A Vacation Tally

Will and I were on vacation this week. Here are some things we did:

– Took Jackson hiking up Streaked Mountain.

– Had a very fancy breakfast with bacon, French toast, champagne glasses (with water!), yogurt and chia seeds, and lovely lace napkins.

– Took Nora Bean to see Cinderella and got cupcakes at a café afterward for a very special Nora Day.

– Played just a little Mario Brothers.

– Will watched Labyrinth for the first time ever. He also slept in bed with me every night.

– Noticed how beautiful the view is every morning from Mama’s bed to the back fields and orchards.

– Spent the day at cousin Wyatt’s house for his birthday.

We had an amazing, relaxing, fun, enjoyable, memorable April vacation. It was truly special and I can’t wait for summer with my amazing, hilarious, intelligent, and thoughtful little one.

Mama sighs all around.

Dear Single Mothers: An Open Letter

Dear Single Mothers,

You’re going to be alone. I just have to tell you up front, you’re going to be alone and you’re going to be very lonely. These are two very separate and serious feelings.

You’re going to be alone. At the ultrasound where you find out the sex of your baby, you’re going to be alone. Maybe a family member or the father will come with you, but you’re going to be alone in your mind, in your heart.

You’re going to be alone at the delivery and reception of your newborn, red and screaming and looking for his mama. Your mother might be with you, and your doctors will be there, but you will be alone in your mind, in your heart.

You’re going to be alone at two a.m. when your baby wakes you up, hungry for comfort and warm arms. You’re going to be all alone when you haven’t slept for more than three hours, and there is vomit in your hair, and you have bags under your eyes, and you forget to brush your teeth for days because newborns are so much work.

You’re going to be alone for the first foods, the first words, the first steps, the first day of kindergarten. You will be alone at court dates, even if your attorney is present. Picking out daycares. Picking out clothes. Navigating healthcare. You will be alone.

Single mothers, you are going to be alone.

You’re also going to be lonely. Don’t confuse this for being alone. Lonely is different.

You’re going to be lonely when you see other parents at the doctors office, holding hands and cooing over the round belly of the soon-to-be mother. You’re going to recognize that you have no partner, even if the father will be in the picture. You’re still going to feel lonely.

You’re going to be lonely when you drive your baby home from the hospital to a house only the two of you share. You’re going to be lonely when your baby smiles for the first time, enjoys music for the first time. You’re going to want to share that with your partner. You may send a photograph when it happens to a friend, or your parents may be there for it, but you will be lonely.

You will be lonely when you find your partner because it will take so much time for them to love your child the way you do. You will be lonely when you realize the relationship between you and your child is unique, and you will wish he had that relationship with two parents.

You are going to be a lonely woman.

But there is something else you are going to be.

You are going to be amazed.

You will be amazed that even though you are alone and lonely, you will forget about it.

You are going to be amazed at the people who come through for you in times of need. Your parents, siblings, your friends, your co-workers, your doctor.

You are going to be amazed at your ability to just do. You will sleep for two hours, get up, love your baby with all of your passion, go to work, pay the bills, and do it again. And you will be amazed at your ability.

You will be amazed with your baby. You will be amazed at their beauty, their intelligence, and the love you have for them. You will be amazed that you created this beautiful human that came into the world because of you.

You will be amazed that some day you will find a partner who loves your child as much as you do.

You will be amazed how time flies. The months where your baby doesn’t sleep, you will be amazed at how quickly they pass by. You will be amazed that in two shakes of a lambs’ tail your baby will be smiling, laughing, walking, spelling, reading… and you will be amazed that you were the one who helped him do it.

You will be amazed at how selfish you were before your child, and rightfully so. You will be amazed at how selfless you can become. You will be amazed that you thought you couldn’t do it alone, and then amazed that you did it.

Dear single mothers: You will be alone.

Dear single mothers: You will be lonely.

Dear single mothers: You will be amazed.

And rightfully so.

Remember these three things, and I personally guarantee you, you will make it through.

Sincerely,

Experience

Visuals on Life

Halloween was this weekend. William went as Harry Potter (Scout’s honor, I didn’t even bring up the idea, it was all his idea) and it went swimmingly. We went to my old neighborhood in Cape Elizabeth and met up with my cousins Lisa & Nikki, their kiddos, Mimi & Poppy, my parents… and we just walked around for like two hours. William never had one melt down, just had a blast. It was so much fun, I’m glad we’ve never missed a trick-or-treating year there!

HarryPottah

I was hired by Goods of Record to shoot a soap maker in Rockland who makes amazing soap out of beer. It was a perfectly fun time, quick, and I also got some free soap out of the deal. If you’re looking for crazy good smelling soap, check these guys out.

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It snowed today but I’m so unimpressed by it that I didn’t even take a picture. Also, it was mad windy out so I didn’t go outside until I fed the sheep at five, and it was pitch black out. So it goes. Snow. Ugh.

I’m dreading my hair up next weekend. I just ordered up some dread extensions so they won’t be so short and funky to begin with. My hair is finally back to brown, and even though I hate it I know that it’s way more healthy than the bleach blonde crap I was doing. So, to dreadies I will go. I can’t wait. I got my extensions from Dread Stop, so hopefully they are awesome and well worth the time to have ’em shipped from Australia.

What else… Today was a day of epic snowed-in proportions. Here is a list of the things we all did:

– Painted William’s face into a zombie, because he really needed to do that.

– Baked homemade rolls, a blueberry pie, and made warm cinnamon-spiced cider.

– Edited all of the photos for Goods of Record / Maine Beer Soap.

– Cleaned the kitchen and got most of the laundry caught up.

It was nice to not go anywhere today even though we had initially made plans to go visit Steph & Erik’s new house, unfortunately the snow kind of spooked me from it.

And now it is only 6:53pm even though it feels like eight because of freakin’ daylight savings time. Lordy.

Over and out.

Disoveries

I am watching The Neverending Story with the Midge. It’s the first time he’s seen it, and I’ve skipped a couple fairly traumatic parts (see: Artex getting sucked into the swamp, that crushed me as a child.).

We got home late this morning from a night spent with my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Birch Harbor, Maine. They live on an enchanting farm on the coast; a beautiful, somewhat isolated community on the Gouldsboro peninsula.

Scott, the Midge, and I made the trek Downeast firstly to visit with my fabulous family, and secondly to participate in a small festival called The Jubilee. The community that puts on The Jubilee are incredible; the whole ordeal is a pot-luck, and features music from bluegrass, to Appalachian banjo, to punk rock. We showed up in the evening and did not leave until midnight, though Will fell asleep on my lap much earlier.

We so rarely keep him up, but it was so worth it. There were dozens of kids, including my cousins, running around, dancing, eating as much food as possible and just being kids. The music was so much fun, and on top of that it was such a great demonstration of how many people can get together to create a wonderful environment and without any issues.

When we got home today, Will, Scott, and I made a picnic and played outside. Will was absolutely wiped by the time Scott had to head to work, so we are snuggling up in my bed watching The Neverending Story while I edit some photos from a client this past weekend.

I am a happy, lucky woman.

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#YesAllWomen: Raising Boys to Become Good Men Starts With PARENTS

Note To The Reader: This post has sensitive subject matter, and for victims of sexual violence there are subjects which may trigger high emotions. Please read at your own discretion.

 

I’ve been watching the surge of the hashtag #yesallwomen with some interest. Interest, and a mixture of other emotions like sadness, dread, humiliation, and also hope.

There are so many thoughts that are sparked in my brain when I start thinking about women’s rights, raising good children, and wondering where the next generation will go with their beliefs and actions. These thoughts flood my brain and for someone who loves to write, I have a hard time putting my thoughts down into words on the screen.

My struggle with putting these words down is multi-faceted;  Firstly, I believe in equal rights between men and women. Secondly, I am raising a young boy who will one day become a man, and that is where I believe the focus of this huge issue of rape culture should be honed in on. Thirdly, I am a survivor of sexual violence, and the subject itself is hard for me to digest.

Equal rights is a much easier phrase for the general public to digest than “feminism.” If I titled this post, “Raising a Feminist Son,” or something like that, I would have narrowed my audience down significantly, and immediately. This is sad for me. Feminism has been warped and twisted and caricaturized to the point that it is now a laughable cause.

But it’s not. It simply means equal rights for men and women, nothing more, nothing less. Women in the past century in the United States were not allowed to vote. Women are still sold in marriage in parts of the world. Women are physically weaker than men, and therefore women tend to be physically more vulnerable. The fact that the idea of helping women achieve equality in their own way is laughable absolutely humiliates and disgusts me to the point that I have a hard time talking about it.

Anyway, I believe in women’s rights, feminism, and above all, equality.  The hashtag #yesallwomen reeks of feminism, equality, and touchy subject matter for many people. It is easily laughed at because of this. The idea that women are constantly being undermined, advanced upon, and treated as less of a human than a man is hard for men to grip because they’re the ones doing it. Of course it’s hard for men to understand, they aren’t in women’s shoes and they are the ones usually doing the undermining. Hard news, boys, but it’s the truth.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard something derogatory about women in any given workplace I have experience in, I wouldn’t have to work. Whether or not the comments are intentionally degrading women, the fact of the matter is that they still are derogatory. I hear them regardless. And they’re never aimed at me, let me be clear, but I am surrounded by it, and I have been. And I am not alone.

But that’s not my point! My point is that it is a diminishing tactic: To laugh at something like the word feminism is a way to minimize its legitimacy, but this is nothing new. This is not newsworthy.

All I’m saying is that #yesallwomen promotes equal rights, and that scares and upsets people. It’s baffling to me, but so it goes.

 

As I am thinking about the fact that what, 1 in 5? 1 in 10? 1 in 2? are subject to sexual violence in their lifetime, I think about the people who are doing these horrible things. Who are these people, these men? Who raised them? How were they raised? Are we talking nature or nurture? What is going on that some men can rape or harm a woman, and that some men don’t?

It makes me nervous to parent a boy who will one day become a man. Will he be respectful? Kind? Gentle? Will he be cold-hearted? Do terrible things? How can I steer him in the right direction so that he will someday be the man who women trust and do not fear?

What horrible questions for me to even have to consider. I know that my father would have raised such a man, had he had a son. My father, my grandfather, my husband; these are people who women trust and do not fear. Is it enough for my son to be surrounded by these men? Is it enough to have their influence?

As a mother, I struggle with determining how my son’s (male) mind will work, and how I can instill values that make him not only a good human being, but a good man. Someone who will not rape or molest or violate.

It is not surprising that boys who grow up exposed to sexual violence could be more prone to commit these acts. Or perhaps it might deter them from committing them. There are no clear answers.

The ones that scare me are the men who do these terrible things and there is no “logical” reason for it; their families are sound, their childhood was not filled with horror, they appear to have no history of violence or mental illness.

And let me clarify, the person who violated me was the latter; a normal person. This happens, and it happens often.

Being a parent of a child is scary no matter what; there are terrible things that can happen to a son or a daughter, regardless of sex or gender. If I had a daughter, I would be afraid of someone violating her. But, I have a son. I am afraid for him; not because I suspect him to have inner demons or that he has demonstrated some sort of mental illness which makes me worry about his future actions, but because he is a man in a society that supports mysogyny and male dominance. He is being raised by a feminist mother and a feminist stepfather, but that doesn’t mean that he will not be heavily exposed to a culture that is basically putting its stamp of approval on rape, sexual violence, and general lack of respect towards women.

But I have some hope. I know that I am doing my part to have four-year-old-appropriate “body chats.” I am not shy about my body, nor do I insult my own body in front of Will. I never insinuate that he should be embarrassed about his body, and if he has questions about girls and boys and their bodies, I answer them. He knows where baby sheep come from, so it will be no big stretch of the imagination to figure out where baby people come from.

He’s not ready for any more of a conversation than that; but my point is, even at four, he has a concept of self-privacy and bodily respect. These are the things that I hope our generation is instilling in their children. It is folly to think it is universally happening, but I like to think that if even a good percentage of parents are doing this, then we are taking the proper steps towards raising men who have respect for others bodies and lives.

I have hope for the next generation, but only if this generation of parents is willing to have tough talks at young ages, and to teach their BOYS to become good MEN.

Parental Victories

Here are some things I consider to be parenting victories with William. I’m not sure who is to be credited for this, but I think it is a solid combination of Will’s fluid personality, his parents and step-parent, his grandparents, and the environment that he is raised in.

1. Water is his highest-consumed beverage.

2. He will eat bread of any shape, color, or texture. He also eats broccoli, spinach, kale, and green beans willingly.

3. He corrects me when I say a word the wrong way.

4. He is developing an appreciation for living things. (i.e., he doesn’t squash bugs immediately upon discovery.)

5. He plays with his imagination daily.

6. He loves to snuggle and be affectionate towards family members.

7. He sticks up for others, including pets, farm animals, and other people. (When I scold our dog, Will tells me not to yell at him.)

 

Afternoon at the Farm

It was sunny and warm the other day, so Will and I went out to spend some time with the flock. The lambs, once so tiny, are getting enormous. Unlike the older generation from which they came, this group of lambs is extremely friendly. The wariness of their mothers did not get passed onto them; they love to snuggle and get ear scratches, especially the ram lambs. 

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Tired Morning

I didn’t realize Will’s daycare was closed until I got there, and then I realized it.

Usually am very happy about not having an electric coffee pot, but today I wish our French press was more automatic.

This morning I feel sleepy.

I’m going to attempt to remedy it by picking up around the house,

dusting, cleaning, vacuuming, and generally making it look more presentable.

And I’m going to do some yoga because that always makes my body and mind feel a bit

clearer.

And then I’m going to go snuggle little Luna, the newest of the lambs.

And probably the day will feel better.

 

Plus, it’s going to be int he 60’s today.