For some people, name dropping is saying things like, “So the other day, me and Beyonce were laughing about….” OR “Oh, so I forgot to tell you that I bumped into Michelle Obama when I was at The White House and….” OR “When I was at Whole Foods the yesterday buying organic lemon grass juice for my daughter, Applesauce, I saw Dr. (Insert the most impressive physician in your community) and he said his wife is practically grief stricken that we haven’t RSVP’d for the black tie fund raiser they are having to raise money for the orphan sea otters of Jakarta.”
Or as Napoleon Dynamite would say, “LUCKY!”
But although there are lucky and privileged people waltzing around at formal events, name dropping and ignoring price tags at Nordstrom’s, most people are NOT. Most people are shuffling around Wal-Mart, watching famous people on television or at the movies when they aren’t too exhausted from working a full and part time job and wearing shoes from five seasons ago without realizing that there are actually seasons for clothing. Like my pal Napolean Dynamite, most of us don't have the sweet Sledgehammer dirt bike with shocks and pegs. Most people ride the bus.
And despite the fact that I am one of the shufflers, I don’t begrudge the waltzers their easy breezy-ness, especially when I know that at least their children are being well taken care of. Knowing how many children in this country go to bed hungry every night, don’t have warm winter clothing and live in single parent homes where the money the waltzers spend on lemon grass juice and sea otters every week could feed their family for a month, makes me happy that not ALL children are going without.
But I love name dropping and I think it’s cool that I can say that I know some pretty amazing people who write some groovy and thought provoking stuff. Stuff that makes the difference between the shufflers and waltzers fade away. When I name drop, it's usually a bad ass blogger I'm claiming to roll with. BOO YA!
So this morning when I read Mary Tyler Mom’s (MTM) guest post here on the wonderful Daddy Knows Less (DLK) blog, I found myself quite proud of my friend (Yeah, I’m name dropping) Sheila’s ability to express her irritation with a fellow writer’s perspective without infusing it with bitterness. It is NOT easy to do that, especially when you have lived the life that Sheila has over the past 5 years. Sheila indicated that reading Anne Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic titled, “Why Women still can’t have it all,” made her feel, “Anxious and panicky.” Bless her, because I didn’t read it at all, and when I saw all the pieces popping up in response to the article, I skipped them as well. I only read the piece in The Atlantic this morning AFTER I read MTM’s guest post on DLK.
Why didn’t I read it in the first place? Because Anne Marie Slaughter is a waltzer and I am a shuffler.
I can’t relate to her life at all and although I am a voracious reader, I steer away from the type of articles written about parenting by people who whine about their housekeepers, nannies or personal assistants or how the had to replace their kid's iPod AGAIN after it was stolen out of her Lexus. Surely they can’t possibly know what it feels like to tell a kid that they have to wait another month for new shoes, even though the kid's shoe has a gaping hole in the bottom of it, in the middle of winter, and every day that kid is sloshing around school all day with a wet sock. And that same kid would never tell his mother that he lost his gloves, even though it’s almost a damn rite of passage in childhood to lose a glove, because he doesn’t want her to feel even more guilty about the state of his wardrobe when he knows she’s just trying to keep the heat on and make sure he and his sibling don’t go to bed hungry and cold.
Sure I try to find balance in my life while being a mom and all that other crap Slaughter wrote about.
Whine, squeal, moan. Seriously...
ALL women are doing that. You aren't unique. Wait, you are. You don't ride the bus, Lady.
A mom doesn’t have to be on the career track making big dollar and stressing out about nannies and travel hockey to struggle with balance. I read the piece by Slaughter. I also read a response piece in Slate and The Washington Post just because Google had them listed. After doing so, I have realized that it would be a monumental task for me to address it without being mean spirited and stabby. And that is why I don’t read that sort of thing in the first place!
I know it’s all relative and what not, we all struggle, right? I just can’t tolerate whining about how a “foreign policy dream job” makes it hard to have a balanced life or how stressful it is to CONSTANTLY be rubbing elbows with rich and powerful types, from a privileged woman that could easily downsize her Prada lifestyle and stay at home with her troubled kid if need be.
It’s good that I don’t have to, right?
And although I am a huge fan of MTM and DLK, they both live lives that are very different than mine based on what I’ve read in their blogs. I would never have become friends with them in real life had we not all come together through writing. But I’ll never be buddies or socialize with them. Not because I don’t like them, but because they are in a different socio-economic group and live a lifestyle I could never keep up with. They take vacations, go shopping and to museums and on outings and such, buy organic food, drive nice cars and have good jobs with households earning over six figures per year. We are in two distinctly different socio-economic groups and live very different lifestyles.
But when I read MTM’s intense and passionate reaction to the article by Slaughter, I wasn’t a bit surprised! The perspective was so fresh and funny. Even being a waltzer in theory, MTM has the heart and mind of a shuffler. And she rode the bus for a pretty long time before she got her sweet, tricked out bike! She knows what’s really important in the life of a child and puts that above all else. She doesn’t think she has it all, but there are many who would beg to differ and claim that her life is quite privileged, even if it’s not Slaughter power like, but it’s all relative, right? Cancer made sure of that. That’s why I’m a MTM groupie.
I think she pulled it off in a magnificent and glorious way, sans bitterness, using true to life, personal experiences and emotions that transcend cash flow status.
WELL DONE MY FRIEND.
Yeah, she’s my friend. In real life too! Not my pal who I shop, vacation or lunch with, but a soul sister who I can sit and talk with for hours over coffee, a smoothie or a glass of wine about the stuff that matters to waltzers and shufflers.
The reason I read both MTM and DKL is because of the heartfelt stories, delicious humor and soul searching they seem to be doing as parents. Their priorities are similar to mine. They want the same stuff and they don’t complain about what they have and how it’s just so hard for them to have it. Both of these writers revel in the beauty of snuggling up with a book or making a meal with their family and each of them slather their partner with praise.
They write some good stuff and I can say with 99.456% accuracy that neither one of them would be “sipping champagne, greeting foreign dignitaries and mingling” if their kid was struggling across the board had “barely spoken to them in months.” I’m not saying that Slaughter was wrong. She did what was right for her, but it would never be right for me or my bleeding hearted bloggy friends. And I know from the reaction to her piece that she didn’t garner much sympathy from the mom world with her moaning about not being able to have it all. She wants us to relate to her struggle.
ARE YOU KIDDING, Slaughter? Sister, you need to ride the bus for awhile.
Um…NO. And then there’s Goop, the blog by Gwyneth Paltrow. Totally unrealated by because MTM literally spits fire when the name is mentioned, I just could not resist a wee jab at the celeb who thought that a Chicago BBQ was "meat heavy." OH MY GOD GET ON THE MEAT BUS, GWEN!
Ms. Gwen’s blog indicates that she is dedicated to, “curating the best of lifestyle to help her readers save time, simplify and feel inspired.” Um…NO. Her blog is like planet Fancy Pants to me. Goop sees itself as a “wealth of knowledge and an indispensable resource for all who love to make, go, get, do, be and see.” You can do this if you are a movie star waltzer making millions a year, but NOT if you are an average American momma in the Midwest making $40K a year, and that’s OKAY!
I'm not linking the website for Goop. I just can't be responsible for that. Google it if you want to make, go, do, be and see for yourself.
I LOVE to make, go, do, be and see too, but I the featured “must have” bikini on the Goopie website, priced at a whopping $185, and could feed my family for two weeks. In my world, the “must have” items I’m most concerned about are shoes for my kids so that they can make, go, get, do, be and see and I’ll be honest: My kid is the kid who sloshed around in that crappy shoe with a hole for a month last winter. He didn’t want to tell me about it, because he knew that times were really tight here at Casa de Knepper, and he knew that so many kids had it way worse. He goes to school with a bunch of them, the ones who love school days more than weekends because on school days they get three hot meals a day instead of one.
Some of his friends could really use that sea otter money. Just saying.
So I guess what I’m saying is that instead of being all cranky and judgy about people like Gwynie and Slaughter, I CHOOSE to sip cheap white wine with goofy neighbors and family while watching my kids leap around the back yard in the sprinkler and eating hot dogs, knowing that I can also CHOOSE to ignore them. I have no reason to read “Goop” and I certainly avoid publications and online sources that write about lifestyles I can’t begin to understand. We all have choices! I don’t begrudge Slaughter and Goopie-girl and MTM for what they have. Especially since all three of these women have children, who they clearly adore and take very good care of. Each happy and well taken care of child makes the world a better place, whether they come for the ghetto or Beverly Hilsl 902166666594 or whatever. We are all doing our best. We just do it differently.
I choose to admire the work and writing of my cohort that I can relate to in heart and mind, regardless of our socio-economic status.
I chose to stay home with my kids long after I was on bed rest with my second pregnancy. My husband I and knew it was going to be rough. I have no regrets. Staying home brought me to my new career as a writer and I dig it. I write about what I know and the people who read my drivel can relate. If they can’t, they just stop reading. But being a writer means that I have a responsibility to also be a reader. How can I write about mental health, parenting and pop culture if I don’t read about these things? But I do stop reading when something is just too far beyond what I believe to be reasonable or relatable to me and the purposes of my life or the people that read my stuff.
However, I think it’s brave and amaze balls that MTM tackled the Slaughter piece. I’m all giddy that I can say that I know her. She ain't no Beyonce, but she's bootylicious and that's a fact! We share a passion for knowing and wanting to understand how other people think, feel, believe and live. How else can we work together as parents to make the world a better place for our kids and be the best parents we can be? Isn’t that what we all want?
I think so.