Ladies of the Round Table

May 18, 2008

The Ah-Ha Moment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 11:23 am

You know what I mean…that moment when everything clicks and you just get it. “Ah-Ha,” you think to yourself, “now I know what they were talking about!”

I had mine the other day; the moment when this whole motherhood thing began to make sense. Right outside of that store with the big red bull’s eye, I finally got it! I finally got it!

~~

You see my transition into motherhood was somewhat ‘bumpier’ than I would care to admit. Or, perhaps it just seemed like that to me since I am the ultimate perfectionist. In any case, I found motherhood to be harder, scarier, and more exhausting that I had anticipated. Now don’t get me wrong; I loved our son the moment I laid eyes upon him! I guess that even though I *knew* things were going to take some adjustment, I just *figured* we’d be the exception…not the rule. No, no, definitely not the rule.

Yeah, ha, welcome to reality Jen…

Yes, in reality I was struggling to become the mother that I had assumed I would always be: the calm, cool, completely in control woman who effortlessly raised her children, maintained an enviable relationship with her husband, kept an immaculate home (thank goodness for cleaning ladies…), worked full-time and blogged about everything on a regular basis. Looking back, I’m not exactly certain how I devised this self-portrait of motherhood; watching too many sitcoms I suppose. Therefore, when the snot-covered, greasy-haired, absent-minded, patience-challenged mom emerged, I was horrified!

Oh my, was I scared! This wonderful, beautiful, smart little man did not deserve such a mother! He deserved a mom who felt no need to check out in front of the TV. He deserved a mom who kept him engaged and interested. He deserved a super-mom, not me! Needless to say, this awful realization did nothing to strengthen my crumbling psyche. I bet I spent a good six weeks mentally berating myself for my shortcomings. I was seriously ticked at myself for not being better at this!

That was, until that day outside of the bull’s eye store. I don’t know what happened. It was a rainy, incredibly windy day and we had ventured out only because we needed some necessity. I lifted my son out of his car seat, balancing my heavily laden diaper bag on the other shoulder, slammed the car door shut and hit the button on my automatic umbrella, all the while cursing the terrible weather. But he just laughed! He giggled and giggled all the way in to the store. With the wind whipping through our hair and stray rain drops splashing against our faces, I realized that this was the first time my son had experienced walking under an umbrella and he thought it was cool!

And something clicked for me. It just clicked. The sleepless nights. The puke-stained laundry. The bottles. The diapers. Everything. It all finally made sense. I was never going to be perfect, but it really didn’t matter…my son was happy. My son loved me. And most importantly, my son was thriving. We were doing pretty damn good as a family, and it was high time I acknowledged it!

Since that day, I’ve enjoyed a certain sense of calm. I look forward to the nighttime awakenings and the struggles at nap time. The toys strewn about the house don’t really bother me and lunchtime messes are becoming fun! I guess I’m finally getting the hang of this Mommy Gig, and I love it. I might even be up for doing it again… someone just might need to remind me that I wrote this post when that time finally comes!

by Jen
author of My (not so) Mindful Musings
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May 17, 2008

When it can’t be made “all better”

Filed under: Uncategorized — J @ 3:32 am

I wish I had a snarky, quipy post in me, to be honest, I have been waiting to write my free post until I felt some quip-i-ness, but I just don’t have it…..

So here goes, this is what’s on my mind…..

This month set me back.  On a Friday we all learned about the Embassy’s announcement concerning Vietnam adoptions.  I spent that weekend crying, praying, talking to my husband and getting mobilized mentally, and I was ready to fight, for our kids, for adoptions that make a difference, for keeping families together.  The next Thursday, six days later, we got another bombshell that ended what was left our relationship with my parents.

Crap.  I spent a week crying, grieving so much of what I lost.  So much of what I thought I knew, both with my parents and with adoption in general.  It sucked.  And you know what got me through, besides the prayers of those who love me, was the truth that many people have survived much worse and not lost their minds.  I actually told myself daily that if surviving the Holocaust could produce Elie Wiesel, then surely I could survive losing my parents and surviving the aftermath of their decisions.  I completely realize that I am no Elie Wiesel, and that this ain’t no Holocaust.  But it helped.

There has been so much that what I am going through has made me consider.  I am struggling, as an adult to grieve the loss of my parents.  I have no idea how to do this.  No one should have to go through what I have been through.  As an adult I *should* be able to sort out my emotions, release, forgive…. all that crap….but I struggle.  My parents are not dead, and as long as they are alive, their may be hope for restoration.  But right now, what I know is: death of relationships, death of hope. The people around me have no idea what to do with me, because it is not a “real” death, because there is so much shame attached to the situation.

So I am wading through, with support and love of the small group of those around me who know what is going on and can handle it.  But many people don’t know, and can’t know, and some of those who do know are simply overwhelmed by it all, so they ignore it, they pretend they don’t know that I was crying for a week, that I no longer have a family of origin.  Those who have helped the most have helped by simply acknowledging the pain, the loss and the truth of pain.  They gave me space to cry, to heave, to be silent.  They expected nothing from me, except the truth.  They cried out to God when I could not.  These people helped. 

As I have come through the cloud this weekend, my mind has gone a lot to Khai, to grief and loss in adoption.  To pain because of adoption. And as very much I would give almost anything to have parents back, to have the relationship I thought I had with them; I am grateful to have to be honest.  I am grateful that I know how it feels to have people around me act like I should be fine simply because they have no idea what to do with all that I am dealing with.  Am I going to be like so many of the people around me?  Will I, as his mom, pat-pat him on the arm, and blubber on and make him feel guilty for missing someone he never knew?  Man, I hope not.  There are so many times when I do want to forget about his first mom.  I don’t want to have to deal with the layer of adoption.  And I do have a choice, many a-parents do choose to not go there, because it is too hard for them, and it is awkward, and let’s just be honest, our children lost their first parents, that is part of what adoption means, and no one should ever lose their parents. 

I don’t know how to do this grieving stuff, but I am learning as I go.  And I am going to go there, I am not going to stuff it down.  I am going to feel, to cry when I need to, to pull the covers over my head when I need to, and yeah, when I have good days, like the last three in a row, I am going to laugh and play play-doh, and hold my babies tight.

And as I think about walking this journey with Khai(and any other kids we adopt) I guess I am going to do the same.  I will help him with a process that we adults, at best, simply struggle with. I will go there with him, I will sit with him when he cries, I will answer ALL of his questions the best I know how, I will tell him that I am sorry that he isn’t with his first momma, even when I am overwhelmed and want to pretend like adoption doesn’t have anything to do with loss, I will make a choice to not look away, to not pretend;  on the good days(which I know will far out number the bad) I will laugh with him, kiss his boo-boos and make it ALL better, I will just be his mamma, and that will be enough. 

Madeline L’Engle said it well in her bookOther Side of the Sun: 
“It’s a peculiar thing about pain. We can help each other bear it. Not just by caring, by making it bearable because we care – though that helps…Mado did it by prayer. She took people’s pain and she bore some of it for them. I don’t understand this, but I’ve seen it happen…It wasn’t just my imagination. Theron saw it too. He saw a wounded man who should have been in agony resting quitely because Mado was bearing part of his pain.”

 

May 12, 2008

Such a Time as This

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. @ 3:51 pm
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I have been debating, debating, debating in my head whether or not to write this post.  I haven’t written any posts here yet (life has been a tad busy, sorry) and I don’t want my first post to be alienating or controversial, but I’m going to do it and hope for the best.

Motherhood was very difficult for me at first.  That isn’t to say it isn’t difficult at times still, but not in the way it was.  I knew with every fiber of my being that staying at home with my children was what I wanted to do — for them.  When it actually happened, however, when I actually starting being a stay-at-home mom, I realized very painfully that it was for them and completely, totally, not for me.  I struggled with the “what if’s” and second guessed myself for years (about six of them) until I was asked to speak in church on Mother’s Day, 2004.  That was a turning point for me.

(Umm . . . for those of you who don’t like reading/hearing about God, I hope big sirens and whistles just went off in your head when you read “I was asked to speak in church”.  At this point, if you keep reading, it is your decision.) 

So I am going to share much of that talk here, not to be preachy, not to make it seem like I condemn mothers who work outside the home (because I don’t), but to share what has helped me make peace with a decision that I knew was right for me to begin with, but just had a hard time accepting in practice.  I am going to share it in case anyone else, either a regular reader or someone who just stumbles across this forum, is struggling with the same feelings I had in hopes it can help them.  I am also going to share it in hopes that people will see stay-at-home moms aren’t just air-headed women who would “do something more”  with their lives if they had the drive, or understood that they could.  Believe me, I understand.

So, without further ado, here it is (though somewhat edited for space because it was, like, a 15-20 minute talk.  I know, that was further ado.  Anyway . . . ) :

I recently ordered a pamphlet written by Sister Hinckley entitled, Is This What I Was Born to Do?.  In it she recounts the story of Esther who was encouraged to approach her husband, the king, to plead for her people.  She knew if she did this she could possibly lose her life.  Mordecai, the cousin who raised her, encouraged her with these words, found in Esther 4:14:

“Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Sister Hinckley observed that when we have those moments in our life when we think, “Is this what I was born to do?” we could translate that question into Mordecai’s question, “Who knoweth whether I am come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

As mothers, do we not ever, in frustration, wonder, “Is this what I was born to do?”  I know I have.  But it is my testimony to you that we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.  As mundane as motherhood may sometimes seem, especially for the stay-at-home mom, it is exactly what we are here for.  I bear you my testimony that I know Heavenly Father is aware of you.  The children you have are your children because that is part of his plan, not just because their number came up and it was their turn to come down to earth.  I know this because shortly after my husband and I were engaged, but before we were married, Heavenly Father let me know very specifically that I would have three daughters – three daughters who, along with many other children, wanted desperately to be with their mothers.  In those difficult moments of motherhood, I try to remember this, that these are my children for a reason.  I may not know the reasons, but Heavenly father does and so I have to have faith that he will help me with whatever the challenges are, because nobody else can do my job.  Likewise, mothers, nobody else can do your job.

President Hinckley has said, “I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling.  No other can adequately take your place.  No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world” (Pres. Hinckley, Bring Up a Child in the Way he Should Go, Ensign, Nov. 1993).

No other can adequately take your place – those are the words of a prophet.

I believe there is so much in the world that can distract us from the sanctity of our callings as mother.  Not only can these things distract us, they are designed to do just that.  In the past few decades so many doors have been opened to us as women.  We have more choices than ever before regarding our educations and our professional opportunities.  The availability of these choices, I believe, is inherently good.  After all, our Heavenly Father is all about giving us the ability to choose.  However, somewhere along the way, with all the cheering and hurrahing over our new choices, many women seem to have forgotten that the old choice of being a full-time mother and homemaker is still an option.  Don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  For some women staying at home is not an option and the brethren have recognized and continue to recognize this with love and understanding.  I temporarily returned to work when my oldest was about 5 months old.  Sometimes it is necessary.

One of the unfortunate side effects of so many women working outside the home is that those who stay at home often compare themselves to their professional counterparts and feel that they don’t measure up.  The stay-at-home mom with a degree wonders if she isn’t wasting a hard-earned education.  The stay-at-home mom who never finished her degree because children came along wonders if she hasn’t missed out on a great opportunity.  As we watch other women climb the corporate ladder or increase their education we wonder if we couldn’t have done the same, and if we wouldn’t be more interesting people for having done so.  Of course, allowing ourselves to become mired in the “what if’s” distracts from our task at hand of rearing our children in truth and righteousness.

I occasionally hear from an old college roommate of mine.  The last time we got a Christmas card she was finishing up her Ph.d. and learning some obscure African dialect, I believe.  Her letter was full of all the interesting things she had been learning and doing and I began feeling like an utter failure. 

Well, I cannot speak an obscure African dialect.  I don’t even remember most of the French I learned in college.  I don’t have a Ph.d.  I don’t even have a master’s degree.  I haven’t been published in about 4 years now, and I never was published in any highly respected publication.  Shortly after my first daughter was born I was offered the job of being the editor-in-chief of one of the area’s largest semi-weekly newspapers.  I turned down that job, but am reminded of the opportunity every time I open up my daily paper and see the smiling face of one of the columnists who worked her way up to her current job, in part, by being the editor of the paper I turned down.  But when I focus on these things, my job as a mother becomes more frustrating, and motherhood is frustrating enough without adding resentment for the unfulfilled “what if’s.”

President Joseph F. Smith said, “After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness.  To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.  One is of universal and eternal greatness, the other is ephemeral” (Pres. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939).

When I quit working after we started our family there were those who asked me if this is what I really wanted to do and, if so, why?  I always said that when my children are grown, if they turn out well I don’t want to share the credit with the daycare; and if they turn out not-so-well, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering, “What if I’d been home for them?  Would that have made all the difference?”

President Hinckley has said, “You have nothing in this world more precious than your children.  When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out.  It will not be the money you have made.  It will not be the cars you have owned.  It will not be the large house in which you live.  The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be, How well have my children done?  If the answer is that they have done very well, then your happiness will be complete.  If they have done less than well, then no other satisfaction can compensate for your loss” (Pres. Hinckley, Your Greatest Challenge, Mother, Ensign, 2000).

I hope with constant vigilance we will pray for the strength to ignore the distracting “what if’s” and the wisdom and insight to understand that we are women of destiny.

There is so much on this subject that I found that I wish to share with you.  Maybe someday I’ll write a book on it, but for now, time is short.  I would like to share the following statement by the First Presidency, published in 1942:
“Motherhood is near to Divinity.  It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.  It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.  To you mothers in Israel we say, God bless and protect you, and give you the strength and courage, the faith and knowledge, the holy love and consecration to duty, that shall enable you to fill to the fullest measure the sacred calling which is yours.  To you mothers and mothers-to-be we say: ‘Be chaste, keep pure, live righteously, that your posterity to the last generation may call you blessed’” (Message of the First Presidency, Deseret News Weekly Church Edition, Oct. 1942). 

When we find ourselves longing for the boardroom, the pressroom or the classroom and longing for all the emotional, mental and monetary benefits therein, we need to remember that we could be forfeiting our place next to the angels and forfeiting benefits that we can’t even comprehend.

Yes sisters, this is what we are born to do – to love our children as no one else can, to teach them the things only we will see they need to learn, to make home a happy and safe place, a place of refuge from the slings and arrows of the world.  It is my testimony that, like Esther, we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.

May 7, 2008

First Glimpse of Motherhood….

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carissa @ 4:07 am

This month I will experience my first Mother’s Day, the first one where my children are on this planet, I may not be their offical mother yet, but I know who they are. I have memorized pictures, talked to doctors (more than I care to admit), and loved them from afar. I may not be the mother who is currently raising them but I am their mother, mamma, mommy, mom, mama… To be honest I will be/am their third mother. Their first mother loved them enough to say they need a better life than she could provide (and yes I do KNOW that), their second mother loved them from the day they were released from the hospital – she loved them enough to say I will take both of them raise them as my own and when the time comes release them to their third mother. My fear as a mother is that I could not love them more than they have already been loved – that my love will never equal what love they have already been given in their short life. For this reason, I find myself defending my decision to register for/purchase the best car seats, strollers and cribs and while the best does not always mean the most expensive it can mean that the item costs more than usual. I find myself over researching a possible medical diagnosis – one that until I have my precious baby girl in my arms I will not know the severity. I find myself falling in love with pictures I know are outdated but that is ok, I love them anyway. I find myself crying in the wierdest places, public places because I am so happy that I finally get to live the dream I have had for three years or what seems like forever. I am not sure it is possible to cry so many happy tears in one day – but I do. I cried when the home study update was done, cried again when I purchased the first cards that said “To Grandma,” cried again when I started to try to register and didn’t have a clue what is going on. If being a mother means I cry more and laugh more and have an obsessive need to talk about my children then count me in, if being a mother means constant concerns about safety once again count me in, if being a mother is all the good and the bad rolled up in one thing count me in. I cannot wait to experience the smiles, the laughter, the times to play games, the firsts and the lasts, toddlerhood to teenage angst. I want to be a mother – I need to be a mother. I have waited three very long years to hear the words mommy and will wait years longer if I have to – I am ready to hear from my child “I hate you” – I see it as a rite of passage, one that I hope does not kill me inside as much as I think it will. I have been through hell and back to become a mother, each year begging God to please make it the last year I am not a mother, each year allowing myself to become more and more angry with this God who is supposed to grant all prayers while well meaning people share the story of Sarah and Abraham with me and I want to scream at them that I am NOT Sarah but instead smile and say thank you . Now I look back and see how that same God was preparing me for what I am about to experience, how to lean on Him and answer those prayers I earlier swore He never heard in a way I never expected and bigger than even I could have imagined. Wow, this post is getting very emotional, but right now I feel a bit entitled. I know almost everyone else on this Roundtable has at least one child home with them, is already a mother and has been in some way shape or form where I am right now and can get it – please remember when you were where I am, when you were expecting your first child or that crazy time between referral and travel – that is where I am, and I am overly emotional. So I know in my heart I am officially a MOM and motherhood suits me well even if it took me 33 years (my whole life)to realize this is exactly what I was meant to do! So while I will leave the rest of this month to all of you experienced mothers – I will start this month with motherhood hopes and expectations 🙂

May 1, 2008

Momsense

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gina @ 12:22 am

I thought I’d prime the writer’s pump for this month’s topic with my favorite Motherhood video of all time. If you’ve seen it before, I know you’re ready to see it again and if you’ve never seen it, it’s time you do!

April 30, 2008

May Topic

Filed under: Uncategorized — craftymommy @ 8:40 pm
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I hope you ladies have a fun go at this month’s topic.  I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this month to:

Motherhood

 

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Our two Free Topic writers that we will be enjoying posts from for May are:

Jena:  Two Different Loves

Stacy:  The Delightful Delaney

April 21, 2008

Circle of Friends

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carissa @ 11:10 pm

Ok first I am sorry for pretty much falling off the face of the earth lately – I have not done a Goal Monday in a while, or a Homespun Sunday or pretty much even a post about what is going on with anything. To say that I am working into a full fledged funk is an understatement – I believe I am already there, not only at work but at home as well. There are a host of reasons, some I can talk about some I cannot, but such is life. But this seems to have worked perfectly into this post for Ladies of the Roundtable. This month I can post twice once as a free for all and once on the actual topic which I can sadly admit that I do not even remember what the topic is this month. But as the title suggests I want to talk about something most women not only need but seem to get us through the day, week, month, year(s) from hell, our friends.

When we are younger it seems we are friends with a different array of people, people who have different interests and beliefs, etc… and as clicks or groups start to form then we choose our friends based on who they are (or who they are not). I do not know a woman who cannot tell me she has one childhood friend that she can recall who was her sounding board during those “wonderful” pre-teen and teen years – someone who always knew her crushes, her first kiss, what she planned to do (or not do) on Prom night, what her real grade on that pop quiz was, how she really felt about her parents – I could go on but you get the idea. That person, and I say person as by the time I reached high school my best friend – the person I counted on for everything – was a guy and not another girl, can predict things even you could not, things that you never would. If this person is not still in your life, should you meet them again you would find that they fit right back in and for some people it may even be a group of people a – circle of friends shall we say. I have to say that most of the women I know fall into one of two groups with this first true friend – that person is still in her life, even if from a LONG distance away but they talk constantly and still are as close as ever or like in my case part of my life changed and I rarely if ever talk to the people I considered friends in high school and that aforementioned guy, I have no clue where he is or what he is doing. I heard from him once when I was in law school and at that time he was married and we caught up on what life was like for us and said we would stay in touch, but I have not talked to him again. I would LOVE to find him, catch up and this time actually stay in touch and even with his unusual last name I cannot find him, most likely he does not want to be found that would fit him. But this second group of women, like me, would like to be back in touch with their friend but cannot find them or have not even tried for a whole host of reasons, usually life just gets in the way.

After childhood (and high school), each season of life brings a whole host of new friends – be it college, marriage, parenthood or something totally different. Somehow we gravitate to those who are in or who have been in the same situation as we are, for example right now I feel more closely connected to people I have never actually met than to my friends who live in the same town I do, why is that? Well my blogging buddies are not only experiencing or have experienced what I am right now but I can relate with them. I have no idea what being pregnant is like and most likely never will – I know what I have heard from my friends or read in a book but not in person. I cannot tell my labor and delivery story or laugh about what my newborn baby is doing now. At some point these friends and I’s seasons will be the same again but for right now they could not be more different and I feel horrible but some days I cannot deal with their season and mine (and I firmly believe the opposite is true some days they cannot deal with their season and mine) – while we are happy for each other and want to be there for each other it is hard to be a true friend and listen and tell your friend it will all work out when you have NO IDEA what is going to happen. There are things we say such as “well I read that..” or “another friend did …” or “I wish I could help more than just listening” – and before you know it if that season lasts long at all you and your friend now just seem to be passing acquaintances.

My best friend from college who I still talk to almost every day (though not as often lately) and I have a theory about being single and being married – I got married when I was firmly in my 30’s and she is only six months younger than me and she is still not married – each of us has been in at least thirteen weddings, many of mine while I was single and all of hers, most of these women consider us close enough friends to be in their weddings but within months of the wedding we have stopped hearing from them in any regular fashion (and in some cases after the divorce is final we have all the sudden become close to them again) but we really could not figure out why. The more we examined it – a real effort had to be made to be friends, we no longer had dating (or not dating) in common and the one who remained single had nothing in common with the married one – now a real effort had to be made by both parties to listen to the other about the issues you have no clue about or just were not 100% interested in. In some cases these women became mothers and we have NEVER heard from them again because now there really is no common ground. I swore when I got married this would not happen with her – but now with the adoption we have to make an effort to talk and I HATE that as we used to talk all the time but once again – I am in a different season and so is she, we are trying but it is not always easy.

There are seasons we go through that we feel as if there in NO ONE in that season – I have a few though not many in my life – and that makes it harder. There is no one who can tell you it will all work out and you will walk out a stronger woman on the other side of it. Sometimes we help our friends through those seasons – such as I have seen women shave their heads in solidarity when a friend has cancer and will lose all of her hair, so that woman will not be alone in her experience of being bald and they can all experience that together. That is a show of friendship and something I may do for my friends as well.

We all revel in shared experiences, can you think of any of your friends who you do not share something with? I cannot think of a friend in my life who I do not share some sort of something that is important to me with, and in most cases it is more than one thing. My question becomes what do you do to help your friends when they are experiencing something you have not and may want to such as pregnancy or do not want to such as cancer – what can we do for those we consider special, our friends and loved ones when we are not on the same page? I want to deepen my friendships – all of them, those online, in person and from a distance. I want to be there for my friends no matter what, even when things in my life are falling apart around me. Sometimes when I talk to my friends I feel like the conversation is all about me even when I try to talk about them as well – there has to be a way. So maybe you my friends in this season of my life can help me stay friends who are not only not in this season with me but may not be as excited that I am entering this season and leaving other seasons behind or am not as excited about other seasons…so please I ask you to share your experiences in friendship good and bad, long and short in the comments! My hope with this post is to start a discussion about friendship that we can all learn from!

A Sad Goodbye, A Happy Hello

Filed under: Uncategorized — craftymommy @ 1:15 pm

I’m sad to say goodbye to Lorri from All That We Let In. She has decided to step back to focus on her family. I know we all wish her the best and hopes she’ll come visit from time to time.

As we say goodbye, please also warmly welcome K from Mixed Nuts. She will be joining us as a contributor at Ladies of the Round Table. Welcome!!

April 20, 2008

In with the In Crowd?

Filed under: Uncategorized — metaphase @ 3:56 pm

This is Char from Metaphase. I haven’t written here yet, and if you visit my blog, you’ll see I’m not the best writer in our little group. I hope you all bear with me as I try to put my thoughts out here…

I never thought a WHOLE lot about beauty in the media until just a few years ago. I think this might be for a few reasons. I’m about to be pretty honest here, so please don’t take this the wrong way.

First, I have always been, until recently, what people would consider pretty. Not that I’m an ogre now or anything, but I mean in high school and in my twenties people would come up to me and tell me how beautiful I was. I was thin, had a nice face, and confident. I can remember I was at work (manager at GAP, I know lame, right?) and I said hi to a mom and her little girl. As they were walking away, the little girl said to her mom, “She’s so beautiful, mommy. Like a princess!”. That’s always nice to hear on a work day. So it’s funny, I hardly ever thought of how the media portrayed women or their sexuality then. Was it because I was “on the inside” so to speak? I was what the media was telling everyone they should be, no I had to need to think about it any further. Ok, so now, I’m 33, have given birth. Let’s face it, things don’t go back they way they were after a pregnancy, I’ve gained about 35lbs. since I was 25 and my “pregnancy mask” (dark spots on the face) never went away. People don’t look at me and tell me I look like a princess. I don’t have time (and money) to spend on myself. I used to be able to go to the gym 5 times a week. I don’t know the last time my be-hind was in the gym, but from the looks of it, it’s been a while!

Now, I think about how the media tells us we should trounce around in a size 2 and have boobs the size of watermelons hanging out. Is it because I no longer am one of those people? (I never had the watermelons, BTW!) Am I more sensitive because I am so far from what everyone thinks women should be? Or is it that I now have an education, a family, and a better perspective on what is really important?

I also think in the last few years, things have gotten more out of control in the media. Photos of celebs and videos can be downloaded any time, no one is ever able to fly under the radar. I taught science at a middle school here in the Boston area. The school is in the wealthiest town in Mass. Most of these kids will go to Harvard, MIT or some Ivy League school, just like their parents did. I think about this one girl who was so full of personality and really smart, except she didn’t want her friends to know about the smart part. She could command a room with her presence, and yet she wanted to be the “dumb girl”, like Paris Hilton. This broke my heart. Her work reflected a totally different person than the way she acted in class. I wanted to shake her and tell her she had been given a gift- brain and charisma- now use them both and become a diplomat, the president, or a Nobel Peace Prize winner-not Paris Hilton!

So I don’t know if my growing up changed my perspective or my growing out made me think about how much more our girls could be and how women are objectified in the media now more than ever it seems. I hope it’s me growing up, and I hope I can teach my daughter not to be a “stupid girl”, in the words of Pink.

April 14, 2008

Being the Beauty

Filed under: Uncategorized — craftymommy @ 4:39 am

One of my favorite things to do to relax is sit down on the couch, feet up, watching really bad, really entertaining reality shows. My favorites are the dating shows on VH 1. 20 or so women vying for the affections of a 40-50 year old man by wearing as little as possible and creating as much drama as possible. Good times.

I have two problems with the whole “sex sells” idea: when it’s a teenage/young girl, and when that’s all we are presenting as women. I am all for an adult women dressing to feel sexy. I do think that it is a part of womanhood. I dress sexy at times and I like to feel sexy. Now, my definition of what feels that way to me I have realized for a long time is much more modest than average. But I understand the need to fulfill that aspects of ourselves.

Back when I was in college I started worrying about what raising a daughter in our society would mean. I started to worry about the images that we present in mainstream media and just society behavior in general as acceptable. There were a couple of things going on at that time in my life that kind of shaped how I began to feel. It was around the time of the rise of stars such as Britney Spears and Cristina Aguilera, who utilized sex appeal as young stars. I was working retail when they were at their peak. I worked in the girls clothes section of the department store, which included babies, toddlers, and young girls. There was a junior section for teens, and a women’s section on the first floor. Prior to this all of the girls underwear were things like disney princess ones, or just plain colored ones. I only say this because one day we got a shipment in of new underwear. No kidding – they were so “sexy” (lacy, low cut designs) that I thought they had made a mistake and it was supposed to go to lingerie. Nope. Girls clothes.

I think that we say that teens and young girls shouldn’t be viewed this way, but we send an entirely different message through mainstream media, and hell, through that department store. I remember shopping for clothes for my own daughter when she was just a few months old. I went to a store in the mall only to find skirts, in her size, that honestly wouldn’t have covered diaper. They were short skirts, and I do mean short. I don’t believe at all that this was me being too modest.

These images are what I worried about a long time ago in my early twenties when I told my sociology professor that I absolutely refuse to have any girls – only boys. I had no clue how I was going to fight society on this one, and that was my big beef with raising a girl. The uphill fight with how I was beginning to realize society and the media present women and young girls.

I think that as time goes on I see more and more the sex and sexy part of being a women is pushed, and pushed so much as to begin to only highlight that aspect of being a woman. Media has come to be unforgiving in how it treats its women, especially those that are not thin enough or sexy enough. I would love to see a more shows that emphasize a more well-rounded view of women, think Beauty and the Geek where it’s the women who are in the role of being the geek.

There is an acceptance of being empowered through being the Beauty, through pushing our sex appeal rather than focusing on highlighting our other skills. I’ve spent the past month watching as one of the women in another department where I work flirt with our director (I work right next to his office). I’ve watched as she applied to be his executive assistant and go into the meeting wearing a semi-seethrough shirt, whereas the other applicants all wore suits (men and women). The last I heard she’ll be getting the job. Now, far be it from me to say that she doesn’t deserve it. What really interested me was the way she went about it. She is a women who is charming (the job requires working with clients) and is educated. I have always fought so hard to put out my skills first, fighting the idea that a woman has to be sexy to be of worth to whatever it is she is doing. This has me doubting. I have seriously considered changing the way in which I present myself at work because of it. I wonder if being less modest at work will garner me more respect – or hell, at least more money.

I think it is emphasized in the dating shows that I watch. In fact, so much that my husband hates it if I’m watching them and our daughter is anywhere near the tv. Think about these young women, who probably are so much more than just the sexy outfits that they wear, and yet to win the heart of an old man they’ve never met, they are competing in competitions where they prove their worth to him by using their sexuality to its fullest.  That’s their worth, all packaged into the smallest clothes possible.

Of course that’s not their full worth, but that is what we are presenting to society, to women, to young women – that this is what our worth is tied to.

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