Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What am I?

The other day, M was sitting next to me on the couch.  My laptop was on my lap and she asked to read my blog.  I hesitated a bit - there's some stuff on here I don't think a 10 year old needs to see.  But since I wrote the recent post, Being the Different Flower about her, I thought she should be able to see it.  She read it, looked at me with teary eyes, announced she was going to cry and reread it.  As the tears flowed down her cheeks, I asked why she was crying.  Because that was beautiful, she said.  You can write.  

Huh.  I hadn't thought about that.  I told her dad that I let her read it.  He asked if I told her I was a writer.  No, that never occurred to me.  Ever.

But since those conversations, I've been thinking.  I've been a mom and an interpreter for so long, that's become my identity.  I hadn't thought of being anything else.

But I am.

I am a writer.  Just saying that is kind of exciting.  I'm also a photographer.  I just never show folks my stuff.  Hell, I had this blog for two years before telling anyone I had it.  Now I put it out there for folks to see.  That's scary!  I posted some of my pics on Red Bubble but didn't tell anyone.

Okay, so let's see.  I'm a mom, an interpreter, a writer and a photographer.  I'm also a business owner.  That's a good one.  I like it though most of the time I feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  Still, I'm having success so that's good.

I feel new.  Reinvented - which is completely silly since nothing really changed from last week to this week.  Now I need a new hair do to go with my new attitude.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Finding common ground

I interpreted at the Rally for Reason yesterday.  It was awesome.  Twenty thousand-ish people all coming together on the mall to support atheism, skepticism, and the secular perspective.  It was awesome.

Yet, I felt like a bit of a fraud.  That's not really my belief.  I grew up going to church (at least sometimes).  I've been confirmed.  I'm supposed to pray.  Yet here I was, cheering for these speakers.  That was weird.

It was weird until I heard speaker after speaker say what I feel: you can believe whatever you want but you have no right to try to force others to do the same (as in teaching religion in public school), women are equal and this trend of politicians and priests knocking them down several levels is not okay and it's time to focus on what's really important (poverty, economy, environment) and not what's already been settled (the right to choose).  Those beliefs I hold strong.  Do I hold Richard Dawkin's comments calling folks to ridicule those who believe a priest can turn wine into the blood of Christ to be something I want to follow?  No.  I come from a more tolerant place.  But I respect both sides rights to believe what they want.

I don't respect either side when the name calling starts.  I don't respect either side when my rights as a woman are threatened.  As a woman and more importantly as a mother of daughters, this causes me to lose sleep.  I think there is common ground.  One speaker said it quite well:  this country was founded on the belief of freedom of religion.  That needs to include freedom from religion as well.  There's room for everyone.

And I get a big pat on the back.  I didn't argue - not ONE word - with any of the protesters.  I did get my picture take with one.  I needed a souvenir.

You are your mother's daughter

Most days I consider that a compliment.  After all, my mom was the first woman to work on the ticket counter at American Airlines.  She was in many ways a rebel.  She was strong and taught me to be as independent as she was.  That's not a bad way to be.

Then things changed.  She got older.

In a text conversation with my ex today, he made the comment "you are your mother's daughter" and he didn't mean it in the nice way.  He meant it in the "you're being stubborn and not taking care of yourself and coming up with 27 reasons to justify that behavior" way.  He wasn't wrong.  But that didn't make me feel better.

I took my girls to visit my mom the other night.  One kid, A, had a full conversation with her and my mom didn't hear most of it.  After a little while of this, M started to cry.  She's getting older.  She can't hear me.  I've cried about this more times that I can count.  Now it just frustrates me.  Mommy, can't you make her get a hearing aid?  Nope, I can't do that.  I can't force someone to get something they don't want much like I couldn't force my kids to sleep, poop in the potty or get ready for school on time.  Some folks just do things their own way.  And they don't seem to give a shit what I think about it.

I hope as I age, I remember this time in my life.  I'm the oreo, the white fluffy stuff in the middle of my kids on one side and my mom on the other.  When the cookie is pulled apart, a little bit of me gets stuck on both sides, slowly pulling me in different directions.  I clearly remember my mother's interactions with her mother.  She did a lot to take care of her when my grandfather died.  But she didn't live in the same town and wasn't 100% responsible for things like her doctors' appointments, getting groceries, etc.  And my grandmother lived only one year past my grandfather's passing.  My mom wasn't responsible for long.

I hope when I get older I don't get a disease.  I can't imagine what my mom has to deal with living with Parkinson's Disease.  It sucks.  It has taken away her physical abilities but not her desire to do things.  It's made her nervous and fearful yet she still wants to be like she used to be.  I can't even begin to comprehend how hard that is.  Yet, I hope if something happens to me and if I am living alone and am dependent on my kids, I will remember what it's like to be an adult child of someone who needs to be taken care of.  I hope I will be more cooperative and not make my children choose between taking care of their kids or their mom.  I hope I'm not scared.

As it pertains to strength and will, I hope I remain my mother's daughter.  I also hope I change a few things before I hit 80.  Hell, I hope I hit 80.  I am my mother's daughter.  I wear that proudly most days.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time Management....or lack thereof

Click to view 

I am good at many things.  Time management is not among them.  In fact, if I had to list one of the greatest faults I have, it would be that I have no ability to stay on task.  Or remember the task.  Or give a shit about the task.  But then later I do and this is where the trouble starts.

Take now for example.  I should be confirming jobs and doing invoicing.  Technically I am.  I have one normal speed laptop (the one I'm writing on now) and the super slow, something is dreadfully wrong with it other laptop, which I'm waiting to boot up.  So I will do that stuff in a few minutes and while waiting for that, I'm writing this.  It's multi-tasking.  That's a good thing, right?

My SO and I have another word for it:  squirrel.  We'll be doing or talking about something and all of a sudden, the topic or activity changes.  SQUIRREL!  It's like when the dog is happily walking and suddenly runs after the squirrel.  Get it?

The other day I was talking to a former boss, someone who remains influential in my life.  She said she read somewhere that women have a lot more time than they think. This is true, at least for me.  If I calculated all the time I wasted playing Words with Friends, I'm sure I'd be horrified.  If I figured out how much time I waste in front of the tv, or even just stressing about things I can't control, it would make me sad.  Probably the worst part of all is how much time I spend in front of my computer.  So now the question is: What to do about it?

I told my girls once I needed a wife.  I needed someone to keep me organized and on task.  M's response?  "You want a wife? Are you gay?"  None of it was understood.  So I remain (straight and) wifeless, circling around about a hundred tasks on any given day and just as overwhelmed as before.  Sigh.....        

                                                                                                             Click to view                                                   

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Walking in Pain

I joined the Avon Walk for Cancer at the end of January. At that time, my mother in law, Ruth, was battling breast cancer but she was alive. My foot didn't hurt. My confidence was strong.

Then Ruth died. We knew it was coming but it was still a surprise - like you can see the swing coming but when it hits, it still knocks your breath out. That's been a hard thing to overcome.

Then an old injury on my foot returned. I'm in PT now to fix this. I don't care if it's a permanent fix or not. I don't care if the surgeon needs to sever the nerves in my foot. I just want to walk. I need to do this.

When I signed up for this, I did this with Ruth's blessing. We talked about why this was a good idea. I'm great with ideas, less awesome with follow through. This would be good for me. I need to do something for me. Just for me. This was it. It would help me get healthy - walking is good for me, right? It would be nice to take time for myself to do something. My family would be on board, supporting me the whole way. Such nice thoughts. The reality has been a bit different.

Walking takes a lot of time. Blocking out 3-5 hours at a time is hard. Not impossible but hard - especially when I have my kids. PT takes a lot of time. My confidence is shaken.

So many people have said well-intended things: an injury is a valid reason not to walk; you don't have to do this, etc. They don't get it. I have to do this. I promised Ruth I would. I promised myself I would. This is important.

My support team and walking partners have been awesome. I expected Mike, Ruth's son, to be supportive but he's gone above and beyond. He regularly "pimps me out" and helps get me donations. My kids make "flair" for my backpack and are selling little pins they made to their classmates to help me make my $1800 donation requirement. My Significant Other, Andrew, walked with me when it was snowy and cold and continues to do so when it's beautiful. He encourages me and walks right next to me. And my walking partner, Amanda, slightly more than an acquaintance before, has become a great friend and drives me. I can't let her down.

One way or another I will do this. I'm stubborn. Confidence will come back. Hopefully.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Being the different flower

M: Mommy, will you take a picture of the flowers in the garden over there?

Me: Sure. Why?

M: Because all the flowers are the same. Except one. They're all purple except for the one yellow one. I'm like the one yellow one. Different.

That's not exactly what a mother wants to hear. But she's right. She's different just like I'm different. She's a wonderful, beautiful, insanely smart kid but she knows she's not like the other kids. She's a different kind of flower, which is kind of funny considering she's a twin. Both of my girls are a little different. Part of it is my fault. I've taught them not to be followers and to set their own path. That can be a lonely road.

I used to pick them up from school every day. I started to notice I wasn't like the other mothers. I didn't wear flowered pants, cute little shoes and have short mom hair. My nails weren't perfectly manicured and I didn't carry a large designer bag that housed everything my kids might need. No, I wasn't like that. I showed up in jeans with a concert or skull and crossbones shirt, sneakers or flip flops and my pockets stuffed with the things that should've been in a purse. So one day I asked M if it was okay that I wasn't like the other moms.

Me: Am I like the other moms?

M: No, you are different.

Me. Is that okay?

M: Yes, that's okay. I like you being different. You're fun.

Whew. So today when she announced she was like the different flower I asked if that was okay. Yes, she said. She wouldn't want to be any other way. Double whew. But it also makes me a little sad. It's lonely being the different flower. I hope she finds other flowers to hang around with that understand her.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

How do you judge the value of a family?

The political season always brings out the worst topics. People are fighting about stupid stuff. Well, it's not really stupid. Not at all. But it does seem silly that in 2012 we are arguing about a woman's right to have her insurance pay for birth control. And still the argument about abortion continues. It makes me all insane.

The latest news to horrify me comes from the state of Wisconsin. From The Patch:

State Sen. Glenn Grothman has proposed a bill that considers nonmarital parenthood a contributing factor to child abuse.

Grothman presented the bill to the Senate Committee on Public Health, Human Services and Revenue public hearing last week, according to the Huffington Post.

Senate Bill 507 states it is "an act to amend ... statutes ... relating to: requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect."

Grothman was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon but you can read more about his stance in anewsletter he published regarding his belief that the breakdown of the family is America's biggest problem.

The announcement of the bill has turned a lot of heads.

"Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman, the Assistant Majority Leader and a close ally of GOP Governor Scott Walker in the effort to destroy collective bargaining in the Badger State, is taking crazy to new levels,"Forbes contributor Rick Unbar wrote.

A post on The New Civil Rights Movement web site also considers the bill an attack on gay couples who are raising children together.

Commentor Nikesha on suggests that the bill is merely a political distraction from other important social issues.

A Rhode Island resident started a petition on "Withdraw Senate Bill 507 and end the war on women."

In 2009 there were approximately 13.5 million single parents in the U.S., with single mothers outnumbering single fathers five to one according to U.S. Census Data posted on Single-parent households make up a third of households in Wisconsin.

Huh. I am separated from my children's dad. That makes me technically a single mother, though he is actively involved in their life. But still, for all intents and purposes, I am listed as a single mom. Is it stressful? Sure. Am I more likely to hit my children now than I was when I was married? I seriously doubt it.

I guess more relevant to this discussion is my experience growing up. I grew up in a single parent family. Was it hard? I don't really know. It was the only experience I had. I guess my brother, ten years older and raised by two parents for the first 11 years of his life, could answer that better than I. It was my normal. My mother never abused me. In fact, I had more opportunities than a lot of my two parent family friends. This entire thought process is insane.

I assume that this state senator was raised in a two parent family. I get that everyone has their own assumptions and prejudices but he should try raising children alone before he starts casting stones. The more I read on his comments - and others like him (he's not alone in this thought) - the more annoyed I get. How about giving some credit to those who bust their asses daily to take care of their kids without the benefit of a partner? I'm betting they'd find this harder than they thought.

Another Queen of the World moment: When I'm Queen, politicians will address real issues like education, healthcare for all, taking care of our seniors. Not birth control. Not the definition of a human. Not judgment of families.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Freedom of Speech

When I become Queen of the World.....

I say that a lot (mostly in my head). I say it more when people do stupid things.

I don't think Rush Limbaugh's most recent comments deserve repeating. However, the sentiment behind that keeps bugging me. Why is it okay to spout hate? I get the idea of freedom of speech but where is the line? Yeah, I know there really isn't a line. Maybe there should be.

When a grown man calls a woman a slut and a prostitute and makes public comments about her sex life, that's going too far. When race, gender, and personal matters are used, that's going too far. It's no secret that my political views are to the far side of liberal. I thought the liberal commentators who made comments about Rick Santorum's wife's miscarriage (they said she had an abortion, which IMHO was not true) were mean. Attack Santorum all you want. His wife's miscarriage shouldn't be part of this debate. Rush is entitled to his opinions but he and everyone else lose the fight immediately when the name calling starts.

People have the right to their opinions. But when one spouts hate, that's a different story. My SO and I talked about this yesterday. Freedom is freedom and, within certain limits set by society and/or the courts, people can say what they want. If that freedom is curtailed, who decides what's appropriate or not? Where's the line?

My thought is when the stuff you say encourages hate and division among society, that's too far. Will everyone agree with my thoughts? Probably not. Hence, the start of this post: When I become Queen of the World. When it's my world, people like Rush won't have to live in it.

Yay for Queen Judi!