Archive for November, 2010

Guru Fever

Carla: It goes against every fiber of my being to too my own horn, but I am pretty excited about this opportunity that’s in front of me and I wanted to tell you about it. I’ve been chosen as a top 20 finalist in Good Morning America’s Advice Guru search. The competition is fierce, and it’s rather intimidating to be competing with a woman whose books are on my bookshelf (hello Vicky Iovine!). So all of my self-doubts and insecurities are threatening to suck the joy out of this rather amazing turn of events. Still, I wanted to tell you about it because you have helped me get to this point.

I applied for this position because it seemed like a chance to keep talking about the kinds of things we deal with here at the MR. It’s a way to keep shifting people’s ideas of family, of parenting, of children, of motherhood toward something more sustainable. Whether I get that chance or not, I am incredibly grateful for this community where those conversations have been–and continue to be–so meaningful for so many people, myself included.

I don’t know much about the next steps, but for now, people are invited to comment on the profile pages of the finalists and “like” them on Facebook. If you’re so inclined, I’d love your support.

Caryn: Okay, you know how excited I am for you. I’m tempted to ask who I need to sleep with to make this happen. That’s how good a friend I am (well, almost, of course, I’d never actually do that. Totally kidding, GMA–and, my dear husband, Rafi. Love you!). But Vicki Freakin’ Iovine?!?!? She’s a hero. And yes, that’s some serious competition.

That said, she’s no Carla Barnhill. Obviously, you’re the better choice. What I think we should do at the Rev to get the ball rolling is to have Revolutionaries ASK you questions and get to hear your wisdom.

So start asking, people! And we’ll have Carla answer them here. You game, Carla? Are you paying attention, GMA?

Assuaging My Guilt?

Caryn: So after tweeting some about my irritation at Amazon for allowing what seems to be a “how to molest children” book, the kind folks at Her.Meneutics asked me to write up a post on it. So I thought about what I actually thought and wrote it. I expected–and still expect–all sorts of mixed views on this (especially since the whole post is about my own mixed views), but I would have never thought in a zillion years that it could make people attack me as a mother (I was trying to protect children, after all!). But, alas, since I am a mom, I suppose this just comes par for the course.

After making some valid points, here’s what Adam had to say about the hubbub surrounding the #Amazonfail campaign (the bolds are mine, for emphasis):

“If this makes some people feel good that they protected their children (because this was really about the mommy bloggers more than anything else) does this just assuage guilt for spending so much time online instead of playing with kids?

“I get your point about doing something even if we cannot do everything. But I wonder about how the something gets chosen. It is rarely the most important thing. It is usually something that doesn’t directly affect us. And usually it has little long term consequence. But it makes us feel better that we have done something.”

Okay. So. Fine. I agree that I didn’t end molestation as we know it. I realize I didn’t free any sex slaves or feed any starving children. The world is no less peaceful. Probably no one “came to Christ” as a result of my post. But really? He thinks that tweeters or writers simply take on things to make themselves feel good so that we don’t feel so bad for neglecting our kids? Is he implying that playing with our kids IS the most important thing? Is he saying I don’t?

And what’s this about not being directly affected by this? We’re not affected if our neighbor downloads this book?

Maybe I’m way over-reacting here (why do I even care?), but man alive. Must it always come back to this for moms?

Do men do this to one another? Does anyone EVER question a dad for getting involved in something that takes up all of 10 minutes of their time of missing out on the most important things? Poop.


Carla: Blurg. Plus, I didn’t hear about it from “mommy blogs” but from various friends–male and female alike–on Facebook. To me–and I think you point this out beautifully in your original piece–there are about 800 issues going on in this one event. Issues of censorship and legality and capitalism and the free market and social networking and communal outrage. Are those related to mommy guilt? No. Are moms human beings who feel outrage over all kinds of things that have nothing to do with motherhood? Yes.

And I also think Adam is making a false argument. Frustration, anger, outrage, activist aren’t zero-sum games. We can be upset about one thing and not another and that doesn’t invalidate either of them. And of course it makes us feel better to do something. My word! If we all waiting to act until we could make a systemic difference, nothing would ever get done. Change starts with awareness and awareness leads to action. Even if that action is a tweet or a status update, it’s going to draw attention to a problem and that’s when things get better.

Finally, the guilt trip aside, how does this issue being one that moms are worked up about make it any less important? Adam might want to consider that outraged moms have been the force behind changes in the laws about drunk driving, healthcare and other kinds of aid to poor women and children, the entire field of social work, the growing awareness of the horrors of the sex trade, even abolition. A pissed-off mom is not to be trifled with, a lesson Amazon was wise to learn sooner rather than later.

Caryn: Words to live by, Carla. Thanks for validating.

Taking Credit

Caryn: Last month, on my way to pick my 8-year-old son up from Math Team practice, a mom stopped to chat with me. She asked why I was there after school. When I said I was picking up my “mathlete,” she asked me the darnedest thing: “Is your husband good at math or something?”

Okay. So I try to be really nice to people. To be gracious. To be understanding. After all, this woman DID know that I’m a writer–a WORD person–and that it’s not a terrible guess to assume that maybe I’m not be the one with the math genes.

But still. She couldn’t have actually know that my husband was a bona-fide mathlete champ at his fancy prep school (I know…). And she didn’t ┬áin fact know that I knew a thing or two about math (at least, once upon a time).

So here’s what I answered: “Yeah. He is. But when I was in third grade, I was the class multiplication champ. So I think Henrik might get this from me.” And then I smiled, tilted my head and said I had to go.

Seriously. I’m not normally snotty. But this question really bugged me. For many reasons. One, because of the assumption that my boy’s math ability came from the MAN of the family and not me. Two, because I somehow made the leap that this woman therefore assumed Number People–not Word People–were the smart ones. And three–and this one came later–because it made me realize how obsessed I actually am with taking credit for my kids’ abilities.

Like, when that same son won a writing contest last year, I totally peacocked around about it. Totally smiled whenever someone insinuated he got MY gifts.

But this is silly–so stage-momish. While some things may get passed down, even when they’re similar, they certainly aren’t OUR gifts we’re passing on. They’re still the ones that God chose to dole out.

Of course, it’s easier to see this with my other kids, who don’t share gifts with me. My 5-year-old daughter draws like nobody’s business and comes up with all her own crazy outfits. My 3-year-old could play any variety of ball all day long. Neither of those resemble me at all. Not too much my husband (mathlete, remember?) either. Although, my dear husband will gladly show you the nudes he sketched in a college art class any time. He’s quite proud.

So whatcha think? Anybody else wrestle with taking credit? Is it okay?