Oh to be an Ape!

Mother and baby gorilla at the National Zoo in...

I went to a 40th birthday bash celebration last night for the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves“. This book originated out of a pamphlet developed by a group of women in Boston and initially sold for 35 cents. It was a pamphlet designed as a college-level health education course to teach women about their bodies. The premise behind the project was that women want to learn, they want to be able to communicate with medical providers about best options and treatments, and they need to be able to challenge the medical world to improve care for women.

I’m not going to go into a discourse on the book other than saying it is useful to a broad audience of women because of the breadth of the subjects it covers. There are many things about it that are excellent and arguably, it offers objective and timely information. There are also things that I disagree with, but if I step back, the subjects are dealt with in a way that is free of judgment and reflective of the views of many people. I just happen to live counter-culture and not agree with all of them.

The birthday bash held at the Oberon club in Cambridge had a variety of acts from amazing hula-hoop acrobatics to professional tap dancing. Also featured were 3 different comedic acts that were refreshingly funny and my guess is, probably cleaned up specifically for this audience.

But by far my favorite was a young woman, Marcy Goldberg Sacks, who as a young mom has put a comedic twist on the joys and spit-up of motherhood. Marcy has 3 little girls under 5. She told the story of a recent trip with her girls to the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston about 40 to 45 minutes from the downtown area. As told, she was so excited to take her little ones on an outing to the zoo, particularly to see the gorilla. The gorilla had just given birth to a baby gorilla, her third birth. The similarities between Marcy and the gorilla were amazing – there was Marcy with her three girls, and the gorilla with her three girls. There was Marcy nursing her baby, and the gorilla? She was nursing her baby too! Visitors to the zoo (note – mostly moms with kids…) watched in awe as this big, hairy ape nursed said baby, with two little gorillas jumping around by her side, remarking how amazing this was, how awesome. Then a thought occurred to Marcy:  “This gorilla is big and hairy and…dirty! We’re all paying money to watch a hairy, dirty mom nurse her baby while her toddlers run around her feet and we think it’s “awesome” ….what is this about?! I want people to pay money to watch me nurse my baby with my toddlers running around my feet!”

And with that story comes the realization that life is not fair! How many of us as moms would love to have all our meals taken care of, our home provided, and to be paid for doing what we want to do anyway – care for our kids. Look at that ape, she has it made! She gets all the meals she needs, she has free medical care, and she gets paid to nurse her babies, and best of all – no one expects her to shower or keep clean….Oh to be an ape. It makes one question just how far we really have evolved….!

Loaded Phrase: I am a Mom!

The amazing, wonderful, horrible, interesting children that made me a mom!

I am a mom and that 4 word phrase is loaded!

In my case it is loaded with 5 wonderful, horrible, genuinely amazing human beings ranging in age from 15-25.

It is loaded with sleepless nights – in the beginning because of breastfeeding and in college because of life crises.

It is loaded with millions of “I told you so’s” and millions more “I’m sorry’s”.

It is loaded with laughter so hard that it makes you cry and tears so deep that you think you will never recover.

Being a mom crosses all potential lines that the general population is divided under – race, immigration status, education level, class, sexual orientation or political party.  Instead we moms divide ourselves by breastfeeding or not breastfeeding, back to work in 4 weeks post delivery or not back to work; preschool or not; private school, public school, or home school; school lunches or home lunches;school bus or drive; pacifier or thumb….I could go on and on but have so much more to say.

When I became a mom, I suddenly had a chink in my armor – armor that had served me well for 25 years.  Suddenly I had this vulnerable part of me – and we named that vulnerable part Annie. All 6 lbs 12 ounces of her sweet-smelling baby skin suddenly became the part of me that policies, people and programs could attack. This new and vulnerable part of me affected every way that I make decisions.

I have been a stay at home mom, and I have been a mom with a career outside the home.  I have lived internationally and domestically.  I have lived in the Northeast and the Southwest.  I have had very little money, and I have had more money.  I have rented and owned, I have breastfed and formula fed, I have served my kids whole wheat bread and I have served them happy meals or ice cream for dinner.  And at the end of the day  the questions I ask myself are probably much like other moms:  What do I really want for my kids and who do I really want to like me when I’m eighty years old?

So can I be so bold as to express what I believe moms need? We need to know that when we get up in the morning and find out that our 7-year-old has a fever of 103 that we can call in to work and not be penalized.  We need flexible options for working from home.  We need to not be judged for the decisions we make about our kids, about our families. We need to not have to choose between taking a needed vacation or saving up time in case one of our kids is sick or needs us for another reason.  We need TV shows of woman with real body parts and face cream commercials that say “It may not work for you!” We need to know that our children are ok at school – we need to be a part of the school.  We need to be able to take our children to the doctor with or without financial security. We need to be able to encourage them to develop values and have the freedom to express those values openly. We need to be able to say: College won’t come with a price tag of years of debt, but it will take work and responsibility.

And that is why I will never vote along party lines, but from my ‘mom intuition’ and my conscience.

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