Author: Melanie Dunn

The Most Stressful Time of the Year!

  I realize this will sound flippant, but people who wrap up all their Christmas planning weeks before December 25 really must not have a whole lot of stress in their lives.  Christmas is a disruption in my life.  It just adds chaos to my already chaotic existence.  I walk around dreading it, and at the same time I become wistful when I realize it’s over before I had a chance to enjoy it. We stopped doing gifts for the adults on my side of the family, thank the lord.  I am such a bad gift-giver except when I feel especially inspired.  As for myself, the best gifts I have ever received have been the ones I picked out on my own.  I don’t like the stress of opening something and pretending to love it, honestly. I like giving to others, but I prefer to give my time or money, or both.  I like to create things, but I can’t think of anything I’ve made that is especially gift-worthy.  I want to teach my kids to adopt this spirit of giving as well – but it’s really hard to do when we celebrate secular Christmas and the kids get showered with toys by both sides of the family every year. I have been so overwhelmed with stuff at work lately.  One minute I’m on top of my list of...

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How to Prevent Your Child From Picking Up Negative Behaviors

One of our cats is diabetic, and I found myself in the vet’s waiting room late one afternoon with my two uniformed children, freshly retrieved from their magnet preschool/early elementary school. Their blue and khaki outfits informed the woman sitting across from us of the district they attend. She knew because it turns out she works at another school in that district. “How do you like it?” she asked.  Unsure of whether the question was addressed to me or to my children, I told her we liked it and asked my girls to tell her about school. “How are...

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I Started Looking at Photos of Dead Victorian Children Online. Here’s What Happened Next.

It’s never too early in the season to start talking about creepy Halloween-oriented stuff, amirite?  I can’t say why, but I’ve always been intrigued by the more macabre aspects of life and artistic renderings of such, of which there are many.  I know I’m not the only weirdo who gets a slight thrill from being reminded of my own mortality and the mystery surrounding death.  After all, goth culture had to come from somewhere. Apparently it was common during the Victorian era for families to photograph deceased family members, often posing the deceased alongside the rest of the (living) family.  I remember how freaked out I was when I first learned of this practice.  And honestly, the idea still makes my skin crawl.  Oh yeah — just because I’m fascinated by the macabre doesn’t mean I’m not terrified by it!  I don’t hang out in graveyards and collect animal skeletons; not that I judge you if you’re into that.  But my curiosity gets the better of me.  It’s like not wanting to see a scary movie because you know you will need to sleep with the lights on for a week straight — but then giving in and just going to see it, because you can’t stop thinking about it and you just need to see what happens.  That’s the best analogy I can think of to describe my morbid...

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“Being a Mother” Versus “The Practice of Mothering”

  As I descended the staircase of my office building yesterday, a thought popped into my head about the work I do.  I’m usually inclined to say “I’m a lawyer” when someone asks me what I do for a living, where I work, what I do for work, etc.  I let that three-word descriptor marinate in my gut for a minute, and it did not feel good.  It felt slimy, like a genteel expression of “I’m a sleazy profiteer who peddles fantasies of justice! So what do you do?” The irony of feeling this way about “being a lawyer” is that I actually love the work I do, in terms of the subject matter and the people I serve.  I help parents get special education programming and services for their children.  That should make me feel great—and thankfully, it usually does, or else I wouldn’t have lasted long in this profession.  But my preference would be to do this for free, just because it’s a good thing to do for parents and children in need.  If I had a passive income source or became independently wealthy, I would just volunteer my time as a special education lawyer.  There are lots of problems inherent in working as a lawyer, and those are the aspects of the work that make me feel more like a well trained pitbull than a human...

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The New Challenge In Raising Our Girls Is Innocent and Well-Intentioned Sexism

Quick, read this phrase and tell me what immediately springs to mind: “Women in STEM.” Where did your brain go?  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I doubt your first thought was “women are well-represented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines and professions, not to mention the fact that they hold leadership positions in these fields and are earning as much as men in these careers.  Nope, nothing amiss here!”  You probably got that stomach lurch or brain flash that indicated the controversy and contention behind this topic.  The fact that we need to talk specifically about “women” in STEM, and not just people in STEM or STEM careers generally, tells you that we’re dealing with thorny issues about sex, gender and the debate over whether the under-representation of women in STEM is something we should worry about or just something that is the way it is, shrug.  In case you haven’t guessed, you can count me among the former group, not the latter. Many of us, especially the Boomers among us, have a story or two about a person, male or female, who has openly and quite unabashedly asserted that girls and women are simply wired differently than their male counterparts, making them ill-suited for careers in the hard sciences.  Hell, some folks believe, based on whatever pseudo-science they encounter on the internet or unearth from...

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