Monthly Archives: April 2015
Okay, first a quick note to thank you all. I love the support this community offers about pretty much anything and I love that you never make me feel like things that are big to me are trivial. You all are great.
So, back to our regularly scheduled family programming.
As some of you know, Lesley works two jobs. I have a job in an office where I meet with clients and feel good about what I do and have free health insurance for the family and an amazing retirement plan. Lesley works part time at the public library and part time doing office management for a local non profit. The deal was that I’d move to Oregon for her to go to grad school but I would move again. The up side is we live somewhere we love. The downside is that she has a very expensive graduate degree and will never work in her field. This has been okay mainly because she loves her jobs. She likes working at the library and has loved the non profit she has worked for for close to 4 years. She has been committed to staying there and family decisions have always included her employment there.
But lately things at the non profit have taken a turn for the worse. Her boss had a conversation with her a while ago about what it would take for that to be her only job. We talked about it – a slight increase in hours and some sort of benefits (paid time off, money towards retirement, ect.). She talked to him and got the impression that when preparing the budget for the next fiscal year those things would be looked into. That conversation took place about six weeks ago.
Two weeks ago her boss asked her to get quotes to offer health insurance to their 5 person staff. Her boss and one other person currently get a stipend to buy insurance but he wants to offer everyone insurance or a stipend. Lesley told him that she wouldn’t include herself in the quote because she is covered from me and if they were offering health insurance she wouldn’t take it (likely there would be a big copay or cost and currently she is covered for free). He said okay and she asked what would happen if they offered a stipend to all employees. He said since she had health insurance she would not get it. She explained that neither he nor the other employee have to show proof that they buy insurance with their stipend and she would use hers to put into a private retirement account. He again said she would not get it and followed it up with, “People who have kids get a huge tax return and I don’t have kids but somehow have to pay for that.” Lesley was floored. Her boss is super progressive. Lesley is the only person who works there with a child. She doesn’t think that he thought about that when he said it and has no idea how screwed up that was to say.
So then comes last week. She screwed something minor up at work (prepared a mailing to 30 people, forgot to include a return envelope, restuffed mailing, peeled stamps off first envelope, and sent it. In the end she wasted some time and 30 envelopes). Her boss the next day had a talk with her about how she is not on her game and said that he gets it must be hard to want to be home with your child but he needs her to focus there. Other employees just don’t show up some days and nothing is ever said.
So we talked about it and he is right. It is hard to want to be home with your child and at this point that is where she wants to be. So we’re working on a plan to drop that job. She works 20 hours a week at the library but 28 hour positions regularly open. She is keeping an eye out for one of those but in the meantime we are working towards he being out of her nonprofit job September 1st no matter what.
This involves a few adjustments. We have paid off two credit cards this year but want one more paid off before then. That will leave us with just under $2000 in consumer debt. We’re canceling cable that we never watch (after the stanley cup). We’d keep Gus in childcare some while she was home so she could get stuff done around the house, craft, and cook and he’d still be in childcare while she worked but we could cut that by about $200 a month. I get a $200 monthly raise in October so that will help. We are going to work on having better control of our spending. She currently brings home around $750 a month from that job and between my raise and childcare cuts we’d be out around $350. We easily overspend that on eating out, stuff Gus doesn’t need, or other things that we can reign in. Our tax return would mean we could still go to New York next summer. We could still get to Vancouver in November. Things would be tighter, but we’d all be happier. Laundry would get put away, our garden would thrive, we’d eat dinner before 8 pm. It’d be worth it.
My heart is really heavy and I need to talk through it. I’ve been processing it with other people and need to get some things out and well, this is my blog so I am putting it here. I know that things I am about to say are unpopular – feel free to move along. Know I am writing and not editing – I may not get everything completely right with this. Forgive me. I emotionally can’t handle rereading to edit.
This August will be the last Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF). MWMF is a 40 year old festival that takes place in the woods of Michigan each year and because of ongoing controversy it can’t continue. MWMF’s purpose (my words, not theirs) is to be a place for women and girls to recover from a patriarchal society and celebrate womanhood. It is come under fire because it is not trans* inclusive. The last statement festival organizers made asked that folks just respect the intention of the festival – meaning that if trans* women come, understand that the focus is on women who have survived girlhood.
I’m not going to debate it here. Years ago festival organizers stated that it is for “womyn born womyn”. Yeah, that’s shitty language. It was years ago. They didn’t have it right. The HRC pushed to have gender identity removed from ENDA and folks still support them. I’m moving past verbiage here.
I’m heartbroken about MWMF ending. I’m heartbroken because the reason it is opposed is because it is not trans* inclusive. It is not trans* inclusive because the purpose of the festival is to recover from being a girl in a patriarchal society and, for the most part, trans* women did not experience being socialized female as a child (I understand that this is increasingly not true and that’s an issue with this idea).
Being a girl is hard. Living in the patriarchy is hard. And I strongly believe that there is a shared experience in girlhood. I’ve talked to my friends. I’ve talked to girls. There are common themes of not feeling good enough and not being enough and depression and failed friendships and body image and femininity. Girls with conservative parents experience this. Girls with liberal parents experience this. Girls across the globe experience this. And MWMF was a place where some of that was undone. Where girls and women were free.
There is an assumption that because I go I do not think trans* women are women. That is wrong. There is an assumption that because I go I think trans* women are less than. That is wrong. What I believe is that I have a shared experience with the women there and we are there to heal together.
Festival ending says to me that girlhood and womanhood do not matter. That in order to be accepting of all we cannot be accepting of our different life herstories. That there is no need for people to heal from and celebrate this life experience.
MWMF saved my life. From 14 to 22 I had periods of time where I actively tried to kill myself. Going to festival saved me. I understood. I felt not alone. I recovered. It saved the lives of my best friends. It saved the life of a 14 year old girl I know and love. These are not statements to be dramatic – they are true. MWMF has saved the lives of hundreds and thousands of women – we had a place to go where we were heard and understood and where we felt worthy. And there has never been another place I have felt that kind of protection.
The goal of MWMF was to focus on women and girls recovering from girlhood. It was asked that the focus be on those who lived that experience. And it’s gone because in our culture that experience is not important. I understand that in the past trans* exclusionary statements had been made. At this point, it was just asked that the focus stayed where it needed to be. But asking for women and girls to be the primary focus of something was too much. Asking that my life herstory and the life herstories of my friends could be the focus of something was too much. In our current society to ask that we focus on the history of a woman who has lived as a girl and now lives as a woman somehow takes away from other women’s experiences and because my experience does not mirror theirs I am not deserving of a place to gather with my sisters who share my herstory. Because my herstory is a more dominate one in our culture celebrating it is oppressing others. I just don’t understand. I honestly don’t understand why I cannot have a place to gather with folks who share my story and heal together.
I’ve lost friends over this in the past and am continuing to do so. For ten years I have asked people who feel MWMF is wrong to talk to me about it – to help me understand what I am missing. No one ever has. I’m watching friendships go now and while I grieve those I am more focused on grieving the lives that won’t be saved by MWMF. I’m grieving the loss of a place where I first felt okay. To walk away from a friendship with me over my support of a place that saved my life is saying that my life does not matter and in that I feel so much anger. That’s why this festival existed in the first place.
I’ve been less stressed about food but want to guess the look on my face when Lesley’s mom, on the first day of her visit, says to us from the other room “he’s crazy about this orange we’re eating!”
“Mommy wars” and “Mommy guilt” are very real. While in some ways they are two separate things they play into each other quite nicely.
I’ve spent the last 6.5 months with this amazing little being. The biggest surprise, I tell people, is how naturally it has all come. I thought I would feel so much worry and panic and I don’t. That’s not saying there aren’t moments, but overall, I feel like we’ve got things under control. The worry really sets in when I worry about the recommendations of others and whether or not I am doing “enough”. Am I doing the right things with feeding him? Am I talking to him enough and in the correct way? We don’t read to him enough. (sidenote: props to all you parents who read nightly to your babies. Gus won’t be still and just tries to eat the books.) Am I ruining his life by working? He loves other people – does that mean I am doing something wrong that he is not more attached to us?
But you know what? I’m done with that. I’m over it. It ends now. Many people have kids and do things the way I do them or “better” or “worse” and very few of the kids turn out to be serial killers so it is probably fine. I’m wasting too much time with the worry and most of it comes from outside sources that plant doubt that I am enough. They may not mean to, sure, but my own insecurities let that doubt creep in when there is no place for it in my life.
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I can support new moms. I had no idea what it meant to be a new mom and it’s a little like being hit by a train. On top of that, our support has been very minimal. We have a few friends that are super helpful and are so grateful for that but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we lived closer to our families. Yesterday, our friend B came over and took Gus for a walk for an hour or so while I cleaned and Lesley mowed the lawn (Lesley’s mom is coming to visit on Friday for a week so things are a little frantic). While I hated not having him with us for the small amount of time we get after work it was amazing to be able to get a few things done. I can only imagine what my life would be like if Grandma came for an hour every week so we could do this. My house would be so clean! Things like this, and the isolation that no one tells new moms about yet seems to haunt us all, the terribleness that is early breastfeeding, the sleepless nights, the worry over everything – it’s made me want to support moms.
There was this mantra before I had kids: You wouldn’t know because you’re not a mom. Now it’s still there but changed: You wouldn’t know because you have one child. You wouldn’t know because you haven’t been a mom long enough. I’m done hearing this. I am enough. My family is enough. YOU are enough and so is your family. Sure, our experiences are different. Sure, I have this one boy and you have a two littles in your arms. Sure, there’s two of us doing this parenting thing and you’re doing it on your own. Sure, Gus is hitting some milestones a bit ahead of your kiddo. Whatever. In this little community, this little corner of the internet, we’re hear to support each other. I’m here to support you. Your family. Your life. Your children in your arms and your children yet to be. This stuff is hard and we’re figuring it out.
I don’t know what supporting moms will mean. For now, I started volunteering an hour a week with an organization locally that supports new moms. I’m trying to be careful about how my words are perceived by others. I’m trying to make sure that while I do things one way, I support you doing them another. (I am pretty judgmental so that one is an effort some times. 🙂 ) I’m loving my kid. I’m loving my family. I’m doing everything I can to encourage others to do the same.
You know what I find stressful about a baby? Food.
Gus started on some solid food about a month ago. He eats purees that we make once or twice a day and I didn’t think much of it. Lately we have been trying to give him some finger foods but he’s not too interested. He has a lot of interest in putting everything that is not food in his mouth but not banana. We have tried giving him blueberries (cut into fourths) as finger food too and no interest there. I think these things might be to sticky.
I spend so much time thinking about this. I asked a facebook mom group for some recommendations for food yesterday and have some new ideas of things to try as finger foods. I know he’s love the puff things but I have a hard time giving him something made in a factory as one of his first foods. so we’ll try a few other things and see what he might like.
All of this seems fine and not stressful, right? Except that you are only suppose to introduce one food at a time which means give him a food and wait a week to see how he reacts. I’ve backed off and decided 4-5 days is good but this means that since I gave him 1 grape (that I cut into eighths and crewed the skin off of – yay motherhood!) yesterday at a birthday party now I won’t give him carrots until Wednesday at the earliest. I seriously think at this rate he will be 25 before he tries all food.
And then, to top of the stress of how can I get him to try anything did you know kids should have common allergens before 1? So eggs, dairy, and peanut butter. I have 5 1/2 months to find a way to give him peanut butter.
So that’s my life. How to feed my kid. I have about 6 other blog posts have started in my head but all I think about all the time is how I need to feed him the right things so he doesn’t develop allergies and how we need to move on a schedule and how I am most assuredly screwing something up here. I’m going to go push on my boobs now to get more milk pumped. Happy Monday blogland.