Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hold On Tight!

Like everyone out there who decided to go into this whole parenting thing, I experience those unbearably frustrating moments where my kids are melting into a pile of tears. For whatever the reason may be at that particular time, their world has seemingly fallen apart. They can no longer function, they forget how to speak full sentences, and their shrieking volume could send dogs running. It seems that in those moments there is nothing I could possibly say that would make them feel better. In fact any attempt at calming them with words just send them up another octave of upset.

I once asked my daughter what I can do to help her during those times. Unlike much parenting advice out there about letting kids cry until they get out of the tunnel, my daughter's tunnel could last for hours. The tunnels in these articles seem to last under ten minutes. My son could probably squeeze out a meltdown in ten minutes, but my daughter..she has stamina. She put together a list and even detailed it with pictures. She said breathing would help her, holding Baa (her stuffed lamb,) sitting quietly in her room, and lastly a hug. I thought this was an amazing discovery, all of these tools. So the next time she got upset I took out the paper and much to my chagrin the first three on the list she wouldn't even try. After quite some time she said, “Mommy, can I have a hug?" It was then and there that I promised myself that no matter how angry I am, no matter how frustrated, how upset, I would never deny them a hug when requested.

My son is now at a less than lovely stage. His world seems to revolve around us serving him exactly how he expects. When it doesn't go his way, which it won't because it doesn't work that way, he falls apart. He is falling a part a lot lately. There is a limit to how much I will negotiate the word "no" with him,. When I draw that line in the sand he will do anything possible to try to erase that I put it there. At that point I start looking forward to the kind of man I want to raise and there is no going back for me. I will not feed his narcisism, because the outcome of that is not a good human, and I am in the business of putting a good person out there. 

After his shorter journey through the tunnel, clammy from crying against the hard wood floor, I can hear his crying slow. I approach him and ask him if he would like a hug. He doesn't give much of an answer but I can vaguely make out a nod. I pick him up and put him in my arms and he falls into me. We sit together for as long as he needs. I will never let go first. I breath him in, and after a few moments, dry his eyes. We usually find something to laugh about and we move on.

I hope they always ask me for a hug when they need one. Sometimes when my daughter is upset and cranky and can't even figure out why, she asks for a hug. If heaven forbid there is day when both of them lose it, I am exhausted from dealing with them. I am drained of all of my superpowers and don't know how I will ever make it to their bedtimes. Then my husband comes home, and before he can get sucked dry by our spawn, I say, "Can I have a hug?" 

It really is good stuff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A New Pressure Cooker

I've been hearing a lot of buzz about a new item out there. A new and improved pressure cooker. I remember hearing about pressure cookers back when I was a kid. They were taken off the market because they were unsafe. They would get too hot and explode. These new models are supposed to be great though — and safe. People are cooking stews, rice, pasta and even making yogurt in them. There's a Facebook group just to go for ideas, support, and of course pictures of pressure cooked meals.

I am so curious about these pressure cookers. Would it make my life easier? Would it make delicious meals? Would it save me money to be able to make my own yogurt? Probably, I mean maybe. It would also put me out $100 or so, in addition to taking up more precious real estate in my kitchen. I am intrigued though, and my new research obsession with the pressure cooker has begun. Who wouldn't want something that could make your life just a tiny bit easier?

I am just thrown my the word "pressure" though. Especially since this decision to get one or not has already added just that to my plate. It feels these days that so many of us women are marketed to items that would make life easier. It's a great marketing tool, because life is not easy at all. In fact it does seem even harder now than when our parents were raising us. The competition is steep out there for jobs, education is crazy expensive and real estate is through the roof (pun intended). There was an article recently (also going around the world famous time sucker of a site Facebook) about how many women are experiencing a midlife crisis. The demands of a woman living in today's society ain't for the weak.

Gone are the days where women work in a field, either an career or a literal field, and find one skill to do well and stick to it. Instead, we are expected to climb, to get advanced degrees, to be super mom, to exceed expectations and still be able to cook a healthy dinner for your family. This is tapping people out physically, emotionally, and financially. I send so much time each day breathing, trying to be present, and to soak in the moment. I also spend so much time talking myself off the ledge of my own frustration. I am overwhelmed and I don't even have a full time job right now. When I stop my to do list, my errands, and emails, I can actually get a sense of contentment for my life. I can see that when I slow it down, I really do love my life. I love the ages of my kids right now. I love the things they say. I enjoy cooking and exercise. I enjoy really being with them, but I don't do it enough. Mostly because the pressure to appear that I am succeeding at more than just being a mom is laid on thick.

I don't have an answer on how to value what I have more, or how to help women collectively take inventory. I don't know how to share a communal feeling of "we are enough." I write down five things that I am grateful for every night, but sometimes I get to three and the next day I can't read four and five. I literally fall asleep trying to stay present. I want a new pressure cooker but feel a bit like I am being suckered into the idea of it, more than the pressure cooker itself. I want to go fall down a Facebook hole and get on that pressure cooker group, but I am pretty sure it won't help me feel anything but more pressure.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Oh Man!

There is that fine line between laughing and crying when you are being tickled. It starts out being funny and you play along, but then it starts to hurt. If you are being pinned down, you start to panic for fear of losing control. I have found myself in this situation a few times, and when you say "stop" people have a hard time listening because you are laughing. With all the news out there about sexual harassment this week, I keep thinking about this fine line. I wonder when the "stop" will be loud enough for everyone to hear.

I got a Facebook message yesterday from a friend who I haven't talked to in a long time. She said that all this news about entertainment executives using their power to manipulate women has had her thinking of all of the men who abused their power with her. She brought up a certain TV producer who we both knew and asked if I thought of how he used to promise us to advance our careers. He was sleazy and blurred the line of professional and personal. We were desperate to work as actors though and he could make that happen. So we played along, until we didn't want to play anymore.

I look back at that time and get a sick feeling. In my teens I felt slightly immature compared to my peers who some of which were already sexually active. I was so focused on skating, school, as well as on  a kids theatre group I was in. I had a few guys I took interest in, but I was fine keeping it at a safe distance from what was really important to me. When I was sixteen and part of this theatre group, a twenty three year old employee took a bit of extra interest in me. We hung out a few times and it didn't end well for either of us. Power was really thrown around in this situation, and at the end of it all I felt like I found some within myself and went on to use it to get me in a bit of trouble with older men. A line was crossed that I didn't know was cross able, so I kept crossing it over and over again. I never really had power, just the ability to invite the wrong behavior from adult men, and it became a pattern of mine for a while. A pattern that took a lot of time to break.

When I finally realized there was a certain type of attention I didn't want from men, it seemed they didn't always get the message. As I got older and more confident, I was able to say "no, thank you" louder than I ever had, but it wasn't always loud enough. Sometimes, you need to scream it to be heard, and sometimes when you need to scream the most no sound seems to come out at all. I keep seeing the posts on Facebook saying"Me Too" and I haven't really wanted to post. Mostly because I don't think it's the women who should have to speaking up now. I want to hear from more men apologizing, more men, saying they understand consent, more men, saying they know what is right and wrong, and more men saying they will listen and respect boundaries.

My husband teaches our daughter to not be afraid of hurting someone when she feels she is in danger. He wants her to take a self-defense class, and knows to aim for where it hurts. As a woman who has been in danger a few times the fear of not being able to defend yourself physically is real. Regardless of feminist supe hero motivation that I may have, I am still smaller and weaker than the average man. I also, think of how violence often just invites more violence. I am not sure what tools to give her for physical confrontation, but I will make up for it in the emotional department. Sadly, it doesn't seem like the question is if she will be in an uncomfortable situation one day, but more when she is, how will she handle it. 

As I was walking, all of this ran through my head this morning.  I was crossing the bike path that leads back to my car when a biker swerved right near me. As I looked up to meet his eye, he rode closer to me, looked at my eyes and then looked me up and down. He pursed is lips and made a kissing sound as he rode away. It just seemed like if there was any point in time that this kind of behavior would have stopped it would be now, but it hasn't. This isn't something I encounter much anymore. I am rarely alone, and the people I am normally with are children so it seems I am spared. There are many things I don't do by myself for fear of being hassled. I don't think there will be a point in time where women have to stop being concerned that they are at risk. I just hope that my daughter is stronger than I was, and can outsmart a man without getting hurt in the process.