To the blogger who slammed motherhood

Just read a blog that is getting a lot of press right now, written by Amy Glass. I was honestly dumbfounded as I read because I sort of assumed that the headlines I had seen were over-reactions…surely this woman doesn’t really think every stay-at-home mom is doing nothing and that every woman who works, especially if she doesn’t have kids, is a super hero, right?  I shouldn’t assume because that is almost exactly what she said.

In her post, she laments that we now celebrate women for being average: Having kids and getting married are considered life milestones. We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them. They are the most common thing, ever, in the history of the world. They are, by definition, average. And here’s the thing, why on earth are we settling for average?

I would guess that Ms. Glass has no idea how much work goes into a successful marriage or how difficult being a good parent is.

She also makes this statement: Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?

Ms. Glass seems to believe that every woman who chooses to have a significant other in her life has automatically resigned herself to a life of obligations and career failing. Every woman who chooses to have children has made the choice to be average and never accomplish anything great. In her own words: You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.

Bullshit.

I know wives and girlfriends who are traveling the world doing amazing charity and mission work. I know wives and girlfriends who are small-business owners and leaders in corporate offices. More importantly, I know wives and girlfriends who are kind, compassionate, loving souls who are capable of thinking beyond their own needs and want to share their joys, accomplishments, frustrations, and tears with a supportive and loving husband or boyfriend.

I know mothers who are starting their own businesses and leading corporate America. I know mothers who travel the world, sometimes with their children in tow, to minister and rebuild. I know mothers who trust childcare providers and put in a full day’s work teaching, farming, facilitating small business and home loans, leading charitable organizations, running technology for large school districts, and filing your taxes and them come home and “manage a household.” I know mothers who are the childcare providers, who choose to stay home with their children and do a whole lot of everything every single day.

To assume that a woman with a husband or boyfriend is not taking care of herself is just ignorant. There are helpless women and worthless men in every stage of life and in various relationship statuses, just as there are completely independent and capable women and men who are single, married, and dating.

This next quote literally makes my heart race and the blood pump in my temples…..

I hear women talk about how “hard” it is to raise kids and manage a household all the time. I never hear men talk about this. It’s because women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments. Men don’t care to “manage a household.” They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are “important.”

Perhaps the question this should raise is: why aren’t men worrying about managing a household? Why does Ms. Glass assume that men aren’t? I know husbands, boyfriends and fathers who stay home with their kids. I know husbands, boyfriends and fathers who have chosen occupations that allow them the flexibility and time off to spend with their families. I know husbands, boyfriends, and fathers who do all of the cooking, grocery shopping, and cleaning; men who are (gasp!) managing a household.

Maybe Ms. Glass should look at her opinions from a different angle and rather than criticizing women for choosing to have families and careers she should criticize the men who do not make family a priority. That seems like a more feminist viewpoint to me. Or maybe she should rail against a system that forces employees to work until 10:00pm, regardless of who is waiting for them at home. (PS: stay-at-home moms work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no financial compensation, sick or bereavement leave, or PTO but that is beside the point.)

I also wonder why this woman seems to hate women so very much. If she really believes that there should be more women in the workforce and that they should be treated equally then perhaps she should be fighting for that equality rather than knocking down those who have made different choices. Maybe she should be writing about the glass ceiling, the Family Medical Leave Act, forced overtime, and the unreasonable expectations of employers for both men and women who choose to have a life outside of their vocation.

Maybe Ms. Glass should be encouraging women to pursue higher education and researching ways to help wives and mothers afford that education rather than condemning them for choosing a relationship and kids. I wonder what has happened in her life to make her so bitter and resentful and I honestly pity her.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all lifted each other up rather than pushing the “others” down? I’m glad Ms. Glass published this post because it not only has started a necessary national debate but it has reaffirmed my desire to encourage, support, and assist rather than belittle, deny, and bitch.

The link to the full article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/amy-glass/2014/01/i-look-down-on-young-women-with-husbands-and-kids-and-im-not-sorry/

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Home Ec Fail

My daughter and I sewed a pillow tonight. That may sound mundane to some of you but let me be clear that this is a huge accomplishment for me….not so much for her as she is already ahead of me as a seamstress, but it is big for me.

I was not a student excited about Home Ec class; I wanted nothing to do with cooking, figuring out what color palette looked best on me, grocery shopping lessons, or budgeting. But the subject that frustrated me the most was definitely sewing. I just don’t get it. The patterns make zero sense to me. Pinning the stuff to the pattern (that is something you do, right?) just seemed like a waste of time plus I always stuck myself with the stupid pins. Forget about translating the pattern to actual fabric, that was just nonsense in my brain.

My teachers from junior high up through high school inevitably relented and helped me get my project ready for the sewing machine and then I’m sure they cringed because I can break a sewing machine in no time at all. In fact, I recently broke my mother-in-law’s sewing machine within 5 minutes of sitting down and hadn’t sewn a single stitch!

The sewing itself should have been fairly simple with the technology-enhanced machines available at our school but pushing the fabric through slowly and in a straight line requires a type of patience I simply don’t possess. Add to that the constant bunching and knotting of the thread, my inability to remember to remove the pins, and the attention I needed to pay to the hilariousness of my friends trying to sew around me and you can understand why Home Ec was a difficult class for me.

By my senior year (no, I’m not sure why I kept taking these classes but they kept showing up on my schedule), the teacher had relegated me to using the basting machine only. I’m not entirely sure what this machine does or why I was capable of using it but I can tell you that I churned out a number of knit pants that semester! Too bad the tunic and leggings look was out of style by then…..

With this background knowledge, let me tell you again that my daughter and I sewed a pillow today. (Thank you for the bright smiles and applause.) She sewed a bit with  my friend over the weekend and declared that she knows how to sew and wanted to sew some things. So, I put her off as long as I could and then dusted off the little pink sewing machine another friend had handed down to us a couple of years ago. I have to admit that I was terribly nervous that I would never figure out how to thread the stupid thing and we would have to wait for Daddy and I would be a complete failure. Luckily, instructions written for pre-teens are fairly easy to follow and I was able to thread the machine with little difficulty and no swearing.

I then found a swatch of fabric I had purchased for who knows what reason and realized we could fold it over, sew three sides, and make a pillow. Holy crap, we could actually make a pillow. It is not pretty, it is not perfect, and the stitches will likely not hold through the night, but we made a pillow and I am very proud of myself…I mean….her.

It’s been a while…..

It has been a while but here I am, ready to smack you in the face with my witty opinions, laugh-out-loud anecdotes, and tales from the teaching trenches…or maybe I’ll just whine a little.

I took a blogging break when I started a new job teaching preschool; I needed to dedicate a good portion of my time and energies to figuring out what the heck I was doing and how to organize myself to get it done. I am also the director of the preschool so I had to learn DHS rules and regulations, paperwork protocol, and a million other little things in addition to lesson planning, classroom cleaning, supply management and, oh yeah, actually teaching.  It is a job that consumes my thoughts but that I love so very much…not sure how my own kids feel about it though.

You see, they sometimes get the short end of the stick when Mom is stressed out from managing “behaviors” all morning or has to spend Sunday afternoon at school getting ready for the upcoming week. My kids hear about the successes I see in the classroom and I fear that sometimes I neglect to show the same amount of excitement for their own successes.

On the other hand, they get to help prepare lessons and have the advantage of knowing that Mom is just down the hallway if they get sick at school or, as happens entirely too often, they realize they have forgotten something at home or need money. My kids get to stop in for a quick hug (well, not the 5th grader so much) or to tell me about a great result on a test. I love that I am right there in the building and that they still want to see during the school day. Apparently I am not too embarrassing yet, thank goodness.

My additional impetus for breaking from blogging was that I am slowly losing my mind. Yep, it’s true. I used to be a fairly organized person and then I started having kids. I initially blamed my loss of memory and focus on pregnancy brain, then overly-tired-new-mommy brain, then terrible-two’s, then three-kids-under-5, and finally three-kids-in-school. At this point, I have nothing to blame my brain problems on but me so I will just lay it out there….there is something wrong with my brain.

For instance, I had a meeting last Monday night. I knew I had a meeting last Monday night. I saw it on my calendar on Monday morning and again Monday afternoon. I talked about the upcoming meeting to two separate people on two separate occasions on Monday. I started planning supper in the early afternoon based on my leaving for the meeting. Then 5:00 hit and I got distracted and didn’t start supper. At 6:15 my phone beeped, reminding me of my meeting at 6:30. Crap. I hadn’t showered (no school that day) and was still in sweats. Supper was not cooking and I had made zero plans for the kids. As I quickly washed my face and threw on some jeans, I gave the kids supper and shower instructions and rushed out the door. Ridiculous.

On a lighter note, my hubby got home just as I was leaving and fed the kids, made a delicious supper for us, and had a black-out Nerf gun war waiting for me when I got home. Maybe I should leave it to him more often!

My plan is to start writing again, posting here more often, and using written words to keep my brain focused.  Wish me luck….and remind me when I haven’t posted in a while because, most likely, I have simply forgotten.

Things I Said Yesterday

This is a list of things I actually said yesterday. Yep, in just one day I was a font of ridiculousness.

 

Why are you fighting with light sabers when you don’t even have pants on yet?

 

How did your shoe get on the roof?

 

We’ll have to draw names for cupcakes.

 

Bring me the rubber bands, your boobies are showing.

 

Everyone work together to put away the jam, please.

 

I wish you could hug Grandma Shirley through the computer too.

 

She’s not looking at your penis, she is helping us give the dog a bath.

 

You’re right, I do get to see you and talk to you every day, isn’t that awesome?

 

Yes, using NFL player’s numbers is a great way to remember what page you are on in your book.

 

I don’t see any of your body parts on the street, I think you’re fine.

 

The girls were sweeping and now we’ve lost them, crap.

 

I think I should keep track of these nonsensical statements every day, yesterday surely wasn’t an anomaly!

 

Note: This is not a compilation or an exaggerated list, I truly uttered each of these things yesterday.

That’s Just the Way God Made Me

I joined a discussion at church this week on a book entitled “The Me I Want to Be,” a fascinating look at why and how God created each individual. I lobbied to be the representative of my committee to attend this discussion because I’m still just not quite sure who I want to be, let alone who I’m meant to be.

 

The first discussion centered around some important questions such as: what makes you feel alive and how do you discover who God intended you to be? I am sincerely baffled by these questions and that makes me sad. Many of the group participants could remember at least one specific moment in which they felt truly alive, they could imagine a scenario in which they feel at peace, or could pinpoint a habit, person, or act that gave them pure joy. I, on the other hand, struggled. Someone asked if the birth of my kids made me feel alive or joyful……. I remember feeling happy but also tired, sore, irritated, hungry, overwhelmed and a hundred other emotions. My wedding day? Fraught with varying degrees of happiness, confusion, tears, and some drunken dancing.

 

What does peace feel like? I honestly don’t think I know. Is that a product of having three small children and a house in disrepair or something internal, something broken?  I don’t want to get all maudlin and  I’m certainly not implying that I’m not happy; I have a wonderful, loving, and supportive husband who is still my favorite person to hang out with and is pretty cute too. I have 3 healthy, smart and engaging kids who bring me much joy. I have an extended family who, despite their quirks and odd behaviors, are a tremendous source of love and laughter. And my friends…well…they bring me a unique sort of joy….

 

But all the good things in my life are surrounded by questions and concerns stemming from my own negative self-talk, my own perception that I don’t know who I am or want to be.  I’m almost 35 and haven’t really started a career yet, for pete’s sake!  Although a woman at the discussion last night thought I was 25 so I may just go with it…

 

So, the next step is to figure out what I’m meant to do, what I’m intended to do, what makes me happy.  I wonder if anyone is looking for someone to dent their garage or shed? I just spent 20 minutes serving a volleyball against my shed and it gave me a lot of satisfaction. (Sorry, again, for the dented garage, Mom & Dad).  I wonder if I could somehow get paid to write this random crap without having to pander to advertisers or the visions of others.  I wonder if I could teach preschool in my basement?

 

I’m not sure I know who God intended me to be but it appears that my 4-year-old daughter already does. I took her outside to play catch this afternoon and kept admonishing her to keep her eyes open as she attempted to catch the ball. After the 5th or 6th time she replied, “Mom, that’s just the way God made me.”  If only I could have her self-confidence…but not her ball handling skills.

Snapshot of My Kids

It is so interesting to watch my kids change and develop; sometimes I have to stop and really notice how they have grown and matured. There are certain moments that act as a snapshot of sorts, highlighting who they are right now.

 

Drew: Bridget and 2 other children were playing a very complicated version of house that included strained familial relationships and hot lava, hopping around the yard to avoid getting burned up while maintaining their fort home and faux-sibling relationships. Drew had been invited to play but declined, choosing instead to intermittently shoot hoops with his older brother between breaks sitting on the deck and petting the dog. He was obviously playing close attention to the house situation, however, because he would periodically yell, “Here comes a bomb!” and chuck a soccer ball at the intrepid lava-avoiding family. He never intended to actually hit any of them, there was no malice in his addition to their game, Drew simply wanted to be included but only on his own terms.  He is not interested in imaginative play but does find it hilarious to make girls scream and run….great.

 

Sam: I recently bought the boys roller blades and this crazy amazing March weather has afforded us the opportunity to practice skating. Sam asked if he could ride his roller blades on our afternoon dog walk; I was nervous about our hilly neighborhood and his shaky skating skills but agreed that he could try it. He was very careful and slow on the trek down our street and around the corner and was struggling a little bit to go up the hill on the back side of our block…until he noticed that his good friend Ben’s dad was outside his house. Ben is very athletic and his dad is Sam’s soccer coach, facts that I’m sure were flitting through Sam’s brain as he casually sped up, started really working his legs like a professional roller blader might and refused to look in his coach’s direction. I was almost doubled over in laughter as I visited with the coach who honestly couldn’t have cared less if Sam could roller blade or not! Sam has an almost pathological need to impress those he respects but he would never want someone to think he was working hard to impress them.  Sam wants to impress teachers, coaches, parents and grandparents but will do it without eye contact or acknowledgement that he has noticed you are watching.  You can sometimes catch him glancing out of the corner of his eye, hoping you are suitably impressed with his skills; if you give him a sign of approval, you might even get an elusive real-Sam-smile!

 

Bridget: Oh how I hope this is a phase… I went to wake up the boys this morning and noticed that Bridget’s light was on. I know she didn’t sleep with it on so I sat on my bed and waited for her to emerge, nervous about the attitude that would rise from her bed. Before long, she sauntered (yes, sauntered) out wearing a new “every day” dress, a headband, and a preening pose. She carried the new big girl necklace Daddy gave her for her birthday and asked if I would help her put it on so that she would look “more beautiful.” Ugh.  She asked each of the boys if she looked beautiful this morning, reminded me that she was wearing a beautiful dress 6 times before 8:00, and brushed her hair without whining and crying because it would help her headband look more beautiful. There will be extra encouragement today to touch worms, play soccer or basketball, and a promise that she will be reading by the end of next week. Please be a phase…please be a phase…please be a phase….

 

Cement Rubble and Beanbags

It started with a trickle of water, an occasional small puddle and some hideous wallpaper and has turned into a disaster zone and catalyst for the newest grossest thing to happen in our house.

 

We get a small amount of water in our unfinished, cement block basement, nothing too major, but we knew we wanted to finish the basement eventually so Blair decided that now is the time to waterproof. Rather than hiring someone to do the work, he chose to sledgehammer out half of the perimeter of the basement himself and use child labor to haul the cement rubble out of the house. A great system which only caused two problems and revealed a third; the work caused an extreme amount of dust and small doses of neglect and revealed some plumbing issues….ugh. The dust is causing me to curse a lot and Drew to have some trouble breathing but the neglect and plumbing problems are the real issue.

 

Neglect: I almost forgot to feed the kids the other night before we had to leave for Parent/Teacher conferences because I’m awesome. Thankfully, pancakes are quick and fun and the kids thought it was a special treat! The dog, however, is being woefully ignored and has taken to carrying his leash around in the hopes that someone will take pity on him and go for a walk. I had the kids just run him down the street a little bit last night to take the edge off…I don’t think it worked and may have led directly to the grossest thing to happen in our house this week….but you’ll have to wait.

Plumbing: The plumbing issues raised questions in Blair’s mind about going ahead with the refinishing project now because “we might as well.” Yesterday we began the serious demolition work and finally removed the last vestige of 1968 wallpaper from our house. It was truly hideous (and yes, I saved a section of the best wallpaper selections we have removed and will be creating a memorial of some sort) but the removal of dark paneling and crazy shelves has opened up a ton of possibilities in the basement and led to even more neglect of children and pets. This whole project is both exciting and frustrating and will most likely be never-ending so if anyone h-as some free time and enjoys demo work, drywall hanging, plumbing, or dusting, come on over!

 

So, are you ready for the most disgusting event I’ve been a part of since the infamous mouse eating incident? I mentioned that our poor puppy is feeling a little ignored and apparently he has plans to exact his revenge on all of us. As we were getting ready for school this morning, Drew noticed a large pile of poop in the living room. The poop was not there when we got up so our bitter dog basically waited to poop right in front of us as a symbol of his discontent. Ugh. Sam is on poop duty this week so we got it all cleaned up and everyone out the door on time.  Bridget and I took them to school and came home to finish a grocery list and I realized that the stupid dog had stepped in his poop and tracked down the hallway and into my bedroom where he apparently danced a little jig on my cream carpet. Nice. Got it all cleaned up and away we went to buy some more very necessary craft supplies (ha!).  Warning: that was not the worst part of the story.

 

We got home from the store and Bridget convinced me to let the dog back into the house. The two of them raced to the living room where Bridget dove headfirst into Drew’s soccer ball beanbag, a favorite cozy snuggling place for both of them. Bridget’s head hit the beanbag, with Coby following directly behind, but she quickly jumped back up and yelled, “Mom, I’m all wet!” with a note of panic in her voice. Yep, my sweet Coby puppy peed in, not on, Drew’s beanbag and Bridget basically dunked her face into it.

 

She forgave him and was soon back to whispering sweet nothings in his ear (this is absolutely true, by the way). I’m still working on it. Now I have to go stop the stupid (and adorable) dog from eating any more drywall and cement….