Just over five years ago, I stood in a playground pushing my baby on the swing. I told my mom friend about a job I wanted to apply for, even though it seemed like the worst timing. After all, my son was still in diapers. Was I completely crazy to even consider working from home without any support? My friend told me to apply then figure it out later. That's when I discovered that crazy is often the best advice.
The years I've spent blogging as Mummy Buzz have been - hands down - the most fun I've had at any job. (Incredibly, being doused in hot fudge and soft serve vanilla at DQ doesn't rank.) While my son was napping, I would peruse the web, sourcing the kind of stories that I wanted to read. Then I got to write them up the way I wanted to tell them, in the true voice of a "yummy mummy."
Aside from actually knowing what was going on in the world for once, the single biggest thrill of this gig was always you, the reader. Five years on, you continued to surprise and baffle. No measure of experience could fully predict which stories would yank at your heart strings and which would get your blood boiling.
You were fascinated by media that seemed to push the boundaries of good taste. Was the holiday commercial too morbid, or the C-section photo too graphic? But above all, you had a solid sense of humour. You quickly saw the funny side when a boy wore an "inappropriate" sweater to school. And you loved a good parody, especially if it involved Frozen because in 2014 that movie drove us all to drink. I swear Chardonnay sales shot up that year!
Nothing excited you more than a bit of sleuthing. You thrived on being privy to some new bit of information, whether it was learning the "ugly" side of trendy Ugg boots or the heartbreaking inspiration behind a popular children's book.
Celebrity stories figured largely. Some of most viral stories I ever wrote about involved famous parents. Fortunately for me, you weren't interested in mere tabloid gossip. What fascinated you were celebrities who faced real parenting dilemmas. Situations that made them relatable. Like the time Jenny McCarthy's son called her out to the cops for texting while driving, or when the Jolie-Pitts masterfully handled their child's gender transition.
In May 2014, my biggest story broke. It involved celebrities and parenting. It was short and sweet and full of grey areas. Will and Jada Smith's daughter Willow, then 13, was photographed lying in bed with a 20-year-old family friend. The Instagram photograph prompted an investigation by Child Services. The image stirred up tons of controversy, and was a prime example of parents being scrutinized and publicly shamed for their decisions. A trend that has unfortunately continued to this day...
Being Mummy Buzz has forced me to flesh out my opinions and get to know my own mind as both a woman and as a mom. Among other things, this blog has taught me to look at the bigger picture. Instead of jumping to conclusions, I learned to step back and consider various angles and possibilities. It has taught me to always start from a place of compassion. To open my mind and my heart, to the best of my abilities.
And I have you to personally thank for that.
A new staff writer will soon be joining YMC. In the meantime, please don't be a stranger. You can still find me at Other Side of the Coin, where I write about raising a child with special needs and anything else that grabs me!
It wasn't what she wore to the Video Music Awards that had tongues wagging, it's what she didn't wear. No, I'm not talking about Alicia Keys' designer dress. I'm talking about the fact that the Grammy-winning singer had the barefaced cheek to attend an award ceremony without makeup.
You heard. She stepped on to the red carpet sans war paint. Not flick of mascara, no a hint of concealer.
In the music industry, that is an act of true rebellion and badassery, the likes of which Rhianna or Gaga could never muster.
For Keys, the disenchantment has been a long time brewing. She has been rallying against the pressures women face, and made the case for natural beauty not so long ago in a Lenny essay:
"One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women," wrote Keys. "The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you're plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked."
"I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."
And women all over the place nodded and applauded. But then Keys went took it to the nth - she went "naked" at an awards ceremony - and many of the same cheering women could no longer get behind her.
Alicia Keys looks like she just rolled out of bed.— Inga (@sauvignonelle) August 29, 2016
Enough is enough, girl. It's okay to wear makeup for special occasions. Lol #VMAs
"Alicia Keys is taking this no makeup thing too far. It's the #VMAs .. put on some mascara."— .kelsey. (@KelsoLovelyy) August 29, 2016
This no makeup thing has gone to far. I'm talking to you @aliciakeys lol. #VMAs— darlando (@itsmedarlando) August 29, 2016
Even someone as beautiful as Alicia Keys was told in no uncertain terms: for mercy's sake, woman, put on some makeup! A dash of lipstick, at the very least. Because come on, it's the VMAs and heaven forbid a woman should stroll the red carpet without putting her face on.
All these people - men and women alike - rushing Twitter to denounce her look maybe didn't realize they were further proving her point. That award shows aren't about dresses and makeup and cosplay. Maybe, just maybe, they are about artists and the music they make. At least they should be.
We've all been there. You're at a family gathering and when it comes time for greetings, your child shirks from hugging an aunt he barely knows from Adam. Should you force the issue or let it go?
Even for kids who are naturally affectionate, the expectation to embrace a family member can place an unhealthy pressure on children. They may not, for whatever reason, feel like being smothered in kisses at that moment.
As parents, we naturally feel the pull of expectation from our relatives who adore and likely miss our children. We don't want our relatives to feel rejected or disrespected. We don't want our children to come across as cold. So with the best intentions, we nudge little Johnny forward into an unwanted embrace.
Experts caution against such behaviour.
First and foremost, forcing a child to hug people they don't want to sends a message that their rights are less important to that of an adult's. It breaks down the ultimate trust - between parent and child.
It sends the message that children should unthinkingly defer to the whims and wants of grown-ups, some of whom may not have the child's best interests at heart, according to Peter Saunders, chief executive of the U.K.-based National Association for People Abused in Childhood. When we force them into any kind of affection, we are teaching them - how ever subtly - that their own physical and psychological wellbeing comes second to that of others.
Sure, most adults are loving and harmless in their affection, but do we really want kids ignoring their own comfort signals? Personal boundaries matter, and kids need to tune into their own perimeters early on. As parents we should be empowering our kids, not overruling their bodily autonomy to please our relatives.
Easier said than done. How many of us remember squirming in an unwanted embrace as a child?
"There are certain things we [should] make children do which is quite different," said Saunders. "We make them brush their teeth, for example. That is quite different to forcing them to kiss an uncle they don't want to. It's about boundaries. And this blurring of boundaries [by forcing them to kiss someone they don't want to] can indeed blur their understanding of what is right and wrong, about their body belonging to them."
There are ways to strike a balance between respecting our children and appeasing adults.
Experts suggest giving kids a choice of age-appropriate responses to hugs and kisses. For example, a six year old can be prepped before a gathering the she can choose a high-five or fist bump over a hug if that's all she feels comfortable with in the moment. It may not be what the grown up was hoping for, but it saves face and avoids being seen as rude. If the child opts for a spontaneous hug, great. At least the ball is firmly in the child's court.
It may be a good idea to tactfully remind adults before they kneel with outstretched arms that your child can take a little while to warm up and that you are encouraging them to do what feels comfortable. If all else fails, keep the mood light and try make a joke to defuse the situation.
I know in my son's case, it's quite telling those relatives he will rush to embrace and those from whom he naturally holds back. It's his call. And sometimes it's just a matter of timing. Affection at the end of a nice visit is much more likely than at the start.
Give me a natural hug over a forced one any day of the week.