“I’m not going to betray my heart and sacrifice myself on the fires of your expectation.” –C. Ara Campbell
Photo by Natalie Grono
“I’m not going to betray my heart and sacrifice myself on the fires of your expectation.” –C. Ara Campbell
Photo by Natalie Grono
Last month The Huffington Post announced it was changing it’s contributor platform. I have been a contributor there since September 2013 when y’all helped make one of my posts viral. Since then I’ve been putting most of my writing there because everyone knows HuffPo and hardly anyone knows Iron Daisy.
But now I’m back to my roots. The HuffPo is no longer accepting contributor submissions. Any article ideas will have to be pitched to their editors. Before I would submit my posts, they would be edited by a small team of people, and then posted on the website. This has come to end for every contributor.
I’m a little disappointed because for 4 years HuffPo allowed me to reach an audience I wouldn’t have ever had otherwise. It was a great experience for me allowing me to expand my abilities as a writer.
I can’t totally understand their position with this new shift. With the current trend of #fakenews and our president inciting nazis and other hate groups to become more hateful, you don’t want to give a platform to just anybody these days. I think the move is smart on their part.
I’ve been hesitant to continue posting on my blog, not because the audience isn’t as large as HuffPo, but because of the audience my blog attracts. Actually the audience I attract. That audience is a mentally unstable person who uses my blog’s commenting section to send vile messages to me.
I get it. In this internet age any coward can sit behind a keyboard and say whatever they want about anyone else. I’m not naive to that.
But I know the people behind these pathetic attacks and I wonder sometimes when they’re going to get bored? Probably never. Just word to the wise, you can say anything you want about me – I’m fat, I’m a bad mother, I’m mentally unhealthy, blah blah blah. But if you use my children to hurt me, especially use the worst thing that ever happened to one of my children as a weapon against me, I just have to ask — what the fuck is wrong with you? Like, who wakes up and uses a crime against a child to hurt their mother? It’s absolutely so despicable and crosses such a huge line, just know there will never be forgiveness on my end. Never. You hurt me? Whatever. You betray one of my children? You’re dead to me.
All this to say I may be bringing this old chestnut back to life. Maybe. It depends on if I have anything to say that I can’t tweet in 280 characters.
You know that mom you see at school drop-off every morning? The mom whose hair is perfectly coiffed, her makeup is always done, her clothes are stylish and expensive, she may or may not work outside the home, her children are always perfectly dressed and perfectly behaved, and she volunteers at every school function? She never shows up to school drop-off in her sweats, messy bun, yesterday’s makeup, the baby’s spit-up on her stretched-out and holey t-shirt, while slugging down as much coffee as her system can take. Nope, not the Perfect Mom. Her life seems perfect and she makes it seem so effortless, and you wonder why you’re not that mom.
I’m not that mom either. I don’t even think that mom is that mom.
Parenting is hard. Full stop. End of sentence. It’s hard. I often think of the slogan that the Peace Corps © uses about how they are the toughest job you’ll ever love and it relates to how I feel about parenting. It’s so hard, and overwhelming, and exhausting, and taken me to the limit of all my extremes, and yet I fiercely love all of my children so much that I would die for them.
I’ve been there in the trenches with my kids fighting to ensure them the best future possible. I’ve been there at 2:00 a.m. when they were sick and throwing up on me and sleep was an elusive fantasy. I’ve been there when my child struggled to read and I had to fight for her to get all the educational help she was entitled to. I was in the trenches when my kids were bullied by the neighbor kid whose parents took no responsibility nor tried to correct their child’s behavior. I’ve been in the trenches when my kids struggled with school assignments, friendships, Scouting, sports, music lessons, growing pains, sibling rivalry, on and on, ad infinitum.
Sometimes I’ve fought those battles with a dirty t-shirt, underwear I’ve worn for days, and stained sweatpants on. Sometimes I’ve fought those battles in a pantsuit and power heels. And sometimes I’ve fought them with a sweatshirt with the school’s mascot and a simple pair of jeans on.
The point is, as a mother I was willing to fight those battles for and with my kids no matter how I looked, felt, or was perceived by the other parents at school.
That mom who we think is so perfect and must have a problem-free life, is fighting those battles for and with her kids too.
We can never know the inner workings of anyone else’s life. I do know that everyone else that I see on the street, in the grocery store, in line at the Post Office, and at school drop off has a life that is as vivid as mine. They all have people they love deeply, worries that weigh on their heart, and hurts so deep it’s amazing they got out of bed and participated in life that day. Their lives are just as real and important as mine.
So when I see the Perfect Mom with her perfect hair, makeup, clothes, children, and life at school drop-off I try to remember that her life is just as hard as mine. Maybe some things in her life are easier for her than they are in mine. And maybe in some ways my life is easier than hers. I’ll never know. We’ll never know.
So in the meantime I’m cutting my fellow moms, wearing a power suit or a pair of sweatpants, some well-deserved slack. Including myself.
[A response to this.]
Yesterday was the “Day Without A Woman” strike. The idea was that women were supposed to abandon their jobs, their families and their household duties for the day in order to protest how we elected a man to President who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and how even in 2017 women are still unequal in this country.
As was the case with the Women’s March in January, most of the people involved in this demonstration are VERY sure why they’re involved. They saw their country elect a man who said he could grab their genitals and get away with that, and it makes them feel unsafe, unrepresented, and just plain mad as hell. From my conversations with my fellow feminists who either supported or participated in this strike/boycott/it seems most of them KNOW that they’re speaking out against very real and lived INEQUALITY. When asked how they’re unequal, they are able to articulate very compelling reasons from their lived experiences of all the little ways every day in which they are marginalized, oppressed, ignored, abused, misrepresented, and devalued by modern society. So for once men have to pick up the slack for women instead of the other way around.
The organizers of this protest had concise, consistent, and articulate messages about what they aimed to accomplish yesterday and their goals for the future. Those goals are very connected to women’s issue’s because women’s rights are human rights.
The official unity principals, which serve as the foundation for yesterday’s strike, include a women’s right to access reproductive health care and have her and her doctor make decisions, not conservative asshats with a blog, LGBTQIA rights, immigrant and refugee rights, and environmental health. It’s clear why these issues were included in the Day Without Women platform because women are affected by every single one of these issues every.single.day.
A few thoughts on today:
Women do most of the unpaid work in this country, whether that’s raising families or caring for their aging Baby Boomer parents, and are expected to do that work with very little support from their male partners WHILE ALSO WORKING A FULL-TIME JOB. Because men have the option to opt-out of this work because they know the women in their lives will pick up the slack, ensuring their lives will continue on basically as normal for the most part. When you get the feminist mom demographic to go on strike, you really are grinding the social engine to a halt because feminist moms are raising their children, participating in activism, carrying the loads for their families, and working outside of the home, and boy howdy, do they know how to organize and get shit done.
Days like yesterday make me even more thankful for my husband, who grew up in a generation and religion steeped in patriarchal control and he still rejected gender roles and has chosen to be an egalitarian partner and committed father with great enthusiasm. My husband can’t even say the word “feminist” without feeling so grateful that he has was raised by a strong woman, was taught how to respect women by his father, is the brother to some strong-ass women, is married to a tough-as-nails woman, is raising two daughters to be strong women, and raising two sons to reject patriarchal control and respect the hell out of women.
When I asked him what he was doing to commemorate “A Day Without Women,” he told me he was going to wear red to work, support the women in his office who would like to participate in the action, and donate to causes that directly impact the lives of women. He’s far too much of a grown, mature, adult man, to denigrate women, to mock their protests for more rights, and not support every woman’s effort to gain more equality. And thank God for that.
My recommendation to any young woman discerning marriage: ask your prospective husband how he feels about modern feminism. If he laughs, RUN FOR THE HILLS. The last thing you want is to be married to a misogynist who expects you do all the emotional labor in your family, raise your children with little to no support, while he reaps all the benefits of your hard work and never has to lift a finger. Praise Jesus.
Fortunately in the education system, mature feminist Baby Boomers make up a significant percentage of the staff at many public schools, particularly on the east coast. That’s why some of the biggest school systems in America shut down yesterday to accommodate the hundreds of feminists who value their equality and know that fighting for their rights means they are fighting for the rights of their students as well. Again, women’s rights are human rights.
Unfortunately because of lazy and sexist men and their harmful, non-family oriented policies, thousands of working mothers, many of them low income, will be forced to call out of work or shell out money for childcare. The women who would have liked to participate in yesterday’s events and who couldn’t afford to take part in them, will be the ones who pay the price, because men sure as hell won’t. The Patriarchy will keep humming along as normal, oppressing our nation’s women by enacting laws that take away women’s reproductive rights, marginalizing the already oppressed, taking away the rights of trans women to use the bathroom, paying women of color even less than they pay white women, refusing asylum to refugee women, failing to protect women who are currently experiencing domestic or sexual violence, manspreading and mansplaining, while misogynist, conservative men sit in their Ivory towers looking down at women complaining for not using their inside voices like the nice ladies to. As usual.
Many articles have been written over the past week explaining what men can do to support yesterday’s strike. As it turns out there was and is a lot they could/can do. They can pick up the slack with childcare. They can support the women in their office if management tries to punish them for their participation. They can march with them and provide security against the men who wish to enact violence to them. If they’re attorneys, they can provide their legal services for free to those women who were arrested for protesting. They can teach their sons and daughters about consent. They can not grab the genitals of other women just because president trump bragged about it. They can speak out whenever a sexist joke or story is told. They can listen to their wives when they tell them about their experiences with inequality AND BELIEVE THEM even if they have never experienced it themselves. These can and should be doing these things today and every day. Sadly, a depressingly low number of men will not do any of these things even though patriarchy hurts them as well. Even sadder, is when women denigrate the work of other women by criticizing their tone or tactics, etc. because women are the gatekeepers of patriarchy and the only real way to have power as a women is through soft power.
Mothers should be supported in self-care and filling up their own well so that they can continue to care for their families. This is called maternal feminism. If that means leaving their family for a whole day as a political statement, what a wonderful role model she is to her children in standing up for her rights. Workers usually go on strike because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that their employer is oppressing them. If you’re going on strike from your family, is that because your children and husband are oppressing you? PROBABLY. Why isn’t your husband supporting you more? Why are your children expecting you to do everything for them? Why isn’t every member of your household responsible for the upkeep of that household? Why isn’t your partner being a better parent to your shared children?
I’m so glad that my husband isn’t a Matt Walsh type. It makes me feel pangs of by-proxy-embarrassment for his wife for allowing their children and herself to be disrespected in this way.
What can a husband do for a wife who wants to go on strike from the family? PICK UP THE FREAKING SLACK. He can show that he is committed to being a better partner by being a leader in changing his actions to be more respectful, accommodating, and supportive of his wife. He can be a man, in other words.
Women need to absolutely and 100% protest for equal rights because they still do not have equal rights.
Feminism is the only thing that has ever offered help. This, perhaps more than any other reason, is why everyone should take feminism seriously. Especially today and every day thereafter until there is gender equality for every woman and girl.
Feminist are out there fighting for everyone’s equality. Please join us.
I have a love/hate relationship with winter.
I love looking out my windows to the snowcapped mountains in the distance, especially when the sun is rising over the ones in the east and casting pink streaks of light across the snow. And when the sun is setting over the mountains on Antelope Island over the Great Salt Lake and the orange/hot pink bursts of light make the whole lake look like it is made of fire. I’m lucky enough to get a beautiful view of both where I live.
I love that in winter nature takes a break from creating to rest. I love the stillness of winter. Everything in nature hibernates for a while, and winter is just mother nature’s slumber. I love the peace I feel in the winter especially while just sitting at a window watching the snow fall.
I love watching people playing in the snow and making snowpeople. Especially since it inspired Bill Watterson’s best strips for Calvin & Hobbes.
I love winter because I have a lot of beautiful sweaters and cute boots and this appeals to the fashionista in me.
I hate commuting during snowstorms. I hate being cold. I hate that my asthma is cold weather induced and it’s harder to breathe. I hate that I have to find everyone’s coats, scarves, gloves and boots just to leave the house when in summer I can throw on a pair of flip flops and run out of the door. I hate plowing through my driveway and scraping off my car.
But however much I hate certain aspects of winter, I am grateful for this time of rest, of slumber, to let nature be quiet for a while. In two months growing things will wake up and sprout new life. I’m willing to wait for it.
Recently I was accused of living in a liberal, social justice warrior, feminist bubble – an echo chamber surrounded by only people who agree with me.
Cool story, bro?
Let me tell you a little bit about my echo chamber.
Little girls who grow up in Mormon-dominated Utah in a part-member Mormon family where the only parent who is LDS (mom) does not attend church until she is 14, don’t live in echo chambers.
Little girls who attend their LDS ward alone growing up, with just her siblings, without parents but with their support, and were subjected to lessons about how every other child was born in the covenant, therefore more blessed, and members of eternal families, whereas she was not, through no fault of her own, don’t live in echo chambers.
Little girls who have kids in the neighborhood tell them they’re not allowed to play with them because her aforementioned parents don’t go to church and will probably make them drink beer (my parents rarely, if ever, drank alcohol) and watch R-rated movies, don’t live in echo chambers.
Little girls who are made fun of for having a father who did “un-masculine” household chores like laundry and didn’t go hunting or own guns because he’s a pacifist, don’t live in echo chambers.
Little girls who are raised by strong female role models and who are taught from birth they need to grow up to support themselves, despite being a member of a patriarchal religion where she was taught her only goal should be motherhood, and career and education “just in case,” don’t live in echo chambers.
Teenage girls who try to start a Young Democrats club in their High School in Republican dominated Utah, who had her posters ripped down and not a single teacher would agree to sponsor the club, letting it die before it began, don’t live in echo chambers.
Teenage girls who are told by the Student Body President their sophomore year of high school that they should be excommunicated from their shared church and humiliated in front of their entire Human Biology class, don’t live in echo chambers.
Teenage girls who are made fun of in front of an almost entire classroom full of boys in her AP American History class for being a feminist and bringing up the point that the foremothers of our state of Utah were suffragists, don’t live in echo chambers.
Teenage girls who excitedly register to vote during their senior year of High School only to have the woman registering her give a disgusted grunt when she asked if she would like to register for a party and she proudly proclaims, “yes! Democrat!”, don’t live in echo chambers.
Young college co-eds who attend one of the most liberal Universities in her state only to attend a Young Democrats meeting with 4 attendees on a campus of over 20,000 students, don’t live in echo chambers.
Young married females who are shamed for hyphenating their married last names (17+ years and counting), don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who have their gynecologist tell them that the very real physical negative side affects of their birth control are all in their head, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who are pressured by their church leaders to have a testimony of a President and a war they don’t support, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who have news articles written about the good work they’re doing in their career and are met with comments about how awful it is that a mother would dare to work, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who are shunned from being in the cool mommy group in the neighborhood for not being a stay-at-home-mother, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who have to constantly fight the culture of sexism and misogyny that permeates modern day America so she can raise her daughters in strength and sons with respect for all of humanity, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who are told by their supervisor that the quarter inch of cleavage that shows when they fold their arms at work, even though they are dressed perfectly modestly and their garments are covered, might entice a clinical male client to rape someone, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who are censored at work for having a feminist voice and threatened with the loss of job and income, not to mention their covenants since they work for their church, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who vote their conscience and then are shamed for not voting for members of their faith and told they are being deceived by Satan, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who are glared at for wearing pants to church by so-called loving members of their religion, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who are asked by their church leaders to gain a testimony of exclusion of LGBTQIA members, their children from baby blessings and baptism, when it goes against everything she knows is right and Christ-like, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who want more authority in their church than their 12-year-old son who can perform one of the most sacred rituals, passing the sacrament, and she can’t despite being an adult and temple recommend holder, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who break their own hearts and walk out of the church that informed their entire spirituality and into a church where they feel peace and no cognitive dissonance and aren’t asked to compromise their values and conscience, and can just worship the Christ that they love found in the New Testament, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who have half of their neighborhood no longer talk or wave to her or unfriend her on Facebook because of her changing and evolving religious convictions, don’t live in echo chambers.
Women who are feminist liberals living, working, and raising their children every day in Utah, don’t live in echo chambers.
So, please consider the reason why you’re having a strong, negative reaction to my opinions is perhaps because you live in an echo chamber? You’ve grown up and lived in a conservative state, surrounded by conservative people, and a conservative religion, where the people in your life (friends, family, and neighbors) all share your conservative opinions. I might be the first person who has ever disagreed with you and offered a different perspective. Perhaps I do it in an assertive and strong voice, which makes you uncomfortable because you’re used to women deferring to men, backing down from confrontation, speaking to you in dulcet tones, and when they do disagree, keeping it to themselves.
Well, that ain’t me. I’m not a shrinking violet, I’m a damn iron daisy, and if you condescend to me, cast aspersion on my character, shame me, insult my intelligence, or question my spirituality, you will hear from me and it WON’T be in my Relief Society voice, but the strong, clear, voice of the strong, independent, proud woman my parents raised me to be.
I used to be a night owl. There wasn’t a morning that I didn’t want to sleep through.
Since I was a child I delighted in the dark, calm, still hours of the night. In high school and college I would stay up late reading into the wee hours. In the morning, 10:00 am was too early for me and there was nothing I loved more than sleeping in. Frankly, there was nothing I loved more than sleeping as I would usually also require an afternoon nap after morning classes.
As a young mother I was blessed to have babies that started sleeping through the night at about 2 months old. I think the universe knew that I couldn’t handle the sleep deprivation that most parents are forced to endure. Even if my young children woke me up at an early hour, I remember half sleeping on the couch while they would watch “Sesame Street.” By 10:00 am I would be able to function, but I definitely napped when they napped.
Then something changed.
Now, there is not a sunrise over the Wasatch Mountains that I want to miss.
I witnessed years of gorgeous hot pink and orange sunsets over the Great Salt Lake.
Now I also get to bear witness to the audacious morning breaking almost every day.
A little over two years ago I accepted a job that required me to start work every week day at 8:00 am. With a half-hour commute and having to drop off my youngest at her beloved babysitter’s, I have to leave my house about the same time I used to wake up to get my kids off to school (and then promptly went back to bed).
It took me a while, but I began to appreciate the beauty of an early morning.
Then after numerous attempts to get back into an exercise routine, six months after I started my new job I resigned myself to the fact the only time I had to work-out was when the gym first opens at 4:30 am to give myself enough time to get ready for work, and my children ready for school. The thought of waking up at 4:00 am was obscene to me, but I did it.
And I noticed a swift transformation in me.
No longer a night owl.
I emerged as a morning person.
I’ve made fun of morning people my whole life. How can anyone be that happy at ungodly hours? I remember my mother getting ready for work in her bathroom while I was in Junior High and High School, singing and dancing to the oldies station, with a curling iron in her hair. She would chatter away at me all morning while I scowled over my cereal and wondered how I ever emerged from this woman’s womb. She didn’t even drink coffee.
And now, I’m that annoying person in the office who is so happy in the morning I even get on my own nerves. While most of my coworkers won’t even speak to me until they’ve had at least one cup of coffee, by the time I get to work I’ve already been up for four hours and I’m ready to engage and talk, while they scowl at me over their steaming mugs.
My favorite time of day now is when I leave the gym in the summer. I look to the East as the sun creeps over the purple mountains in the distance. I have a great view of Weber Canyon and the tilt of the earth at that time of year is just such that the sun shines through the break in the mountains.
It’s those times they I say a silent prayer of gratitude. That every day I was able to witness a sunrise and a sunset. To put myself in the way of beauty, as Cheryl Strayed says.