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/

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.

 

My Green Bracelet

I wear a green bracelet every day and have since earlier this year when a good friend of ours lost his niece and nephew in a horrific car accident. The mother was recently released from a rehabilitation hospital after months of being unresponsive but their middle child escaped the accident virtually unharmed, physically at least. Their father sent the most beautiful letter to the Des Moines Register (http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20101005/OPINION04/10050306/Letter-to-the-Editor-DeJoode-family-wants-to-thank-On-With-Life-others-in-Ankeny) and has been so gracious throughout this entire nightmarish ordeal. I keep the bulletin from the children’s’ funeral at my desk and wear my green organ donor bracelet every day to remind me that nothing in life is guaranteed and that I have so much be thankful for.

So, rather than give you another list of the endless things that irritate me I would like to tell you the things I’m grateful for.

In the Hy-Vee parking lot today, an older gentleman got out of his car and stood and watched Bridget pound the steering wheels in the cart with her feet, and then stop to make sure her tiger was still buckled in safely. He said hello to her and asked me her name. He told me how beautiful she was and said, “You have been so blessed.” Yep, I teared up in the parking lot. Normally I would respond with a throw-away comment such as She’s cute but she’s a terror but today I just said thank you. Instead of focusing on the tantrum she threw when it was time to leave the farm, I choose to think about this morning when I asked her to put her lovey cow away. She petted it for a moment, then laid it out perfectly flat on the floor in her room, closed the door and lay down in the hallway. I asked what she was doing and she informed me that she was peeking at her cow under the door. Sweet pea.

On the first day of October, Drew came out for breakfast and said, Dad, its October, are we pumping poop today? It is statements like this that remind me how closely they are paying attention even when they don’t appear to be. You see, every October and April Blair has to pump all of the poop from the manure pit into the fields and this is Drew’s favorite job. I will never understand why watching poop shoot out of a hose at 10mph is fun but he will sit on the tractor for hours watching the poop soak into the dirt. Drew is a guy who really wants to help and I am not very respectful of his desires. He offers to help every time I sweep and more often than not I choose to hurry through rather than hand him the broom. Better choices would teach him valuable cleaning lessons and give him so much pride, isn’t that worth a few crumbs left on the floor?

Sam wrote me a note the other day asking why we never talk anymore. Break my heart, kid.  When I asked what he meant he shrugged it off and claimed that it didn’t mean anything but I’m sure that was just him being too cool. I make an effort every day to really listen to their stories of the day but sometimes life and facebook get in the way. I’ve noticed that on my better Mommy days I get a big hug and kiss at bedtime from my Sam rather than the reluctant acceptance of my goodnight kiss. Lesson learned little man.

I am so lucky to be married to a funny, hard-working man who lets me choose whether I want to work outside the home or stay home with our kids. He even muddled through with me as I tried to do both part-time and didn’t do either very well. Now as I try to launch this freelance writing business, he is so supportive even though he doesn’t understand it. I can totally deal with the hay droppings and poop smell…at least til he builds me a mud room.

On top of my immediate blessings, I have such amazing parents, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends. I may not like all of them all the time, but I love them all the time.

Enough sappy, I promise I’ll try to be funny tomorrow….

Rogue Hairs

My sister Michelle examines my chin almost every time I see her and is not very subtle about it. Sometimes she will get right up close and tilt my head to get a better angle. What is she looking for? Ever been sitting at your computer or watching TV and noticed a rogue hair, something long and wiry and growing where it shouldn’t be? Our family is prone to growing one giant, thick black hair on the bottom right side of our chin. Just one and always in the same spot and I thank Michelle for always drawing it to my attention.

I’ve become so self-conscious about it that I am constantly checking in the mirror for it. I sit at my computer and casually feel my chin in case it has sprouted up since I last looked. It is a crazy rogue hair that grows much faster than regular hair so you have to constantly be on alert. It grows almost as fast as leg hair when you are surprised by a pool outing later in the day and hadn’t shaved that morning.

I would like to thank Grandma Shirley for passing on this random hair problem. I love her and am truly grateful for many of the traits and habits that she has given and taught us but she really could have kept this one to herself. I wonder if the new designer baby craze will allow us to find the rogue hair gene and squash it out. I will feel horrible when Bridget angrily confronts me with her first plucked chin hair and I will totally throw Grandma under the bus. Not literally, of course.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can blame it all on Grandma Shirley because this morning I discovered how true the anecdote is about how spouses start to look alike after a number of years. Yep, I blame Blair for the crazy long hair I found in my eyebrow today and I will tell you why.

Blair has a ridiculously long eyebrow hair, all the time, over his right eye. It is long and black with a white tip; it looks suspiciously like our former dog’s hair but I happen to know for a fact that it isn’t glued on. This rogue hair has magical powers that allow it to grow and grow and never fall out. It has been known to curl up over a stocking cap, down over his glasses, or stick straight out of his head like an antenna. Sometimes I can’t even concentrate on what he is saying because I am so distracted by the position of the hair. It is my mortal enemy and I dream about plucking it.

I’m not devious enough to pluck it while he sleeps because, let’s face it, that’s just mean. I have tried to sneak up on him with the tweezers but he is too quick for me. I have tried begging and negotiating but he thinks the eyebrow hair is the source of all his power. Like Samson’s long hair or Luke’s Force, he is strangely afraid to lose this one strand. I think he secretly grooms it to annoy me. It is working because I spend an inordinate amount of time plotting the plucking of one hair. Did I mention how distracting it is?

I have to admit that I’m a little concerned about what this eyebrow hair battle means for our future. Will his face eventually be covered by long, wiry hair that obscures his vision and impedes breathing and eating but he will refuse to pluck simply because I want him to? Will I spend the rest of my days obsessing over one hair on my chin and one hair in his eyebrow?

I am picturing getting the kids ready for big dates with a magnifying glass and tweezers, making sure there are no rogue hairs waiting to distract their dates from the intelligent and charming things they are saying. One more reason that I should never allow them to date.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I feel a hair on my chin.

The Poor Itchy, Sweaty Guy

Ever notice how the best intentions very often lead to the worst times? All too often, that is Blair’s story and it was true last weekend. I felt so awful for him and there was literally nothing I could do to help. Poor guy.

It started on Friday night when he wanted to watch a preseason Eagles game because he is mildly obsessed with Eagles football. He was pretty sure the game started at 7 and was hoping to be home by then. He called around 7 with the sad news that he wouldn’t be home in time and asked me to DVR the game. I checked the guide and informed him that there were no Eagles games scheduled. He sounded like Drew when I tell him he can’t go to the farm, dejected and sulky.

He got home around 8:30 and checked the schedule for himself and discovered that the game would be aired at 10:00 (I hadn’t checked that far, oops.) He was exhausted but made the decision to stay up and watch at least the first half and would DVR the rest; he didn’t make it past the first quarter. Thankfully he managed to set the DVR before he fell asleep but that was just about the last thing that went right this weekend.

On Saturday he hurried through feeding the cows, fixing a broken silo, and all his other farm tasks so that he could help a friend mow some crazy rampant weeds at his new acreage. He made time to stop and watch the kids swim for a few minutes, fed some more cows, then drove his big, green tractor out to mow weeds.

When he got home late Saturday night he was wearing just his shorts, socks and shoes, which isn’t all that unusual. Typically he walks through the house in various stages of undress no matter how many guests we have or even if we’re having a party. The strange part was that after shoveling some delicious cheesy bacon French fries into his mouth, he went to shower and came out and still didn’t have a shirt on because “it hurts to put it on.”  I tentatively asked if he had cut all the weeds by hand and was too sore to raise his arms to put a shirt on.“No, it itches, I can’t even lean back on the couch.”

Apparently, he was allergic to something in the weeds he was mowing and his entire body felt “on fire and itchy.” He did enjoy standing in the middle of the living room and rubbing a towel across his back and at one point was lying on the floor like a puppy trying to scratch a back itch. His eyes were all red and puffy, his contacts were so irritated that he couldn’t get them out fast enough, and he couldn’t sit back and relax. It was miserable and even a back scratch wasn’t enough to control the crazy itchy feeling.

Thankfully he was able to sleep and we were hopeful that Sunday would be better. Ah, again the best of intentions. He wasn’t able to put his contacts in to go milk the stupid cows at 4 am, but thankfully was able to clothe himself properly. After breakfast, he napped while the kids and I played until we woke him up to talk about going on a bike ride. Why oh why did I suggest a bike ride?

Sad, sad tears from Bridget when “myyyy daaaaaaady” left her again to finish some things at the farm and bring a truck home to transport bikes to a trail in Cedar Falls. We ate lunch then began to prepare the bikes for the long 10 mile trek to Cedar Falls. I had tied water bottle holders to the kids’ bikes on our previous trail ride and Blair was not impressed with my ingenuity. I came out of the house when I heard the drill and found him drilling holes in their bikes to screw the holders on.  The boys thought that was way cooler than my twine and shoestring apparatus…whatever.

Finally got the bikes loaded in the truck, everyone’s water bottles and helmets, and started driving. On the way, Blair mentioned that the gas tank in the truck was acting goofy (this is foreshadowing at its finest, by the way) and to remind him to get gas on the way home.  The bike ride itself went rather smoothly except for the sunscreen in Bridget’s eye that had her crying in Daddy’s ear most of the ride. Being the gentleman that he is, he offered to ride with Bridget so he didn’t have to listen to me whining about it.

We loaded bikes and kids back into the truck and Blair had the most genius idea ever; let’s get them ice cream before we go home. I am not being sarcastic, it was brilliant because tired, sweaty kids are bad enough without adding hungry and stuck on the side of the road to the mix. That’s right, the truck ran out of gas on the highway exit ramp and there we sat. Thank God we had fed them.

We had a couple of options at this point: call Blair’s parents to come pick us up, take another family bike ride down a ridiculously long, steep, curved exit ramp to the gas station at the bottom, or have one adult sit with the kids while the other rode to the gas station. I vetoed option 2 as too dangerous and Blair vetoed option 1 so he grabbed a bike and took off…for one pedal rotation before the chain fell off.

Honestly, I could hardly even laugh it was so awful. He fixed the chain and took off at breakneck speed….until his hat blew off. I could see him swearing from 100 feet away and just tried to occupy the kids so they didn’t see him stomping in the weeds to retrieve it. The boys thoroughly enjoyed watching Daddy speed down the exit ramp once he got that far while Bridget called “my daddy come back get me?”

In the meantime, I called his parents and asked them to pick him up at the gas station because I had just realized that he would have to ride back up the giant hill while carrying a gas can. I called to tell him the cavalry was coming and he said he would wait for them.  So, the kids and I sat in the hot truck with ice cream moustaches while I continually asked them to keep their heads inside the truck.

Suddenly Drew yelled, “There’s Dad!” Hard to contain two excited kids trying to climb out the truck windows because they hadn’t seen Daddy for a total of 15 minutes. No one is that excited when I come home…but I digress. Blair had decided it would take too long to wait for his parents and just rode back up the ramp to save us. I should have known he wouldn’t wait. Thankfully, the truck started right back up and we made it home without any further catastrophes

The poor guy, he just wanted to help his friend and spend some time with his kids and how was he rewarded?  And bless his heart, he would do it all again tomorrow.

Vacuum Bag Breeding Grounds

Are vacuum bags good breeding grounds? If so, I may soon be creating a new hybrid earwig-spider monster that will probably invade and take over my basement. Here’s the story….

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I were cleaning up the basement. We have a basically unfinished basement that I am trying to encourage the kids to play in. The Wii is down there along with the sectional couch that many of you would remember on site from my parents’ old living room. We have road map and color-block rugs on the floor and a variety of toys down there but I am still having trouble convincing the kids to play more than 5 feet away from me.

To that end, we were rearranging the toys and furniture in the basement in the hope that they would feel some ownership and choose to spend more time playing subterranean. As we moved the couch and some rubbermaids filled with even more toys, we discovered some earwigs and what Sam told me were earwig eggs.

I immediately resorted to my favorite cleaning tool, the vacuum, and quickly sucked up the offending bugs and their gross little eggs. Feeling very proud of my scream-less disposal of the yuck, we finished organizing the basement and waited for Daddy to come home so we could show him the fruits of our hard labor.

Again, Blair dispelled any notion I had that I was a quick-thinking bug destroyer and asked if I thought I had killed the bugs and eggs by sucking them into a warm, dry place where they wouldn’t get stepped on. Jerk. But since he didn’t go empty the vacuum bag, neither did I…which brings us to this morning.

Bridget and I went to workout in the basement and I noticed a large spiderweb that had cropped up since my last workout (don’t judge me) with even larger eggs suspended in it. Without giving it much thought, I grabbed my trusty vacuum hose and waved it frantically in a circle around my head to make sure I got every last strand of web. As I holstered my weapon I had a horrible thought. What if the earwig babies and the spider babies mate in the vacuum bag and hatch a hideous cross-breed with armor and horns and poisonous spider venom? Would we be attacked and killed by these hybrid creatures or would we suddenly wake up with insect super powers?

I had to cut my workout short to stop my mind from going to crazier and crazier places and inventing alternately scary and hilarious scenarios in which giant bugs erupted from my vacuum.  But I still didn’t empty the vacuum bag.

Twas The Night Before the First Day of School or Why I Love my Husband

I was a little mad that Blair wasn’t home before the kids went to bed last night since Drew was a little scared about his first day of kindergarten. But when he came in and sat down next to me and read this poem, that he had written while feeding cows, I lost all my resentment. The boys giggled their little brains out at breakfast this morning as I read it aloud.

Twas the night before the first day of school

And all through the house

Everyone felt crappy, even the mouse.

Dad still at the farm and mom in the shower,

I’d been laying in bed for over an hour.

Hoping and praying I’d fall right to sleep,

It never did work, that counting those sheep.

Then all of a sudden I heard such a clatter,

I sprang up from my bed to see what was the matter.

Finally, I made it to my window at last

Only to see a donkey eating my grass.

I looked a bit closer and saw something close to a stick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

I was very surprised when my eyes did see,

A red-coated fat man peeing on my tree.

I went to the front door and opened it up,

I scared him so bad he peed on himself.

Then he whipped around fast and peed on his elf.

As he jumped on his donkey and drove away fast,

I didn’t know quite what to think,

But I do know that the donkey’s poop sure did stink.