Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tossed in the psych ward over Twitter and Obama?

This morning, I read an incredible story about 32 year old Kam Brock of New York City.  In September 2014, Ms. Brock was trying to get her car out of a New York City impound site.  Police had seized her car because they thought she was high on "weed".  She was upset when she went to retrieve the car and the police ended up arresting her.  They took her to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

While she was being examined, Ms. Brock mentioned that she was followed on Twitter by President Barack Obama.  Evidently, the doctors weren't inclined to check if Ms. Brock was telling the truth.  They assumed she was delusional and suffering from bipolar disorder.  She was tossed into the psych ward for eight days and forced to take psychoactive drugs and attend therapy sessions.

She was later released from the hospital without comment, though she was given a bill for over $13,000.  Naturally, she's suing.  I can't say I blame her.  Hello... civil rights?  She does sound like perhaps she's a bit eccentric, but that doesn't make her "crazy".  I'm sure her ordeal was terrifying.  Moreover, Obama does follow Brock on Twitter, though she is one of 644,000 people he "follows".  I'm sure it's not really Obama following these folks, but a PR person.  

I don't have much to write about today.  I could write more about the Germanwings crash, given that some shocking new news has been coming out today, but I think I'd rather wait until there's less speculation as to what happened.  Apparently, it looks like the co-pilot may have been suicidal and homicidal... but at this point, no one knows for sure.

I just keep thinking about how terrifying those last eight minutes must have been for the people on that flight.  My heart breaks for them.

Took Zane to the vet today.  He is now on the second phase of his allergy treatments.  Now instead of taking him to the vet every Thursday, he goes every other Thursday.  That makes me happy.

I'm still trying to work up the nerve to get my tooth yanked.  It's going to need to be soon, I think.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Yesterday, in the French Alps, there was a terrible plane crash.  Last night, I wrote about the crash on my travel blog.  I thought about putting my post on this blog, but since it pertains to travel and Bill and I have flown on Germanwings three times, it seemed better to put it on my travel blog.  I still feel like writing about that crash, but this time, I want to focus on something different.

On that flight, there were sixteen kids from the German town of Haltern.  They had gone to a small town near Barcelona to participate in an exchange program with Spanish kids.  The Spanish kids had already done a trip to Germany and the German kids were taking their turn in Spain.  I read about this last night before I started to go to sleep.

Twenty years ago, I got my invitation to serve in Armenia.  I remember how exciting it was.  I was young and the world seemed to be opening to me.  I knew I'd be living with a family while I was in training.  I never thought about the prospect of dying in a plane crash, although the flight to Yerevan from Paris certainly was scary!  There's nothing like flying on a 70s era Russian aircraft to make you fear for your life.

The kids in the exchange program were not exactly in the same position.  They were only gone for a week and they were going to be flying with a well-respected airline.  But still, Spain and Germany are different countries on a continent that makes it easy to explore new cultures.  Those kids must have been so excited to be going somewhere different and making new friends.  I am sure this was a long anticipated trip.  I bet they couldn't wait to get home and tell their families about their week in Spain.

I'm absolutely certain that the kids who shared their lives with those German teens on that plane are completely devastated now.  I am impressed that local authorities are apparently making it easy for people to seek help.  I am heartened to see how the governments and rescue workers from Spain, France, and Germany are banding together to work through this accident.  

Apparently, 35 kids from Hamburg involved in the same exchange program are due to go home from Barcelona today.  Although it's extremely unlikely that they will be involved in a crash, I can only suspect that they are petrified.  I certainly would be.  In fact, even though it would take forever to get home, I might even consider boarding a train!

I can't even imagine how the community of Haltern is handling this tragedy.  Those families that lost their kids to a horrifying plane crash will probably never fully recover from the devastation of yesterday.  Add to the fact that the media is spinning this incident into high drama.

Also among those killed were opera singers Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner.  

Bill and I have been planning to go to Vienna...  I kind of wonder if maybe it would be better to take a train instead of a plane.  I know that just because there was a crash yesterday, that doesn't mean there will be one today or tomorrow.  Still, it was such a routine flight.  You just never know when your time on Earth is going to be up.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Longest pregnancy EVER...

It's been awhile since I last snarked on the Duggar family, even though the media gives me ample opportunities every single day.  Lately, all eyes are on Jill Dillard, who any day now is going to pop.  Every week since she announced her pregnancy with husband Derick Dillard's baby, there has been a grinning picture of her on my newsfeed holding a sign announcing how far along she is.

I don't actually dislike Jill and Derick.  They seem like relatively normal people.  Indeed, I think I like them much better than Jessa and Ben, who are constantly sucking face on camera and spewing ignorant bullshit about abortion and the Holocaust.  Jill and Derick at least seem like nice people, even if Jill is constantly smiling with her eyebrows raised.  However, I gotta say that I am getting pretty tired of seeing Jill's baby bump.

I long for the days when news coverage was more limited and media outlets had to be somewhat choosey about what got reported to the masses.  I'm not sure why I should give a fuck about seeing Jill's expanding uterus.  Why is it news?  I mean, she is not the only woman to give birth.  God knows, we saw her mother pregnant enough times.  If she follows her mother's lead, her uterus is going to end up being like latex.

I'm ready for Jill to have her baby, not because it excites me that she's going to be a mother.  Hell, she's already been a mother to most of her siblings.  I'm ready because I'm just tired of hearing about her pregnancy and seeing her grinning pregnant mug on my newsfeed.

Of course, now that Jill's going to blossom into motherhood, it looks like Jessa may soon be following suit.  You know what that means...  we will also get to see weekly pictures of Jessa's expanding form.  It did occur to me that perhaps Jessa and Ben are just fucking with us to keep the buzz going.  I'd actually like not to care about it.  But they're always on my feed!

Given that last week's episode of 19 Kids & Counting included a weird kissing lesson from JimBoob and Michelle, it seems odd to think about Jessa and Ben making a baby.  I suspect it's coming soon, though.  Gotta keep the ratings up and it seems that weddings and babies being born are the big ratings winners for the Duggar family.

It just seems like Jill has been pregnant forever.  She needs to give birth already...   Just do it for America, Jill.


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Colonial Parkway murders... and a near miss on the Parkway for me...

A photo from the National Park Service of the Parkway in spring...

Today's post is inspired by an article I just read in the Huffington Post...

I have mentioned before that I grew up in Gloucester, Virginia, not too far from Williamsburg and Yorktown.  I spent much of my young life traveling on what is known as the Colonial Parkway, a 23 mile stretch of scenic road between Yorktown and Jamestown.  As a kid, I'd ride with my mom on the Parkway to get to Williamsburg.  We often went there to go shopping or stop by the Naval Weapons Station, which used to have a small commissary my mom favored over the larger ones at Fort Eustis and Langley Air Force Base.  It's a beautiful drive.  I actually enjoyed making that drive when I was younger and had jobs in Williamsburg, though sometimes I would take an alternate route just to shake things up a bit.

I grew up in the 1980s.  During that time period, there was a series of murders that took place on the Colonial Parkway.  The first one happened in 1986, when I was fourteen years old.  The two victims, 27 year old Cathleen Marian Thomas, and 21 year old Rebecca Ann Dowski were last seen hanging out in a computer lab with friends at the College of William and Mary.  Three days later, a jogger on the Colonial Parkway spotted Thomas's car on the edge of an embankment.  The women had been strangled and their throats were cut.  The killer was never found.

As time passed, there were more murders.  I'm not going to detail them in this blog post because you can read the article I linked for more accurate information than I can possibly offer.  I will mention one other pair that were killed because I remember them the best.  On April 9, 1988 20 year old Richard "Keith" Call and 18 year old Cassandra Lee Hailey went out on their first date.  They were both students at what is now Christopher Newport University.  They disappeared after that fateful first date and haven't been seen since.  They are presumed to have been victims of the Colonial Parkway killer.

I believe Keith Call was from Gloucester, so I remember hearing more about him and Cassandra Hailey than the other victims.  I remember seeing the posters asking for information about their whereabouts.  That same year in Gloucester, a teenager named Laurie Ann Powell was also reported as missing.  She was a graduate of my high school and was last seen alive on March 8, 1988.  She was found in the James River April 2, 1988.  I remember there were posters on the walls at my school about her, too.  I remember reading her "senior will" in the Dukes Dispatch school newspaper and thinking how eerie it was.  She had written this memorial to her high school days, not knowing that she wouldn't have many days beyond high school.  I never knew her because she was a few years ahead of me.  Over twenty-five years later, the murders still haven't been solved.  The killer(s) must either be dead or locked up somewhere, since as of around 1989, they seem to have stopped.

It never occurred to me to be afraid to drive on the Colonial Parkway.  I did it all the time.  I remember having a job in Williamsburg and my boss-- a woman I couldn't stand and who likewise couldn't stand me-- used to scold me for driving that way to work.  Coming from Gloucester and needing to get to the part of Williamsburg where I was working, the Colonial Parkway was the quickest and easiest route.  And again, it was (and still is) a very lovely drive.  Fortunately, I never broke down on it, though I did end up in a very scary situation once that involved the Parkway.

I'm about to veer off topic a little bit, since this incident has nothing to do with the Parkway murders.  It does have to do with a sleazy person, though, who scared the shit out of me while driving on the Colonial Parkway.

From late September 1997 until mid August 1999, I lived with my parents in Gloucester County.  I was fresh from the Peace Corps and dealing with some rather serious depression and anxiety issues.  Because my father was an alcoholic and we didn't get along, I needed support.  At my mother's suggestion, I started attending Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings in Williamsburg.

The meetings were held every Wednesday night at a large Methodist church near the College of William and Mary.  I looked forward to attending the meetings because most of the people who regularly showed up were nice folks and it was helpful to talk with them.  One of the guys in it actually hooked me up with the therapist who helped me get over depression.  Because he had issues with depression and ADD, this guy knew all the shrinks in the Williamsburg area and said Dr. Coe was the best.  I have long since lost touch with the guy who recommended Dr. Coe, but Dr. Coe is now my friend rather than my shrink.  At the very least, I will always be grateful to ACOA for that connection.    

A guy named Peter who used to attend the ACOA meetings.  Peter lived in Surry, which is a community not far from Williamsburg, but in order to get there efficiently, he had to take a ferry across the James River.  He was a swarthy guy with dark curly hair and luminous hazel-brown eyes.  I don't know what his ethnicity was, but I would guess he was of Italian or Greek descent.  Perhaps he had gypsy blood.  He wasn't bad looking, but my initial impressions of him were not positive.

I didn't like Peter.  He used to make fun of me and harass me during the meetings.  I didn't think he liked me; but in retrospect, he must have thought I was somewhat attractive.  His way of showing his "attraction" was to be annoying, snarky, and critical.  One time, he looked in the front seat of my car at some books I had picked up at the library.  One of the books I had borrowed was called Sex For Dummies.  He thought that was funny and felt the need to make rude comments about it.

After awhile, he either became less obnoxious or I got used to him.  For awhile, I didn't dislike him as much as I had.  I even started bantering with him.  Though he had a lot of baggage owing to being raised by an alcoholic, he would tell us interesting stories about his plans to build a house out of straw.  Eventually, he hooked up with some woman and they had a baby girl, though they never got married.  I remember one night, they came to the restaurant where I was working and had dessert on the terrace.  I think I even waited on them.

In August 1999, I went to grad school.  I came back home for fall break.  A male friend of mine from college was in Williamsburg for a teacher's conference, so we made plans to get together.  It was a Wednesday night, which was also the night of ACOA meetings.  I decided to stop by and see old friends I knew from that group, then meet my old college friend at his hotel room.

Well, it turned out that night, ACOA was cancelled.  Since I no longer lived in the area, I didn't know.  Peter also didn't get the message.  He showed up to the church and we sat around and talked for awhile.  He made a comment about how "good" I was looking.  I had lost a lot of weight working at a restaurant in Williamsburg and hadn't yet had time to regain it at school.  He asked me if I wanted to go see his baby.

In retrospect, I should have said no.  My friend was waiting for me and, honestly, I didn't even like Peter that much.  But we were getting along and, for whatever reason, I was curious about his baby.  I guess I also didn't want to be rude.  He and his girlfriend had broken up, but she allowed him liberal visitation.  He called her and said he was coming over to see the baby and she agreed.

I stupidly let Peter drive me in his truck rather than following him in my own car.  We went to the ex girlfriend's house saw the baby.  The ex girlfriend was noticeably tense and seemed upset with Peter.  I seem to remember her telling him he was a jerk.  I paid little mind to it.  The baby was really cute and I was entertained by watching Peter thrill her by holding her up high and twirling her around.  The baby seemed to enjoy Peter's roller coaster moves and responded by smiling and laughing.  She had Peter's eyes and coloring.  She has probably grown up to be very exotic looking.

After our visit with the baby, we got back in Peter's truck.  We were chatting casually.  I was telling him about school.  I expected him to take me back to the church.  He headed for the Parkway instead.  I told him I needed to get back because my friend was waiting for me.  He said he thought maybe I could blow off my friend.  I insisted that I wanted to get back.  He said he wanted to "hold me" for awhile.      

Suddenly, my brain was crystal clear.  I somehow managed to stay cool as I insisted that he take me back to the church so I could get my car and go.  I reiterated that my friend was expecting me and would call the police if I didn't show up.  Now, in truth, I doubt my friend would have called the cops.  He probably would have worried, but ultimately might have thought I had simply stood him up.  However, he also knew I wasn't the kind of person to stand people up, especially him.  He was one of my best friends.

I sternly informed Peter that if I didn't show up for our appointment, my friend would be looking for me.  All Peter knew was that my friend was a guy.  He may have even figured my friend could beat the shit out of him.

Peter argued with me, then started lecturing me about how I let other people control me.  What was the harm in blowing off my old friend and having a little fun with him in his truck?  I thought that was a pretty rich comment, since I had made it clear that I didn't want to be with him in the way he was suggesting.  Fortunately, my tone of voice convinced Peter that he needed to do what I said.  He finally took me back to my car and I will never forget the overwhelming sense of relief I felt when I was no longer in his truck with him.  I swear, I felt like I was about to shit my pants.  I was petrified.

I remember being polite to Peter as we said goodbye.  Then I went to see my friend.  I was really shaken up and upset.  We tried to go out, but I was too freaked out to enjoy the evening.  Later, I was really pissed off.  I have mentioned before that I have never been much of a dater and I don't generally attract abusive people.  Most of the guys who have liked me are nice to a fault.  Peter didn't like me.  He saw me as someone he could talk into fucking him.  He was a colossal asshole.

Not long after that incident, I visited friends at the restaurant where I had once worked.  I was pretty shocked when I saw Peter on the waitstaff.  He didn't last long, though.  He came over to say hi to me.  I am sure he could see it written all over my face how much I despised him for what he tried to do.  Perhaps he didn't have any criminal intentions toward me, but he showed extreme disrespect.  And it's that experience, not the Parkway murders, that makes me think less of the pretty 23 mile drive.  I haven't been to another ACOA meeting since.

I wonder if Peter's ex girlfriend continued to be so liberal about letting him visit their baby.  That girl is now a teenager.  Hopefully, Peter wasn't a terrible father to her and my instincts about him were wrong.  I can't help but feel sorry for his ex girlfriend, though.  I would hate to have a child with a man like Peter.  Clearly, he was aptly named, too.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bizarre kids' shows...

Besides religious programming, I confess that I find kids' shows oddly compelling, especially when they're weird.  Sesame Street and The Electric Company certainly had their place in my own childhood, but they are solidly high quality shows with talented people working on them.  What I think are funny are the many kids' shows one might find on obscure networks.

I must confess, this fella sort of inspired today's post...

I was just introduced to Yogi Oki-Doki today, when someone posted one of his videos on Facebook.  He lives on a farm, sings, and teaches kids to do yoga.  He has a cow named How Now and a seven foot rooster named Rasta.  He has a nice singing voice and is into healthy living.  Somehow, kids visit him at his farm and he teaches them poses.  In the real world, we might be taken aback by a guy on a farm who invites kids over to do yoga.  But as it's a children's TV show, I guess we can suspend our disbelief and suspicion.

An episode of Colby's Clubhouse, a Christian kids' show on TBN.  This one was about a girl with anorexia.

Same show, this time about a girl who has to move away...

"Nana Puddin'"...  believe it or not, I was in the Virgin Islands the first time I saw this odd kids' show...  I turned on the TV, and there was this guy in a vest singing and dancing.

I have to wonder about the kids who end up starring on these shows.  Most of them are pretty obscure.  It's not like in the 90s when we had Barney & Friends...

Need to teach your child how to use a toilet?  The Japanese have it wired!

At least the Japanese toilet training video is useful.  It's a skill we all need to learn at some point.  In some parts of the world, you have to relearn the toileting process.  I know I did when I went to Armenia and encountered my first squat hole toilet.  I like how they make it look like it's fun for pee and poo to slide into the toilet!  Weee!  Just like dropping the kids off at the pool!

Bill and I happened to catch this on TBN one day back in the early 00s...  To this day, he still talks about how annoying that "Very Small Meal" song is.

Actually, when it comes to weird children's shows, TBN is sort of where the motherlode is.  I can't bear to watch any of them for too long, though.  They creep me out.

Flying House


And the ever popular Bibleman... starring Willie Aames of Eight is Enough fame!

Oh to be a kid again...  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I lost my virginity when I was 30 years old...

Apologies for the fact that this post is obviously going to be way too much information for some readers.  If you don't want to read about my first thirty years of celibacy, please move on to your next Internet pit stop.  Today's post is especially for Alexis, anyway.  I am writing it because she inspired me.  Today, she wrote about virginity and asked for insight.  Alexis is 20 years old, which puts her in prime sex years... for most people, anyway.  My experience is not like most peoples' experiences, though.

I didn't lose my virginity until two weeks after my wedding day.  I know I have mentioned this fact on my blog before.  I didn't intend to wait until I was married before I did the big deed.  I wasn't raised in a particularly religious family, nor am I really a prude.  I think I waited mainly because I rarely dated.  The guys I liked didn't usually return my affections.  The guys who liked me weren't my type.  And I didn't feel strongly enough about losing my virginity to just do it with some guy to get it over with.

I would by lying if I said I didn't feel a bit like a freak during those years.  All of my friends were fucking.  I wasn't, and it was kind of embarrassing to me.  I wondered if there was something "wrong" with me.

Let me just say this. Now I am very glad I waited.  Not because I'm religious or anything, but because waiting really simplified my life.  I never had to worry about sexually transmitted diseases or infections.  I never had a pregnancy scare.  I never had to worry if someone I was dating was only with me because I "put out".  When I finally did meet Bill, I was ready to have sex, but at the time, he was a practicing Mormon.  He wasn't LDS when he married his ex wife, but she was his first and only partner.  Bill wanted to wait until we were married before we had sex for the first time together.  I had already waited thirty years, so that was fine with me.

We planned to have sex on our wedding night, but we were staying in a B&B and I feared making a mess on the fancy sheets.  I also worried that it would hurt and we might make too much noise.  Further complicating matters was the fact that right after our ceremony, I started my period.  Bill neglected to eat much during our reception, so he had a headache and wasn't feeling up to deflowering me.

Besides, I wanted to have sex for the first time in my own bed, on my own sheets, and in my own room, even though we were living in an apartment with thin walls and there had been times when I heard my neighbors loudly fucking.  Sometimes, I could even hear them from the street as I passed their open windows.  In retrospect, maybe it would have been nicer to lose my virginity in a beautiful B&B instead of in our shitty apartment that reeked of our neighbor's marijuana.

I didn't enjoy having intercourse the first time.  It was painful for me.  I had a hard time relaxing and enjoying it, although much to my relief, there was no mess.  I think I was afraid there would be bleeding, but maybe all the years I rode horses and bikes caused me to lose my hymen years prior to my first sexual experience.

Fortunately, Bill is a very kind and patient lover and we eventually got the hang of things.  Sex became much more pleasant for me.  Because I waited, I can honestly say that my husband is the best lover I've ever had.  I have no one to compare him to because I never had sex with anyone else.  Given that Bill and I adore each other, that's a great thing to have in our relationship.

I also know that I'm the best lover Bill has ever had.  His ex was more willing to do exotic stuff than I am, but she was also much more likely to freak out while they were mid coitus.  He once told me about how one time they were having sex, and she suddenly got very cold and told him to hurry up and finish.  That did a number on his self-esteem and made him feel really guilty.  She acted as if he was raping her, when she had initiated the session in the first place.

I once wrote about this subject on Associated Content.  It was a very well-read article and I ended up making some money on it.  Got tons of hits and lots of comments.  One lady said she thought I had "issues" because of the number of times I wrote sex in my article.  A man said that sex is one of life's best pleasures.  I think it's funny how we tend to psychoanalyze people we don't even know.  I do it myself all the time.

Maybe I do have some "issues" or "hang ups" when it comes to sex.  I have always been interested in it.  I've done lots of reading on the subject.  I used to read Nancy Friday's books about sexual fantasies compulsively.  I did have a few run ins with a garden variety pedophile when I was growing up.  He was our neighbor and also attended the same church we did.  Fortunately, he never touched me in a sexual way.  He just exposed me to porn and said inappropriate things to me.  I didn't even realize what he'd done until years later, when I was in therapy and my shrinks informed me that what had happened to me constituted sexual abuse.

I suppose it's possible that experience, and others with neighborhood boys who played too rough, made me afraid to have sex.  Or maybe I was just too shy, though most people who know me casually would never call me shy.  I tend to be funny as a defense mechanism.  The truth is, I was kind of frigid when I was younger... and maybe I still am now.

I don't think it's wrong for people to have premarital sex.  Marriage isn't for everyone.  I don't think people who don't want to get married should be expected to be celibate forever.  In my case, though, I am glad I waited for marriage.  It wasn't my plan to wait and had I met someone I had wanted to have sex with before I met Bill, I probably would have.  If Bill had wanted to have sex while we lived together during the six months before we got married, I would have.  But I'm glad it worked out the way it did for me.  I definitely don't miss the other guys I could have had sex with and didn't.  And I am really glad I don't have children with some guy I can't stand.  Having seen Bill's experiences with his ex, I am very grateful I don't have any.

I do think people should be very choosey about their sexual partners.  It may be a lot of fun to have a roll in the sack, but sex can really fuck up your life if you aren't careful.  You can end up with diseases from having sex with someone else.  Most diseases can be treated and cured, but some will stay with you forever, like luggage.  And then, there is the issue of pregnancy.  Even the best birth control can fail.  So my advice is not necessarily to wait until marriage before you have sex for the first time, but to be very smart and careful about it.  Don't just have sex for the sake of having sex.  And try not to feel weird for being an older virgin.  Even though I was very unusual for waiting as long as I did, I know there are people who are even older than I was before they lost their virginity... and some people even go to the grave having never done the deed.  It's not the end of the world.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Two moms can't replace absent dads?

Okay, before I start with today's post, let me make one thing clear.  I think kids can be raised in a variety of different family systems and turn out perfectly okay. I think it's very possible that gay parents can raise normal, healthy, happy kids.  Today's post is about an article I saw on Yahoo! yesterday, written about a woman who grew up with two lesbian moms.

My initial reaction when I read the article by Beth Greenfield, a senior writer for Yahoo!, was interest.  Greenfield's report was about 31 year old mother of four, Heather Barwick, who wrote an essay that is generating a lot of controversy because Barwick writes that she doesn't support gay marriage or gay parenting.

Barwick has some personal experience which helped bring her to her conclusion.  When Barwick was 2 or 3 years old, her lesbian mother divorced Barwick's father.  Barwick explains that her mom knew she was gay when she married and left her husband to have a relationship with a woman.  Barwick writes that her dad "wasn't a great guy" and never bothered to come around while she was growing up.  So Barwick doesn't know him and, instead of having the dad she longed for, she grew up with another mother.

I posted this article on Facebook with the comment that I thought it was an interesting read.  Even though I don't necessarily agree with Barwick that gay parents are destructive, I do think that she has a right to express her views.  As someone who actually grew up with lesbian parents, I think she probably has more right to express her views about gay marriage and parenting than almost anyone else does.  However, I don't think Barwick's issues were necessarily caused because she was raised by two lesbians.  I think she has "abandonment issues", which is something that affects anyone who feels left behind by someone important to them.

Several of my female friends commented on this article and an interesting discussion ensued.  I am fortunate enough to have friends of every political and religious stripe.  It was mainly my liberal friends who were opining, though I did get some thoughtful comments from a more conservative Christian friend who wisely concluded:

This woman is wishing for a life she didn't have, and would never have had regardless of whether her mom was gay, straight, bi, or asexual. She's longing for a non-existent reality, and blaming what was for what wasn't. It's illogical. No amount of wishing will ever change the past.

Personally, I think Barwick has a deep seated sense of abandonment.  She joins anyone who has lost a parent to divorce or death or adoption.  That's not to say that all children who grow up without access to a parent have abandonment issues, just that it's a fairly common problem for people in those situations.  

One of my friends took issue with the fact that I referred to Barwick's mother's partner in a way that didn't suggest that she was also Barwick's mom.  She said that language is critical.  Trust me; I understand that.  However, Heather Barwick grew up in the 80s and 90s, which was a time during which gay marriages were not legally recognized.  Even if they had been recognized, unless the other mom legally adopted her (which she would not have been able to do in the 80s and 90s), legally the most she would have been is a stepmom.  Of all the people who should know about that, this friend probably should have.  We met on a message board for second wives and stepmothers.

I'm sure that Heather Barwick thought of her mom's partner as another mother.  That doesn't change the fact that in the eyes of the law, she wasn't related to her in any way.  If Barwick's mom had broken up with her partner, it's possible the partner would never see her so-called daughter again.  After all, stepparents generally don't have legal rights or responsibilities to their stepkids.  

One thing that neither Greenfield nor Barwick explained is what actually happened to Barwick's dad. Was he really just jerk who abandoned his daughter?  Or was he in a situation in which he was pushed out of her life.  I am suspicious of a woman who "knows" she's gay marrying a man, getting pregnant, having a baby with him and staying in the marriage until the baby is a toddler.  Then she decides to leave him and have a relationship with a woman.  Did Barwick's dad really just decide to stay away?  Or did Barwick's mom keep him away?  We don't know.  I wonder if Barwick really knows.  Chances are, she may not.

I read some of the comments on Barwick's essay and noticed people were casually referring to Barwick's father as a "sperm donor".  I actually have a big problem with people referring to deadbeat dads as "sperm donors".  I have ranted about that before on this blog.  To make a long rant short, the reason I object to the term "sperm donor" for so-called deadbeat fathers is because it denigrates real sperm donors who are providing a valuable service.  Some guy who is irresponsible and abandons his kids may have provided a service in the sense that the mother may have a child that she loves.  But what he's done is not the same as what a sperm donor has done (and has been paid for doing).  We shouldn't be equating real sperm donors with absentee fathers.  

Someone in the comment section of Barwick's essay also pointed out the possibility that Barwick's dad may have been alienated from her.  While it's entirely possible that he just split, I know from watching Bill's situation that sometimes dads who seem like they abandoned their kids didn't actually do that.  Sometimes they are pushed out into the cold and kids are simply led to believe that they were abandoned.  Personally, I think that's a shitty thing to do to a kid, making them believe that their other biological parent is a creep.  That has to affect kids deep down on a personal level.  But sometimes parents don't think about how that kind of talk may affect their child because they are too caught up in their own selfish issues.  I have no way of knowing what any of Heather Barwick's parents are like.  I just think it's very easy to jump on a bandwagon and make assumptions.    

In any case, while I think that gay couples absolutely can make great parents and raise well-adjusted, high functioning children, I am glad Heather Barwick had the courage to express her thoughts and stand up for her own opinions.  I, for one, am not a fan of sending people to "tolerance camp".  There's room in the world for all kinds of viewpoints, even the ones that people think are ugly.  Above all, I wish Barwick peace.  It sounds like she had a rather tough and traumatic childhood.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mommy shaming busybodies...

I have a good friend I know online and off.  He's a good guy who cares about other people.  I don't have any kids myself.  He is the father of four, two adult sons and two little girls.  Yesterday, he asked on Facebook if he should say something to a mother of a small child whom he thinks is underdressed for the weather.

My answer was "No."

It's funny, too, because I had just read an article about "mommy shaming", a phenomenon with which I was previously and gloriously unacquainted.  One of the situations in the article was about a mom who was "shamed" because people thought her son was underdressed for the weather.  What they didn't know was that she and her son had been fighting over what he would wear outside for ten or twenty minutes before they went outside.  Because they had to go out, she finally relented and let him go coatless.  She rightly figured that he would eventually learn to dress appropriately for the weather.

Granted, in this situation, the child was very young.  But who knows?  Maybe she has "sensory issues".  Maybe she was wearing a coat and it got wet.  Maybe the child is unusually hot natured and doesn't get cold.  The point is, you don't know... and unless the kid is in obvious danger or distress, your mommy shaming comment is unlikely to do anything but piss someone off and ruin their day.  If you're out and about and you see a kid who is what you'd consider underdressed, what do you expect the mom to do about it?  Do you think she's carrying a coat and should put it on her child so you'll feel better?  Frankly, it's not really your business.

When I was a kid, I hated wearing shoes.  I would not wear them in the house or out.  We lived in England and I used to run around the neighborhood barefoot.  I'm sure lots of people thought my mom was nuts for letting me do that.  But as I got older, I eventually learned why shoes are important and I grew up to be the stalwart woman you know and love now (kidding, of course... most people reading this blog don't actually know me and probably wouldn't love me if they did).  I still rarely wear shoes unless I'm out in public.  I even go outside barefoot in winter, mainly because I'm too lazy to put my shoes on.

Another man on my friend's Facebook piped up and said my friend should have said something.  Then he commented that he saw a guy with an 18 month old child strapped to him while he was snowboarding.  The guy got away from him before he could say anything to him, questioning his parental judgment.  If I were the snowboarding dad, I might have told the guy to fuck off.  Or I might have given him a tight smile and gone back to what I was doing.

I'm not sure I'd ever take a toddler snowboarding.  For one thing, I don't know how to snowboard.  For another, I don't have kids of my own and would never risk the health and safety of someone else's child.  But it's not my place to tell someone what they should and shouldn't do with their kids if there is no law or rule against it.  Everybody's situation is different.  Maybe the guy is a master snowboarder.  Maybe the kid is an adrenaline junkie.  Who knows?  If you aren't acquainted with the people involved, you probably don't know.

While I don't think it's wrong to speak up if a child is in clear danger or distress or is doing something illegal, I do think sometimes people are too free with their opinions about someone else's parenting decisions.  Moreover, sometimes when you get up on your moral high horse and judge other peoples' parenting skills, karma gives you a smackdown.

A funny look at Mommy shaming...
Of course, there is the camp that says parents should insist that their kids bundle up when they go outside.  And frankly, I think that's fine, too.  If you are a parent, you have the right to impose your will on your kids to a reasonable extent.  Just don't try to apply your parenting standards to other peoples' kids.  This blogger pretty much explains how I feel about this... and she's actually a mother herself!

Incidentally, I just found this hilarious blog called I Saw Your Nanny...  A woman is ranting about seeing a sick, underdressed kid at the post office.  People are saying that sick kids who don't want to dress for the weather should be forced to stay home.  As someone with an advanced degree in public health, I would say that bundled up or not, a sick child should stay home.  Keep your viruses to yourselves, please.