MotherTalkers

Where real moms tell it like it is.

Friday, January 27, 2006

We're Live!

Dear Readers:

Initially, we intended for this blogspot site to be only temporary. We are pleased to announce our final move to www.mothertalkers.com. At our new domain, anyone is welcome to post comments and even start a "diary," or blog of her own. We hope you will follow us there, start up writing careers of your own and bookmark the site as a source of parenting news.

We hardly told anyone about this blogspot site and, yet, received responses in the "comments" section. Thank you for reading!

Sincerely,

Amy, Elisa, Erika and Gloria -- the original "MotherTalkers"

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Puberty and The Importance of Looks/Confidence

Ok...I have a problem. It's not a big one, but it's a problem, nonetheless. My daughter is 11-years-old. She is growing up and looking beautiful. She's smart, kind and funny. She's the daughter that anyone would be lucky to have. So, what's the problem? She takes after me. Now, before you jump into conclusions, let me explain. She's hairy.

I consider her hairiness to be cute. She's fair skinned and the hair she sports on her arms and legs are blond. So, they're not a big deal...to me. When I was her age, I was sporting hair that made me feel like a primate. A monkey. I'm very ethnic looking. Mexican. Dark. My hair? DARK! I remember wanting to shave my legs and arms SO BADLY, and not being allowed to by my VERY strict parents. I wasn't allowed to start shaving until I was 16-years-old. THE HORROR!!

My daughter has recently shown self-consciousness and has even asked...BEGGED to start shaving. Not only legs. No. Arms too. My problem is, how young is too young to start shaving?? I'm open to any suggestions!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Shameful Marketing? Or Weak Parenting?

It's bad enough parents must compete with the alluring messages broadcast by toy companies, clothing makers, and even cell phone providers.

Now credit card companies are targeting teenagers and one parent even asked an MSN columnist if it was okay for her 15-year-old child to have a credit card. What?! At that age, I was lucky enough to scrounge up cash for a movie.

But as author Jan Faull wisely pointed out in her column, credit card companies are targeting kids, even though they have no income. She wisely suggested talking with kids about savings accounts, credit cards, stock and bonds, insurance and interest rates, but to limit the plastic to a "guarded" debit card instead.

A credit card could be a good financial teaching tool, particularly if you've been a good financial role mode. He can learn the importance of establishing good credit. On the other hand, a bad situation could unfold if he sees how easy it is to acquire one, uses it to his financial limit, pays the minimum amount each month, and then applies for another one.

Call me old-fashioned, but 15-year-olds walking around with a MasterCard are a gross sign of over-indulgent parenting.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Only Child

I know I am young -- 28-years-old -- to stress over the decision to have a second child. Nonetheless, I admit it is something that sometimes creeps up on me as I go through my day: "If I were to get pregnant next year, Ari and his sibling would be four years apart. Will 'starting over' be worth it for him?"

"Could I continue to attend school and blog with two kids in tow?"

Admittedly and guiltily, I fantasize about the day my two-year-old son grows up and my husband and I will spend more time together. Then I am brought back to reality and told by well-meaning friends and family -- including my husband -- on what I will miss out to make such a drastic and premature decision to have only one child.

I haven't ruled out having a second baby, although I cannot handle a second one right now -- even as the age gap between my son and Baby No. 2 widens. Still, I am often sucked into discussion on this very topic as I most recently was on Julie's "A Little Pregnant".

Besides hearing from dozens of people on the matter, she also cited this University of Chicago study as food for thought and comic relief:

Look, it would take a scientist to explain it — Happinessi j = _0 +_1 _ partneri j +_2 _ fertilityi j +_3 _ Xi j + _j + _i j, for God's sake -- but the basic conclusion of the study was that while having one child does increase one's feeling of well being, having an additional child does not. In fact, the study's findings indicate that having more than one child actually tends to decrease women's happiness. (Women with more than one child are still happier, however, than women who have none. 'Magine that, infertiles.)

Julie said she is "considering each of the messages carefully" to make a decision herself, which would require fertility treatments. I look forward to her response.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Feel Your Pain!

When I read studies aimed at ferreting out gender differences, I get poised to do a little kung fu. Not because I think such studies shouldn't be done, but because so much cultural bullcrap gets poured into the analysis of the findings. Here's the latest: Men tend to enjoy revenge more than women, while women empathize more.

How were these generalizations arrived at?

The scientists scanned the brains of 16 men and 16 women after the volunteers played a game with people they thought were other volunteers but who in fact were actors. The actors either played the game fairly or obviously cheated.

...Each volunteer watched as the hands of a "fair" player and a cheater received a mild electrical shock. When it came to the fair player, both men's and women's brains showed activation in pain-related areas, indicating that they empathized with that player's pain. But for the cheater, while the women's brains still showed a response, men's brains showed virtually no specific reaction. Also, in another brain area associated with feelings of reward, men's brains showed a greater average response to the cheater's shock than to the fair player's shock, while women's brains did not.

Okay. Here's an alternative theory: Maybe the women didn't give a rat's ass if some research monkey cheated at a game in a lab. Maybe it has to do with how much members of either gender get worked up over games in general. If the cheaters were cheating on their wives rather than a game, I bet the lady brains would show feelings of reward when the cheater got zapped.

This weekend, I'll be watching a football game at a friend's place. My brain will register neither empathy nor revenge, no matter who wins or loses. My brain will register great, silvery waves of pleasure when a plate of hors d'ouvres passes my way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Smart Read: The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

Even when I became inundated with laundry, dishes, soiled diapers and other childcare two years ago, one guilty pleasure I have kept up to the detriment of my sleep is reading. I have always been moved by the written word and read anything I can get my hands on: "chick lit," history books, childcare and other science books, books by my favorite stand-up comedians, political and entertainment magazines. Most recently I finished the The Alphabet Versus the Goddess (Viking 1998), an erudite -- but readable -- tome that suggests misogyny may have been introduced to society (no) thanks to my favorite pastime -- the written word.

In his book, Dr. Leonard Shlain initially set out to discover why all Western religions condemn goddess worship. “There is overwhelming archaeological and historical evidence that during a long period of prehistory and early history both men and women worshipped goddesses, women functioned as chief priests, and property commonly passed through the mother’s lineage,” Shlain wrote in his preface.

At first I was skeptical of his claim that the written alphabet may have led to the demotion of the goddesses -- thus women’s standing -- in society. After all, girls are more advanced than boys in speaking and meeting other developmental milestones. Boys don’t catch up with girls in cognitive development until the third grade, according to boy developmental book Raising Cain (another good read). But after plunging through his evidence in the 432-page Alphabet Versus the Goddess that combines anthropology and history, Shlain convinced me there was a connection between the introduction of the written word (which Shlain says is the product of left-brained, male thinking) over once ubiquitous female images (art is a right-brained, female trait, he said) to the decline of women’s rights in society. Consistently, in every religious atrocity he cited, including the most gruesome episode of witch-burning in Germany where the printing press was invented in the 16th century, some religious pamphlet had been disseminated to the public.

Thanks to the power of the written word, a charismatic, male scholar was able to convert the masses on even the most outrageous claims: Mary had no sex, yet still had a baby! Woman was conceived by a man's rib! The worship of (pretty) images was strongly discouraged as in the case of the exiled Israelis' grave sin of praising a golden calf -- a popular story in the bible's Old Testament.

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess is a fascinating review of world religions, including Eastern beliefs. It would make a good book club pick for its controversial thesis and ability to stir discussion.

The frog doth protest too much, methinks.


Hey Moms: did you know a plush, talking frog has the power to sway your child's sexuality?

That's the amusing conclusion I've reached after discovering Learning Friend Lily and Learning Friend Tad, two talking frogs from the LeapFrog company that sing songs about numbers and colors in English and Spanish.

My daughter received not one but two Lilys for Christmas, gifts from relatives who know we want to teach her both English and Spanish as she grows up. Lily's pretty fun: she sings and counts and announces, in a chipper voice, that her flowers are PINK! You get the idea.

Then I went to Target and stumbled across her male counterpart, Tad.

Lily sings that she has "lots of pretty colors." Tad, on the other hand, has "lots of brilliant colors." Because HEY!! Tad is NOT a queer! No "I wish I knew how to quit you!" moments for this froggy friend.

Lily counts girly things like butterflies and bunnies; Tad counts manly things like cars and sailboats. He even has keys attached to his left hand, while Lily's left hand is, sadly, barren.

It all got me to wondering about the gender roles we insist on assigning our children, starting in early infancy. While I am guilty of swathing my daughter in pink and arranging her full head of hair in any number of cute hairstyles, I just don't care what kind of toys she plays with. Her favorite toys are a Tonka truck and a toy bus. She prefers her dad's laptop computer and cell phone to dolls and stuffed animals. I'm kind of hoping that ever-obnoxious Princess fascination that is so typical of little girls won't kick in when she gets a little older, but if it does, I'll be a sport and indulge her.

Another Christmas gift my daughter received was a set of Baby Abuelita dolls, adorable singing dolls meant too look like a Grandma and Grandpa. They sing classic Spanish lullabies in the sweetest voice. A fellow mom saw the freshly unwrapped dolls and said, "Oh! We should get these for our son!" But dad protested immediately: we're not going to buy our son any dolls, he said.

What are we so afraid of? Why can't boys play with tea sets and toy vaccuums without people making weird comments? What's wrong with little girls racing Hot Wheels if they want? Why must we put our children in boxes from the time they're born?

All I want is for my daughter to be herself. Not who I want her to be, but who she is. I will do my best to instill good values, teach her right from wrong and all that jazz. But who am I to tell her she has to like Disney Princess dolls, if she's more of a Lego kind of girl? I think we tend to get too wrapped up in the idea of molding our children into mini versions of us, rather than letting them become their own person.

I like to think I'll be just as open-minded if I ever have a son...because let's face it, there are much worse things than a boy with a Barbie.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Migraines and Babies

There is no doubt that being a parent is hard work. It's a constant heartbreak and many times a thankless job. But, I have to say that this past weekend has been one of the most challenging for me.

My son, who will be 7-years-old next month, has recently been suffering from debilitating headaches. It was VERY disconcerting for me to see him hold his little head and cry. As a mother, my first thought was to make him as comfortable as I could. Then I would pray to the Gods that there could be some way I could transfer his pain onto myself. Then, I would fight my damnedest to not think the worst, which, of course, inevitably happened... (Dear Lord, he has a brain tumor!!)

I took my little man to the doctor yesterday and had him undergo a variety of tests. Glasses? Ruled out. Brain Tumor? Thank God! Ruled out! Migraines? Oh, my God...my baby may be suffering from migraines.

As it turns out, this is more common that I thought. Apparently, the National Headache Foundation estimates 60 percent of all children suffer from occasional headaches. But up to 20 percent of children may suffer from chronic or recurrent types of headaches including tension-type or migraines. How terrible is that!! My baby's doctor has ordered me to keep a journal of my son's headaches and has scheduled a follow up for 2 weeks.

I hope these headaches let up by then...