If You Are Going To Talk About My Son’s Penis, Please Be Nice

There has been a lot of talk over at the Huffington Post about my son’s penis.  Lisa Belkin disagreed with my choice to not introduce the word ‘penis’ to my son at the age of three.  Logan Levkoff called my action (well, actually a made-up version of my action) a “parenting fail.”  Let’s put aside for a moment that the word ‘penis’ was mentioned three times in the 1000 word Mommyish article (the lesson of which was entirely lost), and discuss the deeper issue: mommy shaming.

Some people use slang words for their child’s private parts.  Other people think that is “wrong” or “harmful,” but your judgment has little impact on someone else’s visceral feelings.  A parent is not going to use a word if they don’t feel comfortable.  They can be educated and informed, but they do not have to see things the way you do.  Nor should they be forced to.

Many responses pointed out that ‘penis’ wasn’t a part of their own vocabulary for various reasons.  I am happy for those evolved parents who feel completely at ease with the words penis and vulva (that’s right, vagina is not the anatomically correct term, it’s vulva), but understand this:  not everyone has that comfort level.  It is wholly unacceptable to make others feel shame around their issues – whether they be insignificant (eww, I don’t like that word) or deep (victims of child abuse).  Hold firm to your beliefs but be respectful of where someone else might be coming from.  You cannot possibly imagine what goes into every parenting decision someone else makes.

I have been in the minority quite often (remember when you told me how you really felt about my support for Mayor Bloomberg’s Latch on NYC initiative) but have enjoyed the spirited and passionate debates.  However, we must refuse to shame someone for parenting choices that don’t jive with our own.  Education and rational discussion are tools this entire country should value yet it seems parents toss those concepts in the wastebasket as soon as they see another parent saying or doing something of which they don’t approve.

You are entitled to your opinion of what is “right” and what is “wrong”.  You are encouraged (at least here) to share it.  Be respectful and maintain an open-mind.  I fear we are raising a generation of children that will know the word ‘penis’ but will call each other assholes when they perform math equations from left to right instead of vertically.

To see our respectful disagreement, check out me and the rest of the panel on Huffington Post Live (note: the live audio will begin immediately but to see the ‘penis’ segment, you need to click play under ‘no more penis’).  Editorial note:  I relaxed about five minutes in when I realized this wasn’t going to be a witch hunt.

Can’t stand to watch video?  Check out some of the very honest and respectful input on Facebook.

Hello? Is Anybody Listening? Apparently, yes.

Hello?  Is this thing on?

That’s what I used to wonder when I began this blog.  You hit publish and your words disappear off into oblivion.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.  Sometimes we just need to vent, sometimes we want to put things out there just to get them off our chests.  Sometimes a wonderful community surrounds you and supports you on your bad days.

Sometimes you say things because you really mean them and the debate that ensues is uplifting and inspiring.

Sometimes you say things to convey the growing pains of being a parent and people tell you that you are wrong.  Like Lisa Belkin of the Huffington Post.

Belkin has taken issue with my recent post on Mommyish where I explain that I am not a fan of the words win, penis and girlfriend as far as my three-year-old is concerned.  Of course it’s the word penis that is raising eyebrows.  I am being asked to defend my position on Huff Post Live tomorrow, but the article got me all wrong.  I never proposed “banning” those words.  In fact my post said I didn’t think they were “bad words” by any definition.  I simply elected not to introduce them to my son at this age.  That is my choice as a parent.

The thrust of my Mommyish piece is that my son will have influences other than me throughout his life.  I would love to keep him protected forever – from these silly words and so much more – but that isn’t reality.  So now it’s time to roll with it.

How do you think I’ll hold up?  Will I crumble?  Will I have a change of heart?  Will I stand my ground?  What do you think?

Amy Poehler: You Are Funny Sexy Cool

I aspire to be funny.  Occasionally I hit my mark.  Lately I’ve been too high on my soapbox to find the humor.  But my love for hysterical women never wanes.

My current girl crush is Amy Poehler.  In recent years she’s taken a back seat to my love for Tina Fey.  But I’m here to admit I was blind, dear Amy.  I first noticed you, along side my love Tina Fey, in the movie Baby Mama.  It felt like Good Will Hunting all over again.  I was blinded by the obvious and fell for the lead.  Like Ben, however, you are proving to be the shining star in my life.

I was blown away when I found your kick-ass website, Smart Girls at the Party, encouraging young women to “change the world by being yourself.”  I love seeing pictures of you and your two adorable little boys.  You made me laugh on Ellen.

Last night you were nominated for two Emmy awards, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for “Parks and Recreation,” demonstrating the depth of your wit and intelligence before you even arrived.  And then you showed up on the red carpet looking smoking HOT.  Nice work Amy.  What’s not to love?

I have to admit that part of my love for you is my compulsion to pick sides.  If a Team Arnett exists as a result of your split, putting an end to nine years of marriage, I shall be throwing eggs at them while wearing my Team Poehler t-shirt.  What nerve does he have getting so many spray tans?  And sporting a six-pack?  That’s where I draw the line.  I am in a full-fledged fight with your ex-husband.  I don’t care if you say the split is “amicable.”  You take the high road.  I’ll do your dirty work.  That’s just what people in love do.


In case you missed it, last week on Mommyish I was proud of Pink AND Jessica Simpson and the world did not cease its rotation.

Pink Won’t Be Taunted Into A ‘Catfight’ With Miley Cyrus, Thanks For Trying

Jessica Simpson’s Baby Photos Are Adorably Boring

I also continued my celebration of National Yoga Month at Skinny Mom:

Yoga Poses To Practice With Your Toddler

I wanted a daughter so that must make me, my mother and my baby three generations of 1950s housewives

Gender selection is not a new concept.  There are old wives tales that date back to the beginning of time and span all countries from the Far East to the West.  From sexual positions and dietary considerations to consulting the alignment of the planets and stars, or the Chinese gender predictor – there are plenty of techniques to achieve the sex of your choice.  And they should all be taken with a grain (or a large heap) of salt.

You choose!  (results guaranteed in 50% of cases)

Not so if you go see Jeffrey Steinberg of the Fertility Institutes in Encino, California. In his lab, no part of the gender selection process is left to chance.  Fertilization takes place at the lab under controlled circumstances and the doctors get to work:

After fertilization and three days of incubation, an embryologist uses a laser to cut a hole through an embryo’s protective membrane and then picks out one of the eight cells. Fluorescent dyes allow the embryologist to see the chromosomes and determine whether the embryo is carrying the larger XX pair of chromosomes or the tinier XY. The remaining seven cells will go on to develop normally if the embryo is chosen and implanted in a client’s uterus.

What do you think?  Is this playing God or is it no more invasive than so many fertility procedures that have become common these days?

Whether or not you agree with the scientific technique, I take great issue with the slant of this article.  The author paints a picture of Americans of Caucasian, Chinese and Indian decent using gender selection in a way that solely perpetuates stereotypes.   If you want a girl, you will dress her in all pink and buy her every Barbie ever manufactured.  She will be passive, creative and gentle.  She will make the perfect homemaker.  If you want a boy, you will play sports with him and buy him the hottest new gaming device.  He will be dominant, smart and strong.  He will make the perfect provider.

The example used was this:

For Jennifer Merrill Thompson, the reasons were simple. “I’m not into sports. I’m not into violent games. I’m not into a lot of things boys represent and boys do,” she said. 

Ok, clearly she is generalizing, but she is one example, right?  Well, this was the conclusion drawn in the very next paragraph:

Interviews with several women from the forums at in-gender.com and genderdreaming.com yielded the same stories: a yearning for female bonding. Relationships with their own mothers that defined what kind of mother they wanted to be to a daughter. A desire to engage in stereotypical female activities that they thought would be impossible with a baby boy.

What?  How did we get to that last sentence?  It’s a huge leap from a “yearning for female bonding” to a “desire to engage in stereotypical female activities.”

When first trying to conceive, I myself yearned for a daughter.  I drew heavily from the bond I have with my own mother and very much wanted to continue that exchange with my hypothetical daughter.  However there is no pink in this picture.  My mother is a strong woman in every sense of the word.  She raised me to believe I could do anything I wanted.  I was a “tomboy” as a young child; playing, running, jumping, wearing hand-me-downs from my older male cousins and playing with their old matchbox cars.  Even as I got older and embraced my femininity, I still believed I had the strength – physical, mental and emotional – to match (and surpass) any male.  My daughter, in just her 18-months appears to be cut from the same cloth.   I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The daughter I’d always dreamed of

Gender preferences are normal and often reflect the relationships that molded us.  Our dreams of family are so intensely personal that they should not be judged or generalized.  If it was as simple as having a playmate to dress up with and pour some tea for, we’d all just have a wonderful doll collection.  At least they’d let you take a piss in peace.

Yet another reason to “not break the seal”

Anyone who has ever taken a pregnancy test knows to get the most accurate result the urine needs to collect in your bladder to absorb the most of the hormone that detects pregnancy.

And anyone who has ever enjoyed a long night of drinking knows that you should hold off your first bathroom trip as long as possible since subsequent trips will come sooner.

photo courtesy of cafepress.com

Well if you ever find yourself in Minnesota, you can do double duty.  Just wander over to the local pub with your $3 and your late period and take a pregnancy test in a bar.  That’s right.  Pub 500 in Mankato, MN is the first bar in the world to sell pregnancy tests and according to the mastermind, Jody Allen Crowe, founder of the nonprofit Healthy Brains for Children, the purpose is to prevent prenatal exposure to alcohol.

No word on whether UTI tests are next.  I like to get as much information as possible from every trip to the loo.


Haven’t missed your period?  Well, you might have missed my other posts this week:

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