Girls can, and girls do: teaching my boys about feminism

Yesterday as I drove the littles to school, we passed a construction area where a woman in a bright orange vest was waving traffic through. As we passed I made a point to say, “look, a construction lady!” which was met with instant whines from the backseat.

“Buuuuuut she caaaaaan’t be. That’s just for boys!”

My oldest is in a stubborn spot about girls right now. He tells me frequently that he doesn’t like girls, even though I constantly remind him that mommy is a girl. So when I realized his little brain was having a hard time reconciling this scene, I improvised with a response that I think I might have to use for the rest of my life.

“But girls CAN! And girls DO!” I retorted. I waved out my rolled-down window to the woman who sparked this conversation and was silently grateful for her being there.

It turns out it was also the day that one of my best, oldest friends went back to work after 6 months of maternity leave. Anyone who’s been in those shoes knows there’s no way to mentally prepare for the emotions that sweep over you on that first day you leave your baby behind to continue the life you knew before their appearance in the world. Or at least attempt to continue some semblance of it.

Something must have aligned the stars because, by luck, during my morning consignment run to trade-in and procure winter clothes for the dudes, I stumbled across a shirt I knew she had to have for her little gal.

Working mother motherhood parenting

Not too long after getting home she called me sobbing, having forgotten some pump parts, feeling awful, and generally questioning her mothering ability as we all do. I immediately sent her a photo of the shirt, because girls can, and girls DO!

So here I am, raising two little dudes in a world that I feel often neglects to recognize their mothers as equals on the playing field. A world that sends that message to them early, and often fails to care for new moms or kids in a healthy, nurturing way, long after they’re born. Teaching my boys that girls CAN and girls DO is the absolute LEAST I can do. All I can do is hope that they learn by seeing women — the construction lady, me, my bestie going back to work– DOING it ALL, so it’s not a lesson, it’s just their reality.

So, feral housewives, if you’re out there doing it, KEEP DOING IT! I know the struggle is real, but our littles are watching and cheering you on, even if its in the form of whiney ourtrage they don’t know it yet. And if I see that construction lady again, I may just get out and give her a big ole’ hug.

 

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Reclaiming My Time: A Mantra for Life

Maxine Waters, you get me. You really do. If only life worked like a congressional hearing. Sadly, unlike Steve Mnuchin, kids generally give zero sh*ts about The Maxine Stare.

I sometimes wish I could tell my kids “RECLAIMING MY TIME” after a morning of screaming that their pants “aren’t soft enough” challenging moments, so that we can leave for school just 20 minutes late instead of typical 30. But sadly life with little humans doesn’t work that way.

Time is short and precious and not to be wasted. And yet so much of it is– out of fear, other commitments, meetings that should be emails, layoffs, or arguing about stuff that doesn’t matter. I kind of wish more of my time would be wasted by someone praising my accomplishments, but hey– please somebody do that that’s beside the point.

My point is that wasting time can be terrifying to us. It can be a cycle of paralysis, perfectionism, and procrastination. When a burden weighs heavy, it takes Maxine-level guts to speak up to it and get going on something– anything– productive.

Creatives are typically passionate people, but that passion is not an on/off switch that can be easily worked with 100% of the time. Everyone has off days not Maxine Waters but they’re the days to recharge and scope out the next step to get over that bump.

So today I’m digging for my inner-Maxine and trying to remember that the time spent these last two months occasionally taking naps in my job search was not wasted. I’m reclaiming my time as being part of the process.

Go forth and give the world your Maxine Stare, folks.

Stand up. Be productive. Take the step. But also remember to take time to reclaim that time as your own.

Maxine Waters (J. Scott Applewhite:AP:Lily illustration)

Five Ways To Treat Yo’ Self for International Self Care Day

this-treat-yo-self-reunion-is-the-best-thing-you-will-see-all-day-1

It’s International Self Care Day today! What are my fellow feral housewives doing to keep their mind in the middle? Here’s a list of my five favorites.

  1. Read a magazine. You know, one from the GIANT PILE OF PARENTING MAGAZINES UNDER MY NIGHTSTAND that you’d never want to be seen reading in public. The kind that are always lying around when you get a pedicure, so you slyly grab one to quickly catch up on Prince William & Kate world affairs while that perfect shade of Madame President red dries perfectly on your callused toes poor, tired feet.
  2. Take a drive. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to discover new places, so sometimes I’ll just go out and explore roads I’ve passed but never been down. Because I’m still fairly new here, it’s not hard.
  3. Rage clean. Sometimes self-care for me means cleaning up my kid-ruled house, if only for an hour or so. I’m so much more calm waking up to a clutter-free bedroom, or a nice clean floor where that pile of magazines used to be under my nightstand a living room free of errant dog bones, tumbleweeds of dog hair or singing Daniel Tiger characters. Plug in the vacuum and say OMMMMMMMMMMM……
  4. Go go a thrift store. It never fails to put me in a happy place. Where else can you go through thousands of people’s closets and quietly judge their taste find something absolutely perfect for the price of a coffee. It’a a bit of an obsession of mine, really. 
  5. Put your hands in the dirt. Similar to rage cleaning, but outside with fresh air and neighbors watching. I like pulling weeds, picking berries, and occasionally getting a little too crazy with the hedgetrimmers a good workout in. It’s a great way to feel better about life, lawn, and the world in general.

It’s not a dream, it’s a plan.

Some days I find little hidden signs in the chaos of life that I’m forced to pay attention to. Sometimes it comes in the form of picking berries, like I did last night. Man, that was so wonderfully meditative. I want to go picking again just so I can feel that focus and calm again.

Other times it comes in the form of things that stop me in my tracks. There are lots of cheesy sayings out there, and lots of eye-rolls on my part when I see them. But every now and then there’s a real winner in there if you pay enough attention.

Today I saw this one, and it made me remember all the times I had crazy dreams and actually chased them. callitaplan

Then I remembered that this was the dream, and I made it my plan. Having a family and a house and a life in a place that I love WAS a dream, I MADE it my plan, and thankfully Ed was up for the suffering adventure, too. So it’s hard to feel too sorry for myself that I’m spending my days looking for work. It will come, I’m sure of it.

But I have to remember this time around– my job is not me, and I am not my job. We shouldn’t let our work define us– WE define us. It’s PART of us, but it’s not the core of our person. I’m as guilty of it as anyone in the room, especially in my 20’s. I can remember sleeping on the floor of the Salt Lake Tribune photo office one night because I was there late and really, truly, just loved being there SO much. I spent years working at newspapers, breaking my back with camera gear, racing to assignments, being chased by dogs, being chewed out over the phone, and even being deposed in defense of my job and profession. It wasn’t until newspapers chewed me up and spit me out in the recession that I came to terms with the fact that your dream shouldn’t be defined by something that can’t dream along with you. Jobs can’t love you back, but they can provide for the dreams you have.

I’m tired. I’m sitting in a messy house. I’m spending my days with my eyes glazed over on job boards, hoping this will be the day I get an email, or a call. But it doesn’t matter if it’s not– as long as the people in my little family are happy, healthy, fed, and have a warm bed to play dinosaurs sleep in at night.