"...she's in a punk band and all the holes in her clothes are girl made..."

things that could happen to a girl wearing jeans
by: rhiannon mcgavin

"Julie shares lipstick with Ari who dyed Eva's hair purple. Eva does my liner. I smudge Nina's mascara and she sprays rose water on Julie. We split popcorn and perfume every Friday night..."


I was just talking to a friend about this the other night... about going out and how fun it used to be to get ready together with friends... how that was always a thing we would do...  

"Let's meet at my place at 7:00," we'd say. 

And we would. With shoe options in canvas bags we flung over our shoulders, we'd ring each other's doorbells... and later, try on each other's clothes and sneak cigarettes out of open windows while whispering about the neighbors. 

There was dancing in push-up bras and cutoffs and standing on each other's beds in order to catch glimpse of a full length mirror even when we had mud on our shoes. 

In those days, we didn't care about piles of dirty laundry in the corner. No one gave a fuck about shit being too loud so we'd crank the music louder and yell secrets at each other while passing around scented lotions and perfume. 

You can't really show at up at your friends house with bags of clothes to try on when you're a grown-up. You can't blast music and jump on the bed like rah rah rah. 

Adult bedrooms are for symmetrical end tables and framed art that matches the bedspread. 

Adult nights are for getting ready alone in locked bathrooms, so that the kids don't break the lipsticks and walk off with your favorite shoes.

Adult nights are for wearing your own jeans.


"...We are all each other's patches and there's nothing so good as getting your hair brushed and braided by someone who loves you..."


When was the last time someone brushed and braided your hair?

"How do you get to be yourself? By questioning authority."

Last week, while in Ashland, Oregon, interviewing my Great Aunt Dot about her life as a social activist, Dot shared with me two succinct yet completely revolutionary ideas that immediately struck me as crucial to every parenting manifesto...

1. "Nobody but you can do what you can do." 


2. "How do you get to be yourself? By questioning authority." 

I have been thinking a lot about this, especially lately, as I watch my children navigate transitions from toddler to child, child to young adult-- how we routinely label these moments in our children's life as TERRIBLE.

Terrible twos. 

Terrible teens. 

Teenagers are the worst. 

Wait until you have teenagers... 

Why are we so closed-minded when it comes to rebellion? When did questioning authority become negative? I mean, sure, rules are ALSO important to recognize and USUALLY follow. We need stoplights and laws -- and to follow directions in order to respectfully navigate life, our peers, each other... but we also NEED TO QUESTION those directions in some cases -- and even, and at times, break the rules... 

"I never stopped questioning authority,"Dot explained. "I never stopped being curious." 

The most emotionally intelligent people I know recognize the importance of dissent and are open to criticism, allowing themselves (and others) the need to SAY SOMETHING even if/when it is unpopular.

This is not to say we shouldn't raise our children to respect boundaries, follow directions, but to everything there is a season and embracing our children (and each other) for our dissent, I believe, is healthy and important. And while some children WANT even NEED to stand in a line, others can ONLY grow if/when they step out of one. 

I respect your rebellion, kids. So long as you're not hurting anyone or yourself. 

For some children, getting to know themselves as unique human beings separate from their parents is only possible if/when they push us away.

I was that way.

And so far, 3/4 of my children are the same. 

Perhaps this is why mothers seldom exist in classic coming of age stories? A child cannot grow to his/her full potential with his/her mother hovering/planning/making all the decisions... 

The truth is, it's not about us. All those years slamming doors on my mother weren't because I was rejecting HER but insisting on MYSELF. Alone. In my bedroom.

"Leave me alone..."

I've been thinking a lot about authoritarianism since reading this piece a reader linked to in the comments of this post several months ago.

This part, specifically:
  1. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: independence or respect for elders?
  2. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: obedience or self-reliance?
  3. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: to be considerate or to be well-behaved?
  4. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: curiosity or good manners?
One of our biggest problems as a society (at least from where I stand) is our willingness to choose "good manners" over "curiosity" when it comes to our children. And our system, specifically our school system, is set up to award those who "obey" with popsicle parties instead or creating safe environments for children to question authority -- question rules -- AND FIND THEMSELVES.

Spending time with a lifetime (self-proclaimed) "radical" who used her body to block trains carrying nuclear warheads, went on hunger strikes protesting Vietnam and once chained herself to a logging truck to protest deforestation, was for me a pertinent reminder that rebellion is often our greatest gift to the world.  WE NEED DOTS on this planet! In the same way we need doctors and lawyers and writers and painters and plumbers. 

One cannot empower a child without embracing her will to fight a system that is trying to strip her of her power. This is why toddlers have tantrums. And teenagers hate their parents.

Because, we, in a word, ARE THE MAN our children must challenge and question and, yes, sometimes rail against in order to grow.

Not that it doesn't suck to be rebelled against... but it has been really helpful for me to recognize that IT ISN'T ABOUT ME when my kids want to be left alone... or when they're embarrassed of me in the halls. Or when they think bedtime is idiotic...

How do you get to be yourself? By questioning authority.

Sitting down with our children and encouraging them to seek out places in their lives/the world that they feel strongly against is AS important if not MORE important than asking them what they love, or who they want to be when they grow up.

Dissent is not negative. Disagreement is CRUCIAL for people trying to formulate their own ideas.

Certainly not all of us will feel the same -- I realize it is, perhaps, controversial to believe a child should be supported for her rebellion, but I think it's worth discussing the importance of creating a home environment where our children know it's okay, even IMPORTANT to question our authority sometimes. 

Helping our kids find the things in the world they want to rebel against and encouraging them to take positive action to make change--in the same way we encourage them to "listen" and "respect boundaries"--is crucial.

Perhaps a child is pissed they have so much homework? How do they USE that to take action? Write letters? Create an anti-homework club to work on a petition? Engage in peaceful protest in the halls? This is the time, people. Learning to engage and take on what is wrong with our system is as important as respecting and adhering to what works.

GET TO KNOW the thing you want to change and then work on what it means to PEACEFULLY RESIST. 

Because the truth is, in this life, there will be times when the only way to get out of the woods is to trespass through the tall grasses that surround it. 

the best music videos of 2016 are mitski

photo via

I know I post a lot of music videos on this website but these two are the best you've seen all year/decade probably. Gorgeous asskickery like whoa. Mitski is IT:

Townie by: Mitski

Your Best American Girl by: Mitski


P.S. Mitski's new album (PUBERTY 2) comes out next month. Go listen to more of her music/check out her summer tour schedule, here...  grrrrrrrrrraaaaaaar.

nothing (but time) can be done to stop the wind

Three weeks ago there was a windstorm. It started in the evening, as we made lunches in silence, undressed in silence, brushed our teeth against different mirrors... in silence.

Outside, the wind howled. Inside, we whispered. Mumbling words to smooth the edges of our voids. And as we slept with spines like question marks, our backs repelled like magnets, resigned, withheld. The wind blew on... went from sigh to scream without our knowing. We must have been too asleep to hear it. Too asleep to feel the bed split in half as we slept like boulders through.

And in the morning, there was no bed. No bedroom. Just secret doors on either side of the house and behind them, rooms we didn't know we had.

And the wind kept blowing... It blew so hard it broke glass, knocked pots over, uprooted two trees. It blew the kitchen windows open as we surveyed the damage in our pajamas.

Bam. Bam. Bam... went the window against the wall. Bam. Bam. Bam... 

But there was nothing we could do so we did nothing.

Because nothing (but time) can be done to stop the wind. So we pressed our faces to the window. Watched the furniture float away like balloons. Held onto the ankles of our favorite memories. Untied our scarves.

We prepared breakfast side by side for our children who felt the wind but didn't see the damage it had done.

Substituted words for breath.

Turned our backs on each other's faces, smiling boldly at the children we made together out of discontinued parts.

"Latch the windows, mama," she said.

So I latched the windows.

"What makes the wind so loud, Daddy?"

You didn't know.

I didn't know either. So I let the windows blow open again.

"Latch the windows, ma--"

"Shhhhh," I said. "Just let it be."

We let it be.

Bam. Bam. Bam... went the windows as the kids ate breakfast.

As you poured your coffee and forgot about it.

As I left my milk in the microwave.

When it was time to go to school, we ran to our cars, clutching hands with backpacks to our chests as the palm fronds slammed against our shins. With wind so strong, everything had already fallen to the ground.  Everything was trying to get back up to where it was.... empty nests clutching broken branches on the sides of busy roads as we climbed into our separate cars.

Divide and conquer.

Bam bam bam. 

So we drove our separate ways, our children fighting in the back seats of our cars. Holding hands, singing over each other, kicking the seats like nothing was wrong. Like windstorms were normal. Broken glass and uprooted trees and broken beds -- normal.

Meanwhile I steered left as the wind pushed my car sideways.

And you steered right.

And we drove as far as we possibly could to either end of town. You were the west and I was the east so that is where we went. Because north felt like the wrong way and going south would have taken too long and nothing but time can be done to stop the wind.
We didn't see each other for days after that. It felt like days. Like Dorothy was dreaming all this color as she slept in a room of black and white.

Bam bam bam, the windows went. Until I realized they were all closed and you were nowhere to be found. I turned around looking. Turned away from the wind but it turned with me. East and then west and then north and then south.

And that's when I realized it was coming out of my hands and my mouth and my nostrils. That's when I felt the wind shoot out of my pores, through my hair.

I was the wind that had broken the glass and knocked the terra cotta pots off their bottoms.

And I was the wind who uprooted the trees and broke the fence and two telephone lines.

I was the wind that capsized the boat and split the bed -- and blew the windows clear open... I was the BAM BAM BAM...

I was the wind and nothing (but time) could stop me.

So I looked for a watch. A clock. I searched the sky for the sun's position. And that's when I found you. There, behind the house, crouched amongst the wreckage, eyes parting the same clouds in search of the sun.

That was when you told me it was you who uprooted the trees.

And broke the glass. And knocked over the pots. That was when you took the wind out of my breath like venom and swore it was yours.

That was when we realized we were both right. And wrong. Two tornadoes touching down.

But one cannot do damage to damage, we soon realized. The trees were already gone. The fence broken in half. The power lines dead.

Everything gone.

Except us.

Except you.

Except me.

Accept me. 

We surveyed the damage. Our hands touching as we hung them by our sides.

Dead trees can live again. Not as trees but as something else.

A new bed, perhaps. One with four posts this time...

Firewood to keep us warm.

Paper on which to draw a new direction.

A new design. 

Pencils to write our truths...

Or erase them. 

Three weeks ago there was a windstorm. It started in the evening, as we made lunches in silence, undressed in silence, brushed our teeth against different mirrors... in silence.

The wind broke everything that night and didn't stop until we were standing in the wreckage.

Bam, bam, bam goes the hammer, as we lose track of time. As we lie down and face each other on the floor. Our backs hurt but not as bad as the crooked of the question marks.

And now we have the materials to rebuild.
Nothing but time can be done to stop the wind and it's still howling. So we count to three, blow the kitchen windows open and howl back...


 Girl meets skate park:

270. Arthropoda by: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
(directed/danced by: Melanie Lane)


for all mothers and the houses we must build with limited brick

This week on Mom.me, I wrote a little something for Mother's Day...  unedited, unfinished... mirroring my current state of motherhood... selfhood... all-of-the-abovehood. 
...The other day I was watching Bo build houses with her Lincoln Logs when all at once she ran out...

It wasn't just one house she was working on. It was several. Four, maybe five... six... she became frustrated when she realized she had used all the blocks in the box -- that there weren't enough logs to finish the roofs... that all of her little houses would remain unfinished unless she... BAM!... knocked them all over.

Which is exactly what she did.

"But Bo!" I said. You can't expect to build all of those little houses with that one box! There just aren't enough..."


In the beginning it's just us... little girls who come of age. We have our box of blocks and every morning we work on building our little wooden houses just so...

We have enough blocks to build something complete, even grand. Something that is ours. THIS IS WHO I AM, we say, finishing our houses. THIS IS JUST FOR ME. 

Years later, when we grow up a little bit, start working entry level jobs... we realize, we need to build another house. A house to work in... to make money in... a house that allows us autonomy --- to support ourselves financially... to pay rent, bills... a car payment. 

Our little box of bricks gets a little more difficult to navigate... we have enough blocks to build two houses -- personal and professional -- but it would be really nice to have more bricks. So we peruse... look around... ask a friend, a parent, strangers... to borrow a brick here and there. For those of us who have a hard time asking, we attempt to make our own out of paper and glue... sticks from outside, stones...

For many of us, we will prioritize our professional houses. Because they need to look presentable. They need to bring in money. Respect. Our livelihood. Professional houses must look strong, especially for women. They must look sturdy. Dependable. Modern...

And our personal houses... well, they have to take a backseat. They just do. 

Later on, when we find a partner... we realize we have to build another house. A relationship house. We go back to our box, realize its empty, shift some blocks around in order to build our third house. Some of us have an easier time than others. Some of are natural engineers. Some of us, not.

Most of us don't have enough blocks to build three sturdy houses at once, let alone two. We have to choose which house is most important. We pull from our first house because we are willing to sacrifice ourselves above all...

So we rearrange the furniture and split our blocks in half...

Meanwhile our professional houses suffer. Because gender roles are in ALL OF OUR ears. Because we cannot help but want to be taken care of...

I need you to support me. 

But I need you to support me, too. 

We don't know what that looks like because for thousands of years, everything was different. And progress cannot change the past. Osmosis cannot be reversed. Not yet, anyway. There is too much we have inherited through bloodlines and bedtime stories...

We can't help but want certain houses to look certain ways.

So we build and rebuild and work with what we have...

And then.

A child is born. 

And that child needs his own house. He has his own needs that are not personal. Or professional. And these needs become priority because he/she is too small to build his/her own house. We pull more blocks from our various houses. Relationships change. Career goals change. Our personal house falls to the side. 

Some of us will then go on to have another child.

And another and another...

Pulling blocks from everywhere in the process. 

From the relationship house. 

And the career house. 

And the other children's houses...

But most notably, from our personal houses. The ones that were just for me and you. The ones that resemble something else entirely now.

Sometimes we think maybe it's altogether gone. 

Certainly some of us have days where we can't find it... where we're not sure it exists anymore.

"Is a feeble house a house at all?" we ask ourselves.

"Can we seek shelter inside rooms without walls?" 

People warned us years ago and we rolled our eyes because we were strong and capable. Of raising confident children. And maintaining a sturdy marriage. Pursuing a career...

"I'll never be like that," we said.

"I've got this. Muscle arm emoji."

We were right. WE ARE STRONG and capable. But somedays we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror, shaking our heads... Somedays we yearn for the house we had all those years ago -- the house that was JUST for us. The house that we cannot, even if we wanted to, rebuild...


Lately I have had a hard time finding my own little house... The one I started with. The one I have always told others to maintain. The one that belonged SOLELY to me. The one that had nothing to do with my marriage, career, children...

And when I do stumble upon its remains -- survey what's left... I can't help but remember how it used to look... when it was just one house -- THIS house... before I had to break off a rib and then break off another rib and then break off four more... 

It's hard to breathe when you've pulled your ribs out of your chest. 

It's hard to rebuild your primary home when you've run out of materials. 

You would have to make them in order to create something for yourself. Or take from another house. 

Adam was a mother, you see. And Eve was her child...





Because my daughter's house and my other daughter's house and my other daughter's house and my son's house have been the houses I've hung my mirrors from. Perhaps that is where they are safest.

My mirrors.

My identity. 

After all, their structures have always been the sturdiest of the bunch.


"But Bo!" I said. You can't expect to build all of those little houses with that one box! There just aren't enough..."


... And I started to think about all of the women... all of the mothers... whose personal houses are shrinking, falling, caving in... and how frequently, quietly... we go looking for our starter homes -- searching for the smoke that once swirled from our chimneys... only to find that it's gone...

The chimney.

The fireplace.

The hearth.

I thought of all the women -- all the mothers, who some days find themselves resenting the other houses... and all of the bricks they had to pull from their own roofs to build new, structurally sound homes ... for spouses, and jobs and children... 

And how sometimes we can't help but crack under the pressure of having no place to call our own. Sometimes hearing our names called from all the houses at once makes us want to run away...






But those aren't even my name....

for all girls who want to play

Tracking Pixel
The following post was sponsored by Niagara Water and their #GirlUpSweeps. Empowering all girls to play hard... if/when they want to. 
On New Years Day, the six of us sat around the table and wrote down our goals for the year. On four-year-old Revi's list of things to do were the following:

- Learn to Skateboard
- Take dance class (ballet)
- Try surfing
- Learn to snap

Her twin sister, Bo, also made a list... and on her list, she included:

- Smell Flowers
- Write a letter
- Spend a day eating raspberries
- Skateboard and surf
- Have a butterfly land on my finger

Revi's still working on the snapping and we haven't gone surfing yet this year (although we will get the girls up on boards this sumer for sure) and while Bo hasn't spent an ENTIRE day eating raspberries, she's certainly spent many after school snack times eating them. And well, butterflies... Bo, you see, is the butterfly WHISPERER.

Butterflies flock to her.

And all insect-sized creatures.

...And while both lists were certainly delightful and delicious and omg-i-can't-even-worthy, I was most taken aback by Revi's VERY FIRST bullet point which was:

Learn to skateboard.

Because she didn't get a skateboard for Christmas.

Bo did.

Bo, my uber-athlete, who taught herself to swim and was diving off the diving board at three years old. Bo, my leaping, kicking, wrestling, falling, never crying, always bleeding athlete got a skateboard for Christmas because she wanted one, yes. But also because I knew she could handle one.

Revi had never shown interest in skateboarding. On the contrary, she wanted a doll for Christmas. With a carseat. And a stroller. And little plastic bottles to feed her with. So that is what she got.

But when Bo started riding Christmas morning, Revi wondered where her board was. And why "BoBo got one" and not her.

My heart sank.

Having twins is tricky and while there is a part of me that wants to make sure they always HAVE THE SAME THINGS, there is another part of me that wants to MAKE SURE I am respecting their differences.

And Revi, while strong and daring in her own beautiful way, has always been keeper and caretaker... For example, Bo recently let us know that she wants to be a "motorcycle racer" when she grows up, to which Revi responded, "And I will the doctor who fixes your broken leg."

The two of them have always flexed different muscles when it comes to championing not just each other but themselves and because of that I assumed that Revi wouldn't want to skateboard.

I was wrong.

I was wrong to assume that Revi wouldn't want to bomb a hill, too

The past few months have proved that Bo isn't the only girl in this house who can fall hard and get back up. It turns out, we all can. And while Bo has a higher threshold for pain than, well... anyone I've ever known...  she isn't the only athlete in this house. Not even close.
And Revi isn't the only caretaker, either. 

Bo singlehandedly taught Revi how to skateboard, first by riding her scooter as Revi held on... and finally, by showing Revi how to place her feet on the skateboard... 
IMG_4751 IMG_2885
...so that she could balance when she was ready to let go.
And Revi? LOVES TO RIDE. She has incredible balance, knows how to fall without hurting herself and is as fearless as her twin sister when it comes to bombing hills. And I'm so proud of her. I'm  proud of her for going for it. And I'm proud of Bo for her guidance. And I'm proud of BOTH of them for going for it in their unique and powerful ways. 

I'm proud of them for proving me wrong and showing me what's RIGHT... for them.

Because skateboarding should be AND IS for everyone... not just the boys.

Or the naturally athletic girls.
Here's to girls -- may they play if they want to play, ride if they want to ride, run if they want to run, surf if they want to surf, all the while proving to parents and peers and each other that PLAY is for everyone.


...and SCRAPING...

...and PUSHING...

...and HUSTLING...


...is for everyone.

May all girls challenge closed minds...

And teach their sisters to do the same.
Today, as part of the Girl Up and Win #GirlUpSweeps, in partnership with Niagara Water and Heather O'Reilly, I'm pleased to share this kickass video with you.

ED:  Watch with your kids if you can because, YES. Because YESYESYESYESYES.

I am EQUALLY pleased to offer a chance to win a scholarship to a soccer camp of your choice. (If you don't have a daughter(s), perhaps you know of a girl or a boy who would LOVE to attend soccer camp this summer!?)

To win? Upload an image of your girl(s) PLAYING SOCCER to twitter and/or instagram with the hashtag #GirlUpSweeps or submit your photo directly to the contest site. Tell us about your daughter(s), sister(s), niece(s), friend(s)... Show us how they run and jump and kick and slide and run and fall and get back up. Show us how they PLAY and inspire. Visit girlupandwin.com for official sweepstakes rules. This contest (as well as this post) have been sponsored by Niagara Water. KEEP KICKING ASS, GIRLS! 

DEAR MOM who maybe doesn't want to have sex again...

Tracking Pixel The following post was sponsored by Plum Organics and their Parenting Unfiltered Campaign, featuring stories of solidarity from real moms. Like me. Hi, guys. 
You are not alone. 

I don't think four words have ever acted as more of a salve to my soul than those.

As a new mom, yes.

But also as a (not so young anymore) mom.

As a woman.

As a writer.

A wife...

Hoping that there were other women out there who understood me is why I started blogging all those years ago... It's why I never stopped.

Knowing that I AM NOT ALONE and YOU ARE NOT ALONE and WE ARE NOT ALONE is where I pull my power. It's where I harvest my confidence. Build my community. Find my voice.

Because never did I feel so judged... so lost... so (ahem) completely over sex (see below) as I did when I first became a mother... Because, goddamn that sh*t was hard.

Being a new mom can be incredibly isolating and the LEAST we can offer one another is solidarity. Sharing our stories with one another is a revolutionary act. Because contrary to link-baiting mommy wars think-pieces, we, the mothers, are here to support, elevate and empower one another.

Motherhood is complicated and messy and mortifying and empowering and draining and frustrating and profound.

And so are we.

All beautiful things are.

Here's to moms supporting moms. Here's to sharing our stories... Here's to being a new mom that maybe doesn't want to have sex quite yet no thanks don't touch my boobs...
...And, yes, this happened. So did co-sleeping until Fable was thirteen months, which... I mean... how do people have sex AND ALSO co-sleep? Is... Do you just take lots of showers? 

See the full line of Dear Mom videos, here. They're all fantastic and important and REAL. And so are you.

Thank you, Plum Organics, for sponsoring this post and for empowering women and mothers to share their stories -- unfiltered and unashamed -- as part of the #ParentingUnfiltered Dear Mom video series. 
IMG_4443 Respect. Love. Solidarity. Amen. 

The Month in Moments: April

IMG_2802 IMG_2735 IMG_4174 IMG_3089 IMG_3835 IMG_4361 IMG_3588 IMG_4251 IMG_3833 IMG_4177 IMG_3484 IMG_3631 IMG_3806 IMG_3183 IMG_4074 IMG_4268 ***
IMG_3853 IMG_3527 IMG_3196 IMG_4211 IMG_3660 IMG_3507 IMG_3493 IMG_3487 IMG_3855 Happy May!
IMG_4128 P.S.
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