Female Fatigue

I spent all day listening to Dr. Ford’s testimony (credible and poignant) and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony (belligerent and dismissive). I have read the latest allegations and cringed at the mothers and women the GOP trotted out to declare, “boys will be boys.” I’ve absorbed the comments and heard the blustering of “how can we possibly be held accountable for our actions over 30 years ago? No one will be eligible for public office” without a shred of irony.

And I’m tired.

I’m tired of being thought of as nothing more than a uterus with legs whose only worthwhile job is having babies.

I’m tired of being dismissed as inconsequential.

I’m tired of the burden of proof being extraordinary and always on the female victim.

I’m tired of being told that if something terrible happens to me in the company of a man, it is my fault.

I’m tired of worrying that my tone, my opinions, my interactions may be distasteful for no reason other than I am a woman and stepping out of line.

I’m tired of politicians actively pursuing platforms and candidates that refuse me bodily, social, and economic autonomy in order to hold onto power.

I’m tired of being blamed for it if I do everything right and still become a victim.

I’m tired of knowing that my life, my existence matters so little to men in charge (and even those not in charge).

I’m just tired.

I thought it would be different in 2018 but it isn’t and in some ways, it feels like things have gotten worse. It may be that I’m older now and more aware.

I’m tired, but I am SO angry.

Are you?

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Fourth Grade

Fourth grade

He’s knobby knees and sharp elbows.  He watches Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who instead of Thomas, Peppa Pig and Super Why. In the car, he sits next to me in a booster seat instead of in a car seat in the back.  We listen to the news, and he asks me to explain things like “hush money,” “witch hunt,” “flipping,” “stabbed in the back,” and “human punching bag.” I should probably change the station.

He is so tall, yet he cried when his bean plant died. He is both afraid of and in awe of his two kitty cat sisters.

He wants me to read to him still.

He is 9, and today he started the 4th grade.  We are in a bit in shock.  When did he get so big?  Where did the time go?  I can feel time’s inexorable march, but it is bittersweet. Right now, he still loves kisses and hugs, but conditions have begun to occur. Not at drop-offs. Or in front of friends. But at night, we can still hug and give kisses. Mostly.

Happy 1st day of 4th grade. Fingers crossed for a good year.

 

Parenting in a Time of Existential Dread

We held the fifth and final Listen to Your Mother:Raleigh-Durham on Friday. It was a magical evening. Great, responsive audience. Amazing pieces. Lots of emotion and laughs. It was very bittersweet. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the final show and this final season, but I need a few more days to unpack it all.  The biggest change for this year’s shows is that there was no requirement to video them. Each city could hire a videographer if they wished, but there would be no possibility of sharing or distributing the videos. As a result, we chose not to video our show.

So here is my piece.  I know that my few posts on my blog this year have been political or a response to the situation in which the USA is in, but I can’t help it.  It took over my LTYM piece this year, and the show overall had a decidedly political tone as readers shared going to their first protest, parenting children of a different race and keeping them safe, helping children cope, etc. I was a little nervous to read the piece and was afraid I would be heckled, even in fairly blue Raleigh.

I guess this is our reality now.  So, here is my final LTYM piece: “Parenting in a Time of Existential Dread.”

***

I’m sitting at my laptop, trying to write my piece for the show. I had planned to write about being a working mom. Well, a working-outside-the-house mom, because as mothers, we all work and work damn hard.

The problem is that I can’t focus on writing about the difficulties of registering for summer camp, and my experience of being a working mom seems trivial.

Because the world is fucked up right now. Do you feel it?  I do. It is the anxiety that gnaws at my gut every day. It is the existential dread when I wake up in the morning and wonder what has happened over night, what tweets have been sent. What new revelations have come to light.

And it bleeds into everything. My job is in jeopardy. My organization is funded by the government to help manufacturers stay competitive, profitable and most importantly, in business. And POTUS wants to cut us.

We are in crisis mode, and I’m also trying to hire for my team. Imagine how fun it is to tell candidates, “oh, by the way, the grant you will be supporting has been targeted to be obliterated. Don’t you want to come work with us?”

Yeah, that goes over well.

And then we come home and listen to the news, dumbfounded at the amount of corruption and the horror story unfolding that is even more horrible than the horror story we thought we had already.

And my son hears all this.  He’s 7. He’s very black and white in his view of the world. You either like or hate someone. So simple. He asks us, “Do you wish someone would hurt the president?” and exclaims, “I hate him!” We have to answer those questions, address his feelings to make sure he knows that we don’t wish harm on anyone. We have to explain that it is one thing not to like a person and another to want them to come to some sort of harm.

He’s only 7, and he is already more involved in politics than I was at his age.  Before the election, a classmate told him that if Trump didn’t win, Mexicans were going to take our house from us. This is also the same classmate that terrified him by telling him that those damn clowns were all around, so yeah, I’m a big fan of hers.

On Election Day, he sighed, “I think Trump is going to win.” When he woke up the next day, I had to tell him he was right. He replied, resigned, “I knew it.” We had to have the same conversation about the Atlanta Falcons and the Super Bowl. I’m beginning to worry that he believes he can’t trust the positions his family holds because they never come true.

We listen to the news in the car, and he asked exasperatedly, “Russia! Why is it always about Russia?”

Why indeed.

These are difficult conversations to have. I can’t even have these conversations with family members who are several times his age.  How can I explain it to him?

On quiet news days, I want to exhale and think that it will all be OK.  Maybe we’re just hyper aware of everything in 2017 thanks to social media and the Internet.  On other days, I feel like that poor guy in Munch’s painting, screaming into the void.

On those days, I want to lock all the doors, grab my son and never leave.  Maybe those preppers have the right idea.

And I want to apologize to him.  What kind of world are we making for him? What is he growing up in? Will there be a world for him to grow up in?

I always dismissed the Cold War-era fatalism as quaint and something that could never happen again. We know better.  Instead, here we are again.

My son is still rather innocent. We’ve sheltered him more than we should probably. In his world, the Lego cops always catch the Lego bad guys. He has been watching Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter recently, and to him, the president, Voldemort and Sauron are the same things.

The difference is that Voldemort and Sauron are fictional characters. The good guys win.

I don’t know how to explain to him that in the real world, that doesn’t always happen.

Mad, Mad World

This is the program that funds my job and predictably, because it does a good thing, it is on the chopping block in #45’s budget.

I’m not surprised. We heard practically right after New Year’s that our program was on “the list.” Almost immediately after returning to work after the holidays, I was pulling data and sending it to DC to our lobbyists to show the positive impact our program had in our state.

I was prepared, but I am still upset and sad that my program is on the list. We do good. Our sole purpose is to help manufacturers – small manufacturers – remain competitive and stay in business.  In FY 2016, the work my program did helped manufacturers realize almost $1 billion dollars in economic impact.

I don’t understand how we are supposed to “make america great again” if we shutter the programs that do just that. But I’m thinking logically, which is a no-no right now. Some might call my program corporate welfare.  What’s wrong with that? Corporations benefit in a myriad of ways from the government. Our companies pay for our services, but the fee is lower because of our government funding. Otherwise, they would not be able to afford these services.

Small business is the backbone of this country, and they are the job creators. Small businesses will adde more jobs as they grow than a huge behemoth.

Even though I knew my program was likely to be on the list, I am angry. I am angry because we do the work to help manufacturers succeed that #45 ran on. I’m angry because #45 doesn’t understand manufacturing, doesn’t understand supply chains, doesn’t understand global economic patterns, doesn’t understand anything frankly.

Hopefully, my program will be OK.  We have bipartisan support and other than a brief time in 2003, we have always been fully funded by Congress. I know things are very bizarre right now, but I hope Congress will do the right thing by my program.

It truly is more to me than my job. I believe in what my org does.  I have visited and talked to so many manufacturers, and I feel like I know them. I’ll be OK if my program ends, but my state and the nation will suffer if this program ends.

North Carolina is 5th in the nation and 1st in the Southeast for manufacturing. We have 10,400 manufacturing establishments in the state, and manufacturing is still a major contributor to GDP. Half a million people are employed in manufacturing in NC, and manufacturing has a huge multiplier effect in the local economy.  I could go on and on with statistics, but are they alternative facts?

And let me assure you, I am sickened by the other proposed cuts. Meals on Wheels? PBS? Minority economic development grants? The arts and humanities? Sickened. It all sickens me.

I know (hope?) that most of the proposed cuts will not make it into law, but I am sickened by the intent. And all those voters for #45 who are dismayed have little sympathy from me. You should have known better. The evidence was in front of your face, but you voted for him anyway. How could you be so ridiculous? How could you be so hateful? How could you have allowed yourself to be so deluded?

It is mad world in which we live. I just hope we make it to the other side.

.

 

 

Inauguration 2017

Fuck.

Honestly, I’m not sure what there is to say other than that, but I will try.

I cannot believe – still – that man is president of this country.

I cannot believe that almost all of our family voted for him.

I cannot believe my fellow citizens think he is qualified to lead this country and that his cabinet officials are this bad.

I do believe it, but I wish it weren’t true.

Eight years ago, we watched Barack Obama’s first Inauguration as it snowed in NC and we were also celebrating finding out our baby was a boy. We were so proud of this country and what it had achieved by electing Obama. We felt like we were bringing our son into a more enlightened world.

And now, 7.5 years later, we have no snow – but maybe rain – and we are swearing in a man who at best makes me shake my head and at worst makes me exclaim, “WTF?” and, “we’re doomed.”

It has been a rough season. We heard our little boy tell us his classmates told him that Mexicans would take over our house if Trump wasn’t elected. After Election Day, he told us that he wasn’t surprised about the outcome because another classmate had told him what would happen. D is seven. SEVEN!

I don’t know how to live in this world. Family said over the holidays that surely Trump couldn’t be that bad because they had lived through their president being killed. What could be worse than that????

I keep telling myself that maybe he won’t be that bad. Maybe he is just a blowhard who has been using typical election techniques. Maybe we are making too much of his election.

I hope to God that is true. I cling to people who believe that this is all politics as normal. I hope my perspective is skewed. My fear and belief is that it is not.

I am terrified. Truly. My stomach has been in knots and I worry for our future.

Someone talk me down.

In the meantime, I’ll be doing what I can to keep democracy’s light burning.

#MicroblogMondays: Snow Day

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We have a snow day today, that rare event in the South.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we have another tomorrow since we had more sleet than snow.  It wasn’t the best snow event.  The models had originally forecasted us to have at least 5 inches of snow, but as the event unfolded the dreaded warm nose infiltrated, and we ended up with sleet and maybe 1/2 inch to 1 inch of snow on Saturday.  At least it is pretty.  We had something similar happen last year and we ended up with freezing rain and power outages, so this is a definite improvement even though it isn’t fun to play in.  We love snow, so we hope this isn’t our only winter weather event of the season.   I know, I know. If we love snow that much, we should move to a more receptive climate.

 

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***

Today I also posted the audition information for our 5th and final Listen to Your Mother:Raleigh-Durham show. It is bittersweet. I know we will have another wonderful show, and we will meet amazing people sharing their stories, but it makes me sad it is our final show under this name.  I do like the symmetry of our last year being our 5th year, though.

So I implore you, if there is a show near you, please consider submitting or auditioning.  It is a magical experience, and I have been honored to be part of it. You can find a list of participating cities and submission/audition info here.

#MicroblogMondays: ISO Holiday Spirit

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It is 6 days before Christmas, and I am in dire need of Christmas spirit. Our tree is up, but that’s about it due to the wiring/fiber project and frankly, scope creep.  I’m off work for the rest of the year, and there is plenty to do, but I can’t find my motivation.  It’s been a year. Between health issues, work issues and more work issues, kitty cat issues, 7-year-olds going on 13 issues, and the election, we – the adults in the house – just want to hibernate until…until when? When things are better?

It’s a year for things to be up-ended, even our holiday celebrations.  Jimmy and his brother both starting new jobs means less vacation time, so we had his family’s Christmas celebration on Sunday when we usually have it after Christmas.  Instead of spending the day after Christmas baking goodies, I made only two small batches on Saturday since they are flying back to NJ instead of driving. We will have Christmas with my family later this week and then actual Christmas at home and then we’ll be done.  It isn’t bad; it’s just different. Everything feels different this year.

It’s been quite a year.

But we will muddle through as my favorite melancholy Christmas song suggests. We have an excited little boy who is counting down to Santa – maybe one of the last years for Santa in our house – and two Advent calendars to maintain. Cookies to bake for Santa and for us.  We introduced him to the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies recently, and it is so special to watch his wonder as he discovers those worlds.

So maybe the wooden Advent calendar is underneath the stairs and there is a TV in our fireplace. So maybe one strand of my carefully-checked lights on the bushes outside stubbornly refuses to work. So maybe the $1.39 lights for the windows I bought refuse to work consistently (thanks, China!). So maybe I’ve already watched Christmas Vacation three times. So maybe my Christmas cards still aren’t done despite actually having a formal family portrait this year.  So maybe I prefer to read Trixie Belden fan fiction instead of engaging with the news because reality is too much.

It is what it is. And maybe, just maybe, Christmas spirit will find me.

xmastree2016

This may represent the entirety of our decorations this year.