End of a long Hiatus

Just dropping a line here to let the few folks still subscribed know that I’ll be resuming writing posts on the next couple of months finishing and publishing all of the draft posts that have been sitting for years.

Much love,

Stephanie

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Categories: Uncategorized

It will happen again

In light of domestic violence awareness month (that’s October if you weren’t aware) and in facing a newly reopened wound (or possibly one that never completely healed) here’s a poem from an adult survivor & witness of multiple types of abuse during childhood as I sit here in the aftermath of yet another nightmare. I don’t write poetry as much as I once did but I believe there is a connection between my poetry and my pain. When it’s bearable the words don’t flow; when it’s not, like this morning, it sometimes writes itself.

what i knew
that i could trust no one
that it would happen again
that i could do nothing right
that i didn’t want to hurt anymore
that i was terrified
that it would happen again

what i feared
that it would happen again
that someone might find out
that he would kill me if they did
that they would not believe me
that they would not help me
that it would happen again

what i believed
that if i left they would all be safe
that i was the reason it happened
that somehow i deserved it
that no one could help me
that no one wanted to
that it would happen again

what i felt
scared it would happen again
depressed that i was helpless
terrified that it would happen again

what i learned
that i’d gain strength in leaving
that i could be loved
that love doesn’t hurt
that it wasn’t my fault
that it really did happen
that it would happen again

what i feel now
that i’m still scared
that i have to protect my daughter
that i am still helpless to protect my siblings
that it can happen again

what i know
that i still have nightmares
that i’m still afraid to sleep alone
that the fear is still fresh
that my mother was a victim too
that he can’t hurt me now
that he can hurt others
that i am safe
that others aren’t
that it will happen again

For Mothers With Children

August 25, 2010 2 comments
Reserved for Mothers w/Children

This is the spot next to the handicapped spot at my daughter's pediatricians office.

Today was Keni’s 1 year checkup and my loving partner who hates to park more than a stones throw from anyplace was stalking a space close to the door of Keni’s doctor office. There was an empty space next to the handicapped spaces and we thought: SCORE! As we pulled in, O’Neil reads this sign: RESERVED PARKING FOR MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN. He responded with something to the effect of “Father’s have children too. They can’t do anything about that!” As he was pulled closer, I notice a little black scribble (thank’s to my contacts that I was very happily wearing for a change!) above the words “for mothers.”

Reserved for Mother's w/Children close up
Someone scratched in “and fathers!” to the sign in what I’d like to call a protest of the feminization of parenthood. Father’s bring their children to the doctor too!

This is just another example of the feminization of parenthood. Is it implying that father’s with children cannot park in this space? Probably not, no one would fault a man with a child for parking there. What it is implying is that a father would not be taking his child to the doctor. It’s implying that only mother’s take their children to the doctor AND that they do so alone. I would reach and say it is also implies that they do so while the father is at work or doing some other “more important” business than parenting.

 
Not all parents are mothers, nor are they all fathers. Some parents are grandparents, aunts, uncles, guardians of no blood relation.. So how come it doesn’t just say “For Parents with Children” or “For Patients with Children” or “For Adult’s Accompanying Children”?
 
Why am I all worked up over one little sign at the pediatrician’s office? Because it is the collective impact of millions of small messages like this that perpetuate stereotypes that are poisonous and constricting. We have to stop feminizing parenthood. Women are not the only one’s who parent nor should they be. It is restricting to men or masculine persons who parent that parenting be considered an exclusively feminine or female responsibility. And I’m not talking about the EASY stuff: playing ball in the yard, showing up at their soccer games and handing out punishments. I’m talking about the hard stuff: dealing with a sick kid when you’re sick too, helping with homework while your cooking dinner AND doing laundry, teaching the alphabet, kissing boo-boos. You know the HARD stuff. Classifying parenting as feminine restricts someone who identifies as masculine from participating in parenting. Why shouldn’t a man rock a child to sleep or kiss a boo-boo or give reassurance and emotion support? Why are these considered feminine behaviors? Why is it assumed that only Mother’s take their children to the doctor? What are we gaining by accepting these seemingly small suggestions about the gender of parenting? What are we loosing by not challenging them? These are all questions that need to be asked. Feel free to discuss in the comments.

1 year of Motherhood

August 23, 2010 2 comments

Yep you heard (well read) that right. I have been a mother a whole year as of 5:55 this morning. That is the moment that Kenisha emerged from my extremely exhausted and pain ridden body after 22 hours of labor. Ah but what a sweet reward! She was 8lbs 13oz of perfect!

Perfect terror that is. She is smart and independent. This is not a great combination for a 1-year-old. She has been walking since she was 9 months old at somewhere toward then end of the 10th month she started running. By the 11th she was climbing the stairs and NOW she’s climbing EVERYTHING! She will push things she can climb on in front of other things to tall to climb on to make stairs and then stand on top of the tallest in her trail of objects and dance.

She has a vocabulary of about 7 or 8 words; none of which are mommy. I got excited because she said Mama and thought I was finally being acknowledged when I realized today that she is actually referring to her grandmother (all of the grandchildren call her Mummy). So here’s her list of words (in order of appearance):

  • Dada (and now Daddy)
  • bird (yes bird)
  • baba (although she never drank a bottle)
  • bye bye
  • Javoy (her cousin’s name)
  • ta (translation: Thank You)
  • mama (in reference to her granny)
  • And her latest additions: Hiiiyeee (translation: Hi) & Heyyyy

She is just too much. The cuteness factor is on extremely high lately (OK maybe I’m just excited that my baby is a genius and she is a genius).  She likes books and knows when you are not reading a familiar story right. She will get downright mad at you for saying the wrong words or saying them the wrong way. Chicka Chick ABC is her favorite (this is the abbreviate board book version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). She just got Millie Moo for her birthday from one of my favorite feminists Ashley. At the moment though she is much more interested in the OTHER gift that Ashley got her which was an adorable but loud drum filled with other noise makers. Thanks Ash! I wish she would have included something for the many headaches in my future. 🙂

On the 31st, Keni starts full-day daycare. I am very sad about this. I didn’t want her to have to go to daycare but we have come to a point where there is no alternative. I’m just not ready for her to go away to be taken care of by people I don’t know personally when she can’t talk and tell me what’s been going on. Call it remnants of growing up an abused child but I am just not comfortable with this whole thing. The anxiety is at bay for now but I’m not so sure how this is going to go when I have to drop her off on that first day. I’ll try to post an update.

Today we went to the aquarium and I really got to see how big she is. She was totally fascinated by the fish and otters and sea turtles. She climbed up the little step stools in front of the exhibits and pointed and “talked” about everything she was seeing. I couldn’t believe how engaged she was. We are going to have sooo much fun when she is older!

I’m not in a rush though. I survived one year of parenthood and I’m tentative about the year to come. If it’s half as exciting as this first year, I’ll have my work cut out for me and from what I hear it’s TWICE the challenge.

Happy Birthday Kenisha Elizabeth! You are the most amazing child I could have. Thanks for letting me be your mom!

And thank you God for blessing me with this wonderful little person. Help me to care for her and raise her to be an open-minded and progressive thinking woman who is fair and just and willing to fight for the fair and equitable treatment off all people.

Categories: parenting

Our Last Breastfeeding Session

It was short and bittersweet. I didn’t expect to feel such sadness at our last feeding session. I thought I’d be relieved and glad to have my body back so this wasn’t really what I was expecting this morning. I actually sat up and cradled her in my arms like I did the day she was born instead of my usual half-sleep-lying-in bed-trying-to-get-the-most-of-my-last-15-minutes-in-bed-routine. I was near tears and tried to look into her eyes and talk to her while she was nursing this morning.

Of course, while I’m trying to be all sentimental and gushing over how big my baby girl has gotten she is pushing my face away from hers because she HATES when I watch her nurse. I had to turn on the weather so that I had a distraction from replaying the first time we had done this moments after she emerged from my body all purple and screaming.

I didn’t rush her off this time. I’m usually jumping up to get ready from work and have to fight with her to end the session. But TODAY, she pulled away on her own and then tried to run off the end of the bed as if there was some invisible surface level with the bed that only she could see. As I dove to save her from a fall, I realized I didn’t have time to think about the stage we are leaving behind because the one in front of us is gonna be a doozy.

My baby is growing up so fast! It’s her last day as an 11 month old and I’m one sad mama that the sun is setting on  her infancy. As it rises on her toddler hood, I have to wonder, exactly how much more exhausting is this gonna get?

Feminist Parenting Collective

I must apologize for the long delay in posting. I had a very exahsting experience preparing for and taking the LSAT in combination with some trying financial issues that have kept me from having the mental capacity or time to write a blog post. However, I’m back. I’m going to try to post more regularly again. Please. please forgive my absence. You forgive me don’t you?

I have however taken this time to jot down ideas that I have finally compiled into something that is (somewhat) coherent. After reading it please don’t hesitate to comment or ask for clarity about things. I’m all for revision and it is currently after midnight so I’m sure there is need.

Anywho, since I found out I was preggers I thought of creating a collective. At first it was a childcare collective that I was thinking of but the more research I did on feminist parenting the more I though of creating this collective statement about what 4th wave feminist parenting is. I just started to realize all of the changes necessary both in society and within the feminist movement in order to support feminist parenting and change from this idea of mothering dominating all discussions of parenting. The more I read about feminism and childrearing the more I realized that feminist literature did nothing but talk about mothers and mothering. It rarely, if ever, spoke of fathers except to critique traditional roles of the male parent. Literature was almost exclusive to parents that were heterosexual and married. There just isn’t any practical information on parenting at all. You can find a ton of “What to Expect” type parenting books (that are almost exclusively geared toward women as parents) that guide you through the various stages of your child’s life but NONE that provide similar practical knowledge from a feminist perspective.

This bothers me. How on earth is one supposed to learn how to parent as a feminist if we are only reading non-feminist how-to books? How do you perform the acts of feminist parenting? And what the heck is feminist parenting?

Well those thoughts (coupled with some experiences) led to bigger thoughts. Why can’t O’Neil get more than 2 weeks off from work to stay home with the baby? Why am I only getting paid 60% of 5 weeks pay when I was out for 9 weeks? What the hell cost $12,000 when I didn’t even have an IV!? Why is every-damn-thing in the girls department PINK?! Why do I have to pay to ask a question about proper latching (breastfeeding)? And most recently, can someone else watch this child and not charge me more than I make in a day so I can remember who the heck I am? Or, at least, so I can gain at least a bit of my sanity back?

So, it’s late and I’m tired but you can read more about my brilliant idea here. Please comment and discuss. I’m really interesting in what everyone thinks. Good night all!

Polite = I’m interested in you?

I am a polite person. I’m friendly and outgoing (most of the time), and I like to talk to people. I believe strongly in human interaction. I believe that our tendency to separate ourselves from others lends to inequality and social injustice. If you can separate yourself from others and not humanize the consequences of your actions, you allow yourself to feel free from liability or responsibility. Separation from the “others” is where marginalization begins.

So, I smile at people. You might not agree that smiling is an act of feminist activism and you have the freedom to disagree. I don’t just smile though. I say hello, make small talk, get to know people on my bus route and occasionally I stick a quarter in a meter that’s almost empty when the owner is no where in sight. I can help it! I’m a nice person.

It is inevitable though that at least once or twice a week someone will misconstrue a simply smile and “good morning” or “have a great day” to mean that I am somehow interested in that person in a sexual way.

I’ve gotten the up and down look like I’m a piece of meat for sale, kisses blown and/or lips licked at me, “hey mami” or some variation thereof, the occasional stalker that decided to got completely our of their way to make sure they see me EVERYWHERE, and of course my absolute favorite the ones that blatantly ask me if I “have a man” (and a little lower on the evolutionary chain the ones who say “what’s he go to do with me & you being friends?”).

Seriously, I’m getting afraid to smile a people, men in particular. I don’t want to make assumptions are stereotype anyone but, in general, I haven’t had this problem with women although there have been exceptions. Mostly however, members of the opposite sex tend to take my politeness as a free pass to bad behavior or as some sort of confession that I want them sexually.

I just don’t get it! It inevitably happens when I’m dressed up or have my hair down. I think as a result the norms of our sexist society most women typically expect to be looked at as a sexual object when they look nice so, although it’s still disconcerting, we aren’t really shocked. But I think what gets me the most is when it’s a day when I’m in sweats or I’m commuting home from work exhausted with my daughter and accompanying baggage in tow.

Seriously, stop subscribing to hegemonic masculinity and realize that women are not here for you personal entertainment, pleasure, or servitude. Moreover, you don’t have “conquer” every woman who smiles at you to prove you are a “man.” Politeness does NOT equal a gesture of sexual desire. Just get over your  “manhood” and leave the sexual connections out the first 30 seconds you know someone (and I’m specifically leaving this gender/sex neutral because I can’t count the times I’ve heard a man get called  “gay” for smiling at another man). Not everyone wants you and you seriously need to reevaluate yourself if you want them to?