borne of hard work. No staid accountant can sit behind a desk and finger her W-2 form at tax time, so the labor she engages in is worthless, ephemeral, and totally without meaning or significance.

She has no opportunity for growth or sacrifice or any need to confront her own flaws and shortcomings. While men and women serve our country in the armed forces, the stay-at-home mother merely teaches Please and Thank You, marginal bits of manners that will never shape a character or have any practical application in the Real World.

Unlike the lucky architect or the plucky project manager, there is no scope for exploration or delight in seeing a project come to fruition.

And there’s no humor or insight to be had. People under the age of five say the dullest, most unimaginative things. Why, a three year old who’s not in full-time daycare has not yet been taught to sit still and color in the lines and respond as expected. Is it any wonder that the poor woman trapped at home turns to crystal meth and daytime soaps when the vague, staring, piglet-like creatures around her endlessly root for the nourishment she provides and drain her of all potential?

Still, I continue to mother. Continue, even, to stay at home. Despite the lack of evidence establishing any hint of validation, I am a stay-at-home mother. Naturally I long for the day when I can ship them all to boarding school or hire two or three nannies, but in the meantime, I suffer in silence, knowing that the best years of my life are slipping through my fingers like sands through an hourglass.

Because, perhaps, this is my last opportunity to hold them to my heart, and even though I hate almost every aspect of it, I may miss it when they’re gone.

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This post inspired by Hanna Rosin’s The Case Against Breast-Feeding and almost everything Judith Warner has ever written.