Category Archives: raising girls

Ladybro 2018: Travels with Myself

Overheard on my FaceTime: “Mommy, why did you go away?”

Mommy: “So I can poop alone.”

An over simplification, to be sure. However, that snarky snippet holds a nugget of truth.

Mommy went on vacation with her friends- A “ladybro” if you will, aka bro-ing out with her lady friends-to have a complete thought. To spend time with people who have known her for decades.

Mommy went on vacation with her friends because Mommy likes to travel, and generally, Daddy does not.

Mommy went on vacation with her friends because she has a very intense job, in addition to motherhood, and needs to be reminded, at times, that people move through the world and experience joy, and sunshine, and karaoke.

Finally, and quite simply: Mommy went on vacation with her friends because she wanted to. Daddy is a person who thinks it’s important Mommy does things she wants to do, and helped Mommy work out all the details to make it happen.

I want my girls to grow up and have an image in their head of independence. Of knowing that they are able to do things on their own. That hopefully, they will have more courage and more know-how to pursue travel, and experiences, and the figuring out of the things, earlier in their life than I have.

And if, despite my best efforts, they don’t, that it is never too late to learn new things, to explore, to dream, and find new parts of themselves.

I don’t want my children to fall prey to the STILL pervasive trope of Mom being unable to leave because Dad cannot handle the children. If Dad went away for ten days, I GUARANTEE no one would ask him, “But who is watching the kids?”

“The same people who always watch my children when I don’t,” I tell them, “Their father, and their grandparents.” (And yes, some extra help from grandparents, because they can’t watch themselves when Dad is at work and they aren’t at school, and I’m not there. And no, I didn’t set up the schedule before I left, as their father is a sentient being who knows when he needs childcare.)

I understand that vacations aren’t a universal choice for ways for women to take care of themselves. However, in the spirit of the ladybro, I DO believe it is universally important for women, and specifically mothers, to put themselves and their needs on the list of Things to Do-and to sometimes put themselves first. The house, the kids, the responsibilities, whatever they may be- we are programmed to feel it will all fall apart if we are not tending to them, day and night.

There are times this is true. However, the majority of the time, it is not true. The truth is that we are made to feel guilty if we delegate, neglectful if we share responsibilities or simply let things go, and anxious things won’t be done “right” if we don’t do them ourselves.

Who makes us feel these things? Sometimes it is a specific person in our life- a friend, a relative, a parent. But most often it is the anonymous Everybody who controls our inner voice. Everybody thinks we are a selfish, terrible mother if we do not do All The Mom Things 100% of the time.

I also know I wasn’t born with any special know how of how to run a household. I have learned, and am learning, by doing it. Particularly in heterosexual couples- if your husband DOESN’T take care of the kids, no, he won’t know how to do it. Or the laundry. Or anything else. But these days there is an excellent chance your husband lived on his own before he lived with you. He didn’t always have dirty clothes; nor did he starve to death. Therefore, it is highly likely he can remember how to take care of himself without you around, and probably also figure out your offspring need the same basic things.

Will he do them “right?” Maybe. It is likely he will make mistakes. However, as a mom who has left the house with no diapers, arrived at school with no backpacks, and lost an entire bag of clothes on the last family vacation-my own shortcomings keep me humble. I also know that the more times I do something, the fewer mistakes I make.

Yes, I miss my kids, and my husband. And they miss me. But like I told my daughter:

“When you are a grown up,” I told my daughter, “If you decide to have babies, Mommy will help watch them so you can go on vacation with your friends whenever you want.”



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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