Saturday, August 31, 2013

The American Dream is Dead

I realize that this blog has never been very political except with those topics that pertain to children, yet in a way this does. It deals with the so called "welfare queens" and this attitude that the working poor could "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" if they wanted to. I would like to tell my story. Take from it what you will. 
I lived the American Dream. I went to college right after High School. I worked really hard and did everything right. Then due to a couple bad semesters (one where I was helping my Mom through a hard time and one where I was going through something really awful) my financial aide was revoked. So I left college. I worked really hard and I paid off a good chunk of my loans, paid for my own wedding out of my own pocket, and worked three jobs to keep food on my family's table. 
Then when my son was 4 months old I went back to school. I worked my behind off! I got Dean's list grades. I got a full 4 yr degree in Biology. A subject that is intensive in every sense of the word. I respect anyone who gets a college degree but lets face it some subjects are harder than others. Science is not a subject one goes into lightly.  
I graduated in May of 2012. My then 2 yr old son and proud husband watched me walk and get my diploma. I then started job searching. I found nothing. I was over qualified for anything normal and under qualified for anything good. I finally landed the job I have now,  working as a preschool teacher making minimum wage. As a result of that being the best I can get we use Food Stamps. 
Now knowing my story, do I sound like a welfare queen? Am I lazy? Am I a loser welshing off the system? Poor people work REALLY REALLY HARD!!! Harder than most people I know. I am very tired of the attitude in this country, that the working poor somehow did something wrong, are lazy, or don't work hard enough, or somehow deserve to be poor. I am so tired of this self entitled snobby attitude. You look down your noses at the working poor. That all the poor need to do is try for the American Dream. I lived the American Dream.. the American Dream is dead!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Two Types of Parents

I have begun to realize that in this world there are two types of parents, and no it's not crunchy vs silky, or attachment vs ferber, or even breastfed vs formula. The two types of parents are actually much simpler than that, there are what I call "the researchers" and then there is what I call "the deniers". Now I have realized in my lifetime that you can use this same viewpoint of researchers and deniers when looking at politics, world issues, science, religion pretty much anything, but today I will look at it as a parent.

"Researchers" always want to know their facts. They may not come to the same conclusion as each other (ie breast is best vs formula is best) but they will know their facts. They always always strive to do better, with each new child they learned what was the best thing they could do at the time. Do you have any clue how many times in my 4 yrs as a parent I have said "Really? I never knew that!" then turned to parenting websites and books and other moms to know if I was indeed doing something I could change for the better. (ie turning his car seat front facing too early. We originally turned him at 12 months and then a few months later after learning they had changed the recommended age to 2, we turned him back and rear faced until around 26 months.) Researchers are like my friend "L", who formula fed her first, used disposable diapers, and had him sleep in a crib. She did a lot of research in the years before she had her second child, and when they finally did have another she breastfed, cloth diapered and co slept. She breastfed for over 2 years. Now I am not saying all people who do research end up making those same choices, but often they do. Leading research says breast is best, co sleeping helps prevent SIDS and helps regulate brain and organ function in infants, and cloth diapering.. well that's just smart on your pocket book as well as your baby's butt. Still though despite the outcome, the process is the same, the eagerness to learn more, do more, change for the better is there. A "researcher" is never afraid to say.. "woops I didn't know.. I can do better now." When two "researchers" differ in opinion they usually each bring their facts to the table. One big example of this is vaccines. There has been a lot of proof on both sides of the issue and nothing clinching on either end (in my opinion anyway). However two "researchers", one for vaccines and one against will be able to have a debate with all their facts straight and each present a logical argument.

"Deniers" however do not ever admit they could have done better. They stubbornly did their heels in and say "well it worked for me, my kids are fine". I have always found this argument ludicrous. Just because you child hasn't died or become seriously ill by what you do as a parent does not mean they are safe or even healthy. I have heard mothers use this argument for smoking and drinking while pregnant. "I did it my whole pregnancy and my kids are just fine!" Are they??? Are they really? I have asthma and chronic bronchitis, and allergies because my mother smoked like a chimney around me as a child. Even better is the "my mom did it" argument or even better the "my sister's friend's cousin did it". Instead of basing their arguments on empirical data and research they base it on hearsay, something not even admissible in courts. I hear this argument a ton when discussing circumcision. "My aunt's cousin's friend's son had to have it done later in life from horrible infections. So I will always circumcise". The hard truth is your son has a higher chance of dying right there on the table during his circumcision than he does of ever "needing" one done. Over 100 baby boys die every year due to circumcision. Alas I digress, I am not here to talk about circumcision, but this is just another example of when parents are "deniers". Deniers will stick to their guns no matter what information is presented to them. They just don't hear it. It is as if they wear information shields. This is a common conversation with deniers. "Did you know that putting your car seat on the top of a shopping cart can be deadly?" "Hey my mom did it with me and I turned out fine I don't care what you say!" Then you just pray they don't have to find out the hard way when their baby falls off the cart. "Did you know smoking around children is really bad for them, even third hand smoke which lingers in your hair and clothes?" "I smoked with all of my kids and none of the older ones have ever had any issues, they are fine!" For me this is a hard one to walk away from because I usually am popping bennydryll and hacking my lungs out, and it kills me to know their are mother's still doing this. My mom smoked around us in the 80's and early 90's, it's now almost 2014. We know better.. we should be doing better.
So I guess my question is which are you? Do you base your parenting on what worked for your Grandma or what leading research and your inner mommy instincts say is best? Do you think about your actions when someone offers helpful advice or do you shoot them down, stick to your guns and keep on doing what you are doing? Are you a "researcher" or a "denier"?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Married to Your Best Friend

I don't often share in this blog about my husband since this blog is mostly meant to share parenting thoughts as well as things about living a greener more sustainable life. I sometimes slip him in here and there but he mostly is not spoken of in this blog. Well today is our 7th Wedding Anniversary. We were married August 5th 2006.
I don't know what the statistics are on why people marry. I think all couples start out in love but that isn't always enough to push someone into marriage. Some marry for passion, some for money, some for shared interests or life goals, some because children came quicker than expected. I married for probably the silliest reason of all. I married so that I could spend everyday goofing around with my best friend. We were broke, I mean counting pennies for ramen broke. My engagement ring (my first one) was 10$ at a local flea market. We paid for our whole wedding on a budget of 2500$. I made my own gown and veil and gloves. We knew going into our marriage that money was not something we would ever have much of. We were in love but like I said you can be in love and not make the leap to marriage. No we thought the idea of hanging out, chilling, geeking out over Doctor Who, LOTR, and Star Trek, eating in weird little coffee shops, laughing over silly inner jokes no one else gets, and basically getting to spend every day living with our best friend was a reason to get married.
Well here we are 7 years later and we are still head over heels in love. It has been a really rocky road, we have suffered horrible heart breaks and losses, the fear of losing our son to cancer, and then losing our daughter in the womb. Still though we still are those same silly kids who got married so that we wouldn't have to go a day without telling each other everything we did that day, laugh over silly jokes and lounging around, only now we have a third person who has joined us on this journey. A little mini us, a mixture of us both.
I married my best friend 7 years ago today and I love him more today than I did that day.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Gender Discrimination and Bigotry

So if you follow this blog, you may have already read the many posts I have made on the idea of gender roles, gender stereotypes, and gender bigotry. My son, who will be 4 in a little over a month, just spent the last 2 months going to the Build a Bear website almost every day to look at and dream about getting a large stuffed BAB Rainbow Dash (My Little Pony). As I have written about before, Bug looooves My Little Pony and Rainbow Dash is his favorite.
So the other day my best friend and I decided we wanted to take him to the Zoo which is 3 hrs away and also happens to be the city that has the only Build a Bear in about a 300 mile radius. So we went to the Zoo and afterwards surprised him with a trip to the Build a Bear Workshop. He of course ran right to the bin holding the Rainbow Dash ponies and pulled out which one he wanted. To my surprise and happiness not one employee commented negatively on his choice.
They all seemed to take it as perfectly natural that this cool looking little boy wearing the black Jolly Roger t shirt (I hand painted for him) wanted to take home a baby blue, rainbow haired, sparkly pink eyed, silver glitter winged, pony. I was so happy. I felt like crying as I watched him do the heart ceremony and stuff his pony. He took her up to the counter like a proud Daddy bringing his baby home from the hospital. Even later at a restaurant we stopped at for dinner, the waitresses commented on his choice of stuffed toy positively, proclaiming how sweet and nice it was that he had chosen a My Little Pony.
So after having such a wonderful experience shopping with my son, I was saddened to read not one but two articles today about mothers out shopping with their sons, both about Bug's age, and having bigoted people shout at them.
The first article was entitled, "If My Son Wanted To Dance I Would Kill Myself". The mother of a six year old boy (2 years older than Bug), had been told by her son that he wanted to dance when he got older rather than play sports. She found nothing wrong with it and supported his choices. Later on while they were at his T Ball game she was relaying the story to another mother when  loud angry father of one of the kids shouted "If my son wanted to dance I would kill myself!!!" The mother was shocked and she took her son out of T Ball and plans to sign him up for dance classes.
I found the article so sad. It always shocks me when people have no problems with girls playing sports and doing everything a boy can do, but a boy wants to dance or wear pink and it is the end of the world. As sad as this article was though, the next one is even more so.
This next article was entitled, "What Happened When My Son Wore A Pink Headband To Walmart". In this article, the boy in question was only 2 (about 2 years younger than Bug). He wore a pink headband to Walmart. His mother found nothing wrong with it, because there is nothing wrong with it. Many of the customers thought he was very cute and cooed over the sweet boy. One customer asked if he were a boy or girl. When the mother said "a boy", a large angry man ran over and ripped the headband off the boy's head. He then hit the baby boy across the back of the head and said "You will thank me later little man!" His mother (and I am so proud she did) said "Touch my son again and I will cut your damn hands off". I honestly don't know what I would do if anyone ever did this to Bug. I would probably had even more choice words for him. The man however angrily spit back at her "You son is a f***ing f****". Not one customer stood up for this woman and her son. She had both her sons with her the two yr old who was hit and a 5 month old baby. This man physically and verbally attacked a 2 yr old boy in front of his mother and baby brother for no other sin than wearing a pink headband in public.
This is a picture of the little boy in question, wearing the pink headband. He is utterly adorable and so sweet. For anyone to sit back and watch a full grown man attack this boy is a crime. For the man who did it, well let's just say I hope no one ever does this to Bug because they will regret it. I would of had the cops there in a few seconds.
All in all I have to say between reading these two articles as well as the personal experiences I had this week, I am deeply sorry for the mother's whose son's were attacked.
As for myself and Bug I can honestly thank the staff of both the Build a Bear Workshop, as well as the staff of the Melting Pot restaurant (both in the Destiny USA mall in Syracuse NY). Your open minds and                                                                   kindness towards my son warmed my heart. Thank You.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fashion? Art? Or Sexploitation!

I was reading the following article The Violent Exploitation of Women in Fashion. It shows just the most graphic images found in fashion ads, depicting sex abuse, violent acts, even rape and murder of women to sell shoes, belts, purses, and clothing. This was beyond disturbing. It's funny but a few times this summer I have been in conversations with other women about fashion, the fashion industry, and my thoughts on clothing. First off I make a lot of my own clothes. I don't really so much care what I wear as long as it looks good on me, but most of my clothes I do not make are second hand, or bought more for durability and comfort than style. So I don't read fashion mags, I don't know designers, and honestly seeing these ads made me sick. I work with children and have a 3 yr old son so most of my clothes are always covered in food or dirty, I garden so I am often covered in soil, I can't wear makeup or perfume due to my job, and my own allergies. I am not the core demographic for these images, but really I have to ask because I am confused. Who is? Who is the core demographic for these images? What woman sees these things and says to herself "Yes I need to spend 300$ on a pair of shoes because I want to be raped and murdered by a man." Am I alone here? Is the fashion industry just that beyond me? I have never in my life walked into any store and said "those stiletto heels and that mini dress that cost more than 6 months rent ... that is the look I am going for." Knowing that those same fashion trends are advertised through sex, murder and rape, only makes the entire idea seem that much more ludicrous. I often find that a big chunk of women don't vote, which I find reprehensible given what our sisters in the past had to do to win the right to vote. I often see women standing up for rapists, and perpetuation rape culture, female politicians stating that women should not have say over their own bodies. Now again women are perpetuation this horrible industry, all in the name of what, a lack of self esteem that causes you to NEED to spend your hard earned money so that you can NEED a man to say you are pretty? It is sick and as women we need to stop this NOW!

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