Today, It’s About Hate (which is really about love)

I grow more and more weary and wary of the state of the Unites States, almost daily. I have lived on a coast my entire life, and except for a few years have lived in a city, so much of what terrifies me is happening in an America I feel increasingly distant from. The news is filled with stories of hate. People who claim they know what God wants, a notion that 40 years ago would have landed them in a mental institution not in Congress…

People who seem to believe that God is a white, American, gun-toting man who knows that (armed) rich white men should be running things, while the poor get poorer, minorities are so obstructed form participating in our “democracy” they give up, and where women should really go back to keeping their mouths shut, and their wombs open and ready. No birth control, no access to abortion, and no assistance for the children you must bear, and if you don’t want children, don’t have sex, BUT, you really should submit to any man who wants you, or he may kill you.

I see people who claim to be Christians insisting that God Hates Gays, when I can’t think of one religion that believes God hates anyone. God may judge us, may find us wanting or falling down, or even worthy of punishment, but not because we love, no matter who that is.  I can’t imagine a God who would hate anyone of us, even the most horrible and reprehensible individuals on the scale of a Hitler or Jeffery Dahmer. I hope there is a special place if Hell for the likes of them, but more as a system of accountability than hatred.

Hating or disdain for women though seems even more widespread than homophobia, and much more insidious. I know plenty of men who though they may not actually hate women, certainly don’t like them. These men though don’t even understand that they don’t like women, because they do want to have sex with them, and they mistake desire for regard. Look at all the groups and clubs and societies created around denigrating women. The PUA, the PUAHaters, Return of Kings etc. whose mission is to glorify men and shame, diminish and objectify women who they claim they love. Give me a break!

In my life I have been fortunate to be raised by a father who admired, respected and had actual friends that were women. I have had teachers, and professors, bosses and peers who truly like women, who actually consider them people. I have also dealt with men who claimed they respected women, but whose actions told another story. Fortunately none of these men resorted to violence (that I know of) but unfortunately they made things very difficult for me and other women around them. While others looked on, but didn’t see what was right in front of them.

Sexism is deep and prevalent everywhere. From comments about Hillary Clinton’s age, or impending grandchild, to  comments about every pound gained or lost by women in Hollywood pantheon.  Women are judged on appearance, style, and their boyfriends/husbands and then maybe their substance, in that order. Do you think Angelina Jolie would have the level of adoration and accolades for her charitable work (which is noble) if she was less jolie?

Would I be writing this is I were a thin and gorgeous woman? Hard to say, but I hope that my brain, my integrity and my powers of observation would not be diminished in any way were I prettier!

As long as we perpetuate the notion that women are less than, other and creatures to be conquered, and bested, seduced and bedded, into subservience, men will feel justified in harming, raping, killing and objectifying us.

 

 

It’s All About Love

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daily offering in Indonesia

Last night my daughter and I saw a movie that like many movies was all about love. This is not a movie review, of Million Dollar Arm. though we both really enjoyed the movie, it is a reflection inspired by it. I love a movie in which the characters evolve and grow, become better people, and realize what’s really important  to them. JB is not a bad guy, just a guy chasing the right thing the wrong way. It takes him a long time to realize that love is the key to getting what he’s chasing. This isn’t much of a spoiler, it is pretty clear from the start…

Love is something so many of us struggle with. Love and it’s partner vulnerability, are what often stand in the way of finding and creating love in our own lives. I know they are for me. Throughout my life I’ve experienced so many relationships in which I loved and was not loved back. The two longest relationships of my life were with people who loved me, while I was ambivalent. In both cases I was tired of being alone, tired of pining for someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t return my ardor. I knew I was taking the role of all those lovers who hadn’t fully been there for me, and though I thought that was a preferable situation, I was terribly wrong. Of course both ended badly.

Now again I am alone. I have been alone for longer than I care to admit even to myself. I have my daughter (half the time) and so my life is filled with love, and yet with no partner, no romance, no kisses, I am deeply alone. Besides sex, which of course I want, I long for someone to talk to late at night, someone to help me fix things around the house, and in my head, I want another opinion about the color of the deck, if I’m overreacting, or if I look pretty. I want company and intimacy and private jokes and petty annoyances and someone to hold my hand during the scary parts of the movie, or life. I want love. 

Finding love is tough under the best of circumstances, and by circumstances I mean if you’re beautiful and thin. I am neither, and though I could be thinner (theoretically) I have tried to be thinner for almost my entire life, without much success. I saw a video yesterday in which a woman described her body as soft and luscious, and I wept. Could someone ever see me that way, and even more important, could I ever see myself that way? Would someone really see me, and love me if I could really see and love myself? Talk about vulnerability!

It amazes me that I understand that it’s all about love. That letting go of most of the other things we chase, and embracing ourselves, and others is the path to everything else we want. And yet I hold back, hoping love will come to me, not willing to risk going out and finding it.

 

 

Perfect Parenting

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Tinkerbell

So many people I know publicly beat themselves up for their parenting fails. These are people who not only love their kids, but show up for them, all the time. Children, especially little ones are magical. I look at this photo of my daughter at age five dressed as Tinkerbell for Halloween, and I am filled with longing for the sweet, little child she was, and proud of the young woman she is becoming. Her life has had its ups and downs, and difficulties due to me, and to my ex, including our split. I haven’t given her a perfect life, and frankly I haven’t even tried. It’s hard enough just getting to school to pick her up on time.

Before I became a parent I had a lot of ideas about what it meant to be someone’s mom. Based on the parenting I received, from a series of women, including my mother, my maternal grandmother, my stepmother, plus some surrogates along the way, I swore to always or never do certain things. And then I was (literally) presented with a 13 month old baby, and there was no on ramp. When you give birth, or adopt a newborn there is some time to adjust to your new role while your sweet little bundle is mainly just that, a bundle who cries and poops and sleeps, and yes, I understand you’re exhausted, and sleep deprived, but there’s not a lot you can screw up yet.

Once I started actually being someone’s mommy I found myself making decisions and taking actions in ways I hadn’t foreseen. She was the center of my world, my consciousness, and my schedule. I worked full time, but every moment with her was filled with wonder, and mistakes. In her first month with me she dumped a bottle of Pine Sol on herself and the rug, she fell and split her lip, cried herself to sleep while I stood outside her door, and I left her in the care of others. She was fine.

I could fill a large book with everything I did wrong, forgot or screwed up, hurt her feelings, or disappointed her… And still she is lovely, and kind and smart and simply wonderful, and she is those things not because of the balls I dropped, but because through it all I was present for her. I never hid in shame from her when I messed up. We talked about it, I let her tell me how mad, scared or upset she was. She has a strong belief in herself because she know without a doubt that I love her and that no matter what happens I will be there for her. That I want her to be who she truly is and wants to be.

She has seen me screw up and carry on. She understands accountability because I hold myself accountable to her, and to others. She hears me apologize without making excuses (most of the time), she sees me fix the things I’ve done wrong, she understands that there isn’t much that will happen that can’t be fixed as long as we bring it into the light and talk about it. I believe my job is to help her grow up and explore who she is, and know she will always have a safe place with me, whether she is a nine year old with a friend who betrayed her, a sixteen year old getting her heart broken, or a twenty year old struggling with college life and the pressures she feels.

If we appear perfect to our children, if we never show them our foibles and weaknesses, if we catch them each time they fall we raise needy, entitled individuals with poor problem solving skills. We will also make them believe that there is such a thing as perfect parenting setting them up to see themselves as failures when they become parents who are imperfect just like us. Next time you get the date or time wrong for a birthday party, apologize, and own it. You will be teaching a much better lesson by doing that, than you do by beating yourself up and acting like this makes you a lousy parent. Your child needs you to be truly present not perfect!