Early on in my daughters life we took her to Parliament Hill and walked her around showing her the beauty and the history and some of the things I love about my home town. One of the things we did was to go and see the Famous Five. These women who went all the way to the UK to change Canadian women’s lives. Because of them Canadian women became persons under the law.
Today I feel as though the world is moving backwards and women are less than persons, with fewer rights, especially when they’re pregnant.
There were times when I was pregnant when it felt as though I didn’t matter. I was an incubator for this person who was suddenly more important than me. It was especially difficult because my pregnancy was hard on me – physically and mentally – and I didn’t feel that immediate connection to this thing growing inside me that everyone told me I would be feeling. I acted as though it didn’t matter that this person who didn’t completely exist yet was suddenly more important than me because that was the way I was supposed to feel, wasn’t it? Wasn’t I already a bad mother?
And now I have a little girl and I have to explain to her why some people in the world think that safe abortion should be illegal no matter what the consequences for the women they are turning away. I have to explain to her why the men in power feel the right to make decisions and create laws that make difficult decisions even more difficult. I have to explain to her that even though some people call her equal, in reality she is less than, because she can carry a child and that makes her body fair game for legislators.
I don’t begin to know how to explain those things.
I’ve written here before about how important I feel sex education is for children. I believe that it should come from the home and the schools. I believe that children should be allowed to ask questions and learn to feel comfortable with their bodies. I believe that you can’t teach children about inappropriate touching properly without first teaching them about their bodies. I believe that proper sex ed in schools would lower the rates of STIs and unwanted pregnancy. I believe that a child will not avoid sex just because their parents decide they’re not ready to hear about it.
I’ve been hearing the rumblings this week about changes the Ontario government was getting ready to make here in Ontario. They were going to increase the amount of information shared and change the grades where the education takes place.
When I was in school, I seem to remember talking about our bodies and the differences between boys and girls in Grade 1, learning about menstruation and puberty in Grade 3 and then learning about sex in Grade 6. We first learned about STIs in Grade 9 health and then covered them again in Grade 11 biology.
I don’t know whether any of my classmates were having sex before we really learned about it in school, but I suspect they weren’t. When I was 12 one of us having a ‘boyfriend’ resulted in fits of giggles. I gather things are different these days.
In the news stories surrounding the Premiers retreat on this new sexual education I ran into several quotes that caused me to rant on Twitter, particularly this one from CBC:
“It is unconscionable to teach eight-year-old children same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Charles McVety, head of the Canada Christian College. “It is even more absurd to subject sixth graders to instruction on the pleasures of masturbation, vaginal lubrication, and 12-year-olds to lessons on oral sex and anal intercourse.”
That’s right, she was offended by the idea that her 6 year old would be able to identify his penis by its proper name.
In my mind, it’s ‘unconscionable’ to let your kids live in ignorance and thus expose them to disease and unwanted pregnancies. Like it or not, your kids are going to have sex, probably sooner than you think and certainly sooner than you want them to. I plan on sending my daughter out into the world with all the information she requires. I plan on being the type of mother she’s comfortable coming to and I will be fulling willing to answer any questions she comes home with. In my mind, that’s just responsible parenting.
So I’ve made a lot of big plans recently about getting more exercise and cooking at home more and cutting out the crap – basically I’ve been talking big.
As I sit down today I realize that I’ve been doing really well without even really noticing. It seems I’ve suddenly reached a place in my life where I’ve stopped over-thinking things and just started getting them done.
I’ve been complaining that it seems as though there are always dishes in the sink – pots and pans and mixing bowls – and Joe points out that this is because we’ve been cooking at home almost every day. This also means that he’s had leftovers to take for his lunches, which are healthier and cheaper than whatever he had been buying in the neighbourhood around his office.
I have also improved my lunches here, and I’ve been eating smaller meals through the day with healthier snacks. I don’t remember the last time I had fast food. I know that I haven’t had a pop in a week (I even made a point of buying PC brand for the barbecue we had here because I knew other people might be interested, but I won’t drink it). There is currently no candy in this house that I’m aware of, though I had my first dessert in several days on Saturday – I made a S’mores Cookie Bar for Joe’s birthday and didn’t deny myself, but I know that I don’t need it and I’m not racing to try and eat the few remaining pieces before Joe can get to them, which is the way I used to feel.
I’ve been having fruit with breakfast, veggies with lunch and water with everything and it feels good.
As for exercise, the baby and the puppy and I went for walks every day last week, even when it was rainy. Some days we went out for shorter walks, but I got some exercise, and exercised the puppy every single day. Now while I get ready for the day and get the baby ready it’s all about when we’ll take our walk – should we do it first thing, like we did today, or should we wait until it’s time to get the mail, or maybe we’ll just do both.
Last week I also turned the TV off, or left it off, several times so I could hang out with my daughter or read while she was napping, or just get some quiet time. That’s a pretty big step for me because I usually have the TV on for background noise at least. It’s also important because I’ve got a big stack of books I’ve been wanting to read and I don’t even know where to start, but it means a lot to me that my daughter sees her parents reading, sees books around the house, has her parents reading to her (which we both enjoy doing). Books mean a lot to me, and a lot to my family (both my mother and my sister have Masters degrees in English).
Anyway, I’m taking the opportunity to pat myself on the back, because I’m actually really impressed with how easy the changes have been this time. I stopped thinking and started doing and forgot that it was supposed to be hard.
Last night I took hold of my fear and went out for roller derby.
It was hard. Really hard.
First of all, here I was, by myself in a group full of women I’d never met before facing a complete unknown of getting on roller skates and throwing myself across a gym floor. I’m not good in groups and I’m not good with strangers, and usually I’m the girl standing in the back looking awkward while everyone around me seems to excel at the meet and mingle and I just feel more and more like a loser. But I didn’t. All of these woman were here for the same reason that I was and all of them were just as thrilled and terrified to be there. There were woman of all ages, women who did sports and women who didn’t, I fit in by not fitting any specific type. And I talked to them, I learned about them and they asked about me and we all talked about how we had ended up there and how scared we were because none of us knew what to expect or whether we could handle what they were going to throw at us.
And then it started and I felt like it was gym class all over again. We ran laps and I had to speed walk the last part, we did lunges and I thought I wasn’t going to make it across the gym, we did squats and my legs started shaking, we did crunches and crossovers and all these things to the point that I keep thinking I needed it to stop because I wasn’t going to make it.
You know what, I did make it. I struggled to get out of the lunges but I made it across the gym, my legs started shaking but I made it through the squats, I struggled to the end of the workout, but I got to the end.
And then it was time to put skates on, and it all felt so completely foreign to me. I’m not a great ice skater, but once I get going I can move at a decent speed. The thing is, blades and wheels are two completely different things, and when you push to the side on wheels, they just stick to the floor. I made it around the track three times and my ankles were killing me and I had to sit down and I felt like a complete loser. Everyone else was doing so well, or they looked like they were miles ahead of me. And then I worked my way back into the group and one of the girls who had been training for 6 months already came over to me and asked me if I wanted her to help me get caught up to the group, and she worked with me through getting better on the skates, and falling and making me feel better about the state I was in.
I couldn’t believe this woman was being so nice to me. I couldn’t believe they were all so nice. I couldn’t believe how good I felt when I left the gym.
Now, I have to decide whether I want to go back. The fact is that as much as I felt like I couldn’t get through it and as much as I’m worried about my fitness level, and as much as I wanted to yell “I can’t do this!” I did it. As much as I’m afraid to go back and test myself like that again, I’m afraid to give up on myself. As much as I don’t think I have the time in my schedule or the strength in my body to do this, I don’t want to not do it.
I am well aware that I had an unusual childhood, I did spend a lot of time doing ‘kid’ things, riding my bike and playing with friends and imagining things. I did, however, watch a lot of TV shows that I’m pretty sure my friends weren’t watching, like The Golden Girls and Designing Women.
I dedicate a lot of my personality and my understanding of the world to the women on those shows. I’ve already mentioned that part of my education in sexuality comes from Golden Girls, which is something I appreciate, but I also know that I would love to be as strong a woman as Dorothy Zbornak and I was very sad to hear the Bea Arthur had died.
And this morning I woke up to here that Dixie Carter passed away.
I will always associate Dixie Carter with the beauty, poise, strength of character, sisterhood and passion for issues that Julia Sugarbaker demonstrated. I will always remember her anger whenever anyone crossed her or someone she love. Julia Sugarbaker was an excellent example of what womanhood should be to me as a young girl. She was well put together, she owned her own business, she was surrounded by close friends, and she was not to be trifled with.
The particular episode of Designing Women that I will never forget – an episode that opened new worlds to me – was the episode in which a friend of the ladies at Sugarbaker’s, a gay man, came to tell them that he was dying of AIDS. I don’t know whether I was aware of what it meant to be gay at that age, but I certainly didn’t know anything about AIDS.
So, I’ve started on my path to fitness (again). Baby and puppy and I have been going for long walks around the neighbourhood at a pretty good pace and I’ve been getting on the exercise bike when we don’t. I’ve been making a point of drinking more water, even adding it to my daily to do list. I’ve been knitting more, which keeps my hands to busy for constant snacking.
We’ve been eating better, cooking at home more, and I’ve been trying to add fruits and vegetables to my breakfast and lunches, even when I’m eating crap that’s easy to cook quickly and eat one-handed. We know that we are terrible with our portion sizes and that’s something we need to learn. I know we need to balance our meals more, and I’m trying to expand my slow cooker recipe library so that I can cook while the baby naps in the morning and have dinner ready with no issues when Joe gets home. We’re planning menus, trying to take lunches into consideration, and for the first time in my life I’m eating breakfast regularly.
I feel better, I feel fitter, and I feel like I’m setting out a good path, but there’s something else that needs changing.
I eat too much sugar. I always have. I used to spend my allowance at the corner store. I love chocolate and ice cream and licorice and gum and chewy things like Sour Patch Kids or Fuzzy Peaches. I always have a stash of something in the house and I often have more of a stash than Joe is aware of. I’m sneaky when it comes to my sugar.
Despite the fact that I have PCOS and I know that eating so much sugar can make it worse, and that if I don’t keep it under control, a whole lot of bad could happen, I eat sugar every day.
For the past few days I’ve been eating too many peanut butter cups. For the past few days I have gone to bed feeling sick to my stomach. For the past few days I have woken up in the middle of the night feeling sick. I’m starting to think I’m finally reaching my limit. I’ve been feeling sick and I think I need to give up chocolate, and maybe sugar in general. More than that, I want to give up chocolate and all the other sugary crap just because I feel as though it will make me feel better.
I think I’m a grown up.