Friday, August 31, 2018

6 Real, Actual Non-BS Self Care Tips for Moms

Motherhood isn’t just a tough job. It’s a 24/7 never-ending one. One of the biggest things no one ever tells pregnant ladies is that while babies and toddlers may have relatively simple needs, they will need mama all the time. Nap time is not break time because the idea of sleeping when the baby sleeps totally ignores the fact that if no one washes the dishes, there are no damn dishes. Or if no one works, we all starve to death and then we won't even need dishes. And how about older siblings? They're doing what exactly while mama and baby nap together? Dumping shit all over the floor, that's what. Think it gets any easier when all the kiddos are older? Ha!

Can't wait to clean marker off the floor...
That’s why when I read some diabetes-inducing article about how moms (or hell, women in general) are all supposed to be practicing self care, I have to laugh. Let me just set me alarm for 4:30 a.m. to get my meditation fix! And why haven’t I thought about spending more time on some hobby? Oh right, I have to keep two small humans from killing each other. So let’s get real with some self care tips for moms that we can actually use.

Pop your kids in front of a movie. I know, we’re all supposed to fear the one-eyed babysitter. But one movie isn’t going to turn them into screen zombies. In the time it takes them to go from opener to credits you can read a few chapters of a book, take an uninterrupted shower, call one of your friends, eat an uninterrupted meal, run on the treadmill, or just hide in the john with your phone. If all of that sounds like too much work – you’re exhausted, I get it – another option is to just shut yourself up in your bedroom with to enjoy 90 blissful minutes of silence (or something close to it).

Say no and let wine (or meditation or kick boxing) take care of the guilt. You're tired, so why exactly do you feel the need to jump on every volunteering opportunity at your kids’ school? Give some of the other moms a chance to participate, why don’t you? I know this will be hard for Type A, high achieving mamas, hence the need for coping mechanisms. One small glass of wine should give you the ovaries to shoot off an email declaring you’re not interested in being den mother this year. A second might help you relax into your newly acquired freedom. With that in mind, don’t go filling those now empty hours with projects unless they are projects for you.

Hand the baby to dad. Now this is a hard one because if baby is used to being strapped to mom 24/7 then baby may cry! But watching dad deal with the crying won’t be nearly as hard as the second part of this self care tip, which is leave. Go in another room. Better yet, get in your car and go somewhere else. Starbucks. The yoga studio. Target. Or the parking lot behind the Target where the long haul truckers sometimes grab a nap. Put a little distance between you and your bundle(s) of joy so you can reconnect with the ME inside all that MOM.

Kick the kids out. Having a home with a fenced-in back yard is brilliant because it means you can play 1950s mom and say “Don’t knock on this door unless you’re bleeding or it’s time for lunch.” But if your only outdoor real estate is a fire escape, sign your kids up for a class. By which I mean a drop off class that leaves you with a few hours free. There’s a reason the old imagery of parents celebrating after waving their kids off to camp is still around in popular culture. Sometimes parenting is easier when there’s a few yards or even miles between you. Better yet, send your kids to camp. Sleep-away camp!

Buy that lotion you like. Or the toothpaste or shampoo or sugar scrub or whatever. Then put it up high where grubbing little fingers can’t get to it and pour it out like it’s Mister Bubble. Give yourself a little present that’s not everyday store-brand junk. Why should kids get all the little treats? Hide cookies in your closet. Watch shitty reality TV and drink the top shelf cider after bedtime. Eat the last piece of birthday cake – if someone calls you out on it, you can always say you found a spot of mold and the whole thing had to go in the trash.

Whoops, I bought myself a car. Must have been a shitty day.
Let your frustrations out. I’m sorry, but when did we as a culture decide that moms need to be preternaturally patient with their kids at all times? Children can act like terrible little monsters from time to time and isn’t it more useful to show them that you can’t treat other people like dirt and expect them not to lose their cool? Now last I heard we’re not even supposed to raise our voices any more, so if you’re into extra gentle parenting then just tell your little monsters that they’re acting like jerks. Using appropriate language, of course. There’s nothing wrong with the old standard: “I will always love you, but I sure as heck don’t LIKE you right now.” Bottling things up? Now that is unhealthy, or so I’ve heard!

Self care for moms… it’s all about securing your own oxygen mask first. Even if that means you’re securing that mask while hiding in the bathroom watching tiny fingers wiggling at you from under the door.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Why Did They Have to Airbrush the Light Fury in 'How to Train Your Dragon 3'?

Fun fact about me: I love the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. Like, a lot. I will happily re-watch any of the movies or the shows. It's well written, it's funny, and it puts girls on equal footing with boys - something that not a lot of shows do well, even when that's the intention. The franchise has been amazing about portraying girls and women as people (instead of a mystery for males to solve or a plot device for males to rescue). And about showing a relatively healthy love relationship between teenage protagonists, which is something you almost NEVER encounter in any media.

So obviously I was so excited to hear that there would be a How to Train Your Dragon 3... and then I saw the movie poster and read this interview with Dean DeBlois, who has written and directed each film. Now I'm a lot less excited to see the film and to show it to my kids.

Less defined, less powerful, less interesting? Check.

Here's the tl;dr version of why:

1. Female dragon = smooth, sparkly, submissive looking, with smaller claws and very little physical definition

Is that even a dragon? She looks like a bunny with that little pink nose.

2. This: "Toothless is a complete bumbling amateur when it comes to issues of courting," DeBlois says. "He isn't in touch with his primal instincts for these love matters." 

My first question is how many more movies do we need that portray a clueless male character pursuing a female with no skill whatsoever and then finally winning her over with his persistence (or with some stereotypical baseline gesture of feeling)? The quick answer is no more. We need zero more movies like that ever because they teach boys to keep trying forever even when the answer is no and they teach girls that, well, boys are clueless and finding one that is slightly less clueless is as good as it gets.

Here's my next question. Putting aside the fact that the Light Fury looks like a Night Fury that molted and is waiting for its scales to harden, why why why did DreamWorks feel the need to feminize the Light Fury to the Nth degree?

At least she doesn't have pretty eyelashes?

Let's just get this out of the way... Is there anything wrong with feminine characteristics in general? NO. But in the context of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, I'm going to say YES, there absolutely, positively is something wrong with airbrushing the female dragon. 

One of my favorite things about the franchise has been the fact that the female characters, whether they are dragons or people, are suited to their environment. It's a tough world they live in, so they're made of tough stuff. They're not the usually emotionally strong girls in a pretty package - they're just strong people, full stop. Particularly in the first film, Astrid is not your typical cartoon bombshell. And Ruffnut? Has the kind of facial definition you only see on male characters. 

As for the female dragons, they have all kinds of badass physical characteristics and were never rendered in a way that made them obviously female. Or obviously anything other than dragon - the series has actually been great about not gendering the dragons in the way we're used to seeing animated animals gendered.

Now you could argue that Toothless isn't sporting a lot of armor (until now he's been the most feminine of the dragons in terms of appearance) so why would the Light Fury, but Toothless has ridges and spikes and his claws are big and obvious. And he has definition.

What we've seen of the Light Fury so far? Super smooth skin. Pretty sparkles. Much smaller claws. A little bunny nose. Somewhat larger eyes. Does she even have scales? Did someone peel off Toothless' outer layer? Right now the sneak peek we've seen can be summed up as Glittering Marshmallow Dragon. Frankly, the Light Fury design is... boring, which is surprising considering how much thought has gone into the dragon design across the movies and series up until now.
 
It's also worth noting that it's counter to the basic biological rules in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. Unless I'm mis-remembering, not one dragon species in the movies or the shows has had a female version who was super sleek or overtly femme. They've just been dragons - sometimes they differ from the males in size or in certain details but they're still dragony.  They have spikes or ridges and scales and claws.

The Light Fury as depicted on the movie poster and in the handful of stills that have been released just seems like lazy design. Okay, you want a white dragon... with maybe a little sparkle? Fine, but at least give it DETAIL. Ridges. Scales. How about any dragony characteristics whatsoever? Right now, the Light Fury looks like Toothless as seen through a bad Snapchat filter. Who greenlighted that?

I can only hope that since the film's release is still a ways off, they're still making tweaks. My fingers are crossed that when March of 2019 rolls around, I am pleasantly surprised instead of hugely disappointed by the evolution of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. 

No, seriously... she's a bunny.

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