I AM Supermom

I never thought that my Facebook page would become a battlefield for the Mommy Wars. Over the last two days it’s really made me question whether it’s ‘only’ Facebook or if there’s more to all of this lack of understanding and respect.

It seems to have begun when a friend and fellow mother, recently posted, on her page:

 “I can’t believe they made breastfeeding until a child is 2 a law. I breastfed both of my babies but I feel once they can walk up and feed themselves off of it is a sign it’s time to quite. Gross.”

When I read this I didn’t respond. It was on her page, I didn’t feel it was directed towards me, and further I really didn’t want to get into it. This statement reeks of intolerance and ignorance, and while it certainly is an opinion it’s also a judgement. I am well aware of the misconceptions and lack of information that many have about breastfeeding and particularly extended breastfeeding, but I wouldn’t have expected this from this parent.

A few days later, someone posted ‘8 Things NOT to Say to an Extended Breastfeeding Mom‘ in our local breastfeeding FB group, and I knew I had to share it. It answered with humor and information the hurt and frustration I felt over breastfeeding being called ‘gross’.

I knew several people, fellow La Leche League mamas, members of my tribe of like-minded friends and family, would absolutely adore it. I didn’t think people, particularly mothers who breastfed their own children, would be so utterly offended by it.

That thread on my FB timeline literally exploded with so much ridiculousness when this particular mother wanted to defend her ‘opinion’ that breastfeeding was ‘gross’. Ummmmm, huh?

She repeatedly attempted to make the point that breastfeeding being ‘gross’ is her ‘opinion’ and that she’s able to say so because of ‘freedom of speech’.

And further she went on to say, on her own page, how I (or others on my page defending me perhaps) were:

“insecure in their decisions and lashing out”

There is no insecurity in my decision. There was no lashing out. There was only an unwillingness to accept that ‘gross’ is an valid ‘opinion’. “It’s not for me” that’s an opinion. “Gross” judges my choice as being something that is by definition unpleasant or replusive. And while I welcome a conversation or debate of ideas, I do not welcome insults.

But here’s the thing. And it’s been bothering me (and many others) for some time now.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT A BLANKET LICENSE TO SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE.

HONESTY DOES NOT EXCUSE RUDENESS.

OPINION IS NOT THE SAME AS JUDGEMENT.

Whew. Feels good to get that out there. Many people, particularly online, have this idea that whatever they say is shrouded in this fog of ‘Internet Honesty’. Really people? As if the text on the phone or computer screen insulates one’s words from inflicting hurt or injured feelings. Ummmmm, no. It doesn’t.

It seems every time people get upset about things written online the knee jerk reaction is “you can’t read tone online” or “it’s hard to understand intention in text”. Ummmmm, no, it’s not that hard. The context is there. While many people talk out of their necks online and don’t think before they type it doesn’t mean tone isn’t implied. I think people get caught up throwing tone because they are shrouded by their computer and feel they don’t have to be responsible for what they say. Ummmmm, nope. You’re still responsible whether you call someone a name to their face or to their online face.

Another case in point? See if you can taste the sarcasm dripping from this comment, in reference to me, in response to the same post about Extended Breastfeeding.

“Tired of hearing about your kids and your boobs, super mom. Yes, they can be too old to freaking tit feed. Done!”

Yes, that was said.  Really. Apparently being a Supermom is just a really sarcastic way of saying I’m what exactly? I’m full of myself and my awesome milk-makers? Too proud of how stunning my children are? Too sure the way I do things is the only right way?

You know at first I was super offended. I was pissed. And a further comment in that thread spoke to some sort of underlying animosity or anger towards the way I parent, or perhaps the sharing of that parenting with my people on Facebook.

“So then mothers should be waiting for their kids in the school cafeteria at lunchtime, tit ready? I’m not against breastfeeding. I did it, like a bazillion women before me I just didn’t need the world to constantly know to prove I’m a good mother.”

This hurt more than anything else. It felt like a direct hit, like somehow in posting about my life being a mother I am in search of validation for my choices. That my choice to breastfeed, was less about what’s best for my children and more about proving what good parent I am. Bitch, please.

Clearly neither of these people truly know me, nor I them, but these incidents really made me think. In fact these people did me a great service. They made me see that when it comes to how I want to conduct myself and who I want to know and be around, those that are judgmental, argumentative or hateful have no room in my world.

Let’s be honest. Ain’t nobody got time for rude people and haters.

See many of us, particularly Stay At Home Mom’s, rely on Facebook and social media, not for validation but for socialization. We look for commiseration and support. We share photos and videos with family and friends around the world. A lot of times we look for information and answers to questions, even our daily news through these social media outlets.

If that’s not how another goes about their daily life, that’s ok, that’s their life, their choice, their own relationship with the interwebs. But instead of insulting my online behavior just do everyone a favor. Unfriend me. Block me. Don’t follow my blog. Just go away.

And that’s where the Mommy Wars come back to rear it’s ugly head.

It seems that by posting pictures and anecdotes about my family and our life I irritate or offend some people (same goes for my single friends that bitch about seeing pictures of everyone’s kids…they can block me too). As if my posts reflect some unattainably high standards by which all mothers should be measured. As if because we have different ways of parenting or different ways of sharing our lives with others that one is inherently better than the other. The assumption being that one is superior for not sharing their life online. Or that I share about my parenting choices because I think they are the ‘right’ or ‘better’ choices.

HA! To know me is to know that I am an information junkie. I research the hell out of everything from TV shows to food to parenting. Yes, I think long and hard about how I parent and the choices we make for our family. In my opinion, the most important decisions I will make in my life are the choices about how I raise my children and so I do so very consciously and thoughtfully.

This doesn’t imply anything about others choices. I am friends with parents of all different kinds. Formula or breast, cry-it-out or co-sleep, strollers or woven wraps and everything in between. And you know what? I love them all. It’s not a contest. It is a journey. One that is unique to every individual family. I respect your choice because it is yours.

This doesn’t make me a saint. This doesn’t make me better. This is who I am because this is who I want my children to grow up to be. I don’t want to condemn your choices because I want my children to know that different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. I want my children to know that calling names when someone is different isn’t okay. It’s intolerance. And that being a part of this world means loving and being with those that we may not always agree with.

So while I may internally cringe if I see you putting Grape Pop inside your 3 month old’s bottle, I would never say anything to you. It’s not my place to do so. If you asked me about it, I would gladly have a conversation with you and share with you why that wouldn’t be my choice. But I will not call you gross. I will not insult you. I will save my judgment and respect you as a parent trying to do what’s best for yourself and your family.

So when I post something about breastfeeding or babywearing or gentle parenting it’s not to criticize your choices, it’s to offer information for someone else who may be struggling or looking for help. And often times it is as educational for me as it would be for anyone else.

I don’t need my choices justified. I can look at my amazing children and know that I’ve made the right choices. I share because maybe there’s an old friend from elementary school who can benefit from learning more about breastfeeding. Perhaps the wife of my husband’s friend didn’t know how many options there were in baby carriers until she saw something I posted. Maybe there’s a friend who just began staying at home with her kids and needs ideas of some activities or crafts to do with them.

From the numbers alone, those that ‘like’ my pictures, comment on my status updates and share my posts, I am doing something right. And for the countless comments and messages I’ve received from old friends, online friends, local mamas and those that live far away, thanking me for helping them through one parenting issue or another, I don’t regret a single post.

Because you know what? I AM Supermom. And you know what? So are YOU.

For doing what we do to make our families work and raise happy and healthy kids, however we choose to do that, we are ALL Supermoms.

So let’s stop passing judgment and start giving each other the compassion that we all, as mothers, deserve. We’re not on different teams. We just have different ways of playing the game. K?

F&%* You Stitch Fix

*In my rage I mistakenly called this company by the wrong name. I have corrected my text but just want to be clear in efforts to be fair. 

In December I heard about this new company called Stitch Fix. A friend of mine reviewed the site on her blog and was thrilled with their service. Here’s their blurb about the service they offer:

“Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that delivers a truly personalized Fixof accessibly priced items directly to doors across the United States. Stitch Fix hand picks pieces for each client, to ultimately help them look and feel their best.”
 

Being that I trust her judgment and loved the idea of being assisted with feeling my best in clothes, I immediately filled out a ‘Fix’ request form.

I know what you may be thinking…”You’ve got great style, why would you need help picking out clothes?” So, maybe I’m tooting my own horn a bit by assuming you all think I have great style. Truth be told I’ve always been a clothes and fashion girl. I’m not a yoga-pants-out-of-the-house girl. I like to dress. I love clothes. But lately I am just struggling to find things that work on my body and are current while still being age appropriate.

So I was all excited to try this service, thinking that some hip 20-somethings in San Fran would surely be able to style me into an instant Cool Mom. And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Other friends and fellow bloggers had already received their invites and their boxes. Where was mine?

Finally I got up the nerve to contact their FB admin to see just what the hold up was.

And this is the response I got…

HI Alexia,
I just spoke with customer service in regards to your profile and the wait list. Unfortunately, we have a very limited amount of XL inventory currently and we do not feel confident that we can pack you a great Fix. I understand that this is really disappointing but it is temporary. We are still a tiny company and while we are in Beta, we do all of the shipping, styling, and buying out of our San Francisco offices and we don’t have as much influence as we need in order to get our brands to carry a broad range of sizes.
We are currently in the process of changing this issue as quickly as possible. Our goal is to make women feel delighted and amazing with their style and experience. I would really like you to be a part of this and as soon as our vendors start shipping us all sizings, we would love to be your stylish best friend.
Thanks so much for your understanding and I apologize for the inconvenience.


To put it delicately I was incredibly hurt. As I read this tears welled up in my eyes and shame blazed red across my cheeks. I immediately felt like some huge over-weight unworthy person. All the feelings I’ve been having about being the largest I’ve ever been came rushing to the surface. It was crushing. 

But as the afternoon wore on I began to get mad. Really REALLY mad. So mad in fact that the first draft of this blog post is in the garbage because every other word was started with an F and ended with a UCKING.

Now I am still angry, but I have more clarity and understand that Style Fix and I will never be ‘stylish best friends’ cause Style Fix is an asshole.

Here’s my letter to this absurd company that I will be posting on their FB page asap.

Dear Stitch Fix,
After receiving your letter in regards to why you are not currently able to ‘pack me a great Fix’ I have to say, I was more than a little bit hurt. And now, I am downright angry. 
 
You claim to have limited inventory in XL sizes because you vendors aren’t shipping you larger sizes and you don’t have very much influence with your brands and that you are currently in the process of changing this issue? 
 
Well thanks but no thanks.
 
Even if I was to drop two dresses sizes overnight, I won’t be using your service now, next month or ever. 
You claim to want to help women feel their best and in one cold and off-hand email you made me feel worse than I ever have about myself, my body and my size. Shame on you.
 
Not that anyone in your company asked, but my wardrobe is full of items in sizes from M to XL, depending on the brand, but I felt XL best suited my hips for bottoms and dresses. And, like many mothers, I am used to dressing to camouflage the parts of my body I find the least attractive, so I often buy a size larger though it may not truly fit.
 
It is reasons such as these that I sought out your service intially. It was my hope that one of your ‘expert’ stylists could help me get my fashion groove back. But I see that wasn’t meant to be.
 
Because despite being in ‘beta’ mode or not having ‘influence’ with your brands as an American company catering towards American women you really should have been thinking a lot harder about how to dress the more than 50% of women who are over a size 14 in our country. Why would any company, beta or not, begin without catering to such a large percentage of their target market?
 
My body may not be model skinny or ideal but my body is strong enough to have held up loved ones in grief. My body has packed a million moving boxes. My body has swam two oceans and many seas. My body has filled a beautiful white dress as I said the words “I do”. And my body has grown and delivered two healthy children without surgery or drugs. My body is quite amazing really. 
 
Essentially you told me that my body has a few more inches than your brands are willing to cover or that your company is completely unprepared to help? Well fuck you Style Fix. Get a handle on the real world and real women because without that handle you are doomed to fail as a viable option for American women. 
 
Good luck. You’re going to need it. 
Alexia Mansour 


From now on I will be back to loving my perfectly imperfect body and continuing to work on being an active and healthy person in all aspects of life. And I will continue to rock my awesome style with the help of great stores like Loehmann’s and Target and little boutiques like Conversation Pieces, because not only do they have great selections of styles, but they get real women’s bodies. Who needs a stylist anyways? (Well…Lindsey Lohan does but I digress…)

Where are your favorite places to shop? Any online stores or brands I really MUST check out?

Thanks for reading my rant.

It’s Been A While…

Hey there! And happy new year! It’s been a long long long time since I’ve posted.

But as I sit here in our home, with all the Christmas decorations finally down, having missed the Downton Abbey premiere because of two children that just didn’t want to go to bed, finally getting around to writing a post I am almost totally unable to think of one thing to write. Because I have a million things I want to write.

In no particular order here are a few things I have on my mind:

Christmas is finally over. The boxes have all been packed and a snug away in the garage until next year. Can’t say that I’ve ever been happy to have it over with either. We started celebrating the day before Christmas Eve and went for six days straight. By the end of it we were all exhausted, crabby, sleep deprived and ill. After six Christmas parties and a birthday party that week I have over 1000 pictures (that’s including our Thanksgiving road trip which I still haven’t posted). I need to edit them and put together a recap post, but it’s a daunting task. And honestly, I don’t even know if I want to see them all again so soon either. Maybe I will conquer that by the end of the week. Maybe I’ll just throw together a few collages. What do you think? Still interested in seeing pictures of Christmas, or ready to forget all about it?

Cedella is turning 3 a week from Monday. 3!!!! WHAT?! So not only do I have a bday party on Saturday to prepare for but I have a letter to write to her and a whole “This is Cedella at 3” blog post to write. There’s so much to say about her. So much that’s new. So much that’s old. And I want to capture it all, all of her, but I can barely get her to stand still, let alone look at the camera so it will have to be very wordy. There are so many crazy silly and unique things about her. Things that I want her to be able to be reminded of when she grows up. Things I want to remember that if I don’t write then down will slip into the ever increasing cracks in my Mom Brain. And then there will have to be a birthday party recap and more pictures to edit.

Isora is growing by leaps and bounds. She started pulling herself up around Thanksgiving, started scooting around the furniture shortly thereafter and now she’s standing alone and is just moments from walking. She says sweet little words like ‘duck’ and her favorite thing to say ‘dada’. She has changed so much in the past month alone that I feel utterly neglectful for not having recorded more about her each month. It really is going by so incredibly fast. But I vow to do a proper update on the 18th. I’m scheduling it now. If you get an empty email that morning you’ll know I’ve forgotten all about it…

Now that it’s really a new year and I’ve gotten motivated to start reorganizing and cleaning it has occurred to me that we have had no schedule or preschool since Thanksgiving. The girls are staying up way past ten at this point and waking up by 8am. In short, they aren’t getting enough sleep. Time to get back into a normal schedule. Dinner before 7. Bath and bed by 8. School on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Housekeeping on Tuesday and Thursday.

Of course, throw in a week like this one, that included a day spent entirely in a hospital waiting room, and two drives to Detroit and back, and how could anyone keep a schedule?

Well at least, we kept one of our scheduled events this week. Because we’ve found a class that Cedella actually loves. Gymnastics!! She’s a natural :)

And yes by all means, it’s the beginning of the year and therefore it’s Resolution Season. But I learned from last year’s resolutions that it is lovely to have goals, but having two small children pretty much means that goals should be simple. Like “I resolve to shower more often”. Or “I resolve to not yell at my kids until after I’ve had coffee”. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t set goals that may not be accomplished this year, or ever for that matter.

So for that reason I’m joining up with Alicia at Clever Compass for a new kind of resolution. A Life List. All week long myself and other bloggers are sharing a list of things we want to do during our lifetimes. Travel. Learn. Try. Do. All of it.

And while I can’t wait to read all the other lists out there I really can’t wait to share mine, if only because it is so incredibly liberating and exciting to think about and write about all the things I want to do with my life. So stayed tuned…

And just because I couldn’t let you go without a pic or two. Here’s my future Olympian and her BFF Anna in full training mode…

And just getting a hang of things…