If it’s Not One Thing, it’s Ten Thousand Others

Is it just me, or is it just a thing that right when you think calm in life is right around the corner life comes up and smacks you upside the head?

Cuz that prettymuch sums up my life. And it can never wait until you are actually done. The snack always comes when you are close enough to completion that you are looking forward to the after party. You are starting to consider what the next thing you need to tackle is on your to-do list that is as long as your phone can handle a list to be, and a few extras that you keep forgetting every time you try to write them down.

So this time… my mom was working on the the finishing touches for the catalog of my grandfather’s paintings and other art works. I was working on fixing the glass at the front of the gallery. (More on that when I get it done.) Suffice to say say I was only one day away, the next project was lined up, and that one had a deadline.

Big had a fever overnight for a few nights, but was fine during the day. I was gonna send him to school and pull him out for his dentist appointment, but something told me not to send him in at all. His fever had made him a little more restless the night before, so I let him stay. We went to the dentist, everything went fine, and was so fast that that we had time to get to reading time at the library, so we did. I let the kids play for awhile after as usual. When we got into the car, Little was protesting the seatbelt, and I happened to see Big’s hands.

Sorry it’s such a bad picture, but he had little blisters all over his hands and feet. I figured it was chicken pox. He has had the shot, but sometimes kids can still get it, but it’s not as bad. I decided to postpone any other errands, and head home. I did have to stop at the school to pick up his folder. I called the school to see if someone could bring it out so he didn’t have to go inside. But the they couldn’t. I’m glad I stopped by. The secretary had told the nurse, and she was able to look at him. I was told that it looked like hand foot and mouth disease. I had never heard of that, but was very glad to have the information. I called the library and let them know so they could clean the toys he was playing with.

Long story short, that’s what the doctor said it was when we went in the next day. Since then we have been scrambling trying to get the kids to limit the things they touch around the house.

And my grandmother is 84. My two kids an and I had been sitting on her bed the day before the sores appeared. My kids have not been in the gallery since. We cannot have her get sick.

This has been an extra challenge because that next project I mentioned earlier was cleaning out the yard at the gallery. The yard had gotten out of control due to long term health problems taking precedence for several years. The urgent things were being dealt with, but anything that could be put off was.

So my mother and I brought the kids down and had them play in a clean area while we gathered scrap metal and garbage. This weekend was the one time when our community had set aside to collect these things and had provided dumpsters and scheduled someone to collect the scrap metal. So even though the kids are going through this thing, we had to deal with the yard this weekend. Yesterday we spent most of the day organising. We did take one load down which included a broken washing machine we had just replaced and a big water heater.

Getting the washing machine into the truck involved a hand truck (that needed the tires refilled), ramps, blocking a side road with a truck that is a challenge to drive as it was purchased with the power steering removed, chocks under the wheels since the road goes up a mountain, and a good dose of “I can’t see where I’m going as I back up this bear of a truck down the mountain.

Getting the water heater into the truck involved getting help from a passing family friend who soon felt superfluous when he realised that the women could do it by themselves. My mom let him feel helpful by going away and doing something else whilehe and I lifted the thing into the bed of the truck.

Getting the things off the truck was a whole lot more fun. Out of four trips we eventually took to drop stuff off, three of them involved me shoving giant appliances off the back of the truck with a very satisfying crash.

This has been a crazy, unpredictable week, but luckily, even though my kids are sick, they don’t seem to feel it. They are behaving like normal healthy kids, they just happen to have blisters on their hands and feet. I can complain about the crazy all day long, but at the end of the day, all that matters is that my family is doing well. Having a little fun throwing things of trucks is just bonus!

Women’s Day

“Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History”.

I have started a pre-school reading time at the small Ortiz Mountain Community Library in Madrid, NM. For Women’s Day I chose the theme HerStory. This refers to the hidden history of women. It is often about the stories of women who made a huge difference and are commonly ignored in history as it is written or taught. Part of the reading time is a craft project.

I started searching online for ideas. when you type in “Women’s Day Crafts” all of the projects are flowers and hearts. Why would we celebrate women in such a narrow way? The point of Women’s Day is to celebrate the many facets and strengths of women. Hearts and Flowers are all well and good, but no woman I have ever met, even the most shallow, was all about hearts and flowers. And most women that I know outright reject the association.

Finally I chose to do a project relating to women’s suffrage. We will be making yellow flowers that represented support for women’s right to vote. We will also make sashes or picket signs. So, even when I consciously avoid the hearts and flowers, I still ended up doing flowers, oh well.

Women’s suffrage is an interesting topic. The way it has been presented, women did not have the right to vote because they were considered less than people. But that is not the original intention. It has to do with states and precincts. If under the United States, there are states, and under those there are cities, counties, precincts, etc, the smallest governmental unit would be the household. So the head of the household got the vote. Traditionally this was the man.

This works well enough if the voter takes into consideration the opinions of all members of the household. Socially however, women were generally unwelcome in discussions of politics. Men might not even think that his wife would be of a different opinion, or thinks he knows better. This system can also be a problem when a woman is the head of household. Widows, unmarried women, etc. were just left unrepresented.

And yet, despite this under-representation, (and after decades of pushing the issue) women finally earned the right to represent themselves. By the votes of Men. Not all states won this right at the same time, and each has their own story.

But HerStory is so much more than a tale of one won right. It is the fact that women were some of the most vocal abolitionists. It is the women who have ruled countries. It is the women who have led expeditions. It is matriarchal societies. It is about birth control. It leads to the battle for gender/sexuality equality for all. It is women dying in childbirth. It is women wearing clothes so restrictive that they were made weak. It is about the objectification of women. It is about the obsession with beauty over intelligence. It is about stereotypes. It is about holding women to different sexual standards than men. It is about pioneers. It is about blaming women for their own assault. It is about every woman’s story.

History generally ignores the women. HerStory not about making women more important than men, but respecting that women have played a role. You cannot tell the story of Lewis and Clark without talking about Sacajawea. Boudicca is an amazing part of the battle against Roman occupation. Anne Frank tells the most complete story of hiding from the Nazis. There are so many amazing women throughout history and all around the world, they deserve to have their stories told.

We just started Reading Time last week, and thus far, we have only had boys. That is not going to make me shy away from doing something about the strength of women. I think it is just as important to teach boys about the strength of women as it is to teach women. I want to see a world where calling men feminine names is not an insult.

Should I have Kids?

This is a common question these days, and I know I struggled with it. For many people the answer is obvious, for others it is not. I know that when I was trying to make this decision I looked to others to tell me what to do. Obviously that is not the best way to make such a personal choice, but it is easier to just do what you are told than to make a choice, or to be the one held accountable if your decision is not the best. In order to possibly help, I will tell you a bit about how I made my decision.

When I was little, I always wanted company. I lived in a small town with very few children my own age. I always wanted siblings, and I would often pretend that I had them. But I was a very bossy kid, and I found that my imaginary friends didn’t complain, so I usually pretended to be a mother. I remember imagining a line of millions of babies following me around no matter where I went.

In elementary school, most of my friends were several years younger than I was, and I spent my recesses ‘mothering’ them. I taught them some arts and crafts, as well as playground games. But really only a few of them do I really remember, they were the ones who I played with a lot, but it was mostly an ever-changing group of younger kids that were willing to listen. At this time, one of the greatest compliments I ever received was that I would make a great mother.

It may seem odd then that by high school I had decided unequivocally that I would never have children. By this point I had not really spent much time with young kids in several years, the most I had really seen of them is grocery store temper tantrums. All of the anti-teen pregnancy campaigns had worked better on me than intended. I was completely disgusted by anything baby. Pregnancy sounded miserable, and the physical changes like bigger feet and un-losable weight did not seem worth it. All for an outcome that did not sound so great to me; sleepless nights, diapers, burping, feeding, cleaning… I could go on. And the kids themselves seemed like nothing but trouble, at the time I was not a perfect angel, and I knew people who were way worse. The spoiled kids at the store didn’t help either. It all seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I enjoy my freedom, and I did not want to be tied down. That said, I had always known that if for some reason I did end up with kids, I would do the best I could for them, but I was terrified that it would not be good enough.

I kept this attitude until long into my marriage, but it was wearing through a bit. I knew that a lot of what had shaped my opinion was about teen pregnancy, and since that is not where I was in my life anymore it was not a bad thing at that point. My concerns still were there, but the more that I spent time with people my age and older who had good kids, the more my fears about spoiled kids and rule breaking subsided. I was still scared stiff by the idea that I would not be good enough. I spent several years debating whether or not to have kids. I knew my husband wanted kids, and that he would be a great father. He never pressured me, the only time it even came up was when I talked about it, but I did want to give him something special, which might be part of why the idea kept coming up at all.

After awhile of doing a lot of soul searching, internet searching, and pros and cons lists it occurred to me that I would be happy with either outcome. This may not sound like much, but for me it was an epiphany. Still terrified that I may not be good enough, I knew that I would not be as bad as many parents. I also was beginning to form ideas of how kids learn behaviors and the different things that people can do to shape them, so I told myself that I would do whatever I could to make my kids the best they can be, and they would not be the spoiled ones in the store, but rather the (probably more numerous) ones that I had never really noticed because they were so well-behaved.

We stopped trying to avoid getting pregnant. After awhile, a close friend, who was deliberately waiting, got pregnant. I was shocked to discover that I was jealous. I thought that the world had decided that I was not worthy of kids. I was rather surprised at how hurt I was. We did not change anything that we were doing, but this realization helped me to know that the decision that I had made was not a bad one for me.

Soon enough, I did get pregnant, and we had our son. Now we are expecting our second child. I am very glad to have kids, but I would never tell someone that they should. There is one argument in favor of having children that I would like to take this opportunity to dispute. I do not think that they fill any void that I had before. I know that many parents would think that is a horrible thing to say, but in reality my life was complete before I had kids, and it is complete now. Think of it like a pie chart of my family. Each family member has their own slice, but there is not some void represented that a child would fill. Each kid also gets a slice, but before the pie was still at 100%.

I know that some people are not cut out to have kids. I know that some people’s lives would be unsuitable for raising kids. I know that some people cannot afford kids. I know that some people just don’t like kids. I have been there and I respect that. If that is you and you are struggling to decide because you feel pressured by others, stand your ground. Down the line you might change your mind, or not. Either way it is okay. Right now, you come first. It is your happiness that matters. If you think that you could not be happy taking care of children, then don’t let others talk you into doing it. Your unhappiness would affect your kids, if you cannot be happy with it, they will not be happy.

I don’t care what other people say, you do not need kids to be happy. Lots of people are very happy without kids. This idea comes from the old-fashioned notion that people are supposed to have as many kids as possible. Many religions still encourage large families. I cannot say that is a bad thing, but we do have to put it into a modern context. The reason behind this is so that people would be ensured that someone would be able to take over the family business. Kids were less likely to survive into adulthood, and having more kids increased the odds that some would make it. People also needed the labor to help take care of the land, or produce whatever it was that made the family money. This is not such an issue now either. There are plenty of people already in the world to do this labor.

We are at a point when overpopulation is becoming a problem. For this reason I choose not to have more kids than would replace my husband and I. Two kids, that’s it. That said, with better health care and longer life-expectancies, we are still adding to the total.

Money is another big contributing factor. While at one point having kids made the possibility of earning money easier, today raising kids is a huge financial cost. Even though most everything that my son has is second-hand, mostly gifts, the cost in essentials like diapers and food is noticeable. If you feel the need for your kids to have all-new things and a full nursery you will be feeling the pinch a lot more. That is not to say that my kids are lacking anything, I just have a different idea of what is essential than many people do. I believe that my kids will benefit more from the time and effort that I give them than the money I spend on stuff for them. I would rather save it for experiences and college than to spend it on stuff.

Ultimately the decision is yours. Do not let others make it for you. Notice how you feel in reaction to events in your life that may play a role. Put thought into it. Consider other’s opinions, but know that what is right for some people is not right for others. Make sure that you balance what is important to you with what would be necessary for raising kids. Right now I am putting off a lot of travel I would love to do so that when I do it I can share it with my kids. Right now they are too young to appreciate it, and we are taking the time to establish ourselves so that we can do this when they are older. I realized that my life did not have to end when I had kids, but some things do get put on hold.

Remember kids are a lifelong commitment, if that scares you right now, it might be better to wait. If you are nervous about the commitment, it is healthy. It means that you are taking everything into consideration, and it is a lot. Just think it through and be patient. Not all of the fear will ever go away. I am still terrified that I will not be good enough for what my kids deserve. I am still afraid for the world that they will be inheriting. But I made the commitment, and I am sticking to it. The fear helps motivate me, but it was not that long ago when I was frozen by it.

I am not saying that this is the natural progression that everyone will follow, because it is not. Everyone is different, some people know the answer before they ask the question. I was there for a long time, on both sides. I understand both, and I know that the answers lie within.

 

Happiness

They say that being happy comes from enjoying what you have and living in the moment. I believe that, and I try my best. Overall, I am very happy. But this is a lot easier when I ignore what is going on in the real world.

The problem is that ignoring bad things allows them to continue. Some people say that the problem is that I care too much. That may be true, but I know that if we allow bad things to happen, it will affect us down the line. If by acting now I can help prevent that, I will act now.

I keep running into the problem that so many bad things are going on in the world that I cannot really be active enough in any one thing. Especially since I am a parent and I work full-time. This frustration that I have is probably part of the reason that so much of what I post are merely rants. I know full well that I am not adding anything meaningful to the debates. I just feel the need to DO SOMETHING.

I sign petitions, but so many of them ask for money after you ‘sign’ that I don’t even know if it gets counted unless I donate. I am not a bottomless pit, and I cannot donate to every worthy cause I come across.

Harassment or Flirting?

Like many other women I have had many experiences where men, for whatever reason felt the need to let me know that they found me physically attractive. So what do you think, are these instances flirting or are they harassment?

I walk down the street by myself after school (High School mind you) and count no fewer than 30 car horns honking at me. Every time I walk to dance class or to meet my ride. One of the car horns actually made a sound like a wolf whistle. That means that not only do they do this more often than they use the horn for its intended purpose, but that the product is on the market.

When I lived in southern New Mexico and had to pass the border patrol to visit my boyfriend, my stop was always significantly longer than later when I was wearing a wedding ring.

When I leave dance class to run a message to another teacher in the school and after delivering the message I find that an older boy behind me has been staring and is grinning at me.

When a male guest is very curious about my pregnant belly and tells me all about how he would never know I was pregnant. (Is that a compliment to anyone? To me it sounds like ‘Hey I would have just thought you were fat’)

When a guest tells me that he is ‘keeping an eye on me’ and that he will ‘be back later’.

I understand that the intention for all of these is probably to compliment, but on my end it comes across as creepy. I have actually had my husband come by the hotel to walk me to the car after work after a particularly nerve-racking incident. When I brought it up to the other girls they all agreed that it sounded creepy, but once they found out who it was, they brushed it off. Once I found out who it was I asked his roommate, who I was more comfortable talking to, to let the guy know that it made me uncomfortable. He tried explaining that his roommate was just being nice, as if that solved the problem. I found that explaining the situation to a guy who I did not know I felt like I was being paranoid, or over-reacting. But having felt the need to have other eyes on my walk to my car for several nights by this point, I found that I could not find a way to explain to him why I felt that way.

 

Donald Trump as President

At first I thought this post would say something like, ‘Ok, the joke is up, it’s not funny anymore.” But it is way past that point. I am truly terrified about this. At first it was just as an idle ‘what if,’ but the polling numbers make this a real possibility.

facebook page supporting Bernie Sanders posted a question, ‘What worries you about Donald Trump being president?’ I found that my answer was far too long for a response in the comments.

Entitlement – It started with Trump’s 1% attitude. He thinks that he got himself where he is today. As I have said before, I don’t really believe that is how capitalism works. Our economy does not get people where they belong based on work or ethics, but primarily on family wealth and/or unscrupulous behavior. This is shown with his ‘small $1 million dollar loan’. Little does he realize that this is more money than most Americans will even handle in their lifetime.

Trump feels that he is the best. His success has given him the idea that he can do whatever he wants. And the US legal system supports that. The fact that he has declared bankruptcy makes him feel that he has seen the worst. And the fact that he came back stronger makes him believe that he is even stronger than an ordinary millionaire. He thinks that he is so infallible that no matter what he does he will succeed.

As someone who already benefits from the elaborate protections the wealthy have on their money, Trump is likely to keep those and create more. All of these protections are damaging for those who cannot take advantage of them. For every penny that they keep is a penny out of circulation. Each penny is another one that will not be paid to the hard-working employees to buy food. In the end, each penny they hoard is a penny they don’t have to steal a second time.

Cruel – The television show, The Apprentice, is known for Trump’s coldhearted treatment of the contestants. While one could hope this was just for sensationalism, it is precisely that sensation that propelled him to where he is today. It is that attitude that has earned him fans. Having anyone in charge who thinks that people are disposable is a recipe for disaster. I doubt the people who work for him are treated very well. And these people we see on the show have been mentored by him, sometimes for several weeks. Even that does not help him to show any sympathy. What can we expect him to feel for people he has never even seen?

Bigot – Trump has gained his thunder through cruelty in general, but now he is directing it. He knows that he needs certain individuals to support him, and is directing their existing fears and prejudices to his advantage. His hate speech is terrifying to me. We forget that Hitler did not round up everyone he disliked at once, he started small and gradually worked his way up as fewer and fewer groups were there to protect one another. This is one of the reasons that we must protect other people’s freedoms as well as our own. American history that I grew up learning was a consistent progression of gaining equality and rights for the disenfranchised, but within my lifetime we have gone back centuries when it comes to this progress. Trump is even more overt about it than Bush.

Followers – The most terrifying thing to me is not that there is someone in the world like this. I know they exist. The fact that he has power is frightening, but what scares me the most is that people follow him. He has supporters who believe the outrageous claims. He is working them up to a fever pitch, allowing people who were considered ‘fringe’ before for their radical views to come into the limelight. This is the Tea Party, but perhaps even more extreme. This is dangerous.