how my mombod wound up on nightline

My most recent blog post, “mombod” started out as a rant to my husband. As I was venting to him about how ridiculous it was that people were writing lists about reasons “dadbods” are attractive when there’s a total double standard about moms’ bodies, I realized I was already halfway done writing a blog post with my words. I quickly fired off a post, and since I felt it was timely, I went ahead and submitted it to my editors at Huffington Post as well. They immediately picked it up. I got a lot of positive feedback from friends about the piece, and felt good about myself for holding it down for all the mombods out there.

The next day, the girls and I had a slow morning at home before meeting up with some friends for lunch. When I got home and got the girls down for a nap, I checked my email and saw a message from a producer at Nightline. She had read my mombod piece on HuffPost and wanted to know if I would be interested in speaking on camera about it. That night.

I could tell the producer was looking for sort of a “backlash to dadbod” angle, and made clear that I wasn’t *against* dadbod. I love dadbods! I’m married to a hottie with a bit of a dad-body. My entire message was that if we’re going to accept, love, and admit that we find imperfect male bodies attractive and desirable, we needed to do the same for women, whose general message from society is usually that if their bodies bear any evidence that they have borne children, it is a problem to be fixed, not a beautiful, acceptable new normal. The producer said she liked that idea, too, and within a few minutes, she had arranged for a local ABC camera crew to come to my house at 3:30 to film the interview and get some b-roll of me with my family.

That left me a couple of hours to a) freak out, b) get at least two spaces in my house cleaned up enough to appear on camera, and c) fret about what I was going to wear. I quickly eliminated option c) and decided to just leave on what I had been wearing for a normal day momming it up in my mombod. I thanked God I had showered and fixed my hair that morning. I warned my husband, who was getting off work right around the time of the interview that he would likely be arriving just in time for filming (which is why he appears in his work scrubs in the footage).

The camera crew showed up at 3:00 and did a LOT of setting up. Lighting something for film ain’t no joke. I sat in a chair for most of it and remembered the storyline about the lighting stand-ins from “Love Actually.” When they were finally ready, the producer called and asked me the interview questions via speaker phone while I looked at one of the camera guys to the side of the camera and pretended he was interviewing me. The nice part about being interviewed about something I’ve written is, I don’t really have to come up with points on the spot– I’ve already written and edited them and basically just have to restate them to answer the questions, so I didn’t feel super on the spot or like I had to fish for answers. The most difficult part was trying to remember to include the question in my responses, since the interviewer wouldn’t be heard on camera.

Then they wanted to get some footage of us as a family, so we did some playing in the den, “made a snack” in the kitchen (it wasn’t really snack time, so I had the girls help me pull some grapes off the stems and put them in a bowl to serve later with dinner), and took a walk in front of our house. While the camera guys had won me over by helping make sure my bra straps didn’t appear on film (sleeveless shirt hazard), they lost me a little bit when I saw the final interview and realized that although they swore my tripping did NOT appear in their footage, the one bit of walking they did show was in fact me tripping. I’m nothing but grace.

At that point, I didn’t know who else would be in the story, or really what they would be doing with my answers. When the interview aired after my bedtime that night (I stayed up to watch, though, because I was pumped), I saw it for the first time along with everyone else. I loved the dadbod blogger, because he was sweet and funny, and I immediately worried that he’d get negative comments for being slightly larger than the average dadbod, which really has been one of the most common comments people have made to me– “Isn’t that guy bigger than a dadbod?” To that I say: I don’t care, and it doesn’t really matter. In fact, again, my entire message on bodies is that whatever body you have, it is worthy of love and acceptance, and it can be seen as sexy.

Also, my husband immediately pointed out that I was billed as a “mommy blogger” but the other guy wasn’t billed as a “daddy blogger.” Many bloggers better than I have tackled the gag-worthiness of the phrase “mommy blogger,” but for the record, I was asked to state my name and occupation on camera, and I described myself as a “writer and mom.” I would pretty much never call myself a mommy blogger. I’ve been blogging longer than I’ve been a mom, and I’ve always blogged about many subjects that include but are not limited to parenting. Marginalizing women’s writing as something for “mommies” is offensive and sexist.

That said, I think my message came across, and I thought the piece was a good one. I’m annoyed that the headline is “Mommy Blogger Fires Back Against Dadbod Physique,” when I’m not against dadbods (or any bods) in the slightest. As I said originally, “Whatever body you have, mombod, dadbod, rippedbod, fatbod, YOU are what make your body sexy, not the other way around.”

six years and a lifetime ago

I just realized thanks to Facebook’s new time traveling feature that I started this blog six years ago. It seems like a lifetime ago.

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I got to see THIS on the regular when I started this site.

 

When I started writing here, we were still fairly newly wed and our only child was Bessie dog. We had moved to Charleston, SC for Jon’s pediatrics residency, and we were not just in love with each other, but in love with our new city, as well. Jon worked like a dog, but time off was for lazing about on Folly Beach, enjoying bottomless brunches downtown, and hunting down every good meal we could find in one of the best food towns in the world. Things weren’t all rosy though– I had just lost my first real post-college job in real estate thanks to the market crash and recession, and I spent some time on unemployment. I felt like we were starting to be actual adults, not just two kids playing house. We were dealing with real issues in a new place in a time that seemed very economically uncertain. My thoughts were consumed by my infatuation with our new home and also concern for big issues nationwide.

Perhaps because we didn’t know many people well in Charleston outside of the wonderful people we met through residency, Jon often found himself on the receiving end of what can really only be described as monologs– he got all of my thoughts, musings, and rants. And one day, he not so subtly suggested that maybe I needed some kind of outlet, like a blog or something, where I could write through my thoughts and connect to others.

So, I did. I didn’t expect much– I just wanted to do more writing and connecting, and having a little outpost on the internet was a way to achieve that. I wrote in my first post, “I am thinking of starting a blog.  Thinking seems to be all I do, because I’m scared to pull the trigger in case the thing turns into a pit of narcissism and monotony.  No one wants to read my diary.  Not even me.  And yet, I write so little now that I’m a liar when I call myself a writer.  Can’t remember the last time I wrote anything, let alone something worth reading.” I still think of this place as somewhere I do something that’s slightly more organized and edited than a diary. You don’t get the play by play of my life, here, but you do get portraits of pieces of it, both the beautiful and the difficult. And, reflective of those big concerns I’ve had from the start, you also get political opinions, theological musings, and even feminist rants.

ah, the sweet life of two childfree people who get to do things like lounge in hammocks.
ah, the sweet life of two childfree people who get to do things like lounge in hammocks.

It’s funny to me now to look back on posts like this one, where I was considering becoming a mother, and largely terrified of the bodily experience of pregnancy and childbirth, now that six years later, I squeeze in time to write while caring for my three year old twins (first mention of them ever on this blog here). I can definitely say becoming a mother has connected me to my body in deep and meaningful ways, and helped me learn to love myself too. And then there was this one, where Jon had just told he he was ready to have a baby like, NOW, and I pondered the more existential changes that would come along with parenthood. I also worried about how to be a mother and a writer. It turns out becoming a mother has both changed everything about me and also not really changed who I am at all. Sure, I write a lot more about parenting-related topics now, and I think I’ve become stronger and more patient and more vulnerable and more open and and more mature along this journey, but that also generally just happens to a person as they age into their thirties, too.

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Another big change that has been documented over this blog’s lifetime is a major shift in the way we eat after we saw Food Inc.  I’ve journaled through our CSA experiences, mused on the intersection of food and spirituality and the intersection of food and feminism, and even found a way to make a regular spaghetti and meatballs night a spiritual practice.

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An image from the time I discovered Instagram.

 

And, along the way, there were many changes and milestones, big and small. I went from a dog person to someone who definitely favors my cat. I started and quit grad school, because I loved studying literature but realized I don’t actually want to teach it. I witnessed a miracle. We got a scary diagnosis during my pregnancy and disability became a big part of our lives. I gave birth to our twins and almost died.  I struggled with anxietyI stood up for reproductive rights, because even though I have a child with a disability, I’m still pro-choice. We bought a house that might be haunted. I wrote about how my child with a disability is not my hero, went viral, got interviewed on an NPR show, and became a Huffington Post blogger. I claimed my identity as a writer. I gave up antiperspirants and embraced my inner sweaty hippie. I got involved with the American Heart Association.

I feel like we became a family before your eyes.
I feel like we became a family before your eyes.

There are a few things I used to do more of that I don’t so much anymore, and I’d like to get back to. Reviewing movies occasionally was pretty fun. I also used to both read more books and write more about them, be they memoirs like Eat, Pray, Love or literature like The Bluest Eye. I’m actually finally, slowly getting back into making time (and having the concentration) to read, and I’d like to share more about how the things I read change my mind and my life. I want to find the time to do some sewing (this crib skirt tutorial is one of my most popular posts ever). I want to do more exploring with my faith. I want to do more food writing and share more recipes. And I want to encourage more women to own their awesome and love their selfies.

I know this means I have to get better about making time to write regularly, which isn’t always easy. But, looking back at what a GIFT this space has been to me over the last six years, a place to grow and connect and find out that I’m not so alone in this world as I might have once thought, I feel inspired to keep working in this space, keep using this outlet, and keep writing, because I really do think that writing keeps me sane. Thank YOU for reading here, be it just today, or for most of the last six years. Your taking the time to read and connect means more than you can know, and I am so immensely thankful for all the amazing people putting these words out there has brought into my life. I’m so glad my husband encouraged me to start this site six years ago, and I have no plans of quitting it anytime soon.

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because it must be said, apparently: I’m pro-choice

It has come to my attention via my blog stats that an anti-abortion website is using my name, words, and image of me and my kids to suggest I support their cause. This is quite upsetting and feels rather violating, as you might imagine if someone suddenly started using your face (or your child’s) to support a cause you don’t.

I’m quite surprised they’d want my name associated with their cause at all, because I’ve made no secret of my support for a woman’s right to choose an abortion, both in writing and by testifying before my state legislature and even on the local news. While I am a loud and proud mom to a child with a disability, I prefer to take a disability-positive stance rather than opposing legal abortion. Furthermore, I have a very serious heart defect, very nearly died as a result of my pregnancy and birth experience, and have been told in no uncertain terms by my doctors that any future pregnancies would be life threatening. I have an IUD that will hopefully keep it from coming down to it, but I would not think twice to save my own life and stay here to continue caring for my two existing children who need me.

I know I’m within my legal rights to request my image be removed, for sure, but I’m not sure I can do much about my words being quoted and used in this manner.

In the meantime, I want it to be very very clear: I am Sarah Orsborn, I have beautiful twins, one of my daughters has Spina Bifida, and I have a heart defect. I support safe and legal abortion access. I am pro-child, pro-family, pro-disability-rights, and unabashedly pro-choice.

If you came here via LifeNews expecting something else, I’m setting the record straight.

poor pitiful me

I have a cold, lovingly brought home to me by my pediatrician husband who spends his days with germy children and thought I needed a dose of their cooties, and I’m feeling pretty awful.  I only have to make it through one more day of work, though, so I’m hoping to stick it out. I’ve saved up 8 vacation days to tack on to the beginning of my already long (yay for being underpaid and working in academia!) Christmas break, and we’re headed out of town tomorrow evening.  All of this together means: posting will be extremely spotty until January or so. I hope you all stay healthy and happy and have a lovely holiday.

my apologies

I’ve been slacking on the blog the past couple of days, and I apologize.  Had to turn in a paper on Wednesday, and then proceeded to have one of the worst Thursdays I’ve ever had at work (though I guess I should be thankful that I rarely have bad days, and that my boss was awesome throughout). I’ll try to be a better blogger next week.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a passage from Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, which I read for class on Wednesday. I’m writing my final paper about one of her plays, The RoverOronooko isn’t a very happy tale, since it’s basically about an African prince who falls in love with a beautiful girl, but loses the girl when his grandfather the king decides to make her his sex slave.  He tries to save the beautiful girl, but this only angers the grandfather, who sells her into slavery. Later the prince is tricked into slavery, where he is reunited with his love, but their story ends violently and tragically.  Still, this passage from the beginning of Oroonoko and Imoinda’s courtship would make a great wedding vow (minus the whole possession part):

He made her vows she should be the only woman he would possess while he lived; that no age or wrinkles should incline him to change, for her soul would always be fine, and always young; and he should have an eternal idea in his mind of the charms she now bore, and should look into his heart for that idea, when he could find it no longer in her face.