Isn’t she lovely?
So…I haven’t been invited to a baby shower since, like, 2002, 2003. Then this week…I get invitations to 2, both next month. And I have to admit: The old uterus roused from its slumber to whine, “What about meee?”
Me to TechBooHusband: Hon, we should have a baby shower.
TechBooHusband: For our virtual baby, dear?
(The man is unflappable.)
Me (not to be outdone): Yes, for our virtual baby!
And wouldn’t you know it…You CAN have a virtual baby!
BabyDow–This looks like Farmville (I don’t play. Please don’t ask me to play. Please stop asking me to play.), but with babies.
CyberInfants–Site appears kind of bootleg-ish. Like you might get a lot of spam as a result of being there.
My Bambino–Includes a discussion forum where “new moms” can talk. No comment.
And there are others.
The good news is that in the time it took me to write this post, my uterus fell back asleep. Zzzzzzzzz…
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I lost my mom to breast cancer in 2005. One stanza of the poem below relates.
“I’m writing a poem in my head right now,”
I tell you this morning as you brace me
and embrace me
to make love.
“A poem about your hands,” I whisper,
“About what they are doing…
…right now. And what they did yesterday,
and how your hands tell my body’s story,
how your hands tell the story
When you put your hands there–
right there—I get this poem’s opening line.
And when your hands travel, slowly,
each stanza is written.
Your fingers find my mouth,
and I know how this poem will end.
Your hands carry memories:
First date: We held hands walking in Chinatown,
grinning at each other as the December wind whipped across our faces.
Toronto: You lie and tell me that you can ice-skate.
Outdoor skating rinks in Canada—or at least this one
—don’t have walls or rails for you to hold on to.
Your gap-toothed smile belies how graceless you are.
I offer to hold your glove-clad hand. You refuse, saying:
“Does Superman let Lois Lane hold his hand when he’s flying?”
My confession: “Because of my mother…”—I don’t have to say the rest—
“…I’m scared to do my breast exams. You have to be here.” And your hands
steady my hands, keep them from faltering.
Last night: Your hands zipping BabyGirl’s jacket,
protecting her from another December’s wind and cold
Your hands, right now
Hammering, pounding, fixing
The list of man-hand chores
I save for when you come.
Your hands repair what’s broken
Your hands replace what has been lost
Your hands set things right.
Your hands make me remember,
20 years ago, college me
Barely a woman me,
Listening to Toni Morrison read
the last lines of her
then-unpublished book “Jazz”
at Yale’s Battell Chapel.
She made me cry because
I was afraid that I would never be loved
“Say make me, remake me. You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are now.”
Deesha Philyaw, 2009
I talk co-parenting, step-dating, remarriage & vacationing with El Ex with Kela Price of “Today’s Modern Family.” http://bit.ly/adWzO9
This article first appeared in my column at The Faster Times:
Emotional abuse of children during and after divorce proceedings is one of the most insidious and common problems we hear about from co-parents who contact us via CoParenting101.org. Emotional abuse is generally more difficult to prove than physical abuse, and family court judges and lawyers who have seen it all know that such charges can be slippery and easily thrown around by divorcing parents, without merit. To some extent, they expect embattled divorcing parents to make damning but ultimately unfounded accusations against each other in an attempt to emerge as the better parent and “win” in the divorce. (This is why children’s issues have no place in an arena that by definition seeks to identify a “win” and a “loser.” But that’s a different rant for a different day.) The result can be that accusations of emotional abuse are minimized, not thoroughly investigated, or dismissed outright.
So when accusations of emotional abuse do have merit, the parent making the charge may face an uphill battle to have his/her concerns about the children’s well-being taken seriously.
Narcissists are amongst those who emotionally abuse children during and after divorce. Narcissism is “the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness.” While Freud argued that “healthy narcissism” is essential to normal human development, high levels of narcissism are manifested pathologically as narcissistic personality disorder. While co-parents shouldn’t invest themselves in trying to diagnose their exes, understanding their personality traits or potential disorders can be useful in learning how to deal with them constructively and in ways that benefit the children.
Here’s an excerpt from an article that addresses how narcissists abuse children during and after divorce:
Narcissists will use people in whatever way is necessary to get what they want. This world view also applies to their children…During and after divorce, a narcissist’s emotional abuse of their children may seem more direct or blatant…
Narcissists are masters of lying. They will lie to their children and distort reality the same as they do to everyone else. Often, narcissists will sacrifice their children’s well-being in an attempt to save face. This leaves the children feeling confused and unsure of their own reality and judgment. Narcissists will ask their children to lie for them, keep secrets and to spy on the other parent.
Narcissistic parents do not respect their children’s desires. They may make promises to the children in order to gain compliance from the child, then refuse to honor the promises. Children may miss out on birthday parties, sporting events or other activities important to them in order to accommodate the narcissistic parent’s wishes. The children soon learn that what they want is not important when with the narcissistic parent…
It may seem excessive or restraining but in the long run…written agreements will often be easier than constantly renegotiating with an unreliable and emotionally abusive former spouse.
Divorce is never easy on children. Coping with a narcissistic parent makes a stressful situation even more difficult. Learning to identify the games narcissists play can help parents to minimize the emotional abuse children suffer at the hands of a narcissistic parent.
See the source link above for the complete article and for tips and strategies for dealing with a narcissist during and after a divorce.
Shamelessness – Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
Arrogance – A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
Envy – A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
Entitlement – Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Any failure to comply will be considered an attack on their superiority and the perpetrator is considered to be an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
Exploitation – can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
Bad Boundaries – narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist will be treated as if they are part of the narcissist and be expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist, there is no boundary between self and other.
Source: Hotchkiss, Sandy & Masterson, James F. Why Is It Always About You? : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)
Googling “narcissism and divorce” yields a ton of resources which I believe is a testament to just how draining this particular personality trait or disorder can be in a situation that is already difficult and emotionally charged. The conventional wisdom for dealing with narcissists is: Get away from them. But of course that’s not possible when you must co-parent.
One co-parent we know told her children: “I’m your mother; I can do anything I want with you and to you” in response to their father’s attempt to intervene on their behalf.
So what’s a concerned co-parent to do? Bill Eddy, founder of The High Conflict Institute and author of Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce shared some advice with us on an episode of “Co-Parenting Matters”, “Dealing With High Conflict in Your Co-Parenting Relationship.” (podcast at the link). According to Eddy, it’s important to realize that you cannot change a narcissist. And certainly trying to convince the narcissist that he’s a narcissist is pretty much a fool’s errand.
Here are some additional tips for dealing with a narcissistic co-parent:
Don’t swing at every pitch. For example, emails that are just rants, atttention-seeking, or expressions of self-aggrandizement should be ignored. Address any issue or problem that relates to your child; attack the problem, not the other parent, even if s/he is on the attack. If you do respond, keep it brief, to the point, and business-like.
Maintain firm boundaries. Limit your contact and communication, and maintain boundaries to keep the narcissist from inserting him/herself in your household and in your relationship with your children in inappropriate ways.
Accept that you can’t win an argument with a narcissist. Give up any efforts to be “right” in the eyes of the narcissist–even if you are. Focus instead on peace and wellness for your children.
Don’t take it personally. The narcissist has a disorder that’s about them, not you.
Take care of yourself. Divorcing a narcissist with children in the mix means that for some years you will not be able to completely sever ties with this person. Dealing with them can be exhausting and stressful. Commit to self-care to bring yourself some relief. Your martyrdom will not help your children.
Jenn Mangino, co-parenting mom and founder of RockstarCoparenting.com interviewed El Ex and I recently: “Jam Session with Deesha Philyaw and Mike Thomas”
Please check out Deesha’s latest column at The Faster Times, “Co-Parenting, Narcissism, and Emotional Abuse of Children During & After Divorce” for strategies for dealing with a narcissistic co-parent.
…is going to tape a segment for the CBS News’s “The Early Show” this weekend re: co-parenting? El Ex, the kiddoes, and me!
Not sure when it will air, but stay tuned!
ETA: The segment will air on Wednesday 9/15 some time between 8 and 9 AM. WOOT!
Today’s my birthday, but the celebrating started yesterday. I went to drop off MiniMe and BabyGirl at their dad’s after they spent the long weekend with me and TechBooHusband. They said, “Since you’re here, can we give you your gifts early?” Why, of course you can! Well, I received several lovely and thoughtful gifts, as well as cards signed not only by the girls, El Ex, and Sherry, his wife–but someone (probably Sherry) was thoughtful enough to sign my bonus daughters’ names to the cards as well (more on that in a sec). I even got a card “from” my pugs and El Ex’s Old English bulldogs. I am so feeling the love!
I appreciate and adore all the gifts, but there was one in particular that really moved me:
I love the white sapphires (sapphire is my birthstone), but most of all, I love what I was told they represented: my daughters and my bonus daughters. Wanna know the best part, though? I had decided this already on my own the minute I opened it! I’ve given each stone one of the girls’ names, and yesterday, I touched each one and said a little prayer for her.
TechBooHusband and I will be celebrating our birthdays (his was 2 weeks ago), by treating ourselves to a French language study course in preparation for Paris 2011 for our 40th bdays. At exactly midnight, however, he gave me another gift: He serenaded me with a very…grown-up… rendition of “Happy Birthday.” He’s so competitive, I did my best breathless Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” for his birthday, and he had to try and top it! But seriously…I know he remembers that my mother and grandmother serenaded me every birthday of my life, whether I was 1,000 miles away or in my bedroom right down the hall from them, until their deaths. He knows how much I cherished this tradition, and he’s working to keep it alive.
I am thankful for all the gifts, material and aural. I am thankful for friends’ and loved ones well-wishes via text, Twitter, and FB. I thank God for all the love and positivity and joy and blessings that surround me, daily. I am thankful for another year to experience it all, and to hopefully bless others as I have been blessed.