Note To Self: My Husband Is Not The Patriarchy

I’m angry. Right now.

This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill anger. It’s the kind of seething anger that pops up every now and then without notice.

It’s anger without a reason.

This might sound crazy, but I’ll be perfectly happy one minute — and then ten minutes later I’m fuming. It literally comes from no where. There’s typically nothing that predicates it. It just happens.

I try to get rid of it — try to step away for a moment and breathe. The anger doesn’t happen all the time. But it happens enough. And I become bitter and resentful for an entire evening.

It’s truly awful.

It’s basically this — out of nowhere I become angry at the fact that I’m the woman in the house. And just to be clear — I LOVE being a woman. The anger stems from this feeling that there’s this unspoken, subconscious expectation of me based on my gender.

Don’t get me wrong — my husband is a feminist. A big one. He’s amazing. He pulls his weight. He supports me totally and completely. He loves his children fiercely.

Yet sometimes. Sometimes I can’t help but resent the fact that he’s a man (which I’m glad he is.) Although he cooks and helps with the cleaning, and splits night-time feedings 50/50 — I still feel short-changed as a woman.

Because I worry. I worry about every goddamn thing, and my beautiful husband looks so goddamned relaxed. The thing about Ernesto is that he knows how to kick his shoes off and read a book in the middle of chaos. He’s not being lazy — the man works his ass off. But he knows how to take a moment — a breather.

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And I don’t know how to do that. As a woman, it’s ingrained in me to care for everything — even when it’s not necessary. There is this deep-seated unspoken expectation within myself to run the household. To make sure the kids get their baths, to do endless loads of laundry, to maintain the kitchen, to wipe down the bathrooms, to change the sheets, to make appointments for the kids, to schedule playdates, to sign the kids up for activities, to make sure the kids are well dressed, etc, etc, infinity, etc.

My husband does a lot. Hell, dinner wouldn’t get made without him. I wouldn’t have any food in my house if it weren’t for his diligent shopping expeditions with the kids. And did I mention he brings home most of the money?

So why am I angry? Why am I complaining? I decided to have a family — I should be grateful. What the fuck is wrong with me?

Last year my husband bought me a stack of books on feminism from the used bookstore. It was a lovely gift. One of the books called, The Bitch in the House (trying to tell me something babe?) is a compilation of works by various female writers that highlight the daily trials and triumphs of being a woman. I didn’t read the entire book. As a matter of fact I only read the first 20 pages. It was difficult to read a book about angry women when I have so much anger of my own.

For god sakes. I just want to be content. And happy. Which I am most of the time — about seventy percent of the time if you want an exact number — a number I would like to improve on.

But the first essay I read in The Bitch in the House was a piece written by E.S. Maduro, titled Excuse Me While I Explode: My Mother, Myself, My Anger. She writes about her feminist boyfriend — a man who was the complete opposite of her traditional, sexist father. In it she explains her seething anger as she realized that even the most feminist men can’t escape male privilege — that these men with all their progressive ideas about women, still unknowingly bask in the glow of that ultimate advantage. And it’s infuriating.

Here’s an excerpt describing her anger upon returning home from work and seeing her boyfriend relaxing and downloading music at the computer in the midst of a messy, dirty house:

On such occasions I will be angry for thirty minutes, or maybe until I have eaten something. I will ruminate on the place of the woman in today’s “modern” society. I will cook and clean, and all the while think about how I am falling into the same trap of housework that my own mother fell into. As I scrub the kitchen sink, I will hear her voice saying, “You have choices,” and I will scowl at the concept of choice. I will decide that my modern, liberal, open-minded boyfriend, having been raised by a mother who did everything in the home (in addition to having a job), will never notice or care if his girlfriend or wife takes over those same domestic responsibilities. He is capable of doing all of them, but if they get done for him, my thoughts go, he might never even realize that they needed doing in the first place.

What she continues to say brings full circle the very conundrum that clutches me.

But then slowly, as I finish picking up the dirty clothes from the floor, I will think about his day, will remember that he works long hours, too — and that he loves music, that finding new albums to record off our computer is a way for him to relax, to wind down. It will occur to me that maybe he was waiting for me to come home so that we could eat together, that he didn’t know I would be arriving so late; that he was sincere, rather than just trying to avoid a fight, when he offered to cook for me {. . .} gradually my anger will start to wane, and in it’s place will come guilt and confusion and sadness.

Maduro talks about how she wants and chooses to be angry.

I feel frustrated by the guilt that accompanies asking Paul to take the initiative to run the dishwasher, to do the laundry without shrinking my sweaters, to buy groceries that are healthy. . . to ask for what my mother never would have, to be what she would have considered a “nag.” In wanting my home to be as well organized as my mother kept hers, I feel as though I must choose between doing everything myself and constantly asking Paul to do more.

And this is where the resentment comes in. I don’t want to have to ASK my husband to do more. Why would I do that when he already does so much? I don’t want to be a nag. But I have certain expectations of how a house should run — how a house should feel. As a woman, I know how to run a house. Why? Because that’s how I was brought up. My mom did everything — cooked, cleaned, and raised four children. I watched her do it all. And even though my mom is a feminist, I felt the unspoken expectation that this is what I would do when I grew up — raise children and run a household. As a matter of fact, it’s what I WANTED to do. As a little girl I dreamed of being a mother.

And here I am with four children. Cooking. Cleaning. Running a household. Except I have an amazingly helpful husband. And there are many duties that we try to split evenly. But I’m angry that it seems easier for him. Easier for him to get out of the house — or so I think. Couldn’t I go out for a drink at night if I really wanted to? Ernesto would totally support that. But I feel guilty for WANTING to — because, well — I have other responsibilities, and the dishes need to be done, and the laundry needs to be folded, and Kiera needs to clean her room.

And it’s so obvious that I’m doing this to myself. Ernesto isn’t to blame. I WANT to be angry — to bask in momentary bitterness. But I don’t want to WANT to be angry.

See how this is totally my problem?

My husband is not the patriarchy. He’s my partner. As a woman I’m lucky to have all the choices that I have today — even though we, as women, have a ways to go.

Ernesto says that I can relax too. Why can’t I sit down for a moment and read a chapter out of my book? Why can’t I draw or write for twenty minutes? Ernesto feels no guilt, no shame, no concern about taking that small amount of time for himself to recoup. And he shouldn’t. He deserves that. But that’s — in part — because he’s a man. Kicking his feet up is okay and smiled upon. Our society practically encourages it despite the fact that we’ve come a long way. There are just some things that don’t stress him out the way it stresses me out. BUT THAT’S NOT HIS FAULT. It’s this never-ending cycle that’s all just a load of shit because I’m doing this to myself.

Really.

So in the musical words of my nine-year-old daughter, maybe I should “let it go.”

Yes. I just said that.

I need to find a way to let go of this unrest I feel as a woman. This underlying rage isn’t doing me or my family any favors.

It’s time to move on from this stagnant place — time to be grateful for everything I have. Time to stop wallowing in these “first world problems.”

I think I’ll step outside and breathe in the fresh air. And just let all this shit go.

Just An Update

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I’m currently updating my site. But by all means, pour yourself a drink and browse around. Leave some commentary if you’d like! This site should be back to its new and improved self in no time. I hope!

Wherein My Son Tells Me He Wants To Be A Racist

Last night my 12 year old son asked me if I would rather be a racist or if I would rather be someone who suppresses religion. He was sitting on the couch in his black hoodie, looking at me with his big blue eyes — his young, blue eyes — and asked me this question with all the earnestness that a 12 year old can muster.

Which isn’t much — but the fact that he was asking such a serious question instead of sitting there with his arms crossed, glaring into space, made it seem like an earnest question indeed.

“I would rather die then be either.” I said.

He looked puzzled.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because hating someone based on the color of their skin — based on what they look like — is vile. And telling an individual or a group of people that they cannot worship or believe in the god or religion of their choice takes away one of our most fundamental rights as human beings.”

Then I asked him.

“Which would you rather be?”

“A racist.” he said.

A racist. My son would rather be a racist.

I looked at him as I would look at one of my patients coding at work. And I thought — this has got to be fixed, STAT.

So as a nurse rushes to get a crash cart — I rushed to grab my laptop. And with the world of education via google images at my finger tips I showed him the horror of racism, prejudice and religious suppression. From the lynchings of black people in the early 20th century, to Rosa Parks, to the march on Washington. From the horrors of Auschwitz with piles of dead bodies to photos of cherubic babies and children prior to their fate of being thrown into ovens. And a photo of a young jewish girl rescued from a concentration camp — all skin and bones with a vacant look in her eyes.

It was some hardcore education. An education that he hasn’t been getting in school because the pictures are considered too disturbing.

He put his head on my shoulder and said:

“I can’t believe I asked that question. I can’t believe I said that.”

And I considered my job done for the moment. Because teaching kids tolerance and empathy is continuous. It’s a job that I thought I had been doing, but had not really and truly succeeded at until last night. A job that perhaps I’ve taken for granted as we live in a very culturally and racially diverse area. I’d assumed my son accepted everyone equally — and maybe he does. Maybe he just didn’t have a full grasp of what racism means — but now he has a much better idea — and it’s a topic my husband and I will discuss with him more frequently.

But then.

As I was pitter-pattering around the house this morning, I decided to go through my second grader’s school papers.

And I came across this.

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It says: Obama is the best symbol because he lets black people vote. Because he is black. 

In addition to some spelling practice, I think we are in need of another history lesson tonight.

A Letter To Facebook

Dear Facebook:

You’re the most annoying place to be when a national tragedy occurs. Why do you bring out all the ignorant, ranting idiots? This is a sincere question, my dear Facebook. A very sincere question indeed. I understand it’s a platform for people to express opinions and give updates about their day to day lives…

… but why? Why did you have to reveal to me that this world is full of shit-for-brains people, especially during a time of national grief? Or I guess, more importantly, why did you have to reveal to me that I’m FRIENDS with these people?

I’m not speaking to you for a while, Facebook. I just can’t deal.

Have a nice week dealing with all the dip-shits.

Sincerely,

Reasonable Person

Imported

I just imported a ton of old blog posts from when I was pregnant with Beckett. Damn. That shit is OLD (circa 2010). But it’s very awesome to have in one place. And it’s nice to see what was going through my mind when I was pregnant.

What a crazy time.

Letter From a Touchy Pregnant Lady

Dear People Who Look At Me Like I’m Crazy For Having A Third C-Section:

I know you’re just curious and you probably don’t mean to be rude.  I’m a big believer in natural childbirth myself, and tried to do so with my first baby.  After 36 hours of labor (without an epidural) and only getting to 4cm and -3 station, I was exhausted, okay?  I ended up giving birth to a 10 pound, 10 oz baby boy via c-section.  Yes, that’s a big baby.  He was healthy and I recovered well.

As for my second pregnancy and why I chose to have a c-section… it’s really nobodies business.  Yes, in hindsight I wish I had tried for a VBAC, but my situation was personal and I don’t wish to share it with the world. I had good reason to go with the c-section and let’s just leave it at that.  In the end, I had a healthy nine pound baby girl.

And yes, can you fucking believe it?  I’m having a third c-section. I must be a victim to the over-medicalization of birth… but at this point it is what it is.  I probably could have tried for a VBAC but my only luck in this area for a VBAC after two c-sections is getting a mid-wife and giving birth at home.  I support home births… and actually encourage them… but I’m not willing to risk any complications that may occur as a result of my two previous c-sections.

And yes.  I’m aware that c-sections are major surgery.  I know this. I recovered from them myself.  I also know that each c-section gets riskier, but there are also risks involved in having a VBAC after two c-sections.    So think what you may.

Also, to the people who ask me: “Why are all your babies SO big?!” Because they are.  They just are.  It’s genetics my friends.  And if I DID have gestational diabetes, it’s none of your business.  I have never gone up to a woman who had a tendency to have small babies and asked, “Why are all your babies SO small?!” Because it’s rude.  Because she may just have small babies.  And anyway, it’s none of my business.

I know a lot of it is curiosity, and I know most of you are nice peeps and all.  But perhaps you should think before you speak… and just you know… stop judging.

Sincerely,
Sonja the pregnant lady having ANOTHER c-section and victim of the over medicalization of childbirth

Beckett Update

So I’m 37 weeks today.  I had a check-up yesterday and I found out that he’s dropped and I’m 50% effaced (for those who don’t know, it just means that the cervix is thinning out and getting ready for dilation).  No dilation yet though.  Last week I wasn’t effaced at all.  I’ve been having pretty strong and consistent Braxton Hicks contractions for the past few days, so that’s whats doing the trick, I think. Not that any of this really matters because I’m having a section anyway.  But it means we’re getting close, and that’s exciting.

They also did another sono because I told them that I had felt reduced movement on Tuesday.  I didn’t call the doctor’s office because when I actually ate something and rested, I felt about 20 movements in an hour.  You want to feel at least 10 movements in an hour… so I wasn’t too worried.  Then on Wednesday he was moving like crazy, so that was reassuring.  Anyway, because I go to an extremely intervention-happy OB/GYN, they wanted to do a sono… which I thought unnecessary but whatevs.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that no hospital in the DC area will do a VBAC on a two-time cesarean mama… so might as well just stick with the hyper-intervention practice.  So they did the sono to make sure he’s doing okay, and yup… he’s doing okay.  The pics they gave me were pretty blurry so they’re not worth posting, but my sweet baby boy was sucking his thumb!  He was trying to stretch out and was pushing his head against my cervix.

Hey kid.  You’re not coming out that way.  I wish you were.  So stop it.  You’re making me uncomfortable.

I really can’t wait to meet him.

Fun With Photos

We went to Glen Echo Park about a month ago.  It was hot.  It was miserable.  We stayed for only an hour.  But it’s a cool park.  It’s old and probably really eery at night.  So I took the liberty of making some of the pics look all scary.  Because it’s close to Halloween and all.  
Deep dark forest.

Ryan.

The totally awesome carousel.

Kiera on the carousel, but I made her look all freaky.

Weeeeee!

Fancy carousel.

All done.

She’s going to eat you alive.

Lunch.

Crystal Pool.  All that’s left is the entrance.  Eeeeery.

I’m pretty sure they saw a ghost.

This one is just a weird picture.