While waiting on my mama recently to come out of a store, I observed two wasps in a brawl, or mating ritual, I’m not sure which. In either case, one wasp was left the victor and flew away freely while the other suffered a leg amputation and began to hobble around the sidewalk. I continued to watch as I waited, simply because these mundane events of life are calming to my overworked brain, and the injured wasp continued to stumble and eventually ended up in a sidewalk crack. My mama came out of the store about this time and I voiced my condolences to the wasp by offering to “write a witness statement” if needed while my mama insisted I get in the car before someone called the police on the “crazy lady” outside.
In light of recent events, I can relate to the trapped feeling of the wasp. Of course, he may have flew away right after I drove off. But the bugs we trapped in jars as children didn’t always fare so well. No, I’m not dying a slow, airless death. At least not that I’m aware of, but I am trapped. I have nowhere to go. That’s what it feels like. I’ve never felt so suffocated by the lack of choices before. Maybe the lack of realistic choices. That stick put in jars for the bugs….that’s what I’ve got. One end or the other. Neither end really offering an immediate, viable solution. No leaves in sight. I must’ve eaten all those when I was a younger, naive bug and I thought the leaves and air were endless.
Yup, that’s me. A bug trapped in a jar. I can see out, see where I need to be, what needs to happen, but I’m stuck in this jar and I can’t seem to make it happen. Time is running out I fear. I do fear that the time spent being trapped I will miss the meaningful parts of the little bug outside the glass. When I was the younger version, I would have flown away. Now, I fear I reached my peak and I’m stuck in the crack of life.
I’m having one of those weeks. Everything is swirling above me and threatens to topple down and crush me at any second. Yes, I have plenty to be thankful for, as always. But there are times, like now, that the craziness of the past two years seem suffocating.
The carousel of life was circling at a nice pace. My husband and I both had jobs that worked in harmony with one another while raising our then three year old. I was finally getting to a place where I accepted that my “happily ever after” had arrived. We were comfortable.
Then the other shoe dropped. Working for the state, my husband was happy at his job but not moving up the ladder. I voiced my concerns that there was something amiss in the political world of the state job arena and he dismissed me as being overly paranoid. Three weeks later he was put on leave and after another two weeks forced into resignation. No evidence, made up allegations, and a ten year career down the drain. Suddenly not only was I the breadwinner, I became the sole provider for almost a year.
A year passed and my husband found a job, but it takes him away from us. Yes! I know , I know. He has a job. I get it. But I’ve turned into a single-but-not–single-mom. My job has become a problem because of the hours I work. Now I’m not able to give out now 4, almost 5 year old the attention she so desperately needs and most defiantly deserves.
There it was. The news. The same person that instigated the resignation of my husband on the screen being arrested and charged. It occurred to me, my life, and the domino effect, the debt, my anxiety, my feelings if inadequacies as a mother, my husband being “taken” by the road…..all of this is because of that bald headed man in that orange jumpsuit on t.v.
I’ve literally been thinking of this post all week, if not longer. It all started when this video started making its way around Facebook. Penelope and I have turned this over and over. We’ve watched, read comments, tried to see every angle of the point of the video. I have very mixed feelings about the video and the reactions. The original video was posted on www.coffeeblocks.com on May 11, 2015 and it is entitle “Moms Empower Us”.
This make day 4 of trying to work on this post and at the rate I’m going right now, with the penguin in the room, it looks as if I’m going to run over into day 5, which will help me back up some of what I’m trying to “say” in the post.
Day 5….it will be done.
Okay, so if you’ve watched the video you have had time to form your own opinions. My purpose of the post is not just about the video, the video just happened to spark the thought process. If you watched the video with no sound you opinion may vary slightly from what it may be if you watched it with sound. I have picked out a few comments from the Facebook post just to give some insight to how different viewers formed their opinions and how they relate to how I feel about things. Trust me, the comments run wild, over 1,400 of them if you feel the need to read more.
Let me start with the comment that sums the main purpose of not only the video, but also this post up:
“I’ve thought a lot about it since seeing a friend share it. I see all sides. I think the part that bothers me most are the judgmental comments. I understand the “point” of the video is to lead by example and not give up, but the people that have got it figured out (not saying it’s easy) -the balance of it all, shouldn’t be so quick to judge the ones (myself included) who don’t quite have it all worked out yet. It’s not easy for anyone, I agree, but it’s harder and may take longer for all the pieces to fall together for some. I know I need to take care of myself as a mother, but I’m working on the balance part. What works for your child may not work for mine. Besides taking care of ourselves as moms and teaching our children that, we could also start teaching our children understanding and encouragement of each other as women/moms.”
We can start with this one because it is mine 🙂 Originally the video made me angry. I admit I watched without sound and all I saw was fitness obsessed moms ignoring children to achieve the perfect body. And the comments I read that encouraged them enraged me because I felt it made mom’s like me look bad or feel bad because we are not able to achieve what is shown in the video. I understand that once you watch with the sound on you get the message of empowerment and how the children never see “mom give up” and all that. But I still stand behind my initial thought that not all moms can achieve what is shown. And I don’t agree with comments like the following:
“The negative comments are why and how I ballooned to 225 lbs after having 3 kids. It’s also the reason children are self entitled and spoiled.”
(Not my quote) Really? Children are self entitled and spoiled because moms choose to spend what little time they may have during their day with them instead of running up and down bleachers? Huh? How about my theory that it may create body image issues in children if all they ever see mom do is work out and not spend time with them. What about that theory? I’m not suggesting that the moms that have taken the fitness route and have dedicated the time and energy to become healthier and more fit have had it easier. I know their have been sacrifices made in their family life and personal lives. Please don’t misunderstand me. What I am trying to say that I feel that women/moms that area able to achieve this level of fitness commitment have almost turned this into a new type of body shaming for those moms that aren’t able to. With Facebook post every other second “what’s your excuse”, “on Friday’s we flex”, “I ran 200 miles today uphill”. Great. I applaud you. I even have friends like this. Am I a bit jealous? ABSOLUTELY. No denying that. But I will not be shamed into giving up to the little bit of time with my child at 4 years old, holding her, playing with her, to go achieve the latest fitness craze.
But if other working mom’s can do it, why can’t every working mom do it? Because not every working mom, whether in the home or outside the home is the same. Just as not every child is the same. Those children in the video were content to play by themselves even if only for 30 minutes. And their were plenty of comments giving “advice” on what to do with those darn kids that aren’t. I don’t need your advice. I KNOW MY CHILD. I know what works and what doesn’t. I also know my schedule and you don’t. Some say, “I get up at 5:00 to work out while everyone else is sleeping, that’s the sacrifice I’ve made.” Good for you. Do you know that some moms are still at work at 5:00 a.m., just getting home, or in my case I’ve just dropped off my 4 year old with her Nana so I can go to work? I’m not going to go on and on about the schedules, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da,
The bottom line is this. I would love to be healthier and I do what I can by eating right. I also do what I can by the little bit of exercise I can do when I can do it. Don’t assume that because moms don’t look like the video they don’t want too or haven’t’ put out an effort. Empowering women isn’t just about fitness goals, it’s about supporting one another in everything. Quit judging, quit making assumptions. I’ll raise my child with out lifting dead weights you raise yours while pushing a stroller. I don’t care. Let’s just stop. Stop body shaming in all forms. Stop judging and being so mean. Lets really start empowering.
I am working through the Blogging 101 course that WordPress is offering this month. The other day I searched through the blogosphere (learned that new word…you like that dontcha ?), and I came across a fellow blogger, The Wanna Be Island Girl, and part of one of her post really stuck with me. The post title is The Sisterhood, and I will be making a few references to the part of her post that is leading me to what I am trying to say.
I think about it all the time. Women are nasty to other women. I see it all the time. For no reason either. I just don’t understand it.
“But, I’ve always had this deep rooted appreciation for girlfriends and women in general who lift each other up. We have enough tearing down in society and it makes me sick. ” (The Sisterhood)
This is what sparked my thought process. Women need to lift each other up, but women need to teach their daughters the same. I can tell you from experience that this behavior can sometimes be learned. It also starts young. I cannot believe that at 4 years old my little penguin has to worry about (well, she doesn’t really worry because that’s how she rolls) about cliques on the playground. Really? I see a generation of parents (women) who don’t realize what their children are absorbing and don’t realize they emulate their behavior. When these daughters see their mother isolate another woman, these daughters are being taught this is an okay behavior.
I’m not preaching. Believe me I have my side of me, especially my Penelope in my head, that can be judgy and nasty. I always catch myself and remind myself not to do that and especially not to say it or convey my feelings in any way that my daughter may pick up on. There are a group of women in my church, that I refer to as the Alpha moms, or Stepford moms depending on how snarky I am that day. Mind you I only refer to them this way in my head or to my husband, but in front of my child I am nothing but smiles. But I observe them. I know how I am treated by them, and I sit back and see how their children treat other children who aren’t “like” them.
Now, these Alpha moms have never been outwardly rude, it’s the hidden rudeness that really crawls my skin. The “I’m the perfect mom with the perfect look and the perfect kids” attitude that just make me cringe like nails on a chalkboard. We exchange pleasantries and I overhear their latest pintrest pin and that’s where our “sisterhood” ends. But, as I said I observe. The same way that their children have seen their mother treat me in a subtle way as an outcast, with my less than perfect clothes and tattoos, I’ve noticed they treat my child and other children who may not fit the “mold” the same way.
So why don’t women build each other up? Why isn’t there more of a sisterhood? Because it’s learned at an early age not too. Now I’m sure some readers may be thinking “you are just as snarky and guilty of this as they are”. Well, I am…..but only in my head. And the reason I point that out is that I make a big effort to let my little girl know that 1) it’s okay for her to be the way she is and 2) we accept everyone for who they are. She has never seen me or heard me be anything but gracious and nice to these other women nor will she. She can form her own opinions when she is old enough. But as a mother, I will not stand by and let their mini me hurt my child either. Right now at 4, her hurt feelings are easily smoothed over, but I know more difficult injuries are coming and I’m bracing myself for blighting my tongue and having to continue explaining that she is okay being the way she is. I will teach her to build up others, women especially.
But I beg, I plead of all women to just take a moment and be real. Be real with yourself, your children. Being a woman is hard! It is not butterflies and hearts. It is not perfect hair and makeup. Can’t we stop pretending, making others feel bad and just be there for each other as women? Can’t we be honest and share those honest stories with complete raw vulnerability that everyone knows but no one will talk about? To build each other up as women we need to start with being honest as women. Remove the screen, the facade, and just be real. Discuss the really hard, nasty stuff that gets swept under the rug.
I know I posted on my Facebook page about having good material this morning. And I did. This morning. I know it. I remember while it was happening thinking, “this is going to make for a good blog post”. But then the next eleven hours or so happened and all seems to be lost.
I know it was going to be about my comical, yet stressful morning with my 4 year old penguin. But seriously, now that I have time to post, it has all left me. Maybe it was the “hold me” plea as I sat on the toilet. Or it could have been when she told me she wouldn’t tell Spazz, the dog, to “have a good day”. But then there were some musings in the drive thru. Oh wait!!
Cheese biscuits from a arched fast food chain are one of her all time favorite foods. For a 4 year old she has a well balanced diet and we don’t focus on food in our house (another post all together). So, I ordered the precious biscuit. From the back seat I hear, in her best ‘I’ve -been-wronged’ whine, “where is the white cheese?”. I’m thinking she is referring to the provolone cheese that she will only eat on her samwhiches so I say “they don’t have white cheese. What wonderland are you living in Alice?”. Giggles take over in only a way my penguin can giggle and she says “no, silly, they put white cheese on it!”. They did! The arches switched it up. Who knew? I said “well, I guess you are in wonderland”.
Now, I know that’s not much, and I know there was more. But, maybe Penelope can find it tonight filed in between my files labeled “are you really going back to college?” and “are you really going back to college?”. If my little file keeper retrieves the “good material” I’ll post again. I’ve learned now to take voice memos.