Monthly Archives: January 2014

Looking Down on Other Women (Dear Amy Glass, I AM Sorry.)

Dear Amy Glass,

I am sorry. Not sorry that you look down on young women that have husbands and kids. Not sorry for you for not having a husband or kids. But sorry that you see a sliver of the world as an absolute truth. Sorry for the attitudes that you have expressed in other articles that you have written. Sorry that you are living in a mindset that seems to devalue occupations that have traditionally been female simply for the fact that they have traditionally been female, rather than choosing to look at them for what they are. Sorry that you feel that the traditionally male-defined sexuality-as-power way of approaching things is the “feminist” way.

My initial reaction to reading your post “I Look Down on Young Women With  Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry” was anger. I wanted to rant on and on about people that choose to have children and a career at the same time. I wanted to rant about people that don’t choose to have children at all. I wanted to do exactly what my cat does when she feels picked on. Turn around and swipe the dog across the face even though the dog did nothing.

Then I realized that I am not angry.

In order to look down on someone you have to have a higher vantage point. To somehow see more than the person that you are looking down on.

What you are really doing, Amy Glass, is you are looking at us and you don’t understand our choices. You are making different choices that you feel better fit your life. And no one should tell you that you can’t. Maybe people are telling you that you need to get married. That you need to have babies. Maybe you’re sick and tired of hearing it and feel that is what is wrong with the world. So you are turning around like my cat and swiping the dog across the face even though the dog did nothing.

When the dog gets swiped across the face do you know what he does? All of his 64 pounds against the 10 pound cat? He backs away. He understands that she is no threat to him. He is bigger.

There are things bigger than you, Amy Glass.

I don’t have the energy to be annoyed with another person that presumes to know better what choices I should be making in my life, or what value I should place on having children. I am not your property, Amy Glass. I am not your lesser. I am not a person in your command or control. I make my own choices about my life. I choose the things that I value. No one tells me that I have to marry a man, that I have to have children, that I have to breastfeed them, that I have to wake with them in the night and whisper that I love them. I do these things as a free person. This is not society’s choice for me, it is a choice that I have made. I am a good mother.

Other women have children and careers. They work long hours and see their children mostly on weekends. Their husbands stay home, or they hire a trusted nanny who devotes every waking moment to these children that are not her own but that she loves anyway. I’ve known these women. They have shown me pictures of the child that they will not be getting home to that night. There has been love on their face and in their hearts. They take their children places, give them experiences, dote upon them, and can provide for them very well financially. They are good mothers.

I’m not sure what a female should do. A good woman. A good little feminist. Should she ruthlessly pursue financial gain? But what about the intellectual who has no interest in money but a deep passion in science? Is a passion in science a passion wasted if no monetary gain comes from it? What about the person who spends years in another country helping them to build wells to keep that country’s people and children alive? No monetary gain, no stunning intellectual feats, a risked life and for what? Simple charity to help the lives of someone else’s children. Is that something to look down on? Shouldn’t a feminist be doing something that will benefit her somehow?

In truth we all have different skills, different desires, different wants and needs and we live our lives in different orders at different paces.

If you said that you looked down on people that do nothing with their lives other than have children and depend on the support of someone else.. People that have no other goals in life… I’d still sort of view you as a feminist. But that’s not what you said. You said you look down on women that make that choice. Not people, not men. Women. You look down on women that make choices that you don’t feel are the good ones.

That’s not feminism. I’m sorry. I don’t believe that we “threw off the chains” of oppression where men could tell us what to do with our lives… Just to have a sanctimonious little girl with a narrow world view tell us what to do with our lives. Feminism isn’t about “validating” the choices that other women make. It’s about saying that those women have the right to make their choices. They have a right to an education and opportunities. And they have the right to follow their hearts and pursue their passions. They  have a right to not require that someone else… Woman or man.. “validate” their choices.

You don’t own other women, Amy Glass. You are not their mommy. You are not their owner. You are not their boss. You don’t need to “validate” anything as though it’s some sort of parking ticket in the Grand Garage of Feminists.

I understand that you do not understand my choices. That much was clear in this sentence: ” Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business.” Laundry is no more the defining part of motherhood than swabbing a patients arm with an alcohol wipe is the defining part of being a doctor. No more than doodling is the defining ability of an architect. Any schmuck can dab some alcohol onto someone’s arm. That is not what being a doctor is. Anyone can pick up a pencil and draw a line on paper. That’s not what an architect is. I’m sure as hell not staying home to do the laundry.

So why am I staying home? Because I have three children. Not because of the laundry, the dishes, the diapers. But because of the experience and the investment.

Any job.. Any vocation… They all have paperwork, Amy Glass. They all have clean-up. They all have undesirable bits and pieces. Drudgery. Wastes of time. If you look only at the worthless bits of a job then you will never understand why a person might choose to work that job when surely there is some /other/ job that is more worthwhile.

If you want to look down on the job of motherhood.. Look down on the act of raising children. Look down on teaching children to read. Look down on teaching children to be compassionate and on encouraging their imagination. Look down on being a provider of experiences and a settler of disputes. Look down on the real work of motherhood, not the bloody laundry that we get stuck with on the side.

I am not here because anyone put me here. I am here because I made a choice with value. You can question that choice, sure. But in order to “look down on it” you have to somehow be something bigger than the women that have made that choice.

You’re not. You don’t even seem to have the information necessary to understand the job that we do every day. You’ve mistaken the drudge work for the vocation. You look down on it simply because it is a historically female job. Amy.. That’s not feminism.

And I am sorry. I’m sorry that you’ve missed the forest for all the trees. That you are trying to be a feminist within the world as it was once defined by men. A world where your value is defined by your beauty and your sexuality is the reason to get ahead. You still view children and homes as the possessions of men, it would seem, as that is the only possible reason that being here to raise them would be contrary to feminism. If women had no stake or investment in their own children.

I’m sorry you’ve somehow managed to misunderstand something that big.

<3 Sarah

“Mind Blind” – Making Negative Assumptions About a Child’s Behavior

One of the things that helps me when I am reacting negatively to my child’s actions is to remind myself that whatever I am thinking I am ultimately “mind blind”.

I cannot truly see inside my child’s head. The thoughts that I hear are my own guesses about what my child may be thinking, not what my child is actually thinking.

The thoughts that are upsetting me are my own thoughts about what my child’s actions mean, not my child’s thoughts.

Our society attributes all sorts of malice and manipulation to very normal childhood behaviors such as not making eye contact with an upset adult, laughing when uncomfortable, avoidance, etc.

When we react to our own internal picture of what our child is thinking or doing, we often make their behavior worse. For example if a child is avoiding eye contact because they are afraid of an angry adult and the adult thinks that they are not paying attention and becomes more angry.

My seven year old tries to crack jokes when I’m upset because he wants to make me feel better and jokes are what makes him feel better when he is upset. This is also what adults do with him when he is angry or upset.

Instead of becoming more upset I remember that he has told me in the past that he makes jokes to try and make me feel better. So I will say “I know you are trying to make me feel better. Thank you. Jokes are not making me feel better right now. I need right now is for you to show me that you understood what I asked you, or to say ‘mommy, can you repeat that? I didn’t understand.'”

Keenie was Little in a Very Big Way

Keenie was little in a Very Big Way. She had grown from tiny to small knowing with every bitty ounce that made up her body that whenever she was afraid or unsure that she could cling close and that together we would be big.

Some would say that this was a bad thing, a thing in the way of independence. Keenie, being wise, understood that it was a place to learn. It was in this way that she learned the names for things that would have otherwise been nameless terrors. She learned the scale of them through my bigness rather than from her small.

She did not start with baby steps, she learned the gait of a grown woman, riding in a swath of fabric wrapped to my chest from the littlest of her days. She did not start with childish fears, she learned the rhythm of my breath as I confronted the hugeness of the world from the scale of being fully grown.

And as her own self became bigger with each passing day, she would squirm from my arms to stamp around her world with the confidence of a child that understands the shape she’s growing into, not the vulnerability of one forced to grow before her time.

The First Two Years

Dear Daughter,

Twenty-One months, I’ve already started thinking of you as two. I remember when you were small… You are small still, but this is a different sort of small. A small that stamps around the house and that runs and climbs and jumps. You once were a different sort of small that could hardly move the weight of her limbs, that could not focus her deep blue eyes for long, and that spent whole days curled heavy against my body in a wrap where you now seldom ride.

“They” all talk of the fourth trimester, the first few months after a new baby is born. The first two years is something else altogether. A time that none of us remember as adults because we were not yet formed enough to hold onto such a memory.

In the first year you tripled your size, you went from eating only milk to eating food. You went from being barely able to move to crawling, to walking. From cries to first words. From toothless to pushing sharp jagged teeth through your gums. In the second year you walked, you ran, you jumped and you climbed. You have begun to form short sentences, to express feelings and desires. Your sense of humor has become impish with the glee of being.

When a human child is first born they barely have the ability to regulate the bits of their body that keep them alive and breathing. They develop the skills meant to keep them close to us and within our protection. Then and only then do they start to grow the seeds of self regulation and the basic logic of cause and effect.

You were born a baby and in under two years you became a human child that can do so many of the things that a human must be able to do. On a smaller scale, certainly, but all of you is there for growing.

Every parent knows how difficult those first two years are for the parents. The world is full of books that are meant to teach us how to manage you in your youngest years. Full of forums and groups and boards and meetups meant to get us the support as we raise you. Full of humorous things about what monsters you are, and full of less humorous things about the same.

We don’t spend nearly enough time wondering what these first years must be like for you. How exposed you are to the overwhelm of the world, the littleness of your abilities and the hugeness of your emotions that you have not yet learned to control.

Sometimes I’m frustrated with my own ability to deal with the things that come from your being little. But you? I admire you, little critter, for the things that you have learned and the scale to which you have grown. For the amazingness of a brave little child who is not even yet three feet tall.

I look forward to watching you grow into the fullness of your being.

<3 Mama