He Runs and Hides

My son has been visiting the Two Year Old room at school lately. Every afternoon his class spends the last part of the day in this new magical room full of new toys and big kids. My son loves it in there. In fact, he loves it so much that he runs and hides from me when I pick him up.

Yup.

My child runs and hides from me when I come to pick him up.

The same child that would act as though the world were ending if Mom even considered walking into another room. The child who used to run to me when I picked him up – he’d practically tackle me and beg me to hold him. The child who used to refuse everyone but me.

He runs and hides from me.

Sure I know he loves the new room – so many new toys to play with, new faces to interact with, but it stings. It stings a lot.

Every single day I sit in my office and I wonder if the work I am doing is truly worth missing out on my son’s day. Every minute I sit in my car begging traffic to move I wish I were at daycare already. Every waking minute, and sometimes sleeping ones, I wonder if I can be a good mom while also having a career.

So, seeing my son look up at me, make eye contact and run the other direction so he can play with one more toy before coming home absolutely guts me. If I listened to all the delightful people on Twitter who tell me that women like me are the reason this generation is so screwed up or listen to the woman who not so subtly asks me how I could let another person raise my son, this would hurt even more.

But, I do listen to them. Their words hurt even though I know my son is thriving. He’s smart. He’s happy. He adores his father and me (sometimes, I think he might favor Dada over Mama), and I am sure that given the choice, he’d much rather spend his days and nights with us than at school. It does make me happy that he loves his school, but that happiness is overshadowed by my jealousy. I want him to be that excited to see me, not his toys or classmates. He loves coming “ome” once we are in the car. On the short ride home, we talk about the snacks we’ll make, the pets he’ll torment, the books we’ll read and the cuddles we’ll have.

I wish I could erase the doubt filled thoughts and anxiety that plague working mothers. I wish society could accept that women can lead in the home and out of it and stop making us feel guilty for choosing both careers and motherhood.

Most of all, I wish my son wouldn’t run and hide at the end of the day.

Sheryl Sandberg: Lean In

When I started listening to Lean In I had no idea that it would take me on an emotional journey into self-realization and ultimately self-reassurance.

I know I am a few years late to the Lean In movement, but the timing could not have been more perfect for my life. Being a working mom is still fairly new for me and having a career with goals and a ladder is almost equally as new. The combination of the two – motherhood and career – is an ongoing struggle for me. The mere mention of the words working, daycare, child, mom, etc. will almost always bring immediate tears to my eyes. So, listening to this book made me incredibly thankful for waterproof mascara.

Sandberg is an expert in both being a career woman and a mom and her words were incredibly powerful. Her message? Was like an atomic bomb. So many of the self-inflicted issues women face in the workplace and in life struck me right where I needed to hear it. I found myself nodding in agreement almost every other sentence.

Whether your career is in or out of the home, Sandberg’s message of Leaning In is important. Women often place themselves inside imaginary boundaries when it comes to our roles and though they may make us unhappy or unsatisfied, we don’t push back against the norms. It is up to us to redefine the norms and roles for our generation and future generations.

Saying Goodbye

Nearly twenty-six years ago I lost my father to cancer. I was ten at the time and barely understood the meaning of a forever goodbye. In the decades that followed I was tormented by dreams of him. In many, I’d discover that he’d never really died and that it had all been a horrible joke. I often woke up from those drenched in sweat and my heart racing. I hated those dreams.

Aside from these nightmares, the one thing that always plagued me was never knowing where his final resting place was and missing my chance for a final goodbye and closure. Through a newspaper article, I knew he’d been placed there around 1994, though he passed in 1991. We learned later the reason for the delay, aside from donating his body to medical research at UMKC, was that when he was shipped back to his sister-in-law, they didn’t have a place for him in the family plot. So, he sat on a bookshelf in their home for a while.

Since learning this, I’d been to Kansas City a few times, but had never been able to confirm where he was. My mom and I drove around a cemetery for over an hour while she tried to remember the place he’d once taken her to where his family had a lot. We were unsuccessful. Likely because we were at the wrong cemetery.

A few years later, my brother visited and drove around for a bit, this time the right cemetery, but he never found him. So, before my latest trip, I did some research and confirmed that he was in fact at the cemetery my brother had visited. This time. I called ahead and they confirmed his placement and offered to leave me a map.

When I arrived, it was dreary and early. The rain was light, but the chill in the air brought a familiar comfort. As soon as I parked my car in front of the mausoleum, the comfort dissipated. Half of me was missing. I shouldn’t be here alone. I called my twin brother and asked if he wanted to stay on the phone with me while I walked to our father’s crypt.

I opened the heavy iron gate and was greeted by a pitch black tomb … hell to the no. I hung up with my brother and immediately called the front desk. They sent up a maintenance man to get the lights on (thank you to the very understanding receptionist and the kind maintenance man who both kindly indulged my fears).

Finally down in the crypt, I once again had to wait for lighting. As I stood outside my father’s final resting place, I felt calm and peace. Any other time, standing alone in the basement of a grave yard surrounded by crypts would have sent me running. But, here, I felt safe. I felt welcome. I felt as though I were surrounded by love.

Because I was.

After the maintenance man came and went, I walked into the crypt. His stone was just above my reach, so I looked up to him – just as I had done so many times as a child. My last memories of my father were of him frail and sick in a hospital bed. In those moments, I was the tall one looking down at him. But, as I finally said my goodbyes to him 26 years later, I was once again standing in his shadow.  I told him I missed him and that he’d missed so much. I whispered one last “I love you” and went on my way.

I miss the man I used to dream my father was. He wasn’t perfect, far from it. But, in my eyes, he was and will always be this mountain of a man with a beard and a Harley.

 

 

The Eye(lashe)s Have It

Few things haunt me more than my desire to have eyelashes that are actually visible to the outside world. Superficial? Maybe, but I don’t care. I love makeup and I love they way it can transform my entire outlook. Sometimes, all a girl needs to turn a crap day around is some bright lipstick (or lip stain, if you’re like me), a good mascara and a latte.

This look features:
Younique primer, liquid foundation in Organza, Moodstruck Addiction Palette 2, Moodstruck brow pencil & gel in Medium, 3D Fiber Lashes, lipstain in Skittish.
It Cosmetics: Bye Bye Redness & Bye Bye Undereye
Burberry: Effortless Eyeliner in black

Where Does This Leave Me?

I’ve never been one to surround myself with a gaggle of girlfriends.

I’ve never been good at making friends or keeping in touch.

I’ve always been better on my own.

I’ve always found peace in my own inner chaos.

These are the side effects of being an overly sensitive introvert. I thrive in the silence of a good book and feed my soul through music. I get lost in characters and, usually, my own thoughts. The time I spend in my car driving to and from work is more often than not the most relaxing part of my day. In those 45-60 minutes I am no one to no one. I am not an employee or a co-worker. I am not a wife or a mother. I am not a friend or a foe. I am just me. I can get lost in the road or a song or an audiobook. It’s the only time I am truly unplugged and able to recharge.

Since November 8 I feel as though I’ve slipped further and further into the introverted habits I find comfort in and am finding that they are providing less and less comfort as the world around me falls apart. I have found myself desperate for conversation with like-minded people – I crave it some days. There are days I don’t speak to anyone other than my husband and my toddler (this is partially a side effect of working in a small office with few employees and a total of zero that ever leave their caves). Those are the days I crave outside conversation the most.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I have lost contact with the handful of friends I did have – some by choice, some by accident. Fortunate because many of these friends cast their vote for the POTUS causing the world around me to crumble and unfortunate because I’ve lost the few people I felt comfortable talking to, even if we didn’t agree. Some days, like today, I miss them and I miss having a safety net to share my thought with. Other days go by in a blur and I don’t notice their absence.

Lately I’ve found some solace in a few groups of like-minded people – the women of the Nasty Women Project and the voices of The Resistance on Twitter. But these conversations are typically limited to 140 characters or the other constraints of social media. They also tend to care a little less about my personal experience and they rarely know my backstory, nor do they care to.

Where does this leave little introverted me?

Gloria Steinem: My Life on the Road

Gloria Steinem’s name is one I’ve heard most of my life – from my mother, from the news, from other political leaders and activists – but, until I read , I didn’t really understand who she is. I knew she was a powerful voice and force during the women’s movement and I also knew she was still active in organizing and campaigning. What I didn’t know?

How powerful her words were.

In My Life on the Road, Steinem doesn’t just tell her story, but she also tells the stories of the people who influenced and impacted her throughout her life. She weaves these stories into lessons of American history, whether intentional or not. In this collection of life experiences and personal stories, she brings these often static moments to life – from Vietnam to Civil Rights to the assassinations of JFK and Bobby Kennedy.

These stories made me laugh out loud, but many brought me to tears. The courage and fight held in these pages showcases the very spirit of America … and they are just the words we need to hear right now. Steinem reminded me that We, The People, have the power to use our voices and our actions to enact real, impactful change.

It’s Not Guilt, It’s Humanity

Reducing my demand for equality to what you refer to as “white guilt” proves only one thing: you don’t understand what equality means.

e·qual·i·ty
əˈkwälədē/
noun
  1. the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

By definition, equality itself removes the added barrier of so-called “white guilt.” In a society with true equality, which the United States has not achieved, the lines of race, sex, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. simply do not exist and nullify the argument that a desire for equality is caused by an underlying feeling of guilt. In reality, guilt exists in the absence of equality.

I don’t fight for and stand up for equality because of guilt, I do it because it is right. As human beings, we should all start with the same chances and our shot at success and happiness should not be tied to definitions beyond our control. Further, as human beings we should see beyond the physical characterizations as we look to our fellow persons. We shouldn’t use the things we see as a way to persecute or judge others.

That’s not to say that privileges don’t exist for those born looking and believing a certain way – until we have true equality, privilege is a reality. And, recognizing this privilege is a crucial component of achieving equality. Until we can see and admit to the injustices caused by this privilege and inequality, we cannot expect to ever move forward. Recognizing this isn’t symptom of guilt, it’s a side effect of being observant to the world around you.

We are all in this together, whether we like it (or each other) or not.

What are we Fighting for?

Reading through 45’s budget proposal is like taking a punch in the gut. Putting America first should be about putting Americans first and that isn’t done by cutting funding for programs that millions of our most vulnerable depend on.

My career is in restaurant marketing and much of my business and people experience is in this arena, so it’s nearly impossible for me not to draw parallels between what I see inside our four walls and the outside world. My reaction to this “America First” budget was no different.

In the restaurant industry, as with any other service-based industry that employs minimum wage workers, the best way to engage and motivate your employees to perform is by supporting them – you lift them up and encourage them. What doesn’t work? Overworking and underpaying them while taking away the few things that make their jobs enjoyable. Every company aims to provide a fun and safe work environment. Why? Because it improves morale, which in turn improves productivity. That’s how you drive the bottom line.

These proposed budget cuts would do exactly those things that don’t work – they take away programs aimed at providing Americans with the most basic of needs on Maslow’s hierarchy – food, shelter, security. Without these most basic physiological needs, humans cannot be productive members of society. If you’re hungry and worried about where your next meal is coming from, you cannot study or work. You cannot be productive at work or school if you don’t have proper shelter or a place to rest and feel safe.

There are certain people that will scream that these people in need should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work harder. But, these people lack a basic understanding of humanity – if you do not have boots, you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

When Intelligence Fails Them

Since November, I’ve become far more vocal and outspoken on social media. I’ve joined the millions of voices in The Resistance and I’ve not been shy about sharing my thoughts and opinions. With this newfound voice, I’ve also found myself on the receiving end of countless trolls and incessant personal attacks and insults.

As you can see from the screenshot, their favorite target for their insults: my eyebrows. Seriously. My eyebrows.  I’ll admit that at first it bothered me. Why the heck are these people who hide behind Twitter eggs and avatars so offended by my eyebrows? Then I realized why their first instinct is to insult. Well, one of two reasons – 1.) They’re own insecurities cause them to pick apart others, or, 2.) They don’t like what I have to say but have nothing intelligent to add.

Their second favorite “insult” is to call me a man in drag. Why? I am guessing it is because I wear makeup. But, here’s the problem with their insult – Drag Queens are phenomenal at makeup application and are typically flawless. As a makeup geek, this is more of a compliment than an insult.

Why do I share this?

Mainly to communicate that it’s not okay to personally attack others when you don’t agree with them. I do my best to not stoop to this level and, for the most part, I am don’t. When I get comments like this, I typically respond with a cute GIF and a “Thank you!” I do this for two reasons – to let them know their insults don’t bother me and to discourage negativity. If I can take their mean spirited comments and turn them into something positive, perhaps I can better spread the message I am trying to spread.

But, I also share this to show the world just how much shit women put up with. Our opinions, thoughts, ideas and value are often reduced to our appearance. As if we can’t have anything of value to add if the audience doesn’t appreciate our looks. Further, it is also assumed that any woman speaking her mind is fair game for attacks on her appearance or comments on what she is wearing. This is simply not true.

Under the platinum blonde hair (yes, it’s dyed and no, I don’t really care whether you like it or not), behind the makeup and contouring,  underneath the eyebrows and beyond the layer or two of fat lies a human being with a brain, an education, a career and a family. Those last things are what I’d rather be judged on … not the physical.

Dear Sen. Corker & Sen. Alexander

This morning I awoke to the news that you voted to remove the protections of those with pre-existing conditions. As a woman with asthma, I spent much of my twenties without access to inhalers and preventative medicine. I’d often find myself scrounging change for OTC medicines that made my heart race and rarely solved the problem. Now, as a mother of an 18 month old son recently diagnosed with asthma, I am terrified for the future. Just last month, we spent two nights in the hospital watching him struggling to breath. We had to hold him down and force him to breath in albuterol from a nebulizer. We listened to his lungs fighting to breath – the wheezing loud enough to be heard over the noise of a busy hospital. His chest rising and falling with so much force as he struggled that the skin around his neck collapsed with every breath.

My son, 18 months old, doesn’t understand what is going on. But, he knows that Mama and Dada are there and they are going to make this all better. I fear with the removal of these protections, that we will not.

We are fortunate to have wonderful, affordable insurance through my husband’s employer and we have the financial means to purchase this insurance. A luxury we do not take for granted, but it is also a luxury that we could lose at any time. In the event that happens, my son and myself could be denied coverage or driven into a dire financial situation as we are gouged with insurance rates. Or worse, forced to chose between putting food on the table and buying an overpriced inhaler from American pharmacies at a rate 10 or 20 times what our Canadian family members pay. Why? So the cat can get fatter.

I’d love to send you a photo of my son and the millions of children just like him. Or the children who survived cancer or are diagnosed with diabetes. Or my photo or one of the millions of moms just like me. Or the mother fighting breast cancer. We fight every single day to provide the basic needs to our families only to watch wealthy businessmen and pork barreled senators laugh and gloat as the pull back the healthcare we so desperately need. We elected you into office so you could represent and protect us, and yet, you throw us to the wolves.

As you continue your fight to rip healthcare from millions of Americans, I ask that you think about the faces of the children of Tennessee – the ones you just told they don’t matter. Can you look them in the eyes and tell them their health isn’t worth a second thought? Can you look their mothers and fathers in the eye and tell them the lobbyists and their PACs loaded with campaign contributions are more valuable than the life of their child?

As you go to sleep tonight and close your eyes, I hope you see all of our faces. I hope you know that we are watching and paying attention. We see your votes and we are holding you accountable.