Category Archives: feminism

On Consent

Preschool, Spring 2016

“Mommy,” came the voice from the carseat, “[Classmate from school] was driving his truck into my foot. I told him to stop, but he didn’t.”

I opened my mouth and then, nearly as quickly, closed it in horror. A voice from my childhood almost came out. I almost responded to my daughter as follows: “Oh, he was only doing that because he likes you.”

Did you ever hear that? If you were a girl, and a boy in your class in preschool or elementary school pulled your hair, or tugged on your clothes, or, worst of all, snapped your bra-strap?

And how it progressed as we get older, to rationalize cat calls, unwanted kisses and touches, degrading name calling.

“He’s only doing it because he likes you.”

And here I was, about to tell a four year old, MY four year old, hey, when someone touches you in a way you don’t like, they’re only doing it because they like you. How fucked up is that? Not only was I going to encourage my child to give up her personal agency, but this little boy, who, I am sure, was simply being four as well and not observing his personal space, was also going to get a tacit lesson in his own ability to take up space. That he has the right to drive that truck wherever and into whomever he wanted.

These patterns. This is how young they begin.

You see the date on this post. This moment, this dialogue, this one second pause in responding to my child, has been whirling in my mind, on repeat, since last spring.

What did I say?

After I took a moment, endless to me but likely imperceptible even to my impatient offspring, I offered the following:

“If anyone ever touches you in a way you don’t like, you need to tell them, ‘Stop! I don’t like that!’ If they continue, and you are at school, you need to tell the teacher, or another adult. If the teacher doesn’t stop them, or if they don’t stop, you need to tell mommy or daddy right away.”

“Ok,” was the simple response. We continued our ride home.

About a week later, I came to school for pick-up. It was a beautiful day, and the kids were outside. Engrossed in play, my child doesn’t see me. I see a classmate run a toy into her. She fixes him with a steely glare, “Stop!,” she says in a loud voice, “I don’t like that!”

He scurries away. Mischief managed. For now.

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True Life: I have Mommy Brain

When I first became a mom, I wasn’t on board with this whole “Mommy Brain” phenomenon. I thought it was simply another label invented by the patriarchy to demean women who chose motherhood as a path.

Then, I had my second child and started waking up not only to feed a newborn but at the ungodly early morning hour my toddler gets up.

My brain literally fell out of my head. And pieces of it continue to fall out of my ears daily.

Mommy brain is a pretty patriarchal term for a condition that affects all sorts of people: continuous sleep deprivation. See, with my first child, I split nighttime duties with my husband. We were both working full-time, and that was the fairest way to make sure neither of us missed too much sleep.

Also, my first child was a sleeper. Kid slept. Kid STILL sleeps. No sleep training, nothing. She likes herself some sleep.

This second one? Not so much. And since I have been mostly home, and she refuses a bottle, I literally haven’t slept more than four hours at a stretch in eleven months.

And those four hours are generous when they happen.

Which leads me to a day like to today.

Preface: Last night my baby went to bed at 11 (uggghhh) my toddler woke up to pee at 1:30, the baby are at 3ish, the toddler woke up again at 6:15, went back to sleep, and we all got up at 7:30.

After successfully managing my two at the mall while we waited for an oil change, I pick up the car, load the kids in, load the stroller, and start driving home. I glance around for my phone-I can’t see it. It’s probably still in the stroller. I drive on.

Suddenly, the car behind me starts honking and gesturing. I look back and a kindly older man is pointing at my bumper. I loop around and pull over, almost causing an eight car accident. I roll down my window.

“Your phone is on your bumper!” He says.

Sure enough, there was my phone, trapped in my hatchback, sitting on my bumper. Miraculously, it was wedged in such a way it wasn’t broken but it also couldn’t fall out.

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

Just another day with mommy brain.

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True Life: I have Mommy Brain

When I first became a mom, I wasn’t on board with this whole “Mommy Brain” phenomenon. I thought it was simply another label invented by the patriarchy to demean women who chose motherhood as a path.

Then, I had my second child and started waking up not only to feed a newborn but at the ungodly early morning hour my toddler gets up.

My brain literally fell out of my head. And pieces of it continue to fall out of my ears daily.

Mommy brain is a pretty patriarchal term for a condition that affects all sorts of people: continuous sleep deprivation. See, with my first child, I split nighttime duties with my husband. We were both working full-time, and that was the fairest way to make sure neither of us missed too much sleep.

Also, my first child was a sleeper. Kid slept. Kid STILL sleeps. No sleep training, nothing. She likes herself some sleep.

This second one? Not so much. And since I have been mostly home, and she refuses a bottle, I literally haven’t slept more than four hours at a stretch in eleven months.

And those four hours are generous when they happen.

Which leads me to a day like to today.

Preface: Last night my baby went to bed at 11 (uggghhh) my toddler woke up to pee at 1:30, the baby are at 3ish, the toddler woke up again at 6:15, went back to sleep, and we all got up at 7:30.

After successfully managing my two at the mall while we waited for an oil change, I pick up the car, load the kids in, load the stroller, and start driving home. I glance around for my phone-I can’t see it. It’s probably still in the stroller. I drive on.

Suddenly, the car behind me starts honking and gesturing. I look back and a kindly older man is pointing at my bumper. I loop around and pull over, almost causing an eight car accident. I roll down my window.

“Your phone is on your bumper!” He says.

Sure enough, there was my phone, trapped in my hatchback, sitting on my bumper. Miraculously, it was wedged in such a way it wasn’t broken but it also couldn’t fall out.

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

Just another day with mommy brain.

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I’ll do the dishes, Dear. Go chase the children.

A fellow working mom posted this article in one of my Facebook mommy groups. Published in The Wall Street Journal, the article discusses how even though men and women now spend equal time in the workforce, their time spent on home tasks is still divided pretty unevenly. One mom echoed my sentiments exactly:

She didn’t really care that her husband did the dishes after dinner. Sure, it was swell of him, and she had friends whose husbands did less. But what she really wanted, at that point in her day, was for her husband to volunteer to put the kids to bed.

Until my second baby girl was born six months ago, my husband and I did split the hours worked in a week fairly evenly. My job, however, had much higher stress levels, a greater level of responsibility, and a (slightly) higher pay scale.

However, due to our hours, 4 weekdays a week out of 5, my workday ended with picking my daughter up and driving her home. It also started with dropping her off 2 days per week as well.

Let me tell you, there is nothing better after a stressful day than spending 45 minutes in the car with a screaming baby/ toddler.

I would then get home, feed, bathe, and get my daughter ready for bed. My husband would waltz in, play, and then she would go to sleep.

Now, my husband is more childcare oriented than many fathers. We trade night waking, he changes diapers, and my girls have “Daddy Day” each week when I work and Daddy is home. He even spent an evening in the NICU with my first feeding her expressed breast milk so I could recover for an evening.

But we have had these same breaks in labor as well. Sunday would come, our only family day, and my husband would want to rake the yard, or run errands. Alone.

I finally was able to communicate to him that no, shampooing all the rugs was not what I needed from him on the weekends. I need him to take care of the kid-now kids.

We really struggled with this. But now, things are different most of the time. Here is why: I went on vacation alone prior to the birth of my second child. And by vacation, I mean five days.

I recommend this.

Instead of coming home to dinner and a bathed and fed child, Daddy was it. He did both ends of pick up and drop off, worked a full day, had to come home and just keep on keepin’ on. You know. Like I did, every day.

Nothing can beat experiential learning for spouses. He finally “got” it.

Also shocking about the vacation experience-the number of people-and not just random people, people who know us-who asked me, “What will he DO while you are gone with your daughter?”

Ummm, you know, be her parent.

There are still times he defaults to old ways. Expectations are still often lopsided. Also, I do make sure he gets down time. Especially now that I am home with the kids 75% of the time, he now understands when I say, “I’ll scrub the bathtub. Chase the children.”

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Take Your Baby to Work Day

It happened. I brought my baby-and wore her-for two whole days of training.

It went really well.

First of all, I want it to go on the record that I have been blessed with unbelievably mellow, nice babies. Two of them. I feel this is arranged by the universe to give me time to recover between pregnancy (a bad scene for me) and toddlerhood (my first talked very early and her sister seems to be following suit. This makes the “terrible twos” extra exciting.)

But back to the whole “working while literally wearing a baby” thing-

I was very anxious. Anxious my baby would choose this one day to have an epic meltdown. Anxious I’d look unprofessional. Anxious the trainers really didn’t mean it when they said I could bring the baby. Anxious other parents would judge me. Anxious I wouldn’t learn anything because I’d be too distracted. Anxious people would think I was some weirdo breastfeeding militant. Anxious people would freak out about me nursing in public.

I should not have worried.

First of all, the other participants and the trainers LOVED the baby. I mean, most people like babies, but everyone thought it was great I brought her! Something different, I guess. People came to talk to me about their children and babies. Moms shared their nursing stories. People held her and played with her.

Secondly, she was a champ. I wore her in a ring sling almost the entire time (it was two eight hour days). I paced the back of the room with her, nursed her, gave her teethers. She nursed, slept, and looked at things. No crying. No fussing. I think she was pleased to just be with me without her sister smacking her on the head- I mean, “petting” her-while she was nursing.

Also, she listened to the training, so she is super smart now.

It was easy to pay attention with the baby because at this point, multiple distractions are my norm. Having only one distraction was peaceful. Also, I always get bored at trainings. With my companion, I wasn’t bored at all.

I have become fairly good at nursing in public. I am able to nurse my baby in the ring sling, which is useful to support her body without a nursing pillow. I wear nursing tanks and loose shirts, so my skin is covered. I pull the top shirt up, and the tank covers my stomach. I shove my nipple in her mouth and pull the shirt down so my breast is 99.9% covered. This level of access and modesty is what is comfortable for me. I do not use a nursing cover because I actually feel it calls MORE attention to the whole ordeal. Also, I like to travel light. I’ve had people actually peer into my baby’s face before they have figured out she is latched on and nursing. Also, I’ve covered her face while nursing for various non-modesty reasons (sun, wind, noise) and she hates it. Apparently, I didn’t offend anyone, and if I did, no one said anything.

There were a few downsides.

It was exhausting. The only thing more exhausting than being a working mom, I’ve decided, is working and mom-ing simultaneously.

My baby is not fantastic in the car, and screamed the entire way home the first day, and BOTH ways the second day. Stopping to feed, change, and soothe her did not help. This training was an emotionally and mentally challenging and depressing topic. My commute was an hour each way. The screaming almost unhinged me.

Lastly, I felt somewhat resentful. This is hard for me to admit, but I want to be honest here. I adore my baby, but I exclusively breastfeed her, and bed share. “Me time” is a sacrifice I willingly make as a parent. Giving up the time to soley focus on my career for a few hours was difficult. I had to “mom it up” while everyone else could just absorb knowledge and eat lunch and pee alone. It made me resentful at times throughout the two days.

Overall, however, it was very positive! I believe more women should ask about bringing their babies-nursing or not-to work related events if the event and baby’s temperament appear to be a possible match. I’m glad my day worked out for me, and to expand the idea of “working mom” a little bit further in people’s minds.

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One Giant Leap for Womenkind: I’m Bringing My Baby to Work

The story begins with An Opportunity and A Problem.

I was asked if I’d like to participate in an intensive training in through my job for a new, marketable skill. I said yes, enthusiastically.

I received the info and realized that including the commute to childcare and the training, I’d be away from my baby from 7:30 AM-6 PM, minimally. For two days.

The problem: my baby STILL won’t take a bottle. She will spoon-feed a milk/cereal combo, but it doesn’t fulfill her need to suck and she still gets very grouchy. She also rejects pacifiers. We haven’t pushed the issue because I’ve been able to accommodate her “addiction to the nip” as I call it. In one more month she can start solids and a sippy cup, and we will be in a better spot.

Also, one of my theories about kids is that they have their whole lives ahead of them to have schedules forced on them, to cry themselves to sleep, etc. Why start all that at 5 months?

I talked to my husband. We discussed options: risk epic meltdown of the baby, me not going, him bringing her to me the day he will be taking care of our daughters.

Or-

“What if I brought her?”

My husband encouraged me to call and ask.

So I did.

I left the craziest voicemail, explaining my problem, and that “I’m not a crazy mom who doesn’t believe in babysitters but I have this issue and can’t be away for eleven hours.”

I probably could have left this out.

I got the sweetest, nicest call back. That it was great that I had asked and proposed this. That it would be fun. That they had to check with the lead trainer, who was a mom with a baby, who would probably say yes.

And she did.

So, next week l am going to wear my baby to work and breastfeed her. She is mellow, so I’m thinking it will go well.

I was terrified to ask for this accommodation. I was afraid of looking like some nutty woman who couldn’t be separated from her baby. Which, while I certainly miss my children at times, isn’t me. Or like some wuss who couldn’t make her baby “do” something. But I was able, with support, to put these fears aside and just ASK. I mean, what was the worst that could happen-someone I’d never met would say “no.” Who CARES what she (or anyone) thinks of me? It’s what I need-and want-for my work/life balance right now.

Lesson learned: ask for what you need in the workplace, as a woman, as a mom, and as a breastfeeding mom, and you just might get it.

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Listening to the Universe

Sometimes, you just can’t force things.

While many mothers open up about their struggles with nursing-and just so you know, I’ve been there-I’ve been struggling with the opposite issue.

Despite starting early with her, and lots of practice, one day my daughter up and decided she would not drink from a bottle. And that was it. I’d go to work, and she’d wait and cry until I came back.

We tried many things. None of them worked.

As you can imagine, this is not a way to make friends with babysitters. Even if that babysitter is not actually a babysitter but your breast-less spouse.

And many mothers struggle with the work-life balance. As an until-recently full-time working mom, I’ve been there too.

In the midst of this feeding struggle, our regular childcare, aka “Nonna-care” got sick.

Frustration set in. How was I going to work? I had already gone part-time. “Part-time” is a generous description to describe how much I was working. Plus, my main caretaker was out for the count, for awhile, and my baby wouldn’t eat for her anyway, so now what?

After getting really angry (which, btw, solved a lot) I decided that the universe was sending me a message, and maybe I should listen to it.

This is a departure from my usual pragmatism. And a big hit to my need to “contribute” financially to my family.

Apparently, I needed to contribute to my family by spending a lot of time with my children. And by arranging an already flexible work schedule around my daughter’s feedings. And by strengthening a new friendship and sharing childcare for when each of us work. And learning, from this relationship, that this balance is tough but doable-and that I’m not the only one who struggles with self-worth, feminism, financial realities, and family.

Once I stopped raging against these situations, solutions slowly have-and continue to-emerge.

I’m learning to just go with it.

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WTF Weight Watchers!?!

Is anyone else offended by these new Weight Watchers Commercials?

If you haven’t seen them, and can’t be bothered to click the link (Confession: I rarely click links in blogs), here is the synopsis: Once upon a time, you were a little girl who believed in fairy princesses, and that “anything is possible.” Now, you are a big girl, and you should know anything is possible because…you can go on this new diet!!!

This is where feminism has gotten us. We apparently trade fairytales for fad diets. As grown women our realm of possible has apparently shrunk (pun intended) to wishing and working towards thinness.

I am particularly distressed because I have done Weight Watchers in the past, and it is a fair and balanced approach in an elimination diet world (I’m looking at you, Paleo).

It appears that whenever feminism takes a giant leap forward, such as with Lean In, or with Hilary Clinton completing a successful run as Secretary of State, or the Afforable Care Act increasing coverage for breastfeeding supplies and support, there is a backlash to keep women in their place.

Or was it not an accident that a book title about women’s leadership started with the word “lean”?

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