Thursday, November 08, 2012

Without a woman or a girl

James Brown was a wicked smart man!  I know this song has been redone time and time again by every artist who gets up near the top of the charts... but James Brown deserves the credit. He had the right idea!
"It's a man's world, but it wouldn't be nothing, without a woman or a girl."

I was abruptly woken this morning by someone telling me that they had an 'accident' in my bed, right beside me.  I felt bad for Miriam, she was yelling apologies and when I looked at my bed there was only the littlest, tiniest spot of pee. But, Eric was up giving her a shower, and regardless of how big it was, the sheets still needed to be washed.

6:00am... I am never up this early!  I know, there are people who wake at this time for work everyday, and there are people who wake up at this time by choice... not me.  I am so lucky, my kids usually sleep until 7 or 7:30, and I think that is mostly because I wake them when I get up and get ready for the day.

Anyways - I got off topic there - I decided I wouldn't go back to sleep.  How often do I get an hour of quiet in my house, by myself?  *Hint: the answer is 'NEVER'.

So my mind is quickly sorting through the regular morning routine, and thinking of all of the things I have been meaning to do when I had a moment to myself.

I could fold laundry (which I really need to do, since today I used the last pair of underwear that was in my drawer)
I could do dishes (ha - that's a joke)
I could sit down and write the blog post I meant to write last week (yes, that's it!)

To my point - here we go-

I think that growing up I always felt moved to do something radical.  To stand up for what is right, and to help others see the injustice around us.

I did projects on racism, or equality, or environmental issues and animal rights.

I'm not sure what sparked me then, but it is pretty easy to forget about those things.

It occurred to me that I have forgotten about most of those things because they do not stare me in the face.

I guess I thought that most pharmaceutical/cosmetic companies had stopped testing on animals.
I guess I thought most big corporations were at least trying to lower their carbon footprint.
I guess I thought that everyone sees each other as equals, regardless of their sex or race.
I guess I was wrong.

There was a woman in the UK who, with Lush cosmetics and the humane society, is launching a huge campaign to put an end to cosmetic testing on animals.  My first thought is - good for her!

As for woman's rights, its clear to me that I am treated equally in my own home, doesn't that mean it is the same for everyone else? *Hint: the answer is 'NO'

I work with *mostly* women from many many different backgrounds.  I specifically work with 2 women, one who is East Indian and one who is West Indian (that is how they explained it to me.  They are very similar to me, culturally and by looks, but they stress that things are very different for them) and they are both young ladies in arranged marriages.

Lately I have been thinking that these traditions are simply just traditions.  I thought no one really did this anymore!  When I asked the ladies if they were happy they both answered with a strong "No!"

They are happy with their kids, they are not happy with their husbands, and both of them tell me that before they had kids they made their husbands promise that they would not set their children up for an arranged marriage.

This seems foreign to me.  And the more I think about it, the more I realize that if these 2 women are here in Canada, what happy the hundreds of thousands of woman left back in their home countries.
Here we have laws which needed to be abided by, laws that state that a man cannot beat a woman, laws that give each of these ladies the same rights as their husbands, but 'back home' there are no such rules.

This was just my thoughts... it's a hard thing to imagine for me, here, in Canada, with the husband I chose, with children we were happy to have together and where my opinion is just as valid as his.

This battle has been raging for centuries.  How can this constant battle end? *this time I have no answer.. I have no idea what to say...

                                      You see, man made the cars to take us over the road

Man made the trains to carry heavy loads
Man made electric light to take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark

This is a man's, a man's, a man's world
But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Raising girls: I'm no expert!

"The verb that's been enforced on girls is to please. Girls are trained to please...I want us all to change the verb. I want the verb to be educate, or activate, or engage, or confront, or defy, or create." Eve Ensler

Miriam has been challenging me this week.
She has been testing me day in and day out.

My cousin sent me a link to a video (which is in the link above). I watched it and I laughed a little and cried a little, but mostly it made me think.
Being a girl/woman allows us to feel so many emotions.  I know this - I am an emotional mama! Yet, I am constantly finding myself irritated by the amount of tears produced by my girls (but mostly by Miriam).  I have a habit of getting her to calm down and then pointing out to her that she didn't need to cry about it, that she was being silly, crying about something like her sleeve being inside out. And sometimes I dismiss her entirely.  I say things like "I will talk to you when you are done crying" or "I don't understand anything you say while you are crying" (which is kind of true)

I mean - she cries a lot, and it is true that her tears are not always warranted.  She cries about her 'spot' on the couch. She cries about her hair being in knots. She cries when I brush her hair. She cries that she is tired. She cries that she doesn't want to go to bed.  She cries that there isn't enough food in her bowl. She cries that there is too much food in her bowl.  And that was just this morning!
Miriam crying because she had to put a sweater on.

I don't want her to be a whiney, crying girl. I know it' going to irritate teachers and classmates (as well as me and Eric). But, I don't want to numb her to what makes being a woman special. So where do I draw the line between cranky, irrational tears and tears that actually mean something?

Lucy didn't like the look of the pumpkin's insides.

What really made me realize that there is a distinctive difference was not only the video that I watched but on Saturday night, Eric and I put the girls to bed as usual.  Lucy was more upset than she normally is and was crying in her crib.  Miriam is used to this. Usually she covers her head with a pillow and goes to sleep regardless.  Saturday was different though.  On Saturday there was a chorus of crying.  Feeling like something must really be wrong, Eric and I went back to the bedroom.  I asked Miriam why she was crying, and she replied, "Lucy made me cry because she is sad!"  That pretty much broke my heart.

Emotions are good.  Without them we might as well be walking dead.

I realize I haven't answered the question about where to draw the line.  I have no clue.  All I know is that, I am an example of how they will one day react to their own children.  One day Miriam might have a crying girl like her, or maybe she will only have rough and tough boys or maybe she won't have any kids at all, but she always needs to feel something, whether it is sadness or joy or fear, feeling it reminds you that you are alive.  

Maybe I just need to be more patient with the with the tears, and find out what it is before I dismiss her feelings.  I hope one day she will be a strong woman who feels many emotions.

by Eve Ensler
I love being a girl.
I can feel what you're feeling
as you're feeling it inside
the feeling
I am an emotional creature.
Things do not come to me
as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas.
They pulse through my organs and legs
and burn up my ears.
I know when your girlfriend's really pissed off
even though she appears to give you what
you want.
I know when a storm is coming.
I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air.
I can tell you he won't call back.
It's a vibe I share.
I am an emotional creature.
I love that I do not take things lightly.
Everything is intense to me.
The way I walk in the street.
The way my mother wakes me up.
The way I hear bad news.
The way it's unbearable when I lose.
I am an emotional creature.
I am connected to everything and everyone.
I was born like that.
Don't you dare say all negative that it's a
teenage thing
or it's only only because I'm a girl.
These feelings make me better.
They make me ready.
They make me present.
They make me strong.
I am an emotional creature.
There is a particular way of knowing.
It's like the older women somehow forgot.
I rejoice that it's still in my body.
I know when the coconut's about to fall.
I know that we've pushed the earth too far.
I know my father isn't coming back.
That no one's prepared for the fire.
I know that lipstick means
more than show.
I know that boys feel super-insecure
and so-called terrorists are made, not born.
I know that one kiss can take
away all my decision-making ability
and sometimes, you know, it should.
This is not extreme.
It's a girl thing.
What we would all be
if the big door inside us flew open.
Don't tell me not to cry.
To calm it down
Not to be so extreme
To be reasonable.
I am an emotional creature.
It's how the earth got made.
How the wind continues to pollinate.
You don't tell the Atlantic ocean
to behave.
I am an emotional creature.
Why would you want to shut me down
or turn me off?
I am your remaining memory.
I am connecting you to your source.
Nothing's been diluted.
Nothing's leaked out.
I can take you back.
I love that I can feel the inside
of the feelings in you,
even if it stops my life
even if it hurts too much
or takes me off track
even if it breaks my heart.
It makes me responsible.
I am an emotional
I am an emotional, devotional,
incandotional, creature.
And I love, hear me,
love love love
being a girl.