Sex and the Child NFL Fan: An Open Letter

To The NFL:

Yesterday, I went to a Jets game with my husband, to celebrate his birthday; it was the first time either of us had ever been to a regular-season game. As the mother of a one-year-old who already has more than his fair share of Jets gear, I was really impressed at all the ways that you found to get kids involved. This GenJets program you’ve come up with seems pretty great, especially because your “kids only” autograph area encourages parents to take their kids to see the athletes practice. I’m not sure how well the NFL’s well-publicized “Play60” effort is going, in terms of actually increasing physical activity among your youngest fans, but it’s just common sense that kids who see a pro football team practice will think “WOW! How can I do THAT?” It’s really neat that the kids whose parents are season ticket holders get the chance to run out of the tunnel and help welcome the players on the field, and I loved seeing this same group learn how to be “Kid Reporters” by interviewing players. It’s also awesome that kids whose families do not have seasons tickets are welcome to join a “Just for Kids conference call with players and coaches.” I’ve picked out those “member benefits” to highlight, because they show children, rather than simply offer lip service, what it’s like to play a sport this demanding. Oh, and I like the reporter thing, because I’d really rather my kid want to interview people than risk brain injury by playing a sport with such a high rate of head injuries, but that’s a story for another day.

Today, I’d like to talk to you about the unadvertised messages you are selling and modeling to the NFL’s youngest fans by showcasing the Jets Flight Crew cheerleaders in a way that focuses attention on women as sex objects. It is not necessary for cheerleaders to be sex objects; I have been educated about this by a professional cheerleading coach and former cheer captain, who explained the athletic elements I wasn’t seeing. The women I saw on the field today can dance. They are talented, and they are entertaining! They sparkle and shine from all the way up in the last rows, where we were sitting, and they seem to be having a great time. But the way you showcase these women on the huge screens in your stadiums, in your merchandise and online treats them as sex objects, rather than talented dancers who help energize the crowd and provide entertainment.

To be perfectly frank, I didn’t even notice that you were doing this until the eleven-year-old boy who was sitting next to me returned from the concession stands while the camera feed you put on the big screens panned across a row of women in poses that could only have been intended to scream “SEX.” My discomfort made me squirm, literally, when adult men seated in front of me cheered and jeered at those women onscreen, while sitting next to other young boys. I thought the festive costumes were cute, as a matter of fact, until I saw just where their hemlines ended, and just how specifically that fuzzy trim around the bottom had been designed, to the inch, to give viewers a peek at the spandex beneath those “skirts.” I’ll provide an example, for readers who haven’t already conjured up a good image of the kind of thing I’m talking about:

This photo is from the official Jets website, specifically, from the photo gallery devoted to the Flight Crew from a December, 2012, game.

This photo is from the official Jets website, specifically, from the photo gallery devoted to the Flight Crew from a December, 2012, game.

I’m not saying that this surprises me. It doesn’t. I know that your audience is largely comprised of adult men, and that sex sells. But it surprise me that children were confronted with images like this one in your actual stadiums, during your games, and even during programs specifically designed for children. My husband made a comment about the Jets Flight Crew Calendar on his return from the concession stands with hot chocolate for us, and only when my new young friend’s appearance made me uncomfortable with the images onscreen did it occur to me that this same young boy had probably noticed that calendar, too. I am absolutely certain that adult men could enjoy the talents of these beautiful women without poses like this one and costumes meant to show off the crotch. There are children watching. Always. On TV and in your stadiums. Take some responsibility for what you are selling those kids. If you want to claim that you can convince them to “Play60” and get them active and that your players are role modeling for them, then you need to model respect for all the athletes on your field, not just the ones with helmets.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the “jumpsuit” costume my husband mentioned, one that covers a bit more skin; it’s not the skin I object to, but rather, the poses you highlight. Your Flight Crew can be as covered up as I am, on any given Sunday, and still cater to our society’s basest instincts about women and sex.

jets flight crew jumpsuit

Really, Choreographer? REALLY? (Again–from the official Jets Flight Crew photo gallery, December, 2011.

I wanted to end there, until I saw the way you showcased the boys and girls in your GenJets club, separately and, of course, perfectly aligned with every stereotype about what we value in men and women. I was just trying to find official images and good links for this blog post. I wasn’t looking to destroy my hopes about your club for kids. I wasn’t looking for a reason to think this would be anything other than fun for my own child. And then, I saw this little array of photos and links:

Where are the girls in that photo of young fans? Why are the only girls on this page signing up for your cheerleading camp? Why not show girls admiring Super Bowl trophies, too? I saw young girls at the game today! Why aren't those fans represented, here?

Where are the girls in that photo of young fans? Why are the only girls on this page signing up for your cheerleading camp? Why not show girls admiring Super Bowl trophies, too? I saw young girls at the game today! Why aren’t those fans represented, here?

For the love! Just show a little girl enjoying a game! Put ONE girl in just ONE of your general calls to join your club! I checked. There aren’t any images of girls in those general ads. There were girls in the Kids Tunnel today! Where are their pictures? I think Jets Flight Crew cheer camp sounds like it would be a lot of fun for girls who like cheerleading, so I’m obviously not asking you to take down that image. I just want to see young female fans enjoying the game the way I do–from the stands. It’s normal! SELL THAT, TOO. Sell fandom to young girls as well as young boys. Stop feeding stereotypes. And while we’re at it–stop putting costumes on women that you can’t get away with putting on little girls. If those costumes were ok, at all, you’d have the shorter females in this photo wearing matching outfits. But they are covered up, and we both know that’s because you’d get flak for putting girls in anything this ridiculous:

Enough. Said.

Enough. Said.

Adults know beautiful and sexy when we see it. You don’t need to shove it down our throats in a way that also sells our young children a particularly offensive brand of “sexy,” and a tired set of stereotypes about women. Everyone really can have all the fun, without the part that made me blush to see a child watching. Even a tablespoon of subtlety would help me believe that you care at all about the physical or mental well-being of your youngest fans; at this point, I’m pretty much convinced that you care only about selling the brand to the next generation.

Sincerely,

A Disappointed Mother and Fan-By-Marriage

Children’s Rights–Celebrating Universal Children’s day 2011

Thanks to the University of Southern California for creating this inforgraphic. They’d like you to know:

“In the US, we celebrate Universal Children’s Day November 20, the day the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Children and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Considering the obligations of the United Nations and in accordance to a resolution, the General Assembly recommended that all countries establish a Universal Children’s Day where activities were to be devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world!

In an effort to support Universal Children’s Day, UNICEF, and the Millennium Development Goals, we have created an infographic, ‘Children’s Rights’ with statistics sharing worldwide labor, safety and health-related facts relating to children. Please share this infographic as part of your educational outreach and campaigns focused on children’s rights. We encourage you to help us spread this important message!” – 

Universal Children's Rights Day 2011
Become a Teacher through the MAT@USC

My Secret Passion: God

Last week, one of the NaBloPoMo prompts at BlogHer was: “What is your secret (or not-so-secret) passion?” This is what I wrote.

This is my Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. Click here for more info on the church he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship.

I wait for the look: “I am religious,” I say, and pause. For what? Surprise, I suppose. Instead, I see simple acceptance of this as a simple fact. No questions. Nobody says, “But you’re smart” as though this necessarily precludes any belief in God. They just wait for me to get to my point about how my religion and values fit in to the conversation. In my former professional life, I hid my belief in God. It wasn’t necessarily a secret, but it wasn’t something I wanted to talk about. I needed my classmates and colleagues to see me as smart, more than anything. My intelligence comprised my worth, or so I believed.

My world has changed so much in the past eleven months that this particular perk of a non-academic life rises to the surface only after I have processed other, less subtle changes:

  • January, 2011: I leave the PhD Program in English Literature in which I have been enrolled since fall, 2007. This marks the end of a twenty-year career as a full-time student. (I am twenty-six.) I decide to look for a career in child care after briefly playing with the idea of a structured office job. I never even hit send on the application I write for an administrative assistant position at a nonprofit, even though I still think it’s an amazing company.
  • Late January, 2011: I begin to read for fun. I cannot remember the last time I have read a book that is recently published. But now… No one cares what I am reading? Really? At some point, I consume Steig Larsson’s The Millenium Trilogy on audio book, stopping only to sleep.
  • Spring, 2011: I meet two of the most adorable toddlers anyone has ever met, and I’m lucky enough to care for them every week. These two jobs feel light compared to full-time grad-studenthood coupled with a teaching load of two distinct courses with different syllabi. I find great joy in repeating “Look at the birdies!” day after day, instead of repeating “No, I have not graded your paper, yet.” (I really hated grading papers.)
  • Summer, 2011: I begin to work part-time at a professional, well-respected child care center. It is just a summer position, but there is structure. There is “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” There are hugs from tiny, pudgy arms. There are conversations about the progress of the seeds planted by the preschoolers–green sprouts! I am the only witness to a trouble child’s first success at using his words instead of his fists to resolve a conflict. I get to congratulate him. I get to tell his teachers. I get to see the beaming pride on his face at the enormity of this accomplishment. When I go home at the end of each day, I truly believe that I am free to do whatever I please–no homework. I stop feeling guilty for doing “nothing.”
  • Fall, 2011: I go back to babysitting and continue to look for more permanent work in a formal child care center. I revel in watching television, knitting, sewing, spending hours on Twitter, Facebook, reading blogs. I create my own blog, where I write for fun. I have not written anything for fun in years. I cannot remember the last time I wrote anything for fun! My literary heart feels better each time I hit “publish.” My bookish soul is healing.
  • November 10, 2011: I tell two intelligent, well-respected women that I am religious in the course of a job interview; the conversation is about values and early childhood education. Neither professional bats an eye. I think, “Of course! Working with very young children and their parents means interacting with all kinds of people. Discussions about values and beliefs are common, here!” No one asks me to explain myself, because no one cares about the particulars of my religion.

There is no competition in my new professional life. Yes, I do see teachers covet other teachers’ salaries or job titles; I see them archly disapprove of another teacher’s habits or methods. It flickers past. I rarely see this become intense enough for the children to pick up on it. (Very small children pick up on hostility very quickly.) But I do not yet feel the need to compete with anyone.

I do not need to be The Smartest, The Favorite, The One With the Long CV, The One Who Is Published, The One Who Has Read Everything, The One With the Good Fellowship, The One With the Tenure-Track Job Offer. The world I left behind is a world for people who have thicker skin than I. They can rise above the competition, or thrive on it. I simply find myself paranoid and hyper-reactive, seeing competition and judgment everywhere.

As it turns out, my professional wants are very simple. I want to spend my days with small children, playing, soothing, laughing, teaching. I want to leave my job, go home and have that time to give freely to my family. I want to have a baby of my own and a career that welcomes that choice. I want to take my time. I want to feel at home in my professional skin. This is matters in this new professional life: am I kind, compassionate, honest, caring, patient, flexible? Can I work well with the other teachers? Can I accommodate the different needs of the individual infants and toddlers and interact well with them as a group? I want to prove myself by showing that I can do and be these things. My devotion, my prayers, my belief in a kind and compassionate God–these are not secrets. I still do not advertise my beliefs at work; I have no interest in proselytism and God just doesn’t come up that often. But I do not hide them, either.

My point is not that academics must pretend agnosticism. My point is that in my old life, I felt afraid that someone would learn something about me that would prove, once and for all, that I was not smart enough to be a professor of anything. Everyone would know that I didn’t belong. In my new life, I feel that everything I am and everything I believe makes me a better caregiver. I am not afraid that I am a fraud. That is why I have no more secrets. That is the biggest clue that I made the right choice when I changed careers.

This is Bhagavan Krishna, one of the most important (to me) teachers God has sent to us. Click on the photo to learn more about how my church views Krishna.

But, I’m laughing right now, because I feel nervous about posting this. What will all of you think of me, now that I’ve put it in writing?

I believe in God. Passionately. With devotion and with all of my heart. It’s a big part of who I am. My relationship with God has helped me through the very darkest moments of my life, including my time as an inpatient in the psych ward. I am proud to have cultivated such a strong relationship with God. Now you know.

Good News, Bad News, Short News

I have had a migraine since last night; it is responding to medication but I’m not exactly comfortable. This will be a short post.

 

The Bad News:

I have had a migraine since last night. Ow. Hormones suck.

I still have not quite figured out what I want to do with the three days of my week during which I am not working. Do I sub at the school I spent this summer working for? They are sort of crazy about switching my hours at the last minute, and I absorb and internalize crazy like a sponge. Do I ask to sub at another school? I interviewed for a job there, they picked someone with more experience (any experience leading a classroom is more than I have) but offered to let me sub. I haven’t decided.

I spent yesterday in my pajamas. All day. Gross, I know. But I was hyper anxious.

 

The Good News:

I showered, got dressed and went to work this morning. I love my job.

I have had, at most, seven migraines in the past month. This is down from three per week. I know this to be directly related to following:

The evil birth control hormones from the NuvaRing have finally left my system. (It’s an ingenious invention for anyone whose body does not completely hate birth control hormones, by the way. 100% amazing technology. Also? Evil stupid artificial hormones give me crazy migraines.)

I know that the evil birth control hormones have left my system because I am charting my fertility using the Fertility Awareness Method and the chart indicates that I ovulated in October for the first time since throwing out the NuvaRing in July. There will be a future post that goes into detail about how any (obviously hetero) couple can use FAM to either avoid or achieve pregnancy.

In case you missed it: I am ovulating again! I don’t need to be ovulating until next year, but this is still comforting. I mean, step one, right?

I’m gong to see Dr. P in New York City tomorrow! AND WE’RE GOING TO MAKE A BABY TIMELINE!!! (Sorry for the yelling, but I am really that excited.) What does “timeline” mean, exactly? Not sure. What will be on the timeline? Other than “begin trying to conceive a child,” I really have no idea. We didn’t have time to go over that last time we met. But the only thing I care about is that “begin TTC” WILL be on that timeline. Whether it will appear in date form (March, 2012) or event form (after this and that have been completed), I do not know. I do not care. Today, I just care that in 24 hours, I will be able to post it on the darn refrigerator if I want to. A BABY timeline! For MY family!

I get to see lovely New York City dweller friends after my appointment. And eat delicious food in their good company.

Taking 1mg of Klonopin 3x per day seems to be really helping my anxiety.

 

Short News:

Today, I helped a four-year-old start making his first comic book. It. Is. Awesome. You have no idea. If he lets me, I will photograph it and show it to you when it’s done.

Can We Afford a Baby? Yes, We Can!

I am really terrible at budgets. I have never even been able to write down what I spend for more than a couple days. There is a long history of being terrible at budgets in my family, one I won’t get into because, well, it’s been “discussed” enough for one lifetime. In my parents’ defense, they were either in the army or living on my dad’s family’s tour bus (there was a family band! a la The Partridge Family!) from the time they got married at seventeen-years-old until well into their twenties. I will say that my mother is enthusiastically supportive of me doing better at following a budget, and I am absolutely determined to do better by the time I have my own kids. Which is now really soon. I hope.

The point is this: I made a budget! It’s not complete, but it lists the big-ticket items we will need to buy when baby comes along and some smaller things, too. I know, I’m missing clothes, but I have got a box at my sister’s house of hand-me-downs. I also left off a baby monitor. We won’t be living any place large enough to require one. Trust me. I think my husband could hear me typing from the bedroom if he weren’t asleep. The place we have our eye on across the hall? It’s big, necessarily, it just has a whole separate room for the kitchen. That sounds like a huge luxury when I think about the kitchen we have now–the fridge wobbles because it sits half on the linoleum put down to prove this is a kitchen and half on the wood that’s supposed to designate “hallway.” It’s going to be a few years before we can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Which is also why I left off any items required to decorate a nursery/child’s room. Yes, even a crib. For the first few months, the baby will sleep with us, and only then will we decide as a family if we want a separate crib or not. I can always run crying to Babies R Us if co-sleeping makes us miserable for some weird reason.

Other notes: the high chair price is static, because I am getting a Stokke high chair. I want their stroller and crib, too, but I’m on a budget, here. Nathan and I have decided on the high chair, though. It’s amazing and worth it. The baby bathtub price is set, too, because I know which one of those I want. I’ve had lots of practice with this one, and it is great for giving baby a bath and still having two hands to use without fear of water in the baby’s face. So, what do you think? What would you add? How many diapers would you start out with, my cloth-diapering comrades?

Jealousy

It’s officially gotten very bad. I am jealous of a woman whose marriage fell apart during her pregnancy. She told me “When it came time for the birth, I was the only one who showed up” and “There was so much untreated anxiety and depression during the pregnancy; I definitely had a high-needs infant!” Why am I jealous? One reason: she has a child and I do not.
Mothers, I envy you. Don’t worry, I promise I won’t let it interfere with our friendship. Nor have I become the creepy babysitter who makes remarks about wanting to take your children home with her. But I am so close and so far, all at once, that I can picture myself pregnant but can’t throw out the birth control.
My therapist does a good job preparing me for events outside my (very specific) plans. I’m a planner who gets attached to these almost obsessively detailed but imagined futures. I need her to remind me that I do not have control over so many factors, here. But every time she reminds me that the meds transition might not go smoothly or that I might not get pregnant on the very first try, I want to yell at her. STOP TEMPTING FATE! One of my grandmothers had fifteen kids and the other had eight! Surely, I am extremely fertile! Right?!
Who knows? I don’t. I want to know. That everything will turn out as planned. That I will be “good enough” to forge a smooth path to motherhood. I know that this isn’t possible. But every baby in a carrier and preschooler in her ballet clothes brings me close to tears. I had no idea that I could want something this badly. And I have never been good at patience.
I find myself praying, begging–please, don’t keep this from me much longer.

Conflict Resolution: “Step Away from the Child!”

I observed some fascinating behavior today at a library story time. Before the story began, the kids were all running around, playing with different toys in what is clearly a wonderful and beloved play room. Since this was at about 11:30 am on a Tuesday, most of these kids were under four years old. And perhaps because many of the parents were strangers to each other, there seemed to be a lot of concern about making sure their children were polite to one another. I try so hard not to judge parents, but this really gets me. Three-year-old children are not quiet, they do not sit still for more than thirty seconds and telling them to “Be a good sharer” doesn’t help them one bit.

Figuring out how to negotiate the use of the pink vacuum cleaner is part of play. It’s how kids learn conflict resolution. When you step in to immediately arrange for nice, neat turns, you take all the critical thinking/problem solving out of the situation. How do I know this? Because as soon as another child tries to take away the toy your kid is using, he looks around for you. That is a learned behavior. Why does he need you to solve this problem? It’s a simple choice: give up the toy or refuse to give up the toy. He knows that. He should be able to make that call on his own. If screaming erupts or violence seems about to break out, by all means, ask the kids what’s going on. But do try to help them resolve their conflicts, rather than swooping in and doing it for them. Does no one notice that swooping in does nothing to decrease the number of conflicts between children? It doesn’t remove conflict. It just makes your child less capable of dealing with it.

I see two valid reasons to interrupt play during an activity like this one. Reason #1: To teach manners. “Your friends can’t hear the story when you play with that loud toy. I need you to either sit and listen to the story or find something quiet to play with until it’s over.” It’s not ok to let your kid play the drums while other kids are trying to listen. And it’s rude to the adult. They will understand that, and it’s important for them to learn when certain activities are and are not appropriate.

Fortunately, I was hanging out with a mom who only interrupted the play to point out that her daughter might miss something. This is Reason #2. Your child might be distracted by something and then disappointed when they find out that they have missed the story they were looking forward to hearing. “The story is starting!” or “Do you want to sing with us?” give a kid the opportunity to make a choice. They love that. They hate missing out. The key to this, by the way, is letting your kid actually make her own choice. If she says “No” and walks away, please do not ask her if she is sure. If she changes her mind, she will let you know. But I don’t know any preschooler or toddler who is unsure. They might change their minds every thirty seconds, but when they want something, they definitely want it. When they don’t, they definitely don’t. “Are you suuuuuure you don’t want to listen to the story?” really means “I want you to sit here and listen to this story.” Even if you think it’s for your kid’s benefit, you are really just being passive aggressive. That’s annoying. And kids don’t understand it.

Please. Unless safety is an issue, step away from the child.

No Relation: The Nanny’s Heartache

The hardest thing about working as a nanny is that when it’s great, it’s a lot like living in the middle of a doomed love affair (if a bit less melodramatic). I know the good-bye is coming, eventually, but I just can’t help myself. I fall in love, hard, every time. I suppose it’s possible that one of “my” kids will stay in my life forever, but until we have settled down someplace, it’s just not likely.

I’ve been thinking of all the kids I don’t see anymore ever since I got to chat online for a minute with a mom I was close to before the family moved back to Norway. I watched her baby turn into a toddler. Several of her words are still English words, because I spoke English to her consistently (due to my complete ignorance of Norwegian). We talk about a visit to Norway, which Nathan and I would love, and they talk about coming back

I’m also thinking about love and good-bye because I watched The Nanny Diaries on TV. It’s hard to admit it publicly, since the movie is pretty terrible, but while I’m at it, I might as well also admit to having read the book. Both had me rolling my eyes and both made it hard to sympathize with any of the adult characters/caricatures. But there’s one moment in both the book and the movie that makes me want to watch/read–the first time the child tells the nanny that he loves her. She narrates something about how it’s going to make it hard to leave her job but she loves him back so she’ll say so. And she tells him she loves him, too. But it’s just that few seconds where the kid looks up with all that love in his eyes that gets to me. I don’t take the jobs with the crazy families, and I have a policy against raising other people’s children, no matter how good the money might be. (In reality, wealthy families usually pay less than middle-class families. Just FYI.) The point is this: while I don’t relate to the heartache of spending days with and being ripped apart from a child whose parents treat him like a custom-made accessory to a fabulous life, I have experienced love for a child I know I will eventually leave.

They move away, go to school, grow up, and I am not a relative. This is one reason I would like to teach in my own classroom; I didn’t feel like an auntie to the kids at the school where I worked over the summer. But who am I kidding? I would miss them; it would hurt. Still–there is something different about spending hours alone with a child over the course of months or even years. I find myself scrambling to capture “firsts” on camera and calling my husband, thrilled to tell him that the baby pointed at something for the first time or practiced standing by herself. (Pointing is a pretty major developmental milestone.) I never feel like their mother. But when the toddler I was babysitting twice a week got into a rather exclusive preschool, I beamed like a proud aunt. This news meant that I would lose a source of income; and yet, I was thrilled. It was probably a matter of names crossed off a waiting list, not even the kind of school that makes two-year-olds “interview.” And yet, I felt pride. I brag about their eyes, their smiles, their curls, their dispositions, as though I share the gene pool these traits came from. This summer, two children I love moved away and, this fall, one went to school.

I don’t want to be treated like a relative by the families I work for. Relatives have fewer boundaries and don’t have to pay me as much, if anything, for childcare. Because I’m not a relative, it would be a strange almost lie, too. Friend of the family is the best I can hope for, and I do enjoy that role. But again–friends of the family just don’t usually bond with the baby while feeding him a bottle, all alone, in a silent house.

I wonder if my desire to have a baby of my own would have taken on this sense of urgency even if I didn’t spend my workdays caring for children. I suspect that the same thing that feeds that desire is what lets me feel so close to the tiny humans whose lives I am privileged to witness for a short time. There are never any tearful good-byes in my world, because in real life, the nanny isn’t fired suddenly one morning and shoved into a waiting taxi, leaving a screaming child on the driveway. I also spend most of my time with children under three, and time exists very differently for the infant/toddler set. Most of them won’t remember me. Their complete absorption in the present moment is what pulls me into the beauty of sunlight dancing through trees. I’m being literal, here: babies love to watch shadows and light. Their despair at Mom’s departure reminds me that yes, it does hurt to see your favorite person in the whole world go, even if she will be back in a few hours. And I love them all the more desperately for not understanding that, this time, our good-bye just might be forever.

Tips For Ignoring Stupid Parenting Advice

When I’m caring for other people’s children, I sometimes get unwanted and unnecessary advice and/or commentary. I’m told that this happens to their actual parents as well, so I feel like it’s good practice for becoming a mother. My favorite is the commentary: “Oh, no! He’s so unhappy!” Wow, thank you. Is that what the crying means? Good thing you were here, random lady at the park! So here are my top five tips for dealing with Random Park Lady, Opinionated Relative and I-Don’t-Have-Kids-But-I-Have-A-Dog Neighbor.[hr]
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  1. Listen/pretend to listen to her, if at all possible. Smile and nod. Or not. She probably won’t notice if you’re frowning. She just wants to feel like you heard her, in my experience, and probably gets more out of dispensing advice than anything else.
  2. Do not say “I tried that, but it didn’t work.” Even if you did exactly what your “friend” advises, she will claim that her tip is brand new information
  3. Along the same vein, do not point out that she is wrong. Example from real life: she says “Oh, he’s so unhappy!” but he is actually very happy and screeching and squawking just for fun. I learned from previous experience that this particularly obnoxious woman loves to argue; so I shrug. I do not commit to agreeing or disagreeing with her. She usually looses interest. If I argue and try to convince her that he is happy, she will argue back, whether it makes sense or not.
  4. If she’s going to be around consistently (like a relative), do not back down, even if it makes you uncomfortable. “No. Thank you. No. Thank you.” Rinse. Repeat. Back down now, and she’ll feel all the more eager to dispense advice in the future. “No. Thank you.”
  5. If it’s absolutely necessary that you not offend this person (or, I suppose, if you’re just really keen on avoiding confrontation), fall back on a higher authority. For the babysitter, that’s Mom. With my own kids, I plan on using The Doctor. Pediatrician, child psychologist, real or imaginary. “Oh, his doctor feels really strongly about that.” It’s vague, and I can always go to “It’s really hard to talk about it” if I feel like making things really awkward.

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No, I’m Not Pregnant, but Since You Ask…

It could be worse. People could keep asking me if I’m pregnant because I look pregnant. I don’t, and I proved it today, when the cooler weather allowed for the reappearance of my best jeans. People ask me if I’m pregnant because, let’s face it, I’m begging them to ask. I use my Facebook page to promote a blog about conception. I use “pregnancy” in a lot of titles. I belong to online communities composed largely of mothers. I get it. But here, for everyone who hasn’t seen me in a while, is a photo of just how not pregnant I am:

Is There a Baby in There? Nope. Not Yet. See? Still Skinny!

I even added a dreamy filter effect to celebrate the dreaminess that is my pre-pregnancy waistline. (That’s for all of those dreamy baby photos I keep seeing. So there, friends with adorable infants!)

But seriously, I wanted to share this story as a tribute to my marriage:

The baby fever stuff started awhile ago; I don’t remember how long ago. It seems like forever. But at one point, I asked my (then) new Connecticut therapist if she wanted to meet Nathan, to put a face to his name. The three of us ended up talking about my baby daydreams and Nathan’s reluctance to engage with them; he didn’t want to get my hopes up. I knew that it would be awhile before we could practically consider having a child. But he is careful with my feelings, this husband of mine. My therapist had an excellent suggestion, and we agreed to meet back in her office in one year. By then, I thought I could safely taper off my medication and we could be a little more settled, financially. Nathan agreed.

Early next spring, then, we will meet in her office again. We will discuss whether we are ready to start trying for a baby. If we decide that we are not, we will set a date, about three months later, to return and discuss the choice again. The idea, here, is to create a safe space to discuss this delicate issue. We don’t exactly need a mediator, but when I have my heart set on something, a calming influence really can’t hurt. It limits the discussion to an hour. I don’t expect that any surprises will come up; we’ll both know the answer, going in. If the answer is “not yet,” I will need to limit the number of times I allow myself to talk around the circle of reasons why we should wait. If the answer is “yes,” then I’m sure L will have plenty of questions for both of us.

I see this as a tribute to the kindness of my spouse, and to his patience with me. If we did not have so much kindness, or if we loved each other less, this year of waiting might be a strain on our relationship. We are able to enjoy each other and our quiet life together. I can honestly say that lazy weekend mornings are sweeter, knowing they might end some time next year. I love that we have all this time to know each other, and our partnership, before making such a big change. No one ever really knows what happens inside a couple’s life together, except the two who share that life, but their children do see an awful lot. I don’t mind holding on to the smaller secrets of our marriage a little longer. They are precious and ordinary, sweet and complex, small and important. I love you, Nathan.