Mommy Brain

by , on
October 27, 2011

So for a while there I was posting my Getting It Done updates once a week and then I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY FORGOT about the list. It’s not like I stopped getting things done, there were definitely things I was getting done, but without a list I don’t really know what I’ve done and what I’ve forgotten.

 

 

  • Organize the next book swap
  • Knit a shawl for my mother (in progress, for Christmas)
  • Knit a sweater for Joe (in progress, but barely)
  • Knit a sweater for myself (now on the needles)
  • Use my Photobook Groupon
  • Renew Joe’s passport
  • Potty train the monkey – in progress
  • Attempt freezer cooking
  • Get back to yoga
  • Organize my home office/craft space
  • Get back on the treadmill
  • Write for my three special projects
  • Get down on the floor and play with my daughter

My other goals for 2011 include:

  • Hitting 175 lbs – and then to keep going
  • Being able to make it all the way to my 10th floor office on the stairs
  • Consistently having a meal plan so that the whole family is eating healthy food
  • Continue to test my knitting skills in my project choices
  • Make my way through my ‘to read’ pile (my ever-expanding ‘to-read’ pile) – Happy with my progress here
  • Build up my profile at work
  • Keep blogging, keep tweeting, maintain my connections
  • Organize the second annual Road Hockey Showdown
  • Improve my French

Analog

by , on
October 26, 2011

Listening to Spark today on the way to pick up the kid I heard one of the interviewees note that we (and I’m assuming he meant my generation) are the last generation that will remember what life was like before technology.

I didn’t have an email address until I was about 15, I didn’t have a cell phone at all while I was in high school, we had a computer at home when I was under 12, but it was years later that we got the internet (and the cables running all over the house). I owned a record player and broke many a walkman before I got my first iPod when I was in my 20s – and that was a Christmas AND birthday gift from both of my parents. I used to have to record songs off the radio if I didn’t have the money to buy the cassette.

I remember that my sister had to save up to buy her first CD player – I think it cost about $700.

Now I use email all day, my job would be much more difficult without web access, I can’t tell you the last time I bought an actual CD.

But the thing is, I don’t remember what it was like before. I watch old TV shows and someone asks a question and the characters are all trying to figure things out and I think to myself ‘why don’t they just look it up?’ and then I realize that I’m watching Designing Women and they’ve never heard of the internet. They didn’t even have a computer in the office.

You could say that trying to remember what it was like to have to do research in the library, not be able to call someone any time any where, well, it does not compute.

As I sit and watch my daughter – who turns two in three months – navigate the iPad so easily, I try to remember what life was like before I had heard of wireless internet. I try to figure out how I communicated with people before Twitter and email. It seems almost impossible. How did people ever make friends?

I wonder what it will be like when she’s in high school. I wonder what will seem so normal then.

 

The Mommy track

by , on
October 24, 2011

Listening to Q this morning on CBC a woman came on and declared that highly educated women have a moral obligation to work and that women who work part time or stay home are providing their daughters with a bad example. (ETA: You can listen to the conversation here.)

This hits home for me because I am an educated woman (a BA and a college diploma), I am currently working full time as well as working on other things, like this blog, that fulfill me, but I am considering switching things up and staying at home with my daughter. Iwould work at home, I don’t think I would be happy unless I did, but my main day-to-day job would be raising my daughter, and then re-entering the work force when she entered school, or starting my own company in earnest.

I am considering this, yes, because I am not giving my family my best. Things at work are difficult and it is affecting my health.

Do I think this makes me a bad example for my daughter? Risking my future employment success to stay home and experience things with her?

No, I don’t.

I think my daughter will understand, just as I do, that she has a right to follow her passion. If she chooses to be a mother, she can choose to stay at home, or work and put her children in daycare or have a nanny or have her partner stay home or any variety of things. She can be who she wants to be and she can succeed in life.

I think this ‘mommy track’ debate is just another way of women fighting women instead of supporting each other. Like the stay-at-home-mom vs. working-out-of-the-home-mom debate, it just ends up pitting us against each other and makes us forget about the real issues for women around the world.

I have friends who stay at home, work at home mothers, friends who, like me, are working full time and taking care of their kids, I know single mothers and married mothers, and they are all amazing. Why would I question their choices when they have been brave enough to do what they feel is best for them and their families.

I would rather we all get together and fight for better circumstances for all mothers and all parents, because our children are inheriting the world and they deserve long-term solutions rather than sort term thinking. I believe that our daycare and education systems need to be overhauled, and so does our health care system. I believe the environment needs to be a priority and public transit needs to be vastly improved, I believe that mothers, raising their voices together, can make real change happen but instead we’re on the radio debating whether women who decide to be mothers are failing society.

 

Coming out should be easier

by , on
October 18, 2011

I am not gay. I can’t say exactly how long I’ve known that I’m not gay, just that I do know now. There are still women in the world that I find attractive and I definitely have a fondness for the gay people in my life, but I have to come to terms with the fact that not only am I straight, I am in a committed marriage and am part of a nuclear family.

I am very privileged to be surrounded by the GLBT community. My Grade 9 English teacher was gay and started a GLBT group at my high school. My best friend was part of the GLBT community while she was in university and introduced me to some great people. It is a privilege to watch people grow and become who they are meant to be. Soon, I will get to attend the wedding of this friend and his long-time partner, and what a celebration it will be.

I am so pleased that my daughter will get to grow up with these men and women in her life, showing her that she can be whoever she is – gay or straight, pink and frilly or jeans and hoodies, or both. I am so scared of the day that she meets people who tell her it’s not okay.

I read Jamie Hubley’s blog a bit yesterday. He was in so much pain. I saw a bit of myself in him, feeling alone, assuming that your friends are not really your friends and don’t actually like you. But I was not a gay teenager, and I was not a self-harmer. I reached a point of crisis, but I backed away slowly.

 Ian’s writes in his piece that the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign should have everyone speaking out together, not just the GLBT community, so this is my voice. High school is hell, this is true for most people. If you can get through it and get to college or university, or find a job or something, you will find your people. They are out there, and they are having a hard time too. As alone as you feel, there is someone out there feeling the same way.

The online community is a gift, because we can find each other here before we find each other in the real world. You can reach people going through the same thing you’re going through and people who went through it and survived, people who were left behind by the people like Jamie who decided it wasn’t worth the wait. The people you meet online will stand behind you when you’re all alone in the hallways or the cafeteria or the classroom.

Your people are out there and they are looking for you too.

Sneaky sales tactics

by , on
October 15, 2011

When I was 19 years old I got a credit card. It was meant to be for university expenses and meant to be paid back in full every month. I don’t remember exactly how long it took me to hit my limit, but it wasn’t long enough. I don’t remember when or how I got my second card, which was meant to replace my first with a balance transfer. All I know is that it didn’t take long for things to be completely out of control.

Since I was 19 I have never been without a credit card and I don’t want to think about the amount of interest I’ve paid or the amount of stuff I’ve bought that I really didn’t need. I’m smarter now, but I still make mistakes – bad purchases, quick thinking and regret.

Today Joe and I went in to Canadian Tire. We’re doing some tidying and we decided to get a couple of bins to use as toy boxes in our living room and basement. Upon entering the store we were met by a guy who handed us a piece of paper. He said something to Joe, I didn’t hear but we were both led to touch screens and prompted to enter the code on the piece of paper. There were survey questions and then the computer asked me if I was interested in getting a store credit card. I hit ‘no.’ It asked me again, about a different store credit card, and again I hit ‘no.’

When the computer screen finished asking me questions I was directed to another woman who had another computer screen and she explained to me that Canadian Tire was creating this card to store your Canadian Tire money on to reduce the amount of paper they use. Sounds good. She told me that I would be getting this card in the mail along with a packet of information about the credit card that they were pushing. A packet I could ignore, I assumed. So she asked me some more questions – mailing address, fine. Why do you need to know what my rent is?

And then she asked me to sign the screen.

The top line of this page I was supposed to sign gave them permission to open a credit card account in my name. Without telling me what she was doing, this woman was trying to get me to apply for a credit card. Without telling me what she was doing, she was seeking permission to do a credit check.

Not okay.

I told her I was not okay signing this, she tried to explain to me that it was okay, that I would get the card but I didn’t have to activate it, three or four times as I stood there saying no she tried to convince me, really, that she wasn’t trying to sell me a credit card.

Not at all okay.

Finally another one of the ‘salespeople’ told her to just give up. They gave us some coupons and we went on our way.

I left wondering how many people are getting themselves into trouble financially because of salespeople like this woman who didn’t seem to think she was doing anything wrong, in fact seemed more annoyed that she was losing her commission because I wasn’t just taking her at her word. How many people get surprised by unwanted credit checks and ridiculously high interest rates?

Not okay, Canadian Tire – or whoever you’ve contracted to sell your credit cards. Not at all okay.

You belong to me

by , on
October 15, 2011

We are suffering from full on toddler in our house. The word MINE is spoken more often than ever before. Where the kid was always pretty easy-going she will now throw a full on, kicking, screaming, ‘NO MOMMY NO’ tantrum for what seem to be the smallest things.

She fights when you want her to put on her shoes, when you want her to clean up her toys, when you want her to get in her car seat. Last night when she didn’t want to go to bed she threw a book at my face.

I love this kid, and I know that this is a perfectly normal stage. She’s realized that she can do things for herself, that she is her own human being. Most of the time she’s her perfectly lovely self. Sometimes she pats us on the back and asks if we’re okay – “Okay mommy?” – and she gives great hugs and kisses. She sings to herself and her vocabulary is growing every day. My heart leaps a little when she strings three or four words together.

I breathe deeply and I let her get it out of her system and I make sure she doesn’t hurt herself. I stay calm.

But sometimes I just can’t. Sometimes it’s one slap or kick too much and I need to get away from her. Sometimes I feel like I hate her. But she’s mine.

 ——-

They have an incredible sense of timing, don’t they? Amy told me about this draft last night (Friday)  but I didn’t get around to reading it until now – about noon on Saturday. In between? Kid slept a full 12 hours last night, woke up in a wonderful mood and she and I had a great morning playing and tidying up the house while Mommy slept. This morning she was the delightful, happy and amazing little girl that melts our hearts and causes us to swell with pride.

We’ve long since figured out that sleep is the biggest factor in whether or not our kid is a total jerk. This week we wore the blame a bit – late night at the hockey game followed by a disrupted week of hotel stays and car rides. But more often than not, her sleep disruptions come out of nowhere.

We’re getting a better sense of when she’s had enough and we do our best to get her down for naps or into bed for the night when we see the signs. We know that if we don’t start the bedtime process by about 5:30 pm she doesn’t go down easily. But even when we’re on our game, sometimes she isn’t playing along.

She’s going to be a toddler for awhile. We haven’t even officially hit the terrible twos yet. But it’s a lot more tolerable when we’ve all had our sleep. This week, none of us did.

Strong women, respectful men

by , on
October 13, 2011

We took the kid to an Ottawa Senators game Tuesday (home opener win over the Wild in a shootout, on the off chance you read this blog for your sports fix. Neil had a huge game, by the way).

At one point during the game, Amy noted that the Sens had introduced cheerleaders of sorts – attractive young women in yoga pants and tight t-shirts doing reasonably-coordinated routines in the crowd. Then awhile later they made their way to our section.

Among the things I heard shouted:

  • “Take your top off!”
  • “Take your shirt off!”
  • “I see that tramp stamp! I know what that means.”

It was late and the kid was pretty drowsy and not really hearing any of it so we largely tried to tune it out. But when the guys in front of us started discussing which one was likely the biggest slut I finally reminded them, as calmly as I could muster given the circumstances, there was a child in the area and they should show a little respect.

At one point in all of this, Amy turned to me and said something to the effect of “thank you for not being an asshole.” And it got me thinking – I can’t even fathom talking to a woman like that (or to anyone for that matter). It’s not that I am cognizant of trying to set a good example for my daughter or trying to avoid upsetting my wife – I genuinely don’t understand how people can talk to people like that.

Then I started thinking about the strong women that I grew up with. I wasn’t raised in a girl power household or anything – feminism wasn’t something that was discussed specifically – but the women in my life were (and are) strong, independent, proud people.

My great grandmother was a school teacher who well into her 90s instilled a love of reading and a deep sense of respect in the three generations that came after her. My maternal grandmother raised 8 kids and can still strike the fear of god in them (not to mention her grandkids) today, though she’s far more inclined to be warm and loving. I didn’t know my paternal grandmother as well but she raised three boys after my grandfather passed away too early and the memories I do have are of a caring, strong woman.

And my Mom, well my Mom is the sweetest most caring woman I know but she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She’s the eldest of the 8 and she can still whip her siblings into shape when she has to. I still feel protected in her presence today and I’m a grown man with almost a foot on her height-wise.

It’s no wonder, I suppose that I married Amy. She’s as strong as any of them.

I wouldn’t want my daughter raised by anyone else.

——–

 One of the things that bothered me the most was watching the man sitting in front of us with his young son do nothing. He didn’t say anything to the men around us about watching what they were saying, he didn’t say anything to his son about it being inappropriate and disrespectful.

A few years ago Joe and I would go to Renegades games, and the team had decided to have the stupidest promotion EVER. Men were given beads upon arriving at the games, and women were to collect the beads by whatever means they chose. These, of course, being Mardigras beads that women usually collect by flashing their breasts at strangers. I sat in the South side stands and watched women flash men, make out with total strangers and do other things that made me sad, angry and uncomfortable. I can’t ever remember what the prize was for having the most beads at the end of the game – maybe $1000?

I watched these women do these things and I saw fathers with their young sons beside them stand up to get a better look. So we have women who were taught that their body should be used and boys being taught that it’s fine to treat women as objects.

And you know what, the men I went to games with? They weren’t standing to gawk, they were yelling at those who were that there was still a football game going on and they were blocking the play.

I too was raised by strong women, my mother and my grandmother, I have known strong women all my life, I am a strong woman and my daughter will be one too.

I’d like to think that she will never encounter the guy who tries to look cool by shouting ‘take off your shirt’ at a pretty girl he doesn’t know, but she will. I just hope she has a great comeback when he shows up. But then, the fact is, that tonight I didn’t have a comeback. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. As a woman I am always aware that by speaking up in a situation like that I may be putting myself in danger. It’s something that Joe might never be able to really understand. If I call the guy an asshole and he is the wrong kind of guy, I could be very suddenly in a serious situation. How do you pick and choose those moments when the offense taken out-weighs the potential bad reaction?

 

Object

by , on
October 12, 2011

This week Joe and I are both off work so we’re having what I’m calling the ‘Boughner family extravaganza.’

We had Thanksgiving on Sunday and watched the Jets’ home opener, we went out to Saunders Farm on Monday and explored. Today, the little one went to day care and I spent the morning catching up on my sleep, then we went out for lunch as a couple and ended the day at the Senators’ home opener.

The game was pretty good, though not great. The Sens ended up winning in a shoot out and there were some good plays, and really bad ones. I knew I was going to be hearing the booing and nastiness directed towards Heatley, so I had prepared myself for that, but something else entirely came up.

I had no idea that the Senators were going to have cheerleaders this year. (I don’t actually know if they refer to them as cheerleaders or a dance team, but they were women in groups of threes scattered through the crowd dancing during breaks trying to get the crowd involved).

I am generally not a fan of cheerleaders at hockey games. Hockey games generally move too fast for the distraction, but I digress.

These women didn’t bother me too much. They weren’t blocking my view at all and they were dressed in white t-shirts with the Sens’ logo and long black pants.

When these women came to our section and started dancing I was totally unprepared for the reaction of the men sitting beside me and in front of me. One of them actually yelled “Take it off!” and they started cracking jokes about these women – that their dancing would be better if they didn’t wear a bra next time, debating which one was hottest, and then one of them said something akin to ‘if there’s grass on the field, play ball.’

They thought they were hilarious. Meanwhile, I was sitting there – a woman – with my little girl in my lap. In front of them there was a man with his young son, maybe 9 years old, who decided to condone the behaviour by not saying anything to them.

I sat there not having any idea how to react. These were our seats, we were going to be there through two more periods (and overtime as it turned out), these guys had all been drinking. If I were to say something to them, would I put myself at risk or force my husband into a bad situation?

If my daughter was older and could really understand the situation would I have reacted differently? I think so.

I should not have to hear them talking like that, those women who were there doing a job (and, it appeared, quite enjoying themselves) should not have to put up with that, but what in that bit of time and space could I have said or done to make these men understand that they were being stupid and offensive and rude and thoughtless and, frankly, assholes?

Scrapes and scars and bruises

by , on
October 9, 2011

Maggie has a swollen eyelid today. It’s been this way since she woke up from her nap yesterday. We’re not entirely sure what’s causing it, and it seems to be itchy but not painful. We called Tele-health Ontario and the nurse didn’t seem too concerned, but told us to call back if it got worse, if she started showing other symptoms or if it was still this way after three days.

She has also started biting her nails. I thought that was the case, and I called my mother to see how old I had been when I started and she said I was really little. Maggie’s hands seem to be constantly in her mouth and I haven’t had to cut her nails for a while. As a result of biting her nails she has little red scratches on her chin and cheeks.

She also had trouble sleeping this week, so for a few days her eyes were sunken and she had dark circles.

And I found myself worried that she will be going through life with little scars all over her face or a permanently droopy eye and it bothers me more than I’d like to admit. She really is beautiful. She’s beautiful and smart and nice (most of the time) and she could have anything in the world she sets her mind on. But what if she develops one of those flaws that makes people judge her on looks rather than the person she is?

I know there is so much to overcome as it is, being a woman, being genetically at risk for depression – and she’s already taking after me by biting her fingernails.

I know she’s going to have scars, I know she’s going to hurt herself every now and again – certainly if she takes after me since I am not the most coordinated of people. I want her to take risks and not worry about falling down. Will this fear of her doing permanent damage keep coming back? Am I going to stop her from having fun because I keep telling her to be careful?

Truly outrageous

by , on
October 7, 2011

On Twitter tonight my sister linked to an interview with the woman voice voiced the characters of Jerrica and Jem on Jem and the Holograms.

You remember, she was truly outrageous, truly, truly, truly outrageous.

Jem was a TV show and a doll and a rock star. We watched the TV show, we had the cassettes, and we played with the dolls. To this day I remember those dolls with incredible fondness. You know, Barbie has this thing where she skips from job to job. She’s supposed to show girls that they can do anything, I didn’t get that from her. She was very thin and her waist was tiny and she was hard to dress because of her pointy toes and fingers.

Jem seemed normal sized. Her hands and feet seemed realistic. Her body shape was fuller. She had better clothes, she had pink hair and she was a hologram rock star who was also Jerrica the band’s manager.

Seriously.

Also, Rio? Better than Ken.

Of course, while I liked Jem, Kimber was my favourite – keytar player with bright red hair? Oh yes.

In this interview, Samantha Newark – the voice of Jerrica and Jem, says that Hasbro has regained the rights to the characters which means they could start producing new episodes – which means they could start making the dolls again. Jem and her bandmates – and her rivals, The Misfits – are smart women, with passion for what they do. Jem even started a charity for kids. I would have no qualms about letting my daughter play with Jem dolls just like I did.

Unless…

Unless they do to Jem what they seem to be doing to a lot of characters I loved when I was little: Growing them up. For instance, when I was a kid I had a Rainbow Brite lunch box. Recently, Rainbow Brite and her friends came back to TV, but they look slightly different:

And then there was Holly Hobby-esque Strawberry Shortcake, also looking “modern” now:

Even My Little Ponies are slightly more taut and Dora the Explorer became a tween. Why? I guess we needed little girls to grow up even faster than they already were, and have them realize sooner that they don’t fit into the image they’re supposed to. I guess we just wanted little girls to feel worse about themselves as young as we could make that happen so they would know what they’re in store for.

Let them not do that to Jem, Jem who was my hero partly because she looked like women I knew in real life.

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