On Quiet and Eating Alone

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement. –Alice Koller

I sat alone on a crowded restaurant patio. On my right, there was a couple that appeared too careful during the meal. Her blonde hair stayed still even when the wind blew. She chewed with her mouth closed and laughed inside herself because a chuckle would reveal too much. The man was trying too hard; his sports jacket and khakis didn’t make sense in ninety-degree weather. My eyes darted to my left, where I saw two men raising their beers, saying cheers, the bottles’ cling echoing in my ear. A mom sat with her four year old, the hair from the little-girl’s pigtails curving up like a smile.

I looked down at my table, where there was only one place setting, a single glass and no one sitting across from me. In my teens or early twenties, the thought of eating alone in a crowded restaurant would cause a rippling anxiety in my stomach. What would other people think? Would they feel sorry for me? How would it look? Too concerned about other people’s judgments, I strayed away from eating alone. Instead, I craved noise and the security of family and friends in my dining experience.

In the last five years, I have noticed a shift in my own personality. Silence is welcome. Too much chatter and noise makes me nervous. Technology has increased these decibel levels. Sometimes I am too connected to Facebook, my cell phone and computer, but I am unable to disconnect from it even though I know I may be missing pockets of silence.

I know I like holding on to empty space. In my kitchen, I quarantined a cabinet, deciding that I wasn’t going to fill it up with anything. Sometimes I look in that cabinet space as a reminder to honor the quiet. Acknowledging the part of my personality that gravitates toward noise sometimes prevents me from reaching the stillness and mindfulness that I need for my mental sustenance.

But as I sat in the restaurant, I know I’ve made progress. I walked into the restaurant and with confidence asked for a table of one. As I ate my salad, I savored each bite, tasting the texture of the romaine lettuce and the crunch of the croutons. I smiled as people passed me, looking at them in their eyes, not afraid of their reaction.

Another part of me realizes that I still have more to work to do. Eating alone doesn’t mean staying out of touch. Of course, my iPhone sat next to me and settled in as my lunch companion. I perused Facebook and texted a few people while I drank a sip of my water. I knew my mind failed to embrace the purity of the solitude.

I suspect I am still afraid of completely dipping into the quiet.

Rudri Bhatt Patel is a former attorney turned writer and editor. Prior to attending law school, she graduated with an M.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She is the online editor for the First Day, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, freelances for various parenting websites, and writes her personal musings on her blog, Being Rudri. She is working on a memoir that explores the Hindu culture, grief and appreciating life’s ordinary graces. 

An allergic reaction rash and our atopic journey begins

My son had eczema as a baby which became progressively worse until he was in wet-wraps all day every day. He wore bandages which covered his body from his toes to his neck for the first three or four years of his life.

When he was around 9 months old I gave him a taste of formula. He was going to be looked after by a close relative for the first time in a week or so. He hadn’t been looked after by anyone apart from his dad or I because of the amount of care needed to manage his eczema.

I had trouble expressing milk and even though he was only staying for a few hours, I wanted him to be used to the formula by the time of his visit.

The discomfort from his eczema meant we used many types of aids to help him get to sleep. A bottle before he went to bed was something we had all come to rely on and he was still only a wee babe.

I remember he put the teat in his mouth and screwed up his face. He didn’t swallow any formula apart from the few drops that were clinging to the top of the teat from when I had shaken the bottle.

I put him down for a nap and had a coffee with my mum-in-law who would be looking after my son in a week’s time. I went into check on my boy a short while later and found him on his back with vomit all over his face and clothes. He’d changed colour, his face was swollen and he was covered in bumps.

I didn’t know about allergies.

I should have called an ambulance.

I think at the time I thought that ambulances were for serious things like heart attacks or when elderly people broke their hips, not a bit of vomit. So instead I cleaned him off and we drove him to the local doctor. The doctor looked at him and suggested I wean him completely, put him straight onto cows milk and sent us home.

I can’t believe how stupid I was. I am grateful beyond words that he recovered by himself and that life as we knew it, carried on.

Of course we ignored the unsafe advice about cows milk (which we are advised here shouldn’t be given before 12 months of age).

When we next visited our own doctor and described the situation he told us of a specialist allergy team at the public hospital. He suggested we take our son to the hospital car park and give him the same formula.

We could then rush him inside when he had a reaction thereby ensuring he got the urgent care he needed while also allowing the hospital to validate the condition for themselves. In this way we would soon be connected with the specialist team.

He would ask some questions in the meantime to see if there was a way we could be referred to the team.

There was.

We soon had a letter arrive in the post advising us of an appointment with the Paediatric Immunology team at the children’s hospital.

This was the beginning of our relationship with the Immunology nurses and doctors who continue to have oversight of our son’s allergy management to this day. Over time I’ll tell you a bit more about it.

I was just conscious of not having given you any context about why I might blog about allergies. I hope this goes some way to explaining why I would be interested in sharing our experiences and learnings.

Mostly it’s because of that day when my boy had his first reaction and the many days afterwards when we struggled to work out how best to care for him. Maybe the things we’ve picked up along the way might help others in the same situation.

Just a wee postscript – no, we were never going to play russian roulette with our boy in the hospital courtyard and yes, we changed doctors.

Lisa lives in a 100 year old ramshackle wooden house which clings precariously halfway up the side of a hill in Auckland, New Zealand. Her four children and husband make the house a lot messier than Lisa would like but she likes having them around. When she’s not wondering why her children aren’t asleep Lisa can be found attempting to blog at Lifeblooming. She also muddles her way through various social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ and would love to connect with you there. Primarily so you can show her what to do.

 

Friday Favorites (September 8-12)

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Kindness and Competition: Women Can Get Along

A beautiful post sharing the trials of emotional and physical violence: Why I Stayed

Check out A Mom’s Eye View of Ferguson

Enjoy a bit of thought-provoking comedy from The Animated Woman as she shares Rocks

 

 

My Wrung Out Heart

Click – no. Click – no. Click –no.
My thumbs move faster than I can control.
“No, no, no, no, no,” I scream inside, sounding like my toddler.
It’s been a long day. I simply can’t hack another essay, another article, on how tough it is to be a mom, on how tiring it is to have young children, on how helpless and hopeless and miserable it all is.
Click – no. Click – no.
I am desperate for inspiration and for motivation. I turn on my phone, cup my hand around my glass of red wine, and after a long day of struggling to balance it all and failing miserably I want relief.
This was a day where my 2 year old had to skip his nap so I could manage two different meetings at once. This was a day where I had not one but two rejections in pursuit of my dream, all received while my 4 year old hacked his lung in to my armpit. This was a day where I had to decide between eating food and doing a conference call for my job.
I cried in the shower, wondering the point of it all. As the hot water christened my head and released my emotions the tears mingled with the soap. “I can’t do it all. I just can’t.”
And so after all of that (the crying, the letting go), I sit with my phone and the wide world of the Internet. I want to remember what is beautiful, gorgeous, and perfect about motherhood. So what is my Google search, then? Can you search for “Help Me Feel Worthy?” Is there a Google prompt for “Why Motherhood is Worth It?” Is there a site called “You are Doing Great Mama?”
Instead I open my tried & true’s. Yet it is all so desperate, so stale, and so predictable tonight.
Tell me that funny thing your kid said.
Relay that outrageous stories of peeing with a kid in the stall, of gross bodily functions you are to clean up, and throw in a flowery curse word.
Give me yet another weepy story about how no one appreciates being a mom.
It all feels the same, Internet. Hollow.
Another essay on turning 30, 40, not turning 29…on the yoga pants mamarazzi judging you…on the plight of travel with kids, dining out with kids, taking kids to the grocery store…
Click – no. Click – NO.
Because I know this already. I live this stuff. And tonight I weep over those moments.
Is there anything left that is new, raw, and untold about motherhood? Does anyone really understand what I need now?
I need a story that makes me feel warm inside without making me feel judged.
I need an essay hug that makes me feel understood.
I want to laugh but laugh over the beauty, not the shame and pain.
I want to remember that it is all worth it, my struggles are not solitary.
But I don’t want to hear about the stinging messiness or the uncontrollable exhaustion that is motherhood.
Our mom blogs are broken. Our records are on repeat.
I want an Internet savior.
Finally, frustrated and overwhelmed I firmly announce, “NO.” Click.
I turn it off. I throw my phone in to the dresser drawer and take my wine to my heavenly bed. As I sink down, I sigh. Not with relief, not with hopelessness. This is a sigh that reminds me to start the breathing I had neglected all day.
And at that moment I hear little feet patter in the room above my head. My toddler is up.
He cries out for me, he needs me. “Mommy!,” he sobs sadly.
Click—yes.
My heart clicks in. He needs the comfort that only a mother’s love can provide. That is me: I am his mother.
As I climb the steps up to his bedroom my emotions soften. In the dark I sweep him in to my arms and smell his soft, wispy hair. He buries his nose in to my neck, slams his arms against his side, and snuggles in to me as hard as he can. It is as though he wants to return to me, in to me, and be one with me.
In that precious, perfect moment I get tears. This is the essay I needed tonight.
I clicked through dozens of blogs and websites but in that one moment, with the lights off, when my eyes are rendered useless, I get what I need. That one breath is worth every second of argument, pain, hurt, frustration, and sobbing. Blogs are not my savior. My children are.

Bio: Allison Carter is a mom still trying to figure it out, and chronicling the highs & lows at Go Dansker Mom. You can also find her on Twitter.

Norma

norma

When my sister was a little girl, she had a favorite cashier at the grocery store. Her name was Norma. I wish I knew more about Norma but I don’t.

Norma was important to my mother because she was black. My mother decided to buy my sister a black doll and I think they named the doll “Norma,” after my sister’s friend at the grocery shop. I have no photo record or memory myself of the doll. Both “Normas” have become abstractions, family lore. The notion my mother had, however, that color-blindness begins at home, stayed concrete these many years.

My allegiance to my mother’s traditions has grown fierce as my mother has aged. I have always held certain aspects of my parents’ view of the world as universal truths. Now, as the hour has grown too late too soon for my mother, who suffers from dementia, I am ever more loyal to the memories I have from my own upbringing.

When my daughter was six months I bought her a first doll. There was a small basket of “miniature” newborn dolls at the toy shop: They came in two colors. White and, well, if not black, then certainly not white. I think they were meant to be African-American. I seized on one of the dark dolls. Someone had to remember Norma.

Dolls are of little interest to six-month-olds, so the baby lay fallow for a while.

When my daughter was 18 months, we took her on a trip to Los Angeles. She had a new backpack and was eager to put things in it for our trip.
And so the baby made her first cross-country voyage. Perhaps in being something familiar or perhaps simply because it was now “time” for dolls, the baby became a constant companion on our trip.

When we ignored the signs and waded in the fountain at The Pacific Design Center, we were soundly scolded by the security guard. The baby doll was knee deep in culpability along with the rest of the family. When we walked down the street in my father’s West Hollywood neighborhood, the baby doll’s tiny hand was offered to passing dogs, and when we went to Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard, the baby doll went traveled the carpeted stairway to investigate the books on sale. When my daughter climbed on the stage of one of the many nightclubs that line Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, the little baby doll was propped up on the pole intended for dance of a more mature nature than my daughter was aware of. She danced to Madonna and enjoyed the attention of numerous cooing men dressed for a Mardi Gras celebration. They patted her head and asked what her favorite song was and if they could give her little plastic maracas to commemorate the holiday. We still have them.

For Mother’s Day, my husband took my daughter out for a couple of hours so I could do whatever I liked. I went back to Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard. As every parent of a young child knows, lingering is a rare pleasure.

My cell phone rang. My husband wasted no time with pleasantries. If a voice can be ashen, his was. “Before you get upset, please know I realize the situation is serious.” Pause. “We can’t seem to find…and yes, we have re-traced our steps, every fountain on Santa Monica Boulevard has been drained…the baby doll is not anywhere.” He took a breath. “I lost her. Stay with me, he continued. Rather than trying to find, um, a replacement, there was this car that she really liked in the playground today. It was a tiny red matchbox car…”

I got upset. “You expect to replace a baby doll with a little red car? WHAT is the matter with you?” I couldn’t conceive of how we would get through bath time or bed time or any time without the baby doll.

“Hear me out,” he said. “We’ve discussed it. The baby took an earlier flight to New York. She’ll be waiting for us there. We are at the drugstore and we found the exact car she liked on the playground. The car is making her happy. I think this will work. We fly back tomorrow and I will meet the baby on the street and bring her to our apartment.”

I knew from how he had chosen his last words that at that moment our daughter was listening to every word her father said. I sighed. How could he lose the baby doll?

When we returned to New York, my husband got up early the next morning and made a trip to meet the baby. (He met her at the toy store at ten am, the minute the shop opened.) I’ll never forget his triumphant stroll down our block, holding a red umbrella against the spring rain, while my daughter and I watched from the shelter of our building’s awning.

“Hey,” he said, as he approached. “Look who I found having tea around the corner?” Oh, how I fell in love with the suave savior holding a tiny baby doll behind his back!

A cautious smile spread across our child’s face before the big reveal. And then she was reunited with her baby. What cements devotion more than absence?

Two months later, I noticed a new basket at our local toy shop. It was filled with “Mini-Corolles.” Corolle dolls are an extravagance. They are French. They are vanilla-scented. The biggest selling point was that among the assorted nationalities and races, I spotted a black Corolle. A very black doll. And she was beautiful. Her limbs could be placed so gracefully in their beanbag pliability.

I brought her home. I tried to name her “Norma” in honor of my mother’s choice so many years ago. The name was rejected. My daughter called her Big Baby because she was a bit bigger than the other baby doll. The original became “Little Baby.” My daughter dragged both dolls all over the city. I was precious about the French doll for a while. I begged my child not to remove her beautiful pink jumper. I pleaded that she not to put her in the dirt. What if the vanilla scent didn’t survive? I’ve since lost the compulsion to keep toys clean. A child’s toys are by definition scuffed and worn and have lain in places we’d rather not think about, like the insides of trash cans and city sidewalks on humid summer days.

I don’t think I am changing the world by buying a doll of a different race. When we moved to our block we discovered another family there with a baby one week younger. The mother worked for the NAACP and spent long days getting people who had wasted away in prison for offenses in their youth off of death row. She is a lovely and funny woman and I had been afraid of her seeing my child’s black doll as an embarrassing or empty gesture. Instead, she seized on it gleefully and bought the same one for her child. I took this as a seal of approval from a very high place indeed.

It is mostly for my mother. My mother played “Free to Be You and Me” for us and survived a bleak childhood to become a much gentler mother than the one life allotted her. She had also endured some painful anti-Semitism in her youth. She was excluded from the Manhattan Skating Club because she was a Jew. She held a card from the Brooklyn Skating Club in order to be able to perform at Rockefeller Center. My mother loved South Pacific and sang it all the time.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

No one has ever asked us about the two dolls who occupy my child’s bed and heart. I often wonder if people wonder. Do they think: There are two liberals who aren’t doing much but buying a doll? It is amazing how frightened we can become of what people might think. It is amazing how wrong we usually are.

My mother doesn’t remember Norma or buying my sister the black doll. Yet when she visits, she is always delighted to see that her granddaughter’s babies are black. “Oh, I see you are raising her well!” she says. Because of my mother’s dementia, she says this every time she visits; indeed, whenever the dolls catch her eye. She has lost even much long term memory now, but her values remain. I’m grateful for that.

So “Big Baby” and “Little Baby” belong to my daughter, but also to my mother. And to Norma, wherever she is.

Leslie Kendall Dye is an actor, dancer, former nanny and now a mother of one two year old. She lives with her husband and daughter in NYC and has written for Mamalode, Nanny Magazine and others. Find her at: Hungry Little Animal or at Twitter

Friday Favorites (September 1-5)

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Baddest Mother Ever talks about our best…and how our best can change.

Looking for a cool project for the kids? The Kitchn tells us how to plant succulents in eggshells.

Education and standardized testing is a hot-button issue. One professor shares the flaws in this system and the testing company responds!

How important is play to your children? Just as important as it is for you! Just ask MamaBird.

Here’s When I’m a Fan of Old-time Gender Roles

Retro-Thinker-Mom-Image-GraphicsFairy-543x1024One evening last summer, my husband was teaching a late class and didn’t get home until after ten. After kissing me hello and shedding his computer bag, he poured himself some wine and headed over to the sofa, untucking his shirt, getting ready to relax after a long day.

“Before you get too comfortable,” I said in a tone that was part beseeching, part apologetic,“there’s something I need you to take care of outside.”

Scott stopped and looked at me. “There’s something dead in the backyard, isn’t there?”

The man knows me so well.

The “something dead” was a squirrel, located (ironically enough) right underneath the St. Francis shrine on the side fence. I’d noticed it earlier that day, when I was out watering flowers with my son Matthew. Not wanting to get too close, I’d peered at it from a very safe distance. It was difficult, at several feet removed, to tell whether this squirrel was whole or partial, but the tail was unmistakable. Through great artfulness and strategy, I managed to get Matthew out of the yard before he noticed it, but it had been looming in my mind all day.

It’s not that I was mourning the little critter. Beatrix Potter notwithstanding, I don’t have a particular fondness for squirrels, who seem inordinately fond of our yard. We have a very tall palm tree, and the squirrels love to nest high in the dead hanging fronds; it’s basically like a luxury penthouse for rodents. Occasionally they climb down, chasing each other around the fence and eating my yellow rosebuds (this.is.war.) and just generally being a pain in the bum. I see all this from my kitchen window, which looks right out onto the tree.

Once, in fact, I was standing at the sink when I saw two squirrels venture out from the fronds and move partway down the trunk, where they stopped. One of them then proceeded to move toward the other in a way that left no doubt as to his amorous intentions. I immediately threw open the backdoor with a great clatter, scaring them away. It’s not like I relish the role of rodent morality police, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to just stand by and allow more squirrels to come into being. In fact, when I’ve seen the local homeless tabby cat look with alert longing at the squirrels as they scamper down the trunk, I’ll admit that my usual pacifism is tempered by the thought, Well, that would be a nice way to keep the population down.

But when confronted with evidence of the cat’s success at the base of the palm tree, I quailed. (Actually, maybe it wasn’t the cat’s doing. Maybe the squirrel simply fell. Or was he pushed?)

At any rate, this unfortunately meant that I had to keep the boys out of the backyard all day, reneging on my prior suggestion that we do an afternoon sprinkler party. Call me a wuss, but I didn’t want them to be confronted with such stark evidence of the circle of life. And there was no way I was going to pick it up myself.

And you know what? I’m totally fine with admitting that. Over the course of my life I have done many gutsy things. I have gone to live alone in a foreign country and have taught high school and have done other things that have made people say, “Wow, you must be really brave.” So if I have can’t stomach removing a dead squirrel, I’m okay with that; in general, I think I’ve proved my courage. And though I am normally not one to fall back on old-timey gender stereotypes, in this one area I can make June Cleaver look like Gloria Steinem. The sun rises in the east, and men get to handle the vermin. (And, yes, I always say thank you.)

Bless his heart, Scott didn’t roll his eyes or push back or say, “No, you do it.” Instead, he sighed ever so slightly and asked a few questions (what? where? etc.) and took a flashlight to go investigate. He came back in and said, “Yeah, I saw it. I’m going to relax for a bit, and I’ll get it later.”

He watched TV and unwound for about half an hour, during which time I started to fear that maybe he’d forgotten. Then finally he said, “Okay. I’ll go take care of it.” I channeled my best Bette Midler and sang, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” as he resolutely and generously headed out to do the unmentionable.

I think he already knows, and if he doesn’t, he does read my articles. Honey: you truly are my hero. One of these days, I just might greet you at the front door with your paper and slippers.

Ginny Kubitz Moyer is an English teacher and the author of the book Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and thirty thousand Legos. She blogs about her messy, mostly-mindful life at Random Acts of Momminess.

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

50 shades of don’t bother – why I don’t like the books and why I won’t see the movie

Fact: I do not remember a time when I didn’t love to read. I like a wide variety of books and I’ll often ask others for recommendations on what to read. Someone told me “if you liked the Twilight books, you will like 50 Shades”. I wish I could remember who said that so they could get a well-earned thump on the noggin.

Fact: I am not a book critic nor am I very literary. My favorite author is Danielle Steele and I just admitted to liking Twilight. Team Edward all the way, baby, in case you wondered.
The hype surrounding the initial release of the book has died down but as the release of the movie gets closer there is more chatter about 50 Shades and the perpetually insatiable dysfunctional guy with mommy issues that we all know and love as Christian Grey.

I’ll give my thoughts on this work of “Fan Fiction” and yes, girls, it is Twilight Fan Fiction. Let me recap just in case anyone has been living under a rock and doesn’t know what I’m talking about:
50 Shades was written by E.L. James, who didn’t think the Twilight series had enough sex. I find it creepy that someone read a book about high school students (granted, one had been 17 for a really long time) and thought there needed to be more sex, but there you have it.

There are 3 books in this painful (pun intended) series. Set in Seattle, the protagonist is Anastasia Steele who closely resembles Isabella Swan: plain, awkward, clumsy, neurotic, has a childlike mother who isn’t quite treated as an adult and close to her dark skinned platonic male friend Jacob Jose. Sounding familiar?

Our heroine meets smokin’ hot, emotionally distant Christian Grey in a situation that is so totally out there I can’t even be bothered to comment on it. He is inexplicably drawn to her but pushes her away at the same time. He doesn’t like to be touched and is a textbook commitmentphobe with what anyone who can pronounce the word “Sye-coll-oh-gee” can recognize as abandonment issues.

Disclaimer Time: I didn’t finish the series. I read the first 2 books and somewhere during the first chapter of the third book, I asked myself “why the hell am I reading this crap” and clicked exit.
Once Edward decided that he had to have Bella (oops), he presented her with a detailed contract that specified how she’d be his on-call sex toy for shenanigans mostly taking place in his “red room of pain”. Totally not legally binding (anyone who ever watched JAG or LA Law should be able to figure this out) but who cares about details when you are sucked in to detailed descriptions about Christian’s unruly copper colored hair (again, sound familiar?) Bella Anastasia hemmed, hawed and fretted over that contract like it was the Magna Carta. To say Christian Grey likes a side order of freaky is like saying Matthew McConaughey is pleasant looking.

Despite the fact that Edward Christian wants a regular romp devoid of emotion, these two predictably fall in love and get married. Shocking. Although his desire to control her every move freaks Anastasia out (as most things do) their weird courtship moves at lightning speed. They were on their honeymoon when I decided I’d had enough. I am assuming they lived happily (and freakily) ever after but if there was some kind of plot twist, I’m in blissful ignorance.

Why I don’t like this book:
1. Double Standard: This book is labeled “mommy porn”. The minivan driving forty-something rocking the high waisted capris and white Keds is reading a detailed account of BDSM sex while sipping her latte at soccer practice. And that’s okay because “mommy porn” sounds harmless? We chuckle over the idea that our fictional soccer mom is reading erotica but turn the tables. If a forty something year old dude rocking carpenter jeans and a comb over was reading “daddy porn” in the same situation, we’d be giving him the stank eye and getting our kids the hell out of there. Am I right?
Does calling it “mommy porn” make it less pornographic? Is it more socially acceptable for women to admit to enjoying porn if they have their own, more benign sounding category? What’s the difference?

2. It’s not a healthy book for young women: I have seen so many posts and tweets about “how I long to find a man like Christian Grey” and “my boyfriends’ great, but he’s no Christian Grey”. Why is this desirable? Why are we romanticizing fetishes and control? Christian uses coercion and threats to make Bella Anastasia do his bidding. He chooses her clothes and monitors her social schedule. While Anastasia lamely expresses the level of control “freaks her out”, she happily lets him buy her all kinds of expensive crap. She finds it both exciting and distressing when he whispers threats about “really making it hurt” when she dares to do something against the almighty Christian Grey’s wishes.

3. The book is poorly written. I am not the grammar police. I am probably not even that great of a writer, but there is something decidedly un-sexy about a sex scene that reads as if it were written by a seventh grader.

The author is from England. The books are set in Washington. I am not sure how her British-isms didn’t get tossed out in the editing, but there are some snippets I doubt that I’d understand if I didn’t have the advantage of hearing people speak British English daily. And there is way (way, way, way) too liberal use of the word “jeez”. Jeez.

I can overlook a few run-on sentences but the author is definitely rocking some poor writing. I find little about this book that is in the ballpark of realistic. The frequency at which sex occurs in this book is a joke. 5+ times a day, every single day? I’m just not stepping in what you’re throwing down, E.L. Picture bunnies on Viagra. And maybe some blue meth. I think your guy parts would fall off if you do it that much. But that’s just me…if it’s normal to do it that much, please no one tell my husband.

In all seriousness, the fact that young women find this lack of autonomy desirable is discouraging. I totally get the draw of having a guy buy you presents when you fret about things not going your way. Having an oh-so-discreet live in maid to wash your unmentionables and cook you breakfast after a night of debauchery? Well, who wouldn’t like that? But finding lack of control over your decision making sexy, just because the guy is hot and rich? I find that sad.

Do we want our daughters to read this kind of stuff and idealize this excuse for a relationship? Do we want to raise strong, independent women who control their own future or sniveling sea sponges who fear making a decision without the stamp of approval of a clown who poofed out of nowhere and declared himself her “master”? Blech!

My personal thoughts – and yes, I know my mom and daughter read my blog. Mom, Sissy, you might want to skip this part. I feel it is wrong for me to get excited by porn (any porn, and yes, 50 Shades is porn) and then be intimate with my husband. It takes my focus off of where it should be during that moment (and it only should be on my husband). For us to do the stuff that married people do because I’m titillated by reading about some college student getting beat with a whip…well…I am just going to be the party pooper and say “that’s not cool”.

I know what’s right for me. It’s not my place to tell you you’re wrong if you see it differently. If you like a good dirty book, more power to you. But look elsewhere for a good dirty book because I don’t think this is one. My convictions aside, I think this book just sucks.

If getting lost in the tale of the BSDM antics of an insecure college girl and a control freak with deep seated mommy issues sounds like a good way to spend a couple of lazy afternoons (trust me, people, this is a fast & easy read), rock on.

If you are not so inclined, I’ve pretty much written down the plot, so you don’t have to trouble yourselves with reading it from scratch. You’re welcome.

Jill Robbins writes about post adoption life and random mom topics at Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. She enjoys running, dry wine and dry humor, and Lily Pulitzer (because it hides all the crap her kids spill). Her most recent accomplishment is learning to tweet. Her mother is very proud. Her next project is an anthology of adoption stories titled But They Are My Own – Tales from the Checkout Line, which you can read as soon as she snags a publisher. You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday Favorites (August 25-29)

fridayfavorites

Mark Manson shares a wonderful look at love.

Is this what women want? Doyin Richards give his side.

An interesting look at aging gracefully

Brie Gowen explains why her homeschool kid is not a weirdo.

Jana talks about a Collector of People

Don’t forget to consider submitting for our #31days31voices celebration coming in October!

Ebb and Flow

I drove down the interstate and saw the morning sun’s rays streaming to the earth. They drew me into a warm hug, and the feeling of wholeness, the understanding that the intricate gears of life really are working for my higher good overwhelmed me.

It’s what I needed to remember; it’s exactly why I headed to ocean’s edge that morning.

Sometimes I want to smudge a few memories, erase parts or wholes of what have become the colorful canvas of my past even though I try to remember they have all lead me to this very place. But recently I was confronted with a sensitive and very important situation, and I was able to witness how important and integral all of those experiences are.

I approached the boardwalk, anxious for the healing way the waves have about them. The ebb and flow that mimics life, the methodic and expected dance that reveals the sand as ever changed from before the rush of water seemed to have drowned it. My run that day was slow and easy at first and then speed work intervals: two minutes of sprinting, and one of recovery. Like the waves and the sand, the speed attempted to destroy me, to erode me, but in those recovery minutes, I resurfaced renewed and stronger. Maybe microscopically at first, maybe with strength that is yet to be seen in its fullness, but infinitely better for experiencing a painful edge.

I’ve observed before that life tends to come in these two to one intervals, in these waves of anxiousness and relief, in an ebb and flow of joy and despair. And in those recent moments of life’s joy and despair, in the intense speed work followed by easy running, so many things that have ever happened in my life all came rushing in on me in a powerful way. There wasn’t one particular memory or situation that contributed directly to this experience, but I could see so clearly how they have all worked synergistically to lead me here.

Within that gift of clarity, life has never felt so alive and incandescent. So perfectly informing me that I am on the right path and that if I’m open to it, life is a spiritual practice. Every run, every exhale, and every sharp inhale; the smiles and tears, the moments of disconnecting and connecting to those we love; a sip of a cold beer, the first scent of hot coffee in those bleary-eyed first morning moments is a prayer, a meditation. That within the crashing waves, in those moments of silent withdrawal into the great unknown, there is a fragment of awareness, a chance to bask in peace and wisdom.

 

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