Tag Archives: family

Home for the holiday is a little different this year

For Role/Reboot this week, I wrote about a little bit of a lot of things. A little bit of Christmas blues, a little bit of holiday traditions, a little bit of family drama. Last Christmas my brother and I had our first “grown up” argument about whether or not he’d be home for Christmas. I “won” the battle, but only on the condition that I wrap my head around the idea that our traditions will eventually evolve and I’m going to have to be okay with that.

This year, the chips have fallen as he predicted, and I can’t call in favors, beg/plead, cry and weasel my way into winning again. So… he won’t be home for Christmas. Now what? Given that this is the reality, and I feel as strongly as I do, it seemed worth exploring why I have SO MUCH attachment to this particular set of traditions. It has something to do with divorce, I think, and the desire of kids of divorce to preserve the most stable of traditions they have.

Screenshot_12_12_13_4_32_PM-2

 

Related Post: Why I’m glad my parents chose joint custody.

Related Post: Massachusetts reconsiders its custody bias.

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The “Idiot Dad” Trope

It’s not new, the Idiot Dad TV trope. Remember Tim Allen in Home Improvement? Lately, I feel like we’re making leaps and bounds forward on the portrayal of fatherhood on screen (see Google ads and Up All Night), and simultaneously reverting to the most insulting, egregious examples (see Scott Baio in See Dad Run).

Check out my new piece for Role/Reboot on Baio, the shortcomings of focus groups, Huggies, and why you “can’t be what you can’t see.”

scott baio

Related Post: There’s no wrong way to make a family.

Related Post: How to accidentally raise a feminist daughter.

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5 Steps

Step 1: Eat (Note the red tray in the middle, that’s “strawberry pretzel salad”)

Step 2: Eat pie (Note that this is 1/3 of the pie assortment)

Step 3: Digest. Get comfortable.

Step 4: Tell family stories and dig out old photos to match. That’s my grandfather in the top right, circa 1941.

Step 5: Bonfire

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Family Matters

My piece for Role/Reboot today was inspired by a bunch of things. You’ll see references to Toni Morrison (thanks Alex!), kudos aimed at a documentary called Uña y Carne, and some spectacularly dumb Mitt Romney quotes about family:

Related Post: There’s also no wrong way to have a body.

Related Post: A small world story.

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Room to Room

Fire safety sticker

On Monday, I said goodbye to my childhood home. It will be several more weeks before my family vacates the house, but due to my insistence on living a thousand miles away, my farewells came early.

While the piles of trophies, books, photos, postcards, letters, movie ticket stubs (I’m a hoarder, after all), lay untouched and unsorted, I wandered around the house. Room to room, my eyes went past the furniture and accessories; those things will travel.

It was the paint color I wanted to remember, the moulding in the corner, the loose knobs on the doors. Those details are the ones we can’t cart away and recreate.

Height marks on the closet door

How many steps are there to my bedroom? What do the neighbors houses look like from each window? Where exactly does the sun fall on the carpet? Isn’t that where the cat used to stretch out for a nap?

After I finished my tour of the untransferable details, I looked for the ones that, though small enough to slip into boxes, wouldn’t be making the trip.

Seashells

A row of seashells on the bathroom ledge. Height marks ticked into the whitewashed closet door. Three Zits cartoons haphazardly taped to my brothers’ wall; his name is Jeremy, too, and his clothes also smell. In his room, peeling and nearly transparent twenty years later, is the sticker that alerts the fire department to the presence of a child.

Obama love

In the kitchen, where the home phone used to live, there are more pictures of the Obama family than ours. “Well, they send me photos!” explains my mother.

Outside, overgrown with tiger lilies, there’s a small marker for the family cat. I tried to capture the precise angle of the adirondacks in the yard, wanting to remember exactly how they sat. The buoys hanging on the garage door, the birdhouse I painted ten years ago, the tiled steps my mom made that lead to the wood pile.

I took pictures from every angle I could think to take pictures. When I can’t remember exactly in what order the glass jars sat on the ledge, or the placement of the fire department sticker, or the deep teal of the bathroom, I’ll have something to bolster my memory.

Related Post: I get my hoarding from my father.

Related Post: My town + Amy Poehler

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MA Reconsiders Custody Bias

I have tangled with the Men’s Rights movement before, usually in the comments section of my Good Men Project articles. The most frustrating thing about that crew, besides their vitriolic hate speech towards feminists and the occasional personal insult, is that sometimes they are right.

There are gender biases that cut in all directions, and I don’t think it’s fair for feminists to argue that women always get the brunt of it. Most of the time? Yes (especially in these last trying months). But are there are occasions where men get screwed based on sex-based prejudice? Yes. Should we rectify those as well? Absolutely.

Massachusetts is putting together a task force to reconsider its child custody laws. From the Boston Globe:

“Advocates for custody reform aren’t going away; they are among the loudest and most persistent constituencies to lobby state government today. Their passion bespeaks a genuine need to examine the workings of family courts, and to determine whether some complaints about bias have merit. And while some shared-parenting advocates won’t be satisfied with anything less than joint custody in all cases, others have suggested smaller changes in law and practice that are worthy of discussion. These include tweaks in the language used in domestic relations cases – such as replacing the term “visitation’’ with “parenting time’’ – and changes in the restraining-order process that would encourage more healthy contact between parents and children.”

As the child of a less-than-amicable divorce but a successful joint-custody arrangement, I have strong feelings on the subject. I think the presumptive default should be joint custody, and then you work from there. I don’t think that one situation fits all families (and thus I would not be in favor of a mandated arrangement), but I do believe we need to begin with the assumption that both parents have equal access to and engagement with their children.

Part of my feminism is ceding the assumption that women are “naturally” better parents. Our culture favors caregiving for women and breadwinning for men in a myriad of de facto and de jure ways. We need to fix the legal double standards (i.e .provide parental leave across the board), and we need work to scrub the prejudice from judicial discretion as well. Beginning from a place of equality seems like a good start.

Do women request full custody more often then men? Yes. Will you still likely end up with more custody arrangements that favor the mother, probably yes. But, you will also end up with fewer disenfranchised fathers, and fewer “every other weekend” models, and fewer kids that view their dads as glorified babysitters instead of engaged parents.  Using gender as the launching point for a conversation about custody is unfair to dads, reinforces stereotypes about men and parenting, and deprives kids of seeing their fathers as primary caregivers.

Related Post: Dads in advertising.

Related Post: Dads, daughters and body image.

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Platinum

Big thanks to the provider of this boa, which has left a pink and fluffy trail around Chicago

On Saturday, I celebrated what my roommate described as my platinum birthday. 24 on 2/4. These are the people for whom I am as grateful as any 24-year-old can be:

  • My mom. On 2/4/88, I was just a passenger, she did all the work.
  • My dad, who watched as my mom’s organs were lifted out of her one after another to clear a path for me, the emergency C-section. “You know that scene at the end of Braveheart? Yeah…. it was like that.”
  • My brother, who suggested we finish our Words with Friends game after midnight, because “no one should be a loser on their birthday.”
  • You awesome, amazing, brilliant, beautiful, coolest fucking friends in the world who a) shopped for edible glitter, b) baked a surprise cake, c) sent various Scrabble themed gifts, d) filled my fridge with booze, and e) brought your single, straight, male friends just in case I wanted to get laid. You guys rock so hard.

Cheesy birthday post? Check. Deal with it, as I was instructed to repeat all evening, “I’m the birthday girl!”

Related Post: The most self-aggrandizing post yet.

Related Post: Got a card from my grandma. She’s 83 and she remembers!

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