Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

30 April 2009

Our weekend

Now that it's almost the weekend again, I think I can finally write a bit about last weekend.

Amy & her daughter came for a visit. This is their 3rd trip out here together. Amy's visited a few times on her own, which is awesome, but always hard to explain to the kid on why HER BFF isn't here, but mine is.

First I have to say that Amy & I joke about how the girls are twins. And spending a few days with them, they really are so alike. Amy's daughter is a rougher & tougher version of mine, but essentially they are two peas in a pod. It took a bit of time for the kid to learn that it was ok to push back - not just literally, but verbally too - when Izzy was being a bossy. So yes there were tears on both sides.

Both girls have a HUGE sense of fairness. So Izzy complained that the kid had more of this or that. The kid would cry if I scolded her for something that Izzy might have started. Essentially Amy & I were co-mothers of siblings for the weekend. AND THEN SOME, because not only are our girls heart & headstrong, but they are both only children. In reality, Izzy has a step-brother and a half-brother, but they both live with her dad in another state and Izzy lives with Amy. So in Izzy's world she's an only child and the oldest child.

For the vast majority of the time, we had a great time. Cinnamon & Andrew joined us as we took them around the city, did some touristy things, some not so touristy things and just had a great time hanging out. Friday night us grrls stayed up waaaay too late just talking, venting, sharing stories and even some crying (which was so good for me!).

Amy & I met online around the summer of 2001 I think. I can't even remember. But I do remember that she was one of the few people I told that I was trying to get pregnant. And then we were pregnant at the same time! So we were pregnant together. Lemme tell ya, there's few things that can bond ya like being pregnant together and having someone to share your fears with.

We're not twins althou we share a lot in common. She likes to say that she's not quite a feminist, but anyone who teaches women's history in a high school is a feminist in my book. Her journey thru motherhood is so not like mine (divorced single mom vs married mom with a supportive husband) but in some ways it's better that way. We don't know each other's lives, but we're always willing to listen, learn & be supportive. And sometimes we, ok mostly me, will read the other the riot act. I tease that we should write a children's book about the girls ala "City Mouse, Country Mouse."

I love that we're just alike enough to be friends, but different enough that I know I'm not talking to a yes-woman. Now to get my butt in gear to visit her in Maine!

29 April 2009

Catching up

Yeah, I'm still here.

Amy came for her annual visit over the weekend so all blogging & writing was put on hold. She brought her adorable daughter with her, who is my daughter's East Coast BFF and kinda a twin. The girls are only 5 days apart and perhaps something bonded them in the womb as their mamas bonded over pregnancy ups and downs. I'll write more about their visit, but I wanted to share my latest Awearness posts with you, cause there's a plenty!

23 April 2009

Feminist Parenting: CFW 5K Walk


A few weeks ago my daughter had report card pick up day. That means that school is closed for classes and as such, she ended up going to work with me. For lunch we walked over to a local cafe that just happens to have gelato as well. As I was at the register paying for our food when she spotted it. A brochure for the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk.

"Mom, why does that say walk?"

I explain to her that this organization asks people to walk for three days to raise money to help people who are sick. The walkers ask friends and family to donate money to help the sick people.

"Oh!!!" and her eyes light up.

Would you like to do that one day?

"Yeah!" with a lot of head shaking.

I started to think, well I know I would need to train for a 3 day walk. She's five and a half. Hmm...Oh! What about a small walk to help people?

And so this morning I signed my daughter & myself up for the Chicago Foundation for Women's 5K walk, run and roll. Yes, I hemmed and hawed over it for a good week or two. I was worried that she might not be able to finish. I still do. But I've worked with CFW for years, love the work they do and know that the money I raise will be put to good use.

I registered us around 10 am. By 10 pm we had raised $125 through me posting it on Facebook, Twitter and a mass email to friends & family. I also have verbal commitments from a few others so I'm confident that our goal of $200 will be met if not totally surpassed.

I also decided to register and have us at least try to walk the whole course because she wants to do it. If I truly am raising a feminist child or as I like to say, a feminist in training, I need to allow her to enter the community on her own terms. She does come to meetings with me, but that's usually a 'Do your homework while mommy works' thing. At the walk, she'll be part of a team. She'll get to see some of the women mommy works with. She'll get to see that mommy works with a lot of people to make Chicago a more woman-friendly city.

I want my daughter to know this is what we do. We work hard, writing, organizing, raising money and even walking to help those who need it. We work hard to support each other.

That's just one way that I practice feminist parenting.

Review: Sticker Sisters

It's common knowledge that I have a thing against the princess-ification of our daughters' childhood. But sometimes you need to use the princess to kill the fairy tale. Case in point the wonderful t-shirt the kid is sporting.

The t-shirt reads:

"My kind of princess escapes the tower, outsmarts the dragon and finds the treasure."

Hell yeah.

You can see in a close-up that the shirt also has a comic strip feel to it. Lil Miss Smartypants had me explain to her how a big dragon could be kept in such a small cage. Why didn't he just fly away? *sigh* So much logic in such a small body!

She loves the shirt because it's pink and I love the shirt because it has a fabulous message. I do have to say that the kid likes the message too since it reminds her of "The Paper Bag Princess."

It's so hard at this age. I'm teaching her to stand on her own two feet, yet stories, media & I dare to think, friends reinforce the prince saves the princess theme. I can tell she's confused when we read empowering stories. Thankfully we have Princess Leia & Wonder Woman (she's a princess!) to help guide the way. Can you believe she tried to tell me that Leia only gets rescued? Hello? SHE killed Jaba! Hmmm...maybe she's more of a radical feminist than me? Only time will tell!

Thanks to Sticker Sisters for providing the kid with the shirt. While this was a freebie, we do have Sticker Sisters band-aids that I bought at a NOW conference. Not to mention the lil shirt I bought for another pink-princess-loving girl in my life. BTW if a certain husband is reading this...they do have this shirt in my size!! Mother's Day is a coming!

20 April 2009

Feminist Amazon.com Stores

Ah, the feminist card. The mythical item whipped out in great debates about feminist litmus tests. Example, "If it's not feminist to wear lipstick, then revoke my card!" What the card really represents is a lack of agreement on a standard set of feminist principles.

I began to revisit this idea (principles not the feminist card!) on Easter when the Amazonfail fiasco hit Twitter. My immediate thought? Don't shop there! my second thought? Fuckers! And I mean Amazon.com.

Let's start with my second thought first. I would not imagine a valid rational for Amazon to delist books like Yes Means Yes and Brokeback Mountain. But I really focused on my first thought.

I've seen many a feminist blog and website that has an Amazon bookstore widget. Huh? Really?

Perhaps they missed the story of how the beloved Amazon feminist bookstore tried to sue Amazon.com for stealing their name? They settled out of court, but obviously the fact that a feminist bookstore had their name for 30 years meant nothing. Oh...and Amazon.com actually asked the owners whether they were lesbians during the pre-trial depositions? I admit that I'm practically ancient when it comes to online wars. And that I had forgotten this detail until I reread this article, but I've tried to limit my Amazon.com purchases since the throw down with the bookstore. I'm sure that I knew that tidbit back then, but just remembered "Try not to use them!"

Maybe those with Amazon.com bookstore widgets have them because it took indie bookstores so damn long to set up affiliate plans? While I adore my feminist bookstore, Women and Children First, I applied to their affiliate plan and never heard back. I forgive them because I know 'em . In the meantime I did start a Powell's account. I sometimes have dreams of hitchhiking across the Rockies to find that big book warehouse!

But now IndieBound is all setup there really isn't a reason, that I've heard of, that justifies using an Amazon.com bookstore. Yes, most people shop at Amazon.com. It may be all they know and it is cheap. But just as feminist ask each other to spend a few more cents at Target intead of WalMart or buy handmade soy soap, I think we can urge each other to shop local and buy our feminist books from feminist, indie bookstores.

19 April 2009

Testing.....

wow! Blogger now let's me text posts. This could be bad.

Fluffy

Last night my husband & I went to see Gabriel Iglesias aka Fluffy at the Improv out in the burbs. He won me over with his impression of Bill Clinton.

With all comics they dabble in stereotypes. There were three warm-up comics and the second one thought that stalking was just toooooo funny. Bleh. But Fluffy? I think that because he really just tells stories from his life and laughing at his weight, he seems to stay pretty far from the sexist and homophobic jokes that comics usually swim in. the first video I link below does have a stripper joke, so he's not 100% clearn. Also because he does voices one could say that he does dabble in racist jokes.

But he does reveal moments of racism that happen in his life. One of the stories he told was being out in the burbs a few years ago and being asked for ID by the local police. He just pointed to his poster. Seriously, the way he tells it AND if you are from the Schaumburg area, you totally got the joke.

One of the highlights of last night was his revelation to the audience (at least for me, I'm a fan, but don't follow all his news) that he has diabetes. The audience went "Aww..." He said, "Come on, like it's a surprise!" He told us that he's been drinking nothing but water this week. Then told of fans who tell him, "But you won't be Fluffy if you lose weight!" His response? "Yeah, but I'll be alive!"

Brilliant.


These are two of my favorite clips:

Entertainers


Gabriel Iglesias - Stand Up part 2

18 April 2009

Change of plans!

I was planning on live-blogging Saturday's panels for the Council on Contemporary Families conference, but my daughter has hurt herself somehow. The nurse at the doctor's office thinks it's just a strained muscle, but we're still bringing her in this morning.

She seems ok as long as she isn't moving too much. Which is hard to see when she's so active.

I'm sure she'll be ok.

17 April 2009

Live blog: Work-Family Balance for Women & Men

I am live-blogging from the Council On Contemporary Families Annual Conference.

14 April 2009

Women Do Kill

It was just a matter of time. It's just been a few days since the news of a woman being arrested and charged with the murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu and we already have a flurry of stories about "Why do women kill?"
According to the Justice Department, roughly one in 10 homicides are committed by women. And when women kill, their victims are more likely to be someone close to them, like their children, boyfriends or spouses.

Friend of Viva la Feminista, Jennifer Pozner has been writing about the gender imbalance in school, now mass, shootings since Jonesboro in 1996. Heck, one of my first pseudo-blogs back then was the keep a running photo memorial to the women killed in the shootings from Jonesboro to Columbine. Yet time again, shooting after shooting, the media scoffs aside the fact that MEN do most of the killing. Yet when a woman does kill, every media outlet pulls out a few psychologists to discuss WHY.

Why not focus on the 90% of killing done by men?

Why focus on the mom who kills, the latest because she thougth she was the anti-Christ, instead of the rash of killings by dads who have lost their jobs?

Is it because we are so tied to the mythology that woman are all loving and protecting? Or do we, as a society NOT feminism, think so little of our men that we actually expect them to kill, so when it happens, we don't flich...too much anyway?

We are already the most incarerated country in the world, so let's try to think of solutions that are beyond "lock 'em up."

Let's start by examining our expectations. Yes, that means starting at how we raise our boys and girls. This doesn't mean we need to rid the world of all violent play, but let's see how far we let our boys versus our girls go with it. When I was a girl and I played "Star Wars" at recess, the boys would often fall into "Boys will be Boys" play and thus into a big wrestling pile. No worries. But once I started to partake in that THE MAN, ok THE WOMAN (who supervised recess) came down hard on me. Should girls be allowed to play "like boys" or should we even allow boys to wrestle like that? Where's the line and what does that tell our children?

How do we raise our boys to deal with their feelings? Do we scoff at them when they want to take dance class or want to *gasp* talk about their bad day? Do we let them be loud while shushing our girls? Are we still raising boys to think they will be THE breadwinner, when in reality men and women are winning the bread nowadays?

How are we crafting men's egos that they are so fragile that losing one's job sends them over the edge to murder?

I don't have any answers to these questions, but I hope it's a start of a conversation that might help prevent future deaths.

09 April 2009

GIVEAWAY:: Books

I get a lot of books for review, including a few that I don't ask for. And while I try my best, I can't get to them all. So my dear readers, I'm giving you a chance at free books! Just comment & leave me your email address so I can get your snail mail address. First come, first serve...unless there's a great bribe.

08 April 2009

Where I've been!

It's the end of the semester for me! Last night was my last big event so I'm pooped.

But as long time readers know I write for many a blog and I've been a total slacker posting here when those go up. So here ya go:

At the AWEARNESS blog:
I have a new post at WIMNs Voices about the Oprah show with mommy bloggers.

I’ve been blogging since before I became a mom. While so many mommy bloggers started blogging to find community or reassurance of their lives and decisions as moms, I sought out a venue to rant and rave about politics and baseball. So when I got pregnant, the natural instinct was to keep on writing. And I did. I wrote about my midwives and why I stayed with them despite an hour drive into the suburbs to see them. I wrote about being diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I wrote about how I couldn’t save my mom from her own diabetes and she died at the beginning of my third trimester. I wrote because that’s what I do.

A few years later I joined a mommy collaborative blog, the Chicago Moms Blog. It was a lot of fun writing and reading with different moms. Attachment moms, adoptive moms, suburban moms…A fairly good spectrum of moms. One of the goals that most of the moms shared was getting our stories told on OPRAH. We thought we had a good story. A bunch of moms who might never spend 10 minutes together if it weren’t for blogging, who supported each other’s work even if it differed from our own and moms who were doing more than just complaining about leaky diapers and husbands who don’t realize the kids need dinner. We were moms, but more than the stereotype.

Turns out that Oprah prefers the stereotype.

READ THE REST AT WIMNS VOICES


My latest is up at Girl w/Pen on wowing my daughter with math:

One of my most vivid memories of first grade is when Mrs. Gerry wouldn’t let me have a counting strip. It had lily pads on it and a frog at zero. When I got up to get in line to get my counting strip, Mrs. Gerry told me to turn around and sit down. “You don’t need one.” I was embarrassed to have my math skills announced like that to the class. But she was right, I didn’t need it. That was the start of my math nrrd status.

Last week I had my daughter at my office because of report card pick up. Yes, in Chicago, that means the kids have the day off so teachers can focus on parent conferences. She loves being at my office because I have a white board and I let her draw all over it. Normally she draws pictures, but this time she was doodling math problems. I turned around and saw that she was trying to add 15 to 20 and had figured it out. How did my kindergarten daughter figure this out? Well, she drew counters. First 15 then 20 more and counted them up. I also noticed that she wrote the problem out vertically, so I thought it was a good time to teach her how to add double digits. I drew boxes around the right column and told her to add those numbers, then did the same with the left column. I knew it would work because there was no carrying involved.

READ THE REST AT GIRL W/PEN


BTW - I think I might change my motherhood tag to mothering. Hmm...

02 April 2009

WAM 2009 Wrap up - Friday

WOW

That pretty much sums up the weekend. It was a whirlwind of everything. Yes, it's Thursday and I'm still reeling from the weekend.

Friday I got to have lunch with PunditMom. Then Jenn Pozner & I greeted each other like we always do - a huge hug. We realized later on that we've now been friends for about 12 years. YOWZAS! After dinner with Jenn, Lisa Jervis, Latoya Peterson and Jennifer Mattson we headed back to the conference building for the opening reception.

The opening plenary was made of three women journalists from Iraq, Columbia and Zimbabwe. Jenn live-blogged it, so I won't try to summarize it. What I will say is that I was floored at the bravery of the women. What I will always remember is that Huda, from Iraq, was a translator for English-speaking journalists. During one assignment the first question a journalist asked was if a man was Sunni or Shia. He responded to her with "That's the first question?" She spent a lot of time talking about how post-occupation Iraq is not good for the women, about the lack of rights and freedom they now have.

Jenny from Columbia was well poised for someone who has seen so much death. In fact, they all were, but Jenny had this peace about her. She did talk about how as journalists they aren't trained on self-care, how reporting from war zones is hard on you and how she would get calls threatening her sources. Her appearance in our lives coincided with Secretary of State Clinton's visit to Mexico. Both said within 24 hours of each other that Americans are fueling the drug wars. She also brought up the fact that we need to watch out for our companies that set up shop in other countries & how that effects locals.

Peta from Zimbabwe was funny. Her story was sad, but her delivery had an air of something that makes me smile when I think of her. She was the only one of the three who hasn't worked in the USA, so her story was quite unique. She also was the only one who thanked us, citizens of the USA, for the aid we send. Their government is crap, money is worth nothing and they truly rely on aid that countries send. What I took home from her was the idea that we never let up on our leaders. After many years of dictatorship there was an election and everyone celebrated...even journalists. She admitted that they practiced sunshine journalism - everything was positive.

This made me recall some of our outrage at how the White House media corps seems to have found their journalism badges after Obama was sworn in. On Twitter a lot of people seem to be saying, "NOW they ask the tough questions?" While it's a good question, we also shouldn't let the press NOT ask those questions of Obama. Not to mention that he can handle them.

The panel was truly amazing and inspiring.

A bunch of people ended up in the hotel sports bar to hang out and talk. I ended up playing pool with Jack. I lost. But I had a lot of fun chatting with people, clicking some photos and of course, playing one sloppy ass game of pool.

Whew! Just writing all of that made me just as tired as I was on Friday night.