Friday, December 19, 2014

I'm Weirdly Normal

It's been a while since I've written.


I know.

But I've had a profound epiphany (I just did a word search on my blog to make sure I've never used "epiphany" previously and...oddly enough...I haven't). Here it is: I've spent my whole life feeling like I'm a freak -- but I'm not!

Actually, to be honest...I am, but you are too. Chill out. It's nothing personal. I've decided we're all freaks, so being a freak is actually NORMAL.

It's just that for some bizarre reason most of us walk around pretending that we fit some sort of mold when we actually know that PIECES of the mold fit us, sort of....SOME of the time...but not on a regular basis. So we feel like a fake most of the time.

I'm not making sense, am I? Maybe this will help.

I'm a feminist. A proud feminist. I'm also super girly in quite a few ways (not in the "I love purses" way but the quote matched the theme and I totally relate to Jess). I am MAJORLY MATERNAL. Since I was 4 years old, I knew my greatest ambition was to be a mom and I also knew I'd have a girl first, then a boy - and that's really all I wanted in life. Other than a few years when my life fell apart and I lost my mind, I've really been in heaven with family life.

Get it? The Religious Right could point to me and say "SEE????? It's true that the natural instinct for women is to want to nurture and be mothers!"

I. Hate. That.

So this conflict has always been an issue for me. I work outside the home and am doing a damn fine job of raising super open-minded kids but my natural instinct is to be a mom to every single child in the entire world. (Plus to co-workers, which can be a problem but we can talk about that another time.) I am a nurturer on steroids. I'm stereotypical about the whole mushy, gooshy mom image but I often try to hide that fact because I'm actually a freaking radical. I'm a radical feminist who is super into nurturing her kids and baking cookies.

Oh...and I LOVE fairytales. It's an apparent nightmare of annoying girly-ness.

The only thing that makes me feel a little bit better about the situation is that I don't TOTALLY fit the female stereotype. You see, I'm the messy one in the relationship. If folks are coming over - it's my HUSBAND who stresses out about whether the house is straight and he notices things that I don't even see. (To his credit, he does a lot more cleaning than I do...which is only fair since I'm not bothered very much by clutter.) I have LITERALLY walked over a new rug my husband bought us and not noticed it was a new one. (Don't judge me, it was essentially the same color and almost the same size.) My husband will get a haircut and then ask me if I noticed. Weekends are awesome for me because - two days without makeup, people! (Not that my coworkers even realize I wear makeup...)

From a "keeping house" and personal style perspective, I'm completely UNstereotypical.

My friend Holly linked to this post today and it pretty much summed up how I've been feeling. Then I watched a bunch of New Girls with my amazing daughter tonight and saw the whole "I'm a DAMN feminist who loves purses" quote and it all came together for me.

I don't spend much time worrying about the cleanliness of my house until someone in my family gets a stomach bug, at which point I turn into June Cleaver and bleach the hell out of every doorknob and flat surface in the house so that I can protect my kids. Ironically, a guest will never see my house that clean because it's pretty uncool to have people over when your kids are barfing. While my family is well (and I might consider hosting friends), I don't lose much sleep about the piles of crap on the staircase or whether there are water marks on the mirror. Thank goodness I'm married to David and can afford to hire a housekeeper twice a month.

I like my job and work pretty hard, but honestly have very little career ambition and am still not sure what I want to do when I grow up.

Nobody fits the mold. There are women who love to stay home but get annoyed with the whole cooking and baking thing and there are professional women (like a few of my lawyer friends) who are such amazing bakers that they could start a side business with it. (One of them has.)

So, I'm totally weird and don't fit any of the typical molds. I'm not the Religious Right's perfect mom image (I work and teach my kids that they need to fight back against sexism) and I'm also not an ambitious career woman. 

The great thing about our super connected culture and honest women who write blogs (I'm looking at you Janelle and Jenny) and the many, many, many people who comment and say "That's exactly how I feel!" is that it becomes obvious that NONE of us fit the mold. 

Remember when your mom told you they "broke the mold" when they made you? It's true. And that's cool. The people who go around trying to stuff themselves into molds that don't exactly fit are going to end up contorted and grumpy. Who needs that in their life? Not me.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Finding My Badass-Self on Halloween

The WORST part of my personality (and trust me, the competition for that honor is fierce) is that I worry way too much about what other people think of me and have a tendency to bend over backwards to make other folks happy.

Even when that makes my life more sucky.

Today, on Halloween - the best day of the year as far as I'm concerned - I'm sitting in my office dressed as Snow (the huntress from the Enchanted Forest in Once Upon a Time) with my bow and arrow on my desk. As I posted on Facebook this morning, it makes me feel pretty badass.

Badassery has become, in fact, a consistent Halloween theme for me (albeit an unconscious one).

2010 = no costume that I recall but I attended John Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity
2011 = Elphaba
2012 = Rosie the Riveter
2013 = A Suffragette
2014 = Snow (the badass huntress)

My goal for this next year is to take my tough attitude into the rest of the year with me.

Watch your butts, people....I'm on the march.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Honoring My Ancestors

A few brief generations ago, some of my ancestors watched their relatives starve to death in Ireland. They ate grass until their lips turned green and watched nourishment travel along country roads, guarded by soldiers, in route to England. There was no hope for them on that island, none at all.

So, the most ambitious and ingenious of my ancestors envisioned a better life and refused to accept the idea that their children had no future. The crowded onto hellish ships and came to the United States. For all I know, my ancestors may have been some of the Irish who smuggled themselves into the country illegally. It would hardly surprise me if that was the case.

Life wasn’t easy here. Prejudice against Irish immigrants abounded. According to a number of sources, the Chicago Post wrote: "The Irish fill our prisons, our poor houses...Scratch a convict or a pauper, and the chances are that you tickle the skin of an Irish Catholic. Putting them on a boat and sending them home would end crime in this country." My relatives ended up living as sharecroppers in Texas to achieve some sense of independence and freedom. It was hardly a life I, in my suburban comfort, would consider independent and free. And yet it paved the way for me to enjoy all I have today.

Long before my Irish ancestors came to the United States, some of my other ancestors were quite comfortably ensconced on this continent and had been here since (it seemed) time began. As the Europeans arrived, my Cherokee ancestors stood out among Native Americans by doing their best to adapt to the New World thrust upon them. Many adopted European-style clothing and Sequoyah even created (or documented, depending upon your point of view) the Cherokee alphabet. I see these ancestors as flexible and intelligent as they tried their very best to survive in this foreign culture that was suddenly in their backyards.
My great-great grandmother

In the end, all their efforts to assimilate failed (their skin, after all, was dark and they couldn’t hide who they really were). Members of my family were part of the Trail of Tears and, as the story goes, my great-great grandmother was the sole survivor of her immediate family. She was a child or young teen at the time, she found a white husband (of the McCourt clan, whose family were refugees from Ireland) and began to build a life as a white woman.

I know very little about my ancestors other than the stories passed down to me, but I know they had courage and strength as they faced prejudice and tried to create a good life for their children in a world that was often harsh and disdainful towards them. I’m proud of my heritage and I refuse to bring dishonor to my ancestors by failing to empathize with people who are following in the footsteps of my family.

Immigrants continue to see our country as a land of hope and many know that their children will only have a future if they risk everything to start a new life. Wouldn't we all do the same for our own children?