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MamaBlogger365 – No Dignity by *Dr Mama* Amber Kinser

So I’m walking into Sam’s Club the other day, a store that already I don’t much care for. Something about lots of giant containers of things, “vats” of mayonnaise and peanut butter and big boxes of breakfast sandwiches that take up too much room in the pantry and the fridge and freezer but that may make us savvy shoppers, my partner is convinced, and that make us major contributors to a consumerist culture, I am convinced. But anyway, I’m walking into Sam’s and I see this woman with a toddler in her arms sitting at one of the tables over in the eating area in the front of the store. She is holding the child’s butt up to her nose so she can sniff it and then, after not acquiring the evidence she sought, looks down into it diaper to see if she can locate a mess down there. “There is no dignity in mothering, I swear,” I said to myself.

Now, I remember those days well. I remember doing those diaper checks and that, of the two options, being a toddler butt-sniffer is preferable to getting a gander at all that nastiness down in that diaper. I don’t remember choosing that option at the front of a store, quite in front of people who were buying vats and cases of food but hell, I can’t swear, with any degree of accuracy, that I never did it. That stuff all just gets so interwoven with the rest of the demands of mothering — reasonable and un — that the less dignified of one’s tasks don’t even stand out anymore.

I remember being in the regular grocery store, quite content as I put my groceries on the register belt because my toddler son was quite content — and I really needed him to be that way right there while we were confined at the register — because he was playing with my wallet. A bad idea, I know, but he was occupied and I was so grateful of that simple fact for just a few minutes. As I put the last item on the belt I turn my attention to him only to find that he is chewing my very best photo of the two of us, the photo I take out and show people of my sweet little boogie who I now would rather like to throttle. I remember saying with tears in my eyes, “My God, nothing is sacred.” I’ve since taken that photo out once (only once) to show someone, mangled as it was, and thereafter retired the photo to a wallet location not seen by anyone but me.

As I’m writing, I’m thinking I have some of my least favorite memories at the grocery store. Excluded from these, mind you, is the one about my daughter following me down the aisle with her new and shiny and red and loud tap shoes. This never became a memory because that image came to me while I was at the store seriously considering buying them for her just for “fun” but luckily, that horrible image — me exhausted and trying to think and plan, and her tap tap tapping away behind me — prevented me from making a decision I’d surely regret; I hid the shoes up on a high shelf.

So I saved myself from that one but there were other memories. Like my children coming up to me complaining of various itching body parts — identifying them by their proper anatomical name — which, you may want to know throws strangers off guard a bit. There was the day when I was in the middle of painting my daughter’s room a hideous shade of pink, to my dismay, and I was in cutoffs and looking not particularly fit for human consumption but she, she was in a golden gown and elbow-length black gloves and big hat, the latter two of which my friend, who I then would rather have liked to throttle, bought her. So she has this getup on and I’ve got paint and cutoffs on (does anyone say “cutoffs” anymore? does anyone actually wear them?) and she will have no part of any plan to change her clothes, so the two of us set off for a paint re-supply at Lowe’s. Her walking slowly so that everyone could get a good look, all these older women telling her how lovely she looked, her telling them that she knew this, and me really trying to get in and out of the store wholly undetected but alas to no avail.

There’s the time that she was passing around these stickers — sparkly little bears on skateboards — and had us all put one on. My mother was talking with a woman over at her church later that day and remarked to herself that the woman seemed to have “the fakest smile” she’d ever seen. When my mother got in the car and looked in the rearview mirror she realized that she still had that stupid sticker on her cheek. No dignity.

There’s the time I started lactating right before I went to class because I had called home to check on my son and heard him crying in the background and the milk began to flow to comfort him. This would have been fine if I’d been at home rather than walking into a college classroom, soaked at the breasts, to teach. The list goes on, of course — my son nearly climbing over the restaurant booth which I’m too tired to care about much but the strangers into whose booth he is crawling seem to; the dentist telling me that my elementary school-aged son is a “real talker” (OMG, what was he telling you?). This post is really just too short to really capture the humiliation of it all. But I’ll bet, if you’re a mother and reading this, you know what I’m talking about. It’s harsh terrain, motherhood.

BIO: Dr. Mama (Amber Kinser) is a writer, feminist mother, professor, and speaker who lives in Tennessee. Check her out on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @DrMamaWit, and see her webpage. Kinser writes for the MamaBlogger365 series each Thursday at the Museum Of Motherhood, Mamapalooza and Mamazina Magazine.

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Photo credit carool/MorgueFile

MamaBlogger365 – Grounders by Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller

I felt the pain when I tried to cut my daughter’s English muffin in half. As I brought my arm back to perform the cutting motion, the ache throbbed from my neck to the back of the upper arm.


How many grounders had I tossed during the live draft of the minors baseball division the previous day? Three to a boy, for about 90 boys… 270.

That could do it.

The most fun was when my own son came into the gym. I grinned wide. “Watch, I’m gonna throw them really fast to him,” I said to his friend, who was catching the balls that the boys would throw back.

“Don’t throw it too hard!” his friend called across the gym to my son.

I threw the first one really hard, and bouncy, so he’d have to watch for the hop. Then one fast to the right, so he’d have to shuffle his feet and move to get it. The last one was fast to the left.

I threw them like that to all the boys that came out looking confidently athletic. Slow to the boys who seemed hesitant or undeveloped.

When they were all done, I drove my son home, took the temperatures of two daughters who were not feeling well, administered medicine, made sure my eldest daughter was ready to be picked up by her teammate for travel softball practice, grabbed a handful of almonds and a banana, and drove back to the high school to sign in the boys in the majors baseball division.

The inclusion of women in sports can only have a positive effect on society. Males admire athletic females; today, they are not afraid to admit if one is stronger, faster, or more skilled in a sport. At the leadership level, they respect their input, organizational skills, and the “female intuition” they can bring to the table.

As a mother, getting involved in your child’s sports beyond the spectator level can be extremely rewarding for both you and your child. Your child knows that you share his passion; he learns more about you as he sees how you interact in a different sphere from home; and he may admire and respect you even more as you surprise him with what you can bring to his favorite sport.

“Because of the global dimensions this activity has assumed, those involved in sports throughout the world have a great responsibility. They are called to make sports an opportunity for meeting and dialogue, over and above every barrier of language, race or culture. Sports, in fact, can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love.” – Pope John Paul II, Jubilee of Sports People, Homily, Oct. 10, 2000

I came across a terrific document, a special edition of “The Living Light” that includes several essays about “Sports as Religious Education”. You can download it here, as a pdf.

Bio: Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller blogs at The Divine Gift of Motherhood.

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

Photo credit keyseeker/MorgueFile

MamaBlogger365 – How to Get Ahead in a MAIL Dominated World: Karen Arp-Sandel’s FeMail Manifesto

I’ve been mailing art for decades. I started innocently enough. Now the very act of mailing art through the USPS, creating a paper trail, seems like radical activism. Who writes a letter anymore? Who even uses the mail anymore? Certainly all of our virtual and electronic ways of getting in touch are surpassing the basics of the U.S. postal system. Did you know that there is an international NETWORK of mail artists who literally “push the envelope”? Now that is the kind of mail dominated world FeMail artists can handle.

Who is your DADA? By KA-S

Who is your DADA? © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Who is your DADA? (back); © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Historically, mail art reaches back to the early 20th century. You will notice that I call myself the Mama of Dada, joining the ranks of my favorite and family-linked experimental art groups, those crazy Dadaists.

In 2010, I created an altered encyclopedia, titled, Who is your DADA? for the Belskie Museum’s Information Revisited Exhibition. My volume D, open to the entry about DADA explored my Dadaist ancestor, Jean Arp with the use of “Collage According to Chance,” one of his techniques.

This postcard visually describes to Suzi my thoughts about my art process, using a portrait of Jean Arp and the quote from Carl Jung, “The Soul Speaks in Image.” It is mounted on cardboard packaging, with painted vintage encyclopedia pages and antique postage. Like the Dadaists before me, I employ typography as a design element. On the reverse, a Divine chocolate wrapper forms a substrate, with references to Suzi’s love of surfing in the postage stamp I chose and the Kingfisher beer labels from a celebratory beer we shared at our FeMail Exhibit Opening in March 2010.

A Big Luscious Sexcess by KA-S

A Big Luscious Sexcess; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

A Big Luscious Sexcess (back); © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Who doesn’t sometimes feel fragmented by the demands of mothering and sexuality? What does it take to find the extra energy for creativity in the midst of a long day?

This is my black and white typographical manifesto about BODY LANGUAGE.
In response to Suzi’s reawakened Mama Gena-ized Self, I made a bold ad-like collage about sexuality. The opposite side of the post card leaps forth in brilliant red, gold, and orange, claiming the colors of passion while declaring Motherhood “Sweet, smart and SEXY, works on every level.” I hope my favorite pal from the U.P. in Michigan got a good dose of bliss when she chuckled over her mail that day!

Three Graces 2 by KA-S

Three Graces 2; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Three Graces 2; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

For me, the life of an artist is glued together with my life in every way.
Putting together my mixed media solo exhibit called Conversational Collage Chronicles at Simons Rock College of Bard, I reflected deeply upon this art process that chronicles my life with collage, travel journals, mixed media textile and assemblage pieces and of course, Mail Art.

Having a supportive family, including a sister artist with whom I exchanged 100 post cards in 2000-2001, sustains the artist in me. Two places to read more about the art I’ve made with my sister are Curious Tourist Project and
The Sister Project. This post card to Suzi recalls that moment in my exhibiting life, using three modern Muses, who remind us of our wild women selves. On the back, text masking, a technique I teach to my students, is used to create a found message with selected words, including the title of my exhibition. This represents a time of being seen for all that I am: artist, mother of two children, and lucky wife of the best husband in the world.

Aftermath of LIFE by KA-S

Aftermath of LIFE; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Aftermath of LIFE; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

I am an Art House Artist, where I go by the name Mama of Dada. Art House creates community by offering projects to an international network of artists through their website. I’ve participated in four projects and now have three books that traveled cross the United States and back, two of which belong to Art House Brooklyn Art Library.

The Aftermath of Life (2010), is a commentary in collage using 1950s LIFE magazine imagery to narrate my editorial view of our ever-changing world. This postcard, by the same name, uses images from my cuttings for that project, which did not make it into my book. I love retro-collage and searching vintage magazines for humorous juxtapositions.

Using the LIFE logo and a sporty golfer as a metaphor, I tell Suzi about the “Ideal way to blast out of a trap!” Saffron packaging tells about what I’ve been cooking, while 50s packaging tells about what not to cook up. This post card is available as a Fine Art Print in our FeMail Shop.

Scavenger Art & Mona Lisa by KA-S

Scavenger Art & Mona Lisa; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Scavenger Art & Mona Lisa; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

The Mona Lisa and me go waaayyy back! She is one of my all time big collage ICONS.

Mona Lisa can often be found in my FeMail postcards. While I was working on my 2011 Sketch Book for Art House, titled I’m a Scavenger, I dove deep into my files of travel memorabilia and discovered this colorful Amsterdam postcard. POP Art is a direction you will often see in my artwork. This Mona Lisa is a transfer made from, of all things, printed pocket travel tissues! Collage scavengers use everything and anything to make art. Collecting is part of the process. Collecting while traveling has become habitual to me. Visit Art House’s Sketchbook Project page for more.

Thus, travel is a theme that always piques my interest. I love the idea that my artwork is traveling. My FeMail art travels from my hands through many unknown hands to Suzi’s mailbox and visually stimulates everyone along its route. My book about scavenging is traveling along with thousands of others to galleries across the US like a concert tour-only with sketchbooks.


Come to FeMailArt.com to view an online gallery and discussion of the mail art collaboration between Karen Arp-Sandel and Suzi Banks Baum. You can also see more about this exhibit at MotherhoodMuseum.org.

Image credit Karen Arp-Sandel; images © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

MamaBlogger365 – A Mother in Service by Shira Adler, Diva Mama

Very often, especially lately, most of my writing has concerned the always unpredictable, and too often unpleasant, day in and day out episodes of my kids’ lives. Because I am first and foremost a mom, this is the natural order of things.

But I am also a healer, a singer, and more often than not a Life-Cycle Officiant. Life-Cycle Officiant can mean many things but in this instance I am referring to my role as a Cantor. This past Saturday eve I presided over a Bar Mitzvah and of the hundreds I have guided, this one I won’t soon forget.

Above and beyond my usual heart connection and ability to hold the space for all present, I had to summon all of my mama bear energy as I held an even greater space for this very special Bar Mitzvah boy, who had some time ago lost his father.

There we were, in the middle of the service — he had just delivered his speech and I stepped forward to share a song I had selected just for him, just for this moment.

The song is called Grace and though I admit I do tend to modify lyrics from time to time in order to make them more appropriate for the setting, in this case the modifications were subtle. The song, originally recorded by Saving Jane, wholly represented the mood, timbre, and experience of this child, and yes, for me as well.

No sooner had I begun singing the first line: “I don’t want to see anything… I don’t want to be lost again…” than the Bar Mitzvah boy’s emotion came flooding through. Within a minute all two hundred people in the ballroom were crying with and for him.

So I did the best that I could and my maternal instincts kicked in. I rubbed his back, encouraged him to breathe and held his hand through the rest of the song. His mother joined us on the stage to deliver her spiritual charge all the while holding her baby who try as he might, couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.

There we were, his mom and his cantor energetically, physically and spiritually supporting this brave and beautiful soul.

For all of us in professions that demand our impeccability, integrity, and our talent, we should never stray too far from the core of who we are. We can never be so deep in the weeds that we forget that our natural training as mothers can serve us and those around us in ways that are immeasurable.

To me, living a life of service is a natural extension to living my life as a mom. Never was that more apparent than center stage last night. In the most intimate and yet public of moments, I became, in the truest sense of the word, a mother, and somehow that was all we needed to get through.

BIO: By day Shira Adler is a cantor, spiritual vocalist, certified pastlife regressionist, voice-over artist, producer, performer, writer/blogger and mompreneur and by night… well, she is actually the same person at night though she does admit to wearing fuzzy socks when no one can see her and hiding a secret stash of Mallomars somewhere near her writing desk for those late night pick-me-ups. In, around, and between her various work activities, she is raising two beyond-the-spectrum children as a single mom (though lovingly gives a shout out to her best friend, editor and soulmate whom she considers the bees knees). Is it any wonder her website’s tag line is One Voice Many Paths? Seriously, look up the definition of a multi-tasking Mama and you will find her picture there. But when it comes to living a life of connection, faith and consciousness Shira is the gal to call — or if you’re fresh out of Mallomars — she’s always happy to give you one. For more information visit: ShiraAdler.com, read her blog at Diva-Mama.com; Social: Twitter (1DivaMama), Facebook (DivaMama1), Tumblr (not really sure, but the name is cute) and LinkedIn (because doesn’t everyone?).

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

Photo credit, Carlson, MorgueFile
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