There is this interview-thing going around. I asked Liv and Flutter to send me questions and they both did. Very good questions. And it took me a long time to answer these, sorry. (And I’ll answer Flutter questions soon. I promise.) So, now you get the answers to Liv’s questions:
1) You knit, sew, sing, cook–and all extremely well. Where do you find the time to engage in these arts?
I had to laugh when I read this question for the first time because, well, it’s nice of you to appreciate my cooking when you have never tasted it… Also, to be frank, my dear husband is the one who cooks most days. His cooking is marvelous and very inspired so that even my very picky parents eat everything he makes. So, I like cooking but I don’t do it every day. Most days if I cook at all I make things like frozen pizza. (When I told my husband about this question and my reaction to it he said, “But you’re a good cook!”)
Finding time for knitting is very easy since I can do it while talking with people or watching TV. And since I have returned to a schedule of almost daily watching of “Angel” I have about an hour each day for that. And it’s a time when I am too tired to do anything else.
Sewing happens in bursts. I declare to my family that I want to make something and then vanish with the sewing machine for a day or two. Usually on weekends. Last week I made a bag for my son and he played with buttons and “helped” me.
Finding time for singing is harder for me but then I sing a lot when I teach. Especially with singing students but also when I teach guitar because I then sing along with the songs. And I try to sit down almost every day and play a song or two. Playing the piano or guitar for me is inextricably linked to singing.
2) Mommy guilt is clearly on your mind. How viscerally do you feel this? Do you think that talking about our perceived inadequacies as mothers is somehow a disclaimer if our kids don’t turn out “right”?
I still want to write a follow-up post on that mommy guilt one in which I’ll try to explain that I don’t suffer from guilt very much. To me it is a collective phenomenon. I have never thought about it like a disclaimer. That would explain a lot. I do strive to become a better human being and that includes becoming a better mother. I don’t believe that I’m the sole source of my son’s happiness or well-being but of course I have a great influence on his life. I’m constantly trying to balance his needs and mine and when there are conflicts and problems I try to find a way that works for all of us.
On second thought I don’t think that “talking about our perceived inadequacies as mothers” works like a disclaimer. There are two sides to this: we as women and as mothers have been taught that we are never enough, never good enough. We feel that we have to do everything perfect and right. Since we can’t, we feel bad. The second one is that as bloggers we use this forum to talk about the sides of motherhood that we deem inadequate for polite everyday conversation. I don’t remember where I read it but a blogger wrote that she once talked to another mother in her playgroup about some aspect of motherhood that was not about nice and happy and she was met with a very blank look and treated as a pariah afterwards. A lot of mommybloggers use their blogs to write about the dark side of motherhood. And that’s a good thing.
3) I really loved your post about “pink shoes”. As the mother of a five year old boy who was recently found applying Disney princess lip gloss and proclaiming his lips to be “sparkly,” I have to ask: Is there, in your opinion, a line that we should draw as to the beautifying/fashion habits of our boys?
In fact I wrote three posts on pink shoes… Here’s the first, the second, and the third. I don’t think that there is a line that we should draw with our boys but since they are so young and only start to learn how things work it is a good thing to caution them. I won’t let him wear something to school that would make other children make fun of him without talking about it to him first. Also there are different kinds of embellishment. Sparkly lip gloss doesn’t show much and can be wiped off is the wearer decides to be manly again. Nail polish is something else. I wouldn’t buy my son a skirt but I’ll happily improvise something for role-playing.
I don’t mind if boys and men wear skirts, high heels, make-up, or nail-polish. It’s only fashion after all. For a while earrings are considered very manly and then fashion changes and they are feminine again. It’s just that I would do my son a disservice not telling him that people might find it odd if he wears something unusual.
4) You recently mentioned pulling a card from one of your oracle decks. How often do you do this? How much do you rely on the wisdom you are given? How great do you believe the accuracy to be?
I do this almost daily. They are often astoundingly accurate, sometimes in ways that I couldn’t imagine when I looked at it in the morning. On the other hand there is not one card in those decks that doesn’t give good advice… Since these cards all have a phrase written on them I find them easier to understand than tarot cards which I use too.
How much I rely on them … that’s hard to say. They are just a tool that I use to tune into my intuition. They are very positive.
5) How is the wiping with cloth thing going? My chief concern was that the hot water/detergent, etc… would create an environmental impact roughly equal to using paper. Please give us an update.
It’s going well. We continue using it. Sometimes we forget to wash the wipes in time and then we use toilet paper instead. It’s all very easy-going. The hot water and detergent doesn’t make an impact. All the wipes that we own together are only a fraction of a load of laundry. So we just stuff some wipes into a mesh bag and wash them with whatever laundry we have going on at that time. (We’re only using them for pee so they are not that dirty.)
On my post about the cloth wipes somebody mentioned cloth diapers and the environmental impact of washing them. All I can say is that if they are used for more than one child the energy and such used to produce them plus the washing makes less of an impact than even the most eco-friendly conventional diaper. Since my cloth diapers were used by another child before, and the cloth for my cloth wipes is thirty years old and has been used as a blanket for two babies already, all is well. Also we don’t soak them and don’t use a dryer.
But I do find it interesting that people who never think twice about using copious amounts of paper products and throw them away suddenly get very concerned about the environmental impact of my washing machine when I mention something like cloth wipes or diapers. (No offense, Liv, I encounter this kind of reaction very frequently. Another example would be people who don’t think about where their produce comes from twice being very concerned about my organic vegetables. “Are they really organic?” “And what if they are as polluted as everything else?” All I can say is that at least I’m trying to encourage a different kind of agriculture even if it doesn’t work perfectly all the time.)
For me it isn’t only about the counting with these things. Somehow a glass bottle that’s brought back to the juice company and then washed and used again feels better than a tetra-pak even when it’s recycled. Even if I’m told that the former is not as environmental-conscious as the latter. Somehow I doubt if we are able to count everything in…
If anybody wants five questions to answer, ask me in the comments. I’ll try my best. As all things these days it may take a bit of time though.
Welcome again to the just post roundtables. The list just keeps growing and growing thanks to you who are submitting links to posts about social justice every month. This month you might want to have a whole pot of tea (or maybe a bottle of water) next to you before you start reading, there are so many interesting posts.
When I heard about the whole broohaha with facebook and the banning of pictures I thought, “This is so typically American”. On I went to look for the topic in the German blogosphere. And what did I find? Nervous mothers asking whether it’s okay to nurse in public, a story about a breastfeeding mother being asked to leave a cafe, tips of putting a blanket over yourself and the baby, and such. Still, a mother sitting in a restaurant feeding her baby without incident isn’t much of a story. Judging by my own experience I’d say that it’s very rare to encounter weird reactions when you breastfeed your child in Germany. I have nursed my son about everywhere, on trains, in restaurants and cafes, in the woods, wherever he happened to be hungry and I could find a place to sit down. Nobody ever gave me the feeling that I wasn’t welcome.
I very much hope that the notion that breastfeeding is somehow obscene will soon become totally obsolete and so I virtually join ranks with those mothers who still do nurse:
Alejna with Squandered and A Post for Burma
Ally at Zone Family with Rainsong
Andrea at A Garden of Nna Mnoy with The Green Family: All right, Ms. Smartypants, what am I supposed to do then? and Frances Friday: Faith
be present be here with love and truth
biodtl at I am the Master Evil Genius with No Childs Left Behind and Hungry
Blithely Babbling with The Value of the Victim
Blog Antagonist with Solicitation and A Gift To Yourself
BlogHers Acts Canada
A Commonplace Book with Why Republicans Could Win the White House in 2008
Casdok with Have a Rant on Me
Cecileaux at Shavings off My Mind with What is to be done
Chris Jordan with The modern mother
Christine at Running on Empty with I’m all worked up!!
crazymumma with Untitled, Marina and Mussolini and snowbirds/airshow
DC Metro Moms Blog with An Open Letter to the Presidential Candidates–from a Mom
Feministing with Fired pregnant woman was told to suck in her belly
Fortune and glory after a cup of coffee with “Paranoia strikes deep ….”
Her Grace with He may move slow but that don’t mean he’s going nowhere
Ijeomaublogcreativity with Sneak preview…. and More Food for Thought
Ismail Farouk with GreYeo: Community Based Internet Communication in Yeoville and Apartheid, The South African Mirror: Instuments of Racial Classification
It’s Not a Lecture with Facebook’s Worst Nightmare, part II
Jangari of Matjjin-nehen for Woolies and Welfare, Indigenous language education and indigenous rights, and UN votes on indigenous rights
Jenandtonic with Naked, naked, naked LOVE!
Jen M at Get in the Car with her Philanthropy Thursday series
Jen at Under the ponderosas with I’m an environmentalist/I’m not an environmentalist
Jenni of Girls for Glaciers with War is not healthy for children or other living things
KC at Where’s My Cape with The Good Influence and Moral Spin, Mortal Sin
Karen at Needs New Batteries with Places I Love
Kellee Terrell at Pop Gumbo with Justice with a snap and Jena 6 protests: the media finally gives it airtime
Kelly at A Child is Born with Fuck off Facebook and Bill Maher
Kevin at Life Has Taught Us with Hip Hop Justice, or Yet Another Story You Haven’t Heard About
Kevin Chanas with The Deadliest Item at Your Grocery Store
Latoya Peterson at Racialicious with The Gentrification Shuffle
Lawyer Mama with On Becaming a Lawyer and Facebook Sucks
Liv with something wonderful happened today
Marcella Chester with Sexual Violence in the Congo
Maria Niles on blogher with Learning the lessons of Ugly Betty: real women have curves
Mir on blogher with Everything I never wanted to know about breasts I learned from Facebook and on WCS with Our job is to teach them to suck it up
Mouse with Global Warming Wednesday Haiku for bak to school
Mrs Chili of Blue Door with Ten Things Tuesday (or Ten reasons why I’m an outspoken GBLT advocate/ally)
Painted Maypole with family values, Easy Philanthropy Thursday and Activist Philanthropy
PeterAtLarge / The Buddha Diaries with Acts of Courage: Burma and War
Pundit Mom with Iraq War Solution by Pundit Girl
Rachel’s Random Ramblings with Protests in Burma
Radical Mama with Watch Me Point Out the Obvious
Roy at No Cookies for Me with Can I be a feminist?
Sagefemme with Will this be on the exam?
Shelly of Girls for Glaciers with The Elephant in the Room
Stumbling and Mumbling with Unions and Inequality
Susanne at Creative Mother Thinking with Mommy guilt is not personal and Wiping with cloth
Thailand gal with Are ideas dangerous
The Assimilated Negro with Clowns run Klan out of Knoxville
The League of Maternal Justice
Third Story with September
Thordora with Out of suffering have emerged… and When I Cry
Wayfarer Scientista with October 2007 Scientiae Carnival
Where ever ewe go there ewe are with Sunday Front Page
writing as jo(e) with What we talk about at lunch
I know, I should post something about the Reflection Blogger (or is it Blogger Reflection Award?) that De gave me. I also should answer the comments to my last three posts or so and also I wanted to do a follow-up post on the mommy guilt post. And I haven’t written e-mail. I’m suffering from a bit of blogger’s block. I open my feed reader, I read blogs, I want to write a comment, I mark the post as unread. Repeat. So I decided to start somewhere, anywhere and since flutter wrote about her day (oh, and she sent me beautiful interview questions too, another blog post to write, soon, I promise), and I really love imagining how you all spend your days, I’ll do the same. This is more about my plan of how the days should go though since in real life I end up shuffling things around and not doing what I planned to do all the time. So:
6.30: My alarm starts beeping. I try to silence it as fast as I can so that my husband doesn’t wake up if possible. I then try to leave the bed immediately which might take up to 15 minutes. I take my glasses and my slippers and go to the annex. Pee, on the scales, dress in yesterday’s clothes. Then comes the tricky part: doing things in my room without turning on the computer. – I’m still working on that. If I succeed I then meditate for 10 minutes and write morning pages afterwards. When I don’t succeed I read e-mails and blogs and then I either meditate or write morning pages.
about 7.30: I go back to the old part of the house. (This sounds as if I lived in a huge villa but we have six rooms only which include the rooms we teach in.) Usually my husband has started making breakfast at this time and I go and wake up my son. I join in breakfast making, pack snacks and water for kindergarten, we sit down and eat. At this point we’re usually already a little late. I brush both my son’s and my teeth, and put in my contacts while yelling at him to put on his shoes and jacket.
8.15: I walk my son to kindergarten.
8.30: At kindergarten my son removes his jacket, and shoes, puts on his indoor shoes, and hangs up his backpack while I talk constantly, “Please, take off your shoes. No, your shoes. Okay. Now the other one. Leo! Your shoes! Now put them on the shelf. You have to put your shoes on the shelf. Come on, we’re late. Fine. Where are your indoor shoes? Never mind. Your indoor shoes? Where are they? So, please put them on. Put your shoes on. Now the other one.” Well, you get the drift. Say goodbye, leave kindergarten, put on headphones and listen to podcasts, and walk back home. On my way home I often go to the health food store or something similar.
9.00 or 9.30: Come back home, talk to husband, make kitchen if he hasn’t done it already (rarely), make a pot of tea, pretend that I’m housewife-y, make beds.
about 10.30: Read e-mail, read blogs, completely lose track of time
11.30: Realize that I’m totally hungry but haven’t done anything yet. Confer with husband about what to make for lunch.
12.00: Every other day this is the point of the day where I work out. Every other day I plan a real workout like doing beginner/rehab T-Tapp which takes 50 minutes and every single time I decide to do the 15-minute workout instead because I ran out of time. Meanwhile my dear husband cooks because I spent my whole morning in front of the computer. Or I decide that it’s to late and promise myself to go for a walk later.
13.00: Eat. Until then we are both ravenous because we have been hungry for 1 1/2 hours.
13.30: When I have exercised I take a shower. I dress in fresh clothes and put on make-up. I make it barely in time for:
14.00: Start teaching.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I teach until 19.00. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach until 15.45. Then I run off to be in time to fetch my son from kindergarten (headphones and podcasts or sometimes music again).
On Tuesdays we often go to the library. Sometimes we run errands that I can’t do in the mornings because the shops are not yet open. Then we go home and have some quiet time. On Thursdays we go grocery shopping together. On the days I eat dinner with my son we eat at about 18.30. We almost always have sandwiches for dinner since we all have warm meals for lunch. On the days I teach until 19.00 my son eats with my mother-in-law. So at 19.00 I go upstairs to fetch him there.
19.30: Start putting my son to bed. Pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a book, lights out. (This sounds easy and fast, doesn’t it? Well, just imagine something like my monologue at kindergarten in the morning with an extra helping of exhaustion on both sides and some lengthy arguments about why this is not the appropriate time to play with legos.)
20.15: On my long teaching days this is the point of the day when I eat dinner. Sometimes my husband joins me but often he works even longer than that. On the other days I sit in the kitchen for a while because my son doesn’t like to be alone in the apartment when he goes to sleep.
20.45: I leave the kitchen and go to the annex. I talk with my husband, I play a little guitar, I write in my gratitude journal, I watch an episode of “Angel” while knitting. I talk with my husband some more. Sometimes he gives me a guitar lesson, sometimes we watch something together, sometimes we just talk.
22.00: My PDA sounds an alarm to remind me that this is the time I should start going to bed. I shut the alarm off and decide that whatever I am doing now is more important than sleep.
22.30 or 22.45: I finally stop what I am doing and get ready for bed. Often after my husband has started getting ready.
23.00: Lights out.
(Note to those of you who remember my back to basics post: I’m still not getting enough sleep but since I wrote that post at least I have managed to move my bedtime half an hour forward.)
So, this is the plan. You might ask, “When does she blog?” Well, that’s part of the problem. Mostly on weekends, sometimes (as I do now) while my son is asking me when I’ll make dinner, sometimes in between students and sometimes between lunch and lessons. Writing this down I realize how many new habits I have incorporated into my day. Talking with my husband several times a day is one of those, not spending time at the computer in the evenings is one, going to bed earlier, spending time with my son, meditating and doing morning pages first things in the morning is also quite new. Also playing guitar almost daily. Seems that I’m doing better than I thought. But I also realized why my blog-writing and -reading has suffered: last year I had a lot of mini-breaks between lessons. I used those breaks to read, comment, and write. Now my time-table is packed. Some days I don’t even have time to eat in the afternoon (and me without a mid-afternoon snack is not a pretty sight). So I have to put some blogging into the mornings without exercise.
How do you do it? Do you have a regular schedule or is every day different? I’m curious.
I know I have written about “mommy guilt” before but I want to try to put it together this time. For years I had thought that I wasn’t suffering from it. After the first few months of being a mother where I was feeling guilty for going to work and not participating in any mother-and-baby-groups, or baby swimming or not massaging my son every day, I decided I had enough of that, that he just had to live with his life as it was and that he at least wasn’t growing up being totally dependent on me. And so I proudly announced that there was no mommy guilt for me.
Only I did still feel guilty from time to time. Because I’m not the mother I want to be, because other mothers do different things with their children, and because – to be frank often I try to sneak away and do something on my own. Like computer things. And when you’re a mother that’s Wrong.
I read about mothers feeling guilty all the time on blogs even if the mothers I meet in real life rarely talk about it. But even if they don’t talk about it you can feel it. Every time when two or more mothers meet you can sense it. And it isn’t triggered by competimoms only, every single, innocent remark can, and probably will, trigger someone’s guilt. “Look, we made cupcakes and decorated the room.” someone says, and the likes of me think about how they never bake anything, and that their method of decoration is to give their children paper and scissors and afterwards saying, “That’s really nice, of course you can tape it to the fence.” On the other hand I then say, “Oh, my son isn’t going to music class, but he likes to bang on the drums and piano, and walk around with the guitar pretending he is a rock star.” and immediately all the other mothers feel guilty for not creating such a stimulating creative environment for their children, while I feel guilty that my son who is the son of two musicians grows up without any musical training. The list can go on and on. Someone says, “Oh, we go to the playground every day.” and I feel rotten because I never go to the playground and my poor son has no peers to play with, and then I say, “Oh, we just open the door and let him out in the garden.” and the other mother feels rotten because her son has to grow up in a tiny apartment without his own sandbox and swing.
In the end we all feel rotten, those of us who bake cupcakes, those of us who grow their own food, those of us who let their children watch TV, those of us who don’t, those of us who work, those of us who stay at home, every single one. Every mother who cares about her children (and I’d say there are only very few who don’t and they probably don’t blog about it) feel guilty and like she isn’t doing enough or doing things wrong.
I recently read a post by Chris Jordan on this: “The Modern Mother“. She quotes her mother-in-law who said being a mother was easier fifty years ago. It might have been but I recall the stories my mother and my mother-in-law tell and they always had the feeling that they were not good enough as a mother somehow, plus they were feeling rotten because they wanted to work outside the home, and they couldn’t.
So, I don’t think that going back fifty years is the solution (and neither does Chris Jordan, by the way). I just think that when every single mother in the Western Hemisphere (or maybe only most of them) feel guilty about the way they are treating their children, this is not a personal phenomenon, this is social. And it is always a good thing to remember that societies are made by human beings and that the rules therefore can be changed by human beings too.
I have been reading the sentence, “I better start saving for my child’s therapy bill because I …” (yelled at her, lost my temper, have let my child down in any way) so often. And every single time I’d like to write a comment and say, “Cool down. If that’s the worst that ever happens to your child it is very fortunate indeed.” All this implicates that mothers should be somehow superhuman. Patience personified. Never making mistakes. Never treating their children unfair. We all have this image in our heads of the loving mother surrounded by her children, nurturing always. At the end of the day she sits in the midst of her children who all are smiling with perfectly brushed teeth wearing their hand-sewn pajamas, and reads them stories before tucking them in their beds. Do you realize that this is propaganda that is more than a hundred years old? Propaganda that got resurrected in the 1950s and that’s still sitting in our heads? Only now we have to be hot, sexy, intelligent, self-reliable and making money too.
In 2005 I read “The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women” by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels and it opened my eyes. We all have this image of the ideal mother in our heads, and it is blasted at us from all media too. Imagine a celebrity saying that she is overwhelmed by new motherhood! Somewhere inside of us we secretly still think that becoming a mother is the most fulfilling and joyful thing we can ever achieve. And in a way it might be but then we don’t always feel fulfilled and joyful all day long. Blogs are giving us the opportunity to see real mothers in real life who also talk about the less joyful aspects of it all. Still we think that nothing we can ever do will be enough. Still we think that we are the key to our children’s happiness. That we alone hold their fates in our hands.
Well, it’s time to stop this. Our children are their own persons. They determine their own fates as much as the people around them. We should always be grateful that we live in places where we have the energy and time to worry about whether it’s good for our children to have swimming lessons or too much cake. All the children of the people who read this have enough to eat, a roof over their heads, clothes to keep them warm and mothers and/or fathers who love them and care for them. Mommy guilt is a luxury problem that harms us and our children.
I have a little task for you: every time you catch yourself thinking, “I’m a bad mother.” or “My child will need therapy because of me.” or something similar, replace it with, “I love my child and trust him (or her) to turn out okay” or “Being myself is all I have to do.”.
Okay, I don’t seem to be good at making new slogans against mommy guilt. I’m afraid you have to help me out here. What will you be replacing your old mommy guilt phrases with?
I’d say most bloggers (or maybe most people in Western culture) tend to live in their heads. Me too.
As I read the comments to my last post I started spinning some fancy theories at first. At one point I even told my husband, “You know, maybe the problem is that I don’t have the kind of life that allows me to get lost in anything.” He reminded me that it was me who made my life what it is. I do have a problem with getting lost in something (not literally, I find that quite easy, figuratively) but I’ll think about that some other time. After much thinking and talking and writing (because sometimes I’m a bit slow) it all came down to, “Maybe I’m feeling a little low and unmotivated because I’m so tired.” And my tiredness dies not stem from something like chronic fatigue syndrome, as my mother thought, but as I have written often before from the simple fact that I don’t go to bed early enough.
Yesterday I “tried” going to bed earlier and I succeeded, only it wasn’t early enough. Judging by the way this has been going since 2005 (when I slept enough every night for about three months) I’d guess that today I’ll be a little later than yesterday and tomorrow I will be back at my much too late bedtime.
This morning I pulled a card from one of my oracle decks which I do most days and there it was: “Back to Basics”. In the booklet it says things like:
If you neglect your basic needs, your higher awareness will diminish, leaving you to operate on adrenaline and anxiety.
Duh. And there are some questions for me as well as for you:
Are you taking loving care of your body without guilt? Are you getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthy and lovingly prepared food, and getting adequate exercise?
I even have thought of keeping track of my new “going to bed on time”-habit on my blog. But that seems so pathetic. Maybe I’ll go back to the old “sticker on the calendar”-method of motivation and keeping track. And maybe in a month or so I can report back and tell, “I did it! I’m feeling fabulous! I slept eight hours a night for four weeks in a row!”
Somehow I doubt it though. And 8 hours still isn’t enough for me, it’s just better than my usual 6 1/2. What I need is 9 hours. I know I’m insatiable. Do you even know how many hours of sleep you need?
(And speaking of healthy and lovingly prepared food, my dear husband stepped in and cooked a marvelous minestrone (which I forgot to photograph, but I was hungry). And he even cooked it on top of the wood stove!
(And just when I had posted this I read a post by Gretchen from the happiness project:”One easy key to happiness: get more sleep. That means turning off the light!” The universe is definitely trying to tell me something. She cites studies saying that sleep has a major influence on your mood, and getting one more hour of sleep would make you happier than more money…)