Pecking Order

Flamingos fighting

Just take a nip 
Here and there
So I can be pretty
Fix my hair
Pull and tuck
Gouge at my eyes
Make me look pretty
Slim my thighs
Whiter teeth
A larger bust
I’m still not pretty
Another adjust
Raise those cheeks
Now my nose
Got to look pretty
Paint my toes
Some fuller lips
Sharper jaw
She is so pretty
Fills me with awe
Chisel me down
Tighter skin
I could be pretty
If I were thin
Sew me up
Dress me up
Give me more pain
So I can feel alive
So I can feel loved 
Still not happy
Just a pinch more
Want to be pretty
Want to be adored
Soon I’ll be there 
You wait and see
Soon I’ll be pretty
Soon I won’t be me

Vented

Floor vents at the opera
There is one of these under every single seat at my local opera house. 

What is it? 

Why, I am glad SO you asked!

Supposedly, they are air conditioning vents. Why the heck would you put an AC vent under each and every seat, right where the butt hole resides?

To keep everyone’s butt cool?

Perhaps.

But I have my other theory….

There is this thing called the gastrocolic reflex. When the stomach distends with a meal, it sends a signal to the colon to make room because more shit is coming down the pipeline. 

Because of how late in the evening the opera takes place, people often eat before hand. What do you do when you need to poo? You start to fart. How old is the opera crowd, on average? Old.

Therefore, operas = old farts.

I can say this because I am one of them.

Now, people who go to operas generally have lots of money. Rich people don’t like farts. Awful smells are very disturbing to their sensibilities. So when you are designing an opera to seat lots of rich people what do you do? You integrate a ventilation system that blows away their farts.

That being said, I sat on the second row yesterday with my kids during an opera aria mashup performance for families. I savored that second row, as it will likely never happen again in my real life. These family things cannot make the opera much money and I am certain that there is not much fame and fortune to be had for performers who do them, but I am grateful, oh so grateful. My son began belting out “La donna e mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto as the tenor’s voice soared and no one glared at him. My daughter followed the female conductor’s baton and crazy hair with rapt attention. “Mommy, I want to do that!” she whispered. 

So here’s a shout out to all of those people who work hard to make the arts come alive for kids. You all make a difference.

A Conversation

Girl sitting on a driftwood stump at a lake
“Mommy, Caden was telling me some stuff about Pluto…” She started to list some facts that were blatantly incorrect.

“Baby, you know that isn’t right. Remember learning about Pluto at the planetarium in Chicago?”

“But Caden said…”

“You don’t have to believe everything Caden says.”

“Yes I do. I’m his girlfriend!”

She is five years old, people. 

Kindergarten.

“Caden? Who is this Caden fellow anyway?”

“He’s in first grade. He’s my boyfriend but we can’t get married until we are twenty-eight. That’s the rule.”

She’s dating an older man?!??!?! Still, 28 is a reasonable age…

“Why do you even have a boyfriend? You can have friends that are boys but you don’t need to have a boyfriend.”

“Yes I do! Everyone at school has a boyfriend or a girlfriend.”

Call me old and outdated, but I sure don’t remember that sort of thing going on in grade school back in my day. And who the hell told her she has to be stupid to earn some guy’s affection?

I remember my mother pulling me aside in high school, telling me I needed to dial it back a bit. “Boys don’t like girls who are smarter than they are.”

Maybe that’s true.

Maybe that’s been my problem all along.

But you know what? 

Bite me. 

My daughter knows that Pluto has a different orbit than the other “real” planets. It is smaller than Earth and is terribly cold. And you know what? It isn’t a planet because it has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

Loving someone does not mean you have to agree with their silliness. Why some people still believe this is beyond me. 

She can still “love” you, Caden, but by golly she is gonna teach you ALL about Pluto today…

Gravitational Pull 

giant ringed planets hanging from a glass ceiling at Adler Planetarium in Chicago

I like sex. 

I am a really, really big fan of sex. 

Good sex.

With the right person at the right time, an orgasm is the most deliciously exquisite thing you can ever experience.

Jane, though, asked me what I would say to my kids in 10-13 years if they come to me saying they wanted to have sex. 

Several things….

First, I really DO hope my kids feel they can share that with me when the time comes. 

Second, I hope I can be rational about my response. I will admit that I have serious, legitimate concerns about my staying calm.

Third, I hope that someday they get to experience some really great sex.

By the time they are considering sex, they will already be so sick of listening to their doctor mom talking about STDs, after I show them picture after picture after of the ravages of disease, I won’t even have to say anything more about that.

To my daughter I would say that our first time having sex as women is a very emotional act and ties us to that other person forever. The people in between? Meh. That is hit or miss. Choose wisely with this first one because you will have them in your head, and potentially your heart, forever. 

As women, we bear the brunt of childbirth, child rearing, and disease. Engaging in sex is an expression of self sacrifice… symbolically and often literally giving your life and your future to another person. It can be a beautiful thing or it can become a very painful nightmare. 

And I would also advise her that it won’t be fun, that first time. Painful physically, yes, but not fun. She likely will not achieve orgasm, because let’s face it, boys in that demographic are piss poor lovers. She will have way more fun if she waits.

To my son, I would say many of the same things I would say above. I would also tell him that love is not sex and sex is not love. Some girls do things they will regret because they are desperate for love and they don’t understand the difference between the two themselves. 

I would tell him that controlling himself and his desires and urges is a key part of becoming a man. Control is sexy. Strength of character is sexy, sexier even than physical strength. 

I would make sure they both know how to protect themselves properly from pregnancy and disease. Then I would step back and pray that what I have taught them over the years sticks with them and guides them to good choices.

Kicked Out

 Mother tombstone 
“Mommy, when I am grown up, I am going to live in this house.” She smiled up at me brightly, beaming.

Flashes of grown children not leaving the nest flashed before my eyes. The palpitations started… 

Dizziness… 

Shortness of breath….

“No you’re not!” I replied, firmly. 

“Yes, I am,” she answered calmly. “I am going to be the mommy and I will have my own babies here.”

Confused, I asked, “Where am I living, then? Here?”

“Oh, no mommy. You will have a special apartment somewhere. You’ll live there.” Another sweet smile as she danced off to play with her dolls.

I guess * special apartments* are what they are calling nursing homes now, huh? 

One of the things about focusing on your career first and having kids so much later in life than everyone you grew up with is that you find yourself extra sensitive to this sort of thing…. I will probably be using a walker at their high school graduation as it is.

I think I am doomed.

She already has plans for taking over my clinic. I guess my home was a natural next step.

Well, Then…. 

IMG_3179

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.” Sir Tim Hunt, Nobel prize winner

And then he resigned from his university post.

Aside from inciting some very amusing memes, I am not sure how I feel about the whole thing. 

Thoughts? 

Dressing Down 

IMG_3419

“Mommy, why is that man not wearing a shirt?!?!??!”

You cannot hear the shock and disdain in my daughter’s voice from the typing here, but believe me, it was there laid on thick and heavy.

“Because he is mowing and he’s hot.” We were walking in the neighborhood before the next round of storms hit. I prayed it would end there.

She pondered that fact for a moment. “Why don’t girls take their shirts off?”

“Girls have boobs. Boys don’t.” I braced myself for the question I was certain would follow, why boys did not have boobs…

“But that man has boobs, mommy.” 

And so he did. 

“Those don’t count,” I whispered.

She formed a silent “O”, as if my response made perfect sense and happily skipped back home, pausing only to jump into all of the puddles in the road on the way.

That evening, watching the old Super Friends cartoon series:

“Mommy, who is that?”

“Wonder Woman! She sure is an amazing super hero, isn’t she?” I was secretly gratified that she could see it was not an exclusive boys club.

“Why isn’t she wearing pants?”

“Those are just really short shorts.”

“No, mommy. Those are panties. You don’t let me wear only panties.” 

It was an accusation.

“It’s a swimsuit,” I offered.

She shook her head. 

“A ballet leotard?” 

She shook her head again.

“A skirt would get in the way of her high kicks when she is taking out bad guys?”

She formed the silent “O” of understanding and nodded her head solemnly. 

“I can kick bad guys.”

“Sure you can sweetie.”

“So…. can I wear only panties?”

Picture Perfect (Reprise)

  

My mother has been steadfastly opposed to mammograms since the beginning of time. Not because she thinks they are useless. Or dangerous. Or because the guidelines are changing. She has refused to get one because I told her to get one.

So, I think about this with my own daughter.

She is absolutely going to roll her eyes over how stubborn I am. She will tell everyone who will listen how I ruined her life or at least how I make it sooooo much more difficult for her. And I imagine, right or wrong, that I will be proud of that fact on some level.

Are we meant to have perfect lives and perfect relationships with our parents? I have maintained that anyone who says that they do is either lying or delusional. We have to be screwed up by our parents to some degree. It makes us interesting.

Which gives some new perspective into my own mother’s crazy decisions. She is loony as hell and that’s OK because it is supposed to be that way.

I thought I would repost this from last year as a follow up to my post yesterday. I think about the things my mother said and did and how they affected me and I worry about my effect on my own daughter quite a bit. Truth is, I cannot be perfect. I cannot save her from all trauma at my own hands. But I can make sure she knows that I love her above all else and pray everything else sorts itself out like it did for me.

Believing

IMG_2121

“Anyone can tell a woman she is beautiful. Making her believe it? There is where the genius lies.” Said by Aramis in The Musketeers. That resonated with me and I have been turning it around in my mind for a few days.

How do you feel about yourself right now?

Tell me about a time someone made you feel beautiful.

Tell me about a time you made someone else feel beautiful. How did you do it!

What makes someone beautiful to you?

Protection

IMG_5387

What would you tell your daughter if she wanted to be a neurosurgeon? 

My daughter had a birthday recently. At her party one of her friends, whom I had just met, invited her over to her house to play. 

I knew someday soon this would come but I am not ready!

As a kid my parents would not allow me to go over to friend’s houses except on rare occasions and I was never, ever allowed to spend the night. They were absolutely terrified that I would end up molested by someone.

So I found myself telling her little friend and her friend’s mom, who both seemed perfectly nice, that we would make plans to do that sometime.

But I lied. 

I don’t want to make plans for that because I am afraid. 

The odds are 1 in 4 for girls, right?

Don’t sit in your uncle’s lap….

I want to protect her from things that might hurt her.

So what if she wants to pursue medicine? 

Medicine will hurt her.

Approximately 400 physicians per year commit suicide, leaving over a million patients without a physician. An entire medical school is wiped out every year. And those are just the ones we know about. In fact, physicians in the US are more likely to kill themselves than any other profession. While male physicians are 70 percent more likely to die from suicide than other men, female physicians are 250-400 percent more likely to kill themselves than other women. The younger you are, the worse it is. 

I will be honest that there have been times in the past that I have wanted to fall asleep and not wake up. Not that I had a plan per se, but I knew how to do it…

Therein lies the problem. 

I know how to do it.

Chasing her dreams. I owe her the freedom to chase hers because I have mine. Yet medicine is changing. In just ten years I have watched it happen. I was told that they worked for me when I started. Now I am reminded daily that I work for them, that I am replaceable. That I am only as good as their protocol.

I want to protect her from all of the hurt I have seen and felt. Isn’t that what we all hope for, especially for our daughters?

I cannot hold on to her forever. I know this. But knowing does not make it any easier. Letting go is not for the faint of heart.

Thank you Jane, from Out of The Rabbit Hole, for asking the question! She asked a few more, so stay tuned…

(This week I will also be participating in the Black and White Challenge from Cordelia’s Mom. This is Day #1. In theory I am supposed to nominate someone. In truth, I am not sure who I want to torture.  So…. Since this is starting with Jane’s question, I nominate her!)