Saturday, January 25, 2014
I've also come to realize that what people put on Facebook, blogs and say in public are only the best 5% of what actually goes on in their day to day lives. The other 95% is full of messes, chaos, boredom, mistakes and TV watching. I think it's good we focus on all the good, beautiful moments, because we need those bright, happy moments to lift us up. It's where most of our thoughts should go. But then it can also create this very bad space where perceived reality, is very far from reality and comparing our worst to someone's best can hurt deeply.
A little clarification on some of what I wrote. I think it is unfair the lot that women are drawn in a typical traditional family. There is nothing wrong with being a homemaker. On the contrary, it is an extremely difficult, necessary and noble job, but when it is always expected and no alternatives are given, I find that a huge problem. I have felt very trapped. Part of that is my own doing. I should have taken the initiative to consider all of my options and consider that I might not want to be a stay at home mother. I should have kept going on with my education instead of following a rote path. Some of it is upbringing. There should be more talk of possibilities, praying and following what the spirit tells you. It's not fair that men must be the provider. What if they want to stay home? That's an even a harder sell than a woman in our church working outside the home. I'm sure that choice garners a lot of eyebrow lifting, pity or grown-up teasing. And it absolutely should not! Because they have chosen to do the hardest and most selfless job on the planet. I think that often is said in a patronizing way, but nothing could be further from the reality.
When I talked of not all men being required to do a certain job, because they were male. I meant to emphasize that it a great fallacy and injustice to expect all women to love and want to be a homemaker because they are a woman. Just like a man is able to both be a father and a teacher, so too can a mother be a mother AND something else if that is right for her and her family. The hardest thing about becoming a mother, was feeling like the old me had died and in her place was someone who had no other identity other than mother.
I'm very, very lucky because I have a fantastic husband who has done way more laundry in our eleven years in marriage than me. We work together when he gets home from work. He understands that we've both had a busy, hard day and that we both have to keep working to keep our home going when his "work day" ends. He gets up with the kids, he helps me put them to bed. He helps do the dishes, cooks, cleans, watches the kids and whatever else needs to be done. I'm spoiled and I'm lucky. Oh how I wish we had made millions and we could do this homemaking thing together twenty-four seven. That would be perfect. I would have fantastic company and a huge support day in and day out. But that's not ever going to happen for anyone. So what I wish for, is more of an open mind. An environment where each person male or female can do what suits themselves and their families best. And that roles are not dictated solely upon gender. That we all become more selfless and seek to put the needs of our spouse and our children above our own.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I grew up hearing many a Sunday lessons about my future role as a mother and how the best place and best career for me was being a stay at home mom. My mom stayed home and I loved it and felt bad for those kids who didn't get to have their mom at home with them. I grew up in Provo, Utah and most of the people I came into contact with were stay at home moms. Conversations always directly supported or had the implied expectation that the ideal for me was to work hard in school and get an education that could be a fall back to the ultimate goal of being a stay at home mom. This is what I thought I wanted. Staying at home was so ingrained and taken for granted, that I never, ever even questioned whether I would like it. I never thought about what kind of a life that would be, whether I'd be good at it and if it would make me happy. A career was a contingency plan: If I didn't get married. If my spouse died. If I got a divorce.
I'm so lonely being a stay-at-home mom. I love being around people and I've decided that mostly means adults. Not that I don't like kids, but somehow they just don't fulfill that deep social need for me. I don't like many of the domestic jobs associated with keeping up a house and making a home. I hate laundry. I hate cleaning. Cooking and sewing are about the only tasks I enjoy. The latter is no longer practical and instead expensive and a hobby which really isn't too conducive with me and children. And cooking looses a lot of it's pleasure for me when I have someone literally clinging to my legs and incessantly and indiscriminately crying. I never anticipated the constant weight of responsibility that never takes a vacations. There are no sick days. I'm constantly on call. There is no work, no where else to retreat to. I don't like playing toys with my kids. I wish I did, but I don't. My brain gets so dang bored. I am not a homebody. I get impossibly stir-crazy if I don't leave home at least once a day. And when you have a child that needs naps, you quickly learn that stir-crazy is better than dealing with a no nap child crazy.
But really I'm just surprised there aren't more Mormon women like me. At first I thought it was just because they wanted to fall in line with what's expected and didn't want to give the impression that they didn't love their children, but then I realized there really are a lot of women out there who legitimately like this homemaking thing. And maybe the ones that don't, are actually working so they aren't the ones at playgroup. But there must be others out there like me. It's like telling men out there, when you grow up you will all manage a fast food restaurant. And you will do it because you are male and because that's what you are best at and what you must do. Some men, would likely love it and thrive at it. Some would just be alright with it and some wouldn't like it. I try to console myself with believing that I'm just one of those who isn't a natural and doesn't love it.
So why don't I just go and work? Part of it is because by the time I had this all figured out, we had too many kids and my teaching job probably wouldn't even cover the daycare cost. We put all of our initial efforts into Russ having the big career and building a family with me staying at home. Hence, I stopped at a bachelor's degree, so I could work while Russ finished his bachelor's. Russ got the masters and I will wait to do it later. And even if I did have a job that would make daycare make financial sense, I still don't know if I would want to not have a parent staying home with the kids. I loved having my mom home and I want that same thing for my kids. I want to be there for them and if I am going to work, I'm going to work AWAY from home.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
I mostly frown at generalizations, but here goes one from my lips anyway: People in this area are mean. They say what they think and mean what they say. They have no problem letting you know exactly what you've done wrong, how it's effected them and how you should fix it. A poor little Mormon Utahn doesn't know what to do with all that naked honesty except have a good cry in the car after her first few trips to the Danbury Costco. But a year and a half later, I'm weirdly grateful for something being here has done for me: I've gotten a thicker skin, become more confident in who I am and saying what I really think. I still hope to be kind, sickly friendly and true to my British politeness roots, but I also hope to get better about being brave.
In the past, with my blog, I've very much striven to be open and honest with my feelings and I think I've done a good job with that. I try to portray my real feelings, my real life and not a glossy exaggeration of the happiest and most picture perfect moments. But I want to write more and write more honestly. So here is to writing consistently and even less censored. I'm crazy and I'm weird and I'm OK with that!
Monday, November 11, 2013
I was watching The Amazing Race today and I was saddened and disturbed by the teams visit to The United Arab Emirates. They flew in from Austria where all the teams were wearing your typical American fare, but upon visiting a mosque, the women were suddenly swathed in black from head to toe. I'm happy that they were kindly following custom and respecting religion and culture, but my heart ached as I watched them walk in with their male teammates who had done nothing whatsoever to change their appearance. My heart, once again sunk, for women around the world whose freedoms are few and based on their sex. One male teammate expressed his joy at his female partner "finally having to shut up" and that he'd like her better if they "could do the rest of the season in the mosque".
I want a world where both women and men and contribute their thoughts, talents and energy. I think we would be more likely to solve the many things which ail us individually and collectively. I want a world where both m
en and women are encouraged and expected to rise up to their potential. I don't want anyone to expect women to wear certain clothes or act in a specific way to save poor, stupid men who just can't control their thoughts or behaviors. I truly believe that men are strong, considerate and fully capable of focusing any "natural man" tendencies to their proper place.We insult and sell men short, when we do anything but expect the best. Every person is responsible for his or her actions regardless of someone else's behavior.
I want a world where men and women can embrace interests, passions, pursuits and thoughts irrespective of what is stereotypical of their gender. I want boys to play with dolls without teasing. I want girls to throw "like a girl" and for that to be a compliment. I want to be able to help lift boxes and move people in my ward, instead of always being expected to stay home with the kids or scrub the floors. I want more stories and examples of amazing females both in the world and out of the scriptures for my son and daughters to draw from.
Most of all, I want us to be kind to each other. I've been saddened by the reaction of many church members to The Ordain Women movement. Despite what you personally believe or what you believe the church doctrine is, we should all be kind. There has been a lot of hateful words and behavior toward people in this group. Of all people, we should know what it's like to be persecuted, made fun of and shunned for our beliefs and we should be the most understanding and the most compassionate. Mostly, because we as a people, we are trying to be like the Savior, we shouldn't be hateful and mean, but be Christlike.
I don't know where I fall on The Ordain Women movement. I know that I have had many questions about the past with women and the priesthood. I've felt discriminated against. I've been saddened by the gender generalizations and expectations. I know that I don't have any desire for any major leadership positions. But sometimes I think I would rather be the bishop, than the bishop's wife. My heart has sunk and twisted around as I wondered how to answer Gen when she asks why she can't pass the sacrament. I want to know what it's like to give blessings. I want to place my hands on someone's head, be surrounded by the spirit as I feel God's power and words flowing through me. But I don't know what's right and what God wants now and I'm excited to hear if and when the prophet gives us an answer. In the meantime, I will be kind and supportive to those who are brave enough to share their hearts.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
|The View from the Computer (taken in the AM)|
Out my window I can also see people milling about and going for walks on our sidewalks. I can hear my kids and what they're up to in the same open floor plan and I'm truly amazed at what a change of ten miles and a new house can do. I'm convinced the right lay-out in a house can seriously effect your life. I feel content with our new place and life is so much better.
I haven't blogged in forever, and much of that is due to the immense chaos we've experienced since coming home from Utah. There were job interviews, questions of Seattle or San Jose, house prospects being investigated here and falling through, and a camping trip to Maine and all the while packing and preparing for all of the various options that kept appearing and disappearing. We finally found the perfect place in Danbury, timing worked out and we knew we were coming here, but the night before we were moving, Uhaul cancelled our 26' moving truck and left us with no trucks big or small within an hour of our house. We scrambled until the wee hours of the morning calling every moving truck company. Russ went at 5AM to secure our only for-sure option, a Home Depot pick-up truck. Without our very kind ward members, we would have never made it out of our old place and into the new, in time.
The girls are easing into their new school and making friends, most of the boxes are unpacked and I go to bed every night so happy to be falling asleep in my bed in this house. So we are settling in once again and minus some other uncertainties in our life, things are calming down.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Today is the last day before I head “home”. But it isn’t home. I’m leaving home. Stew screamed no into the silence after I told Hannah that we were leaving tomorrow. Today Hannah cried because her heart was breaking. The first time she’s cried because it’s breaking. Not because she didn’t get a new toy or because I told her no or because she got a scrape. She cried because we are leaving tomorrow. My heart was slowly falling to pieces, but watching the devastation on her face, my heart burst. I don’t want to do this anymore. This can’t be worth the adventures. The money can’t be worth this sadness. I watched Gatsby tonight and once again the fruitless tragedy of pursuing the dream in New York was made gruesomely clear. We have never been about becoming rich, but we’ve aimed to be successful and to sacrifice for later. But maybe doing the world’s “smart” thing, isn’t really all that smart. Maybe it’s about getting to watch my children frequently visit my Nana. So she can grasp their hands, look into their eyes and with honest passion tell them how beautiful and wonderful they are. Maybe it’s going out to lunch with my Gammie and watching her cut up pizza and feed it’s cheesy goodness into a sweet great-granddaughters mouth. Maybe it’s not having the pit in my stomach, as I leave with dread that I might not make it back home again before they’ve passed. Maybe it’s about eating good food, going on walks, playing Wii and good chats with kindred spirits I’ve had in my life since I’ve been three. Maybe it’s watching my mom read to my girls or leave them fairy notes. Maybe it’s eating my dad’s homemade bread and hearing Hannah tell my Dad he fixes the best baked potatoes. I think a "successful life" is friends and family and maximizing those interactions. . .all that's left now is to do it.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Priesthood is defined on the Church's official website as:
"The word priesthood has two meanings. First, priesthood is the power and authority of God. It has always existed and will continue to exist without end. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power, He exalts His obedient children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man”Second, in mortality, priesthood is the power and authority that God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children. The blessings of the priesthood are available to all who receive the gospel."
We focused mainly on the first meaning: "The power and authority of God". We then defined what honor and uphold mean. Definitions from the dictionary:
verb (used with object)
13.to hold in honor or high respect; revere: to honor one's parents.
14.to treat with honor.
15.to confer honor or distinction upon: The university honored him with its leadership award.
16.to worship (the Supreme Being).
17.to show a courteous regard for: to honor an invitation.
verb (used with object), up·held, up·hold·ing.
1.to support or defend, as against opposition or criticism: He fought the duel to uphold his family's honor.
2.to keep up or keep from sinking; support: Stout columns upheld the building's heavy roof. Her faith upheld her in that time of sadness.
3.to lift upward; raise: The pilgrims upheld their eyes and thanked heaven for their safe journey.
b.to maintain in good condition; take care of.
We then discussed how we could respect/worship/support/defend "the power and authority of God." We talked about the ordinances (baptism, sacrament, endowments, sealings) that were possible because of the Priesthood. We talked about how we could better respect, defend and worship those ordinances. We talked about how the earth, the heavens and our bodies were created by the Priesthood and how we could better honor the earth and our bodies.
Much of the lesson time was spent talking about respecting and being kind to ourselves and our bodies which are "God's Supreme Creation". "Woman is God's supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good. Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth" (Our Responsibility to Our Young Women, Ensign, September 1988, 11).
I asked the girls to close their eyes and picture themselves getting ready for church that morning. What were they thinking about themselves? Were they admiring the way their hair was falling across their face? Were they pleased with how sparkly their eyes were as they smiled? Or were they instead picking out minor "flaws" and saying mean things about their bodies or their minds? I know I wasn't being kind. And I'm sure they weren't either. I would hazard that most of us disparaged ourselves. I then asked why we would think those things about God's supreme creation; why we would hurt and put down something that was created with God's awesome power?
For the next couple of weeks we are working on honoring God's power and more specifically God's supreme creation. We are specifically saying ten kind things about ourselves (physically, mentally or spiritually) as we get ready for the day in the mirror. We are also placing this quote ("You are creatures of divinity, you are daughters of the Almighty. Limitless is your potential. Magnificent is your future, if you will take control of it. Do not let your lives drift in a fruitless and worthless manner...Never forget that you came to earth as a child of the divine Father, with something of divinity in your very makeup. The Lord did not send you here to fail. He did not give you life to waste it. He bestowed upon you the gift of mortality that you might gain experience, positive, wonderful, purposeful experience that will lead to life eternal. He has give you this glorious church, His church, to guide you and direct you, to give you opportunity for growth and experience, to teach you and lead you, and encourage you, to bless you with eternal marriage, to seal upon you a covenant between you and Him that will make of you His chosen daughter, one upon whom He may look with love and with a desire to help. May God bless you richly and abundantly, my dear young friends, His wonderful daughters.") by the mirror and reading President Hinkley's empowering words. Be good to yourselves. Say nice things and notice/eliminate all the negative things you say to yourself throughout the day. You are God's greatest creation--you are His child. We all are, no matter our gender, color or personality. Don't mess with God's children, I don't think he likes it. Look in the mirror with us.
P.S. If you have some time, check out this conference talk about the Priesthood. I learned more about the Priesthood in this talk then I think I have anywhere else.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Hannah decided the cars looked the coolest and wanted to get them, while Gen thought that the light up, key-chain shoe looked the best. As we ordered, we were asked for whether we wanted the "boy toy" or the "girl toy" in each meal. Why do the cars have to be "boy toys" and why were the girl toys displayed amongst purple and pink cardboard hearts, peace signs and flowers? It was too confusing for the employee explaining that we wanted the "boy toy" and finally had to tell him that the Happy Meal was for a boy before he knew what to select. I bet Hannah is sure to pick that option again, if she had to be labeled as a boy in order to get it or hears us all refer to the toy as a "boy toy". Grrrrr. Why do we have to restrict girls and boys so much, but especially girls? Can't there just be two options and either gender is welcome to think either is acceptable?
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
On a particularly low moment of the winter, we had our house heated at sixty-five degrees on the main level, we were all bundled in coats and socks and the kids were complaining of the cold and begging to turn up the heat. I became a little over dramatic in my head and began comparing myself to some poor, struggling family huddling around a fire, dressed in rags, freezing to death. I start to cry thinking about how we can't even turn up our heat to sixty-eight and I spiral down into cursing the backward nature of New England. Yep dramatic, that's me. Don't worry though, now I'm wishing it was freezing again, but I'm not crying about it yet.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
|Fly Not Included|
Target has everything right? Not in Connecticut and not when they don't believe in "super" anything. I tried two workers before I found one that could do more than grunt at me and then I got more than an earful. I asked if she could tell me what isle the fly swatters were on. "Oh you don't want to kill them do you?!"
Umm yeah I do. Flies sit on poop and then sit on our food. "Yes, actually I do."
"Oh you don't have to kill them. You can just catch them and then let them outside".
Oh yeah, sure, in between Stew's screams, unloading the dishes and making dinner I'll just spend the next three hours leaping from couch, to chair to counter, trying to catch Mr. Fly in my hands. "I usually do take bugs and spiders outside, but I think a fly would be kind of hard to catch."
"I don't think it would be hard at all. Just open the door and shoo it out the door with a piece of paper." She starts pantomiming how easy it would be to set this fly free. I start wondering why I let it get to this point.
Why do I care whether she knows if I'm kind to bugs? Why am I wasting time getting a lecture on fly cruelty? But I still let her finish her peace, because that's the nice (chicken) person I am. At the end of the schpiel , it's confirmed, no swatters. I still haven't found one. Poor guy just died of starvation or was eaten by Luna. But, shhhh, don't tell PETA.
Friday, June 7, 2013
I studied psychology because I'm fascinated with people. With what we think, what we do and why we do what we do. I know that studies have shown how influential attractiveness is. How attractive people are automatically assumed to be good and kind. People with good looks make more in tips, get jobs and make more than their less attractive counter-parts. Problem is, I could really care less what I look like. I would much rather spend my time reading a good book or chatting with a friend than spending hours primping over myself in a mirror. I'd rather spend money traveling the world, than buying the latest designer spring fashions or having my thighs lipo-ed. But sometimes I try because I want friends. I want to be liked. Because that's what girls like. That's what you must do.
I also know the horrors of the relentless onslaught of beauty propaganda. I know that women are objectified, lied to and made to feel that their worth is no more than their dress size, designer clothes and flawless face. I know the awful lie. Yet I am fully entrenched. I waffle between sniffing, scoffing and sighing in sadness at those who run a million miles, talk incessantly about losing weight and shopping, and spend all of their energy chasing the ideal in fashion and beauty. But in the same sigh, I've already compared myself to these women and decided they are prettier than I am, they are skinnier than I am and consequently better than I am. My inner critic must tell me in fifty different ways, throughout the day, how fat I am, how terrible I am at dressing myself and how ugly I look. If anyone else said the things I said to myself, I'd hurt them. A lot. I don't even try to be friends with someone who I've determined is too beautiful to want to hang out with me.
That same dashing, alluring boy who liked me despite my shocking lack of fashion, went way beyond like and into love. He married me and he constantly tells me how beautiful I am. For years, I thought he was just being charming or kind, but lately I've realized he really does believe what he's saying. And I've committed to not discount what he says, but to believe. To really let what he sees sink into every part of me. Maybe I'm the one whose been seeing with distorted glasses. Maybe we all are.
What I know in the deep down, solid part of me, is that what really matters is who I am, not what I look like. That's what matters about all of us. We're all deeper than our skin and despite what imperfect human frailties lead us to sometimes judge based on what we see, so many of look beyond and into the soul. And those are the good ones. Those are the ones who you want as friends.
So often I see and define my body by what it looks like and I forget what is best and most powerful about my body is what it can do. It can take me on a fifty mile backpacking trip through the Uintas or take me through a hard-fought tennis game. My body can can swim through the ocean while gazing at the glorious, shimmering fish below. My eyes can cry with a friend or watch my children sleeping. My mouth can speak comforting words or witty retorts. My hands can type, write and express my truths. My whole body can love my husband. My brain can take me on adventures or give me hours of delight as I go birding or listen to an engaging lecture.
I will consciously point out to my children how wonderful their bodies are because of what they accomplish. I will put them in sports. I will encourage them to dance. I will refrain from vocalizing any misgivings about my own weight or appearance. I will stop beating myself up and start building myself up. And I'll stop getting in trouble for saying mean things about Russ' wife. (A little thrill goes through me every time I realize that's me). Will you do the same?
This article fired me up. Read it: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/wellbeing/8760102/When-your-mother-says-shes-fat
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
We're finally ready to fall into bed when we realize Luna needs to be sent out for a potty break. Upon her return, we're overwhelmed with an overpowering, all-consuming stench of what through the gags, seems like burnt rubber or a chemical plant that has burned up. Russ assumes that something bad is happening outside so he quickly shuts the door as Luna is circling and sneezing around our legs. I realize with horror that I know that smell close up. Skunk. Luna has been sprayed. I scream, "I think it's skunk. We've got to get her out of here." Visions of my childhood dog bolting into our house like she's possessed, rubbing on couches and every carpet in every room, is flying through my mind, but I'm paralyzed. I'm terrible in traumatic situations. Luckily, Russ still has the use of his limbs and is quickly ushering Luna up through the kitchen door. It's midnight by the time I'm tiptoeing around her poop, breathing through my mouth and guiding her to a new spray, of hose water and a rubdown with shampoo. After the first two washes I realize just a simple wash is never going to do it. I retreat back through the poop field and go in search of the marina sauce I had used for cooking club that night. As I'm about to begin the saucing, Russ calls for help from the basement. We've now got a frog hopping around as he's trying to scrub the carpets. Now we're gagging through skunk smell, baking soda drenched floors, running after a terrified frog. I make the catch, he escapes my grasp and I recatch him in mid-air before I get him out the door and into the bushes.
At two in the morning Luna is sopping wet, with a slight pink tinge looking very dejected as we shut her outside for the night. She still has an open wound from her surgery and we have to risk her going without the cone of shame, since it got the brunt of the spray. We abandon our summer residence in the basement, shed our skunk laden clothes and settle in for a less smelly, but sweltering short night of sleep. And Gen's birthday party is a day away. All hail to our darling dog.