Stereotypes, women, and marriage 

Ever since childhood I have noticed that there are several stereotypes towards married women. There are two that bother me the most. 

The first stereotype is that all men are essentially overgrown little boys who need women to rush in and save the day, to be the brains who work tirelessly to keep life running smoothly. 

Example: The first time I picked up on this stereotype was in elementary school during a Super Bowl commercial. I don’t remember exactly what happened but I do remember that the husband was on the couch surrounded by junkfood watching football. The wife walks in with bags under her eyes, a baby on her hip, two kids behind her and another arm full of groceries. She begins berating him for all the things he didn’t do properly and it’s pretty clear that there’s not much going on inside his head. The Disney channel is notorious for creating father characters like this. Or here’s another example, those “cute” baby onsies that give fathers instructions on how to change a diaper. Only women know how to care for others, right? 

The second is that men are macho and in control. Women are submissive and work tirelessly to keep their man happy, the home clean and the kids every little need is attended to while the woman’s identity slowly disappears until she is little more than an obedient maid, a shadow of her former self. 

Example: Keep reading, I’m getting there. 

I don’t know which stereotype is more detestable. 

Over the years these stereotypes have definitely softened, but they still exist none the less. To prove it, I’ve seen this meme being shared and reposted over and over.

A lot of men act like they are doing women a favor by asking for their hand in marriage, but let’s think about it.

She changes her name. 

She changes her home, 

She leaves her family,

She builds a home for you,

She gets pregnant for you, 

She bears children for you, Pregnancy destroys her body, 

She gets fat, 

She almost gives up in the labor room due to unexplainable pain, 

Even the kids she delivers bear your name, 

Until the days she dies, everything she is doing benefits you. 

So let’s think about it again, who is really doing who a favor? Men appreciate your women. 

I hate that! I don’t want my girls  reading things like that and seeing marriage as more of a servitude than a relationship. This is what the meme should say: 

A lot of people act like they are doing a favor by asking for someone’s hand in marriage, but let’s think about it. 

She chooses to take his name, or he chooses to take hers. 

You both leave your homes to build a new one together. 

You both leave your families, to start your own family. 

She gets pregnant and you care for her throughout the pregnancy. 

She is blessed with the miracle of giving birth and he is blessed by being apart of  it. 

Pregnancy changes her body forever, so that her breasts can give milk to her baby, and so that her uterus can give it a home, 

He falls in love with her new body and who she is as a mother 

In the labor room she is at peace and excited to meet her child, because he supports, comforts, and encourages her. 

The children she delivers bear the family name.

Until the day they die, everything they do is to benefit each other.

So who is really doing who a favor? 

Both of them are! Men and women, appreciate each other. 

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Rejecting the terrible twos and embracing toddlerhood 

I hate that phrase, the terrible twos. I don’t know how to put into words why I hate it, but I just do. 

I also hate to admit, that honestly two has been a little terrible. There have been a lot of days where I’ve thought to myself, “what happened to me? I was such a good mom, everything used to be so easy! What happened to Laila, my easy going happy go lucky baby?” 

I was just reading a mom page where each woman was saying what age was a struggle for them. One comment particularly struck me, in which a mother said that every year since age two had been successively worse. I felt so sad reading that. I don’t want to struggle every year of my daughters life! 

The phrase “my child is not giving me a hard time, my child is having a hard time” comes to mind. There is so much growth and learning in childhood, some times it’s hard to be a kid. 

I’ve sat down and really thought about my struggles and changes in motherhood. I know that two doesn’t have to be terrible. I firmly believe that a parent child relationship is not 50-50. I think it starts out as 100 percent the parent in infancy and slowly turns to 90-10 etc. 

The way Laila reacts to things is developmentally appropriate. The way our culture expects toddlers to behave more like adults and less like babies is not appropriate. There is this fear that if you don’t “teach” them while they’re young, they’ll never learn. It’s a mantra a lot of us heard from the older generation, but we need to unlearn it. Simply put, it’s just not true. 

Time outs and other punitive methods are not the healthy way to teach toddlers. (See this Postfor alternatives) Actions speak louder than words, and toddlers are watching our actions. I grew up in a home with constant yelling, and that is my biggest weakness. Unfortunately it’s also Laila’s weakness. But she’s not a mean child, or a brat because she yells too. She learned that weakness from me, and so we need to unlearn it together so that one day her kids don’t learn it. 

As parents we need to learn what behavior is developmentally appropriate, because that is the behavior that we don’t need to stress about. It’s something our children will outgrow naturally. 

But what behavior of ours are they mimicking? That’s where we need to take responsibility. Sometimes we unintentionally make the twos terrible. 

Going back to the phrase “my child is not giving me a hard time, my child is having a hard time.” It disturbs me how many things are considered “permissive parenting” and how kids in general are viewed as these unruly little people who have to constantly learn lessons the hard way and there’s just zero grace for them, but oceans of grace for adults. You know never once in church have I heard about children getting grace- but I digress.

PHALT has been a lifesaver for me in the toddler years. It stands for Potty, Hungry, Angry, Lonely(because children’s emotional needs are real important, and should never be invalidated or ignored) and Tired. 

It is not permissive when I am standing in the checkout line at the store after shopping for the past hour and a half and Laila is tired and hungry and throws a fit, and I give her a bag of m&ms. I know that the grocery store is a boring place for kids full of interesting objects that they’re constantly told they can’t touch. I know that I forgot to bring Laila a snack and she’s hungry. I know that I like to get a smoothie or a piece of candy for myself in the store, so why shouldn’t Laila have the same. She is just as important a person as I am. At two years old it’s ok to throw a tantrum, it’s ok to need your mommy to hold you and give you the right words to use, and help you calm down. As the mother of a toddler it’s ok if my child acts her age in public! 

It’s taken me most of age two -and honestly I’m still really struggling with that whole yelling thing- to realize that two is an age I can cherish and enjoy, if I can just learn how to work with it. Power struggles are not worth it, I’d rather teach Laila that as her mother I am here to help her, to teach her respectfully, and to give her grace, not show her who is the boss. It’s my reactions that matter the most because I am the adult. The more that I leave behind society’s expectation of two year olds acting like adults, the less terrible twos are for me.

More than just a mommy

Ever since Kim Kardashian decided to “break the internet” I’ve read a slew of articles defending her nude photo shoot. Most of the articles are based on the premise that just because she’s a mom doesn’t mean she cant continue to be the same person she was before North.

Unfortunately that person has built a career more off of her constantly naked or semi naked body, than who she actually is – but I digress. While I clearly don’t agree with her photo shoot, I do agree that on some level every a woman should continue on as she did before.

I don’t mean that her children take a backseat. On the contrary, being a mom does change a woman and who she is forever. Once a mother, a woman’s children become her top priority. However, I do believe that there is always more to a mother than just being “mom”.

When I think of a mom, I think of mini vans, PTA, out of style clothes, soccer practice, washing dishes, and slowly giving up on the idea of wearing make up. I think of a tired woman who isn’t anything more than doing those things. I don’t think I’m alone in that (erroneous and archaic) view of motherhood. It’s just a knee jerk kind of reaction.

Before motherhood I loved to dress up. I’m talking obnoxiously wearing full make up to the gym kind of dress up. I loved to read, to day dream about traveling, I loved to constantly try new things, I loved to DIY and repurpose things. There’s a million more things about myself I could list here.

Motherhood has changed my life forever. It has changed who I am, but it hasn’t taken away who I am. Being a mother is not the entirety of my existence, it’s a facet of my existence.

It’s makes me sad to even think about it, but one day I won’t be changing diapers anymore. My house will empty itself of toys and and tiny little shoes. Babies will turn to children, children to teenagers, and teenagers to adults who move out.

While I’ll always be a mother, the dynamics of being a mother will change. My whole identity isnt wrapped up in the care taking aspect of motherhood. Motherhood is a relationship, a journey, a chapter of life that changes with time.

I think it’s important for my daughters to see that outside of being their mother, I’m still my own person, just as much as they are their own persons. I want my daughters to love me as their mother, but I also want them to love me for who I am outside of the diaper changing, the clothes washing, the dinner cooking, and all of the other tasks that I now have as a mommy.

I want my daughters to believe that they can still dress up, be beautiful and sexy (and by sexy I don’t mean showing their hooha to the world) have hobbies and be interesting women when they become mothers. I don’t want them to think that motherhood relegates a woman to a life of sweatpants and weekly walmart trips (though I have developed an affinity for Walmart and sweatpants, I still try to find the time to over dress) I want my children to see that motherhood doesn’t take away from a woman, it infinitely adds to a woman.

Happy Birthday Laila

Laila,
Two years ago today I was staring into your eyes and holding you for the first time. I’ll never forget it. Your father and I held each others hands and cried tears of joy from the deepest part of our hearts. We were so amazed by you.

There was so much I didn’t know then. I was so nervous. When you were born I realized how little I knew, but I was determined to give you the best, and to learn how to be the best mommy. I’m still learning. There are so many things I wouldn’t have discovered if it weren’t for you. You came to me at the perfect time. You’ve changed not only my life, but who I am forever.

Through nurturing and guiding you, I have learned so much about life and myself. Parenting makes a mother question everything, it challenges all of her beliefs, and in my case I came to believe many new things, about my self, about God, and about relationships- especially our relationship as mother and daughter.

Parenting you is not about “raising” you to be a certain way, parenting for me is about my relationship with you, it’s about helping you grow into the incredible woman I know you already are.

As the time goes by I get to see more and more of your personality. You melt my heart with how affectionate you are. I tend to be overly serious, but like your father you make me laugh everyday. Everywhere we go you make a stranger your friend. You are so stubborn, so determined, which at times can be difficult to deal with, but really it makes me proud, because I see a strong woman and a leader in you. I see a girl who knows what she wants and can stand up for herself. I take so much pride in who you are.

Years ago I had a dream of a little girl with dark hair named Laila, and she was surrounded by the color purple.
It was a different kind of dream. It was so vivd and I never forgot it. I believe God tells us things through dreams, and I believe for some reason, he chose to tell me about you.

The color purple is a combination of the calm associated with blue, and the strength associated with red. That is your personality exactly, calm, yet so strong . There is a verse on the bible that says, “Before I knit you together in your mothers womb, I knew you.” I believe God knew you, and showing you to me in that dream, surrounded by a color that so perfectly describes your personality, he let me knew you just a little bit, long before it was your time to be mine.

You are such a gift to me and your daddy. These past two years with you have been the best of my life. Just last night me and daddy were saying how all of our experiences pale in comparison to the experience of becoming your parents.

Before you were born, I had huge dreams of traveling, of going on adventures, of learning as many new things as I could. Those dreams are on hold now, but not because motherhood has taken away those dreams. My dreams are hold for just a short time, because I’m waiting to share them with you. Instead of telling you about trips I once took, you’ll be on those trips with me. I can’t wait to accomplish all of my dreams with you and watch as you create dreams of your own. I hope that you’ll share some of yours with me as well.

We were meant for each other. As my daughter, you are also my very best friend. This year we’ve shared so much, my pregnancy with your sister. Every day we would take our walks together, every afternoon we would watch Sofia the first and take a nap, and every night you slept with your hand on my belly (and it’s looking like every day post partum, you’ll be grabbing my stomach and yelling chubby). I think you knew before I did the day I went into labor, because you woke up all through the night to check on “baby” and kiss my belly. I had so much fun listening to your favorite songs and watching you dance while I packed my hospital bag.

It was an adjustment when Sabrina was born, a whole new world, but we got the hang of it together. You’re my best helper and I treasure you so much. It’s incredible how fast these two years have gone by.

Always know that you truly are my pride and joy, that I will always love you with the deepest kind of love. The memories I have of these past two years are some of my greatest possessions and I know that the memories we make in this next year will be just as precious.

Happy birthday Laila! You are my best reason to celebrate.

The greatest gift my husband ever gave me

Confessions of an Elephant Momma

My husband has a pretty decent job working as a machinist at the family business, and I had an entry level position at a factory when I got pregnant. We discussed our options for after the baby was born, and decided that we could make it on one income, which meant that I could be a stay at home mom.

I was worried, at first, that it would get brought up often in arguments. I was also worried that I would have to go without luxury items, such as new clothes or new shoes. I was willing to deal with it, of course, but it still worried me. What if he gets sick of taking care of me? Will his attraction for me lessen because of my lack of independence? Will my value as an individual be compromised? Will I get lonely and become too detached from the world? I…

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