Woman Inherits the Earth (or) What Happens When the Dinosaurs are all Women

“We tend to refer to some of the dinosaurs as male – Such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex; we call it a ‘him’ – but in fact they’re all female. And believe me, they can’t breed.”  –  Dr. Henry Wu, Chief Geneticist (Jurassic Park)

“We are becoming the men we always wanted to marry.”  – Gloria Steinem

 

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Today, dear students, we return to the text by which this blog originated… It has been some time since I’ve written from the source that serves as our ultimate parenting model here on this site, the great parenting classic, JURASSIC PARK, which was where this blog originated.

After viewing the recently released trailer for JURASSIC WORLD, I knew a post about our holy text was due.

I encourage you to take moment and view the JURASSIC WORLD trailer in all its glory, paying particular attention to the fierce dinosaur and the gorgeous nerd-girl magnet, Chris Pratt.

I know very little about the new movie, JURASSIC WORLD, but I was excited by Chris Pratt’s line: “She’s a highly intelligent animal. She will kill anything that moves.’

This lets me know that JURASSIC WORLD will continue the tradition of the previous volumes with an all-female park, where the most vicious and beautiful creatures are ALL WOMEN.

This is the formula for Jurassic Park… The scientists involved in planning the paradise park always underestimate the power of the female dinosaurs. They think they can control them.

In the end, though, not only are these women smart enough to figure their way out of the park… But they actually find a way around the breeding, and create more and more dinosaurs… Effectively making Jurassic Park a lovely community of single mothers, defending their young, and carving a place outside of the smart and methodical men controlling them.

This is why today we will focus on the strength of the Single Mother.

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I was reminded of the most memorable single-mother I ever knew when I was a kid. Her name was Jolene Dickson. She had a small house on the outskirts of Rotan, Texas, Population 1,547.

I befriended her daughter, Tammy, when I was eleven. Tammy and I would ride our bikes around town. We’d watch Friday Night Videos and deep-fry canned biscuits, dip them in sugar, dance around the house to Boy George, then practice French Kissing on pillows.

Jolene or Tammy never really talked about Tammy’s Dad, and I never met him. I remember one time Jolene was sitting with my mother in our house talking, and she said:

“People always tell me they’re sorry about my divorce. I tell them, you ought to be sorry about my wedding. That divorce was the best thing that ever happened to me. If I could re-do it, I would’ve set up a receiving table and served thin mints and Devils Food Cake the day of that divorce, but I was too damn exhausted from the marriage. So, I just ate pizza and thanked God for my freedom.”

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Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen a number of my friends move in-and-out of marriages. I have several friends who are single moms. So… When I decided to do this blog post, I contacted a few them and they were happy to talk to me.

When I spoke to these awesome moms, what I found was not only a recipe for success as a single parent… But a recipe for success in life. I will share the wisdom I’ve garnered with you now, and you can pass it on to your young.

1) It is okay to ask for help.

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My friend, Susan, who is a trial attorney, was in a tough spot when she became the primary custodian of her seven-year-old. Up until that time, she had been self-sufficient, but when she had to financially support her home with little to no help from her ex-husband, the cost of a full-time nanny to help her out with last-minute problems was too much.

“I had to rely on my friends and my mom,” she said. “I was always a person that was in charge… Could do everything myself. I felt helpless and embarrassed at first, like I was a burden on my friends.”

Susan said one day she had a revelation that changed the way she viewed her life. “I became a person who needed help. I had really always needed help, I just never admitted it. And I provided something for someone else… The opportunity to give… If a person tells me ‘no’ I can accept that. But many people are looking for ways to give, and I offered them an opportunity to do that. I think I got caught up in my marriage, not realizing how much I needed other people. When I became a single mom, I couldn’t help but need them.”

Reading Susan’s story I was reminded of the security breach in Jurassic Park. When Dennis Nedry, the duplicitous computer scientist, shuts down the park’s security system, and drives in a rainstorm to deliver dinosaur embryos to a competitor, he wrecks his jeep, and faces off with one Dilophosaurus.

He laughs at it, backing up slowly… In fear, the creature spits goo in his eyes…

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What Nedry doesn’t realize is that Dilophosauruses understand the mentality of single motherhood. Quickly two others appear to the aid of the first, and with little effort, they gut him using their sharp hook-like talons.

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There’s strength in numbers. Asking for help is a good thing.

2) Create your own identity

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One of the most interesting women I spoke to about this was a friend of mine from college named Spider. Interestingly enough, when I knew Spider some years ago, that wasn’t her name. Her name was something more girly and I’m not going to use it, as she doesn’t use it anymore. Spider changed her name after her divorce, and I always wondered if it had to do with her new role as a single parent, and she told me it did.

“The decision to change my name is very much connected to being a single parent. When my husband left, without warning, it felt like an end; an end to my life as I knew it. I knew I wanted to – had to start a new life, a life of being strong and independent, of being the mother my children needed and the woman I wanted to become. Spider embodied all that I wanted to be; strong, but playful.”

Spider took on her new role fiercely.

“I am always, always on. I am the only person responsible for dealing with kid raising, which means a great deal more pressure to always make the right choice or have the right response…to which eventually I have had to acknowledge that I am human, and will make mistakes. I make a habit of apologizing to my kids when I do fail to handle things perfectly all the time….Having the kids all the time, on my own, means that I have to forgive myself for sometimes falling down – because I’m sick, or tired, or emotionally done – and forgive that in those times, the kids have more electronic time than I would prefer, and the chores don’t get done. In addition, there are a lot of things I did as the stay-at-home mother that have simply had to fall off my list or become less frequent– baking, hosting parties for the kids, helping out other mothers.”

Asking for help… Forgiving yourself… So far, these are life lessons I can use.

3) Be proud of who you are:

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My friend Jennifer, a brilliantly witty writer who divorced after fifteen years of marriage and two kids had this to say:

“After my divorce, a part of me was excited about dating again… But suddenly, I began to panic. I wasn’t twenty-years-old anymore. My body didn’t feel the way it used to. A lot of the confidence I’d had was gone. I wasn’t tan or in great shape. I’d spent years singing Old MacDonald in the dark, and rarely shaving my legs… I faced a large and expensive battle with my ex-husband and I emerged like a shriveled white cave worm, crawling to light… I’d even developed something called a Uterine Hernia… My Uterus was literally starting to fall out of my body… I was reminded of the words of actress Olivia Wilde, who lamented her first marriage publicly, when she announced… ‘That man has killed my vagina.’

I remember saying at the time… ‘I married a Tax Attorney who murdered my vagina and then used it as a home-office tax write-off.’

But I got back on my feet. I bought a new razor, pulled up my uterus, and started to meditate and drink more green tea.

I am proud of who I am now. I may not be twenty-two anymore… But I have some things most twenty-two year-olds don’t have… And I’m NOT talking about my stretch marks or my sagging uterus. I have a sense of humor. I have a LOT of common sense and also book sense. I know I’m not as neurotic as I used to be. I know what is really important in life. I still sing Old MacDonald in the dark. But this cave worm has become a butterfly… Or at least a moth.”

4) Don’t let someone else determine your worth.

I’ve been close to my friend Johanna since childhood. Johanna became the primary parent for both her children when they were still toddlers and she faced most of her battles alone.

“Most teachers/daycare employees always treated me like I was some dumb pregnant teen that had no clue. There were undertones in conversations… Like here’s the mom who isn’t going to pay her bill on time or remember her kids’ lunch money. I hated that! With time, most of them realized they had stereotyped me. Let’s face it, you can look at any parent, single or not, and name at least a few things wrong with their parenting style.”

In fact, three of the five mothers I interviewed expressed this same obstacle when dealing with childcare workers underestimating them.

Johanna goes on to say… “But really, at the end of the day, it’s made me a stronger more confident person. It’s made me better… more appreciative of the little things.”

5) Endure the race.

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My friend, and fellow Jurassic Mom, Jessica, caught my eye last month when she successfully completed a half-marathon. It wasn’t any average race, though, this was a twelve-and-a-half mile zombie run… A run where zombies chased her all the way to the finish line.

Years ago, when Jessica’s marriage ended unexpectedly, she was left as the near sole-custodian of her two elementary-school-aged boys. Jessica had never finished her degree, and when she became a single parent she felt the need to finish it more than ever. The amount of endurance was intense.

“I had to keep pushing forward regardless of no money and no support. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about a myriad of problems that most people take for granted. I just kept going, regardless of whether or not I was tired. I had papers due. I was working one full-time job, and one part-time job. My son had entered his teenage years, and once I got a call at three AM and had to go hit the streets looking for him. The next morning, I got up after an hour of sleep, took a test, and went to work. I was proud of myself the day I graduated with a degree in Justice Administration.”

I asked her if she thought about any of those thing when she completed her Zombie Run.

“It was incredibly cathartic for me. I was never a runner, or a person who had time to exercise. But when I started running… I had to concentrate, to focus. I thought of so many things I’d accomplished as I ran. I thought of the endurance it took and how I had taken the challenge and succeeded. Running a long distance is 90% mind and 10% body. So is single parenting. At some points you feel like you are going to break, but you have to keep going. You have to move onto the next day… I’ve outrun a lot of zombies in my life.”

In THE LOST WORLD, the second volume in the JURASSIC PARK series, Michael Crichton writes, “For our own species, evolution occurs mostly through our behavior. We innovate new behavior to adapt.”

Outrunning zombies. Establishing a powerful super-identity. Laughing at yourself and appreciating who you are. Refusing to let another person determine your worth… Some of these innovations might be unique, but these are the ingredients for a powerful and adventurous life.

In closing, let me just say:

God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.

Amen.

Sleep When the Baby Sleeps or This Could Be You…

“And that’s how things are. A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there. . . . And at the end of your life, your whole existence has the same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day.”   ― Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

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There is a popular video haunting the internet.  I first learned of it this morning while I was boiling an egg, making coffee, imploring my six-year-old to put on her socks, while putting on lipstick.  My husband, Erin, walked in with our small dog (who is always freezing cold) stuffed in his sweatshirt and said, “Did you see the video of the naked lady wrecking the McDonalds?”   

“What?  There’s a naked lady at McDonalds?” said my young six-year-old impressionable daughter, Harper.  “What was she doing?”

“She was eating ice cream right out of the machine,” Erin laughed.

“Okay, enough,” I said, giving my husband a hard look.  “Daddy’s joking.  That didn’t happen. No one would do that.  And even if someone DID do that… the person that LAUGHS at that kind of thing… is worse than the person who DOES that kind of thing… Because that’s laughing at the mentally ill and no one should do that.”  

“What?” Erin said, and both he and the dog have a look like they just went wee on the floor. “She didn’t seem mentally ill to me.  She seemed drunk.”    

“Okay.  Enough… Don’t repeat this story to anyone at school,” I said to Harper.  “That’s the last thing I want… If parents want their children to know about this awful story, they will tell them themselves… Like we did…  Enough.”    

“I won’t, Mommy,” she said.  “I promise. I won’t tell anyone at school about the naked lady at McDonalds that eats ice cream straight from the machine.”  

Oh dear…

As I dropped my daughter at school this morning, the vision of the naked lady at McDonalds was haunting me, and I found myself coming straight home, pulling up the internet, and googling the following equation:

“Naked Lady” + “McDonalds” + “Ice Cream”

What resulted was the following video, which I politely asked my husband (an editor) to blur and silence, so it contains no nudity and none of the terrible teenage-commentary from the McDonalds employees watching this poor woman’s day-end meltdown. 

“What’s the point, then?” my husband asked.  

“Because, the essence of what this video is saying isn’t about any of that,” I told him.  “This video says something else…”  

“Whatever…” My husband said, before agreeing to blur and silence the footage.  

 

The video is here:

 

What you will see… if you watch the video in its entirety… Is a woman who saunters into a McDonalds wearing only underpants… Then proceeds to pull everything off the shelves, while the security guards stand watching her, afraid to intervene.  Of particular note… the woman doesn’t seem angry, or upset in any way.  She simply seems frustrated… and then hungry… When she bends over and consumes the ice cream directly out of the spigot.

“Look at her,” says one of the terrible unfunny teenagers watching the footage.  “She’s a zombie.  This is what the Zombie Apocalypse will look like.”

Hardly I thought.  What an idiot.  If it were the Zombie Apocalypse, she would be eating the security guards… NOT the ice cream.  

No… I think this woman might be the mother of a small child…. or a number of them… This woman is no “zombie” at all… She is simply a woman who made the decision this morning, to get up, make breakfast, and go to the park… But a few wrong turns, a temper tantrum, a bad run-in at Target changed all of that.  

This woman reminds me of myself when I was potty-training my two-year-old.   I remember watching a certain video called “ELMO’S POTTY TIME” again-and-again… I don’t guess I ever crawled over a public lunch counter nude like she did… But I could’ve during those years… Oh yes, I could’ve…  Has she had a few too many “concerned relatives” questioning her potty training philosophy?  Is her child four-years-old and still wearing a pull-up?  That’s what I wondered when I saw the footage.

Maybe she’s the mother of a six-month-old, and she is still breastfeeding, which is why she has forgone her top all together.  Maybe after months of no sleep and exhaustion, she feels like an endless milk machine… And now she thinks it’s my turn… Momma wants milk… Then she heads to McDonalds and shoves her head under the vanilla.   

Maybe she’s a mother who wanted some time to herself, and despite all her best friends telling her to please “SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS OR YOU WILL LOSE IT!!!” she didn’t do that.  She decided to stay awake during naps, to read, or exercise, or practice her dance routines.  She made lattes and watched the VIEW.  She didn’t sleep when the baby slept and this is what happened.  This was the end result of her taking a few minutes to herself.   

What I felt when I saw this raw end-of-day footage, was the opposite of judgement. Instead, I was consumed with compassion, followed by kindred-ship. It could’ve been me… I thought… watching her quietly open the refrigerator, pulling down milks and juices before overturning the cash register. 

Motherhood is hard… And the longer you wait to have a child, there is some kind of idea that it will be easier for you… That as a Jurassic Mom, you have one up on a younger newer mom… But with all due respect… There are some things age cannot change… And exhaustion is one of those things.

This is all I have to say to the naked lady wrecking the McDonalds:  

All my love to you.  I understand.  You are somebody’s mother.  This internet thing is going to embarrass you when you come to your senses.  But let it be a reminder that you are no different from any of us.  You are no zombie, my love.  We all have days when we want to run naked through McDonalds and eat right from the ice cream machine.  There’s no shame in that.  

Please try to sleep when the baby sleeps.  

 

Jurassic Mom

“The planet has survived everything in its time.  It will certainly survive us.”  – Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park)

“Mothers are all slightly insane.”  – J.D. Salinger

 

I love two things deeply.  Actually, I love more than two things… But I love two things enough to blog about both of them.

The first thing I love deeply is the book Jurassic Park.  The book, Jurassic Park, is probably the best story idea anyone ever had.  When I first read the book, I wanted to quit writing.  I remember thinking at the time… I will never read ANYTHING better than this book, and I will certainly never write ANYTHING better than this book.

Jurassic Park tells the story of a group of scientists who discover how to clone dinosaurs using the blood of a mosquito taken from an amber fossil, then mix it with that of a frog, and create a huge zoo full of dinosaurs off the coast of Costa Rica.

At first, it seems like an awesome idea, and the park really is quite impressive.  But, as usual, greed gets in the way.  One terrible human being and a few loose corners causes a breach in the security system, and suddenly the T-Rex is out, as are all the others, and well, the park ends up not being quite as much fun as the owner had hoped.

In the same way some people remember the Kennedy Assassination, or the downing of the Space Shuttle Challenger, I remember where I was when I first read the book Jurassic Park.

I was working at The Boys and Girls Club in Alaska in 1992, and I was dating a guy I met at a Renaissance Fair, whose main goals in life were to smoke weed and avoid commitment.  He loved to sit on his futon and play Pink Floyd on his guitar, while I asked him hundreds of relationship questions.

I remember him saying to me once… “You’re the largest girl I’ve ever dated.”

I weighed 120 pounds at the time, and this made me want him more.

The two of us went to an Italian joint one evening.  The place had great Manicotti. I recall resenting him as I ordered a salad to help reduce my large lumbering five-foot-four, 120- pound- frame.

Afterwards, we went to see the movie Jurassic Park.  This would be the best evening of our relationship.  We both agreed the movie was awesome, but not as good as the book because Doctor Malcolm’s Chaos Theories weren’t explored or detailed nearly enough.  This was the highlight of our entire two-month relationship and the only time we ever agreed on anything.

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The relationship would end… But my love for Jurassic Park never did.

Oddly, years later, fifteen-years, to be exact, I would remember Jurassic Park once again when I made the decision to become what’s known as a “mid-life mommy.”  If you don’t know, a “mid-life mommy,” is the name given to a new mother over the age of thirty-five.  It sounds like a sales slogan for Metamucil.

I refuse to call myself that.  Instead I call myself a JURASSIC MOM.

A JURASSIC MOM is a mother over the age of thirty-five, who usually gets pregnant through some sort of help from science… It’s the kind of test tube situation where a scientist takes a single ovary, then injects it with the blood of a mosquito…. Or something like that.

Of course, a JURASSIC MOM, isn’t JUST someone who has explored science for pregnancy… It’s also any new mom over the age of thirty-five… Also any mom who loves the book JURASSIC PARK.

The vast majority of moms I know here in my hometown, Los Angeles, California, fit into the JURASSIC MOM category.   They are not moms in their twenties, like most of the moms I knew growing up.

The moms I know now, are moms like me… moms in their thirties, forties, and even fifties.  True.  Several of my good friends were around fifty when they got pregnant.  One of them worked for many years as an oncologist before she decided to have a baby.  Another is a successful producer.  Only now, has the branding of the term “mid-life mommy” come into play.

For years…. Men fathered children in their forties and fifties, and no one ever called them “midlife Daddies.”

What a crock to give us such a bad title.  JURASSIC MOMS are some of the fiercest moms I know.

Whenever I am with any of these women, I always think of the quote from Gloria Steinem… “We are becoming the men we always wanted to marry.”

Interesting quote…

Even more interesting… In the book Jurassic Park... The park is full of female dinosaurs intentionally bred because of their docile nature and inability to reproduce.  The scientists are like… “we will control the park because they are all women…” until everything goes awry and they find velociraptor eggs INSIDE THE PARK..

It is then that they realize the all female dinosaurs can breed!!!!

“Oh no,” they say…  “We underestimated them.  Because of the frog’s DNA, a bunch of them have turned into men. We are screwed.”

The last part was paraphrased because I’m too lazy to pick up the book and find the quote.

But know this…. I can relate every single thing having to do with motherhood to the story of Jurassic Park.   And I will do that.  Here.  Watch me.