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A Morality Tale
Earlier this week my law firm had a Continuing Legal Education and Ethics class taught by James E. Moliterno, a professor of law at William & Mary. Prof. Moliterno used an interesting hypothetical to start off our discussion and to segue into our "Ethics in Negotiation" discussion - the purpose for the CLE. The resulting discussion of the hypothetical* was so interesting that I asked Professor Moliterno if I could share it here on my blog for discussion.

The Sad Saga of Nicole and Stephan:

Nicole and Stephan are very much in love. They want to be married and stay together for all of their lives. Unfortunately, they are separated by a deep, swift flowing river, in which there are alligators, and neither is a good swimmer.

Nicole sees Robert standing next to his boat on her side of the river. She goes to Robert and asks him to take her across the river so that she can be with Stephan. Robert replies that he will do so only if she sleeps with him. Desiring to remain faithful to Stephan, Nicole refuses.

Looking around, she sees Stephan's friend Earnest nearby, and goes to ask him for help to get to Stephan. She tells Earnest the situation, but he turns and walks away saying that he is too busy to become involved.

Still wanting to get across the river to be with Stephan, Nicole returns to Robert and pleads with him to take her across the river, but he stands firm. Finally Nicole relents and sleeps with Robert, who then takes her safely across the river to Stephan.

Nicole then relates the story to Stephan. When Stephan learns what has happened, he tells Nicole that she has prostituted herself, and he wants nothing more to do with her; and he walks away.

Nicole is brokenhearted. As she is walking home reflecting on her experience, she meets her friend Donald. He asks her what is wrong, and she tells him the whole story. Donald is incensed. He finds Stephan and beats him up.


The Characters:


Now here's what I'd like all of you to do: Take a few minutes and rank each of the 5 characters from the "best" to the "worst," with 1 being the best and 5 being the worst. Do this before you look at the comments. Tell me your rankings in the comments and why you made the decisions you did. Were any of the rankings more difficult for you? Why?


Feel free to tell me your ranking and rationale on your own blogs and leave me a link in the comments if you'd like. I'll add your links to my next post where I tell you my rankings and some thoughts about the discussion process.

This should be entertaining! Yes, I'm a geek.

*The Sad Saga of Nicole and Stephan was originally written by Anina Klein, MSW, with editorial support from Alan M. Lerner.

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The Good, The Bad, & The Stupid
Today is my Blogiversary.

One year ago, Lawyer Mama burst into the Blogosphere with drivel about poop, motherhood, life, and stuff. I fully expected my mom and maybe my husband to read. Anyone else was a bonus. Now, 150 posts later, I'm amazed. I don't know why the hell you people keep coming back, but you do.

And I love it.

But because I'm too damn lazy to write a real post for you tonight, I thought I'd share some of my personal favorites from the year. A Lawyer Mama's Greatest Hits, if you will. Enjoy!

The Good Stuff:

Competitive Mothering
Mommy Blogs Are The New Pink
Objects In The Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

The Bad Stuff:

Dark and Stormy Seas

The Stupid Stuff:

Poo Flinging
Just a Boy and His Vacuum
Just Call Me "Grace"
Wherein I Admit That I Am A Bad Mother

Thanks for sharing the past year with me. It's been great.


Private School Angst
I'm a product of public schools.

Now, depending on what you think about my writing you're either thinking, "Well, that certainly explains a lot," or, "Go, Steph!" But my point is, I've always been a firm supporter of public education. If kids with advantages at home are all sent to private schools, where does that leave the public schools? We all know the answer to that. It can leave the public schools with dummed-down academic programs, uninvolved parents, and funding problems.

Of course it was much easier for me to stand on my soapbox and preach The Gospel Of Public School before I actually became a parent.

Before we moved to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, we lived in the City of Falls Church, just outside of D.C. For those of you who have no friggin' clue what this means, we were a short walk from some of the finest public schools in the country. The population of the City of Falls Church is extremely well educated, high income, diverse, and involved. The CoFC also has its own small public school system, separate and apart from the ginormous Fairfax County Public Schools. (Even though the CoFC is technically in Fairfax County.) This means smaller class sizes, a more flexible and varied curriculum, less bureaucracy, and much more parental involvement. In other words, Falls Church is pretty much a parent's public school wet dream.

Of course after we had our first child, T and I, in our infinite wisdom, decided to move several hours away from D.C. in a search for more balanced family lives. We were also looking for a less, um..., cloying neighborhood. We found the perfect house on a 4 acre lot and lots of privacy. We love it.

But we don't live in a very good school district.

Our elementary school is not great. While the high school has a relatively good reputation, it is huge. While this may mean more access to AP and IB classes and interesting extracurricular activities, it can mean less individual contact with the faculty, and less opportunity for my involvement in choosing their educational paths.

A large public school would also mean there will be less opportunity for my kids to be deeply involved in school sports, something that I think is important for every child regardless of ability level. Judging by the athletic talent of T and I, neither of our kids is destined to become the next Peyton Manning, but I'd still like them to be involved in their school sports teams if they're so inclined.
So now T and I find ourselves facing a decision we swore we'd never have to make. Are we going to send our kids to private schools?

I can't say that we have the answer to this question yet. I still strongly support public schools. I still also believe that troubled schools need the involvement of more parents who actually give a damn. And frankly, the private schools in our area are not very diverse and diversity, in race, income, and culture, is important to me. I do not want my children to grow up with a sense of entitlement. I want them to grow up with a sense of responsibility to the community and their fellow man.

That is not to say that all of these things can't be found in private schools, but am I a hypocrite if I teach these things at home and then pack my kids off to an expensive school to play with other kids who have money?

I want my children to have the best opportunities, but that doesn't just mean the best opportunities that money can buy. I'm just not sure yet which route will offer the "best" for my children.

How did you decide between public and private schools or how will you decide? Is cost the only issue?

This post is part of Julie's Hump Day Hmm round table. Our topic for this week was school. This post is also cross posted at DC Metro Moms.

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Force of Nature
This weekend, my mother-in-law and I took H&H to a birthday party. CPA Mom's Eeyore was turning 3 and the kids were excited to go. The Little Gym was covered in soft, brightly colored gymnastic mats, things to climb, and balls to throw. Infectious dance music (including my personal favorite, MICKEY by Toni Basil) played nonstop.

The kids loved it. H&H took off in opposite directions to have fun. I don't think either of them stopped moving for the entire 90 minutes we were there. But still, Hollis and Holden reacted very differently to the loud, chaotic environment.

Holden ran up to everyone, saying "hi," and bestowing his adorable, trademark grin. He climbed with abandon and expected anyone nearby to help him or catch him. He just assumed assistance would be there as he flung himself about and he didn't care if it came from me. In fact, I only remember him actively seeking my attention once. I was sitting on the floor watching Hollis with my back to Holden and Holden ran up, tagged me, and ran away again, arms in the air, laughing at me over his shoulder, as if to say, "Here I am, Mommy. Watch me fly!"

Hollis was much more cautious. He climbed and ran and twirled, yes. But he did so alone. He never asked for help, except from me or Grandma. He never assumed that hands other than mine would be there to catch him. He ran about the room, but returned to me every few minutes. Still, the casual observer would probably never have realized how different H&H are.

Until the inflatable bounce mat made an appearance.

The kids were supposed to sit on the center of the mat while it inflated. Hollis wasn't having any of that, but Holden screamed as I carried him away from the fun. Once the mat was inflated, Holden climbed up without a backwards glance, running, jumping and stumbling across the mat, assuming that hands would be there to catch him as he leaped off the edge.

Hollis stood to the side, watching. He looked longingly at the inflatable mat but cried out in alarm when I brought him to the edge. He finally crossed it in my arms, as I awkwardly bounced my 34 year old body along while carrying a 27 pound almost-three year old on my hip. (Yeah, just call me Grace.) Finally, just before the mat was to be deflated, Hollis walked and slid cautiously across the mat, holding my mother-in-law's hands. He was shaky and cautious, but tremulously smiled in triumph.

Hollis, cautious and careful, is the quintessential oldest child in my mind. His personality is so much like mine that watching him is a surreal experience. It's almost like watching myself 32 years ago. I know the fear that holds him back and the longing to fly that accompanies it. I know that he will spend the rest of his life wanting to jump into life feet first without looking, but unable to stop himself from simply climbing, haltingly, into the shallows.

Holden, wild and fearless, is a mystery to me. He expects the adoration of everyone, but doesn't seem bothered if rebuffed. Holden will try anything, taste anything, and steal your heart with a smile. I look at him, bounding tumultuously around a room - my destructive social butterfly - and I wonder, "Who are you? How did you come from me?" But Hurricane Holden is wonderful, a force of nature. I marvel that T and I created him.

I've written before about the personality differences in my children, but never before has the path ahead been so clear to me as it was on Saturday at a child's birthday party. I worry that the scant 15 months between the boys will pose a problem, particularly when I see them engaged in the same activity. Hollis, the elder, hangs back, while Holden, the younger, jumps right in, leaving a wake behind him. Leaving Hollis behind him.

Perhaps it is enough, for now, that Hollis even dips his toes into the rapids. When Hollis finally does learn to dive in, he'll find all the more pleasure in the cool embrace of the water. And maybe he'll give me that tremulous smile. The smile that says, "I was scared, Mommy. But I did it. I did it!"

Photos by CPA Mom.

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DC Metro Moms Blog
I'm thrilled to announce that I'm the newest addition to the brand spanking new D.C. Metro Moms Blog, an offshoot of the very popular Silicon Valley Moms Blog. I think I somehow tricked them into thinking that I actually still live in the D.C. area. When they discover the truth, I'm sure they'll kick me out post haste. In the meantime, please join me over there for my inaugural post.

Here's a preview, because I'm a tease....

Until two years ago, I lived in a cute little cottage on an old tree lined street in the City of Falls Church. It was outrageously expensive, but only a 15 minute drive from work on a good day and we all know how miraculous that is in the D.C. area. Moreover, it was within walking distance of one of the best elementary schools in the area. The only problem? Our neighbors were driving us slowly insane.



I'm a Pimp!
I'd like to take a moment to pimp my blog out.

Many of you know Sonia from ...and the pursuit of happiness as a gorgeous blogger (seriously, check out her pictures, she's beautiful), mother of four cute kiddos, and really nice person from Iowa. But did you know that Sonia also makes fabulously adorable shirts? Check out her site Sunshine Designs.

Sonia designed and made a ridiculously cute Lawyer Mama tee for me. I don't have any decent pictures of me in the darn thing because I couldn't actually wait and ask someone ELSE to take a picture of me. I'm always holding the camera, but trust me when I say it's super cute. Black, short sleeve t-shirt with Lawyer Mama on it in light pink crystals. It's adorable. This was the best shot I could get that didn't include a fabulous double chin as an accessory:

Nice rack.

I even got the boys matching shirts.* Holden, of course, loves his. At 19 months he is easily distracted by any shiny object. But Hollis loves his too. His father put him in it for the first time while I was at BlogHer and he apparently refused to take it off. He slept in it. Of course, he also thinks that jammies are perfectly acceptable day time wear, but that's beside the point. The shirts are almost as adorable as my boys:

Lawyer Boy refuses to pose for pictures now.

And Lawyer Baby was feeling a bit grumpy.

(Don't you miss that brief time period when your kids actually smiled for the camera on demand? I think it happened for about 2 weeks between 6 and 6.5 months for my progeny.)

Unfortunately, I didn't think T would go for a Mr. Lawyer Mama shirt. Bummer. That would make a great family portrait. But as you can see, I did try to get a picture of Lawyer Boy, Lawyer Baby, and Lawyer Mama:

And I promise I will never again refer to myself in the third person.

In the interest of full disclosure, Sonia also awarded me the Power of Schmooze award not too long ago and said some incredibly sweet things about my writing on her blog. But this is not, I repeat not a quid pro quo arrangement! Although I certainly can be bribed to pimp out my space for martinis. I'm a cheap date.

But I love Sonia. She's funny, talented, snarky, a little bitchy, and a GDI (God Damn Independent) in the true sense of the word. What's not to love?

*If you're wondering, no, the boys can't pull the crystals off the shirt. Ms. Sunshine did a fabulous job. The shirts are toddler proof!

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Now I've Seen Everything

There are 2 half naked women from PETA protesting the hot dog stand outside my office window. They're giving away free veggie dogs. The veggie dogs looked pretty good, but I don't think that's why the line is so long....

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Missing My T
Every day there are a thousand little things I take for granted:

You take out the trash.
You change the cat litter.
You feed the cats.
You do the dishes.
You vacuum. When you can pry it away from Hollis.

You do laundry, and not just your own.

You feed the boys dinner.
You give the boys their bath.

You mow the lawn.
You clean the pool.
You make sure my car is inspected and oil changed.
You fix my flat tires.

You rescue me when I run out of gas. (She sheepishly says.)

You kiss me goodbye every morning and goodnight every evening before we fall asleep.

You call me every morning to hear about the boys' morning and daycare drop.
You call me every afternoon when you pick them up to tell me about the day.
If I call you at the last minute and ask you to pick up or drop off the boys, you always do it if you can, no questions asked.

You call me during the day just to say,"hi," or, "I love you."
When you ask about my day you actually listen to my answer. Unless I start babbling on about contract provisions and then I totally understand why you tune out. I'd tune me out too.

You are my calm in the storm.

You give our boys confidence and security.
You teach them to run, and leap, and hop.
You hold them when they trip, stumble or fall.

You flip Holden upside down.
You play Ring Around the Rosie.
You build sand forts and lego castles.

You help Hollis scare away the thunder.

You help me scare away the thunder.

You don't see the extra pounds I've gained since we started our family.
But you always notice when I lose weight.

You know what I'm thinking without even having to ask.
You love that I'm sarcastic and snarky and you tell me so all the time.

You think I'm funny.

You love what I write.
You love that I write.

You get me. You really, really get me.

We miss you.
I miss you.
We'll see you soon, Daddy.

Please go over and check out Julie's Hump Day Hmmm topic for this week. It promises to be a good one. Hopefully Julie will forgive me for posting this instead. It just had to come out.


Monday Montage - Zoo Edition #546 (OK, maybe it's only #2)
This weekend, we had the pleasure of accompanying CPA Mom and her family to the zoo. Of course, we only saw them for about 5 minutes total because our children dragged us in opposite directions, but still it was fun!

I know you've seen plenty of pictures of H&H at the zoo, but T's in Korea and I'm sure he'd like to see what he missed this weekend so SUCK IT UP, PEOPLE! Plus, you get a bonus prize: proof of my bad parenting. You'll note that Hollis is still wearing the top to his jammies. I think he'll be wearing it until it falls off his skin. Tell me this is a phase, people, please! And that it will pass before he starts preschool in 2 weeks.

"Turtles, Mommy! Turtles! Can I pet them?" This is what happens when you take them to the zoo members' breakfast with the animals outing. At least he wasn't asking to pet the lion.

Petting a turtle. Finally.

Grandma and Holden share a moment with the giraffes.

"I don't wanna pet those. They look mean."

"Let me out, Mommy! I need to roam free!"

Free at last!

A perfect day. Wouldn't you agree?

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How to Sunscreen a Toddler
I have a new review up for KINeSYS sunscreen on my review site:

How to Sunscreen a Toddler
  1. Lure toddler into living room with the promise of M&M's.
  2. Reach for toddler, miss, and chase him around the house for 20 minutes.
  3. Find toddler hiding in the pantry behind the cat food.
  4. Grab toddler and drag him kicking and screaming out of the pantry.

Read More....

"Sunscreen? We don't need no stinking sunscreen!"

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Vocabulary Builder
Folks, I can't thank everyone enough for your kind comments and thoughtful emails after my post about Hollis starting school. I didn't think the idea of school would be so hard. Hollis has been in full time daycare since he was 4 months old. But just thought of SCHOOL makes me all teary and emotional. So thank you, again, for your sweet words.

Despite my emotional fragility, I'll be around a bit less for the next couple of weeks. My hubs is in Korea for the next 3 weeks, my mom is visiting, my dad will be here next week, my mother-in-law next weekend, and then some good friends will be here over the Labor Day weekend. So please be patient with me and my lack of commenting. Hollis starts school right after Labor Day, so I'm sure I'll need y'all to hold me while I weep.

My 19 month old learned a new word in the car with me this morning.

In my defense, the asshat in the truck did cut me off. And what was up with those over sized tires? Why doesn't he just make up a bumper sticker clearly announcing his inadequacies in, um, ... other areas?

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Letting Go
Hollis is starting pre-school in a few weeks. He's incredibly excited. He has a new back pack. He's potty trained (for the most part). He's excited about school. Everything is perfect.

Except for one little problem.


I am in complete and utter denial.
My son is not about to turn 3. He is not getting hair on his legs and turning into a lanky boy. He is not developing an attitude to go along with his newly developed verbal skills. (OK, maybe that actually is happening. I mean he's my son, right? Some sarcasm and disrespect were bound to creep in somewhere.) He's not growing up.

This morning on our way to daycare those lovely rose colored glasses I've been wearing were rudely ripped off of my face. They were ripped off by Mrs. Noel, Hollis's soon-to-be teacher. Damn her.

She sent all of the kids a nice little letter and some stickers. Hollis demanded I read the letter to him as we sat in the car this morning:

Dear Hollis,

I'm very glad you're going to be in my class this year. We're going to have
lots of fun learning new things, making new friends, having parties, playing and
going places.

Our first day of school will be Tuesday, September 4th. I'm sending you a
name tag to wear to school that day.

On Monday, August 27th, between 10:00 and 11:00, our school will be open
for "meet the teacher day." Please have Mom or Dad bring you by to meet me and
some of the other children in your class. I'm looking forward to meeting you

Mrs. Noel

I couldn't even make it through the letter without breaking down. How on earth am I going to make through "meet the teacher day" and the first day of school without traumatizing Hollis?

When my voice began to crack as I was reading him Mrs. Noel's letter this morning, Hollis asked, "What's wrong, Mommy?" I pulled myself together, bravely smiled at him in the rear view mirror and said, "Nothing, sweetie. Mommy's just happy for you."

On the 27th, just ignore the woman sitting in the corner of the blogosphere quietly weeping and rocking herself back and forth.

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Can Your Child Poop His A, B, C's?
I've recently joined the Parent Bloggers Network and for my debut review, I have:

Can Your Child Poop His A, B, C's?

Hollis can.

We're very proud.

PBN may regret letting me in.

Parent Bloggers Network

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My Heart Is Breaking
When I started my blog, it was with the idea that it would be an online journal of sorts. A message to my sons about them, me, our family and our lives. Not always the mundane details, but the emotions, the thoughts, the sensations that we so easily forget. The things that aren't necessarily translated into a baby book.

But along the way I found all of you, the people who read my writing, who actually keep coming back to read about my lack of grace, moments of despair, and of joy. I started reading your blogs in return. And somewhere along the way, you all became very important to me. I care about you, I care about your lives. I hurt when you hurt. I laugh when you laugh. I cry when you cry.

I'm scared when you're scared.

Today, one of you, one of you I've grown to care about, posted something scary. So this afternoon I find myself sitting in my office with the door closed, crying. Because I'm scared for her and for her beautiful girls.

Now, I will pull myself together and offer her my support and my positive thoughts. Jenn, I'm listening. I'm not a praying person, but I will pray, in my own way, for you.

If you have a moment, please go offer Jenn your support. Thanks.

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Now For Something Lighter
My posts have been awfully serious lately, so it's time for something lighter. My buddy Mad did a post awhile ago about her kitsch and challenged us to show our own.

I have tons of kitschy stuff, but unfortunately I am a lazy ass. Since we moved two years ago I haven't even hung all of our pictures on the wall let alone unpacked all my kitsch. Kitsch that my kids might find entertaining and want to play with and break. I'm a heartless bastard and a lazy ass.

Anywho, I did manage to scare up some kitsch to share:

My Paddington figurine. My mom gave it to my grandmother years ago and then my grandmother gave it to me when she heard I was decorating Hollis's room in a Paddington Bear theme. Do you know how hard it is to find that damn bear in the U.S.?

My kitchen telephone. It really accepts coins, but it's not an original. I got it at Target.

My salt and pepper pigs. I bought them at a garage sale 13 years ago. I cried last year when one of the ears broke. This is my favorite piece of tacky in the house.

So there you have it. I've come clean about my kitsch. Do you have any to show me?

Edited to add: I have a post up on my review site for the PBN, Wii Blog Blast.

What Quality Time?

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Race and the Blogosphere
This post is part of Julie Pippert's Hump Day Hmm and BlogRhet's "Let's Talk About Race, Baby" week long initiative.

There have been some fascinating debates going on in the Blogosphere about race as it relates to blogging over the last few weeks. In fact, Julie's Hump Day Hmmm to all of us this week is to discuss whether race matters on the Internet, or whether it should matter.

I have many thoughts on this subject and no time to write them all down. However, Julie asked us to put our comments from her post into a post of our own if the topic as a whole was overwhelming.

A little background first: If asked a few months ago if race mattered on the Internet, I would have said yes and no. Sometimes people write from a racial and cultural perspective that I find interesting. Although my blog roll over there is pretty white bread, I do enjoy variety and I have over 200 blogs in my Bloglines. Some are parents, some are not. Some are white, some are not. But overall I would have argued that the Internet is a place that is colorblind.

Aside from the economical aspect of Internet access (that's a post for another time), if you don't want your race known on the Internet, it won't be. If we're honest, I think that on the Internet, even if your race is advertised and discussed, there aren't the same stumbling blocks or awkwardness to a discussion that there might be face to face.

Julie, in her post, discussed why race sometimes should matter, in medical diagnosis and on the Internet. She points out that our genetic background may be the key to an ailment that our skin color does not reveal. Then Julie wonderfully describes why our race and cultural backgrounds may be and sometimes should be important. I agree with her point that different cultures and different perspectives, whether seen through the veil of color or not, can be an amazing addition to our online conversations. How boring this blogging world would be if we all agreed about everything and we all had the same background.

Part of my comment to Julie on this post was:
Sometimes I think its easy for those of us who are white (or at least appear to be) to say that race doesn't or shouldn't matter. But you point out quite aptly, that sometimes it should. I tend to think that we should embrace our similarities and our differences because *that* is what will make this world interesting, whether in the "real" world or the blogosphere.
Her Bad Mother raised some interesting questions in her comment to the discussion:
Do bloggers have an obligation to write their racial/ethnic/cultural (not to mention sexual, etc.) identities into their texts? Do *readers* have an obligation to seek that information out? How do we navigate this issue in a community that allows - even encourages - certain degrees of invisibility?
I can't pretend to have all the answers. In fact, I don't want to have all of the answers. I just want to participate in the discussion.

So tell me what you think, in the comments or on your blog. Does race matter in the Blogosphere? Add your voice to the discussion.

I apologize for writing a half-assed post and not including all of the necessary linky love, but I have a lot going on right now. If you read Julie's post, I promise you'll find all the background you need on this weighty topic.

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Do Caretakers Receive Disparate Treatment?
I'm guest blogging over at Pundit Mom's today. Come on over and read my post about being a parent and a professional:

Do Caretakers Receive Disparate Treatment?

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Alone In A Crowded Room
T and I have an ongoing debate about having a third child. I sometimes feel that our family is not yet complete, that someone is missing. When the subject comes up, T usually slaps me until I wake from my infant daydream and reminds me how little personal time and money we have now. If that doesn't work, he'll pull up posts from my blog that set it out in black and white.

But still, I think I would like to have another. Another boy.

That's the problem. Frankly, the idea of having a girl scares the hell out of me.

I haven't always felt this way. I was absolutely convinced that Hollis would be a girl, up until the day we got the results from my amniocentesis, definitive proof that the baby-to-be had one X chromosome and one Y. Only then did I adjust my thinking and prepare for raising a man.

As you all know, your view of the world changes irrevocably once you become a parent. You look at your past, your partner, your society through the lens of parenthood. When I emerged from the sleep deprived haze of new mommyhood and started to look at my world as a mother and not just a woman, I realized how very difficult raising a strong, confident woman in our society can be. Part of this problem is our skewed perceptions of ourselves as women, our body image.

Sitting in the airport waiting to come home on Sunday, my BlogHer roommate* and I started talking about body image. I honestly can't remember how it is we got to the topic. I think we were both feeling a bit raw and vulnerable after the 36 hour blitzkrieg of people, booze, and expected jocularity. For two introverts, there's nothing more draining.

As we were talking, it dawned on me that my roomie doesn't see herself as the intelligent, accomplished and beautiful woman that she is. When she looks in the mirror, or even looks inward, she still sees the fat girl from school, ridiculed and unloved.

I was floored.

My roomie and I have spent quite a few evenings together, with kids and without, since we met through the blogosphere some 6 months ago. In my interactions with her I would never have guessed that she was anything less than confident and secure. And yet this lovely, well educated woman doubts herself. For her, BlogHer brought all those doubts roaring to the surface. She spent much of the conference feeling as if she were alone among all those women, rejected and unsure of herself.

I'll admit there were times at the conference when I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at walking into a ballroom crowded with women I did not know. Overwhelmed when I hadn't made lunch or dinner plans ahead of time and found myself searching for one of my bloggy crowd in a slight panic, hoping that I wouldn't be left sitting on the sidelines, the wallflower, alone. We all have those moments, don't we?

When I felt that doubt creep into the back of my mind at BlogHer, I did what I always do. I told myself to get the hell over it and ask those nice looking women if I could sit at their table for lunch. Then I pulled up a chair, sat down, and had a great conversation.

I am not always tuned into the feelings of others. I'm a bit socially awkward, but not because I'm shy. I'm a bit reserved, but I think pretty much anyone who met me at BlogHer can tell you that I'm not a shy person. I just don't easily read social cues. Or I read them too closely. Being social, being tuned into others, is exhausting for me. But I've never worried that someone wouldn't like me. I mean, yeah, I'm sure there are people who do not like me. I just don't worry about it all that much.

I'm not sure why it is that I have this self-confidence. I'm sure it had something to do with the way I was raised, the experiences I had. Yeah, Junior High sucked, but I have yet to meet a person who actually enjoyed being 13. High school was fun for me, not filled with angst. But I think some of my inner peace is related to how I view my body.

I began swimming competitively when I was 8 and continued for the next 10 years. Sure, I had some soccer, baseball, softball, and gymnastics thrown in there for good measure, but I was a swimmer. Every day, sometimes twice a day for 10 years I pushed myself physically and emotionally. My body was not just a pretty shell for the latest clothes and a boy to admire. It was a machine, a functional, beautiful machine that I could push to incredible heights. To be honest, I still consider myself a swimmer, an athlete, despite my current pathetic lack of muscle tone. It's just part of who I am.

During those crucial pre-adolescent and adolescent years when I was becoming aware of myself as a social and physical creature, I had a place where I always fit in. At swim practice I had friends who saw me as an athlete, just like them. While my "friends" at school might suddenly decide to stop speaking to me because I didn't have the right jeans, my swim mates didn't care because I had a kick-ass breaststroke.

Even now, 15 years and I'm not going to say how many pounds later, that confidence remains. It's an indelible part of me that I completely take for granted. It has nothing to do with my physical appearance and everything to do with the person I am inside. Losing weight, for me, is a path to a healthier lifestyle, not the route to happiness and self-actualization. I so take this confidence of mine for granted, that pinning down the source now, at 34, is difficult for me.

In discussions with my friends, I realize that most women are not like me.

Many, many women I know have a very skewed image of themselves wrapped up in either a cruel and damaged childhood or their worth as a ratio of physical appearance to weight, a sort of masochistic fraction. Despite grades, education, marriage and children, many of my friends still don't see themselves as worthy of love and happiness.

What is it that causes this? Is it simply society's emphasis on the physical, the shallow, the conformist? Or is it something more? Does parenting come into play? Or many confounding elements made up of all of our past experiences?

I'd really like to know, so please tell me what you think in the comments. And tell me what you think we can do to make sure that our girls have confidence beyond their smooth faces and trim bodies.

In the meantime, I'll concentrate on raising my boys to know not just their own worth, but the worth of women.

* I'm not going to name my roomie or link to her unless she gives me the go ahead. Some of my regular readers know who she is and that's fine. But she has a private blog and I think she would prefer that her family not read this. So if you do know who she is, please don't mention her name in the comments.

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I wake up with a crick in my neck. It's not an unfamiliar feeling to me. It happens whenever I can't sleep or I'm overly tense. It's as if I spent the entire night fighting my demons or trying to swim through quicksand.

All day at work I feel the tension in my back, shoulders, and neck. As I draft circuitous contracts and make meaningless phone calls, the tension only worsens. I feel as if I can't quite catch my breath.

At home, I feed the boys. I wipe away spills. I clean thrown food. I broker toy treaties and set lines of demarcation for play.

I clean up poop. From Hollis. From his brother. From the floor. From the furniture. A potty training battle ground. My dignity the casualty of war.

I bathe them. I force their little squirmy bodies into pajamas, a diaper, and a pull-up.

The boys and their frenetic energy don't slow as I clean their dishes, pick up their toys, fold their clothing.

And finally, wearily, I slide down to the floor in the playroom. I sit with knees up to my chest, arms around my ankles and chin upon my knees. A precarious, protective balance as I watch my boys play, chasing each other in circles around the room.

Holden veers out of the endless loop towards me, running pell-mell. I brace myself for impact, to be pulled into the game, tightening my arms and legs against his assault. But Holden slows, grabs on to me. I feel his little arms circle my back and legs.

He lays his head on my shoulder. My breath catches, stops.

I pull my arms up to hold him, to capture this moment, but he's elusive, a slippery sort of toddler. He wriggles backward from my grasp and pauses before turning. He flashes me a quicksilver smile and runs back to chase his brother.

And then I exhale.

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We Interrupt This Blog For An Acceptance Speech
I'm honored and flattered that Kristin has awarded me a Best of BlogHer 2007 award. Apparently I dominated the "Best Emergency Baby Toy From A Blogger" category:

Baby Uncensored chews on a Maxi pad with wings. The wings are crucial.

In the comments, Liz demanded acceptance speeches. I've asked my 2 year old, Hollis, to accept this gracious award on my behalf.

Yes. Thank you, Kristen. Thank you.

* Hollis is holding Kristen's swag from BlogHer, the famous condom lollipop. I bet my mom and MIL, who both read this blog, are calling CPS as you read this!

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Lawyer Mama
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