Weekly Reads: We Survived 2020 Edition

Or Did We?

Happy New Year Readers! We made it. Yes, the Cheeto Tinted Tyrant has another 17 days in office to petulantly trash the republic, but on January 20th Uncle Joe Biden will put his hand on a Bible, say the magic words, and Donald James Trump will no longer be President. This is how I imagine his last moments in the White House should go…

So yes, the Year of our Lord Vader Two Thousand and Twenty has been a dumpster fire of epic proportions. All of us, parents, children, grandparents, essential workers, “non-essential” workers like parenting bloggers have been either stretched too thin or crowded too tight. We’ve lost friends and family, we’ve lost jobs or even careers. We’ve also discovered new hobbies or renewed old ones. Some have put their lives literally on the line, some have just bunkered up the best they can to ride out this storm. And some chose poorly, encouraged by a feckless insecure President they eschewed mask wearing, flaunted social distancing, and fed their fellow Americans to the Corona Beast to the tune of 350,000 dead as of this writing, the worst pandemic response in the world, hundreds of thousands of unnecessary losses. And the yet the cadre of buffoons and criminals that surround Cheeto the Hutt dare pretend surprise that their loathsome wanna be dictator was roundly defeated in November.

But a new year brings new hope, the promise of vaccines on the horizon and perhaps more depending on the will of the good people of Georgia this Tuesday. So to celebrate we’ll kick off the new era with our first of we hope many posts to come. On to the Reads!

Argentina became only the third country in South America to legalize abortion, a landmark civil rights achievement and a testimony to the hard work of pro-choice activists…

The bill, which legalises terminations in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, was approved by Argentina’s lower house earlier this month after being put to congress by the country’s leftwing president, Alberto Fernández.

“Safe, legal and free abortion is now law … Today we are a better society,” Fernández celebrated on Twitter after the result was confirmed.

Fernández has previously said that more than 3,000 women had died as a result of unsafe, underground abortions in Argentina since the return of democracy in 1983.

Tom Phillips , Latin America correspondent, and Amy Booth and Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

My favorite mainstream parenting column, the Washington Post’s “On Parenting,” runs down the Top Ten Parenting Stories of 2020.

And today’s column “What to do when you feel your teen starting to slip away” hit home for me, as The Schmoo heads toward sixteen and my best buddy starts becoming someone new…

The Parental Burnout Crisis has Reached a Tipping Point.

Millions of parents were already burned out by the demands of pandemic child-rearing in AprilSummer, with school out and many camps closed, brought no relief. Then came fall, with many parents juggling the ins and outs of remote learning — and a staggering 865,000 women, many of them moms, dropping out of the workforce. Now it’s December, and parents are still in the same situation they were thrust into nine months ago: trying to balance work, child care, education, and keeping their families safe as a pandemic rages virtually unchecked around them.

“I don’t know anyone that is not struggling,” Susannah Lago, a mom, business owner, and founder of the group Working Moms of Milwaukee, told Vox.

By Anna North, Vox

Also at Vox. Critic at Large  Emily VanDerWerff‘s project Stories From a Lost Year tells the stories of the people who lived through it.

Nicole Cliff, one of Slate’s Care and Feeding columnists took a break from her hiatus (to write a horror novel,) to reflect on some of the parenting advice she has dished out over the years…

Is My Child Gay or Trans? Maybe! I don’t know. Raise them to feel like you will not be an asshat about it either way, and don’t get your underwear in a wad if they wait until they’re out of the house to tell you. People say things when they are ready to say them.

I’m Not Reacting: Often, the answer is “desperately try not to laugh or look horrified” when your child says or does some real nonsense. That being said, children are exquisite barometers of your inner emotional state, and all attention is good attention. They will not always yell “POOP” or “YOU HAVE A VAGINA” when you are in public. Or they will, and those children will one day have very popular social media channels.

Where’s The Bar? Ah, this is the big one. The bar is not what the hypebeast Type A parents at your school are doing. The bar is to provide your child with food, clothing, an education, unconditional love, no abuse, firm boundaries, and, ultimately, to ready them to live decently in a civil society. If you’re doing that, you’re doing great. Everything else is gravy.

Finally… the pandemic has cost us a lot. We’ve lost anonymous heroes working the frontlines of pandemic response, and famous fools like Herman Cain, the former GOP presidential hopeful who flouted convention for his whole “more complicated than that,” life.

The first big gut punch for me was the death of legendary songwriter John Prine in April. Still active at the age of 73, Prine had just been awarded  a lifetime achievement Grammy, and was preparing for a packed summer of shows when he quickly succumbed to the virus. I own all of his albums on vinyl and had hoped to finally catch him live, but it was not to be.

This is probably my favorite Prine song, Live from Merlefest in 2016.

Goodbye John… farewell to everyone we’ve lost. May their memories be a blessing.

Featured Image Credit: Covfefe 19 and other Graffiti, by Lou Doench, Blotz Photo Arts

Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at

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