I am a mother, and I am the weekend parent.

I call it the look: the slight tilt of the head confused look that people give me when they find out that I'm the “weekend” parent.

The look that tells me they’re thinking, “What's wrong with her that her son doesn't live with her?”

You see, I am a mother, but I am also the non-residential parent of my 7-year-old son. And that situation just does not compute for most people. I am the “fun” parent. I'm the parent who spends time with her child on the weekends, holidays, and vacations, and my ex-husband has the role that is usually reserved for the mother.


That said, I'm still a parent 100% of my time — there's no vacation from parenthood. I speak to my son daily, attend his doctor’s appointments, and I am involved in every significant decision regarding school and his upbringing. But in my family, the weekends are mommy time.

I can understand why I get that look.

In American culture, either by choice or by cultural pressure, a mother's role is to be the primary caregiver, and the father's role is to be the primary provider. Mothers take care of the children and fathers go to work — even when the mothers work as well. Even in my upbringing, although my parents were divorced and my father was very much involved in my life, my mother did the day-to-day raising. And that's how it is with every other person I know who was raised in a single parent home.

So when I was going through my divorce, that's what most people assumed would happen in regards to the custody of my son. My family, friends, and even the court system leaned towards me becoming the residential parent.

But my ex-husband and I decided to go a different way. No, our marriage didn't work out, and yes, there were some lingering negative emotions between us. But we were still parents who, no matter what, had to raise a child together, and we refused to use our child as a battle pawn. Instead of deciding based on what others thought what was best for us, we thought about what was best for our family and our son.

I still notice how we are treated differently as parents.

We go to doctor’s appointments, and the doctor will direct the conversation towards me even though my ex-husband speaks more, he knows more of the day to day happenings of our son. Or when we go to court to update anything on our parenting agreement, the clerks will speak as though I'm the residential parent, even though the paperwork that they're reading says differently.

But what's funny (or ironic, and even sad) is that the biggest obstacle to our lifestyle was my struggle to overcome my feelings of failure as a woman. When my ex-husband and I were deciding our plans for our son, I remember asking in (in tears), “What will people say? I'm his mother. I'm the one that he should be living with." Although my ex-husband, at that time, was more financially secure and had stronger family support, I still felt the pressure to perform my motherly duties in the way that was culturally ingrained in me. I was losing my title as a wife, and I felt like I was losing my title as a mother as well.  

Five years later, I admit that the phrase “he lives with his father” still gives me pause.

Five years post-divorce, people still tend to think that it's temporary. People believe that my son is living with his father while I “get my life together.” That as soon as I recover from the effects of divorce, my son will come home to his rightful place — with his mother. Well, today my life is more "together" than ever, and this weekend I will pick my son up from his father's on Friday and drop him off on Sunday. Like I do almost every weekend, and like I will continue to do.

I sometimes feel guilty that I have so much more time to nurture my adult interests outside of my son. Mommy guilt never goes away. I sometimes feel such loneliness when my son is not with me, that it brings me to tears. After a weekend with him, my apartment sounds deadly quiet. I sometimes wonder what he is doing, and I wonder if he thinks I have abandoned him. I wonder if I have scarred him for life, and if we will lack the strong bond that mothers have with their children.

Then I remember that, as a mother, it's my job and responsibility to make the best possible decisions for my son.

It's my job show up every day, whether he is with me or not, to continue to provide for him, and to continue to love him and support him whether I am near or far. My family situation isn't ideal, but it is what's best for my family, and that is all that matters. As a parent, I have to put my child ahead of my ego and ahead of what I have been told it means to be a mother.

I tell my son that I love him all the time. I let him know that I'm thinking about him even when I'm not with him. I tell him that he can call me whenever he wants and he knows that, without fail, at 6:30 p.m. he will be getting a phone call from me to see how his day was.

Sometimes, out of nowhere, my son will kiss me and say “I love you, Mommy.” And I know that, “weekend parent” or not, I'm still his mother. Forever.

This article by LeoLin Bowen originally appeared on Ravishly and has been republished with permission. More from Ravishly:

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."