I checked this book out of the library because I thought it would be a cool book about galaxies, and now I know that it is.
Our solar system is in the Milky Way. The Milky Way looks like a white rainbow in the night sky. Our galaxy is so big that some stars in the Milky Way are so far away that their light is burnt out before it reaches us.
I think that galaxies giving off different kinds of energy is cool because I didn’t know that before I read this book.
Anybody who wants to should read this book, but especially people who are interested in space and galaxies. I am a fan of space and galaxies.
My daughter, who is five, knows where babies come from. She knows what menstruation is. She knows the word “vagina” and we do not use any cute euphemisms for that part of her body.
My daughter sees my naked body all the time. This is partly because she doesn’t really get—or doesn’t really care—that I might like a little privacy when I’m dressing and undressing. But one of the reasons I don’t police my own privacy too much is because I want my daughter to know what a woman’s body looks like. I want her to know that my soft, roundish, un-waxed, basically healthy forty-one-year-old body is an acceptable shape for the female form to take. I don’t make my body a mystery to my daughter, because I do not want her body to be a mystery.
My daughter loves my body. Not too long ago, it was a source of nourishment. Once upon a time, it was home. It’s still a source of comfort. My daughter has no idea that my body should be anything other than what it is.
Since the day she was born, my husband and I have shaped our talk about her body to emphasize health, strength, and agency. When she was tiny, we praised her for being so big and strong. Now that she’s big and strong, we let friends, family, and strangers coo about her gorgeous eyes and amazingly long lashes, while we marvel at the powerful legs required to pedal a Big Wheel so fast. Our daughter’s body is not something for other people to look at and admire. It is hers, to nurture and use and enjoy.
I don’t watch Dance Moms, so I can’t say that the mothers on that show are living vicariously through their daughters, but I have watched enough clips to know that they have basically abdicated responsibility for their children and accepted the authority of their dance coach. Given that “reality” shows are designed to create conflict and controversy, I feel confident in suggesting that the dance coach has embraced her own monstrosity at the encouragement of the show’s producers. If there weren’t actual children being hurt by her desire to shock, she’d be a rather compelling character. But she is hurting actual children, and her apparent desire to teach these children that they are commodities is repellent—and particularly perverse, since little girls who have worked so hard to become incredible dancers should be able to take some pride in and ownership of their achievements.
The Vogue story is even more troubling to me, because I really don’t think either the author or the publication intended to be provocative. Ostensibly a mother’s own account of helping her daughter to achieve a healthy weight, it’s actually a profoundly upsetting portrait of a woman trying to pass on her own dysfunctional relationship with food and her own body. It’s made all the more harrowing by the daughter’s resistance, and the mother’s steely insistence that new-won thinness is a kind of existential rebirth:
For Bea, the achievement is bittersweet. When I ask her if she likes how she looks now, if she’s proud of what she's accomplished, she says yes... Even so, the person she used to be still weighs on her. Tears of pain fill her eyes as she reflects on her yearlong journey. “That’s still me,” she says of her former self. “I’m not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds.” I protest that, indeed, she is different. At this moment, that fat girl is a thing of the past. A tear rolls down her beautiful cheek... “Just because it’s in the past,” she says, “doesn't mean it didn't happen.”
My point is this: If we don’t want anyone else to own our daughters’ bodies, we need to be the first ones to teach our daughters that their bodies belong to them. We can care for them. We can nurture them. We can help them learn to make good choices by presenting them with healthful options. But we can’t own them. We can’t shape them. And we sure as hell can’t live through them. And if we want our daughters to be strong and happy in their bodies, we need to show them how to do that by being strong and happy in our own bodies.
“Your chaotic present is someone else’s nostalgic past.”—Jamie Martin, Mindset for Moms
My house is a mess.
I don’t mean that my spice rack is no longer alphabetized. I don’t mean that I need to re-fan the magazines on the coffee table. No.
I mean that I told my husband that I want a Dumpster for Mother’s Day this year, and I was only sort of joking. I mean that, if my grandma showed up unannounced, I would not let her use the bathroom . I mean that the basement… O! The basement! After returning from the basement, I have to lie down in a dark, quiet room with a cold compress on my head. That’s what I mean.
Recently, the state of my house has skyrocketed toward the top of my List of Things That Cause Existential Despair. (It’s currently at #4. Death still holds the top spot, with upper-arm fat and above-the-bra back-pudge tied at #2. The knowledge that the sun will eventually go out is #3.)
But it’s Day 1 of the 10-Day Family Re-charge, and Erin Goodman has challenged me to embrace the chaos, and I’m kind of shocked to discover that it’s really pretty easy. Yes, my house is a mess, but that’s because there are so many things that are more important—more fun, more rewarding, more joyful, more immediately necessary—than tidying right now. We’re too busy eating and sleeping and playing and working and making stuff and loving each other to make our beds and put away the crayons.
This mess is our mess. This is our home. I’m so glad I'm here.
When it comes to parenting hacks, I find that about 1 in 10 works with my kid. The snack shelf is one of our rare success stories.
Here it is in all its nutrient-rich glory: You’re looking at pretty, easy-to-open containers of carrot sticks, broccoli florets, orange slices, and washed raspberries. (I used to keep a small dish of ranch dressing in there, too, but I discovered that Frances will actually eat vegetables without—this was not always so—when we ran out. I think we’re just going to continue to be out of ranch dressing indefinitely.) There’s a jug of milk, and Greek yogurt hiding in the back. The precise contents of the snack shelf vary, but this snapshot is representative.
This is Frances’s shelf. She can eat anything she wants from it at any time and in any quantity. As long as I keep this shelf stocked and refrain from crowding it with random leftovers or gross grown-up food, snacktime remains a time of peace in our house. And I have discovered that, left to her own devices, Frances will choose vegetables. The fact that it’s her choice seems to make all the difference.
This shelf also helps make lunch prep easy in the morning—I’ve got fruit and veg ready to go—and it solves a dinner dilemma that vexed me for some time. Frances used to be a pretty adventurous eater, and I generally served her whatever I prepared for Ted and myself, or a slightly modified version of the same. But, lately, Frances wants one thing for dinner: buttered noodles. This drove me kind of nuts, and there were nights when I simply said, “No more buttered noodles!” Unpleasantness ensued. But then I realized that, if Frances has been grazing from the fridge between her return from school and dinner time, she’s already had an a la carte version of a pretty good meal: protein, calcium, a mix of vitamins and minerals, not to mention fiber, probiotics, antioxidants, and other goodies. Also, she’s not ravenous when she comes to the table, which means that I can satisfy her longing for noodles with a small portion. And—and!—now that the buttered-noodle battles have ended, Frances has started to take an interest in the other foods available at dinner time. (This dynamic might be familiar to anyone who’s read a certain book about a certain badger.) Just last night, she told me that she doesn’t like pancakes for dinner, but, after I made a few for myself and warmed up the maple syrup, Frances was at the stove on her stepstool, making blueberry smiley faces on her own pancakes.