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/

Day of Anomalies

Kids didn’t have school today and it sort of threw everyone out of whack…

Drew and Sam were taking turns riding in the tractor with Daddy, Drew this morning then Sam after lunch. After naptime I took Drew out to trade places with Sam but as I pulled into the field, Drew started sobbing and looked terrified. This is a child whose favorite job on the farm is scraping poop in the barn and I was taking him out to do his second favorite job, spreading poop in a field. What the hell? I told him he didn’t have to go with Daddy, we’d just pick up Sam and go home, but he managed to calm himself down and let Daddy carry him to the tractor. Then he called me and asked if he could eat supper on the tractor with Daddy. Seriously? From crying about going to not wanting to leave and I got the crying end? Thanks.

Sam & Bridget and I took our neighbor’s dog, Jetta, on a walk when we got back. I asked Sam if he wanted to stop and ask a friend to ride bikes with him so that he didn’t have to wait for me and the stroller. He quickly rode to his friend Ben’s house and was disappointed that he wasn’t home. He then asked if he could go ask his friend Emily, who lives around the corner. Remember that Sam is typically very shy and not willing to ask anyone to do anything and now he wants to go ask a girl on a bike ride? Sadly, Emily wasn’t home either but he knew that another female classmate lived in our neighborhood so he took off for her house and knocked on the door but she wasn’t home either. Sad day for little Sam until I noticed another of his friend’s playing outside. I encouraged Sam to go ask Orion to ride bikes with him and he stopped by the house, made eye contact and waved, then rode away leaving Bridget and I standing there like idiots. Thanks.

Bridget has asked to go to the farm every time we’ve dropped a boy off today but has not thrown the screaming fit, which is strange and wonderful. She did achieve another anomaly today on our walk, however. For the first block of our walk, she was fascinated by Jetta and giggled and talked to him from her stroller. Then she pulled out a little princess coloring book and multi-colored pen and colored for the rest of our trip. What the hell? But honestly, thanks Bridget.

I don’t know if this is an anomaly but I feel like I should mention it. Remember when I scolded people for wearing inappropriate things in public and proclaimed that I always try to look appropriate? Well, I just walked around our neighborhood in sweat pants with the saggiest butt ever and haven’t showered. Thank goodness we got home before most of our neighbors got home from work but I was still embarrassed.  Now I must go shower and put on something that fits!

Grown-ups Should Act Like Grown-ups

These posts have gotten a little serious lately so today I’m all about humor. Everyone needs a little laughter every day so here is my attempt to get a giggle.

Things I have noticed grown-ups doing lately:

A woman in Hobby Lobby was asking for a job application wearing sweats and a grungy ponytail. In my opinion, asking for an application is your first chance to make a good impression on a future employer and you should prepare yourself accordingly. If you don’t have the money for an “interview” outfit, you can at least make sure your hair and face are clean and put together. For real, this woman looked like she had just rolled out of bed.

Another woman in Hobby Lobby was sporting a Tweety Bird tattoo on her calf that must have been 4 inches tall. I understand the urge to get a tattoo and can even almost understand that sometimes you aren’t thinking about the rest of your life when you choose a design but I do think you should consider tattoo placement. Do you really want to be 70 years old and flashing Tweety Bird all summer?

Picking my kids up from school, I noticed a grandmotherly sort picking up a child. She was wearing a maroon fleece jacket with Tweety Bird embroidered on the left chest. The grandmother, not the little girl, was wearing Tweety Bird….. I think there should be an age limit on purchases of clothing with Disney or other cartoon characters, punishable by a fine. I’d cut some slack on pajamas if everyone would promise not to wear them outside the house but I don’t think people would abide by this rule.

In fact, I know people like to wear pajamas outside the house because I saw a man in pajama pants in Target today. To his credit, he and his wife had newborn twins and a 2-year-old little boy so I’m sure he was exhausted but changing into sweatpants would be preferable to the plaid flannel when in public.

I felt a little bit like a 10-year-old today when I noticed a gentleman riding his bike along a busy thoroughfare in Cedar Falls with almost his entire bottom hanging out of his pants. I don’t mean that his crack was showing because, let’s be honest, almost every one of us has flashed some crack at times. I am telling you that more than half of his butt was perfectly visible as he pedaled. His pants weren’t moving, his shirt wasn’t semi-covering as his legs pumped, his butt was simply hanging out. It is chilly today so he had to have noticed that his rear was cold but he either didn’t care or couldn’t do anything about and decided to just go with it. Either way, we were lucky to avoid an accident because I was giggling and gawking like a 5th grader.

Other silly things

I have created a monster and have no one to blame but myself. Bridget and I stopped at Target today because I had coupons (and I actually used them!) for detergent and such. I also wanted to get the kids some plain long sleeve t-shirts for layering but got just a little bit sidetracked in the little girls department. I picked up an adorable polka dot shirt and said, “Oh this is cute, Bridget, do you like this?” Of course she did so in the cart it went. She then asked for a dress and some jammies but I told her no and pushed her over to the boys section. We found the boys some shirts and started to walk toward the checkout area but some plum purple corduroy pants caught my attention. I stupidly picked them up and Bridget immediately said, “Those cute, me really want those.” Damnit! Luckily, or unluckily depending on your perspective, they were on clearance so I got them…and another matching polka dot shirt. Damnit.

One more Bridget story for today: we found some pink and princess socks in the Dollar Spot when we entered Target which she carried throughout the store and retrieved as soon as they had been scanned at checkout. After placing our bags in the van, we put the cart back and I carried her back to the van. As we walked, she started singing “my pink socks…my 2 matching pink socks….match 2 pink socks” in the most hilarious sing-song voice. I laughed and she stopped and looked me right in the eye and said “No laugh Mommy, not funny.”

I told her that I really liked her song and she said, “No laugh, not funny song….just happy song.” Stinker.

Drew strutted around book club on Tuesday with his jammie pants pulled up to armpants declaring “I’m big pants guy” in a carton superhero voice. Those in attendance who didn’t know my kids very well got the very best introduction to my Drewster.

While I mowed the leaves in the yard this week, I asked Sam to take a broom and sweep all the leaves off the deck and cement so I could mow them up. After each section was completed, he would come ask me if I had “any more impossible jobs” for him to do. Once he was done, I kept catching glimpses of red as I mowed and couldn’t figure out where he was or what he was doing but I noticed that little orange cones were appearing all over the yard. The little turd was running all over the yard like a spy, trying not be seen while placing orange cones in various places. He continued to run and hide while I visited with our neighbors, peeking his cute little face out periodically to make sure we were still playing along and pretending not to see him.

 

Facebook friends, I have a question for you: how often do you scroll through your Friend list and eliminate people? Do you “unfriend” people who post mean or snotty comments or those that post too much information? Have you ever unfriended someone because they hurt your feelings or offended you in some way? How do you decide who to accept, delete or keep? I’ve been told that I need to be more selective and I’m wondering what the general consensus is….

 

I Like to Win

I would like to add an addendum or revision to my blog of yesterday because I don’t think my motives for the goals expressed in that blog are what I thought they were. I think it all comes down to competitiveness because I want to win…at everything.

I have trouble letting my kids beat me in a race, a board game, or a battle of wills and, in fact, I very rarely let them win. I raced Bridget to some flowers this morning and beat her. When Sam was learning to play checkers I might have offered him some guidance but I certainly didn’t take it easy on him and now he beats me fair and square, which is highly irritating. Drew loves to play card games and I don’t really feel that bad when I slaughter him in Double Solitaire. It’s a good life lesson, I tell myself, because I hate to lose.

I’ve noticed that Sam has inherited this trait, as evidenced by his play on the soccer field. I have to tell you that he is a really good soccer player, very fast and able to see the field pretty well for a 7-year-old and has great ball control. Many of the teams they have faced this year haven’t been terribly organized or coordinated so he has been able to almost score at will. There was one good kid on the team they played last Saturday who stopped his fast break a couple of times and blocked a goal kick. I watched Sam the next time he approached this kid and saw the determination on his face as he lifted the ball and scored right over his head. Sam’s reaction was priceless and he continued to take the ball right at the best kid on the team and beat him.

Revisiting the goals I expounded on yesterday, they can all be explained within this context. I want people to like me because then I win. When the checkout lady smiles and chats with me, then I won the challenge set forth in my head. The same goes for being the favorite in my kids’ classrooms because everyone knows there is an unspoken contest between school volunteers. Ok, maybe that’s just me but there really should be a poll given to students at the end the semester allowing them to rank volunteers. Can you imagine the responses you would get from kindergartners?

Obviously if I am the favorite aunt then I win and that is truly a competition. My oldest nephew is 19 (!) so I have been running that race for 19 years and winning with at least most of my 15 nieces and nephews. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy spending time with them and want to know each of them as individuals. I don’t spend time with them to win the aunt competition, however, if I have to go the extra step and allow them to watch a movie with dinner to cement my status as favorite, I will do it.

Finding commonalities between myself and others boils down to the challenge in my head again; I win the contest that only I knew I was competing in. Who cares if I was the only contestant, I won! And I honestly get that little thrill of victory in my stomach….sad.

Appropriate clothing is another of the silly competitions in my head but I go ahead and rank the other people in attendance according to appropriateness, fit, and style. Listen, I don’t always win this one but I will keep trying! FYI: I purposely used the word rank rather than judge because I don’t hold inappropriate dress someone, I’m simply ranking for my own future reference. And just in case they ask my opinion, I want to be ready.

Right now I am using my competitive spirit to maintain my trek down the high road. If I can remain the better person then I win, no matter what else happens. If I can’t win the “everybody like me” game then I need to at least win the “I did the right thing” portion of the contest.

It’s sad, really, but it affirms my belief that I need an athletic outlet for my crazy. When Blair finishes building the racquetball court at the farm and installs my volleyball net and basketball hoop, I’m hoping to have an open gym for volleyball, anyone interested?

Be warned, I will not be hitting the ball lightly at children or the elderly and will take great pleasure in hurting my shoulder while pretending I’m still in shape.

By the way, you should all know that I won the best wife contest today by providing the best lunch any farmer ever ate on a tractor so today’s contest is over, you don’t have to keep trying.

Yep, I love to win even if it means: extra work for no praise, keeping my snotty comments to myself, putting on a happy face, or outrunning my child. It might be sad but it’s my truth.

 

Stupid Goals

My goal of simply letting things go isn’t working out as well as I had hoped and I think I’ve discovered the culprit: I have stupid goals. Not that this particular goal is stupid but all of my auxiliary goals are impeding my progress in letting things go.

One of my goals is to be liked by everyone. This is probably not an uncommon desire but I truly mean everyone. I want to be the favorite volunteer in the kindergarten classroom and the most sought-after companion at the second grade lunch table. I need for the Walmart checkout person to smile and chat with me and wish we knew each other better. This goal gets ever more pronounced if said checkout person is surly or uncommunicative with the shopper ahead of me.

Of course this wish extends to family, friends, neighbors, cousins, nieces & nephews. I tend to be the conciliator even though I’m not a middle child. I don’t see any reason that we can’t all be honest but in a polite manner and realize that we love each other and at the very least maintain common courtesy.

I work hard, as evidenced by craft day, to be the favorite aunt. I don’t do it to feed my ego but to ensure that each niece and nephew feels comfortable coming to me with anything they need to talk about. Craft time is really a ruse to get them talking about friends and feelings because I’m sneaky like that. Plus, I really enjoy being the one they run to for hugs and kisses!

An addendum to this goal is my weird tendency to attempt to find something in common with every person I come into contact with. I remember, with embarrassment, excitedly telling a classmate at my 10-year reunion that my husband drives big machinery too! Who cares? I lambasted another classmate at the 15-year reunion with my story about trying to cut back on cheese and lose tummy weight because he is a weight-loss consultant (or something like that). He quite obviously didn’t care but I couldn’t seem to shut up!
When I meet new people, I ask a lot of questions because I truly want to learn about him or her but I am also subconsciously searching for the commonality that I just know is waiting to be discovered. At some point I will have to accept that most people don’t care about whatever little tidbit we have in common….because I know there is one!

Another strange goal is to be the most appropriately dressed person at any function. Not the cutest, sexiest or most fashionable but the most appropriate. I don’t limit myself to dressing appropriately for nights at the theater or funerals but silly things like classroom volunteering and family dinners. I’m thankful that my mom taught me how to dress appropriately for most occasions but does anyone at Target really care what I’m wearing? Probably not and I know the kindergartners don’t care.

Do you see how these frankly stupid goals are impeding my ability to stop worrying and let things go? I am so concerned with finding common ground, being polite and likeable, and assessing the appropriateness of my attire that I simply don’t have time to forget about slights and those who don’t like. Maybe I’ll change my goal of letting it go to a challenge of earning every person’s respect if not love.

 

 

When I Grow Up

Oh dear, I’m just learning that I’m really not qualified to do anything in the real world…oh dear….

I have a BS in English with a lot of interesting classes to my credit but not one that taught me how to write and get paid for it. I have 9 years of experience at a publishing company but one that is so small and strangely run that I didn’t learn much that will translate to another company. Oh dear.

Blair and I are contemplating the next step in our housing situation, debating whether to move, remodel, or build and it hit me that we can’t afford to do anything until I start earning some money. We agree that our children and our marriage suffer when I work outside the home full time. My intense desire to monitor and supervise and educate and control every minute of the children’s day limits my ability to get to and function at an office every day. If a child is sick, I will be home with him or her, regardless of the number of vacation days I have left. Blair’s crazy work hours sometimes allow him some free time mid-morning or early afternoon and the kids and I both miss those times if they are at daycare and I’m at work. Plus, I really don’t like having to go to work every day….blah. Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have married a man who doesn’t hold this against me?

In my efforts to keep my brain intact and some income coming in, I decided to start my own business and work from home. SH Writing Services is the result of yet another lawn mowing epiphany: I have written content for a variety of websites; written, proofread and edited a myriad of marketing pieces; written, proofread and edited countless pieces of corporate correspondence or internal memos and maybe, just maybe, I could get paid for that type of work. I know that there are many small to medium-sized businesses that are in need of a writer and I hope to offer my services to those businesses. I am, however, having trouble connecting with those businesses.

As an alternative source of income, I’ve been scouring the internet for freelance writing jobs that I am qualified for and this is where the problem lies. All those wonderful pieces of work I have created or perfected? I don’t have access to the majority of them because they were performed as a favor to a sister, a parent, or a friend and I had no intention of needing those materials or references. Oh dear, I’m screwed.

If only I could find a market for the things I’m really good at. Let’s see, I’m currently planning a killer Fall Craft Party for my young nieces and nephews. I have these fantastical ideas that my crafty skills sometimes fall short of achieving but the bottom line is that the kids will have a blast and hopefully renew my best-aunt ever title.

I can also write some wonderful journal entries and first-person accounts of events; what are the odds of an unpublished fiction writer publishing a book? Pretty slim but I’ll keep plugging away. As I look back at journals from my past, I have found that my younger self was very angsty. Maybe I should write a book from the POV of a 13-year-old girl who imagines her life to be completely horrible when, in fact, it is perfectly normal and happy. Hhmmm…

What if I could get paid to read? I would be a billionaire in no time at all if all that was required of me was to read a book and give my opinion of it. I would even go the extra step and critique it from whatever view point requested of me. I can turn any book into a sexist, conservative tome written for the explicit purpose of holding women down. Alternatively, I could take the same book and espouse its liberal, woman-loving virtues. By the way, this was the basis for an entire semester-long class that I thoroughly loved.

My point is, my portfolio is sketchy and my resume will be recycled post haste and I’m not real sure where to go from here….oh dear. What in the world will I be when I grow up?

Awkward Preteen Moment

Uncomfortable situations with preteens are so, well, uncomfortable. Before I tell you the story, let’s make a pact that we never tell my niece Sadie that I blogged about this. At least until she’s 30 and can find it funny.

Sue and I went to pick up the boys from the farm yesterday, where they had been playing since school got out. It’s possible that we chose to workout before retrieving them but Blair didn’t mind. In fact, he gave me a high-five when I told him later. (Full disclosure, I liquored him up before I told him.) When we arrived at the construction site, we found 7 shirtless and 1 fully-clothed kid playing on a huge sandpile. They were having the greatest time doing somersaults, digging holes, and generally getting filthy.

Then it got uncomfortable. Sadie, who will be 10 in January, had chosen to go shirtless. Her uncles, who were on kid-watching duty, obviously didn’t think anything of it but I found it inappropriate. Earlier this year, Sadie decided she needed to start wearing a bra and was very proud of her new status as a preteen. She would gladly show you her bra, either regular or sports, at any time and regardless of the audience. I was not really surprised that she would run around without a shirt but I was surprised by the fact that she sort of needs a bra!

I remember being her age and trying to figure out where you fit in. She is the oldest of the Hansen grandchildren and that puts her in an awkward position sometimes. On the one hand, she relishes her role as the leader and tries to keep everyone in line and happy. On the other hand, she also wants to be a grown-up and sit at the kitchen table and visit with her super-cool aunt. On the third hand (?), when she gets bored by adult conversation and starts playing with the other kids again, it is easy to fall in with the younger set and forget that she is truly starting to grow up.

I wasn’t sure what to do about the sandpile situation so I turned it over to Grandma and her ultimate authority. Grandma very tactfully and quietly suggested to Sadie that if she is old enough to wear a bra then she needs to keep her shirt on in public. I would suggest that this is a good rule in general and should be posted on the street at UNI’s Homecoming as well as every bar that any of my nieces might ever walk into.

Unfortunately, I think Sadie was a little embarrassed by the situation and decided to go home rather than eat supper with the rest of us. The poor thing, she’s at such an awkward age where you feel very adult sometimes but also feel like a kid. Part of you wants to play with Barbies and run through sprinklers while the rest of you thinks you should be concerned with makeup and boys and gossip.

I hope she holds on to the childish innocence for at least a little while longer….but keeps her shirt firmly on.