Thursday, January 1
Reading April's blog -which is great, by the way!- and she has a great post from Dec 31 about reflecting on the past year and what does the new year mean. Here goes for my own responses to the same questions.
How do you think your life will be different one year from today? How will it be the same?
Oooh. Funny, I ask myself this often: did I know a year ago or three years ago or five years ago that I would be "here". Wherever and whenever "here" occurs. And never am I able to foresee the results! I suppose if I could do that, I'd be really rich and probably own a 1-900 prediction service ;p However, let's take a stab at it for fun and posterity. A year from now I predict I will be working at the same place but possibly in another position. A year from now I will be in the same home, same relationship, with one child and possibly (hopefully?) pregnant with a second if this hasn't already occurred by New Year's 2016.
What excites you about 2015? What makes you feel scared?
Starting fresh and new always excites me, as does moving into Spring. I love to get outside and to hard yardwork. Prune trees. Rake up thousands of leaves and clean out the flower beds. I love, love, love it. Scared? A zombie apocalypse. My fears are much bigger and uncontrollable/ universal catastrophes..
What is one new skill you want to learn?
Always looking to learn new things like reducing my hostility and destroying my inner demons, oh- and maybe if the opportunity came up... kick boxing. Just boxing in general. I think I would really love that.
What character quality could you work on next year?
Gratitude, patience, being QUIET and more empathetic.
What is one dream you hope comes true in 2015?
Just one more bebe. It would be so nice to have two kids..
Are you sad to see 2014 go? Or are you ready for the new year to be here?
Not too much(?) although the year in itself wasn't an awful year by any means. Certainly I have been through much, much worse. It was just a steady, slow grind with kind of a sad ending.
What was the happiest part of 2014?
Becoming pregnant again which I found out Thanksgiving weekend in October. It would have been so great; two kids exactly three years almost to the DAY apart. I was so thankful and so ready to go there.
What are you the most proud of accomplishing in 2014?
I think I did a great job this year helping some other people out with things they have going on, supporting them and also getting myself back on the wagon. I dropped 25lbs in the summer and really put myself into it. I think it let me recognize my own personal power. That's what I will continue to reach for is finding that within myself.
Sunday, December 28
The root cause of our unhappiness is our inability to observe ourselves properly. We are caught in our own perspective, unable to appreciate the many perspectives of those around us. And we are unaware of how insistently this way of perceiving drives us. Only through the uprooting of our own self-centeredness can we find the key to happiness. Buddhist meditation practice is one way to catch hold of this "me-first" perspective and begin to examine it.
Happiness, then, is the confidence that pain and disappointment can be tolerated, that love will prove stronger than aggression. It is release from the attachment to pleasant feelings, and faith in the capacity of awareness to guide us through the inevitable insults to our own narcissism. It is the realization that we do not have to be so self-obsessed, that within our own minds lies the capacity for a kind of acceptance we had only dreamed of. This happiness rarely comes without effort to train mind.
So what can we do to improve our mood and become more self aware.
Learn more about serotonin and dopamine and what you can do to help these levels.
Okinawa people live longer than anyone on the planet! What they do that you can do.
Gardening is good for the soul. Look at inner gardening.
Practice gratitude every day. Thank you thank you thank you.
Friday, December 26
I find it is. This particular December has been a little more difficult than others. It's just simply been plain out a disappointing, let down month. The first and second week I was dealing with the loss of this pregnancy as I just was about to crest into the 2nd trimester. The third week I was back into the throes of an escalating workplace which got an extra layer of drama smothered on top. And this last week really has been a week of feverish toddler plus intensely busy workplace plus last minute Christmas dinner preparation equals me running on about 4 hours of sleep per day. Today I spent the entire day preparing this excellent family Christmas dinner complete with appetizers and sadly my toddler's congestion was so bad I ran her to emergency. She is fine; horrible virus and she is consumed with frustration at being unable to breathe freely. But nothing life threatening or requiring any medical intervention.
I'm just kind of feeling like "so what was this all for?", now. Nothing panned out the way I thought it would- none of it. Not the pregnancy, not Christmas. Things that were supposed to be joyous had no joy. Funny I say this because just yesterday at work I saw a sticker on the floor that said JOY and I thought wow, that was meant for me to see. And yes it was. I just have to find the joy that is stuck to the floor.
Sunday, December 21
I don't normally recognize Winter Solstice but for some reason(s) this year I feel the need to take pause. It's been an emotional month. I tend to find this time of year a little tough anyways but certainly it was compounded this year losing the baby :( Brought up old negative thought patterns and self talk that I at least quickly recognized - just not before they took me to the Bad Lands for a long hard stare at the view.
Trying to concentrate on Christmas and getting a good rest on my upcoming vacation which was thankfully extended. One overnight trip planned for the Gulf Islands and otherwise will get in some daily beach trips with Ela. So great to be able to walk there from here and god knows the exercise will help in every way.
Great way to get in more sun too which is at a premium right now...
Love this guys post on Facebook -check this out.
Pat Regan, Facebook
"The modern Christian feast day of Christmas originates from the enormous storehouse of our ancient Pagan past. Any concrete date regarding the alleged Jesus Christ's birthday is unrevealed and even the gospels fail to specify the exact time of this mythical figure’s commencement. In fact such was the deception of the Church that the ‘official’ date of Christ's ‘supposed’ birth was only hatched up in AD 273. The early Church, enthusiastic to win converts from the old earth-orientated faiths, saw massive theocratical benefit to be gained by adopting this native midwinter festival. This shrewd spiritual ruse was applied with equal force to ALL our original Pagan feast days.The entire Christian year is surreptitiously grafted onto a much older Pagan agricultural calendar, which links intimately with the solar orb/seasonal cycles. Thousands of years before the Christian sect was first instigated, our Pagan forefathers were celebrating the joyful feast of the Midwinter Solstice. Universally, people honoured the Nativity of the 'Sun God' under his abundant titles and epithets. Midwinter marked the phase when the sun was at its lowest point in the sky. This reality was acknowledged and vitalised by the ancients as the time of 'New birth.' From now onward the days would grow lighter as the solar power of the great ‘Life giver’ amplified."
Tuesday, December 16
Death is Nothing at All
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.
Henry Scott Holland
I will forever feel the loss of you...
Monday, December 15
What's really interesting to me is (and I think was to Babba, too..) here is this phenomenally successful icon that is universally known, worshipped and revered and her last earthly concern is how many pounds her frame is.
The worst part is... I get it.
It comes from this terrible place of shame, when I stare at the feelings and really analyze my attachment to that same issue. I feel shame. I feel that I put my energies into so many other things above and before myself. I have a bazillion excuses for not exercising, not choosing the best food options or eating emotionally. Which I confess I do, absolutely. I bombard myself with food and drink to pacify inner sadness, which adds weight, which adds sadness, which adds weight, which adds sadness and so on.
The other part of the interview that was tough for me to ingest was Oprah's belief that had she chosen to have a family that her career path would have suffered and or her success today would have been unobtainable. I think this is a horrific injustice though, to uphold that glass ceiling that working mothers simply cannot do it all or be it all or that someone will suffer or be compromised if you opt for career success. Why couldn't Stedman have been the caregiver?! Oh, a thousand questions come to mind. Why can we not REDEFINE motherhood and why do we not dare to try. Why do we feel that we must choose one path or the other. Why do we feel that WE have to shoulder both all the responsibilities of parenting and the career if we opt to be the career mother? I am very disappointed to hear that she felt that this was her belief; especially a woman of such incredibly hard won priviledge with probably every conceivable access to help. And again, not that having children is everyone's thing. Certainly some of us are simply just aware that being a mother is just not something we naturally attune to. For me I will readily confess I have to try daily to tune in and summon patience for the simplest of things. But I also knew at the eleventh hour that I wanted to become a mother- suddenly, but thankfully.
The weight battle I will continue to work on a peaceful resolution. Maybe the new story can be that I walk so that I'm happy, so I walk, become happy, and I walk and become happy...
Saturday, December 13
Friday, December 12
Something about ORGANIZING things, spaces, rooms, putting things in their places and creating order from chaos that gives me great satisfaction.. Our bedrooms were absolute piles of clothes and blankets and toys. Stacks, piles, bins filled with mixes of this and that. Ugh. I did our room first. Got help moving our old 42" six hundred pound television into a better position. Moved all the clothes and stuff into more sensible locations. Took me all said and done almost 2 hours. Then I look at Ela's room and holy hell, how does a two year old create a debris field that big.. Another hour plus in there organizing a mountain of clothes into bins marked "too small" or "too big" and the ones that were "just right" I literally did not have enough drawer space for. Note to self to locate a better dresser on Craigslist that is a low wide one that would serve her needs better.
Once I got it all done though I tell you, I could sit and look around me and feel a greater sense of MENTAL organization. I hate to say that cleaning up is therapy but it is. It definitely helps give you clarity if you live in less clutter and crap. I have 2 filled black garbage bags with charitable donations and the back door has bag after bag of garbage for the curb tomorrow. And we are very very lucky to have clothes for Ela for literally I think the next 18 months of growth. In fact even in the boxes of "too small" are things she never even got to wear because again, she had so so sooo much clothing available since birth. How lucky we are and how thankful.
Organizing toys is another matter. Boy, do I appreciate toys that don't have stupid numerous pieces and things that get lost under furniture or found by vacuums. I think it's so important that have that rule in a small house that when things come IN THE HOME that things then LEAVE THE HOME. Continuous cycle of in and out so that clutter does not grow. I found a family on CL that put out a mayday asking for help for their 3YO daughter needing clothes and things. Certainly we will share our bounty this holiday season and pay forward our things. I do the same with toys and find people on there that can use and purged a good pile in the earlier Fall. Now the toy debris field is at a smaller more organized state although the number of VEHICLES the kid has to ride on or in is insane. A plane, a horse, a jeep, a boat and soon an ATV. Yeeeeeah for one 2 yr old.. I need a parking garage or some way to suspend them from the wall or ceiling so that the trip hazard element is reduced!!!!!
Glad to get back to some sense of normal through this today. Looks good (better, anyways!) and feels so much less frustrating. Amen.
Wednesday, December 10
Saturday, December 6
Tuesday, November 25
I remember when I was a kid, probably about 10 years old, swinging on the swingset at my elementary school looking at the Coast mountain range. I remember that one clear, Fall day looking around my world, taking in my domain of monkey bars and sandy playground, peering over the neighbour's horse pasture as I swung to and fro. Must have been the early 1980s- everyone had sticker collections and traded this glittery one for that puffy one, or E.T. stickers for My Little Pony stickers. Sipping on juice boxes, huddled in little groups against the white stucco school walls, hungrily flipping pages checking out every collection of sticker ever created. I remember that I thought right then about what would the year 2000 be like. How old would I be then? I counted in my little head how old I would be- 29 whole years old, I would be by then. Wow, I would be OLD! What would THAT world be like? What things would the year 2000 have?
Funny, but an oddly sensible thought to have had at that time and one that recurs for me from time to time. I was watching the late news the other night and they celebrated some birthdays for some seniors that had reached 101 years old. That was my moment of reflection- the moment that made me think "what did SHE see in her lifetime?" Think of all the amazing, amazing changes that happened over her lifetime from 1913 to today. Starting life in a place that likely had no telephones. No televisions. No refrigerators? No deep freeze - would they have had a radio!? Good lord! Truly the changes that have happened with technology in 100 years are mind boggling and I think wow, what will my daughter see over her lifetime. What will her hundred years be like? Or mine? Or yours?
If we look not just at the technological advances but the human advances in that time- medically. Socially. Economically. What did WW1 and WW2 change for that 101 year old and what impact will the wars in Iraq, conflicts we have seen with Hussein, with Bin Laden, this fighting with Isis- what will those do to shape our world in future years? Border security, privacy laws, terrorism- these are all very new realities for our generations.
I'm a little behind, admittedly, because I just recently watched the first Hunger Games movie. Someone commented how similar it was to Logan's Run and sure, there are actually several literary references that we could argue have similar futuristic story lines that touch on oppression or restriction, regimented living and dictatorial rule. Stories of dystopia. I watched the HG thinking truly, if my frame of reference was that of someone today from a third world country looking at first world conditions (living in excess, food waste, our entertainment world) we must look like those colorful masses of high fashion people living the high life while the others toil and struggle for day old bread if any food at all. We live at their mercy. We serve for their entertainment. They watch us on TV. Don't we do this? Don't we watch news story after news story of famine, disease and natural disaster and tsk tsk that those people have it so hard? It's an ever changing world. Where is it all headed? What will we see?
Tuesday, October 14
I used to write daily, sometimes multiple times! I love writing, yet time has gotten away from me and new responsibilities have changed my life's landscape.
Today, though, I put the toddler to bed at a reasonable hour and plugged in the laptop. I blew the dust off it and started Connecting to things that I needed to connect to.
Lately I have wanted to email certain people; those that have had a specific impact on my life in times where what they said or did made a real difference in my life. In my Blogger reading list I have a NLP site that I really enjoy and this post suggested that for ten minutes, I use my time to do something meaningful. And so I did.
Funny how, if you just take that quiet time that you are given and put down the smart phone, turn off the tv, sit in the quiet, that you suddenly find (okay, CREATE!) the time you need. We so unnecessarily inundate ourselves with media- all forms of media. Recently I called up my cable company and reduced my available channels to very basic options. I made some lists of "things I would like to finish around the house". I charted out my financial picture over the next 2, 5 and more years with thoughts that detail what I would like to see materialize. Finally I started thinking about the Law of Attraction and how I so rarely take those 10 minutes every day to really develop and connect myself to the things that matter.
And the people that matter.
And the message that matters.
Friday, June 13
Tuesday, June 10
Friday, April 11
Tuesday, April 1
Friday, January 10
Wednesday, January 1
Thursday, December 26
Saturday, December 21
Monday, December 16
Everyone around me (ok, and me?!) is really experiencing or really recognizing that they are in a state of self-induced sadness. Shit is happening and everyone seems to be knee jerking and saying WTF! This sucks and I did it to myself! Mother Tucker!
Started this morning with a theme of Self-Importance and continued in the afternoon with a few more raw emotions I found Here and There. It made a tough day because I really like Here and There is such a great person too. But they're both really angry about Life's Injustices- rightly so- yet we are all fairly powerless against Them.
Sometimes you make lemonade and sometimes you suck on a lemon. It jess aint fare.
Anyhoo, one glorious ray of light today arrived in my home mailbox. Three beautiful handwritten notes- two by my very brilliant and caring nephews. One by a very articulate and thoughtful six year old and another by his almost-nine yr old brother. They wrote:
Dear Ela. I know you are small. And you cant speak or understand you. But I love you. And you are smart. Love Milan.
Dear Ela. what do you want for Xmas? I want a Ipod touch. How are you doing? I am felling great. You are growing so much. Love Mischa.It's pretty hard to feel any sadness when you read these and hold these had written letters in your hands and realize the thought and effort taken by these great little heroes. And so much love and thanks to their incredibly thoughtful Mom who also took the time to write. You can't give a better present to anyone than this simple act.
You guys are beautiful.
Saturday, November 30
Friday, November 29
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Friday, November 22
Thrifty Fun suggests a lot of great ideas like affirmation jars or thankfulness jars, job jars, jewelry or bathroom organizing. I kind of like the gift-giving idea where you layer your ingredients for homemade cocoa in the jar, top with marshmallows and seal it with a funky cork or washcloth topper and raffia twine. Or same idea but inserting dry bean or pea soup mixes with recipe card.
I've also washed, dried and spray-painted tin cans, using them for planters and seedlings as well as for nesting containers for Ela to learn and play with. She stacks them and puts them inside each other- cheapest toy ever =) They look fabulous spray painted. I used glossy red, teal, lime green and yellow.
I've been really cheaply painting my kitchen using Home Depot's mistints. They almost always have little $1 oops containers in various colors. I've been collecting them all summer. I have all sorts of blues, pinks, oranges, etc. but I have had them retint their mistints (free!) to browns which are almost always useful and neutral. Anyways for about $5 I painted all my base cabinets in my kitchen by mixing my mistints into a cool brown mahogany purply color. I quite like it. It at least cleans it up from the mess that it was before!
Anyhoo if you know other ideas for recycling pls let me know. I'm exploring ideas!
Tuesday, November 19
Wednesday, November 13
Tuesday, November 12
Saturday, November 9
I have had a bazillion discussions (ahem) with my spouse about how we CHOOSE how we feel. I have tried my best to explain that everyone CHOOSES to get angry, sad, anxious or whatever.
Nobody MAKES me mad- I choose to react in an angry way when someone says something that hits a nerve. But I could also choose to ignore it.
Nobody makes me sad- I choose to accept an insult when one is aimed at me. Or, I choose NOT to accept it because it is only ME that is insulted if I choose that accept those words.
I have learned this year that semantics are everything.
They are everything.
If you say "You're bad" when you mean "Your behavior is bad" these are entirely different statements. Is the person bad? Or is what they are DOING bad? Important differentiation.
"I hate you".
"I hate what you are doing".
See what I mean? Totally different.
"You piss me off". (also "You make me angry")
"What you are doing pisses me off".
Actually, you chose to react in either situation. You chose your feelings.
Know you have power.
Power in your words, power on your CHOOSING how to react.
Use your power. Use your choice.
Friday, November 8
My all time two favorite bra burner videos OF. ALL. TIME.
Ok and this video's another all time fave just because I love the dance off.
But seriously. I post them because recently I received my Oxfam newsletter where they ask you 'Hey, Can you give money to people in other countries that don't have what you have?' Of course you can. I don't care what situation you are in. We have a lot where we are. I can go without something for you in a third world country. I can. I can cut back more. I can. I can share what I have with you.
I can tell you clearly- definitely- that I have been keenly curious about women's rights since birth. It's no lie. I have questioned why my mom was at home. Why my Nana was nicknamed PET by her husband. Why my Nana was pulled from school in her teens to care for her mother who fell down the stairs. Why my Mom read me books that were about female heroines- about women who rose to the occasion all the time. In my 20s she gave me a book called LEGENDS about various women through history who changed world events. I also purchased books by Emily Murphy. I get it. I have seen what has transpired for my Nana, my Mom and what is in front of me and my daughter.
What if I had been born in... Ethiopia in 1973? Or Iran? Anywhere else? Why I came through into this world where I did was shit luck. Nobody gets to choose their existence or experience in this life. It is not their choosing or fault that they face the challenges they do.
And is it strange for us to realize that girls in other areas of the world have it worse? Certainly they do. We sponsor a girl in the Philippines. She is six. Her name is Christine. I hope she is okay in light of the recent storms and I will write and ask her. I'm going to send her a necklace in the mail for Xmas. I want her to know that someone somewhere far, far away is thinking about her.
So- do yourself a favor. Consider other people's experiences. Other childhoods. People who are immigrants. Know that they have different references than we do. Different commitments or priorities. And regardless- one woman to another- we need to support each other.
Thursday, October 31
Remind yourself everyday of the people and relationships for which you’re thankful. Whatever method you use, be grateful for what you have.
1. Love the one you're with.
5. Give a larger tip than usual.
6. Look people in the eye.
7. Smile and mean it.
9. Be patient.
10. Give thoughtful gifts.
11. Surprise the one you love.
12. Send a thank you note.
13. Give a good hug.
15. Acknowledge the negative parts of your life.
16. Give your dog an extra long walk.
17. Call a friend that needs to talk.
18. Donate more than you’re comfortable donating.
Sunday, October 27
But do you ever think about the POWER of those words?
What does it mean to say that "YOU SHOULD"? What is the power behind that phrase? It wasn't until I went through therapy this year that I was asked to look at that. It's something I said to myself constantly. "SHOULD" is the s-word. Should says that you are expected to do or be something that you are not. Should says that you aren't doing it currently, but geez you are supposed to be! Boy, you really aren't at your best, are you? You SHOULD be more. You SHOULD be better. Yikes! Behind the word should is often a belief or decision that you may want to question. When you say this S-word, ask yourself what you felt you SHOULD be and why did you think that?! Who says!? Who told you that you SHOULD?
Let's look at when we say it. Sometimes [if it's a task that you were given] you'll catch yourself saying damn! I should get that done! Really you're saying shit, I forgot about that! It's on my list! I better get to it before I forget. It's still a demand on yourself. It's still an expectation and something you're supposed to do although perhaps a legitimately time sensitive issue. Should is a future task that asks us to do something soon or in our future.
It's when we use should towards ourselves that we need to examine what we inwardly said, thought or felt that it can be questionable.
If we look at Should's cousins- WOULDA COULDA- we're travelling on a similar path. Woulda is the power-less version of Shoulda. Shoulda feels bad because he couldn't do it or feels he NEEDS to. He woulda but he just isn't able. It's not possible, he just isn't capable. I wistfully wish that I could be or do enough to have done it, or been able to achieve it, but I just wasn't capable or didn't think of it. It's always a past issue. I would have done X but I did Z. If only I'd had XYZ then I could have done ABC. It's a sense of lack. A sense of regret.
How about "Could"?
I could have this if I just... I could be this if I just... I could do this if I just... This could be great if... This could be terrible if... It could have been better. It could have been worse. Could is that silly space where we consider the possibilities that didn't occur, or that may occur if we consider them.
My therapist asked me to pay close attention to how I use my words. I'm famous for self-deprecating language and saying things to myself or at myself that can totally undermine my own personal efforts. Someone will ask me how my day is and I will answer "ask me later!".. like I haven't decided how it is yet! Or I'll tell myself that I should be finding more time, or that I would have more if I just did this, or that if I could just settle for less-or if I could have more- that I would be happier.
Semantics are everything.
You better believe it!
Saturday, October 26
In my twenties I had decided quite vehemently that I would NOT have kids. I felt that too many people did it for the 'wrong reasons' or did not put enough thought into it. I felt the world was over-populated. I felt that I should have the RIGHT to not have children. More than anything I really wanted to make a decision that was... somehow not expected, not "normal", not 'what everyone else does'. I had gotten married at 23 and within months everyone was asking "so when are you having kids'. Of course this pissed me off. Was I expected to do so? Is that what women are SUPPOSED to do, is get married and make babies?! What frickin year was this, what an archaic stupid question!!! Being asked all the time only made me more and more irritated about what was expected of newlyweds and I said HELL NO WE ARE NOT HAVING KIDS! Meanwhile my sister and brother went ahead and had children and watching my sister's belly grow I thought omg I am DEFINITELY not doing that! It looks terrifying! How the hell can your body get so large and pass a baby through your ... oh lord, I didn't even want to think about how much that would hurt. Why would I want to do this? I was terrified of the whole process. Again, cemented my convictions NOT to have kids.
Into my mid and late thirties my relationship began dissolving (for other reasons) and I began concentrating on my career. By 36 I was divorced, moved into a new relationship, moved into my career (leaned into my career) but I began thinking about whether I was all that committed to my previous beliefs about not having children?
In my new workplace I was surrounded by other women who were within my age range (36-40) who were suddenly pregnant AND in management. I quickly realized hey, maybe I *CAN* do both? Maybe it's not a choice between having a career and a family(?) One of the women had a stay at home husband and the other was a SINGLE woman who found herself pregnant but had her mother's support. My spouse was a part time worker who would prefer to be home, and so I found myself thinking about whether starting a family could be a possibility in the near future? Maybe I should think about whether we wanted a baby? Or was it too late? Or was the "right time" finally coming? I had other considerations as well, like my spouse was an only child and both parents were passed. It left only him. I thought maybe I was being selfish deciding not to have children- what if he wanted one? What if he *needed* a family and a sense of belonging?
By age 38 -in the Spring- I had been transferred back to my home province within a few hours drive of both my parents and my sister. By late Fall in October I found out I was pregnant. I spent my pregnancy affirming that my body was made for birthing and certainly if my other friends were able to do this, then certainly I could. I said to myself regularly that I was in the right place at the right time and this was going to turn out great.
It absolutely is a huge decision that involves a lot of humming and hawing. People say having them early means by the time they graduate then YOU have time for yourself earlier. But my argument was that then you lose your 20s and 30s to child rearing, don't have your career established yet, probably have a little more financial stress buying a home, getting everything going in your life. Then others say having them later in life when you DO have your career established, are well into a mortgage etc, that you are "too well rooted' in your personal routines and lack energy to chase after a baby. Personally I feel like things worked out for the best and that waiting until my later years was actually perfect ...for me. I didn't feel that my "routine" was altered. In fact in retrospect I think wow, what the hell was I wasting my time on before this!? Suddenly I find hours available in my day to play with my busy toddler daughter, grocery shop, work & commute 11 hrs a day and somehow find a few minutes for me and my spouse.
So is there a right time? Are you ever 'prepared'? I don't think you are, or that there is a perfect time, but having said that- ANY time is the right time and you will find that when you do have your child (if you choose to do so) that you suddenly were prepared and you always were.
When I was really young and beginning to read my mom would read us her favorite books from childhood, which were cloth-bound and written in the 1910-teens. The books were series about girls, written FOR girls of that time period. They were her mom's books from her childhood, and so I found them exceptionally intriguing. The books were usually about a heroine who got into various predicaments and with the help of her skillful friends, she would overcome them or solve the mystery. (I'm sure you instantly think Nancy Drew but this was a generation before she came out) No, these were about a young girl sent away to camp, or an orphan girl sent to live with a relative, or some similar type story to Sarah Crew. At any rate it was not until my adult years that I realized that these girls in 1910-ish were extremely progressive for their time. Some had paying jobs, or some form of independence and certainly a rebellious streak that often resulted in trouble. If we look back at this time period the Suffragette movement itself was only beginning and for women to have any such rights like employment or independence were certainly questionable at best. One of our heroines was even an actress who had "love making scenes" (gasp! involving KISSES with a male actor!) What a harlot!
Anyhoo, I'm glad my mom read us these. It made me see that a not-so-distant history had a very different lifestyle for girls than the one that I was afforded in the 1980s when I was growing up and reading these. It made me notice that my Nana was called "Pet" as a nickname from her husband which I thought that was pretty weird and a little derogatory, although my mom when questioned said it was an affectionate name. I just hadn't ever HER call my dad that and couldn't help but note that it wasn't shared female to male(?) Nana never called her husband anything other than "Dear"...
Recently I read LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg. I found about a bazillion things in her book that made sense to me,or that I related to. Her Nana was called "Girlie" so not too far off from "Pet". She noted that women lean BACK when contemplating career paths, as though we have to choose between being a mother and continuing a career. In fact when I was dealing with my post partum I read a book called "I didn't know it would be like this" which also discussed the gender roles and how women face impossible odds quantifying their decisions to either lean back or lean in to their careers or families, or try to balance both. The simple truth is regardless of which you do, you are screwed. Selfish if you continue a career, and lazy or inept if you choose to stay home or work part time.
Being a new mom to a girl I have definitely noticed my feelings about women's rights, or equality, about the world she is going to grow up in. I've seen young girls in the news commit suicide over bullying and being blackmailed by their peer boys to email or message compromising photos of themselves. I think -what can I do as her guardian to guide her through all this?
Last week my mom said enthusiastically that she wanted to buy her a toy oven for xmas. I kind of groaned and said yno, I would prefer a less stereotypical toy, maybe something less gender oriented? I pointed out a cute ride on Jeep (although pink...) for her instead. Mom said "or maybe I should get her a hammer and nails?" Good lord let's swing the other way completely? Sure or how about you get her a toy chainsaw and a red and black checkered jacket!? Wth. How about neutral, like a counting book or alphabet learning something?!
Just released in the news is this report GENDER EQUALITY INDEX where Canada ranks #20 in the world for equality. The States is behind us as #23, the best are Finland and its neighbours, and the worst are Chad, Pakistan and others at the bottom. I'm not entirely shocked but I am thrilled to see the report point out that it is the MATERNITY leave support that makes the difference between the BEST countries and North America. Specifically the policies in place are
Although I'm lucky to have 16 weeks paid from my employer for mat leave I confess I felt this was quite inadequate. Had I been a nurse, teacher, police officer, or even a Van City (bank) employee I would have received much more supportive maternity leave benefits for a much longer term. To boot there is no easy integration back into the workforce, you simplyt return to your regular pace, regular job immediately with the expectation that you have then retained your "prior self" somewhere to pull out on demand. (As if !!!!) But you know, had I had the option I would have loved to come back in a graduated basis EARLY to keep my head in the business, give me a much needed break from my changing home-life and effectively create a balance as I returned over time to normal hours and duties. How life changing would this have been for me.
It's not my employer's fault that we do not have these tools in place. This is society-wide. Certainly it's far worse for my female counterparts in the USA who have virtually no PAID maternity leave benefits in their social net although they are generously allowed a full 12 weeks UNPAID to gather themselves back up. Thanks, Uncle Sam!
For all the advancements we have made there are still so many to overcome that we will certainly not see in our lifetime. I can only journal my experiences for my daughter to reflect on in her baby book where I write everything that I feel will serve her at some future point.
Speaking of society wide- just LOOK at the commercials we see for toys and products for young girls. OMFG. It makes me cringe. How about a BOY getting a stove for Xmas? I mean, he has loads of MALE CHEFS to point at to say hey; it's cool to be a cook. But will we ever see commercials of a boy cooking at a toy stove!? RIIIIIGHT!? Girls commercials are all about looking pretty, or household chores, etc. Hell even commercials for women MY AGE suck badly, and I point to the Cascade Kitchen Counsellor ones here!!! Two sisters fighting over their clean house or dishwasher as though this is what establishes our WORTH is how effing clean our homes or dishes are?! WTF is that?! Even the counselor is female, because it's women who talk about feelings, right. For the love of the small children.
Guys commercials- AXE deoderants and body sprays. Sexual attraction ads. Or the KFC commercials where Husband goes in and accuses KFC employee of hitting on his wife through their deals on food. Like he owns his wife and is asserting his territorial rights over her or something. Yeah, it's everywhere.
Watch for it, note it, think about it.
Then question it.