We are all editors of culture, claims the mastermind behind kidnappedculture.com. But some of us edit with a more discerning eye than others. Visit his site often for a dose of the carefully curated, the delightfully described and the overtly offered.
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
I guess I hit a nerve, because my last post garnered the highest number of views since askpiper hit the web in ’04. Since the world doesn’t need another freaking mommy blog (and especially since the perfect one already exists right here) I refuse to go down that path.
I do, however, have this to add to my most recent post:
6. When are you going back to work?
It’s the greatest paradox. All through our 20s and 30s, women are asked (literally and subtlety) when we’re going to get married and spawn. A friend of mine, upon getting her MBA, was told by her mother, “Congrats. But I’m not sure how that thing is going to get you a husband.” Then, as soon as we do put our uteri to work and breed, we’re asked when we’re going to leave our newborns with a stranger, or a group of strangers or a willing relative and return to the work force so we can quickly learn the impossibility of having it all.
I first got asked this question just a few weeks after delivery. I write for a living and at the time I was so sleep deprived I was having trouble forming sentences and remembering words. Typing? Wow, that seemed much too physical a task to tackle. The question confused me; especially considering most people think giving birth requires a lobotomy (see question number 4). How could I go back to work without a brain?
My doctor had advised me not to have sex until 6 weeks after delivery. I figured that held true for commuting, too—in New York City it can be just as physical and invasive. And don’t even get me started on the backwardness of the US compared to other countries when it comes to maternity/paternity leaves!
So don’t ask a new mom when she’s going back to work, unless you’re her boss and you’re calling to give her a raise, a promotion or, a la Melissa Meyer, to tell her about the nursery you’re busy building right next to her cubicle to ease her return.
(photo from examiner.com)
1. So when’s the next one coming?
Before this thought even crosses your mind, let alone your lips, just sit down (because you can! you can sit down without wincing, without breaking into an immediate pain-management sweat, without first looking around for your inflatable donut contraption, without counting the minutes ’til your next sitz bath! lucky you!) …sit down and think about it. How likely would you be rubbing your hands together, eagerly planning the ‘next one’ after squeezing a human being out of one of your orifices? Trust me, you wouldn’t be. And she’s not either, so shut up with your stupid future plans for a uterus that isn’t even yours and do the right thing…bring a casserole, smile at the baby, then leave. If you must stay, start doing laundry.
2. Is the baby sleeping through the night?
No. It’s a baby. They are programmed to have big, beautiful, curious, helpless eyes that never stay shut long enough for their parents to even encroach on anything looking like REM sleep. Don’t ask this question because it will send any mom into an immediate state of panic–Should she be sleeping through the night? What am I doing wrong? It’s a wrap, I’m the worst mom ever. If you feel compelled to ask this question you must follow it up with an offer to take the baby for an entire night so you can see for yourself. It’s either that or make her a casserole. So, make your bed, then lie awake in it, okay?
3. Are you breastfeeding?
This should be a no brainer. If you’ve never seen the new mom’s boobs, you have no business inquiring about them. Take your dirty mind to the kitchen and make her a casserole.
4. Can you even remember your life before baby?
Most deliveries consist of a baby entering the world via a vagina or an incision. A vigorous google search will not serve up deliveries that require lobotomies. Yes, she remembers that life. There are artifacts of it all over the place…the bottle of Scotch in the cupboard that only her man has touched, the cute kitten-heels in her closet her swollen feet may never be reunited with, the make up she used to wear, the toothbrush she used to use, the dog she used to remember to feed. She remembers that life and in it you once made her a casserole and it made her very happy. Be a dear and take her on a trip down memory lane, why don’t you?
5. Are you going to vaccinate/pierce her ears/circumcise him/hire a nanny/take her to daycare/give her a tramp stamp/let her cuss like a sailor/teach him French/let her juggle knives…etc.
Leave the future in the future. New mom’s brain is hormone-assaulted and not ready to make all kinds of plans that are probably none of your business. The only thing she’s planning to do is tear through that casserole you were nice enough to bring, so be a peach and go pop it in the oven, okay?
I’ve always loved staying up late to write, read, alchemize. Here’s an article touting like-minded birds. So stay up as late as you can tonight and make stuff happen!
I’m reading ‘How To Be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran. And I’m laughing my arse off at her recounting of her formidable years, like when, for her 13th birthday, her mother ‘made’ her a baguette filled with Philadelphia cream cheese instead of baking a cake—with seven candles, each counting for two years—never mind the math. She also touches on topics like why weddings are no fun for anyone involved, why she’s given up on heels and how, despite her best intentions to keep it at bay, her first period arrives anyway.
But the book isn’t just funny for funny sake. She makes some pretty powerful arguments for feminism, albeit a different kind of feminism than we’ve entertained in the past. If the bra-burning, man-hating, underarm hair braiding movements of the past don’t float your boat, you should give her a read. Here’s one of my favorite passages:
But all those littler, stupider, more obvious day-to-day problems with being a woman are, in many ways, just as deleterious to women’s peace of mind. It is the “Broken Windows” philosophy transferred to female inequality. In the Broken Windows theory, if a single broken window ion an empty building is ignored and not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may break into the building and light fires, or become squatters.
Similarly, if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed then, eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them. Women will get squatters. Clearly, this is not a welcome state of affairs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wake up one morning and find a load of chancers in my lobby.
Find out more about Caitlin and the book here: http://www.how-tobeawoman.com/
Apparently, if you’re Bruce Lee, you can! Check out this intention (via my girl, Raquel, at Granola Glam) he wrote to himself in 1969. And note, he followed through with a vengeance. The next time I scribble down a grocery list or a ‘To Do’ list I’m gonna add some super awesome manifestations, ´a la Bruce Lee, just because:
-almond milk, eggs, honey, Six Point Righteous Ale, more time/less shenaniganry, paper towels, book agent, cherry tomatoes, winning lotto ticket, dog food, 8 hours of sleep, aluminum foil, spicy mustard, 2-family brownstone
This would have come in handy a few years ago when I got one of my earlier askpiper questions. The New York Times Magazine today has an article listing 32 innovations that will change our tomorrows. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for The Shut Up Gun, Terrifying Playgrounds and a World Without Hangovers.
Reading the Secret. Letting the Universe know what you want. Employing the Law of Attraction. There are lots of ways we’ve been encouraged to get what we want out of life. And they all boil down to the same thing…put it out there, be specific, be consistent.
Well, here’s a great example of putting it out there. This morning I walked into work and found Juan, one of the building’s security guards, talking into a phone with no mobile connection and no land-line counterpart. It was just a receiver. And he was chatting away, “Uh, yeah, I’d like to take a trip to Paris. Can you hook that up?” Then he put down the phone and I noticed it was special. It was labeled GOD’S PHONE.
“Wow. You’re talking to God?” I asked.
“Yep, got a direct line. I like to tell him what I want.”
“And he listens?”
“Never puts me on hold.”
“Cool, can I have a word with him?”
“Sure. But be careful. He usually delivers by noon.”
I asked. He delivered. Take that AT&T.