Accomplishing my blogging goal!

I did it! One year ago, on my son’s first birthday, I set a goal for myself: I would write one blog post a week for the next year. I would focus on how mundane parenting moments can be used to promote social justice. I strayed a little from that original mission: instead of just focusing on the mundane moments (like diaper changes and bedtimes), I also included so big, important parenting moments like choosing a name and giving birth. Regardless, this goal forced me to take 30-60 minutes a week to sit and think consciously and write critically about parenting with privilege. I made it a blog, because the public nature of blogs held me accountable to my goal. My parenting journey is uniquely privileged, so I don’t claim to speak to every parent out there. There are definitely moments during this blog process where I felt insecure—like I wasn’t digging deep enough or assessing myself critically enough. There are other moments that I’m proud of—like when I opened up about my miscarriages or committed our family to individual reparations.

If I’m being totally transparent, one of the reasons I started this blog is because I was in a really low point in my professional life. I was in the middle of writing a dissertation, feeling a little bit lost and hopeless. And I found myself more and more happy when I was actively engaging in parenting moments. But so much of my identity as a privileged person who cares about social justice was wrapped up in my professional identity. So, when I thought about changing my priorities from career to family, I was worried I would lose that identity of someone who cares about social justice. I started this blog as a thought experiment to see how I could maintain that identity and prioritize parenting. In the last year, I’ve realized that I still love my career (and that a dissertation is a short phase of a career in research), so the identity threat no longer persists. But my absolute love and respect for caregiving and parenting persists.

Throughout this year, I discovered I loved parenting and thinking about parenting more than I thought I could. One of the blog posts that I am most proud of is about the value of caregiving. Not necessarily because its particularly well-written, but because I believe it so strongly. I’ve gotten a bit soap-box about the issue honestly. I started off this blog by asking, Can wiping butts be woke? And I think I’ve discovered that yes, it absolutely can be. Caregiving itself (including butt wiping) is radical and when you add on top of that certain mentalities and practices, wiping shit off your kids butt can be an act of social justice.

Thank you so much to all the individuals who have checked in with the blog every once and a while throughout the last year. Though ultimately, I am writing this blog for myself and my family, knowing there were at least a few of you reading kept me accountable and made me want to do my best. I’m not quite sure how I will move forward with this blog. My professional life will be very busy starting in August, so I am hesitant to commit to weekly blog posts for the next year. I encourage you to sign up with your email in the sidebar, so that when I post (perhaps biweekly, perhaps sporadically) over the next year, the blog post will be emailed directly to your inbox. This anniversary post isn’t my last sign-off (I might even post next week! The mystery is what will make this fun…), but it does mark me accomplishing my goal of blogging for one year. And that feels great!

Thanks so much, and happy wiping–


Terrible, Terrible Twos.

Terrible twos. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE twos. There aren’t any words. Except, hot damn, the terrible twos. A isn’t even two yet either! He’s just 20 months old, but the terrible twos seem to have hit our house early. This week has been the hardest of our parenting lives (even harder than 4 to 6 months old, when A woke 8-10 times a night). A started a new daycare last week, and since the second day of his new school, A has been INSANE. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but there are no words to adequately describe how insane A has been. 95% of the time he is at home (and awake), he is throwing a temper tantrum. I am not exaggerating when I say 95% of the time. This weekend, my husband and I looked at each other and just said ‘this is insane.’

Luckily, at school, this doesn’t seem to be his pattern at his new daycare. They say he is a pleasure when he’s there, and they love having him (hopefully this will continue!).

I do try to stick by my original post on temper tantrums: I name his emotion and validate it. But there are times when that won’t do anything to calm him down. This week is a perfect example. In those moments, we’ve taken to ignoring him. Disciplining through the terrible twos is an emotionally trying time—I have lost my temper a few times over the last week, I will admit. But I am so thankful I have a partner. When I just could NOT deal anymore, he would step in and I would go hide upstairs. When he couldn’t deal anymore, I would step in and he would hide. Self-care as parents is so important, particularly during weeks like this.

So, a note to myself: Take care of myself. Make a self-care plan. Rely on family and friends. Remember, everything passes. GOOD LUCK.

And solidarity to any other parents who are in the middle of the terrible twos.

Individual reparations?

A few weeks ago, I was struggling with our recent purchase of a teepee for A to play in. My aunt graciously encouraged me to donate to an organization or group run by and for Native Americans. This donation would not erase the cultural appropriation associated with teepees as play things for White kids but rather would offset the harm our family committed when we purchased it. While financial donations won’t solve the problems of capitalism and White supremacy, it got me thinking: how else can we use our family’s financial giving to disrupt the forces of racialized exploitation?

I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea of charity. Charity/donating money is not inherently bad, of course, but I believe it is too often conflated with the idea of justice. My ultimate goal is to cultivate a life that encourages the formation of more just and equitable systems of economy and politics. Charity doesn’t do that. Charity thinks that more money will solve the problems of a few individuals. It doesn’t see that the actual problem is the system itself.

My aunt’s thoughtful comments, however, got me thinking. What if I reconceived ‘charitable giving’ as ‘individual reparations’? My family has materially benefitted from White supremacy. That’s not to say my family hasn’t work hard, but it is to say that the history of economic policies and the lack of interpersonal discrimination has helped recent generations of my family become economically secure. They have been able to pass that down to me and my son. (The case is a little different for my husband, who is a first- or second-generation immigrant, depending on who is categorizing him). How can I use those material benefits and repurpose them to organizations run by and for Native Americans and African Americans? (These are not the only two groups that are materially hurt by White supremacy, but they are two I want to focus on right now)

I have decided to make regular donations to:

  1. The Organization for Black Struggle
  2. National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

My husband expressed concern that the idea of individual reparations was patronizing. I see his point. Framing donations as individual reparations can come off as condescending or paternalistic. It is my hope, though, that this is an action that is rooted in my acknowledgement of an unfair structural advantage. More money will never solve the problems that capitalism created. But, since the US is nowhere close to committing to societal reparations, there must be something that individuals can do. No, my financial donations are not going to fix anything. But they may put more financial resources into the hands of people who have been historically denied or robbed of their financial resources.

Is this entire thinking motivated by White guilt? I’ve been accused of White guilt quite a bit in my life and even more so recently. I’m not sure the difference between being a reflective White person (who hopefully is willing to put her body and money where her mouth is) to having White guilt. I wonder, though: Does it matter? If my motivation is White guilt, but it still gets me to prioritize justice in my actions—does it matter?

My New Year’s Resolutions: 6 weeks in…

At the end of December, I wrote a few parenting resolutions for 2018. Since we’re six weeks into the year, I thought it would be a good time to check in with myself about them.

Resolution 1: Get off my phone! 

Current grade: C+/B-

I’m doing…not great with this one. My resolution was to put my phone on the other side of the room during playtime. When it’s just me and A, I’m pretty good with it. What really gets me though is if someone else is home. If my husband or in-laws are playing with A, I notice that I’ll just sit on my phone in front of them, even though I could be more engaged in a group play. But I also don’t want to be too hard on myself: If I’ve been alone with A all day, then my husband comes home and wants to play with A, sometimes I just want the mental break that only a good scroll through Instagram can provide….


Resolution 2: Talk to my husband about my blog posts.

Current grade: F

I think I talked to him about it twice maybe. Mostly because of his schedule, honestly. But the point of this resolution was to encourage conversations between us about parenting. We have had recent in-depth discussions (to put it politely…) about screen time and overbuying of toys (see my still-relevant thoughts on that here). So, I am failing at this resolution *technically,* but I’m not mad at myself.


Resolution 3: Don’t criticize my husband’s parenting. 

Current grade: B+?

I think I’m doing well? I don’t notice myself doing it as much anymore, but I don’t know if that’s because I do it less or because I do it more unconsciously. I’ll try to pay particular attention to that over the next few days.


Resolution 4: Encourage A to clean up after himself.

Current grade: A-

We don’t do it *every* night, but 4 out of every five nights, we have him help clean up all of his toys in the living room. Doing well with this one!

Bonus Resolution: Read more books about parenting and social justice

A few weeks after I wrote out my New Year’s resolutions, I also made a commitment to read at least two books about parenting for social justice by March. So, I’ve edited that goal a bit. Instead of books, I’m reading a magazine! I found a new, online magazine called ‘Hold the Line’ that I’ve subscribed to. I’m a few articles into the first one, and I’m really enjoying it! Highly recommend it.

Happy wiping! –Olivia

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,