+
I'm not a Boy Mom or a Girl Mom, I'm just Mom — and it's an important distinction
man and two children on grass field

When I conceived my first born, I was elated. I took four at-home tests to confirm the news, peeing on my hand four times — and on four different sticks. I rushed to the city to tell my husband, with a congratulatory card and a few goodies in a yellow gift bag. There was a pacifier, a bottle, and an adorable Big Bird brush and comb set. And I called my doctor within hours. I scheduled an ultrasound the following week. But when I told everyone else the news, they wanted to know about my unborn baby's sex. Did I want a boy, they asked, or a girl?

I said I didn't care because I didn't. I wanted a child, to be sure. A happy, healthy baby who could (and presumably would) grow to become a happy, healthy kid. But everyone was focused on colors. On labels. Would I be a dance mom or a soccer mom? Would my shower be decorated with pink balloons or blue? And while I learned at my 20-week checkup that I was having a daughter — that I would be having a baby girl — I didn't identify as a "girl mom." My daughter is 8 and I still don't. Because sex doesn't define my daughter. It doesn't dictate her interests or mine, and it doesn't affect how I parent. I treat my son and daughter (more or less) the same. Because I'm not a boy mom or a girl mom, I'm just Mom, and that's an important distinction.



It is a paradigm shift we all should make.

You see, the insistence on gendering your child is odd and forced. I mean, in doing so parents find a sense of security. Of stability. They "relate" to one another's struggles and plights. But my daughter (and son's) sex doesn't define them. Their parts do not determine how they play or their worth — i.e. when my daughter was little she climbed trees and scuffed her knees; my son says his favorite color is pink and he plays with trucks and baby dolls — and their assigned sex isn't any more reflective of their personality than their nose or forefinger. It is a biological component, a physical part of their makeup and DNA.

Plus, when we refer to ourselves as boy moms or girl moms we support and reiterate stereotypes, i.e. boys are rambunctious and rowdy while girls are emotional and sensitive. The former likes potty humor while the latter should cook and clean, and this is dangerous. It repeats history and the message of old, outdated tapes. It reaffirms that in our society there are sex-specific roles, and this sets back our girls yet again, teaching them what they aren't, what they should be, and what they can't do. It teaches our sons to be cold and callous and emotionally withdrawn.

two babies and woman sitting on sofa while holding baby and watching on tabletPhoto by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

There's also another problem with these labels, i.e. when we refer to ourselves as boy moms and girl moms we (unwittingly) force our children into boxes which they may not fit. While many children's "gender identity aligns with their assigned gender... for some children, the match between their assigned gender and gender identity is not so clear," an article by Healthy Children states. Telling them what they are and who they should be can create inner turmoil. It can cause children to feel scared, angry, isolated, misunderstood, helpless, hopeless, and alone.

"Young people who are transgender feel powerfully that they are not the gender assigned to them at birth," an article by the Child Mind Institute states. "Even young children might say, 'No, I'm really a boy' or 'No, I'm really a girl' [and] as they get older, they may feel extremely uncomfortable in their bodies," the article continues. "Th[is] disconnect between their experienced gender and their assigned gender can result in acute distress called gender dysphoria... which can be a source of profound suffering."

woman in white t-shirt standing beside woman in black and white stripe shirtPhoto by Hillshire Farm on Unsplash

So instead of labeling your children and yourself, consider just going. Just doing. Just being #Mom. Because our children deserve a happy, healthy childhood. They deserve the chance to roam and play and develop on their own, and they should become well-rounded people not because of labels or boundaries but in spite of them. I want my oldest to explore her love of science and math. Right now, I just want my youngest to stop licking strangers and eating dirt. But she will, if she wants. He will, as he grows, and that's because I'm not a boy mom or a girl mom. I'm just Mom — a person and parent who loves her children unconditionally. A person and parent who loves her children, no matter what.








Brandon Conway sounds remarkably like Michael Jackson when he sings.

When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, the pop music world lost a legend. However markedly mysterious and controversial his personal life was, his contributions to music will go down in history as some of the most influential of all time.

Part of what made him such a beloved singer was the uniqueness of his voice. From the time he was a young child singing lead for The Jackson 5, his high-pitched vocals stood out. Hearing him sing live was impressive, his pitch-perfect performances always entertaining.

No one could ever really be compared to MJ, or so we thought. Out of the blue, a guy showed up on TikTok recently with a casual performance that sounds so much like the King of Pop it's blowing people away.

Keep ReadingShow less

Bobby McFerrin demonstrated the power of the pentatonic scale without saying a word.

Bobby McFerrin is best known for his hit song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” which showcased his one-man vocal and body percussion skills (and got stuck in our heads for years). But his musicality extends far beyond the catchy pop tune that made him a household name. The things he can do with his voice are unmatched and his range of musical styles and genres is impressive.

The Kennedy Center describes him: “With a four-octave range and a vast array of vocal techniques, Bobby McFerrin is no mere singer; he is music's last true Renaissance man, a vocal explorer who has combined jazz, folk and a multitude of world music influences - choral, a cappella, and classical music - with his own ingredients.”

McFerrin is also a music educator, and one of his most memorable lessons is a simple, three-minute interactive demonstration in which he doesn’t say a single word.

Keep ReadingShow less

1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)