The Invasion of The Mommy Bloggers

FOF friend Ellen and I were chatting about the eating regimen her 30-something daughter is following as she prepares to become pregnant. No raw fish, no coffee, no cheese and endless other no-nos. Another friend tells me about her 3-year-old grandson’s inability to sleep through the night because “my daughter-in-law ran to him whenever he made a peep and wanted to stay up.” And when it comes to sustenance, the fixation on breastfeeding today makes the La Leche League look like playschool.

Motherhood has become a phenomenon: Phenomenon as in spectacle, not phenomenon as in miracle. When we grew up in the 50 and 60s, our mothers did what Dr. Spock told them and many of us followed suit. I think I read his book 278 times when Colby joined us on the planet.

Our daughters don’t need anyone’s advice. They’ve figured everything out on their own and they’re spreading the word to one another on their mommy blogs. Take a minute to read some of these things. One mother competes with the next to show her fans that she does motherhood best. Mommy blogger Anne lets three-month old Johnny pee on street corners, rather than wear diapers. “It’s more liberating,” she says. MB Sophia takes 18-month old Lilly into bed with her and her husband every night. “Comforting,” Sophia notes. MB Maddie involves toddler Edie in crafts projects that would turn Martha Stewart green with envy.

But wait, there’s more. A group of MBs are turning their children into star attractions. One painstakingly documents her young son’s experience having both his feet amputated from a rare disease. She shows photos of him looking frail and sad, so sad. Maybe it’s therapeutic for mama to give a blow-by-blow accounting of her travails, but why must she “parade” her son before an audience?

When we became teenagers, we hated it when our mothers showed outsiders photos of our nude baby bottoms. What is this little boy going to think when he sees countless photos of his bandaged legs, minus his feet? Aren’t photos of our children supposed to evoke happy memories?

When this boy becomes a teenager, then a young man and an adult, does he need to be physically reminded of the pain and anguish he suffered?

Another MB tells us about her seven-year-old son, “a hilarious entertainer with Sensory Processing Disorder, Movement Disorder, 12 food allergies and sever environmental allergies.” Isn’t this a bit too much information?

MBs don’t reserve their dribble to their kids’ unfortunate circumstances. They’ve become public relations agents for their Johnny’s every move, from crawling to comedic behavior, social graces with relatives to getting along well with peers.

Do the fans of these bloggers get inspiration or comfort that their own kids are “normally healthy,” “intellectually advanced” and “properly challenged?” Are they entertained or educated? Do they live vicariously through the Mommy Blogger who “supposedly” has it all and pity the one who has heartache?

My about-to-be-32-year-old daughter doesn’t have a Facebook profile and she wouldn’t know a Mommy Blogger if she fell over her at the park. She seems to be rearing her 6.5-month-old-son using her own common sense and, when necessary, the advice of experts.

If she started a blog talking endlessly about her mommy hood, I’d have to check if she really is my daughter, or if babies were mixed up in the hospital nursery.

What do YOU think of the new generation of mommy bloggers?

The Weight of Words

I hadn’t seen my FOFriend, Tara, for a few months, during which time I’d put on more weight than I’d like to admit. I’ve been working 10 hours a day and picking non-stop at the cupcakes, layer cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, cornbread, muffins and cookies that David brings home non-stop. (He swims 60 minutes a day, so his pastry diet doesn’t hurt him.)

Anyhow, Tara and I were walking out of an evening event we had both recently attended, and the first thing she said was ‘You look heavier.’

“Wow, you think?” I wanted to say, sarcastically, but held my tongue. Interestingly, I thought her face looked a bit puffy when I first saw her, like she had been drinking a tad too much. No need to say anything, I reasoned. If she’s been drinking too much, she knows it. Even if she doesn’t, my telling her probably won’t get her to stop.

I was still thinking of Tara’s remark the next day, so my ‘high school self’ emerged and I dashed off this email:

Hi Tara,

Last night, you made a point of telling me I look heavier. That was the first thing that came out of your mouth. No one needs to tell me that I’ve gained weight. I know I’m heavier and I have recently lost six pounds on a sensible diet, so I was even heavier than what I am now.

I appreciate your honesty, but sometimes it really is unnecessary. I’m pleased I lost some weight in the last month, so your statement wasn’t very motivating. I didn’t think I needed an intervention.

Tara immediately emailed back that she was “concerned about my health” and would never ever want to upset me. I assured her that my health is in good shape, I probably won’t die with 20 extra pounds and I intend to lose them.

Tara and I continue to adore one another, but her comment got me thinking about our motivations when we pick at, criticize or condemn the actions of someone we love. We’re all guilty of one or the other transgression—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not—but I suggest we need to think twice before we indiscriminately open our mouths and act like petulant teenagers.

When I told my sister, Shelley (who has lost a ton of weight in the last couple of years and looks great) about Tara’s comment, she told me her own story: “I recently ran into a former co-worker when I was at the mall and the first thing she said was, ‘Oh my God, are you sick?’”

While getting older is liberating in many cases, that’s no reason we need to abandon the good sense we picked up along the way. When we were teenagers, we talked behind our friend’s back if she gained weight. Blurting it to someone’s face doesn’t make it more acceptable, just because you’re FOF.

It’s Time To Speak Up

I stopped taking estrogen about five years ago, and the biggest change I’ve noticed since then is that my vagina is undoubtedly drier. Not desert or sandpaper dry, but dry enough to take away the pleasure of sex, even masturbation. Lubricants help, but they’re temporary fixes. (It’s kind of refreshing to be able to be so straightforward about so many things at this stage in my life!)

When the gynecologist examined me a couple of months ago, I didn’t think to bring up the subject and she didn’t say anything, either. So I made an appointment with an endocrinologist I’ve seen for my bones and risk for diabetes, and she also happens to have a special interest in menopause. She had never brought up the issue of vaginal dryness, either, at my previous visits.

On this visit, the doctor first asked me a bunch of questions: Do I have hot flashes? Frequent urinary tract infections? Have I used lubricants? Is sex painful? When did I go off hormone therapy? Do I sleep ok? She also checked the meds and supplements I take, how much exercise I do, and the results of my blood chemistry, which I had checked a couple of months ago.

Then, I started asking the questions.

Geri: Why didn’t you or my gynecologist [in the same medical center] ever bring up vaginal dryness or other painful symptoms after menopause?

Dr. C: It should be talked about and elevated to an important issue in postmenopausal women. But when you have 15 minutes with a patient, and she has other issues, it is sometimes difficult to address it unless it is very pressing with her and she brings it up, or I’m treating her specifically for menopausal symptoms.


Conquer Menopause Before It Conquers You!

Many of our mothers had to suffer through menopause. We don’t! Women of the FabOverFifty generation are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of extensive research into ways to give us safe relief from many of the unwelcome symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain. A line of completely natural supplements, under the brand name Estroven, promises to give us the quality of life we deserve during this often-stressful time. When Estroven asked if it could sponsor a post on its product, I thought “of course,” since I want to keep my FOFriends completely up to date on products that can benefit all of us, physically as well as emotionally.  

September is Menopause Awareness Month, so even if you’re not yet in menopause, now is the time to find out how to conquer it, before it starts to conquer you. It was dismaying to learn that although one out of three women in the United States suffers from perimenopause and menopause symptoms, almost 60 percent of us don’t seek treatment because we don’t even know treatment is available. And we thought we were smart! 


What’s YOUR Security Blanket?

See this holey (holy!) mess of a baby blanket, which son-in-law, Noel, and my grandson, Primo, are holding. A woman named Ducky, with whom I worked 34 years ago, crocheted it for the baby I was about to have. We used it for Colby, until Simone was born, 32 months later, and then it became hers. Simone has carried it with her, literally and figuratively, throughout her life. She took it away to college. She took it on vacations near and far. She’s moved it with her from apartment to apartment. She sleeps with it every night. It’s made of inexpensive yarn, it’s gray and ragged, but it remains one of Simone’s prized possessions.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that the only real security we get comes from within.

I’m not sure what the blanket represents to Simone, but it got me thinking about all the interesting attachments I’ve had to things, ideas and people during my life. I guess you’d have to call them my “security blankets,” or, perhaps, addictions. Let’s see: Worrying was my best friend when I was growing up. I worried incessantly, about whether my father was going to stop breathing in his sleep, if Neil Maltz liked me in 8th grade and if I’d be able to finish all my algebra homework. I thought that if I didn’t worry, nothing would work out. I became an addicted smoker. I was convinced that I’d never be able to compose a cogent sentence if I couldn’t puff while I wrote. I was certain I’d die without Edgar because I thought he made me happier than any man before him.

I’ve learned worrying accomplished nothing at all; smoking fogged my brain (not to mention filled my lungs with gook) and that Edgar didn’t make me happy (although sex with him sure did). He actually made me more miserable than I’d ever been. The most important thing I’ve learned is that the only real security we get comes from within.

No one and no thing can give it to us. It doesn’t really matter if Simone sleeps with her ratty blanket until she’s 90, as long as it’s just a little pile of disintegrating acrylic.

Do You Lead A GLAM Life?

I’ve got a bunch of things going on with my body, inside and out, and it’s not all delightful. Thankfully, much of it can be addressed: Calcium and Vitamin D for my bones; exercise and good diet for my heart; a few nips and tucks for my jowls and sags; hearing aids for my ears; lotions, serums and creams for my skin; and glasses and drops for my eyes.

During the last few years, another exasperating change in my body made a surprise appearance: Dryness in places other than my skin, eyes, and hair. Aside from using gobs of lubricant for it, I assumed there was nothing else to be done. So gobs of lubricant it is. But once the lubricant is gone, the problem remains. I never brought it up during my annual visit with my gynecologist and he never brought it up with me.

3 out of 4 women who’ve gone through menopause (that’s a whopping 75 percent) experience some sort of vaginal dryness.

Serendipitously, I recently received an invitation from a pharmaceutical company, called Novo Nordisk, to join its new initiative called GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause), which is an alliance of five FOFriends. (Clever!) I gladly accepted the invite, and quickly learned one astounding fact: 3 out of 4 women who’ve gone through menopause (that’s a whopping 75 percent) experience some sort of vaginal dryness. I always like to be different from everyone else ;), but in this case, I was comforted to know that I’m not. But how would I have known, since no one ever talks about vaginal discomfort.

Our declining levels of estrogen account for the dryness, as well as for other unwelcome symptoms, including pain with urination or during intercourse, discomfort, itching, urinary tract infections, even bleeding during intercourse.

GLAM™ is here to tell all our FOFriends who are experiencing any of these feelings that it’s time to start talking about vaginal discomfort, because there’s no reason to suffer in silence. As a matter of fact, there’s no reason to suffer at all, since our symptoms are treatable. Talk to your partner. Talk to your health care provider. To help you to feel comfortable about bringing up the subject, and to learn about your treatment options, visit This is the best time of our lives. Don’t let vaginal discomfort get in the way of the life you deserve.

I am a member of GLAM™ (Great Life After Menopause), a women’s health initiative sponsored by Novo Nordisk.

Amour Sans Fin

Spoiler Alert: If you’re planning to see the 2012 movie, Amour, you might not want to read this blog because it reveals a critical scene. Personally, I don’t think it will ruin your enjoyment of the film, but the choice should be yours.

Regretfully, I will never have a man love me the way Georges loves Anne in the 2012 French movie Amour, one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. And I will probably never love a man the way Anne loves Georges. Played by marvelous actors, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, the aging couple, both music teachers, share a rich and mutually satisfying life together. Even when they quietly sit at their petite kitchen table for a simple meal of steak and frites, their passion for one another is palpable. Their intellectual, spiritual and physical desires seem to meld together.

After Anne suffers a stroke, paralyzing her right side, she and Georges strive to make the best of it. But as Anne’s physical and mental strengths ebb, each cannot stand to see the other in such “pain.” Anne may be the apparent victim, but so, too, is Georges. I imagine a man (or woman) cannot love someone so completely and selflessly without feeling she (he) is part of you, body and soul.

Watching the couple move from blessed to wretched states, it was hardly surprising to see Georges smother Anne with a bed pillow to finally end her—and his—desperation. As we see Anne’s weak body struggling under the blankets to get free, Georges resolutely continues his mission to make it stop. The short scene, all at once, filled me with anguish and relief, for both of them.

What happens next is not easy to explain and I won’t try. But whatever you may read into the ending of the film, there is only one thing to make of the tale, as far as I’m concerned:

Great love is quiet and deep. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, loud and tortured, like Romeo and Juliet, Caesar and Cleopatra, or F. Scott and Zelda. It doesn’t embrace all of us, but if it has you, I trust you realize how incredibly rich you are.

Marilyn didn’t need to twerk

Now I’m really going to show my age. During a meeting this morning, 20-somethings Alex and Alexa asked me if I’d heard about the reaction to Miley Cyrus’s antics at the MTV Awards the other night.

I have little to no interest in either the MTV Awards or Miley Cyrus, but I was intrigued because Miley has apparently come a long way since Hannah Montana.

“What antics?” I asked them.

“Well, she stripped down to a patent leather nude bikini and did an extremely sexual dance. You can see it on You Tube,” Alex told me.

So I clicked on over and watched the six-minute performance, which consisted of 20-year-old Miley bending, twisting, arching and otherwise employing her lovely body to suggest a number of sexual moves. A big foam hand, with a polished nail, served as her prop, which she pointed, positioned and poked at some man (another popular singer whose name I don’t recall.) She licked the finger of the hand at the end of the segment.

Miley is a big “twerker,” apparently. And for those of you who are dying to know what twerking means, here’s the definition from Wikipedia: Twerking is a dance move that involves a person shaking the hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer to shake, ‘wobble’ and ‘jiggle.’ To ‘twerk’ means to “dance in a sexually suggestive fashion by twisting the hips.”

Imagine, we thought slow dancing in the sixties was sexy! And, remember when Marilyn Monroe sang a sex-saturated version of “Happy Birthday” to Mr. President, John F. Kennedy? We were aghast at her sequined gown, which hugged her voluptuous curves and showed off every inch of her generous backside. How naïve we were.

Anyway, while I personally thought Miley’s performance was utterly boring, she has created quite a buzz online, both pro and con. The more I think about it, the more I realize that we’re both duplicitous and conflicted, as a society, when it comes to sex and sexuality. On the one hand, Actor Will Smith and his family collectively had their mouths agape during Miley’s performance, but Mr. Smith is complicit in an industry that promotes sex, drugs and violence. Sharon Stone advises young actresses to get totally nude when they’re doing love scenes, while young actresses, including Jessica Alba and Emma Stone, say they wouldn’t be caught dead in the nude.

Kim Kardashian’s sex tapes turn her into a megastar, yet Monica Lewinsky is banished to oblivion for performing a little oral sex in the Oval Office. We idolize Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt yet we think it’s awful that two gay men or lesbian women would want to get married and, heaven help us, have sex!

I don’t know what’s worse: Keeping sex behind closed doors, like our parents did, or creating a Miley Cyrus. I guess it takes extremes to arrive somewhere in the middle.

A big question gets little attention

We asked this question on Facebook the other day and two things surprised me: a.) The post got only 13 comments and b.) Most of the commenters answered that their “kids” and “grandkids” were their greatest accomplishments.



When we post a celebrity’s birthday, we’ll sometimes get hundreds of comments about how much FOFs love the celebrity and her accomplishments, but why didn’t women jump at the chance to tell us about their own triumphs? Of the 3,248 people who saw this question on Facebook, how is it that only 13 answered?

  • Do women not want to talk about themselves? If that’s the case, why?
  • Do women think they haven’t accomplished anything worth noting?
  • And while I think it’s indeed a great accomplishment to raise children to become productive and nice adults, why did the majority of women choose that answer?

My goodness, we’re the greatest generation in the history of women and we’ve accomplished so much. We should be shouting it from the rooftops.

We all need approbation from others throughout our lives, but most of all we’ve got to approve of ourselves. One woman did step right up to the plate and answered “Me” in response to our question on Facebook. I applaud her.

Don’t read this post if you only want happy thoughts

My FOFriend, Kate, isn’t going to be happy with this blog because it’s not about a happy subject, but write it I must because it’s about one of my oldest friends, Lara (I’ve changed her name to protect her privacy), who is going through the most distressing time of her life as her husband lay dying.  I don’t think he’s yet 60.

Lara and Matt (not his real name, either) have been together since college, and he is the love of her life. Indeed, they’ve had a rich life together. When Lara’s dad died prematurely, she and Matt took over his publishing business, which thrived under their direction. They’ve lived in awesome homes in wonderful places. Although they don’t have children, they are extremely close with their nieces and nephews. And they adore their dogs. When Lara left publishing, she learned to design jewelry. It’s exquisite jewelry that she sells at private events. Designing is another of her passions.

As with any life, Lara has had her share of grief. Besides the loss of her young father, she lost her treasured home to firestorms in the Canyons of Southern California years ago. And she lost a baby when she was pregnant. Her intelligence, grace and sensibility have always helped her weather the storms, literally and figuratively. Not to mention Matt’s deep love.

Lara has been keeping us informed about Matt’s progressing cancer through a website called, which lets people like them communicate privately with their network of family and close friends. I am privileged and blessed to be part of Lara and Matt’s “inner circle.”

I wanted to share Lara’s latest communication because it is one of the most moving essays about loss that I’ve ever read. Lara is a marvelous writer, but it is her emotions behind her words that go to my heart.

The real Lara and Matt many, many years ago

“Just the whirl of the overhead fan. Earlier, Matt raised his head up and stared at our two windows and said, ‘Are those our TV thingies?’ I can’t say I quite have this down, but I said, ‘No, there’s our TV over there. Those are our windows, there out that window are our aspens, and out that window is our creek. Would you like to go out and breathe and see your mountain?’ So we toddled out there wrapped in throws. I listened hard, to the creek, the birds, the aspens, the crickets. Matt’s eyelids flickered up and down, not really focusing on anything. I tried to point out the mountain. He lifted his eyes up. I was thinking he didn’t comprehend. Then I said, ‘Would you like to lay your head on my shoulder?’ And he did. It was such a huge gift. All afternoon I wasn’t sure he knew who I was. He’s so hard to understand, with the residual weakness in this voice from the head and neck cancer, and the whisper now that’s his voice. Each of us leans close, and just maybe, gleans some word he or she recognizes, some way to understand him, to provide him with what he wants, with understanding what he needs to say.

“Earlier, I saw nephew, Todd, hurry out the front door, head down. I know his body language. I know he was holding in big tears, or sobs. Later, I came in to the bedroom and saw Rob, head bent, holding Matt’s hand, shoulders speaking a thousand words, starting with hopelessness, surrender. Pam, Barb, Anna, Jan and I waited in the living room, each taking our turn at going in quietly just so he is not alone.

“I think I can outrun loss. I think I can outmaneuver grief. I am a fool. I spent the summer we came back after Matt’s head and neck cancer cleaning out every drawer and cupboard, roaring through the house and every outbuilding. In therapy, I acknowledged that it was my attempt to control an uncontrollable universe. I’ve done it again, well, done it since: A shed full of barn sale books, and bric-a-brac and furniture. I’ve spent this summer trying to outrun this cancer, outrun the separation that faces me. Matt and Lara. Lara and Matt.

“Today, I dragged Pam into town on a one-hour mission, a two-day accomplishment. I transformed my office and Matt’s into bedrooms. Justified by having to hold others in our house. But really, keeping myself at such a pace I cannot think about loss, grief cannot find me. I have banished every personal item in both offices, stacked them in the mudroom, the garage, moved much of Matt’s and my paperwork into the master, knowing that that will be my island. When grief catches up with me, that is where I will hole up.

“I took Jan upstairs to Matt’s office, which from this am to this pm has been transformed. Stripped of Matt. We both cry.

I admit that I have failed. I have failed to hide from grief, hide from loss.

That even taking away every little corner that could bring me to tears after he’s gone, even before he’s left, I have failed miserably. Stupidly. This, then, is a therapy session. This is an admission of not sitting quietly in the advent of loss, the coming of grief.

“I saw this room devoid of Matt; I told Jan it was creepy and if she didn’t want to stay there, she could sleep on the living room sofa. I’d try to strip my heart of caring. When I saw that I couldn’t, I came and crawled in next to Matt and cried. And cried. There is no way to ever put back Matt into that room, no matter if I took every item of his back to its place. There is no way that my office will ever be Lara’s office again, no matter what. The space around us shifts, I have shifted it, the vortex of it all here in the bedroom, on our island, where soon I will be alone. Lara. Please, please bring Matt back. Please, please make this not real. Make this not true. Please.”

PS.  I just this minute learned that Matt died moments ago. This is from Lara:

“Matt left us this morning just as the sun begins to creep up over Jughandle Mountain, his special place. He is at peace. Everyone spent the night, was around him, holding him, holding his hand, off and on all night. Misty bounded up on the bed early this morning and gave him her half a dozen good morning kisses. And we all kissed and held him.

“His hands, his body, with my arms wrapped around him, were still warm. I must have just dozed off, and woke suddenly to the absence of his labored breathing.

“Our darling Matt is on his next journey. We are much calmer than I thought, because he is finally at peace.”

Rest in Peace, Matt.