Today’s Surrogacy Article in the New York Times

Jerry Mahoney, Mommy Man

Thanks, surrogacy!

The New York Times ran a feature story on surrogacy on today’s front page, and I’m left wondering, as I often do when this topic makes news, what most people are taking away from the story. The article reminds us repeatedly that “commercial surrogacy” (the term for a pregnancy in which a surrogate is compensated, as opposed to “altruistic surrogacy”, in which she is not) is illegal in most of the world. The writer also references some horrifying stories about intended parents abandoning their surrogates and their offspring or contracting multiple surrogates simultaneously with the intention of giving some of the babies produced up for adoption or aborting whichever fetuses don’t meet their exacting standards. They’re mostly unverified anecdotes, the kind of thing that makes most of us who had wonderful experiences with surrogacy shudder and then think, “Hmmm… really?” But I won’t deny that there are some legitimate horror stories out there.

MommyManCoverThe problem, in my opinion, isn’t surrogacy itself. Everyone in my situation — my husband and me, our egg donor Susie, our surrogate Tiffany and our kids themselves — benefitted from the experience. No one was exploited and no one has any regrets. (This seems like a good spot for the obligatory shameless plug of my book, “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad”, which tells my story in full.) Stories like mine are pretty common. The other parents I know who’ve grown their families through surrogacy all have similar experiences to relate.

That doesn’t mean we should ignore the potential for things to go wrong. Surrogacy remains largely unregulated, and as such, it’s conducted on kind of an honor system, the only true regulator being the consciences of those engaged in it. The honor system works because most people are honorable. Most college students know that cheating is wrong, and most people have enough respect for life and women’s bodies to treat surrogacy with the care and moral reverence it deserves.

The big difference between a college honor system and the one around surrogacy comes in the stakes. When college students break the honor system, the fallout is minimal. Now and then a cheater gets an A, but that barely cheapens the hard work of the majority who earned their grades legitimately. The stakes with a pregnancy, though, are much higher. No one wants to see even one woman exploited or one baby abandoned.

It’s time for the honor system surrounding surrogacy to end. The U.S. should be proud of the fact that we’re the destination of choice for people seeking surrogates from overseas, and we should lead the rest of the world by example by showing them how surrogacy should be conducted. There needs to be greater regulation of what’s become a big industry, in order to protect the rights and lay out the responsibilities of intended parents, surrogates, clinics and surrogacy agencies alike.

Just a few thoughts…

Surrogates and egg donors need to be fully informed of the medical and psychological risks they’ll be undertaking. Surrogacy isn’t for everyone, and no one should feel like they’ve been coaxed into it against their will. Likewise, all potential surrogates and egg donors should be screened medically and psychologically to make sure that they’re fit for what the procedures entail.

There should be limits placed on embryo transfers. Intended parents should accept that surrogate pregnancies, like any other, carry certain risks. Just because you’re not carrying a baby yourself, you don’t get off easy when it comes to the big ethical issues that pregnancy sometimes raises.

Surrogates and intended parents should have detailed, enforceable contracts. Before they ever enter into an agreement together, surrogates and intended parents should discuss every potential issue that may arise during pregnancy and make sure they would agree on how to handle it. One of the more common horror stories you hear about surrogacy arises when the fetus develops a birth defect and the intended parents want to terminate the pregnancy, but the surrogate doesn’t. In those cases, the surrogate and the parents should never have gone forward together. This is one of the reasons I highly recommend anyone pursuing surrogacy go through a legitimate agency. In my book, I complain a lot about the agency my husband and I used, but one thing they did right was to make sure our surrogate was a good match for us.

There are people arguing that surrogacy should be made illegal, and that breaks my heart, because I owe my family to the process and to all the people who helped us through it. So many wonderful families are created through surrogacy, and so many women have had their lives enriched by becoming surrogates.

We all know there are unethical people out there on every side of this phenomenon — intended parents, clinics, surrogacy agencies and even surrogates themselves. Exploitation does occur, some stories don’t have happy endings, and it’s only a matter of time before a major horror story leaves us all shaking our heads. Let’s not let that happen.

This is an important issue. Let’s keep talking about it, and let’s acknowledge that if surrogacy is kept safe, legal and regulated, there will be a lot more stories like mine, a lot less cause for concern and a lot less fearmongering, legitimate or otherwise.

Book Soup Tomorrow!

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LA, we’re here! The kids are back for the first time since we moved, we skillfully avoided any Gay Pride-related gridlock on the way to the hotel, and we’re gearing up for tomorrow night’s reading.

Come join me, Angelenos! It’s going to be a wild night, and there should be some very special guests you may have read about in the book. Yes, I mean Drew, but other people, too.

Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood
7pm, Monday, June 9

Wild revelry to follow at State Social House across the street. Share, retweet, reblog, but most of all, come!

A Blog-to-Book Adventure: Mommy Man’s Jerry Mahoney

Jerry Mahoney:

Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands for conducting this interview for WordPress, and welcome to anyone who discovered this blog through her post on WordPress.com News. I hope you’ll stick around to read some of my other posts, and make sure you check out the reviews of my book, too!

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

Jerry Mahoney and his partner, Drew Tappon, wanted a family. After searching, they ultimately found an egg donor in Susie — Drew’s little sister. With Susie as their donor, Jerry and Drew were able to pursue their dreams of fatherhood — and have a life they never thought they could have.

We chatted with Jerry about his blog, Mommy Man, his new book of the same name, and blogging on our platform.

How did your blog, Mommy Man, come about?

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I’d written a Modern Love column for the New York Times about my family. I got a lot of attention for it, and it convinced me to turn the entire experience of how my partner and I became dads into a book. I found an agent and wrote a book proposal, but it didn’t sell. Despite the exposure from the New York Times, I was still relatively…

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Gay People, By a Gay Person

English: Train Board at Grand Central Terminal

Image via Wikipedia

[Note: I originally published this piece here as How to Talk to Your Children About Gay Parents, By a Gay Parent. The post took on a life of its own and was read and shared by lots of people whose kids might be exposed to homosexuality any number of places, and not just through kids with gay parents. So I figured it was time to freshen the piece up a bit and broaden the scope.]

It could happen anywhere, at any time. A train station. A Disney Channel show. The NFL draft.

Your kids are just hanging out, being kids and daydreaming about candy, when suddenly they see…

TWO DUDES KISSING!

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Or maybe they spot a little girl in the dropoff line at school. She kisses her mom goodbye, and then… she kisses her other mom goodbye!

You feel a tug on your leg, you look down, and there’s your kid. He just saw the same thing you saw, and now he looks up at you with his innocent face and says, “Yo, what’s the deal with that?”

As a gay man, I know I’ve spurred conversations like this myself, by doing just what Michael Sam and his boyfriend did on live TV. I want to be clear first of all that I don’t kiss my husband in public because I want to confuse your child or piss off right-wingers, although I’m aware that both of those things might happen as a result. I’m kissing him because I love him and I’m probably saying hello or goodbye at the time. (I assure you. It will never be because I’ve just been drafted by a professional sports team.) When I kiss my husband, I’m not going to look around first to make sure your kid and/or Pat Robertson isn’t watching. I’m just going to kiss him and then go on with the rest of my day.

I understand you might be unprepared for what follows. So here and now, I’m going to do what I feel is only fair for someone in my position to do. I’m going to prepare you.

Naturally, these tips are intended for the sympathetic straight parent. Unsympathetic straight parents are free to ignore my suggestions, in which case, I’ll enjoy watching them squirm.

Obviously, what you say will depend on how old your kids are and how much exposure they’ve had to gay people previously, but in a broader sense, these suggestions should apply to anyone.

I’m not a child psychologist, just a gay dad who’s thought a lot about the issue and who has a big stake in it.  After all, I don’t want your kids coming up to my kids one day and telling them they’re weird for not having a mommy.

If you don’t want that either, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Use the word “gay”.

Everyone’s concentrating on taking the negative connotation away from the word “gay”, but at the same time, let’s not forget to encourage the positive.  We don’t want “gay” to be a curse, so go ahead and teach it to your kids.  That’s how we’ll really take the sting out of the word.

“Oh, Uncle Doug and Uncle Max?  They’re gay.”  “Aunt Vera and Aunt Debbie aren’t sisters, honey.  They’re lesbians.”  “Well, statistics suggest at least 3 of the Smurfs must be gay.”  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Just say it.  If your kids hear some jerk at school sneering, “That’s so gay!”, their response will be, “Yeah?  So what?  So are Uncle Max, Aunt Vera and, most likely, Brainy.”

2. You don’t have to pretend half the world is gay. 

Don’t play down the fact that your kids may have witnessed something unfamiliar.  “Geez, Madison.  They have two daddies, what’s the biggie?”  It’s natural for poor little Madison to be confused, so give her a damn break.

Kids are probably going to assume all families have one mommy and one daddy, because that’s all most of them see.  You can be honest. Use words like “most” and “some”.  “Most families have a mommy and a daddy… but some have two mommies or two daddies.”  “Most women marry men, but some women marry other women.” As long as you don’t attach a value judgment to those statements, it really is no biggie. (The same goes when explaining single parent families, divorced families or anything else your child might be witnessing for the first time.)

Some kids might say something like, “That’s weird”, or they’ll think you’re playing a joke on them.  That should just be a reminder of why you’re having this conversation.  Get to your kid before ignorance does.  If you’re honest with them, they’ll get it.

3. Get your mind out of the gutter.

It seems silly that I even have to say this, but when some people think about homosexuality and kids, they imagine that you’re suggesting they graphically describe intercourse to kindergarteners.  Um, no.  All you should be doing is answering the questions they’re asking, and save the rest for junior high health class.  If they wonder why they saw two football players kissing, it’s because “Those two men are in love”… or because “Some men love other men.”  Hopefully, you’ve taught your kids to understand what love is, so no further explanation should be required.

And do use the word “love”.  That’s what we’re talking about here.  You don’t need to say “attracted to” or “some boys like boys”.  “Like” is how they feel about each other.  A kid might think, “Well, I like boys.  I guess I’m gay.”  Compare it to your own relationship (assuming you have a good relationship).  “You know the way Mommy and I love each other?  That’s how those two men or those two women feel about each other.”  And if your kid says, “Yuck!” it’s probably because they feel the same way about when you and your spouse get all schmoopy-doopy with each other.  That’s progress.

4. Don’t make it about your kid — yet.

Understanding homosexuality is a big enough topic of discussion, and your kid probably won’t be prompted to wonder about their own sexuality at this point.  You don’t need to say, “You might marry a man someday yourself, Junior!”  While it’s great to plant the seeds of acceptance early, you’ll probably just end up confusing them more.  Your kids have plenty of time to figure their own feelings out, and when the time comes, make sure you let them know that you love them no matter what.  But no, they can’t marry Brainy Smurf.

5. If your kid does ask you to speculate, you can tell them they’ll “probably” be straight.

Again, only if your kid expresses some curiosity should you even broach the subject.  But if they’re wondering, “Who will I marry someday?”, feel free to tell them, “You’ll probably marry someone of the opposite sex, but I’ll accept you either way.”  Of course, if you’re like the mom from the amazing blog Raising My Rainbow, your “probably” might lean the other way.  Just take your cues from your kid.

6. Remember the magic phrase, “Love is what makes a family.” 

Even kids who don’t know exactly where babies come from understand that women are the ones who get pregnant and give birth.  When that’s all you know, then the idea of two men being in love and even forming a family together just might not add up.

Again, don’t go into any more detail than you need to.  Remind your kid that while it’s a woman who gives birth to a baby, your Mommy(-ies) and/or Daddy(-ies) are the one(s) who raise you. It’s no different than how you’d explain adoption by a straight couple.  “The Strattons flew to Beijing and brought little Daisy home.  Now they’re her Mommy and Daddy.”

What kids want to know is that the little boy or girl they see whose family looks different is still being well taken care of. Assure your children that the kids are in good hands, because love is what makes a family, and those parents love their kids as much as you love yours.

7. Most importantly, just talk to your kids.

Your kids are bound to see a gay couple sooner or later, even if it’s just Mitchell & Cameron on Modern Family.  So if they come to you with questions, it’s really important that you don’t get weird about it.  Don’t change the subject, don’t tell them they’re too young to understand and definitely don’t lie and say that those two ladies were only kissing to be silly or because they were rehearsing a play.  Otherwise the message you’re sending is that there’s a reason to be uncomfortable around gay people.  The same goes for all kinds of people, really – just explain that some people look or feel a bit different from most people we meet, and isn’t it nice that everyone’s a little different.

… which leads me to a big secret.

You see, there is a gay agenda.  It’s true.

What most people don’t realize is that the gay agenda isn’t “everybody should be gay”.  It’s “everybody should be themselves.”

Be a nerd, be a Yanni fan, be a real housewife of your particular geographic region.  Whatever.  It’s all part of the same cause, and it’s a great message to teach your kids.

I shouldn’t have to say this in the 21st Century, but for anyone who’s still wondering, NO, I don’t want to make your kids gay.  I just want to live my life with a sense of mutual respect for everyone else on this planet.  If you want the same thing, then let your kids learn by your example.  Show them that gay people and nontraditional families are nothing to be afraid of.

Teaching your kids to be accepting of gay people and gay families is a great way to teach them acceptance in a broader sense – and to teach them the ultimate lesson: to be accepting of themselves.

I know some people think differently, but that’s what I call family values.

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If you know anyone who you think would appreciate this post, please share it using the buttons below. I’ve come back and revised this post a couple of times now, so if you have any non-homophobic notes or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. If you have homophobic notes or suggestions, on the other hand, you might want to read my comment policy first.

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Looking for a fun read? My book “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad” is NOW AVAILABLE in hardcover and digital formats at all your favorite online and real world retailers. Get more details here.

Mommy Man Day!

releasedayIt was January, 2013 when my agent emailed to tell me we had an offer on my manuscript. It was two and a half years earlier that I first started writing it, and I guess you could say 41 1/2 years before that when I first started living it.

And tomorrow, my book officially comes out.

I know this might not mean quite as much to anyone who’s not me (i.e., you), but I’m pretty excited… and nervous… and incredibly grateful.

For the last few years, I’ve been blogging here and asking you to subscribe, like me, follow me, reblog me, share my posts and comment, and I’ve been overwhelmed by how many of you have done just that. You helped me get jobs at Lifetime Moms and even a big-shot on-air job at HLN. You brought me to the attention of Mom superbloggers like Scary Mommy and Baby Sideburns, who reposted me and brought me even more followers and who were then kind enough to blurb my book. You helped me get featured on “The Today Show” and on “Huffington Post Live”. You helped me get named one of Babble’s Top 10 Humor Blogs for 2013. I’ve made friends through this site, both on Facebook and in real life.

Most importantly, you helped me sell my book.

Honestly, it wouldn’t have happened without all of your support. And I’m not just saying that. Publishers want someone with an online platform and lots of followers who will help them spread the word about their book, and that’s you. Confession time: That’s mostly why I started this blog, to impress publishers, but (cue sappy music) it’s become much more to me along the way than just a promotional tool.

I’ve appreciated all your thoughtful and hilarious responses to things I’ve written. I’ve loved hearing from other non-traditional families, from young LGBTQ people who found some hope here that they might have their own family someday, from fellow dads and moms who’ve related to something I’ve been through with my kids and from people who just got a good laugh out of something I wrote. You encouraged me as a writer and as a dad, and you helped me find my voice.

There’s a reason I start my book off talking about what it was like being in the closet as a teenager — because that kid I was then would’ve been blown away by reading all the later chapters in the book, by getting a glimpse of all the joy I was yet to experience in life not in spite of the fact that I was different, but because of it.

You know what else would’ve made that kid happy? Seeing photos of complete strangers holding up copies of my book and telling me how excited they were to read it.

“It gets better” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Now, I’m asking for your support one more time. Tomorrow is my book’s official publication day, and I want to make a big splash. The last time we did this, the book went to #1 in its category, and #260 overall! It made Amazon’s Movers and Shakers chart and gained tons of attention. Since then, I’ve gained thousands of new followers, and I know I can do even better.

Here’s what I ask: I’ve been over all the reasons you should buy Mommy Man.” If you have any intention of doing so, don’t put it off indefinitely. PLEASE buy your copy tomorrow, Thursday, May 8 at 12pm EST (or as close to that time as you can). The more people who do so, the bigger the impact the book will make, and the bigger the impact, the more potential the book will have from there.

If you’ve already bought “Mommy Man,” thank you. Hopefully, you laughed your ass off and cried your eyes out in all the right spots, and if so, I’d love your help, too. Write a review on Amazon, Barnes & NobleGoodReads or [insert your favorite site here]. Tell your friends about it on Facebook, Twitter and [insert your favorite social network here]. Share this post, or share one of my old posts that you really liked. Upload a selfie of you holding the book to my Facebook page. Do something else so hip and new that I don’t even know about it yet. Help me make this a super big deal.

I promise I won’t keep pestering you to do this. Tomorrow’s the big day. If you want to help me give my book a launch that will rattle the publishing industry and get it lots of atention, now’s the time.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for putting up with all this self-promotion. As I said, this is what publishers are looking for. They want to see that you can mobilize your readers when the time comes. And the time has come.

I promise I’ll be back with a regular post next week.

Until then, help me celebrate Mommy Man Day.

Thanks.

“Mommy Man” at Barnes & Noble!

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When you sell a book, there are a thousand little deal points your agent has to hammer out with the publisher. Will it be a hardcover or a paperback? What kind of publicity will they commit to? What will the royalty rates be? The only thing I wanted to know, though, was this:

“Will I be able to find my book in Barnes & Noble?”

That’s what would make it real to me, to go into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf, along with “Eat Pray Love” and “The Ultimate Player’s Guide to Minecraft” and a bunch of other real, published books other people had written.

As I’ve mentioned here a few thousand times, the official release date for “Mommy Man” is this Thursday, May 8, but as I’ve also mentioned, the copies started shipping early. Last night, a friend tipped me off that he had spotted my book at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan.

WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?

So today, Drew, the kids and I all headed out to our local B&N to see if they had it, too. Spoiler alert! The picture above probably tells you what happened next. There they were, four copies, facing forward so everyone could see them. If you’re looking for my book at your local store, you’ll want to look in the Family & Childcare section.

… unless, of course, you go to a store that Drew has already been to, in which case he’ll totally embarrass me by having me do this…

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If that happens, you may find the book displayed like this instead…

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So that was my morning. A dream fulfilled. And a reminder that next time I have a book published, I should shower and shave before heading to Barnes & Noble.

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Thanks to everyone who’s been ordering the book and posting reviews and ratings on GoodReads, among other places. If you haven’t purchased your copy yet, remember this Thursday, May 8 is my Amazing Chart Twerk 2. To take part, just buy your copy wherever you prefer to buy books as close to 12pm EST on that day. Leave a comment below if you’d like an email reminder on the day of the event. I’m hoping to make a big impact on the charts with this, just like the last time I did this, so I’d love your help.

And if you see a copy of “Mommy Man” at a bookstore near you, please take a picture and upload it to the Mommy Man Facebook page, even if you haven’t shaved.

 

Mommy Man Early Review Roundup!

muppet-criticsI’ve never understood writers who say they don’t read their reviews. You mean there are people out there talking about you and you don’t want to know what they’re saying? What if it’s really glowing? What if it’s insightful and constructive? What if it’s about your mama?

I’m sure I will change my mind the second someone calls my book unfunny or boring or some word I have to look up. For now, though, we’re still a couple of weeks before the release date, and everything I’ve read so far has been the kind of stuff I’d be perfectly happy posting here on my website.

So I will!

Publisher’s Weekly may not be on your personal bookshelf, but among people who make their living in books, it’s hugely influential and highly revered. It’s like what Cat Fancy is to crazy cat ladies. If they purr about your book, it’s an honor. Well, here’s what Publishers Weekly said about my book, in a review that was just released today:

“Comedy writer Mahoney answers the question, ‘Just how do two gay men become dads’ in this uproarious look at the world of surrogacy… By the end of this touching book, the proud dads feel that they are the luckiest people alive.”

There’s a bit of synopsis in between those two sentences, but I didn’t yadda yadda anything negative. Reading that review was a huge relief. Uproarious and touching? That’s totally what I was going for! Publisher’s Weekly, you get me!

I also managed to get dust jacket blurbs from some incredible writers. These were all people I’ve been a huge fan of, who I approached in the hopes that they might vouch for my book to people who trust their opinion. They didn’t get paid for this, unless you consider an email from me saying, “I love you, you’re awesome” payment. Who are these wonderful people?

  • Jill Smokler a/k/a Scary Mommy
  • Karen Alpert a/k/a Baby Sideburns
  • Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and host of Parental Discretion on NickMom
  • Tim Carvell, head writer of The Daily Show with John Stewart and executive producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Drew Greenberg, writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Arrow
  • Sascha Rothchild, author of How to Get Divorced by 30
  • Susan E. Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations With God
  • Victoria Strouse, screenwriter for Pixar
  • Robin Sindler, producer for NBC’s Today Show

 

therealthingYou can read all the nice things they said on my book page or on the dust jacket itself once the book comes out.

Some of the nicest reviews of my book have come from people you haven’t heard of, regular users on GoodReads who’ve had access to advance copies through their connection to the publishing world. These are people like book buyers and librarians, who love books and love to tell people about books they particularly love. Here are a few quotes:

 “This book was simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. There were moments I was laughing out loud, and then five sentences later bawling my eyes out. In this absolutely unforgettable book, Jerry Mahoney documents the trials and tribulations he and his partner Drew face when they decide to have children.”

 “This book was absolutely wonderful — it takes an incredibly skilled writer to make us roll on the floor with laughter through the many tense moments along the way to daddy-hood… As the Bio/Memoir Collection Development librarian for our library, not only will I will be purchasing this book for our collection, but I will be recommending it to as many people as I can.”

 “It is a charming, sweet, and funny story of two dads and their quest to have a family via a surrogate. Mahoney is a great writer, and he manages to find the humor in even the most difficult and dark times of this complicated journey to parenthood.

Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-TaylorWow, do I sound like a egotistic jerk by putting all these reviews on my blog? Well, I’m only doing it so I can relish the moment when all the reviews are still good. That, and to convince you to join My Amazing Chart Twerk 2, of course.

“Mommy Man” the book will be available on May 8, online or at your favorite bookstore. (The e-book will follow shortly after that date.) I’m encouraging everyone who reads this blog to buy the book on release day in hopes of making the maximum impact. Mark your calendar now, then on May 8, buy buy buy!

Buy it because you like this blog, buy it because Baby Sideburns and Scary Mommy told you to, buy it because you like things that are uproarious and touching. Just buy it…

… and then write a review! I love reviews! I’m going to read them all!

You know, at least until the first bad one comes in.

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I’m on Twitter! I’m on Facebook! Like me, like me!

Announcing… My Amazing Chart Twerk 2!

mommymancalendarHave you preordered my book yet? You know, the one that comes out in about three (gulp!) weeks? If so, then you’re awesome, I love you and there’s no need to keep reading this post. Go watch that video of the cute old ladies riding on an airplane for the first time instead. You’ve earned it.

If you haven’t ordered it yet, though, I have one word for you…

DON’T!

Yes, I’m a crazy lunatic whose first ever book, which he’s so excited about and so proud of, is coming out in three weeks, who’s asking his blog readers NOT to buy it. Why?

Because it’s time for my Amazing Chart Twerk 2!

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you may remember my first Chart Twerk, where I asked everyone who was planning to preorder my book to do so at roughly the same time in order to make a big splash in the Amazon rankings. At the risk of sounding like a Trump-ish self-promoter, it was a huge success. The book got to #1 in its category, #260 overall and it briefly outranked “Eat Pray Love,” though I’ve still yet to interest Julia Roberts in the film rights. The most amazing part of it all was that this was seven months before the book even came out.

Imagine the potential impact when the book is actually available.

Want to take part? Hooray. Here’s what I’m asking you to do…

1. Mark your calendar to buy my book on its official release day, Thursday, May 8, 2014.

2. Live a happy, fulfilling life for the next three weeks.

3. On Thursday, May 8, 2014, BUY MY BOOK!

It’s that simple! Buy the book as close to 12PM EST as you can so we can make the maximum impact.

If you have any plans at all to buy my book, I really hope you’ll take part in this. Don’t just plan to pick up a copy whenever you get around to it or once everyone else has already read it. Help me make a big splash.

You may remember that last time, I asked you to preorder the book on Amazon. That’s because back then, Amazon was the only place that had it available for preorder. On May 8, my book will be available EVERYWHERE, so I’m asking you to buy it wherever you prefer to buy books.

But it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Soup, IndieBound, Powell’s, Books-A-Million, The Book Depository, that Belgian site a reader tipped me off to or your favorite local brick and mortar store. Buy 1 copy at each of those places if you want to. I don’t mind! Want the direct sales links? Click on this page and check out some of your options.

When the big day arrives, I’ll keep an eye on the major sites to see where the book ranks, and if you notice anything cool yourself, please let me know! If you happen to spot a copy of Mommy Man on the Best Seller table at you local bookstore, tweet me! If your Barnes & Noble hangs up a sign that reads, “Sorry! Sold out of ‘Mommy Man’! Please stop asking!”, Facebook it!

One more thing…

I have some personal appearances coming up over the next couple of months (details here), and those are also great places to buy my book. If you’re in New York, LA, DC or Rochester and you want to buy a copy in person, then feel free not to twerk, but instead mark your calendar for the appearance you can attend. I’d love to see you there!

The rest of you, get ready. It’s almost twerk time!

Scary Mommy’s Thanksgiving Project

Scary Mommy Nation

One of the best things about blogging is meeting other bloggers who are insightful, hilarious, awesome and all the things you aspire to be. Few people fit that description as well as Scary Mommy, whom it’s been my pleasure to get to know this year.

Well, it turns out Scary Mommy is also (who knew?) a good person. After a bunch of moms anonymously confessed on her site that they were having trouble feeding their families, she started her own charity to treat them to Thanksgiving dinners. She’s been doing it for the last two years and feeding hundreds of families.

Because I am far too lazy to organize something like this myself and arguably not as good a person as she is, I am simply linking to her Thanksgiving Project here. It’s a good cause, it’s tax deductible and for $50 you can help feed an entire family. If you don’t have that much to give, then give what you can and let someone else chip in the cranberry sauce. It’s all good.

Or if you need help yourself, she’s also taking applications.

Good luck with the project, Jill!

An Open Letter to the Muppets, From a Little Girl and Her Dad

Rockin'_RobinDear Muppets,

One of the best things about having kids is getting to introduce them to the things you loved when you were young. One of the worst comes when they don’t see those things quite the way you always did.

I was really excited this morning when my 4-year-old son, Bennett, raced up to me to say he’d just seen the greatest YouTube video ever — and it starred the Muppets! I love the Muppets! I’ve even written about them before on this blog! Bennett started describing it to me in his adorably excitable way.

“Daddy, you won’t believe what they were sitting on… BRANCHES! Isn’t that CRAAAAZY? And there were BIRDS! They were going, ‘Tweet, tweet!'”

“Wait a second, dude,” I said, in my older, excitable way. “Was this song called ‘Rockin’ Robin’?”

“YES!!!”

“I REMEMBER THAT!!!”

“WOW!!!”

“LET’S WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!!”

“OK!!!”

I grabbed Bennett’s twin sister, Sutton, and the three of us ran to the iPad. As the video played, Bennett and I giggled and sang along. Sutton just watched.

“Daddy,” she said, about halfway through, “there aren’t a lot of girl Muppets.”

Cue the record scratch here.

I’m not going to pretend that this was news to me. Sure, everyone knows Miss Piggy, and any true Muppet fan is aware of Janice, who in fact, sings lead vocals on “Rockin’ Robin.” Other than her, though, it was a total sausage factory on those branches, the same way it is in the Muppet Theater, the Muppet movies, the Muppet TV specials and everything else Muppet-related.

camilla

The 3rd most popular “girl Muppet”

Think about it. After Miss Piggy and Janice, what other female Muppets are there? Camilla the chicken?

I don’t want to play up this moment too much. It’s not like my daughter burst into tears or stormed away declaring she didn’t like the Muppets anymore. She was just making an observation. And that is exactly why I’m so upset.

At 4 years old, my daughter has already figured out that sometimes, there just aren’t a lot of girls. Some people create entire realms of characters where women are an afterthought or a token, where one or two females can represent every feminine characteristic they intend to portray. The boys come in endless varieties, each with their own lovable quirks. There’s Kermit, the avuncular optimist, Fozzie, the goofy vaudevillian, Swedish Chef, the, well, Swedish Chef… and then there’s Miss Piggy, the girl.

What really hurts about this is how otherwise inclusive the Muppets are. Muppets come in all shapes and species, all colors of the rainbow, some have different accents or dress in a unique way. The only blind spot the Muppets seem to have is the one that covers, you know, roughly half of the entire world’s population — and 100% of my daughter.

I realize this isn’t a new thing. The Muppets have always been a boys’ club. What’s changed, of course, is that I have a daughter now, and I want her to feel as welcome and included in this fun little fantasy world as I do.

suttonanddolls

Sutton and 1/1,000,000,000th of her stuffed animal collection

I could very easily steer her toward other pop culture choices. Believe me, she knows about princesses and Strawberry Shortcake, properties that were created specifically for her gender and where girl characters typically outnumber boys. But she wants to like the Muppets, and I want to share them with her without her feeling like she needs to sit on the sidelines while her brother and I geek out over their videos.

The Children’s Television Workshop has done a good job of integrating new female characters, like Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Rosita. There’s no reason the Muppets (who are owned by Disney and operate as a separate entity) can’t do the same.

Come on, Disney. This is on you. I know you know how to market things to little girls, so let’s get on this, OK?

I am not wagging a finger at you so much as I am waving dollar bills in your face. My son owns about half a dozen stuffed animals, including Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo. My daughter owns about nine squijillion. Many of them are your characters. If you make some new girl Muppets, we will buy the toys. We will buy the original doll, we will buy the “young” version of the doll, we will buy the Classic Animator edition of the doll, the Barbie version of the doll, the pillow pet of the doll, the miniature figurine of the doll. The last time I counted, I believe Sutton had six Rapunzels, and she’s never even sat all the way through Tangled. Whatever you churn out and squeeze onto the shelves of the Disney Store, we will charge on our Disney credit card and take home with us. You will have us on the hook for years and years, for hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

What I am begging you for is the opportunity to make you considerably richer. If that’s not win-win, I don’t know what is.

Look, I realize my timing is terrible. The next Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, comes out in March, and from what I’ve seen, it’s just as testosterone-heavy as all the other Muppet films. No new girl Muppets, although there is Tina Fey — who, by the way, I’m pretty sure will be with me on this.

It's almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two women before the time runs out.

It’s almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two female characters before the time runs out.

Maybe you can squeeze in a few reshoots or CGI in Beaker’s mom or something. Bring back Skeeter if you want to. I’m not picky. At the very least, you’re probably in development on the next Muppet movie after this one. (I hope so. I hope there are a hundred more Muppet movies on the way, ones both my kids will want to see with me.)

If you’re still in need of ideas, here’s one for you. After we watched the video this morning, I told Sutton she should create her own girl Muppet. Then at preschool, that’s exactly what she did. When I picked her up at the end of the day, she couldn’t wait to show me her drawing. Her name is Rosada.

EPSON MFP image

Rosada, according to Sutton, is nice, quiet and as smart as a bug. She likes Milano cookies, her shoes and her bag that her mother got her. She is not a ladybug.

A four-year-old came up with this. What have you got?

Sincerely,

Jerry Mahoney