The Fate of the Furious Mom Protagonist

Yes, I am still on a writing break because yes I am still pregnant, caring for a toddler all day and packing everything in my house for an impending move.

HOWEVER…

I need to talk about this:

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Don’t worry, they don’t fight it out for Dom. The writers solve the problem for them.

My husband and I saw Fate of the Furious this weekend while my in-laws watched my son. It was the first date we’ve had that didn’t involve grocery shopping AND there was dinner involved. Magical stuff.

We also both love the Fast and Furious franchise, he for the cars and the action, me for the kickass women and the action and I guess the cars too… a little. They are nice cars.

SPOILERS WITHIN. BE FOREWARNED. YOU KNOW, BECAUSE FAST AND FURIOUS IS KNOWN FOR IT’S MIND-BLOWING, M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN TWISTS AND TOTAL LACK OF OBVIOUS FORESHADOWING. ANYWAY… SPOILERS.

So Dom has a kid, huh? Never would have guessed (from that scene in the bedroom where they talk about kids)! But it’s with another woman?! Who has been kidnapped?! But, but… he just got Letty back and SHE wanted a kid and how are they going to Three’s Company meets The Brady Bunch their way out of this?!?!

Well, kids, Dom is all about family, right? More specifically, he’s all about found family. It helps when his BFF/homoerotic man friend marries his sister but even the people with no relation to him–blood, law, or otherwise–are part of his family. So it’s possible, right? Elena and the kid, Letty and Dom, all the other car-loving freaks, all One Big Happy Adventure-Having Family? I mean, if they can accept Statham after all the crap he’s pulled, then certainly, CERTAINLY they can find a place for both Letty AND Elena, right?

No. False. And not because Letty can’t handle it. She doesn’t even get the chance. Because the writers decided on the easiest possible route to the happiest possible ending: Kill the Bio Mom. Save the nuclear family. Who needs bio moms anyway?

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*Not an exaggeration.

And do they mourn Elena when they reunite at their NYC rooftop cookout that everyone else attends? Nope. Gone and forgotten. Movin’ on without even a nod to the woman who gestated, birthed and cared for this child while Dom was off driving cars through skyscrapers in Dubai* or whatever.

Did I mention I’m pregnant? And that cartoons make me cry? So I lost my shiz a little when they killed Elena. I mean, obviously, I would have gotten up and stormed out if they had killed the child because NO! NO! YOU DON’T DO THAT! But as the mom in the audience identifying with the mom on the screen, yeah, I had a hard time with Elena’s death.

LITTLE DID I KNOW that that would not be the worst part of my evening.

When we got to my in-law’s house to pick up our toddler, I found out that my mother-in-law had taken it upon herself to start potty training my child. Naturally, I lost my damn mind and let loose a fiery tirade at my husband about overstepping boundaries and children learning things in their own time instead of competing with other children in the family for grandparent bragging rights and laziness in parenting and childhood trauma, etc., etc. And while I don’t feel like anything I said wasn’t true and I have little intention of ever apologizing, it did take me a good ole cry and reflect the next day to figure out why I had reacting So Very Strongly.

Because that kind of action kills the biomom. It assumes that a child can be taught anything by anyone and as long as said child has a mom surrogate–a grandmother or stepmother or badass stunt car driving mentor–the mom isn’t necessary.

And this isn’t to say that a child can’t learn and thrive with a surrogate! That doesn’t even mean it needs to be a woman!! I have several gentleman friends who have adopted or fostered children with their husbands and those children are indeed doing very well. I know children who were adopted by grandparents or aunts and uncles because their bioparents either weren’t fit to raise them or were no longer living. A child with loving caretakers is a child with the potential to thrive. That’s not what this is about.

This is about negating a present, loving, capable mother for the sake of someone else’s story line.

In Fate of the Furious, it was about killing off Elena so Dom could have his uncomplicated happy ending. In my life, it was about my mother-in-law being the big damn hero by potty training my reluctant son so her sister-in-law would stop bragging so damn much about her own grandchildren (here’s another spoiler: my aunt-in-law will never stop bragging about her own grandchildren and my son will never be as wonderful and amazing and brilliant as her grandkids, not ever, no way and the fact that my mother-in-law still falls for this Grandparent Games baiting nonsense has everything to do with HER sense of self and insecurities and nothing whatsoever to do with my parenting skills or my child’s well-being).

You know who else pulls this crap? Disney. Disney kills off biomoms like it was no big thing. Star Wars. Children’s cartoons. Those freaking annoying teen shows where all of the adults are stupid and inept? They kill off moms for convenience too and replace them with stepmoms and surrogates that may be somewhat capable but probably not. They may be kind and caring, but probably not. And sometimes, maybe, the loss of the biomom is some sort of catalyst for the main character’s plot, but often it’s just a convenient device.

Either way, the biomom dies to serve someone else’s story.

Well, let me tell YOU something! I HAVE MY OWN DAMN STORY! And I refuse to be killed off literally or figuratively for the convenience of anyone else.

I … am not Elena. I am not cowering in a corner with a gun to my head saying, “PLEASE, JUST SAVE OUR SON!” before dying tragically while Charlize Theron accidentally strangles my child with her ill-conceived white lady dreadlocks.

Oh no. I am Jason Freaking Statham kicking some malcontent in the throat before shooting his associate in the balls while shielding my adorable little love nugget as he listens to the Chipmunks on comically large headphones. THAT is the kind of mother I am, bitches. And I will be potty training my own child when he is GODDAMN GOOD AND READY.

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When I’m not pregnant, I can kick higher than that. For now, it’s strictly ball crunchers and knee disjointers and you better HOPE you ain’t tryin’ to hurt MY babies.

I made a joke recently to a lady friend that I would start writing children’s books as soon as my kids were old enough to give coherent feedback. Now I’m starting to think the best children’s book I could write would be “Mommy has a life, too, you had better RESPECT that.”

Look for it on Amazon.

Camp Comes Last

I’d like to say I took a few days off and now I’m back with a vengeance but it’s probably more accurate to say I’m back with a short-lived, half-hearted grudge. I haven’t written anything other than work-related emails in several days and it’s not looking like I’m going to get much done today either.

But sometimes when you have two jobs, a toddler, are selling your house, buying another and are pregnant, you have to prioritize doctor’s appointments and three hours of signing legal paperwork over your hobbies.

The good news is that, at least in my own head, I’ve resolved the central conflict of my WIP and all I have to do now is make sure that makes it onto the page in a satisfactory way. Then maybe write an epilogue. Then start the editing process which I will inevitably half-ass (what with all the doctor’s appointments, vendor meetings, and house-related shenanigans) before throwing that sucker up on Amazon before kid number two takes over my life. Which is September. So I have until September to completely finish and let go of this story.

You know, as soon as I get three seconds between meetings and appointments to like, breath.

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First Day of Camp

It’s a slow start to the camping season with just 150 words written but every one was written on my phone, in between episodes of Paw Patrol, and all using just the one finger to type. Much like this post.

Motherwriters do what they gotta do, y’all.

Pardon me while I hunt and peck my way to the end of this entry.

 

 

Twy Again, Mom

I’m not sure how it happened but I’m relatively sure I did it and that’s why I think I should be able to take credit. My son is now fond of saying, “Whoops, twy again” when things fall down or apart or don’t go his way. How’s that for resilience? I don’t need you, Parenting Magazine. I don’t need no Scary Mommy.

Now, I’m not saying he’s the most mellow toddler in the world and when he’s hungry or tired, it’s full on melt-down time if he drops a crayon or his sock is slightly askew. But when he’s well-fed and well-rested and playing in his own little world with or without me, he’s more likely to say, “Twy again” than he is to freak out when his block tower falls down.

I mean, I think that’s because of me. I remember saying “try again” to him before he started saying it himself. But it wasn’t an intentional parenting strategy. It wasn’t a mantra. It was just my way of distracting him BEFORE a meltdown occurred. Apparently, the kid has internalized that attitude and it’s made for much more chill play time.

So my next step, I guess, is to foster that attitude to include other things: putting clothes on by himself, using the potty, going to preschool, trying new activities, homework, cancer research, astronaut training, running for elected office. You know, all the important stuff.

And as proud as I am of my little can-doer, I have to reserve some of that praise for myself. This “try again” attitude I’ve infected my son with by accident was a long and painful process for me. I’ve never done well with rejection or embarrassment or … just things that seemed really hard. But the reality of life for a woman is that we have to keep trying, keep working, keep pushing if we want the things we want: again, the important stuff like equality and opportunity and equal pay and equal rights and equal representation. If we want to normalize women’s lives and experiences and health and professionalism, we have to keep trying. If we want the world to be a better place for our children, even for those little can-doers who don’t necessarily need our help, we have to keep trying again and again and again.

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Here’s where I SHOUT OUT to all the brave and bold women running for office in the next few years. She Should Run gives me hope for the future and inspiration to be a leader and a role model regardless of political aspiration (or lack thereof). Do your thing, homegirls, and if it doesn’t work out the first run, TRY AGAIN!

What To Do at Camp

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo hoping it would spark some creative thing in the depths of my brain and getting me writing something new. But the more I hashtag game my current WIP (which was last year’s NaNoWriMo WIP), the more I think it’s worthy of my full attention.

I’m so close to the end! I spent a small chunk of time outlining that B over the weekend and making a list of the things I knew still needed to happen to actually complete the story in a sensical way. I have an idea of how to move forward. I just need to get myself to do it.

And it’s getting a little easier. The kiddo is napping right this second (and I wrote half a page before jumping onto this blog post) and not only am I able to eat actual food in the mornings now, not only can I get myself off the couch and unfurl my tired body, throwing off the cocoon of blankets and oversized sweaters, but I can actually handle coffee again. Well, fake-flavored cappuccino K-cups with foam packets, but it’s caffeine nonetheless and I am starting to feel like a real live person again!

So perhaps instead of jumping into something new, I can spend my Camptime finishing up this WIP and starting on editing. Now seems like the best time anyway while it’s still cold out and before we make any attempt to move houses. I’m also very well aware of the hole I will fall into after the baby is born and survival mode will cut out any writing time.

That’s it, then. FinishThisWIP is where I’m at this Camping season. I’ve already been invited to a cabin full of fiesties who seem like a good time. I’m hoping that interacting with them will help keep me motivated too.

Guess it’s time to change my Camp project, then, eh?

 

 

Losing the Groove

Today my son napped for 2 hours and 40 minutes. Guess how many words I got written in that amount of time! Just guess!!

0.

0 words.

I ate lunch. I did the dishes. I napped. And that, friends, is a productive day for me. Being pregnant is seriously harshing my vibe, yo. It’s crushing my spirit. And my bladder. And with a minimum caffeine intake, there’s no more magic elixir to keep me up nights (or days, apparently) writing my heart out.

I’m over here like, thank God I’m not puking my heart out because that’s the best I can expect these days.

Any other pregnant writers out there losing their groove?

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Damn the Man Some Other Way

I’m a proud feminist so when I heard about Day Without a Woman, I was all, “Yeah! Let’s show them! Woo!” until… this morning when I realized that we’re out of cat food and mouthwash and not only was I not willing to NOT take care of my son, not only can I not just NOT go to work tonight, but it also turns out that I couldn’t just NOT spend money.

But I’m wearing a red shirt. At home. Where no one but my toddler can see me.

Friends, I’m starting to think that maybe Day Without a Woman is kind of bullshit.

I think the intent was good. I have a lot of respect for people who go to protests and stand up for injustice. And I recognize that doing what’s right is often inconvenient and that we must make sacrifices if we want to enact change.

But I’m not so sure Day Without a Woman was the best we could do.

Because yeah, our culture is kind of totally crippled when women don’t show up. If I’m not caring for my child, who is? All of my babysitters are female. Most child care workers I know are female. All of the people I see who work in the children’s section of libraries and indoor playgrounds are female. So either I’m watching my own child and failing to “not engage in non-compensated labor” or I’m making some other woman do it and preventing her from “engaging in compensated labor”.

How does this help women?

And how does this show men that they need women?

The men who don’t care about children and the care thereof STILL don’t care if I’m having a crisis of conscience over who is watching my child today because guess what! It’s not them. So they don’t give a damn.

Day Without a Woman means that WOMEN are missing the support system they need to get by. It’s not working for me.

Motivate Thyself, Woman

I am a lump. I am a boiled potato of wasted potential. I am a mass of blankets on the couch repeating, “Bud, mommy feels yucky. Can you play by yourself for a little while?” every morning for the past 8 weeks*.

To say I “haven’t written much lately” is a gross understatement and I hate myself just a little bit for it. I’ve been hashtag gaming the same WIP for months now because I have nothing else to draw from. I’ve written down ideas but can’t get the story to come out. I’ve opened blank pages, and unfinished pages, and notebooks and still, I end up on Buzzfeed taking quizzes about food that tell me I’m 18 and single and will never have kids. It’s pathetic. And I’m tired of it.

So I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo! I did it today. I don’t know what I’m going to write, but DAMNIT, I’m going to write SOMETHING.

Yeah! Take that, life! Take that low energy! Take that raging hormones and mood swings and that perpetual feeling of “am I going to puke or am I starving because I honestly can’t tell right now.”

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The Path of Moderate Resistance

I believe that taking the path of least resistance–while very Tao, maaan, VERY Tao–is usually the lazy path, the indecisive path, the path of fear and trepidation and the path least likely to lead to change or measurable results.

I also believe that taking the path of most resistance–of choosing to do something difficult for the sake of doing it or because it’s the accepted thing to do, or somebody bullied you into it–is pointlessly messing with the natural flow of life and will probably lead to failure, pain, fear, and loss.

By the way, this is not a political post. I feel like I always have to clarify that these days.

My son had a doctor’s appointment recently and when his snarky condescending doctor asked about his sleep habits, I told her (some of) the truth: he still wakes up at night but less often. Sometimes he goes back to sleep on his own, sometimes he calls for me and I have to lie down with him to get him back to sleep.

She didn’t say anything, but she did give me the wicked side eye. She’s a proponent of sleep training, you see. She has three children and she’s a doctor so she knows everything there is to know about children and sleep habits. Except for children who hate sleeping, of course, which is my child.

I know that if I had asked (and belieeeeeve me, I learned not to ask for her advice or opinion a long time ago), she would have chided me for not reading the 6 books she recommended to me forever ago and told me that I’m a horrible mother for helping my child fall asleep. She also once told me that if I rock my infant son, he’ll still be 13 years old and expecting me to rock him. I’m absolutely positive that’s true. All 13-year-old boys who were rocked to sleep demand their mothers rock them every night. That’s common knowledge, right?

But my son’s like me: busy minded. And it’s hard for us to fall asleep. So I lie down with him. We watch a couple of videos on my phone (also a no-no according to everyone who can sleep without help). We talk about what we did that day or about his toys or about the video we just watched. And I let him snuggle up to me and pull my head toward his for kisses until he falls asleep.

I don’t think I’m taking the path of least resistance. I don’t co-sleep (unless I fall asleep there which… happens but it’s not a parenting philosophy so much as a pitfall). I don’t succumb to every pre-bed time request (more water, more videos, more play time).

But I refuse to take the path of most resistance because of the damage I know it’ll do. He’s still a young toddler and I don’t see anything wrong with helping him get to sleep. I do all the things with him that I do on my own to help me fall asleep. When he gets a little older, I’ll teach him that he can do all of those things by himself. But I’m not going to leave him crying or screaming or helpless to get his body to rest when I know what the problem is and how to solve it. That’s just cruel.

I get the feeling that a lot of the “training” activities the “experts” are so fond of are just excuses for adults to be selfish and force their children to be more convenient. Potty training at 16 months? It’s because you don’t want to change diapers anymore. Cry It Out? It’s because you want to get more sleep. I like convenience too but I also enjoy not screwing up my kid for the sake of my ME time.

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Teen Love is Adorable and Insane

I didn’t date as a young teen so I never got caught up in that tragic, melodramatic, misinterpreting Romeo and Juliet kind of affair. Actually, I was a straight up dork for the majority of my adolescence and while I hated it at the time, I can tell you now as an adult I am grateful for the lack of opportunity to have been so very dumb. 1502383-980xI’m also grateful for the lack of social media. And for cameras that only got pulled out on special occasions. Because there are things… oh, there are some fashion choices and hairstyles I am very happy not to have recorded for posterity.

Not the point, Eda. Stop making that “bear claw as bangs” gesture.

Admittedly, my first love–which happened in my sophomore year of college when I was 18 and a very serious student who couldn’t afford a hit to the GPA–got a little forevery. There was mention of marriage… some day. Of futures and houses and children… some day. But that was never our focus so it never got out of control.

Then again, in the 90s, it was all Beverly Hills 90210 and Friends and Titanic and Baz Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet so our media role models weren’t forevering it either. They were gettin’ busy and movin’ on or… you know, dying.

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That’s what makes me feel for all those Twilight kids. All those late 2000s teens with their vampire romance and their various shades of gray, the Teen Moms and The Notebookers thinking love is this magical thing that just happens and lasts forever, like the rest of your life is just a footnote in your love affair and everything after “I do” or “Bite me” is a continuing loop of the last dramatic kiss before the credits role.

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I’ve been married less than a handful of years and I can’t remember the last dramatic kiss. I’m stuck in the day-to-day, “How many times do I have to ask you to close the goddamn blinds so our neighbors can’t see us drinking out of the milk carton at midnight” kind of crap. The “I changed the last poopy diaper; it’s your turn” stuff. The “yeah, I want another baby but I literally don’t have the energy to take off my own pants right now” kind of romance reserved for family life post-movie credits. It’s not the kind of thing fanfic gets written about. Not accurately anyway.

ltot-book-coverWhen I wrote Like Two Opposite Things, I was very conscious of the FOREVER teen romance mindset, most especially as I witnessed the very public breakup of my teenage cousin and her 4-EVA boyfriend (of 5 months) and subsequent profession of 4-EVA and undying love of her NEW boyfriend… live on Facebook. (For real, I hate Facebook.)

Of the many “opposite things” in my book is a comparison of that kind of relationship, full of promises and passion, with a more realistic, “I like you but we’re 15 so… let’s see how things go,” perspective of a kid who’d been through the ringer already and isn’t interested in a second go. She’s a 15-going-on-40 year old and maybe the character who most represents the author’s (old lady) voice but I would never put it above an intelligent teenager to see through media portrayals and cultural falsehoods and act as the voice of reason in an otherwise ridiculous situation. And if there were more media portraying realistic teen relationships to consume, maybe more teens would have more reasonable expectations of how relationships work.

Because I took vows, man. I really did say Forever and For Better or Worse and while our worst has been pretty tame so far, forever gets harder to visualize when those goddamn blinds are open again and I can actually SEE our neighbor trying to peek in here. You know what? The next TWO poopy diapers are YOURS now as punishment.