Your Body Is A Wonderland

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Image credit: http://theguidingstarproject.com/ “Don’t be afraid of your body. Take the time to listen to it and understand how it really works. There are thousands of wonderful resources out there to help you feel more comfortable with yourself and teach you about how amazing you really are.”

Although I always enjoyed the John Mayer song of the same name, this graphic gave me a new appreciation for the phrase. My body is indeed a wonderland. It is not in need of alteration of any kind, neither cosmetic, nor chemical. While this graphic is clearly aimed at the oppressive lie that women need to regularly ingest chemicals in order to live up to their real potential, the message is broader than that.

Feminists have a loud voice in the world. I am very grateful for many of their accomplishments. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, they got it all wrong. At some point feminists decided that in order to prove the value, worth, and dignity of women, we needed to renounce that which makes us women. I can understand how this started. As an effort to gain equality with men in the eyes of society, they sought to prove that women could be like men. They felt the need to prove themselves capable of that which they had been deemed incapable.

While this approach has achieved many victories for women, it is fundamentally flawed. It’s basic message is that’s a woman’s worth lies in the fact that she can be like a man. I find that unbelievably insulting! My worth results from my femininity, not in spite of it. Maybe that’s why feminists often seem so angry and bitter. They may not be able to put words to it, but they must sense that what they are fighting for is not accomplishing what they intend.

Enter the new feminist movement. New Feminism recognizes and affirms that women are different from men. One only need to open a biology book to recognize this truth. New Feminism allows us to be women without shame. We don’t have to hide or renounce who we are and how our bodies work to believe we are equal in dignity and value to the man sitting next to us at the conference room table. New Feminism acknowledges that a woman’s strength lies in the fact that she is a woman, not in her ability to conform herself to be like a man.

I long for this movement to take hold over and above the traditional feminist movement. When it does, great things will happen. Imagine the world when women are valued for who they really are. In this world: we won’t have to fight for adequate birthing conditions in hospitals. We won’t be shamed for nursing a baby in public. We won’t be forced to chose between our career and our health after the birth of a child. We won’t have our pumped milk x-rayed, dumped out, or endure public humiliation in order to nourish our children. We won’t be told by nearly every doctor in the country that the only way to control the gift of our fertility is by ingesting dangerous chemicals or undergoing surgery. We wouldn’t feel guilty about “wasting our education” by choosing to be stay at home moms, yet feel equally as guilty about choosing to work outside the home. When femininity is valued for the great gift it really is, we will stop finding our worth in the reflection we see in the mirror and we will stop treating other women as our enemies. We won’t judge our value based on the cleanliness of our homes  or how we measure up to the items we pin on pinterest.

I want feminism redefined. I want more than what women have accepted as progress. I want more for me and especially for my daughter. I want my daughter to know that her body, her feelings, and her aspirations are not a mistakes. She is fearfully and wonderfully made, and I want her to behave like it.

good enough

Fabulous Life Presents: SAHM

fab_lifePeople often ask me what I do all day. I have NO idea why this is such a fascinating topic, but, since so many people are interested, I’ll lift the shroud for all of you who want to know but haven’t asked.

Around 5AM I realize that I absolutely can not hit snooze anymore or Josh will be late for work. I head for the kitchen, start the coffee, feed the cats, and pack a lunch for Josh. Regardless of how quiet we are, Andy always comes bounding out of his room, saying something along the lines of, “Daddy. Work. Blue Car.” I respond, “Yes, sweetie, Daddy is about to leave for work in the blue car.” Shortly after 5:30, Andy and I walk Josh to his car and tell him goodbye. Andy and I have a discussion about the presence of the moon, or lack thereof, and how much longer it will be dark.

Andy’s mood determines what happens next. If he is well rested and in good spirits, I make him some chocolate milk. We sit on the couch, Andy with his milk and me with my coffee, and catch some of the morning headlines on CNN. When Andy can’t take anymore news, we turn on Muzzy. Josh and I are learning French, so we got Muzzy for the boys so they wouldn’t be left out. Andy absolutely loves it. He’s already using several phrases in every day conversation! If Andy is clearly in need of more sleep, he goes back to bed, usually in my room. The days he goes back to sleep, I get to do a Hip Hop Abs video and take a shower. By then, both boys are raring to go.

I get Jack out of bed, change both boys’ diapers, and set them up for breakfast. Today, it was whole grain frozen waffles and this amazing mixed berry sauce I made. I try to give them something semi-homemade for breakfast, but it doesn’t always happen. Yesterday, it was poptarts and bananas. :) While the boys eat, I make the beds and do any necessary tidying up in the bedrooms. If time permits, I get started on a chore that is easier completed without my little helpers, such as cleaning one of the bathrooms or mopping the kitchen floor. When the boys are finished, I clean them up. They play while I clean up the breakfast mess. After the kitchen is cleaned, the boys and I all play together. Lately, it’s been blocks or trucks or bowling. Before long, Jack is ready for his morning nap. We clean up whatever we were playing with, do a diaper change, read “Goodnight Moon” and put Jack to bed.

While Jack sleeps, Andy and I do a variety of activities, partially determined by the weather. If it’s nice out, Andy and I go outside. Jack’s window is right off our porch and I can hear him if he gets upset. If we can’t go out, we do some kind of craft project, puzzles, and/or bake something. When Jack wakes up, it’s bath time, as Andy is usually pretty gross after any of the above mentioned activities.

Now, it’s lunch time. If we don’t have any errands to run, the boys sit down together and eat. Lunch is something pretty simple: sandwiches and chips, mac and cheese and hotdogs, microwavable ravioli, 90 second rice packs and chicken tenders, etc. If we do have errands, I pack a filling snack, like chicken tenders and cheese cubes, and we hit the road. If the boys are still hungry, we’ll eat lunch when we get home.

Now it’s NAPTIME!! We get cleaned up, change diapers, read “Goodnight Moon” again and go to bed! I make myself some lunch and watch a little tv, usually 7th Heaven. If I haven’t gotten to shower yet, now is the time. I do some computer work, like pay bills and Mary Kay stuff, and take care of any mail correspondence, like thank you notes or, currently, Alzheimer’s Association stuff. Of course, I check my email, Myspace, and Facebook. I’ve usually thrown in a load of laundry at some point earlier in the day, so I fold it and put it away. If time permits, I’ll do some reading or, if I haven’t already done it with Andy, I’ll do some baking.

When the boys get up, we have a little snack. We may watch a short movie or check out what’s on Sprout of Noggin, especially if they wake up on the wrong side of the bed. If they wake up happy, we may head over to the playground or run any remaining errands after their snack. Sometime between 4 and 5, Daddy calls to say he’s on his way home. Once we get that call, we do a big clean up and vacuum the house. The boys love to help vacuum. Andy either uses our handheld vacuum or some attachments from the big vacuum. If Andy’s not using the attachments, Jack used them. Otherwise, Jack uses a push toy that pops up the colored balls on the inside. Since Josh’s commute is about an hour or so, after we’re done cleaning, we head out for a walk. We walk around the neighborhood until we pass Daddy’s car.

Now that Daddy’s home, the boys play with him either inside or out, while I make dinner. After we eat, Josh cleans up the boys. Depending on the time, we may play some more. We do a final clean up, brush teeth, and put on pajamas. Once the boys are in their beds, we read “Goodnight Moon” one final time, and say goodnight. Josh cleans up the kitchen, empties the litter box, and gets a shower while I do any remaining Mary Kay stuff or cleaning or whatever. Finally the work is done, and Josh and I get to spend some time together!

So there you have it. It may not be very glamorous, but that’s what my days look like. If you think you would be bored, don’t forget to account for the momentary chaos resulting from things like my adorable pumpkin-shaped pepper shaker shattering all over the kitchen floor, explosive diapers, a cat stepping in finger paint, unwillingness to share, or any other random event caused by my sweet little Andy trying to “help.” Despite their lackluster appearance, I wouldn’t trade my simple little days for anything in the world!

my feet are numb

As if it weren’t obvious, I’ve decided to take up blogging. Its a good way to be able to think my own thoughts during the day. Not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy counting EVERYTHING and naming the colors of EVERYTHING and singing the same songs OVER and OVER and OVER AGAIN, it’s just glaringly obvious that my thought patterns are a little more sophisticated than those of my two year old son.

As I type this, he’s perched on the desk next to me, face painted with yellow highlighter, clinging to his blanket. What’s the name of that kid from peanuts with the blanket? Well whatever it is, Andy seems to be the spitting image. He cracks me up.

I went through a phase where I was getting pretty frustrated with his antics. Luckily, Michelle reminded me that I just need to laugh and take pictures of all of his shenanigans. I’m really glad she did that. I was missing too many priceless moments because I was freaking out about the mess involved. Sadly, I missed the time he decided to cover Jack in shimmering, very sticky lip gloss. It was actually after that event that Michelle helped me see that I needed to lighten up. It really was quite humorous. I thought I’d never get the sparkles off of Jack. Three baths later, he was back to normal.

Lucky for me, Jack is insanely easy going. If he weren’t, we’d have absolute chaos all day long. He just watches Andy, usually laughing, and, when Andy decides to bury him in stuffed animals, he takes it in stride.

Talking about the boys is really good for me, therapeutic almost. I just worry that people don’t want to hear it. I definitely don’t want to be that woman who has nothing to talk about except her children. The problem is they’re the most important part of my day. Other people have their job and coworkers to tell stories about. I have my boys. I don’t mind at all, but sometimes I can see people getting bored hearing stories about them. When Andy learns a new word it’s like sealing some big deal for the company. When he or Jack learns a new skill, it’s like getting a promotion and being given new responsibilities. Other people don’t always realize that though. They just see that I’m “just a mom” and that I don’t have as many interesting things to say as their counterparts in the “real world.”

Well, despite what some may think, I believe my occupation is insanely valuable. I also find it quite interesting. I do look forward to nap time though. Sometimes I think its my favorite part of the day. Some days there may only be 30 minutes that they’re both asleep at the same time, but I enjoy every minute. I eat my lunch, take a shower, and, if I’m lucky, get to watch something that’s not animated. I figure every job has it’s monotonous moments and tedious tasks. At least, when it boils down to it, I love the cause of those moments and tasks more than life itself. Not many people can say that about their jobs.

To work or not to work…

youth-villages-logoI got a phone call from Youth Villages the other day asking me to come in and interview for a position in their research department. I am beyond excited because I am IN LOVE with Youth Villages and everything they stand for. I’m passionate about children, and seeing them live successfully with their families is indescribably rewarding.

During college, I did four internships with YV and anxiously awaited the day I would have a full time position. But life happened. Between Andy’s arrival and moving to Texas, I haven’t had the opportunity to be involved with them since my last internship.

The most exciting thing about the position I’m being considered for is it’s part-time. I’m really reluctant to leave my babies, so that’s a major benefit. Being a part-time position at a nonprofit organization, the pay is practically nonexistent. More than likely, once we pay the childcare expenses we incur, we’ll be bringing in the exact same amount of money we are today. Basically, if I were to take this on, it would be solely for the personal satisfaction that comes with working for an organization you believe in. I have no problem with that because I love Youth Villages that much. I would volunteer my time to mop their floors if it meant it would benefit the children in direct care.

Anyway, what it boils down to is I have to chose between my babies and this job. I know that’s sounds a little dramatic, but that’s what it feels like. When I consider the list of pros and cons there’s really only one of each.

Pro: I’d be working at further improving an organization that already does a stellar job of improving children’s lives.

Con: I’d be missing precious moments with the boys.

When I was working Texas, leaving Andy was the worst part of my day. Now that I’m home with Jack, I see how many little moments I truly did miss with him. I feel like I cheated Andy and myself out of time we could have been spending together.

I have every intention of pursuing a masters degree and going back to work one day. I’m just not sure if one day should be today.

I hadn’t intended on going back to work until Jack went to kindergarten. I’m not worried about the care they’d be receiving in my absence. I feel like we have some good childcare options and for the first 4-6 weeks Josh’s mom will be keeping them. I just don’t know if I’m ready to give up all of those little moments that make my heart smile. I have until Thursday to decide. What’s a mom to do….