Raising Feminist Nerds

I have a picture I printed off Pinterest taped near my computer.  (Since I have no idea what I’m doing, I can’t show you.)  Can you guess which part of the comic I have on my wall.  It’s Mulan and Eowyn high fiving.

Tornado E: MOMMY!  I know why you have that picture taped on your wall!

Me: What picture?

Tornado E: The Lord of the Rings one!

Me: Why’s that?

Tornado E: Because you like Mulan and Lord of the Rings.

Me: Yes.  Do you want to know what the picture is about?

Tornado E: Uh-huh.

Me: Well, you know what Mulan is about.  Eowyn did the same sort of thing.  She snuck into the army and saved the day.  Do you want to hear the story?

Tornado E: Yes!

Me: Well the forces of Sauron were attacking Gondor.  And Aragon convinced the men of Rohan to go to the defense of Gondor.  So off they went riding horses to battle.  For Glory!  (I raised my hand in salute.)  But Eowyn was to be left behind because they didn’t let girls fight battles.  And she was sad and scared.  She didn’t want the people she loved to be killed in battle.  She didn’t want to be left behind, locked in a cage, waiting for something to happen, instead of going out and having adventures.  So the horseriders of Rohan rode and joined battle with Gondor to defeat Sauron.

The boys stood there, staring at me, savoring every word.

Me: And things weren’t going well for Gondor.  Not only were there so many, many orcs.  But they had The Witch King who rode the horrible Nazgûl.  It was a fierce and ugly monster, looking like a black dragon with a long neck.  The Nazgûl’s screams sent fear into the soldiers.  No one could stand against the Witch King.  The fighting was fierce, and the king of Rohan found himself face to face with the Witch King.  And he fought bravely, but the Witch King defeated him.  But before the Witch King could kill the king, another soldier attacked.  One of Rohan’s men.

Tornado E was jumping up and down.  Tornado S’s eyes were big.

Me: The warrior and the Witch King fought.  They swung their swords, slashing and crashing.  (I mimicked sword play.)  Soldiers and orcs stopped to watch.  No other warrior had fought the Witch King this long.  The warrior sliced off the head of the Nazgûl and defeated the Witch King.  The warrior thrusted in under the Witch King’s guard.  As the Witch King laid on the ground, dying, he whispered, “No man born of woman can defeat me.”  The warrior removed his helmet, and it was Eowyn.  She said, “I am no man.”  She killed the Witch King and saved the day because if he hadn’t died, Gondor would not have stood.

I paused.

Me: What do you think?

Tornado E: The girls must have been so excited that it was Eowyn.

Me: The girls AND boys were excited that Eowyn defeated the Witch King.  She was awesome.  There are lots of awesome stories about girls.

Tornado E: Like Brave?!

Me: Yup.  When I was a little girl, there weren’t so many stories about awesome girls.  I didn’t like the princess movies.  Even now they make more exciting books about boys than girls.  I just read a writer asking a publisher, a guy who makes books, why there were still more books about boys than girls.  And the publisher said girls are boring.  Can you believe that?

Tornado E: That’s dumb.

Me: Yup.  That’s why I want to get you books about girls AND boys having exciting adventures.  If you read only about one, you’ll miss all kinds of stories about the other.

Tornado S: Princess Leia is awesome!  She fights!

Me: Yup.  She’s awesome.

Parenting.  Teaching my boys that girls are just as good as boys.  And training them to be nerds.

Recap 5-11

1. Sometimes I wonder if having a job that pays would be easier and more boring.

2. I don’t know why I torture myself by going to church by myself with the tornadoes.  Including the two-year-old.

3. More balance this week.  Thumbs up.  A lot more stuff done and to do.  Um. Thumbs.  Um.  Right.

4. Aidan can recognize the “Golden Arches” and say “McDonald’s.”  I swear.  We haven’t been there in months.

5. How does an adult lose a piece of a game before the kids can play it?

6. “Hi!  I’m J.  I hate it when people form groups and leave someone just standing there.  What’s your name?”  I think I’m going to like this woman.

7. “I figured out the boys have an authority issue and deal with it passive-aggressively.”  None of Evan’s old kindergarten teachers were surprised.  Why was I the last to know?

8. I totally think the person who chose the cover of this week’s Time Magazine hates breastfeeding.  No, we don’t need another “Mommy War.”  And most of us are trying to convince society that breastfeeding is natural and non-sexual.  The cover will only make it worse for us.  Sure, most of us think it’s weird.  But everyone does some weird parenting thing.  Oh. And it’s not sexual!

9. I also am convinced that my state government hates women.  Any one have moving suggestions?

10. Sean is out of school next Wednesday.  Evan gets out a week after that.  I have nothing planned this summer.  NOTHING.  I’m screwed.  So very screwed.

Just a song on the radio

Evan: Turn it up, Mommy!

The song had become popular in the last couple weeks.  Always on the radio.  Every time I heard it half listening, as I drove, as I answered questions or settled squabbles.  But something never sat right.  It was a catchy tune, but something just wasn’t right. . . .   I said as much.

No, it’s just a good song.  Faster than my brother.

Me: No.  (Pause)  It’s “out run my gun.”  Oh my god.  It’s “faster than my bullet.”

A shiver ran up my spine.  And I was lost in a memory.

***

It was a beautiful day.  I was coming back to the dorms between classes and work.  I figured I tried to get some homework done.  Or a nap.  Probably a nap.

The rabbits frolicked in the grass.  I had to admit CA had some nice weather at random times.  I walked passed the barricades and around the dorm into the quad, hoping that The Violinist was home, meaning our door would be wide open, but it also meant marching band music would be blasting.  I shuddered.  I got ready to bounce to a run.  She should be home.

She wasn’t.  Drat.  I kept strolling.

But the suitemates were.  Or one of them.  Their door was open.  Cool.  I’ll pop in for a hello and then walk through the hallway into my dorm room.  Probably better this way.  I kinda want that nap.

I walked through the quad, ignoring the winding sidewalk.  I stuck my tongue out at Satan Bunny.  I strolled into the suitemates’ room.

Me: Hey-.

Something was wrong.  The Sleepy Suitemate (We were so sure she was going to flunk out since she overslept her classes all the time.  Even the afternoon ones!) was up, sitting sideways on her chair.  The Sweet Suitemate (She had the dorm room all to her self last semester, making it hers, making it a sanctuary with soft music and a comfortable bed) was on the futon bunk of her bunk beds, crushing a pillow to her chest.  Just inside the door to my right was My Guy Expert (My All American Guy, My Twin, we were so much a like we were sure I would be him if I was a boy, and he would be me.  Hell, we even had a similar look), who lived two doors down.  On my left stood The Writer (it would be this semester he would realize his calling, at the time he was a film student, reading his scripts in a wheel chair he had picked up somewhere.  It matched my thousands of glow in the dark stars, christmas lights, and kiddie pool.  We were a weird floor.), looking confused and distraught.  All of their eyes were glued to the TV.

I looked at the TV.  I read the caption.  I saw the high schoolers running.  I held my breath.  I listened to the reporter.  I stepped inside the room, standing between the boys.  I felt small, despite my height.

I noticed all the barefoot girls, who had to leave their clogs and heals behind.  That is why I always wore hiking boots, despite the snickers of some of my high school companions.

The footage was raw.  The reports coming in.  Conflicting.  No one knew how many.  Bombs.  Mafia.  Trench coat.  Well, that’s going to suck for all the goth kids throughout the country as the adults were going to ban those.

We watched.

The Writer: (quiet, as though to himself) I know kids there.  They were our rival high school.

From distant horror, the mood spiraled into grief without another word spoken.

I, who never was good at these things, growing up with boys who punched their emotions, placed my hand on The Writers shoulder.  We stood there.  Watching.

And it was a beautiful day.

***

“Fae, no one fought back.”

The Friendly Giant sounded young, small, vulnerable.  Well, he should.  He was my baby brother.  Just a freshman in high school.  Not the Giant yet.  I was still taller than him.

I sat perched on the sink ledge, back against the wall, feet pressed against the other wall.  It was the only thing keeping me from tumbling to the floor as I cradled the phone.  It was Sunday night, the night to call home, days after that afternoon.  The folks were late coming home from Grandma’s and Grandpa’s.  But The Friendly Giant was home, and he, to my amazement, was willing to talk more than the word fine.

The Friendly Giant: They just huddled there in the far corners, waiting, trapped like . . . mice.  All it would have taken was one person.  One smart, brave person.  But they were too afraid.  Too afraid to do what was right.

Me: I know.

The Friendly Giant: What the fuck, Fae?!

He never cussed.  It was washed out of him at an early age.  He was the first to make the mistake in front of dad, the first to get his mouth washed out with soap, the first and the youngest.  He never cussed after that.  At least not in front of the family.

I wanted to hug him.  My teddy bear baby brother.  I understood.

Me: I know.  I don’t want to go out like that.

The Friendly Giant: I’ll fight.  I won’t go out like that.

Me: Better to face the bullet in hopes to take out the jerk than to huddle waiting for fate to make the decision for you.

The Friendly Giant: Yeah.  I’ll face the bullet.

Me: Me too.

It was a vow.   Something we would only hint on during the tragedies that would follow through the years.  We knew where we would stand.  We were too much like our father.  We couldn’t hide or run away.

***

I’m a poet.  I knew what they were doing when they wrote the song.  I get it.  It was well done.  But I had three innocents in my car.  They could wait to learn about sh*t like this.  I turned the radio to another channel.

Mirror, mirror

Some of the loveliest figures you see belong to mothers of one or more tots.  Soon yours will be slender again.  -Pg 32. Better Homes and Garden’s Baby Book.  Meredith Publishing, 1943

Ha.

I should have known from the book that told me my morning sickness was all in my head.  Puking my guts out every morning and feeling like chewed gum stuck to the bowl of a drinking fountain is not in my head.

This summer, whenever we were out in public where women wore bathing suits, I checked out women.  I was wondering when I would “be syphlike again” (32).  Not that I was that before.  I think my mother in law refers to me as a Viking princess (and I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a compliment or not). But still I wondered if other women had a figure like mine and, if one day, I will have my body back.  Not the high school girl one. I promise.  I like my curves.  But I would settle to my early twenties body; no longer rail thin, not close to perfect, but something I’m comfortable with, something that is healthy.

First off, no one with a toddler was sylphlike.  Even as they chased a running toddler this way or that, the moms had just a little more weight than they should.  The thinner ones had children in elementary school years or older.  Well, at least, I’m on target.

Second, I was amazed by what other women wore.  There were, of course, the I-secretly-hate-you bodies wearing tiny, cute bikinis as they sunbathed, watching their offspring from afar.  Women, with beautiful bodies, thin, with flat stomachs and nice legs, hid their bodies in one pieces and cover-ups.  Many overweight women wore coverups.  But my eyes were drawn to the slightly overweight women who chased their children, wearing bikinis.  Women with guts like mine wore bikinis.

Who are these women who have accepted their flaws, their after-children bodies?  And who were these women with hot bodies that chose to hide them instead of flaunt them?

Last week I joined a few of my friends for breakfast.  When the subject turned to my mother, we admitted our envy over her decision of surgery.  My mom can go get the fat in her belly removed and put into her breast to reshape it.  And oh, while we have you open,  we’ll just tuck in your belly as well.  Um.  Envy.  As we daydreamed over the possibility, one friend talked about how she would like the surgery.  The room grew silent as we concealed our hostile glares at our petite, thin mother of six-year twins.  “You don’t need it.”  “Yes, but I would like to have a pair of breasts.”

So there you have it, each one picking ourselves apart like a chicken dinner.  I have always wondered how personal feminism got.  Does subjection start in the bathroom as we stare into the mirror looking for flaws, things we want to change?  Is it ok to want to look better?  Or should we just enjoy who were are and accept our flaws like badges?

I don’t know.  Some days I’m ok with my pregnancy-ravaged body, taking comfort that I’m healthier than I was before I got pregnant.  Other days I remember how I had a flat stomach created with hundreds upon hundreds of crunches or the tiny, tight pot belly I had before the boys.  Then I just want to call a plastic surgeon and work out a deal on credit.   I don’t think I can keep questioning my looks.  It takes too much energy and effort.  I can strive for changing what I can (with healthy eating and exercise) and accept what I cannot change (blaming it on pregnancy and genetics).

At least, that’s what I say now.  Ask me tomorrow when I glance in the mirror.

Recap 8/26

1. I can’t hit my goal of posts if I don’t write.

2. Sometimes you just need sleep to help put everything in perspective.

3. The boys keep messing up my bedroom.  Their bedroom is tidy.  That’s irony.

4. When I feel like I have no control, I clean.  Which I think that’s weird.  Is that weird?

5. You know how when you decide to diet, you keep a log to see where you’re bad habits are.  I’m thinking about doing that for time.

6. Aidan wants to be just like his brothers.  He will get dressed when they do.  He will brush his teeth when they do.  He will comb his hair when they do.

7. Evan wants me to walk him to the gate of his school and no farther.  At least he turns and blows a kiss.

8. Sean starts school Monday.  Someone hand me a tissue.

9. The boys have learned about build-your-own frozen yogurt places.  And I was so close to my goal.

10. Dear Postal Employee- Please stop removing the weekly flyer ads and coupons from my mail box.  I get it’s small, and I go once a week.  But I’m a single parent with three small kids, and the mailbox is three doors down, a walk with three young children that takes 10 minutes with much whining, crying, yelling, and scolding.  Since I’m a single mother, I need those coupons.  I would understand if by some chance I had a stuffed mailbox, but since I only had three things of junk mail, that wasn’t the case.  So leave my adds.  Take the bills.

Things I learned this weekend

1. Given a choice between kicking a ball and playing with baby toys, many five-year-olds will play with baby toys.

2. Do not come to see my house after dinner.  It’s no longer clean.  In fact, it looks like a tornado hit it.  Four actually.

3. Up to a certain point, I clean as I go.  But those last ten to five minutes of fixing dinner, hell breaks loose in the kitchen.  Or just me.

4. 2 and half minutes is not long enough to get any cleaning done.  I must find a longer song.

5. God bless hair stylist that do baby’s hair.  They are patient and don’t mind the screaming.  But at least he wasn’t screaming in her ear.

6. My dad and I work well together.

7. I still make a good little tool monkey.  Fetch tools, look on the internet for how to do things, turn on car, slit my wrist trying to undo a screw that my smaller hands could get to, be told all about service holes after slitting wrist, take the blame for loosing a nut, accept apologies for not loosing said nut, dance a victory dance when all is said and done and negotiate a steak dinner for our efforts.

8. If we have nowhere to go, at 3:32pm, I realize I’m stuck.  Alone. With three young children.

9. Oh and it turns out this blog is three years old.  Which I forgot about it because I have other goals in mind.

Recap 6/10

1. Something is obviously trying to kick my butt.  What with the sore throat and the need for naps.  Screw you, stupid whatever you are.

2. Moving sucks.  But my friends rock.

3. Aidan has to stop trying to climb the stairs.  Something bad could happen.

4. The boys like playing hide-and-go-seek in the new house, which has only closets to hide in as of now.

5. Sean is pretty sure he can swim as well as Evan.  I’m pretty sure he can’t.

6. Even if he’s late going to bed by 15 minutes, Evan freaks out during the afternoon as though his life depended on every little thing.

7. Letting the boys go through there on toys to give things away was a foolish idea.

8. So I signed up for the Summer Reading Program for Adults at my local library, and I have read nothing since.  Not even blogs.  Sigh.

9. I’m totally feeling guilty leaving on a trip right before a move.

10. I’m sure after an hour on the plane without anyone calling me mom, the guilt will be gone.