Archive for the ‘gender roles’ Category

Beloved is in graduate school.  He attends a pretty cool low-residency program in Vermont specializing in children’s literature.  He’s doing really well, and is accomplishing VERY long-standing goals.  However, we (you may have noticed) do not live in Vermont.

Because it is low-residency, he only has to attend school twice a year, for 10 days.  January and July.

Last January, I was such a baby-lawyer, I could barely open my eyes.  I was a little busy, and it made me nervous when he was gone.  What if something comes up?  What if I get a new assignment?  But it was fine, and I think I left at 4:30 every day.

Last July – the girls were in the Middle of the Country with the Ex, and Beloved and I had already started our moving process.  There were no difficulties.

This January – total different picture.

I’m fully engaged in a case that is culminating this month in every way.  Discovery is closing, summary judgment is being filed, experts are being hired, court hearings are happening.  It’s insane.  INSANE.  And I’m heavily involved in every aspect of it.

I was already nervous – that getting out of work at a reasonable hour was going to be difficult.  Of all months, this is the one where deadlines happen.  I was nervous.

Then, ha ha!  What made me think I knew what nervous was?

It looks like I have the great honor of traveling to a very different part of the country to tend to one of the many aspects of the case that is my Life, even though it’s a bit beyond my seniority level.  It just so happens to be during Beloved’s absence (and over days that are (a) a national holiday, and (b) inauguration day.  Feh.)

At first, it looked like it was just one day, and it was a day that was a school holiday, so I knew that the kids would be fine with friends.  Then it ended up two days, and two long days – long enough that once you add in travel, it may affect 4 days.  Yikes.  Beloved’s only gone for 10 days — I’m having issues for HALF of them?  Unbelievable.

I was going to post about how my decision to make my community one of my many priorities with my time becomes oh-so-valuable in times of need.  I have friends that I can ask for a hand – friends who I’ve given a hand to in the past, and who know that I’m an active and engaged member of our community.

But now, it seems like my needs are too big, and instead, I’m turning to family.  I’ve begged my mother to (re)arrange her work schedule so she can come while I’m gone.

E is mad at me – she overheard me talking to a friend who is my back-up plan, and insists that I hadn’t told her the whole story about next week before telling the friend.  She is mad about the options I have considered for her while I’m gone.  Some friends are out of favor, and others are just plain old “annoying.”  Humorously, she thinks she should be left home alone.

It was hard not to laugh at that one.

All in all, the stress levels are high.  I keep thinking about how, in the past, I’ve looked forward to certain things – or dreaded them – and then they happen.  And before I know it, it’s behind me.

I keep telling myself … it will be January 22nd before I know it.  Beloved will be home, and this difficult time will have passed.  i have a lot of friends.  I am very lucky.  The girls are well-loved, and people are happy to be supportive.  We live in an awesome community, where people are nearby and hyper-willing.

It will be okay.

And I will miss my Beloved.

And I am sad that I should be more supportive, and excited with him about his exciting time, and instead, I’m kinda on the verge of tears over my own stress and fears.  He gives so much, and deserves better.

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This is becoming a familiar feeling.

Where I avoid the news – paper, broadcast, internet – all damned day.  I do it purposefully.  If I accidentally click on my usual news sites, I quickly steer away.  If a blogger I enjoy dares speak of the AVOIDED, I again, click away.

Even when 70% of the stories ask if it was “soon enough” or whether the lead was anything more than negligible.  Even if they trash her for her negativity and her attempts at re-writing the rules:








I don’t even know that I can put my finger on why.

Perhaps it’s because I can’t put my finger on WHY Hillary won’t just fucking crash & burn.  I don’t understand why people like her.  Why they vote for her despite her shittiness – the way she comports herself, the bullshit “misstatements” that she makes, her quasi-republicanism, her negativity, her miscategorizations.

Maybe I am just unhappy.  Unhappy to think that it’s true that a Black Man still can’t be president in this country. (And yes, I fully believe that a very large part of the results in Pennsylvania are due to racism.  The polls that I heard a week ago and two weeks ago were very racist, and very clear that the “rural” residents of the state would NOT vote for an African-American.)  And that a member of his own party will exploit this fact.  Will revel in it.

Maybe I am unhappy because once again, I am apparently worlds away from the vibe of this country.

I don’t want to let go of the hopefulness that something different could happen NOW.  In the wake of the crap that we’ve been handed over the past 8 years.  But not only does Hillary’s apparent semi-popularity dash my hopefulness — so does Obama’s lack of remarkability in the past weeks.  I am not sure I would go so far as to say he was unfaithful to the image I had at the start – the promise he offered and reinforced with his outstanding speech on race – but he’s stopped being remarkable.

I want remarkable.

I still see no sign that if he makes it to the white house, we will have more of the same.

You know,

Bush – Clinton – Bush – Clinton


I know that the actual numbers make the pattern hugely unlikely.  But I wanted him to blaze through.  I wanted for us all to stand up and clap and shout as he made his way.  I didn’t want us to be clamouring for public perception and crossing our fingers that her bullying doesn’t work.

So I’m squirming.  But I’m squirming while I continue to donate, and while waiting for the discomfort to go away so I can start to hope again.

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I had previously mentioned that J was having some trouble with her “BFF.”  Things have continued to be a roller coaster ride.  We have done the following since my last post:

  • discussed the issue with BFF’s mom (who I have been quite friendly with for the past 3+ years)  It was 1000% fruitless.
  • discussed the issue with J and BFF’s teacher
  • spoken with J at length
  • Read books (Beloved finished “Odd Girl Out,” I am in the process right now)
  • Listened to J as she cried that she “broke up with” BFF, because she was so sick of it all.
  • Listened to J as she complained that BFF — now only “F” (for friend) hasn’t stopped the games
  • Listened to J as she explained fight after fight
  • Spoken (coincidentally) with other parents who had the same problems with BFF, only in 2nd grade
  • Took J, BFF, and 2 other friends to the pool to prove to the girls that they could still be friends, and be friends with other girls, and all will be well.
  • Watched as BFF pulled out all the stops to manipulate the other girls at the pool, also scaring me, because when she was hiding behind the stairwell to see how long it would take the other girls to go looking for her, I was scared to death that I lost someone’s kid.
  • And, finally, just this evening, wrote to J’s teacher and the principal of the school to insist that J’s desk be moved.
  • Also this evening:  counseled J to speak with the 3 other girls caught up in this nasty disgusting poisonous web, and to tell them that she will no longer be playing with BFF at school, that she knows how much they hate “having to choose” between J and BFF when they are fighting, and that she will therefore play with others, and will call them on the weekend to get together outside of school.  I hope she has the guts to do it, and to stick with it.
It is so curious to me how people get the power to manipulate others like this girl has done.  I’ve spoken with other parents.  They don’t understand why their daughters are “scared” of BFF to the point of coming home distraught that they “weren’t allowed to play with J.”  They’ve told their mothers, “I would rather play with J, but I’m so scared of being on BFF’s bad side.”  I told J how perplexed I was, but stopped short of telling her she should gather them all and convince them to stop putting up with it along with her.  Because getting them all to gang up on BFF is no better behavior than what BFF is doing.
Which is why I told my daughter to extricate HERSELF from the situation, and assure the other girls that she was not asking them to choose, and will love to spend time with them outside of school.
This is my honest belief:  BFF really loves J, and really wants to be with her all the time.  She would be happy to be with ONLY J — all of the time.  J is a natural friend to all, and does not want to be friends with only one person – and never has wanted that.  This makes BFF feel threatened.  What’s worse, BFF sees how much every one else is drawn to J, and it makes her feel insecure.  While J can attract others to her just be being her funny, happy self, BFF finds herself competing with that through threats and manipulations.   The end result?
A miserable 4th grade full of girls.

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I spoke with the other mom.  I was clear about my goals – I was careful not to spew accusations.

J sort of changed the landscape, because at school today – she got up the guts to say “I don’t want to be your BFF anymore.”

The reaction was tearful silence.

instead of calling the mom to say “your daughter is mean to my daughter” I had to call and say “I think my daughter hurt your daughter’s feelings.”

I tried to explain my hopes that our involvement – as loving and involved parents – can prevent our children from devolving into she-devils.

I think I’m optimistic.

I made it clear that if I am 100% wrong (I don’t think I am, and as of right now, either does the other mom) and my daughter is actually a meany-butt, I want to know, and I will deal with it.  I received similar promises in exchange.

I plan to organize a group outing for Saturday – several girls – including J and the ex-BFF – to go to the pool or to a movie or something.

I have to believe that kids are not evil, and that with a little support and encouragement, and a little bit of reinforcement that we are good people – we respect each other – they will follow suit.  They can watch their mothers talk, and they can watch us push aside our instincts – not our good instincts, but our mean-nasty-rip-her-throat-out-instincts — they can, too.  They can take deep breaths and realize that compromise and cooperation serve our interests more than do domination and castration.

Oh wait – we’re girls.

We can’t be castrated.

But whatever.

I want a KIND child.  I want a respectful child.

But a kind, respectful child who is no-one’s doormat.


(and certainly not the doormat of her nasty-ass politician husband – Jesus, Sue – did you have to be so damned inflammatory?)

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I’m  sure Beloved would “get more sex” — if he weren’t so damned tired all the time from shopping and cooking and picking up kids and cleaning that he does.


But seriously – why is it still framed in these terms?  Men “get more sex”?  What about us?  Do we “have to endure  more sex”?  Do we “give men more gifts?”  What the FUCK are we doing?  Why doesn’t it say “when couples are healthier, couples are healthier”?  (i.e., when they have a true partnership, they have a healthy sex life).

When will the sexism STOP???

Dude!  I like sex!  I have a vagina, and I like sex!!!

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Last Saturday (or the one before?) was mine and Beloved’s wedding anniversary. Whenever Groundhog Day was – that was our day.

Before our anniversary, we talked about what we would do. Perhaps I asked. He responded, “Well, it’s not that big of a deal to us, right? Isn’t that the way we’ve always felt?”

There was a little sadness in me. Because while I know that we have always played down “marriage” and our participation in the game, we are married now. I am glad about that. I love him. I’m glad he’s my husband. I think he is such a true, real, fantastic partner. And I thought it would have been nice if we had a babysitter, and we could go out and just gaze into each other’s eyes. (I must admit – I am capable. I’m capable of being hugely giddy over my adoration for Beloved. It’s scary sometimes, really.)

But alas, it was a busy weekend.  I had work to do, E had a school project to do, the house was a mess.  Beloved was working frantically on school work.  He took the day of our anniversary to work at the library for the day, and was planning to be home as dinner was going on the table, at 7 p.m.

I did cook a very nice pot roast for dinner that night.

After dinner, I went looking for him.  He was hiding … wrapping a gift.

A gift!!  But I didn’t get a gift!  I was going to stores looking for circuitry items, and reviewing documents, and roasting a cow!  I thought our anniversary was “no big deal?”  Why a gift????

The gift was sweet – he went with the paper theme of our first anniversary.  I told him I felt like a heel – he told me to think nothing of it, that I’ve done enough for him already (like he hasn’t done enough for me already).

Then Valentine’s Day rolls around.

We never have done Valentine’s Day.  We always did Chinese New Year, instead.  Some of this was timing – when we were living in CA, the girls had a 4 day weekend at President’s Day which they tended to spend with their father, and that just so happened to be the same weekend as the Chinese New Year festivals in San Francisco.  So Valentine’s came with a quick kiss, and Chinese New Year became our Valentine’s Day.

One year, since we moved back to New England, we made it to New York’s Chinese New Year celebration for a romantic weekend.

This year, once again because of work and school and kids’ projects, I only heard it an odd chatter out of the corner of my ear “gung hay fat choy!”  Crap.  Another holiday missed.

So here’s Valentine’s Day.  The kids are too old to make cards (J still brought some purchased cards with lollipops taped to them), work had me running more ragged than ever before, life is just insane.  I’m on my way to work thinking, “Wow, this is such a non-holiday for us.”  We had, however, discussed how we were going to make our girls feel special – Beloved got them chocolates from their favorite neighborhood specialty chocolate shop, and I brought the home roses.

(What the fuck?  Since when does it cost $50 to bring roses home for your kids?  Since you buy them from the florist in the lobby of a fancy-pants downtown office building, that’s when.  Apparently.)

I had a meeting that morning.  I spent a lot of time out of my office.

When I returned, there was, sitting on my desk, a gorgeous vase full of tulips.  I was stunned.  When I first saw the box, I even wondered if it was from my father.  Beloved has never sent me flowers before.

The card was signed by all 3 of my loves, because Beloved is not greedy at all.

At least there was a fancy chocolate shop on my way home, and I could save face.

These are two of the 1,000 ways that I suck.  I don’t think ahead, I don’t plan, and I end up a lousy wife.  I was thinking later in the day on Valentine’s Day, as I was figuring out how to scramble on the way home to prove that I don’t suck 100%, that I have become a shitty husband.

I was at lunch yesterday with some colleagues, and the other woman said she got flowers on Valentine’s Day, and I said, “You know, we don’t really do Valentine’s Day” and the man interjected to say, “us either,” and I went on to say, “but my husband surprised the crap out of me and sent me flowers.”  To which the man slumped over in dismay — thinking he sucks, too, because he did not get anything for his wife.

But it is typically a man who does that – who takes someone’s word for it that “it’s no big deal” just to find out later that they let someone down.

Although – to be fair – Beloved did not seem at all let down on our anniversary.

But I want to be better!  I want to find the PERFECT thing every year.  Something unique, something wonderful, something that shows how well I know him, and how much I adore him.

That’s going to take some planning.

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Holy shit.Work is just –  INSANE.I feel like if anyone who works in a big firm reads this, they will just laugh at me:Oh my god!  I billed 67 hours this past week!Yeah, it felt like a lot.  I’ve admitted to the fact that I’ve been spoiled up until now.Work and kids were hugely intertwined over the weekend; but I got a lot done.It’s been crazy but good.I know my weaknesses – they haven’t changed.I need to slow the fuck down.  I need to double check myself.I need to take less on.It’s hard, though.  Especially as a beginner.  Us newbies had a hard time getting a full plate.   I kept getting assignments with the promise that it would be “oh-so-busy” and instead, the matter was stayed for one reason or another.  So I’d ask for another.  And that one would be stayed.So I ended up with a list of 6 or 7 cases that I was on.On about Christmas time, all stays were lifted.I’m now the world’s most busy-est woman.  [oh, i guess i know that’s not true.]I don’t really mind.I just wish my husband was home.I miss his adorable face, and his apple-cheeks, and his overall presence.

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I am between projects at work.

I work high up in a building, in an office that faces the water. It’s the Boston Harbor, just as it leads into the ocean.

There are boats, and there are airplanes (lots) and sometimes there are little white caps, letting me know it’s a windy day outside.

Today, there were also snow flurries.

It was really pretty, and led to a lot of pondering on my part.

At home and at work, I’ve been seeing a large rise in men who are taking on more and more of the household responsibilities. And, necessarily, less of the income-providing responsibilities.

A lot of them say that they’ve “decided to write.” Or perhaps they’re “working on some projects.” Or “pursuing their art.” Or “getting a business off the ground.”

And I feel sad for them.

Why can’t they just say, “I’m tending to my family and to my home” ???  Well, partly because they will be chastized … chastized for being lazy, for being mooches … I don’t think it’s fair.

Feminism, to me, means that women are not required to do certain things just because their anatomy includes a vagina:

  • I don’t *have* to cook every night.
  • I don’t know how to knit, and that’s okay.
  • Even though it’s fun sometimes to wear a skirt – it’s okay to wear pants, too. To work, even.
  • I can say, “sometimes, I fart.”
  • I can go to law school.
  • I can work in a law firm.

But is it just me? Is it just the possessors of vaginas who benefit?

I don’t think it should be.

If I’m going to do these things that boys used to do – exclusively – shouldn’t they also be allowed to do the things I used to do – exclusively?

  • Go grocery shopping
  • manage the family’s healthcare appointments
  • discovery new and exciting recipes (post forthcoming – Beloved ROCKS!)
  • be home to greet the children when school lets out
  • manage carpools
  • attend soccer games
  • get the kids off to school, because their spouse left the house at 6 a.m. (groan)

Because to me – feminism is not about (as some may think) hating men or being men. It’s not about women taking over the world, or about women passing off their responsibilities to strangers.

To me, and I think to my husband, feminism is about men and women being able to do what comes naturally to them, and partnering with someone who has a complementary nature, and working together to be sure that all the bases are covered. Regardless of their anatomy.
I don’t want my daughters feeling that because they are girls, they have to be mothers or teachers or nurses. I want the world at their feet.

I don’t want them to grow up to think that if a house is going to run well, it MUST be a woman directing the process.

I want them to know that expecting a man to help with household and childcare (if they choose to have children) duties is reasonable.

I am not sure feminism is all about the women. I think it’s also about the men.

Or at least it should be.

It is about whether or not we have to stick to certain pre-defined duties, and pre-defined roles.

And I think we should all have the freedom to discover where we are most comfortable – without judgment.

Unfortunately, I think the ONLY people who currently do not have to deal with judgment are the men who choose to work.

  • Women who choose to work
  • Women who choose not to work
  • Men who choose not to work

—- we all suffer.

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