Motherhood Myths: An Interview

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 0 No tags

 

Motherhood Myths--satire for everyone from JenEric Generation

The following is an interview with myself.

Hey, guys! Jenny is the author of the blog JenEric Generation, and today I am talking to her about a most fascinating topic I’m sure we can all relate to: her life. More specifically, her life as a new mom.

Jenny: Hi, Jenny. Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to answer a few of my burning questions!

Me: It’s no problem, Jenny! I have a few minutes before Violet wakes up for her next feeding. Did you know that babies eat every few hours?

Jenny: I did! I did.

Let’s go ahead and jump right in, since we have a lot to cover today. First, the most burning question of all, I was wondering if staying at home with your four-month-old was more challenging than having a full-time job?

Me: Well, Jenny, the short answer is no. But then, the two are drastically different in my mind. As you know, I worked for five years after college, before exchanging my salary for being covered in spit up and slobbery kisses (she’s still working on the kisses). I liked being a working woman, for the most part, but my job wasn’t one that I saw myself in long term. Now that I stay home, I face many different challenges, but I find being with a baby all day to be much less stressful than working at a job I wasn’t excited about.

Jenny: Are you actually covered in spit up?

Me: No, that’s just a thing we moms say. It’s basically another way of saying “I don’t shower every day”.

Jenny: Right. So, I was wondering if you felt comfortable talking about postpartum weight loss. Is the baby weight just melting away?

Me: Oh, sure. Bring on the postpartum weight loss questions! Because I have all the answers. I understand everything about postpartum weight loss!

Jenny: Hahaha!

Me: I knew you would get the sarcasm! It’s so great being interviewed by someone so…familiar.

The truth is, breastfeeding to lose weight is not a comprehensive weight loss program. In fact, some women on the internet would call it an outright lie. I join their many voices. It just doesn’t seem right that after carrying around a human being inside you for nine months, and then pushing it out of your body, your body can’t be more on your side. You know? Instead, it seems to be all, “I have a great idea. We are going to hang on to these last ten pounds in case the end of the world happens while you are breastfeeding and your baby’s survival depends on them.”

Is it really too much to ask to be able to fit into your old wardrobe a few weeks after giving birth? Essentially, we stay-at-home-moms just want the same thing working women want: It All.

Jenny: The moral of the story then, is that our bodies have both good ideas and bad ideas. The good ideas being…

Me: …growing babies.

Jenny: Exactly. So, another question I had was whether or not you are getting enough sleep as a new mom. And as the Voice of All Mothers, I was wondering if you could tell me…

Me: Hey now, I never pretended to be the Voice of All Mothers.

Jenny: But you agreed to this interview.

Me: Yeah, and that hardly means…

Jenny: Relax! I’m just messing with you. I, of all people, know you aren’t yourself when you’re sleep deprived.

Me: Oh! Haha. Okay. But hey, wait, I’m not sleep deprived! I pride myself on Violet’s great sleep habits.

Jenny: Oh, so you are one of THOSE parents who takes credit for their children’s sleep habits? Just wait until you have your next kid.

Me: Gee, thanks for the encouragement.

Jenny: I’m sorry. I shouldn’t treat you like that. Let’s get back on track. Talk to me about your social life.

Me: [mocking voice] ‘talk to me about your social life‘.

Jenny: Is that to say…you don’t have one?

Me: Of course I have a social life. I’m with another human being all day long! And in addition to that, I do things. No really, I do. The only difference between my social life pre-baby and now is that now it’s just harder to have a social life.

Jenny: You are making a lot of sense. One thing I continually read on the internet is that mom’s need a lot of alcohol to survive on a daily basis. What is your opinion on that?

Me: Mom’s can’t do everything on their own, that is certainly true. But where you get that extra help is between you and God. But I don’t think moms are drinking as much as we think they are.

Jenny: Oh, are the jokes about drinking just another code for “I don’t shower every day”?

Me: No. It’s more like code for: “Just go ahead and judge me. I dare you.” If there is one thing moms get up in arms about, it’s…

Jenny: Not letting their kids watch more than thirty minutes of TV every day?

Me: …No. I was going to say: being judged by other moms.

Jenny: Ah, and no one wants to admit that someone else might be a better parent, is that it? Is it because all moms want to feel like they are in the same boat?

Me: More like the same life raft!

Jenny: Hahahaha! What a hoot you are.

Me: It’s just that I’m a mom now, and I get this whole “being a mom” business so much better. I even get all the jokes.

Jenny: So is the best part about being a mom, being in the mom “club”?

Me: The club certainly has a lot of perks, not limited to showering less frequently and 100% freedom from all judgment. The main perk though, I’d say, is being responsible for the well-being of another person.

Jenny: You’d call that a perk? Most people would call that a huge burden. In fact, I think that may be why some people are hesitant to procreate.

Me: Is it? Huh. Funny how having a kid changes things.

Jenny: Having children changes a lot of things, doesn’t it?

Me: In some ways.

Jenny: Only in some?

Me: Sure. Some things never change. For instance, this constant inner dialogue I have. Now that I’m a mom it’s called “motherly instinct”, whereas before it was called “self-doubt”.

Jenny: You’re not constantly sure of yourself?

Me: Not constantly, no.

Jenny: Now you just sound like you are trying very hard to be non-offensive.

Me: Well, yes, that is the way of the internet these days. If you want to share your opinions, you better be prepared for a debate. If you want to share your opinions without a debate, you better do it in a virtually undetectable manner.

Jenny: But then what’s the point of sharing your opinions at all?

Me: That is the best question you have asked today.

Jenny: Unfortunately, there isn’t an answer for everything.

Me: Well, actually, I did have a few thoughts on that…

Jenny: Thanks so much for letting me interview you today, Jenny. You must know that I am your harshest critic.

Me: Yes, I do know that, thank you.

00

Let’s keep in touch! Find me on twitter, facebook, and instagram!

Did you like this post? Sharing is caring!

Here is another interview you might like.

Well Said: on worrying about the future

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 0 No tags

Well Said is a new series I have started to highlight beautiful sentences and words well-arranged. Sometimes they are uncovered after hunting for them, but more often they leap from their pages when I least expect them.

well-said-jenericgeneration

I used to scratch my head in wonder at the people who said they didn’t want to have kids because they couldn’t be responsible for bringing kids into “a world like this”. And because it is exactly the way things work, I found myself saying almost those exact words once we had a kid of our own. Sleep deprivation and postpartum hormones may have had something to do with it, but the fact still remains that in a moment of panic, I said these words to Eric: “What have we done? What kind of world have we brought Violet into?” There are so many things to worry about.

It was then that Eric hit me over the head with a metaphorical hammer: “WE didn’t bring her into this world. She is a gift to us, and we are just responsible for taking care of her”. Never mind how terrifying the words “just responsible” are. The fact that WE are not in control of our daughter’s fate was an obvious and much-needed reminder.

And so as it often is that we hear the words we most need to hear at just the right time, we read the words we need to read when we most need to read them, I sincerely believe.

These words are from a book I am reading by Archbishop Francois Fenelon, in a letter he wrote in the 18th century to a woman working in the Palace of Versailles. (Emphasis added)

“The crosses which we make for ourselves by over-anxiety as to the future are not Heaven-sent crosses. We tempt God by our false wisdom, seeking to forestall His arrangements, and struggling to supplement His Providence by our own provisions. The fruit of our wisdom is always bitter. God suffers it to be so that we may be discomfited when we forsake His Fatherly guidance. The future is not ours: we may never have a future; or, if it comes, it may be wholly different to all we foresaw. Let us shut our eyes to that which God hides from us in the hidden depths of His Wisdom. Let us worship without seeing; let us be silent and lie still.”

00

P.S. A practical guide to worrying.

Why We (still) Like Mad Men

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 0 No tags

A while back, I wrote about why we like mad men (fun fact: it’s one of the most popular posts of all time here on Jeneric Generation). In that post, I quoted Matthew Weiner, the creator of the show, in saying this: Don Draper may not believe he is capable of being loved. And with the close of Don’s story, these words are all the more insightful.

don-draper-mad-men-finale-recap-redemption

Before the season ended, some people predicted Don’s demise and others, his redemption. In the episodes leading up to the finale, it wasn’t clear exactly what the writers had in store. Don’s behavior was strange and even more unpredictable than usual, but certainly not in any way that suggested he was about to walk down the aisle and pray the sinner’s prayer.

At first glance, the ending may seem to be open for interpretation. But I believe Don is on the path to redemption. This is Mad Men, where change doesn’t happen in an instant. And this is Matthew Weiner, who revels in fleshing out the subtleties of human growth.

So let’s look at that quote again: Don Draper may not believe he is capable of being loved. Those words are extremely powerful in their truthfulness. In Don, his inability to believe he is capable of being loved is not a sign of humility but of pride, and as such, the root of what could possibly have been his downfall. For Don to be redeemed, he needed to believe he could be loved.

There are three reasons why I think this happened: the confession, the embrace, and the Coke ad.

As we see in one of the final scenes of the last episode, Don hears a man confess his loneliness and feelings of isolation to a group of strangers. We see something alter in Don’s thinking as he suddenly becomes vulnerable in his connection to this man. It is a sign of humility and a sign of change. But there is more to it than that.

In the previous seasons, when we wonder if Don is beyond any hope of changing, Don is hanging on to a past that he allows to torture him– when he allows himself to recall it. In his office on Madison Avenue, Don is exceptionally talented and uncannily successful. And yet, on Madison Avenue, Don doesn’t ask to be loved not only because he believes he is not capable of being loved, but because he doesn’t believe he deserves to be loved. 

It takes seven seasons for Don to fully face what makes him undeserving of love.

As long as Don was hiding from his past, he was hiding behind the lie that he is incapable of being loved. It is this false belief that causes Don to shut everyone out of  in his life who is capable of loving him, including his own children. At the end of season 6, when we see Don show his children the house where he grew up, we see more than a man facing his past. Because in the moment when Don faces the truth about who he is, and who he will always be, the stage is being set and the path between pride and humility is slowly being forged.

don-draper-mad-men-finale-recap-redemption-1

In his belief of unworthiness, we see Don continue to build the walls he has surrounded himself in. Until his phone call with Peggy.

His confession: ““I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it.” was previously buried under the false assumption that his sins set him apart from everything good–that they made him an unforgivable man. But Peggy wasn’t scandalized by Don’s confession. She didn’t care about his sins. Don chose Peggy as the recipient of his confession because she was possibly the only person in the world he truly respected. But if he was hoping for some relief after talking to Peggy, he didn’t get it. Don walked into that meeting a haunted man.

And for those whom are haunted there is hope. In uttering those words to Peggy, and then embracing the man in the meeting, Don is no longer trapped in prideful solitude. When Don stands up in the circle of chairs and turns toward the man recalling his dream of sitting on a refrigerator shelf, invisible to the world but catching brief glimpses of it, his confession is complete. Don Draper no longer sees himself as an island. In hearing the words the stranger in the blue sweater spoke at just the right moment, Don is able to articulate the truth to himself.

In facing the truth behind what made him undeserving of love, Don allowed himself, for the first time, to be loved. When the threat of total isolation is behind him, Don recognizes that love is not about being deserving, but simply about receiving. In admitting that he is not alone, he is admitting that he is no different from anybody else. And that’s a big deal.

mad-men-coke-ad-don-draper-jeneric-generation

And let’s talk about the Coke ad: Did Don make it? I think so. I didn’t know the cultural importance of the ad until I heard my parents talking about it. They remember it as being absolutely iconic–the kind of commercial that made everyone run to the TV when they heard it playing because there had never been anything like it before. As Matthew Weiner points out, ads five years beforehand didn’t have black people and white people in the same commercial, let alone people from all around the world. A commercial had never before dared to stray from selling to cinematic.

And I think there’s a lot more to it, if Don created it. You can’t hide in your creations. Whether you try or not, your motives and desires are revealed in the things you create. Don’s genius was in his ability to make people want things before they realized it themselves. Ads are just another form of manipulation on a psychological level, and that’s what Don did best. To create good ads, you have to be in tune to the subconscious desires of your target audience. For Don to be able to create that Coke commercial, he had to be a changed man.

That commercial was still selling Coke. And it could be argued that manipulation can’t be entirely separated from any commercial. But in a larger sense, that commercial didn’t seek to settle under the skin of the viewer in a hidden way. It was honest, “it’s the real thing, what the world wants today”. It was out in the open, vulnerable in its boldness, daring and unifying in its diversity, and it reiterated the humbling and life-altering truth that Don has finally come to embrace: he is not alone.

In the isolation of our own heart, there is ample room for deception. In facing the truth that we aren’t who we want to be–that no one is entirely who they want to be–we find ourselves less at risk for believing the lies of a quiet voice within. When Don allows himself to relate to a stranger in the final episode, he is finally able to see that his grief does not set him apart from every other person on the planet. On the contrary, we are united to one another in our suffering. It is in this realization that he finally opens himself up to being loved.

Can we say that Don Draper was finally redeemed? I think we can. The signs of a changed heart are subtle, and not always detectable. But in Don, we see signs. In his confession, belief, and the realization of both in his Coke commercial, there is, at the very least, incredible hope.

00

I’d love to know if you agree or disagree. What did you think of the show’s finale? There is so much more that could be said, and about much more than Don.

 

 

The Truth About Childbirth

Monday, June 1, 2015 0 No tags

In college I preferred to arrive to all of my classes at least fifteen minutes early. Especially in the first week, I wanted to make sure I knew where the room was, and more importantly, I wanted to be able to select my favorite seat (front row, most of the time, and near the door).

I am the kind of person who likes to know exactly what they are getting into before getting into it.

So when I found out I was pregnant, as such a person, I wanted to know exactly how labor would go down.

what-is-labor-really-like

If you have never given birth, but wanted to find out the truth about labor, then you know that even in the most graphic pregnancy literature the exact details of labor are surrounded in a shroud of mystery.

Why couldn’t anyone just tell it like it was? And I didn’t mean the same old, “it’s hard, intense, empowering, etc.” or the ever-evasive, “it’s worth it!”  Specifically, I wanted to know what a contraction felt like. I wanted to know how I, specifically, should prepare for a nearly endless succession of them–with yoga? Breathing techniques? Long walks? Binge-watching Call the Midwife (answer: no)?

Would it be a sharp pain? An all-consuming pain or a more localized pain? A pain that felt like I was going to die or a pain that was at the very least, manageable? I used google and pregnancy chat forums to help me find answers. But even experienced moms weren’t able to give me what I wanted.

I didn’t get it. How were there so few adequate words on something so defining in the life of a woman??

And then my sister, who gave birth five months before me, was able to give me possibly the vaguest answer of all, that turned out to be the most helpful.

Continue Reading…