Posts Tagged ‘family’

BYOT: Bring Your Own Topic

Inspired by the Elgin Salon, we’re holding our first BYOT on our one year anniversary. We’ve had some amazing salons and now we’re going to try and pack roughly seven topics into our regular time slot. We asked moms to offer up something that intrigued them. The format was up to them as long as it fit on one page. Questions, quotes, tweets, ads —  it was their choice.

It’ll be kind of like the speed-dating version of a salon with short time frames for each topic, which will be picked at random from a hat.

We received a real mishmash of issues and topics. We’ll likely only scratch the surface with most of them, but the hope is that we walk away with our minds hungry for more knowledge and conversation on each and the convos ignite again at home or work.

Without further ado and in no particular order:

Cherie J: How do we define gender?

“Gender is between your ears, not legs.” — Chaz Bono

Christine K: A teacher’s quote

“If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I’ll promise not to believe everything he says happens at home.”

Kim D: How do we choose the best school in Ontario’s educational system?

There are many options for our young scholars: public and private schools, French immersion, christian schools and homeschooling. How do we decide what is right for our families?

Brooke M: The 2012 Phenomenon

Nostradamus and the Mayans have predicted that December 21, 2012 will be the end of the world. Do you think they’re right? Will a black hole appear and engulf the Earth? Will there be a nuclear war so devastating that it eliminates all species? You be the judge.

Jen M: An excerpt from My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakapolous

We have always loved stories, I think, it’s just that we, as a nation and perhaps as a human race, recently stopped loving stories about the other; we began to love stories only about ourselves. We love stories in which we are the protagonists in search of truth. I do not want to judge this. But my feeling is that we can cope with the increasing smallness, rapidness, and indifference of our changing, violent world only by seeing ourselves as noble characters caught in the struggle. We are all, as Turgenev so presciently said over a century ago, either Hamlets or Quixotes, and we must be these kinds of people if we are to endure.

We see ourselves in a struggle of epic, or at least interesting, magnitude, and so we go about documenting it ourselves, not waiting for some future historian, anthropologist, or novelist to find our tale and tell it for us. YouTube, MySpace, blogs—all of these things are ways for us to make ourselves protagonists on a very crowded, violent, and unjust stage.

Lisa G: Writing a love letter to myself.

The importance of loving yourself: It’s so easy as moms to forget ourselves while taking care of everyone else.  Let’s remind ourselves how awesome we are by writing love letters to ourselves.


Mme B and Mme J

You say polygamy, I say monogamy.

One groom, four brides wedding cake topper
This month we’re talking about polygamy, the controversial and mostly illegal practice of marrying more than one person. With popular TV shows like HBO’s Big Love and TLC’s reality show Sister Wives, more and more people are talking about the pros and cons of this form of marriage. Some see it as an alternative to traditional monogamy the way gay marriage or common law relationships have challenged organized religion and the law. Others see it is a fundamentalist religious extreme, which impedes women’s rights and fosters abuse and child brides.

As monogamists, we’ve clearly chosen our preferred form of marriage, though I can’t be sure how our moms will react to this topic. At some point during the salon, we’d like to ask, “could you be a sister wife?”

While I think the reaction will mostly be no, we’re curious to know why. The reasons will likely vary and we look forward to debating and sharing them. To get the conversation started, here are a few articles that touch on some of the many facets of polygamy.

Polygamy in Canada

So much of the news coverage on polygamy comes from the U.S. and abroad, but what about polygamy on our home turf? I must admit that I wasn’t aware of the community of Bounty in B.C. or that there hasn’t been a successful prosecution for polygamy in Canada for more than 60 years. This CBC article gives a bit of the history in Canada and the current laws.

Polygamy, Bigamy and Polyamory: What’s the difference?

After a fair bit of searching, this was the best and least biased take on the differences between these three. I figured the one that gets down to the greek suffix “gamy” for marriage and the prefix “poly” for many was a good start. Some other terms worth noting: polyandry, polygyny, polyfidelity and non-monogamy. If you’re really a keener, you can find some interesting definitions from the Poly Amory Society.

Polygamy in the Media

Two popular TV shows have more people in North America talking about polygamy than ever before. Whether they agree with it or not, millions of viewers are tuning in to Sister Wives to see the “reality” of living in a polygamous marriage. Perhaps a glossy view of this outlawed form of marriage, read below to see the more contentious side of polygamy in the New York Times.

A Collection of Polygamy Articles from the New York Times

In case those charming sister wives had you shopping for your own wife, the NYT reminds us of the dark side of men having multiple wives. The Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints and Utah appear at the heart of many compounds, underage brides and sexual assault charges. Polygamy looks very different outside of North America. It is traditionalist practice in places such as South Africa, where president Jacob Zuma is a proponent of plural marriage. He has four wives and 20 children.

Mme J and Mme B

Parenting Taboos

Our May salon is a special one. We’ve invited the moms, mom-in-laws and what we’re calling “moms of choice” of our regular saloners to celebrate Mother’s Day. To keep things clear that first group will be the “first-gen moms” and we’ll be the “second-gen moms”, though I think we may have a great-grandma coming, which reorders everything. Younger and older, while true, just didn’t seem to fairly describe these women, plus it makes us sound tech savvy and hip.

Choosing a topic was a little tricky. We wanted something that would be interesting for different generations, but not too controversial or racy. We are, after all, talking in front of our own moms, who, like us, immaculately conceived, right?

We decided on the topic Parenting Taboos, which was inspired by the TED talk Let’s Talk Parenting Taboos by Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman. They are the husband and wife team behind the popular parenting website and parents to three young boys. This topic has so much potential for conversation that I fear we’ll be chatting until midnight. I suspect that we’ll hear a lot about how taboos have changed over the years. Thirty-plus years ago becoming a mom looked a lot different than it does today. Taboos of the 60s, 70s and 80s many not be so today, but I have a feeling that our generation has come up with a few of our own.

We’d like our guests to watch the video, which is why we’ve included it here. Griscom and Volkman are quite candid about their experiences and keep the topic light. They also have a pretty cute dynamic, which is fun to watch.

We’ve also provided additional articles on each of these topics on our articles page. As always, these articles are not mandatory. They are here if you’d like more info, but we have a feeling our moms are already well-versed in this content.

The four taboos covered are:
1) You can’t say you didn’t fall in love with your baby in the very first minute.
2) You can’t talk about how lonely having a baby can be.
3) You can’t talk about your miscarriage.
4) You can’t say that your average happiness has declined since having a child.

We’ve added a few more and hope our moms will feel free to add new ones as well.

5) Gender Disappointment
6) Career vs. Children
7) Breastfeeding vs. Formula-feeding

Please feel free to add your taboos to the comments and don’t forget to head over to the articles page for more reading.


Mme B and Mme J

Five Years, Five Lessons

On December 1, 2005 my Dad died. He was 54, I was 26. There was a first heart attack two days before and then the one that took him from us. It was sudden, but he had suffered a long time with complications from Type 1 Diabetes.

Five years feels like a long time. He’s missed a lot and we’ve missed him more than I could have imagined. I’ve learned a lot about myself, the people I’m closest with and people in general. I think some  of these lessons are worth sharing and perhaps discussing.

While my experiences could inspire many salon discussions — grief, mortality, chronic illness — I write this post because I think these lessons are hard to learn. If I can help someone through loss, then my time writing, the puffy eyes and tear-filled keyboard are worth it. There’s also a few lessons in here that have more to do with living than dying, so please watch for those, too!

I had a lot more to say than I realized, which made for a very long post. To keep it simple, here is a post a day — five lessons, five years and five posts.

Lesson One: Make Time for Grief.

The author, her Dad and Sister in his favourite blue hoodies.In the beginning, the sadness of losing my Dad was overwhelming. I had a hard time controlling my feelings. Little things like seeing a navy-blue hoodie at the mall, a man with a mustache or mechanic’s coveralls could put me in funk for hours. Funerals, Father’s Day ads, the mention of the words “heart attack” were even worse. It felt like grief was always bubbling under the surface and I wanted to avoid things that could make it erupt at an awkward moment. The thought of losing control in public was enough to shy away from events and difficult conversations with family and friends.

It took me awhile before I figured out that I had some control over this beast. If I let it, grief had the strength and aggression to take over my days, weeks, even years. Then I realized — after many years — that if I made some time for grief, it might back off. I decided to give it some of the attention it was demanding and then say, “not everything is about you. Now, f-off.”

On the fourth anniversary, I decided that instead of moping around all day and getting that crying headache, I was going to tell my eight-month-old baby about his Grandpa John and watch the slide show I made for his funeral. I balled my eyes out, but it was only half-an-hour and then I spent the rest of the day enjoying happy memories of him without feeling like I was going to lose it. Now, if I need it, I can take some time before something I know is going be sad and it usually helps  me get through it. I can focus on the happiness of Father’s Day for my husband or be strong for a friend who is grieving over the loss of her grandparent without my own sadness getting in the way.

Stay tuned for Lesson Two: Talk, Write, Sing.


Mme J