Bookish Thursdays: Cinderella Ate My Daughter

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Summary from GoodreadsSweet and sassy or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as the source of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages. But how dangerous is pink and pretty, anyway? Being a princess is just make-believe; eventually they grow out of it . . . or do they? In search of answers, Peggy Orenstein visited Disneyland, trolled American Girl Place, and met parents of beauty-pageant preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. The stakes turn out to be higher than she ever imagined. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters’ lives.

I read this book in the summer…the beginning of the summer.  While I have forgotten many of the details of what I read, I do recall how it made me feel.

I encountered a spectrum of emotions actually. I can’t quite decide whether my first emotion was fear of the world in which I will raise my daughter or the all-encompassing “duh?” of what seems to be common sense…you know, like I know this stuff already because I’ve lived it and continue to live it every day.

I felt disarmed because Orenstein offers so much insight into a culture that I feel will swallow my daughter and I have no defense against it. As my dear friend (whom recommended this book) wisely reminded me (I’m paraphrasing here): “It is the crux of feminist social analysis…the problems are clearly laid out…but there never seems to be a solution”.

Once I grappled with this feeling of powerlessness and got a grip on my fear and self-righteousness, I devoured the book. It is thoroughly researched and each argument for and against girly-girl culture is well presented and supported. While my tendencies are feminist and I believe in raising my daughter with an empowered voice and sense of self, I am also the first to buy her a cute pink outfit with cute bow to match…I mean she has gorgeous creamy skin and dark silky hair…how can I not?!?

And there is the dilemma. Or the irony. Or whatever you want to call it…moms of this “post-feminist” (in quotations because can we ever really be post-feminist?), post-girl-power age have a fine line to walk. We understand the importance of looking our best and the danger of succumbing to media-fueled images of female sexuality. We understand that being true to ourselves does not always look like the cookie-cutter version of femininity. But how do we pass along this knowledge to our daughters and help them navigate the incessant messages of what they’re supposed to be in favour of just being who they are?

This book will not offer any solutions. Not a one. But it does clearly explain the root of the marketing machine and the power of the bottom-line in the hopes that our decisions for our daughters will at least be informed ones. More importantly, it really sends the message that your support and guidance are vital when she is making her own choices.

This a quick read that will get you thinking. I highly recommend it.

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Wednesday Quotables: Being Unapologetic

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In the spirit of today’s post I will not apologize for my long absence from my blog. I will say that I missed it and am glad to be back.

I was scrolling through twitter this morning and found this awesome article posted by Women’s Health.

 

If you have a minute, watch the video clip. It’s not long and although it is ultimately a Pantene commercial, it still carries a pretty great message: stop saying sorry for everything! What a perfect topic for quotables. Here are some inspiring quotes about being yourself, owning yourself and being unapologetic about it.

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t this the most wonderful message? Be you. No apologies. What a great lesson to pass along to our daughters. Hold on to your power, listen to your inner voice and proceed with confidence.

Have a great and unapologetic Wednesday!

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Just When…But Then…

from diynatural.com

Just when you get a chance to sit down to write…the baby cries in her crib waking from her nap much earlier than anticipated. But then she gives you that huge, toothless grin making you feel like a hero swooping in to save her from the dark.

Just when you finally get to the washroom…your 5 year old needs to talk and opens the door believing it is perfectly normal to carry on a conversation with mom while she’s on the toilet. But then he finishes that convo with “You’re my bestest mommy ever!” Wait, what? How many mommies do you have…never mind, I get it and I’ll take it.

Just when you think you might have an afternoon to watch a movie…it’s three days later and you’re still only half way through it. But then when you finally get to finish it you realize you got two movie afternoons instead of one.

Just when you’ve made yourself a steaming cup of tea…the phone rings, someone’s at the door, and it’s time to pick up your child at school…you return to iced tea. But then your child hugs you and asks that you have a snack together while he chats about his day.

Just when you grab that cable bill you’ve been meaning to get to…you realize it’s a week overdue.  But then…there’s no upside to this one except it’s only a week overdue.

Just when you’ve purchased that book you’ve been itching to read for a few months…it’s a month later and the book hasn’t left the store’s bag; it is buried under flyers and school work and all sorts of paper that life throws at you somewhere in the pile on that spot on the kitchen counter reserved for miscellaneous…which helps to explain the past due cable bill. But then that magical moment happens when hubby is out bike riding with child 1 and child 2 is napping and all is quiet and there is nothing else to do but read. Ah!

Just when there’s that beautiful sunny day…you can’t use your backyard since the swampy mess is still there because you’ve missed the landscaper’s calls because of course he always calls while you’re trying to get your baby to nap so you can get some writing time. But then that sunny day is followed by three days of rain giving the landscaper time to get to your house and figure out a game plan.

Just when you sit to watch a little mind-numbing television (or television to take away the numbing of your mind)…hubby wants to talk about work and current events and house stuff and gossip and cool places to travel or to eat…you know, normal adult stuff that your brain has trouble computing.  But then your mind wakes up a little and you remember what it’s like to be you.

Just when you think you can get a moment to yourself…it’s 9 o’clock and in your world that basically means it’s almost midnight (since you’ll be up one or two times with the baby and sleeping in has become a hazy memory of a very distant past)…it’s time to get to sleep so you can do it all over again the next day. But then the baby strangely wakes up, feeds and allows you to sleep until 6 am…almost 9 hours of sleep! Amazing. I can do anything after that much sleep!

What are your just when…but then moments?

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WWW Wednesdays

shouldbereading.wordpress.com asks three questions every week for WWW Wednesdays.  Check out the blog for MizB’s responses.  I think it’s a good, quick way to keep readers updated on what’s going on in my reading world.  Here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? Allegiant by Veronica Roth

What did you recently finish?  The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – read review here. And, flipped through The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  I will be writing about that soon!

What do you think you’ll read next? I didn’t finish my fall tbr…I still hope to read The Rosie Project but there’s another book by Sally Armstrong entitled Ascent of Women that I really want to read.  

Wanna play along?  Send me your answers to these questions or answer them at shouldbereading.wordpress.com

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Wednesday Quotables: Expecting

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35 weeks.  5 weeks left…though if she’s anything like her brother, she’ll be here in 2.5 weeks.  

Oh shit.  

I’m ready! I swear I am…but I feel more comfort from 5 weeks than 2.5!!!  I had an ultra sound today to make sure all was good – and it seemed like it was (full results at next week’s appointment).  She’s in position and her face was all smooshed so on the monitor she didn’t exactly look human…anyway, I’m sure she’s human.

On the drive home I thought today’s post would be about expecting and expectations in general. Here are some quotes that I found and loved.  Hope one (or all) resonate with you somehow!

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(from pagingfunmums.com)

This has been my experience from the moment I find out I am pregnant.  Which is why losing a pregnancy – regardless of stage – is so devastating.  Knowing that a growing life is inside you is marvellous.

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(from pics5.thispic.com)

Then I read this quote and it applies to expecting a baby or expecting any other event in your life.  If you’re always living for tomorrow…then what happens to all the great stuff you’re living through today?  And, even if it’s not so great…there’s a purpose for it.  I can’t wait for this baby to be born and be rid of varicose veins in places varicose veins should never be found, be rid of high glucose and get my body back.  I will miss the feeling of always having her with me, of feeling her move, kick and be supremely happy (because that’s what she’s feeling of course) inside mommy!

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(from quotehd.com)

This quote reminded me of teaching.  Adults who do not work with teens always are in awe that I spend my days with them.  Teens are awesome.  Even the not so awesome ones have some redeeming quality.  Same goes for adults – except I find I am more forgiving of teens because they’re supposed to mess up.

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(from inspiringquotes.in)

I can understand completely how this applies to motherhood.  It is, however, a tough one in relationships – many of us seem to always be looking at what our partner has given (or not given) us…perhaps it is a matter of what we’ve given (or not given) them.  Turn the tables and see how well we fare.

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(from goodreads.com –  Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience)

I’ve never read nor come across this book; maybe one day.  I loved the quote.  So many of us walk around without loving ourselves fully – for different reasons…we feel it’s selfish, we were never taught to, it was not modelled for us etc. At some point we need to take charge for who we are and how we want to experience life.  If we want a life of love then we have to start with ourselves first…the rest will just fall into place.  It will.  (Not to be confused with arrogance)

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(from izquotes.com)

Look around.  Be grateful – you have everything you need and then some.

So what did you think of today’s quotes?  Any ring true, hit home, make your blood boil?  Share your thoughts!

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The Small Things

Bulging Buttons inspired my post todayThe Small Things.

I have had a very stressful month and recently reminded myself that it is by feeling gratitude that I will find my way back to peace, balance and contentedness.

Gratitude is defined as “the state of being grateful; thankfulness” – it is not an easy state to be in in a society that is bent on criticism, self-loathing and medicating itself to have some kind of feeling.  But, it is possible.

Some great quotes about Gratitude:

(courtesy: pinkchocolatebreak.com, inspirationboost.com, pinkchocolatebreak.com, todaysmama.com, revelinitmag.com, quotes.wishbowl.org)

I am using these quotes as inspiration to think about the things that I am thankful for.  Here is my completely random list of 5 small things, off the top of my head, in no particular order, and I’m sure it will change day-to-day.  However, today, these are the small things I am thankful for:

  1. The time to read a really, really great book.  My time is so precious – I feel like each day it is accounted for in so many ways that do not involve time for me.  This is why I blog at night, when my head is bobbing with sleepiness.  When I have 15, 20, 30  minutes to spend with a (great) book I am so grateful!
  2. My mother’s daily “check-in” – I speak to or text with my mom every day and I am so grateful for a mother that nurtures, loves and is my friend.
  3. Aveda’s “Be Curly” line of products – finally, a line of hair products made for my hair! Frizz is tamed. Curls are defined without being crunchy.  I’ve got that great SJP in Sex & the City hair that I love!
  4. Seriously can I write a post like this and not include the sound of my son’s laughter or his gorgeous poofy eyes and rosy cheeks and bed-head hair when he stumbles into our room every morning for a cuddle before getting up?
  5. I am grateful for the vintage bottle of wine brought over by a dear friend.  It lies there waiting for when I can savour it with my husband when we are deliriously happy and sleep deprived because of a new baby.

What small things are you grateful for?  Comment below or at Bulging Buttons or on your own blog and link back!

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What Would I Change About Myself?

I chose to write today’s NaBloPoMo post on the prompt provided for Wed. Nov.6:

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I have a feeling the answer to this question would have been very different 10, 15 years ago…

I am not unlike most women who can rattle off a list of things that are “wrong” with their bodies – height, weight, shape, width, hair, skin type, teeth, feet etc.  You named it, I would have a criticism for it. Except, lately, my criticisms are less sharp, more forgiving – they are virtually non-existent.

Is it age?  Is it the deep respect I have for my body’s ability to create and deliver life?  Is it spending my days teaching teenage girls, sensing their anxiety and being so grateful I am no longer at that stage?

Perhaps it is all of it.

I am happy with physical me.  It is a peaceful place to be.

In terms of internal me…it’s a bit of a different story.  I continually ask myself “What kind of woman/wife/mother/teacher/daughter/friend/writer do I want to be?” and I strive to be her.  When I do not meet my expectations I am terribly hard on myself.

Where I have learned to accept my body, I need to fully accept me and stop trying so hard to be the super woman/wife/mother/teacher/daughter/friend/writer.  Most importantly, I’d like to hush that judge that lives inside and just be.  While I enjoy every moment, see it’s beauty and worth I want to give myself the fearlessness to be, the eradication of the inner critic and the strength to forgive my errors with the same compassion I show others.

Change is not easy, but when it will bring you good, it is worth it.

What would you change about yourself?

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Breast or Bottle?

from northernhealth.ca

This is the magical image I had in my mind when my son was born. When pregnant, I imagined that I would pick him up, latch him on and breastfeeding would just happen.  We would bond as I lovingly fed my child and he would be healthy and full and we would both be happy.  

Shit. Was I wrong!

Even when other women told me it would be tough, when the nurse from the birthing course said it would be difficult – I really didn’t understand what that meant until I lived it.

I wish I would have read this Open Letter to the Breastfeeding New Mom by mlittlef on BlogHer when I was trying desperately to breastfeed my son.

It was the hardest, most difficult experience of my life. Engorged breasts, sore nipples and a child that would just not latch.  Even after seeing lactation consultants, breastfeeding nurses, and reading like a fiend – all I knew was that “breast is best” and I wasn’t able to breastfeed.  So I was not doing what was best for my child.  And, it broke my heart and spirit.

Three weeks of little to no sleep, of constantly having a baby fall asleep at my breast, of waking him up and latching him on only to have him fall asleep again within a minute.  I was lost.  Do I let him sleep and just feed him when he wakes up? NO! He’ll lose weight and everyone knows, the greater the demand the greater the supply.  He must be fed every 3 hours. Sometimes, one feeding cycle would lead right into the next.  It was physically and emotionally exhausting.

I tried to pump.  After an hour at the pump, I would produce less than an ounce of milk. It was so disheartening. I was riddled by guilt, self-deprecation, and anger.  Why wasn’t this working for me?  Why couldn’t I feed my son?  As someone who is accustomed to being in control this was a shock.  How was I not able to make this work?  Why was I not in control? I am positive now that my stress-level certainly didn’t help the situation.

I couldn’t do it any longer; I introduced formula.  *gasp* from lactation consultants everywhere.  But, my sanity at this point was more important.

from whattoexpect

Suddenly, everything fell into place.  I held him close to my chest, I stared into his beautiful eyes, I sang and connected to my little one in ways I couldn’t during breastfeeding because I was so stressed.

Regardless, with each bottle of formula, the statistics kept nagging me.  That my baby would be healthier and smarter with breast milk, whereas formula would make my child more prone to illness and childhood obesity etc etc etc.

I reminded myself that my son was thriving and looking much happier.  He needed a mommy that wasn’t frazzled and full of self-loathing.  He needed me to be well and relaxed so he could be happy and relaxed.

I can joyfully say that my 4 year old son is healthy, happy, eats very well, is very smart and clever and fun, and has a healthy weight and height.  Still…every so often…I wonder what would it have been like had I stuck it out, seen it through…I feel a little stab every time I see a new mom happily breastfeeding her baby.  Fortunately, my son’s sunny personality reminds me that I’ve done alright by him.

Baby number two is on her way (yes, I found out it’s a girl!  more about that in another post since I was so adamant about not finding out here). As we prepare her room, and I try to remain as healthy as I can for her arrival, I cannot help but think about the few weeks after she is born.

I will attempt to breastfeed my daughter as I did my son. Only this time I will do so with the knowledge that my best, my love, and my patience will get me through a most trying time.  I will ask for more help and support.  I will not torture myself. And, as with my little guy, I will do everything in my power to ensure she is healthy, happy and feels oh so loved.  That is all I can plan for – the rest will take care of itself.

What was your baby-feeding experience like?  Any helpful words of support for women who are trying to or intend to breastfeed (or not!)?  Share your thoughts below.

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Goodbye House

As I mentioned in a previous post, my family will be moving to a new home in a smaller town next week.

We are leaving our first house.  We were so happy when we bought our house.  I will never forget the various shades of Pepto pink that greeted us in the living and dining areas.  Our kitchen was wallpapered in a lovely grape & vine pattern, and our basement boasted think pink carpeting, with wallpapered hunter green & wine coloured walls.  Luckily we were able to see beyond the awful colours and we polished it up and turned it into (what we think) is a little gem.

Over our eight years here, we gutted and renovated bathrooms and basement. We painted. We replaced windows and doors and garage doors. We gardened and added lighting.  We made this house a peaceful and loving sanctuary from the pressures of the world.  It is cozy, warm and oozes us.  My husband and I are in every corner of this house.

We shared our most important milestones in this house: marriage, parenthood, changing career paths.  We have done a fair share of growing up here.  A testament to what we have poured into this house is how much our son loves our home and has repeatedly told us how much he will miss it.

I will miss it too.

In the midst of doctor appointments, utilities calls, real estate agents and mortgage brokers, new teachers, more doctor appointments, purging/selling/buying furniture and household items (the majority of which has been accomplished from my couch!) I have not had time to truly say goodbye to the home we have lived in for almost 8 years.

I read somewhere that when you sell your home, you almost immediately need to start detaching yourself from the building.  You should physically walk through the house, thank it for what it has provided and say goodbye.  I tried that.  I’m still upset that other people are going to use my wash room, enjoy the awesome basement, cook in my kitchen, enjoy my deck and backyard.  Who do they think they are?

When I was a little girl, my family moved around a lot.  I attended six different elementary schools (including 2 in Colombia). Although difficult, that experience also provided me with the ability to adapt to new surroundings easily.  I quickly learned that new surroundings are made home because of the people you love.

Then why is this move so hard?  Perhaps as I get older and am a parent, I yearn for roots.  I yearn for that feeling of comfort and security that living in one place affords.  I yearn for a neighbourhood that feels mine.  I have found this for eight years in this house.

My nostalgia turns into excitement when I think of our new house.  I am excited to do this again in a new home, to carve a life in a new house that will once again ooze us, the four of us this time and become truly ours.  This is a home we will grow up in with our children.  Perhaps, saying goodbye won’t be as hard as I thought.

How do you cope with change of a new home?

His Final Heartbeat

13 years ago today I lost my father to cancer after three long years of war against the disease.

It was October 4th 2000.  He had been in palliative care for a month.  My brother and I visited with him most of the day on October 3rd because the nurses were preparing us that the end was near.  After midnight we went home to get some sleep. Not my mom.  She stayed.  There was no way she was leaving his side.  Fifteen minutes after we got home the phone rang.  It was my mom.  She said “The nurses think you should come back.  Right now.”

We flew back to the hospital and back to my father’s side.  He was still breathing but it was laboured.  My mom stood at his left side, my brother and I on his right.  We held his hand, caressed his face and my hand fell to his chest because I needed to feel his heart.  We prayed and said good bye.  We reassured him we would be ok and that we loved him and thanked him for the most beautiful life he could’ve possibly given us.

My father loved us passionately.  And, he wasn’t afraid to show it or to let us know it.  We tried to return that love to him that night by helping him pass with dignity, with love, with the knowledge that he could leave in peace.

Death isn’t as simple as the movies or television shows us.  He was breathing hard and his heart was beating as if it would explode out of him.  I kept my hand on his chest needing to feel him alive for as long as I could.  The beating slowed, though it was still hard.  My eyes remained on his face as I tried to imprint him and never forget.  All too quickly, the pounding against my hand stopped with a chilling finality.  His chest was still.  I had felt his final  heartbeat.  Just as he had been present to welcome me into the world, I was there to ease his way out of it.

My brother knew he was gone.  My mother kept talking and praying.  “Mom,” I said, “he’s gone.”

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This is the first year that I have lived through the day of the anniversary of his death without shedding a tear.  I miss him, terribly.  And, as the saying goes, it seems like yesterday…

My mother, brother and I have always honoured this day.  We spend it together.  Now we are joined by my son and husband.  My son loves asking questions about “papito” and he loves knowing that I had a great dad, just like his own dad.

I am pregnant with my second child.

Death.  Life.

I like to imagine my dad watching us, seeing my children grow and enjoying them as only he would know how.  I like to think that Death is not as permanent as it seems.  I am grateful that he waited for my brother and I to come back and properly say good bye.  I am grateful that after a lifetime of devotion and love, I felt the last beat of his heart which I know without a doubt was full of love for his family.

Even though I didn’t have my father in my life for as long as I would’ve liked, I know that he gave my mother, brother and I the best of him in the years we did have together.

Now, it is my privilege to pass that love on to my husband, son and unborn child.  To let them know every day of their lives that they are loved, cherished and a part of something special.  I have a beautiful family; I am surrounded by incredible friends.  This is something that I will never take for granted.

I am a lucky, lucky woman.

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We all have stories, events, episodes that keep us grounded.  Some less traumatic than others, but vitally important nonetheless.  What keeps you grounded?  What reminds you of what’s important in your life?

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