Why Feminism…

….because as idealistic and naive as I used to be, I see the world as it really is – and it breaks my heart.

….because now I worry that my daughters will face obscene abuses that have been shushed and quieted for too long.

…because I have had to deal with systemic sexism for my whole life.

…because I was raised by a woman who doesn’t understand feminism, who pushed finding a boyfriend over finding myself.

…because I don’t want my son repeating that he is so glad he isn’t a girl, because girls have babies.

…because I genuinely believe that all three of my children are capable of achieving their wildest dreams – but I know my son will have less to prove and easier time accomplishing his goals.

…because I love people and I want us to love each other.

Gramma

Today I awoke in a state of humble gratitude. Well, actually one of my cats woke me up, mewling to get out of my room to eat. I lie in bed a little longer, appreciating the bright yellow glow I felt illuminating from my heart.  It’s Friday and I didn’t have to rush. My children are out of school; they could sleep in a bit longer and awake to spend the day with their grandmother.

The mother of the father of my two eldest kids has been my greatest blessing, apart from my children. She loves the three of them wholly and has never treated any one of them differently. Even when her son and I parted ways, in the face of my indignation and confusion, she soothed me from afar and quickly became my champion.

For ten years, she has helped me in any way that she can – to include sending monthly child support when her son couldn’t. She has come for yearly visits, often staying a month at a time and lavished them all with a gentle, ferocious love. This woman is dedicated to her family, no matter where they are or what they do. The love I’ve seen extended to her sons and her mother also extends to me and my children without variance. It is humbling to be part of her family.

My children’s grandmother doesn’t run from adversity or difficult situations.  This woman has faced cancer and beat the damn thing, while finding some way to laugh at all the ridiculous ways God has challenged her in her life. She tells me often that I never had to let her be apart of these kids lives, that I never had to accept her, to talk to her, and that I don’t have to let them go with her this summer. She tells me that it would be understandable if I had cut the lot of them out without a second thought.

On this, I will always adamantly disagree.

You don’t spend your life searching for love only to reject it when it shows itself. You certainly don’t deny children the experience of being part of a family that embodies the values you, yourself, hold dear. By society’s standards, I’m sure it would have been acceptable to disallow her involvement. But by my own standards, it wasn’t.

This is not a superficial relationship, the one between my children and their Gramma. With them she has invested real time in learning and accepting who they are, in solving problems large and small, and in remaining firm in the boundaries we agreed upon together. Our intentions are the same: ensure the kids are happy, healthy, and loved and that they grow up into decent, respectful human beings.

 

 

The In-Between

Rarely do I start a post knowing what the title is going to be, but today is different. I know you don’t know that I chose my title before beginning the meat of what I want to say, but I knew the essence anyway. And this rambling here, this is only because I’m not sure how to begin at all. Do I start with a cute anecdote or dive right in? No, this intro will do.

My mornings are very routine. After driving an hour to work, I sit at my desk and I open both my work email and my personal. Whatever I didn’t get to yesterday afternoon at work is perused and relegated to a checklist, which I’ll tackle throughout the day. In my browser, CNN, MSN, Yahoo!, Facebook…typical, I think. I look around to my cohorts – their screens are similar. All is as it should be.

In my personal email, I read the Daily Skimm and when I have the pleasure, a Lenny Letter. Skimm keeps me briefly updated the most current and relevant news on an international and national level. The Lenny Letters – so named for the co-creator Lena Dunham (fantastic, fantastic, fantastic) – are gorgeously written essays by women of different background with similar political and personal agendas. It is an authentic feminist forum with a markedly positive message.

It was today’s Lenny Letter that got me thinking about how in-between everything I am. Jami Attenberg wrote an essay about being a writer in New York, her view of the skyline and how, over three years, it had all changed. She casually noted how varying the income of a writer is and how she had thought she would never own a home (until she did). It started me thinking about how I have seemingly accomplished all the trappings of a very nice life for a very nice family. It’s all very nice.

As nice and quaint and cute as it all may be, as Americana and traditional and predictable as it appears, I am becoming evermore cognizant that it lacks authenticity. It is the voice that never quiets – the ghost of my childhood self who would never compromise her truth for a paycheck. She is relentless.

The call to write is growing louder. I read my books, I take in bits and pieces of knowledge, I write this blog, I bend to the beckons of my poems and stories when they call. But I admit I am distracted. I am distracted by providing for my children, by increasing my workplace value, by continuing to create a life that does not reflect my artistic nature to benefit three lives that never asked to be, yet are.

Practicality is the only reason I continue to be an in-between. It is impractical to abandon my career and force my children to raise themselves. I won’t damn them to figure out the world alone.  I am building the skills and the tools to eventually crossover from this gray area and into my golden animation – but for now, and for the sakes of my children, this is the way it must be.

Don’t Lose Heart, Little One

Honesty, vulnerability, and kindness are the trinity that rule my home. When you’ve got a situation where kids outnumber adults (3:1), I learned pretty quickly that the best way to get all of us to work together is to be honest, even when it hurts and always try to be kind to each other (my youngest is naturally the kindest of us all). It can be difficult when you’ve got an emotional, imaginative (see: Pisces; Cancer Ascending) middle child (who happens to be the only boy) combating with a somewhat inflexible, protective (Capricorn; Pisces Ascending) older sister. The most effective diversion tactic for an argument? Ten pushups and a 45 second hug. It only takes about 15 seconds before one or both of them to start smiling and the transgression is (mostly) forgotten. They are who they are, individually, and we’re working to find a way to coexist amongst our differences.

My first baby is tweening right now. She’s ten, so we’re barely approaching the event horizon, but the hallmarks are there. She has questions about the world, the town in which we currently reside, and people. Continue reading

Seek Out Your Guides

The M word has a strange affect on people. Whether you are or are not one seems to bring a certain level of shudder-y and ickiness to the room once the topic is broached. Of course I’m talking about Millennials (or Snake People, thanks Google…); those people born between the years 1980-2000, who feign nostalgia about the 90s, and are bringing a major wave of attention to environmentalism, feminism, cultural appropriation, race issues, and accepting our mass differences by rejecting labels, boxes, and conformity.  These are not new ideas, not at all, but we are more vocal about the changes that need to occur than maybe our parents were.

Continue reading