At what point do women simply burn it all to the ground?

by renegademama

When I was in junior high, the boys snapped our bras and commented on our bodies and made fun of the girl with the largest breasts, relentlessly. (I remember her with perfect clarity.)

We never said a word about any of it to teachers or parents or administration because it was simply “the way boys were.”

It never even crossed my mind to complain, though I hated it, and was terrified, and hated the feeling of their hands on my back, their fingers on my skin. I hated the humiliation and the feeling of wanting to protect myself but never knowing who and when the wrong boy would come around.

We pulled our shoulders in to hide. It didn’t work.

How many teachers saw it? How many didn’t care? Why wasn’t our humiliation enough?

At my job in high school as a busser, when the restaurant manager cornered me at 11pm against a wall and said, “There is one way you won’t get fired,” pressing his dick against my thigh, I shoved him as hard as I could and ran.

I reported him to the owners.

It didn’t happen again but the man was not fired, because men will be men, I guess, and “he had been there a really long time.”

I spoke to the other female employees and he had done it to all of them, too. They said, “You just have to avoid him, but don’t complain again. If you do, they’ll fire you.”

It was the way it was, again.

I learned how much I mattered, fast.

One night in my 20s I was sitting on a barstool when a man walked up to me and slid his hand up my skirt and between my legs but I didn’t say anything because boys will be boys and I believed my humiliation wasn’t enough.

To fight.

The night I was almost raped in the cellar of a bar I didn’t say anything either because boys are that way and I was drunk, you know, and I shouldn’t have believed the bar owner when he said he had something to show me, some fine wine, something – I should have known better.

A teacher in my daughter’s class was chatting with another teacher about a fifteen-year-old girl who got drunk at a party and was sexually assaulted and the teacher said, “Well you can’t fix stupid.”

My daughter is fifteen.

My daughter heard that.

You better believe that teacher will be handled. Nobody is going to snap my girl’s fucking bra, literally or figuratively, and SHE WILL SEE US CARE.

But it ain’t much in the larger cesspool of this nation right now, as hordes of white men systematically deconstruct women’s healthcare. Guess it makes sense though. I mean, given history, or the other day, when I was talking to a man about Trump’s pussy grabbing comment and the man said “it wasn’t enough to dismiss him entirely.”

Oh. How strange. I thought it would be.

 

I wonder why we’ve never been enough.

I wonder why the violation of our bodies has never mattered to the world enough to speak out against its objectification and use and destruction.

I wonder why a pussy-grabbing president is alright with us, even 53% of white women.

A majority.

I wonder when we, as women, started believing we weren’t enough either: to fight for, to protect.

And boys are “just that way.”

 

I wonder why we sit by and let this shit slide, why we all grew up getting our bras snapped and our tits groped and our pussies grabbed and aren’t setting this whole motherfucking place on fire.

We will never be enough for them.

We better become enough for ourselves.

We better raise daughters and sons who give one single fuck about the safety, dignity, power and value of a woman’s life, body, health, mind.

It won’t come to us from them. It will only come through us ONTO them.

But hey, you know, women are like that.

We keep fighting.

I’m tired today though. Words of my daughter sent me down my own little history of pussy-grabbing and I didn’t even tell it all, and I’m 38 years old in a nation that doesn’t think pussy-grabbing is a deal-breaker, and is enacting laws to prove it, and I have daughters who still aren’t enough.

But you know what?

At least she thought to complain, and at least I am willing to burn the motherfucker to the ground, even if my fire barely reaches beyond my fingers.

These are dark days for the likes of us, but keep going. I see you.

See me. See our daughters. See tomorrow, possibly in flames.

 

 

78 Comments | Posted in feminist AF | May 11, 2017

15 Ways I’ve Fought for Personal Space While Sleeping Next to a Toddler, and Lost.

by renegademama

My youngest child will be three in June. He still sleeps in our bed. If you think my parental rights should be revoked or are going to comment about all the ways you successfully got YOUR sweet gem out of the bed, please send me an email and tell me everything in great detail, but be sure to do so with a tone of pretentious disdain for the likes of me. I swear I’ll read it.

I’ll read it with all my heart.

You can be very sure I will not delete it.

For the rest of us, the “co-sleepers” by choice or necessity or simply because we are losers, I’d like to share with you fifteen ways I’ve tried to get some personal space at night, because I think there are some really good ideas here.

  1. We tried “deciding” not to have a fourth kid, but then we did, because newborn breath is intoxicating and we forgot they become toddlers.
  2. Then we tried “sleep training,” but the sound of his crying was sad at the level of Goose dying in Top Gun, so we gave that shit up before any real effort.
  3. We tried putting him in a bed near our bed but the child can walk, so he walks to the nightstand, scales it, and crawls between us, which he calls his “pot,” or, for the non-toddler world: “spot.”
  4. About 10 times a night, I shove him as far as possible to the other side, against my husband, because then the toddler gets the physical closeness he craves while I get the NOBODY FUCKING TOUCHING ME which I crave, but as soon as I move him, he spins his legs out and sticks them on my chest, using my husband’s head as a pillow and my boobs as a footrest.
  5. I’ve tried trying to convince the toddler to go sleep with his siblings in some other room, but he just looks at me and says, “No thanks, mama. I stay here with you.” And then I stare at him slack-jawed, because how could anything so adorable be so annoying?
  6. I’ve tried creating the classic Wall of Pillows, but the toddler simply launches himself over the pillow wall back into his “pot,” which is zero centimeters from my body.
  7. Sometimes I put a pillow over my head, thinking if I turn the room black and drown out the sound, I’ll forget there is a 30-pound sweating, snoring machine wedged against my shoulder blades, but the toddler seems to think this is a “hide and seek” game, so as soon as he sees this, he lifts one corner of the pillow, victoriously shouting BOO in my ear. And then he gets back into his pot.
  8. I’ve tried sleeping in the other kids’ room but their beds are covered in stuffed animals and I’m 90% sure the sheets haven’t been changed in three years, since that is the exact amount of time it’s been since an actual kid has slept in those beds. (They prefer to sleep together in the living room or on our bedroom floor because apparently “co-sleeping” is a family disease.)
  9. Since the actual pillow wall doesn’t work, I’ve created a psychological boundary made of wishful thinking and broken dreams. In short, I simply will him with all my might to get the hell on the other side of the bed. This does not work at all.
  10. Whispering “holy fuck somebody help me” repeatedly. Nobody hears it, and nobody cares.
  11. Announcing to my husband, “I am so glad we aren’t having any more kids.” This would be a lot more believable if I weren’t crying four hours later over a newborn onesie I found in the back of a dresser.
  12. Declaring with great fervor and a very serious face: “For sure we are going to Ikea this weekend to let Arlo pick out some bedding for HIS bed, which will be on the floor no matter what by Sunday and he’ll never be in this bed again!” But then I forget Saturday morning or on Sunday evening he has a bath and is wearing flannel pajamas with purple dinosaurs on them and I think, “Oh my god you’re my last baby. I SHALL NEVER KICK YOU OUT.”
  13. I’ve tried Zen-like full radical acceptance of the present moment.
  14. But I can’t because the present moment sucks. A toddler just kicked me in my butt crack.
  15. Pretending my co-sleeping is actually some sort of deep overarching parental philosophy when actually it’s just that I like my babies there more than I hate them there but also sometimes I hate them there with all my soul but am too lazy to change it and those sweaty little cuddly heads complicate the shit out of the whole thing.

In other words, I have no idea what I’m doing here.

If anyone needs more helpful parenting idea lists, just let me know. I’m here to serve.

Maybe next week I’ll do potty training. I have endless ideas that don’t work on that one either.

the sweaty toddler head in question

**

Four spots left in this year’s last “Write Anyway” workshop.

Snag one, or email me with questions.

I’d love to write with you.

.

When was it exactly that we lost our humanity?

by renegademama

The other day I happened upon a post in my town’s “community” Facebook group. It was a photo of an apple and sandwich next to a light post, and above it was the comment “I guess if it doesn’t buy drugs, the homeless in our town don’t want it.” And then it was like a rage face emoji.

Apparently this woman had given food to a homeless person the day before, then happened upon it the next day, in the same location, clearly abandoned by the recipient.

Because I hate myself, I clicked on the comments. The first 90 thousand were iterations of the same concept: Homeless people who take $1 to buy whiskey are losers and don’t deserve our money.

Here’s a summary of the rest of what I read:

Homeless people who buy meth are even worse.

Refusing food makes them ungrateful trash people.

They are trash people because of bad decisions.

They are there because they are bottom-feeding addicts.

Local businesses shouldn’t allow homeless near their dumpsters or bathrooms because “it encourages them.” 

If they’re mentally ill, they should go to the doctor and GET SOME MEDS! “I know all kinds of mentally ill people who hold down jobs!” (<<<<That was a direct quote.<<<)

One genius pointed out that “homeless people don’t need to look so awful. They can wake up each morning and go to the Wayfarer center and get clean and tidy.”

To that woman, I simply say: “I hope you get hit by a large free-falling boulder, you fucking asshole.”

But to the rest, I’d like to chat. I’d like to have a quick convo about this whole “deserving homeless” situation, because I have to say, I really wonder when it was exactly that we lost our humanity.

When was it that we started looking at human beings living on the streets for whatever reason and our response is: “Could you please make yourself more presentable? You are unfortunate on my eyes.”

And when did we convince ourselves that we are some sort of Mother Teresa because we hand somebody a dollar. IT IS A DOLLAR. If you care so much about what the recipient does with the dollar, perhaps you shouldn’t be giving it away.

Clearly that dollar means way too much to you.

And you know these people drip in self-congratulatory declarations of their own “altruism.” You know what altruism is? Giving with no expectation of return.

And yes, expecting that the recipient graciously accept, appreciate, or spend the money on what you deem HOLY and RIGHT and GOOD is in fact demanding a return.

So here’s you: “I believe myself to be a deep and generous person and to confirm that, I will offer you something, but we need to be clear: I’m not doing this for YOU. I’m doing this for ME. If I were doing it for YOU, I wouldn’t give a fuck what you do with my dollar.”

Oh, I know. I know. Enabling! We are enabling the homeless by offering a dollar so they can buy a pint. Maybe.

But maybe they are going to buy tampons. Or French fries. Or maybe they needed that pint to kill the alcoholic withdrawal that would have killed them. MAYBE YOU SAVED THEIR LIVES WITH THAT PINT.

Okay, I’m being hyperbolic. But my point is real: We can’t control the outcome of our attempts to help others, and most attempts to do so are simply a way to feed our egos.

In other words, I’m going to give you this $1 so I can feel good about myself. The moment the recipient doesn’t participate in feeding our egos, we fucking hate them.

OMG SO CHRISTLIKE!

Seriously. Get off that Good Samaritan pedestal.

Here’s what I want to know, pedestal people: If you want to give a dollar, why don’t you do it simply because they are quite obviously not doing as well as you are?

If we have it, why don’t we give it because it’s nice to have an extra dollar?

Who the hell cares why they’re standing on a corner mumbling to themselves and asking for change? Bad decisions, drug addiction, alcoholism…does it matter? I mean, does it really matter? Is the central point of the situation altered in any way whatsoever?

No. No it is not. Because the central point of “giving” is that when you have a little extra, you share it. The central point is that no matter how you cut it, the person standing on the corner in dirty clothes, begging, is, generally speaking, a bit down on their luck and even IF they simply made 12,000 bad decisions beginning at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1985 and ending here, can’t we all appreciate a human who isn’t doing so hot?

Look, I know. I know you have never been that pathetically human before. How do I know? Because you’ve obviously lost touch with what it means to be human.

If you see a person filthy and sunburned and cracked in heart and face, sucking on a cigarette in piss-stained clothes, holding a sign asking for change, and all you think is: “Well that person is clearly a drunk.”

My god. You know what? Save your change. You’re gonna need it in hell. Maybe you can throw some green at Satan and get your fucking soul back.

Damn it. I promised myself I’d stay chill about this. But I’m telling you, it rips my heart out. How did we become these people?

It’s not a bleeding heart thing. It’s not some “liberal” thing. Look. I hate liberals almost as much as I hate conservatives. This is a goddamn HUMAN thing. When did we lose touch with some basic love? Basic concern? Basic goodness toward the people around us?

And I don’t give money to everyone asking for it. When I see a group of 20-year-olds chilling with their pit-bulls and skate boards, bright-eyed and scrollin’ their iPhones, asking me for money because they did too much blow at Coachella, I’m like, nah.

Why? Because I am not Jesus, and they irritate me.

I TOLD YOU I AM NOT JESUS.

But we don’t have to be Jesus. We just have to be decent.

Give or don’t give. Do what you do. But don’t give for “altruism” then blame the recipient for not catering to YOU.

 

At one point I had to stop reading the comments. These people were talking about the homeless, mentally ill, and drug-addicted in our community as the “filth” of our world, as if they were not even humans at all, as if cycles of addiction and poverty do not exist, as if they could get out of the whole homeless predicament if they were just better people.

Oh, you mean like you?

Like the commenter who said she was disgusted at a fast food restaurant for giving a filthy homeless man a cup of water and letting him sit at a table? She wrote, “that’s more than I want to share with a homeless person.”

(The filth rubs off, I guess.)

Space. That’s more than she wants to share.

That’s more than she wants to share with our brothers and sisters who are sick, cold, tired, and hungry. And that hunger isn’t always for food. Some of us are dying from a hunger in the soul, so sick we don’t even remember apples nourish the body.

I guess as a recovering addict I see myself in those watery eyes. But I think if we looked hard enough, we’d all see ourselves in those eyes.

When I hand a drunk a dollar, I want to say, “Hey man, buy the whiskey. I hope you get what you need.”

I know what we need isn’t in the bottle, but I can’t tell him that.

I know it’s in our shared humanity, and I can show him that. For a second, at least.

Or not. It’s just a fucking dollar.

It’s nice to have one to give.

***

Join me in June for the last “Write Anyway” workshop of 2017!

(The rest of my year is slammed and I can’t do another.)

There are 8 spots left. Snag one!

Ride on, kid. I’ll be right back here.

by renegademama

A few months ago, my fifteen-year-old daughter Ava was introduced to a mountain biking team. It’s a high school team.

She was gifted a bike, and started riding.

If you could see my face right now, you’d see there are already some goddamn tears in my eyes.

I wish I knew why this particular topic makes me so fucking emotional. I hate feelings.

Alright. Fine. I do not hate feelings. I am super well-adjusted and in tune with my emotions.

I merely prefer they refrain from attacking me at random.

She was afraid at first. She was nervous and rode slowly. She teetered and stopped often and “hated it.” Mac went with her. He went with her on every ride.

She remained unsure.

But Mac loaded the bikes on the back of the van and took her on rides anyway, week after week.

She rode with the team and Mac went along with them.

She was absolutely unsure.

A day came when Mac wasn’t available to ride with her and the team. She sat at the kitchen table and told me she didn’t want to go. She told me, “I have never done it without daddy.”

She rode anyway.

 

On the night before her first race, she was irritable and angry and frustrated and scared and pissed the fuck off that her family “made” her participate. We suggested she not do it. She hated that idea even more than she hated us in that moment.

She rode anyway.

She came in second to last, elated to finish.

We raved and cheered at her success.

A finish. An actual finish.

A week later she rode 8 miles to school on country roads. I didn’t want to let her go. I was sure she’d get creamed by a drunk farmer.

She rode anyway.

Now she rides every day and you can’t stop her from it. She rides without even thinking, and talks about how good her little brother will be since he’s going to “grow up riding.” She talks about turns and hills and falling and how it’s “no big deal” and she doesn’t talk about riding alone, or not wanting to race.

 

Six months later, she’s finished four races, and with the last one, she placed five spots higher than the races before.

But who cares?

No. I mean really. Who the hell cares.

She had me at the fear. She had me at the falls. She had me at the mud on her face and the blood running down her knees. She had me at her tears when a dog jumped at her on the street and she fell and ripped her clothes and had to ride home humiliated and angry. She had me at still racing. At still riding.

She had me at the beginning.

 

I suppose it makes me cry because this is what I’ve always wanted for my kids. I suppose what I’ve always wanted really, at the end, is that when life offers a chance to do some cool and difficult shit, that they give it a shot and see what happens and bloody their knees because it’s better than accepting what the world tells you you are.

I’ve always been so afraid to do “physical” things. There were athletic kids and then there was me. I’ve always believed myself to be “the intellectual but not athletic one.” The funny thing is, we said the same about her. She was kind of the two-left-feet kid, you know?

But her dad didn’t believe it, I guess, and neither did her uncle who gave her the bike, and neither do her teammates or coach, or little siblings who watch her ride, and the finish line? That fucking finish line didn’t believe it either, I guess, because it just sat there while she crossed it.

But mostly, it was her.

It was Ava who didn’t care. It was Ava who decided to define herself.
I wish I could tell her what her muddied, bloodied knees mean to me, how fucking gorgeous they are to my eyes, eyes that perhaps never believed that would be her life, or mine, or that such things were even open to us. To try even though you have no evidence you can do it. To try even though you’ve got no history of it, no vague inclination, nothing at all rooting you on except a person you care about who’s right there next to you.

To try, and keep riding, even when the glory is simply a “finish.”

Even when the glory is simply getting to the end. 

I held her as a newborn. I held her until she crawled, walked, and I now, I guess, rides. Right beyond the horizon of my dreams, to a place she’ll find.

I’m happy to hang behind. It’s never been mine to own, and the gift is getting left in the dust.

I want to be the man in the BBC video.

by renegademama

So, we need to talk about that viral video with the dude whose kids barged in while he was being interviewed. You remember. The yellow-shirted child who walked in owning the place, and then the baby in the walker who charged in after? Yeah, them.

I found it cute. Of course, the Super Concerned Citizens Brigade had some concerns about the way he gently pushed his kid away. Of course they did. Because one should always be excited about having their children around. They are precious gifts from god, even while working. Obviously.

(Nope.)

And of course the people wondering why we are “congratulating a man for doing what women do all the time.”

Hmmm. Okay.

I thought it was an amusing glimpse into the shared experience of trying to work from home with children who don’t give a fuck that you’re trying to work from home.

And then there was a parody video: “How a woman would have handled it.” And it was a woman picking up the toddler and giving her a bottle instead of trying to get rid of her, and then roasting chicken and ironing and putting out a bomb and helping her husband find a sock, etc. It was funny.

I mean, sort of, until I realized the video wasn’t really critiquing the process, and in fact, the woman joyfully states at the end: “Alright let’s find this sock then!”

The point of course was to highlight women as master multi-taskers who would have DONE IT ALL while being interviewed about international politics, and I fear I may be the only person on the planet who thinks this is utter bullshit.

Look, I love humor. And I’m only uptight on Sundays. I’m the funniest person I know (this is not true). But I felt a wave of repulsion when I saw that video.

I know the point was to “revere” women and point out our incredible ability to take care of all the things all the time and hold down careers. I get that. And yay us.

But truly, fuck that shit.

I want to be the man in that video.

No, I AM the man in that video. When I work, I don’t want my kids around. I don’t want them barging in. I don’t want to feed them a bottle while I do my job. And frankly, fuck you for expecting me to do so.

I don’t want to be the one grilling shrimp and changing a diaper while writing a book. Yes, I 100% EXPECT MY HUSBAND TO GET THE FUCKING TODDLER OUT OF MY FUCKING ROOM SO I CAN WORK.

Sorry for yelling, but come on.

Roasting chicken, doing taxes, buying coconut oil, and planning parent-teacher conferences while working is to some extent the reality of my life, but mostly I accomplish “motherhood and career balance” by failing in rotating areas and lowering my motherfucking standards. I put out fires and focus on that which must be done right now.

Glorification of this “do it all” mode of being makes my stomach turn. I do a lot of things in a lot of areas, but I sure as hell don’t do them perfectly, joyfully, or with an attitude of “no problem. I got this honey.”

Why is it that women have accepted “juggle all the things” as our job? Why and how and when did we get it through our heads that we are even CAPABLE of such a thing (::whispers:: it’s the patriarchy)? We all know it’s impossible, and yet we celebrate it.

It has become a mark of accomplishment for “women,” an intrinsic aspect of our identities, a badge we wear with apparent honor.

I’m a writer. I have a major deadline coming up in five weeks. For the past three weeks, one of my children or I have been sick in rotating cycles of hell that have reduced my already scant 20-hours a week of office time to 4-5 hours a week. To make up for it, I have worked evenings and entire weekends, which means I leave my family for two days at a time, missing activities and evening events and their faces. I have all but ceased grocery shopping and cooking. I missed a parent-teacher conference because I had the date wrong. I may or may not be returning phone calls.

Ultimately, I have to REMOVE myself from my family to pursue my career. It’s hard, and it stings. But is it worth it? Yes. That’s why I do it.

You know who picks up the slack? My husband.

Because that is what we do for each other because we are not superheroes we are humans. 

So please stop implying that my family can literally or figuratively join me in my workspace, or that if I were a better woman, I would bring the kid onto my lap rather than kick her the hell out of my office.

 

And the truly unfortunate thing here is that I have the “ideal” career for “balancing” motherhood and work. I work for myself, so I have “flexibility.” My husband works two hours away as an ironworker. He is not available during the days. If he doesn’t show up for work, he doesn’t get paid. I am grateful I can be here.

But even though I enjoy “ideal” conditions, this shit is still impossible. I cannot do it all. Ever. And I’m growing mighty tired of the idea that I can.

I know people will read this and say, “Hey genius if you wanted a career, why’d you have so many kids?”

And to you I say: That is an excellent question.

And I will answer it as soon as we start regularly asking men the same question: “Hey man, why did you have so many kids if you wanted a career?”

Most of us are working – men and women – BECAUSE WE NEED TO EAT. But only one of the genders is being asked why the fuck they aren’t getting the ironing done.

I’m kidding. Obviously nobody actually irons.

 

When I excel in one area, it is at the cost of another.

When I focus on one area, I have less focus to offer other areas.

This is logic. Excellent stuff.

I cannot do it all. I cannot balance it all. I cannot perform at stellar levels in every damn area of existence. And that’s cool.

I will pass on the incessant multi-tasking, thanks.

So yeah, get the fuck out of my room while I work, kids.

Mama loves you.

Bye.