Inhalations and Exhalations (recommendations?)

This week’s “what I’m inhaling right now” includes: Patricia Lockwood, Manoush Zomorodi, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and more. Light, digestible reviews, many of them highly inconclusive, by which I mean still full of curiosity.

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I am not like other mothers

Even when I’m not thinking directly about motherhood and its claim over my identity, whatever course of thought I am pursuing often brings me back to it somehow. It seems to seep into my reading and viewing choices, fiction and non: the book I just finished, Angelika Schrobsdorff’s You Are Not Like Other Mothers. The Canadian TV show Workin’ Moms on Netflix. The news coverage of highly consequential court cases regarding abortion access. Unless you live in total isolation from society, you, a mother, are going to be getting some feedback from the world about how you’re doing in the mothering department. Maybe you’re not leaning in enough at work or maybe you’re not sacrificing enough of yourself to your children; from the moment your embryo is detectable, people are going to have thoughts for you. Your motherhood cannot fail to make its mark on every other part of your identity, even if it is one of the few characteristics you share with over 2 billion other humans living on Earth, or as Katherine Goldstein put it during a guest appearance on Mom and Dad Are Fighting, “literally the least interesting thing about [you.]”

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5 days till Saturday

The key to the success of the Saturday morning snuggle, of course, is the quality of a given week’s library stack, and the key to a good library stack is a good, leisurely library visit, preferably one which allows plenty of time to choose some non-tiresome books to go along with the inevitable Pete The Cat and Disney garbage that we can’t go home without. I am not saying that all the Disney princesses are necessarily garbage - that’s a whole other not-uncomplicated conversation - but the books that feature them are basically pretty-princess-picture-delivery devices rather than actual works of prose where anyone gave any thought to readability or efficiency of language. If I’m going to read Princess Elena and the Secret of Avalor (which frankly needs to drop at least 500 words) over and over again, I better have some goddamn Mo Willems to chase it with.

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Go ahead and love something an embarrassing amount: the advice that isn't really about the advice

On Thursdays at 2:00 PM, it’s rare that I’m not staring at my phone, my podcast app open, waiting. Perchance even refreshing now and then. Thursday at 2:00 PM is when the latest episode of Mom And Dad Are Fighting drops, and as soon as I get to leave work for the day, my earbuds are in and the anticipation I feel is delicious. A whole hour - or close enough to it - of Mom and Dad awaits me, and for right now, all could not be more well. If I were to Marie Kondo (or is the verb KonMari? I forget, I’m at that much of a saturation point with this obsession) my phone and its contents, I would be unable to deny that Mom and Dad Are Fighting sparks a joy that I feel in my entire body.

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Your kid is amazing

Yesterday afternoon on Slate’s parenting podcast Mom and Dad are Fighting (the “This Job Sucks” edition), panelists Allison Benedikt, Gabe Roth and Carvell Wallace responded to a question from a listener whose 11-year-old, a straight-A student, was not too interested in the kind of reading and writing they (the parent) wished he would cultivate. The question (which starts at the 30-minute mark) was, basically, how the parent could make the child a better writer or convince him to read more than just comic books. After the question had been read aloud, all three parent panelists let out a heavy sigh. It was Carvell’s response that implanted itself firmly in my brain and has not let me go: “Your kid is amazing,” he said. “And part of your job as a parent is to find the ways in which they are amazing, not to make them amazing according to your own definition of that. And that gets confusing, because there’s so much overlap between what we value and what our kids end up valuing that often times we can take that overlap and confuse it for some measure of influence over how they turn out to be amazing. … but that’s luck.”

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10/23 Daily What: No More Yelling

My mom was a yeller, and I know she hated it. I remember one day when I was in second grade: she came to school in the middle of the day to tell me she was sorry for yelling at me that morning. I don’t remember the yelling, but the midday school visit has stayed with me ever since. We were doing some independent activity, so there was a fair amount of noise and activity in the room. My teacher quietly came over and told me my mom was out in the hall and wanted to talk to me - now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder how long she had been there waiting for the right moment to take me aside without drawing attention to me.

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