Friday, May 20, 2011

F Word Pride

The F word is one that I do not have a problem using.  I have used it a lot, even to describe my self.  Often people will react with a hushed gasp that a person would use such a word to describe themself.  Feminist.  Such a dirty and negetive word to so many people and it has always been inside of me.  I don't remember the first time I learned the word Feminist and what it meant but because my Aunt has a degree in Women's Studies from Miami of Ohio, I am going to guess that I was young.  Because of my aunt, my mom, my grandmothers, all the strong women I was surrounded by and the lack of boys in my immidiate family, I always knew that girls and boys were the same.  I never had to deal with the double standard at home and my sisters coined me as being the "tom boy" (which having no boy influence on my younger days, I was not a tom boy at all).  The only difference, for me before I understood the public sphere, was anatomy.  I do remember the first time that I consciously reached out towards Feminism.

In 6th grade we had to write an biography resport about someone famous that made a difference in the US.  I can't remember if there was a list or if we were suppored to come up with the person of choice with help from our parents, but I chose Gloria Steinam.  I was so crazy about learning about her.  There was lot of information about her involvment in the 2nd wave to the present time of 1993ish so the Feminist and Feminism was used a lot.  I don't remember how but I knew the very general meaning was that a feminist was pro women's rights, that women and men are equal.  I loved that she fought for equal rights.  I loved that she was a playboy bunny at the beginning of her career and it help drive her passion.  At that point in time I felt a drawing to the abrideged feminist discourse that I had learned.  At that age, I was as big if not bigger than all the boys and I started asserting my self more with them.  I didn't let them bully or put me down.  Not to say that my feelings weren't hurt or that I was mean, but I felt stronger as I understood what it meant to be a woman in the public sphere a little bit better.

I would never shy away from being called a feminist later in junior high school and high school.  I was very much against the mainstream so anything they called me that they didn't approve of was fine with me.  I liked the idea of looking at the world from the margins and I understood how, as a young women, I was pushed to them.  I told the football coach that I was going to quit volleyball and try out for football the fall of my freshman year (even though I had no intention, I just wanted to push his buttons), but he told me to not even bother because he would never let me on the team or play.  That made me so mad that I told the athletic director.  The coach didn't get in trouble and nothing really happened, but that was my first understanding of Title IX.  I started to pay attention to the differences in where the athletic budget was spent after that.

I forgot about my early developed feminism for a while.  I think I hid it inside me because of a relationship that I was in for a very long time.  I was told more than once that I was "too independent."  I resented that comment at first but as the years went by, I became complacent.  I picked becoming a Kindergarten teacher for my major in college and was happy thinking that is what I wanted to do forever.  I was going to be a teacher, move to the country, have babies and teach (excuse me while I hurl....seriously, I thought I could live in the country!).  It's no secret that my older sister was a huge influence on a lot of decisions I have made.  She was attending a liberal arts school in Richmond, IN and majoring (partially) in Women's Studies.  I needed some electives one quarter so I signed up for Intro to Women's Studies fall my 2nd year.  I honestly didn't like that class very much.  I learned a lot but more from the other women in the class than the readings we had.  The next quarter I signed up for Feminist Theory which remained to be the hardest class I had ever taken in college.  Which is also where I met Ms. MelainaHer showing up one day with a Playboy visor on and the heated discussion that occured because of that will always be in my memory.

While I enjoyed that class and learned a lot from it, the later classes in my college career are the ones when I realized how important being a Feminist was to me.  In my entire life, I never felt more comfortable with myself, my thoughts and my frustrations with the world and society.  If I didn't have the words, someone else knew exactly what I meant and filled them in.  No one was calling me a feminist like it was a bad thing or just because they weren't one.

It was hard to be a mother and accepted in the Feminist world at UC.  There are many different theories in Feminism and some are so extreme that they reject motherhood.  Being a new mom and entering motherhood made me feel pushed further to the margins.  After reading more about mothering and them real rejection to motherhood as defined under partiarchy, I now know that was the issue, it wasn't me or the fact that I am a mother. (that is an entirely different blog topic)

I carry my Feminism into everything I do because it is inside me.  I think that it always has been but I didn't have the vocabulary until I was older.  I hope that I instill this into Parker and that one day he will proudly understand and vocalize his own feminism.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Those Girls Upstairs

Today was the first time that I watched Quinn and Sadie for an entire afternoon.  Parker was at my dad's last night, so he was not with me during my afternoon with my favorite girls.  I was really intimidated by the idea of being with both the girls totally alone.  So intimidated I tried to bride mr to help me all afternoon.  When Parker was little, he was never content with a small amount of attention.  He never played alone until he about I thought that it would be like babysitting 2 Parker's at the ages of 3 and 9 months...I wouldn't have been able to handle that with as much ease.  These little girls are so special and happy that I didn't have to do much of anything.  When I came up, Quinn was watching a show about a mouse ballarina.  She was dancing along with the show.  She loved it.  Twirling and doing the hand motions, occasionally looking back at me for approval.  She was very proud of her self.  She was completely pleasant and helpful the whole time until we picked up Parker, then she seemed like she needed some time to herself.  Quinn is such a smart little girl and is at the perfect age where she verbalizes her wants and needs, but also everything else that she is how many cars there were on the highway or that we were almost home or that she was too tired to eat dinner.

I met Quinn when she was rather young, just turning 1, so we have been in her life for long enough that she has always known us.  Although she was young and I have seen so much of her grow and develop, it isn't the same as watching Sadie grow.  I have known Sadie from the very beginning.  Even for living right below them, I don't see them nearly as much as I feel like I should.  But seeing your best friend grow during pregnancy and then to meet the baby who had been in there, watching that baby develop from a new born to an infant to pulling up and wanting to walk is so amazing.  It is like she is mine but not because I don't see her every day, but it is the same feeling.  I guess that is probably what being an Aunt feels like.  She was asleep when I came up and after a bit, started crying when she woke up.  A lot of kids would be concerned when they wake up and their parent is not there, but as soon as I picked her up, the tears stopped and she smiled at me.  Sadie's smile is precious.  She looks like she is laughing when she smiles because it is so big.  Her big bottom teeth are the first things you notice but then you realize that she had to top ones too.  She smiled real big and I saw that there are two more that are cutting through on the top.  Just like Quinn, she is very content and self entertained.  She sat and squished some peas while she ate for a while.  She bounced in her bouncer for a while and then she crawled around going from interesting toy to interesting toy.  At one point she pulled up on the leg of her bouncer.  I didn't know that she was pulling her self up to stand already.  It was so cool to see her do that.

Overall the afternoon and early evening could not have gone better.  We drove to West Chester to get Parker, which was pretty hysterical to have 3 car seats in my back seat.  It was a little nerve racking to have all three of them in the backseat, not because they misbehaved, but because that is a lot of kids in a car.  That is a lot of precious cargo.

I am so lucky to have those little girls in my life.  My and Parker's lives are so enhanced with them being our family.  I don't know how it worked out so well that Nikki and Zach's paths crossed mine but I am so happy everyday that they did.  Having great neighbors is one thing, but having neighbors that turn into family is so much better.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A New Leaf

It feels like too much right now.  Parker is ending Kindergarten in about 2 weeks and I just calculated that it will cost me about $2000 to send him to daycamp for the summer.  That is so much money!  I would almost rather quit my job and stay home that spend that much money. (I know that makes no sense what so ever but $2000 on day camp makes me vom a little).

I have an amazing support system but when it comes to times like these, it is not big enough.  I can't ask my family to help because they are too far away and I can't ask too much of my neighbors because they have a full house hold as is.  I feel like screaming when I have to figure out what to do with him while he isn't in school.  How do parents do it?  I am candidly asking.  I need help.  I need a boost.  I don't know that I can handle this right now.  I think I need to make a drastic change in my life so that figuring out summer break for my son isn't so difficult.....but maybe it doesn't matter what would change, maybe it is hard to figure out for everyone.  Maybe I am just bitching for no reason.