2018 Women’s March

We went to the anniversary Women’s March in St. Louis last Saturday!


Now, if I’m being honest, we weren’t sure we were going to go. It wasn’t something that we planned our day around. But when we realized everyone was awake and in a good mood (and actually needed an outing to stay sane that day), we decided to stop by the Women’s March in St. Louis. We missed the actually marching (my favorite part from 2017! The energy and enthusiasm was such a salve after the sadness of the inauguration day before). But we arrived for some of the speakers and heard some passionate, badass people talk about badass things.

Last year, A was small enough that he just sat in his carrier and looked around. This year, A is wiggly and energetic enough that we let him get out and walk around. There were no questions of safety for A, which some parents may worry about when deciding to attend a big event like this. At one point, we were close to a very loud speaker and  concerned about hurting his ears, but we just moved away and that was that. It’s my mentality that the child’s immediate physical needs come before the rally/protest (which is a privileged perspective but one I hold): when A needed to wiggle or eat, that’s what we prioritized. Last year, when he needed to nap and wasn’t falling asleep in the carrier, I left the rally so that he could nap. I think that mentality—of prioritizing your kid’s physical needs—can make events seem less intimidating to parents who are hesitant to go.

It was a great experience for A overall. He clapped when others clapped. Watched dogs and looked at colorful signs. Will he remember that he went to the 2018 Women’s March? No. Did he understand any of the political messages? No. But being at an event like that normalizes activism and protest from an early age. Honestly, the introvert in me never really wants to rallies, but, as a parent, I want A to know that rallies and protests are a healthy, essential part of democracy.

Happy wiping!


Storytime and White Feminism: Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz

Last summer, I bought A the book, Feminist Baby, from my local book store. Apart from its obvious appeal (feminism, lol), it is a cute and funny book that A has grown to love. He calls it the ‘baby’ book: he holds it out and says ‘baby! baby! baby!’ insistently when he wants to read it. He particularly loves the page when the baby protagonist refuses to wear pants, because he gets to say ‘popo’ (‘butt’ in Turkish), which always makes us giggle. The baby protagonist does playful feminist things like picking out her own clothes and being a rock star. It’s cute.

During the 758th reading of the book (*approximately, I can’t be sure), I realized something though. Feminist Baby really is the epitome of White feminism. Just as an FYI, white feminism is NOT something we want. It is representative of a feminist ‘center’ that excludes women of color and gender-queer or gender non-conforming folks. The opposite of White feminist is an intersectional feminist, which is what we are always striving to be. I KNOW I’ve failed in many ways to be intersectional in my feminism (for example, it taking 758 readings of this book to understand it…), but it’s something I work on and will continue to work on.

BACK TO THE BOOK: The baby protagonist either plays with dolls or cars, either likes pink or blue. These juxtapositions of stereotypically feminine or masculine things are…fine, I guess. Obviously, I want A to know that anyone can be interested in any type of toy. But it reinforces the binary thinking about gender (i.e., that gender is either boy OR girl). In reality, gender can be somewhere in between or somewhere completely off the spectrum. This boy/girl juxtaposition is just a little basic, IMO. Plus, the illustrations feature a White girl baby (the author makes it clear with the ‘she’ pronouns that the baby is a girl). People other than white women can be feminists, too! I would love to see follow up books to this (also called ‘Feminist Baby’) showing all of the shapes, genders, colors, and sizes of feminist babies.

Oh, and she always wears a bow! That’s a pet peeve of mine. If you want to make the protagonist a cisgender girl, that’s totally cool…but a girl isn’t defined by whether or not she’s wearing a bow in her hair. It normalizes and centralizes masculinity—like people assume a completely naked baby (sans bow) is a boy.

All of this commentary aside, I don’t think the book is a complete dud, but it needs to be used a jumping board into these topics. It can’t stand on its own without age-appropriate complications.

I should’ve known when I saw the publisher was Disney. This is Disney-approved, capitalist feminism—not the radical, intersectional feminism that should be and must be the future [and therefore inherent in how we approach child-rearing].

Sick days and privilege

Being sick is a privilege. Obviously, it suuckkkkssss, but it’s also a privilege. Being able to say—‘My baby needs to stay home today. He’s not feeling well, so I guess I need to take a day off of work’—or to say—‘I just really need a day at home to get 100% better’—is a luxury that a lot of people don’t have. This week, A didn’t go to school on Monday or Tuesday because of a fever. My husband’s parents took care of him most of the time. We are privileged that they have jobs that are flexible—that taking a day off isn’t catastrophic to their monthly budgets. This is one of the first times that I haven’t been the one to stay home with A when he was sick.

I also have a job that, when necessary, I can take a day off without penalty. Since starting medical residency, my husband has never stayed home with A because he was sick–but he also has never taken a sick day himself. If you aren’t a parent yet, I’m sure you are thinking ‘my partner and I would never do that! We’ll split it fifty-fifty.’ I was one of those parents-to-be once. The way our careers and jobs look right now, though, I do 75% of the childcare and 100% of the staying-home-with-sick-kids (well, except this week when I called in grandparent reinforcements). This is a gender dynamic that I wish A didn’t witness on a daily basis, but it’s the reality. My husband is as engaged as possible in childcare during the hours that he is at home, which is what is important.

I’m not sure this is a helpful exercise for anyone, but I caught what A has so my mind is a bit foggy, to say the least. It’s definitely not particularly revelatory. But it makes all of those unconscious thoughts (the ones that you kinda know but have never really thought about explicitly) conscious. That’s an important exercise when thinking about privilege. I’m not sure what my call to action is for this blog post. But being a parent with privilege, I need to engage in regular reflections about mundane-ass shit like sick days and how my privilege shapes my capacity to parent.

Parenting book round-up

Happy new year to all! I’ve been keeping up with my parenting resolutions for 2018 (#3 seems to be the trickiest, #4 the most exhausting—trying to get a toddler to clean up at the end of a long day is hardddd).

My second resolution—talking to my husband about my blog posts in an effort to be reflective as a parenting team—has gone great (since I’m one post into the year, I’m at a 100% completion for this resolution, lolz). Intimately tied to it, though, is the importance overall of treating parenting as something that is learned. Too often, we thinking of parenting as something that just happens naturally. We should all just KNOW how to parent well, right?

Obviously (at least I hope obviously), this isn’t the perspective I take. Parenting is a journey and an education in and of itself. It can be done unconsciously but, in my opinion, is improved exponentially when we take moments to reflect and learn and grow as parents. Books are a great way to do that, so I wanted to take stock of what parenting books I have read and how that might be shaping my approach to parenting. In doing so, my goal is to identify gaps in my book list and make a goal to fill them. So, without further ado, all of the books that I’ve ever read about parenting (that I can remember…):

  1. Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: Does this count as a parenting book? I’m including it in part because without it my list would be embarrassingly short.
  2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (by Gaskin): Revered in hippie mom circles. Some of it was a little too much for me, but overall I loved the approach to childbirth. (She’s since said some controversial things about race…)
  3. Unbuttoned: Women open up about the pleasures, pains, and politics of breastfeeding (by Connolly & Sullivan): This is a collection of short essays and personal account of women’s experiences breastfeeding. It was less of a how-to guide and more of a poetic exploration of breastfeeding.
  4. Mayo Clinic’s Guide to your baby’s first year: See number 1—does this really count? Regardless, it was an empirical understanding to child development from birth to 12 months that I referred to constantly. A way to ease my anxious mind that what A was doing was totally normal.
  5. The Happiest Baby on the Block (by Karp): Canonical and it works.
  6. The Whole-Brain Child (by Seigel & Bryson): I’m re-reading this right now and have realized that a lot of my approaches to temper tantrums stem from it.

Considering this is a blog about social justice, holistically defined, it is glaringly obvious to me that none of my parenting reading has been about parenting and racial justice, gender normativity, or any other social justice-related theme. My approach in this blog (and in life) is to admit that I most certainly DO NOT have all of the right answers when it comes to parenting for social justice. I have mostly used my gut, other bloggers, and conversations with my husband to inform how I parent for social justice. I want to draw on another resource that I have: books.

After doing some research, my goal is to read at least two books in the next 3 months about parenting and social justice. After some googling, I’m struggling to find something that really speaks to me but I think I will start with:

  1. Everyday acts against Racism (by Reddy)
  2. The First R  (by van Ausdale & Feagin)

Other recommendations are absolutely welcome. See you at the library!

Happy wiping,