By Heather O.
I don’t know if all of our readers blog over at FMH, but here are two links Lisa posted over there that I enjoyed and thought I’d link too over here. They are good mommy and women topics, and frankly, I wished I had thought of them myself. But in the spirit of non-poaching (Steve Evans, I hope you are seeing this!) I will not bring the discussion over here, even though I REALLY want to. Happy reading.
The Mother Myth
What I’d rather hear about women
By Heather O.
It’s such a sad and pathetic story, I just have to blog about it. Sit back, relax, because this could take some time to tell.
It all started in January, when my SIL was discussing a trip out here to D.C. Her husband had never been to D.C., and since we have a “guest suite” in our palatial abode (aka an inflatable queen bed we can set up in my son’s playroom), they decided it might be nice to come out. I said, “You should come out when something cool is going on in D.C., like the Cherry Blossom Festival, or the White House Easter Egg Hunt.” Well, the thought of going to the White House and hunting eggs was just too cool, so they scheduled their trip to come over Easter.
And so the day after Easter dawned–cold, and rainy. “Oh, pooh-it’s just a little rain–let’s go anyway!” My parents, who live in the D.C. area as well, accompanied us. Well, the White House had shut down all the streets to cars anywhere near the place , so we had to take the subway downtown. As we hiked through the streets, the “little rain” turned steadily into a downpour. But hey, we had two kids who needed some Easter Eggs, so we pressed on.
Finally we got to the White House, and literally, just as we got there (I am not making this up) some very official looking people started putting up barricades and saying, “You can’t go through.” Hey, we got kids here, we’ve been walking for a half an hour through the rain, we’ve got tickets! Sorry, the White House Easter Egg Roll (I learned later that you couldn’t actually hunt the eggs, you could just roll them down a little course) was officially called because of rain. But, they said, they would be giving out the goody bags free on the Ellipse of the White House.
At this point my father said, “Let’s go home.”
My mother said, “O.k., let’s go.”
My BIL said, “Wait, let’s get a picture.”
My SIL said, “My feet have never been this wet.”
I said, “Jacob needs some Easter eggs!”
Jacob, safe in his “space suit bubble”, aka the rain cover that kept him and his stroller miraculously dry in the deluge, screamed, “I want to go to the Easter Egg hunt!” Multiple times.
My nephew, a lad of 15 months, said nothing.
So my dad turned around and went home, and the rest of trekked through the ever rising rivers in the street to get to the ellipse, where we found a complete madhouse of people, all looking wet and grumpy, and no goody bags in sight. We finally pushed our way through some very wet gravel (Have you ever tried to push a stroller through wet gravel? I actually did feel a little like Elastigirl at the end of it) to get to an official looking table with stuff on it, only to find some official looking people packing the stuff quickly away and saying, “Clear the area, people!”
At this point, my BIL said, “I think we can go.”
My SIL said, “Let’s just go.”
My mother said, “I’ve had enough.”
I said, “My pants are so wet, I think they’re falling off.”
My son screamed, “I want to go to the Easter Egg Hunt!”
My nephew again said nothing. But my SIL had enclosed him in his own special “stroller rain apron”, so he didn’t have much to complain about. He was definitely the dryest one in the bunch.
We turned around again, and headed for a gate that was opening. The familiar “Clear the area, people” was heard, and a large truck full of bags headed through the gate. At last–the goody bags! The free stuff that would redeem this whole miserable experience! “Hey,” I said hopefully to a man dressed in combat green, “are those the goody bags?”
“No ma’am, those are bags full of trash.”
At this point, I try to get through the still open gate, but Green Man stopped me. “Can’t get through here, ma’am. You’ll have to go around.”
I think that was the breaking point for my mother, a women out in a freakin’ hurricane who could have cared less about the dumb goody bags in the first place because she gets dragged to this event by some kid or another every year. She yelled at Green Man, “C’MON! It’s packed back there, we can’t get through that crowd of people, for pete’s sake let us through the open gate!”
I think Green Man was just so stunned at hearing a civilian speak to him in such a manner, because he did not protest as I eased the gate open enough to get through.
As we were leaving, I saw a woman I knew. She had trekked out with her three children, and asked us if we were leaving. When I told her we were, she said, “Well, I’m staying. I didn’t make all this effort for nothing. I want some free stuff!” at which point her very wet young son screamed, “No, No I want to go home!” and started seriously wailing on his mother with his completely drenched rainbow umbrella. I saw that and thought, “Yeah, I feel like hitting somebody with an umbrella,too.”
To make a long story short(too late?), we trudged back through the mud to the subway, and eased our saddened hearts with a hot lunch, dry sweats, and a hot chocolate from Starbucks. And then Jacob hid all the plastic eggs we had in our living room, closed his eyes, counted to 10, and soon informed me that he found EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HIMSELF! At last he had his Easter Egg hunt.
In the Washington Post the next morning, the front page had a picture of a very wet, very sad looking child being held by an equally wet looking father with the caption, “Easter eggs washed out”, or something like that. The picture captured the whole sorry event perfectly.
I’m just glad they didn’t come out for the Cherry Blossom festival. As one tourist put it, “There’s the ONE tree in this whole freakin’ town that has some blossoms on it. Take a picture of it so we can go.”
By Heather O.
I’m not very good at math. In fact, that may be an understatement. I stink at math. It was always my worst subject, and I struggled with it in highschool, and as an adult. When I took the GRE for graduate school, I had to have a personal tutor help me prepare, and we spent the entire time working on the math portion of the test. Lots of tears, frustrated sighs, and concentrated practice sessions later, I managed to scrape a high enough score to get into graduate school. It did, however, take two tries to get a math score high enough to apply.
So, needless to say, the classes that I struggled with the most had to do with numbers. One of these areas is Audiology, the study and science of hearing. Audiologists are great–they fit hearing aids, they test hearing, they help a lot of people out. As students, we had to do a clinical semester with an audiologist. Basically, we spent our time administering hearing tests and interpreting the results. Sadly, I even struggled a little bit with just those basic practices. I couldn’t always work the screening machine right, I would sometimes confuse the notation for the left and right ears, and it took me a few times before I got the hang of how to write a report on a hearing test. I dreaded the time I spent with that audiologist, pleasant as she was, because I felt I was always making mistakes. I just figured she dreaded the time with me as well.
Imagine my surprise when, at the end of the semester, I was awarded an A- for the clinical. I did not see her evaluation of my performance, and I didn’t ask. I was just grateful for the grade, and figured she felt just a little sorry for me, and curved it just a bit. I breathed a sigh of relief, and moved on.
Towards the end of my schooling, while working as a teaching assistant, I came across that evaluation while doing some filing. Of course I couldn’t resist sitting down and reading it, and was astonished at what she wrote. My dreaded audiologist had glowing things to say about me and about my performance, as well as my aptitude as a student.
Now, there are times when we know when we are good, and we know that the teacher knows that we are good, and we bask in the glow of great academic performance. This was not one of those times. I truly felt I had screwed up in this clinical track, and was genuinely surprised to read genuine praise from my instructor. I even thought for a second that she had confused me with the other Heather in our program, a student I admired and looked up to for her knowledge, study habits, and excellent performances both in the classroom and the therapy room. Certainly the student this woman was describing couldn’t be me–I had made too many mistakes, and didn’t deserve such praise. I was truly baffled.
Ok, so at this point, you, my dear reader, are asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Mommyhood, and how much more do we have to read about Heather patting herself on the back for being so great after all?”
Here’s my point. I think that this lesson learned as a student can apply to mommyhood as well. We make mistakes as mothers. And not just small ones. We can make some big ones that have some serious consequences. But I think that at the end of the day, we might be surprised at the evaluation that the Lord and our children give us. We concentrate so much on the mistakes we are making, the struggle we have with the steep learning curve that comes whenever we face something new, that we tend to lose sight of the things we are doing well, or we think that they don’t count for enough.
I remember once saying to somebody I worked for in college how I had a hard time dealing with a certain situation. He said to me, “Of course you did. You’d never done it before. Everything is hard the first time you do it.” He wasn’t surprised I had struggled–in fact, he sounded like he almost expected it. Don’t you think the Lord feels the same way? When we become mothers, none of us have ever been one before, no matter how much we babysat. It’s a new experience–of course we are going to make mistakes. But like I said, sometimes our mistakes torture us so much that we lose sight of the things that we are doing well, and we minimize the good while maximizing the bad.
Now unfortunately, we don’t get year-end evaluations and high grades to show us exactly how well we are doing. But I think that focusing on the positive aspects of our mothering can give us some perspective about how we are doing, the positive feedback that all of us so desperately need. And I think that the Lord truly will cut us some slack for struggling with things that we’ve never faced before.
So if you don’t mind, I’m not going to focus on the fact that my child is currently naked, piling jellybeans on the kitchen floor and dive-bombing his Mr. Incredible toy into them. I choose to focus on the fact that my child is engaging in creative play while expressing his individual views against clothing in general. He’s not just making a mess in my kitchen–he’s experiencing tactile stimulation while observing the laws of physics in regard to objects in motion. Wow–that last sentence would look great on a year end review, don’t you think?
By The Wiz
Today I was at Target (one of my favorite stores of all time, by the way) and ran into a young woman in my ward who is getting married. She and her fiance were “registering,” that very strange act that informs people which gifts are appropriate. She was in a horrible mood, because she and her man were tired of trying to decide exactly where to point that little scanner gun. We were in the storage aisle, DH and I picking out toy storage, she and DF (dear fiance?) trying to decide which storage bins would best serve them throughout their married life.
It got me to thinking about registering, and my own experience with wedding gifts. We received a lot of platters, which we would have returned in a heartbeat if we knew from whence they came. Who needs this many serving platters, especially THIS one shaped like a giant fish? Why do people get us these things? Why don’t they pick specifically from the registry? Isn’t that what it’s for?
Well, it’s 8+ years later, and we love that fish platter. We use most of the platters regularly. The fish one is a great size, and is absolutely perfect for serving shrimp and/or crab. If we had returned them, as had been our original thought, we would have been far more stressed for several small parties we have thrown over the years, and probably would have dished out the money later for the very serving platters we rejected. (Although I don’t think we would have ever picked out the fish one. But seriously, it’s a great dish).
So I started wondering, and now I send that wondering on to bloggers everywhere…is it better to let a couple of twenty-somethings decide what they need for their married life, or better to let experience guide the gift giving? Do I buy the specific storage bin that was on the registry, or go with the great kitchen shears that I know they will love in later years? I know a couple that turned in all their registration credit, and simply bought a big screen TV for their wedding gift. I think they will regret that decision in the future, perhaps when they want to have a formal dinner and they have no china, or possibly when it comes time to bathe, and they realize they have no towels.
Of course registration is necessary if you want people to buy you a specific china pattern, or towels a very specific color to match the horrific bathroom that seems to be required in all first married apartments. But I also know that I opened present after present that I hadn’t registered for, and I did not recognize their value until long after I was married. I also loved the gift of cash, which I thought was very thoughtful (and still do, especially if the couple has to travel right after the wedding), but now realize that I spent the money on thoughtless things.
I know it’s weird to have an epiphany in Target, but it struck me as very metaphorical for life. We pick out the things that we think we need (Hey! Look at this basketball! Point the scanner there, honey!), but more experienced people give us the things that we’ll actually use (Did we register for this knife set?). Sometimes we have to give up and have faith that others actually know more than we do, and we have to let them guide us. Also, many of the choices that stress us out so badly (Do we need the big storage bin or should we get the one with the drawers?) really are insignificant in the long run. It just seems that so often in life we are so stubborn about the choices we made long ago, and hold on to them so tightly, we don’t realize that all we are really doing is just “registering” for grief in the long run.
By Heather O.
Sometimes I wish I were still single. No, not because I don’t love my husband, or anything like that. It’s not because I was really that wild about dating, either. I mean, who wants to go back to the meat market that is the Single’s Ward? No, I want to be single again because it was then that I knew everything about children.
When I was single and childless, I would look at other mothers and think, “I will never do that. Why do they do that? Can’t they control their children?”
Here are some examples of things I said, single and childless, I would never do when I had children:
My child will never eat hotdogs.
My child will never watch T.V.
My child will only eat organic foods.
My child will never drink soda.
My child will never want to be dressed in any kind of character clothing, because he will simply not be exposed to that kind of commercialism.
And I will never, never, give in to my child’s silly demands for a specific cup at dinner. I mean, who does that?
Now that I am a mother, and no longer know everything, here are some examples of things my child does:
My child eats hotdogs so often that he knows which brand he likes the best (the “green ones”, FYI).
My child has seen “Finding Nemo” so many times that he has it memorized, almost word for word.
My child has eaten many a Chicken McNugget, which I’m pretty sure has no ingredient that even vaguely resembles something organic.
My child woke me up this morning, carrying a bottle of soda and a sippy cup, asking for the soda to be put in said sippy cup. At 8am.
My child’ s favorite shirt is his yellow Batman shirt. He wore it for 3 days straight once, and cried for about 10 minutes when I finally pried it off his stinky little body to wash out 3 days worth of grime. At my sister-in-law’s wedding, he refused to get in the car to go in his nice church outfit until we put the Batman shirt on over the church clothes and promised him he would only have to take it off for the pictures.
My child drinks out of a different cup every evening, according to whim and mood. He also has to choose what kind and color straw goes with the cup. This is non-negotiable.
I have been told by my sisters that they are watching with glee as I frantically eat all the words I ever flung at them in the name of good parenting as I raise my own son. They feel mollified. Plus, they all have kids older than my son, so they have already gone through it, and get to giggle as they watch me bribe my son to eat oatmeal with a promise of a cookie right after breakfast. They’ve all been there.
So sometimes I long for the days when I knew it all, told everybody I knew it alll, and didn’t have to put my money where my mouth was. Yes, the glory days of ignorant, arrogant singlehood. Plus, when you’re single, you get to sleep in a lot more. I could use a little more omnescience AND some extra shut-eye.
Trials and Trees
23 Mar 2005 12:14 pm
By The Wiz
Hi, Bloggers! I need your help! I have to teach Sunday School this Sunday (I actually got 4 days notice instead of two!) and it’s a family relations class. A little background — in our ward, we have already gone through the text for this class, and now it’s kind of a ’shoot from your hip’ type thing. The bishop did not want to disband the class once the 12-week course was finished, because all of a sudden a lot of people were going to Sunday School that previously spent the hour chatting in the foyer. (No comment on whether or not this is a reflection on the gospel doctrine teacher). The bishop called an LCSW to teach the class, and he’s FABULOUS, but he’s going to be out of town for Easter. Since he’s so good, the bar is set really very high.
Well, my degree is in communication, so obviously I’m going to go in that direction. So I was thinking about conflict resolution in relationships - and not just family ones. What conflicts have you had, and how have you resolved them? I want to do role plays to demonstrate different resolution techniques (They did this in one of my favorite college courses. This might just be an attempt on my part to relive my college days…)
Any neighbor relationships ruined because your neighbor’s tree dropped leaves into your yard? (I know people that refused to speak for years in our old neighborhood because of tree issues. Seriously. Stuff like this paralyzes relationships.)
Anybody have neighbors start a garage band just as your newborn learned to sleep through the night? It’s their right to start a band. Just as it’s your right to a peaceful neighborhood. No, Nate, I haven’t been to law school, I’m just talking in generalities here. What did you do about it?
Anybody get caught blind-sided by someone telling you they’ve been resenting you for years, and here you thought the friendship was in great shape? Why would you resent someone for years without mentioning it?
Anyone get the silent treatment? This is one of the absolute WORST methods of communication. It’s so toxic to relationships. Poison. What did you do about it? Force them to talk, or simply ignore them, and choose not to waste the emotional energy?
What conflicts have you had, and what was the resolution? (or are they not resolved) Can I use them in my Sunday School?
In the meantime, I’ve got to track down my notes from that class….I know they’re around here somewhere.
By Heather O.
On one of our earlier posts, Annegb had this to say:
“Sadly, I think we, especially Mormon women, keep score way too much…We rate ourselves and condemn ourselves on the basis of very superficial things, like how clean our house is.”
I just read this comment, buried as it was in the earlier post, and I thought, “That is me. I do that!” I’m not sure I do so much score keeping on other moms, but I definitely have some pretty harsh criticisms of myself that include, among other things, how clean (or not clean) my house is. I stress out about whether or not my child’s socks match. I’ve been known to be reduced to tears about planning a Relief Society dinner. My husband, who just could not get on board with that one, said, “C’mon, do you really think that your celestial glory depends on how well you can plan a barbecue?” I mournfully wailed, “Yes, and at this rate, I’m going straight to hell!” (I’ve since come to the conclusion that this is erroneous, that I’m not going to hell for failure to plan a dinner well, but that I’m going to hell for a variety of other reasons.)
Needless to say, my husband found my response to his question, well, just plain silly.
So why on earth do we do this to ourselves, women? Why this score-keeping? Why this need to prove our worthiness based on things like baked beans and ham? Why can’t we say, “Hey, my son felt loved because I was there for him when he hurt his finger, I gave him lots of hugs, and I played the music he especially liked while we were in the car”, and have that be enough? Whence cometh this silly notion that our celestial glory rests upon how clean our baseboards are? Why do I feel more righteous when I scrub my toilet than when I help my son with his fingerpainting? (Of course, I guess that one depends on exactly what the toilet looked like when I started!)
Sometimes I feel like there is a big scoreboard in the sky, and that everytime I do something that I feel is good, I get a check mark, and then every time I do something that is bad, I get a minus, and then at the end of it all, we’ll add up the checkmarks and minuses, see where they come out, and then I’ll head to wherever that is. Somehow I know that’s not true–something I learned once about the Grace of Jesus Christ refutes that notion. But in the daily throes of motherhood, I sometimes forget that He is here for us, not only for our clean baseboards, but also for giving us peace and comfort in our hearts to help us all be better mothers.
But then I always come back to the question: Do they have Relief Society dinners in the celestial kingdom? If they do, I don’t want to have to plan them!
Why is it….?
22 Mar 2005 12:28 pm
By The Wiz
Why is it that my school-age child loves to sleep in while my toddler is up at the crack of dawn?
Why is it that everybody else’s kids are angels during sacrament meeting while my toddler makes a beeline for the pulpit every chance he gets?
(Possibly he has a message for the congregation?)
Why is it that my hair looks GREAT on days when I don’t have anywhere to go?
Why is it that other moms with nursery age children feel the need to stay in the nursery, prompting my toddler to wonder why his mom doesn’t love him as much?
(This is a pet peeve of mine — the nursery leaders will get you if there’s a problem, people. LEAVE!)
Why is it when you are asked to substitute teach Sunday School, you never get more than 2 days notice?
Why is it that all the pregnant women in the ward (there are 7 of them) are due within 6 weeks of each other?
(This is the second time this has happened — it might be time to check the water in the fountains.)
Why is it that Teletubbies is allowed on the airwaves?
Why is it that when other people’s kids do something, it’s cute, but when your own child does it, it’s disruptive?
Why is it that people feel that it’s appropriate to give a four year old a recorder (flute-type thing) for her birthday? Do they secretly hate us? They want us to live with loud squawks all day every day?
Why is it that if you pack the first aid kit every time you go to the park, nothing will happen, but the one time you forget it, there’s a problem?
And why is it that I feel the need to blog while my child happily breaks the remote and sucks on the batteries?
Buffy Vs. Elastigirl
21 Mar 2005 11:13 am
By Heather O.
I have to come clean. I just have to confess it. I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
It all started when I was pregnant with my son, and dh was in law school. I would come home from work, exhausted and puking, and dh would be studying. So I would park my sorry pregnant body on the couch, and, sadly, zone out in front of the TV because I was too exhausted to do anything else. This is when I discovered the magic that is Buffy.
I discovered this show in it’s second to last season, when they had already started re-runs on the FX channel. It’s dark, cheesy, violent, and very funny, all in one show. I mean, what’s not to love? I was quickly hooked.
I kept my addiction a secret, because really, who wants to admit that she likes a show with the words “Buffy” and “Vampire Slayer” in it? But my secret slowly leaked out. And one day, I was talking to a friend, who finally just asked me what I see in a show that has mummies, scary-toothed walking undead, and black magic, sometimes all in one episode. And I told her, “It’s because Buffy is a serious buttkicker. It’s all about her power.” And really, that’s true. For those of you who don’t watch this show on a regular basis, the “slayer” has superhuman strength, heals quickly from wounds inflicted by vampires, and can do some seriously cool Jackie-Chanesque moves. She basically rocks. Who wouldn’t want to be her?
Ok, so then the show had it’s last season. I mourned the loss of my main entertainment, and we all moved on with our lives.
Then I met Elasti-Girl.
Again, for those of you who are not familiar with this particular hero, Elasti-Girl, a.k.a Helen Parr, also totally rocks. She can stretch her body in all sorts of cool ways, and knows how to fly a jet. She also gave all that up to be a stay-at-home mom, but then had to resume her hero-work when the world became in need, once again, of saving. (I won’t tell you any more, in case you haven’t already seen ‘The Incredibles’.) We recently just purchased “The Incredibles” DVD, and while watching the special features, the director said, “I just loved the idea of having a Superhero as a mom.” The director also specifically made her a stay-at-home mom, because he likes that idea so much, too.
And watching that, I thought, “Hey, I’m a mom. I want to be a Superhero, too!”
But the question looms: Do I still want to be Buffy, or should I aspire to be Elasti-Girl? I mean, who would make the better mother? Apparantly Elasti-Girl makes a mean meatloaf along with all the rest of her talents, but Buffy has been known to take out half a dozen vampires on her own. It’s a tough call, don’t you think? Also, Elast-Girl gets to wear a very cool outfit when she fights evil, while Buffy stays in her hip, I-live-in-Southern-California gear when she’s out patrolling. (The show takes place in a fictional town in Southern California, which, as my dh says, is a very plausible location for the center of all that is nasty and vile.)
So let’s take a vote. As mothers, who would you rather be, Buffy, or Elastic-Girl?
And while y’all are deciding, my son has just spilled his entire glass of milk on the floor, so I have to don my own Superhero outfit and (gasp!) save the carpet from ruination! And after that, I might even have to (oh no!) save the laundry from the dryer! I swear, a Superhero’s work is never done.
By The Wiz
This is a guest post by Andrea Wright, a stay at home mom with three kids.
The other day I remembered an exchange between my then 2 ½ year old, Anna, and me. It was a beautiful Sunday morning in sunny Arizona. We had just finished a presidency meeting at my house. My kids and I walked my friends out to the porch where we said goodbye. As I turned to go back inside I was horrified to realize the door was locked. Hmmn, my husband was out of town, I was (fortunately) holding my newborn, and the afore-mentioned toddler was inside with the entire house at her unsupervised disposal. I felt a rising panic inside, but tried to remain calm. I pounded on the door, rang the door-bell, and yelled – all to no avail. A young man from my ward walked up wanting to collect fast-offerings. I had to tell him that I was currently locked out and assuming I ever got inside would pay at church.I walked to the back of my house where there were several big windows and a door, also locked. I could see Anna lying on her stomach, chin resting on her hands, casually perusing a book. When I knocked on the glass, she looked up at me and smiled impishly, then went back to her reading. I pounded on the door and started yelling that she better let me in. I tried every threat I could think of. She completely ignored all of it. Finally, an idea came to me. In a very nice tone I yelled that if she let me in I would give her a cream-saver (her favorite candy). She jumped up, ran to the door and unlocked it. I walked in and as she looked at me in eager anticipation for her treat, I said in a not so nice tone, “IF YOU THINK YOU ARE GETTING A CREAM-SAVER, YOU ARE SADLY MISTAKEN!” She was mad and I was glad. Ha, ha, ha, I had won. Then I realized that my opponent who I was feeling so smug about out-witting was 2. Then I was a little bit ashamed of myself for the lack of integrity I had just demonstrated to my daughter as well, but hey all’s fair in love and war and this was both. So, what do you think, are we ever justified in lying to our kids? Ever been out-smarted by your 2 year old?
By Heather O.
I live in the D.C. area, so I take the Washington Post. There was an interesting article today about some insensitive remarks that Larry Summers, controversial President of Harvard, made about women in the sciences. I don’t know how to link to the Post, so I’ll copy the parts of the article I found interesting:
[Summers] saw what he considered to be a dearth of women in ‘high-end
scientific professions’ and had offered up his own personal
conclusions. Maybe it’s because women do not have the same
‘intinsic aptitude’ for these fields, he suggested,
or maybe they make trade-offs when it comes to balancing work
with family. Maybe, he said, the discrepency wasn’t about
socialization–girls being encouraged in certain fields, boys in others-
-but rather about taste.
The article’s focus was not necessarily Summers’ remarks, but rather one woman scientist’s response to those remarks. She called them “uninspiring and false.” The article then went on to chronicle this woman’s incredible career as a scientist. Vera Rubin is “an esteemed scientist whose pioneering research on galaxies is considered some of the most significant work in her field. She has raised innovative questions about the movements of galaxies and the existence of dark matter. She’s one of the world’s outstanding astronomers and one of the great Carnegie scientists.”
She’s also a mother of 4.
How did she do it? Well, as the Post put it, “There were blips.” The Post also states, “…after…she had her first child, she found herself outside academia and frequently in tears at the playground with her toddler son. ‘I wept’, she says, ‘thinking of all those people out there studying science’.”
Um, does that sentence resonate with anybody else?
The article goes on to say that Vera and her husband, also an astronomer, had to make adjustments. She enrolled in a graduate program, got babysitters, etc, etc, and now her 4 children all have Ph.Ds and are as brillant as she is.
Ok, so why am I posting about this? 2 reasons:
1) I like to celebrate a mother’s accomplishments outside of just baking banana bread (which is what I did this morning), especially in a field that is so overwhelmingly dominated by men.
2)I’m hoping to spark a discussion about whether or not the messages we get from the Church about being mothers also contributes to us being mediocre in other areas of our lives.
We hear that we should stay at home, raise our families. I am a stay at home mom, so clearly I believe in the benefits of being there for my son. But being a stay at home mom has not made me a better speech pathologist, at least not the last time I checked, which frankly, has been a while. I am not particularly interested in science, like Vera Rubin, but if I were, could being a Mormon mother also allow me to be a world class scientist, like she is? Vera’s story shows us that we can be good mothers and world class whatevers, but if she were Mormon, do you think she would have gotten the support she needed along the way? As it was, the article said that she was overwhelmingly discouraged by professors, etc, as was her daughter, interestingly enough. Her daughter was even told that she should quit and go get married. Needless to say, the daughter chose a female mentor after that.
I think the church wants women to excel at being mothers, that the home is the first line of defense against the evils of the world, with the mother being the one in the trenches. I believe that, wholeheartedly. But are there more subtle messages that keep us from fulfilling our potential outside of the home? And is being an excellent mother a significant enough contribution to the world that we don’t need to worry about doing things like discovering radon, or teaching deaf and blind people how to read and write? Don’t get me wrong–I am NOT trying to devalue the good of raising well-adjusted human beings. I just wonder if the messages about being an excellent mother we hear so often makes it impossible to be anything but mediocre everywhere else.
Bring on the Food!
16 Mar 2005 04:37 pm
By The Wiz
So, last night I brought dinner in to a family whose mother is on serious bed rest. Even sitting up brought on the contractions, so she is flat on her back. Needless to say, the Relief Society is bringing in quite a few meals, and arranging various babysitting assignments for her 2 other kids.
Now, I don’t mind bringing in meals. I actually quite like it, becuase I know the families appreciate it, it gives me a chance to visit with the sister that I can’t see at church, and often, it lets me see a brand new baby! (The bulk of our meals is to new mothers). But even though I like to bring in meals, I am not the best cook in the world. I have been known to let spaghetti boil dry (which, by the way, smells horrendously bad), I have burned pans beyond all recognition (just one pan, actually), and on one glorious occasion even managed to use up an entire carton of eggs, just trying to get one serving of scrambled eggs right.
I solved the problem simply by marrying a man who can cook. (I got nine cookbooks as wedding presents. I think people were worried about me.) Since then, my culinary skills have improved dramatically - but he is still the better chef. And everybody in my ward knows it. And he likes it that way. And I like it that way.
So, now I feel like whenever I sign up to bring in a meal, I have to have him cook it. Since he travels so much now, I feel obligated only to sign up on days when he will be in town. I feel like my meals aren’t good enough (even though I can now make a casserole with the best of them), and we have to show off the culinary prowess of DH.
How wimpy is that? I truly believe all efforts are appreciated, even the ones where the ward member simply calls in a pizza delivery. Maybe I just want people to know we put forth the best effort we could, by having him make it instead of me. Maybe I just don’t want to make dinner for them, because I worry that they will judge my cooking. I don’t really know what it is, but I think there just might be a secret competition among Mormons as to who can bring in the best meal. And if DH doesn’t cook it, we will lose that competition. And, simply put, I don’t like to lose.
Oh, and I make the BEST scrambled eggs now. Too bad they don’t travel well.
A mother’s identity
15 Mar 2005 10:28 pm
By Heather O.
Yesterday my DH told me some tragic news. A good friend of his just suffered the loss of his 4 year old daughter. The young child had some severe health issues, and this week, finally lost her battle with cancer.
My husband was quite overwrought. A normally emotional stable guy, he was in tears when he told me the news. I could tell that his friend and the situation remained on his mind throughout the day, and as we were getting ready for bed, he asked the ridiculously obvious question, “Would you be sad if our son died?”
I softly told him that yes, of course I would be sad if our son died, and I gave DH a hug. But after we had gone to bed, I lay awake for a while, thinking about what DH had said. Would I be sad? I’m not sure sad is the word. Devastated is a better one. And of course, in the aforementioned tradition of my vivid imagination, I started to go where no mother should go, especially in the middle of the night. I started to imagine what it would be like if my son died. Then I had a realization. Besides being completely emotional devastated, what would I actually do? I mean, DH has a job to go back to, something to focus on, a career to build, people to network, blah blah blah. My days (and still, sometimes nights) revolve around my son. I have a few things in place to maintain some sense of my former identity before I became a mother, but as a SAHM, they are certainly not as substantial as my husband’s career. With the death of my son, my only son, my entire identity that I have built over the last 3 years would be gone. Completely. I would have to revamp myself entirely. I could do it–like I said, I’ve maintained some things that are just about me, but it would be tough. Very, very tough.
So I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, this seemingly obvious revelation I had in the middle of the night. I suppose we are always shaping and changing and revamping who we are, but mothers’ identities are inescapably tied to their children’s activities. Maybe that’s why we want so much for them, or get them involved with so many different things. Because we are so connected to them, their successes become our successes, their failures, our failures. Of course that’s not inherently true. Our children are their own free agents, and I certainly don’t feel like my own mother shared in my triumphs and failures, although she must have felt them on a much deeper level than I ever realized. (And of course, blaming Mom for all my shortcomings and character flaws is awfully appealing at times, but let’s save that for another time, shall we?). But I know that when my son is successful, I take some credit for it, and feel proud. And I feel his failures perhaps even more acutely. On some level, they reflect on my own mothering skills, some kind of failing on my part.
I don’t think that my husband, who is a loving, involved, fun father, feels this same connection, this same definition of his identity. Strange that our identities can revolve around so many different things when you are supposedly sharing a life.
So, is this identity meld a good thing or a bad thing? Is it a scary interdependent relationship, or one that is necessary to raise normal, healthy, well-adjusted children? Again, this question, like so many other questions of parenthood, seems to have no definitive answer. And of course, like so many other questions of life, I’m ruminating on it right before I go to bed, which means that my vivid imagination will be working in my sleep, and I’ll be blogging tomorrow about the bizarre dream I had about how my son turned into Superhero, only to discover that his cape was gone, and that I somehow ended up eating it for breakfast. I’m sure there’s something really Freudian about that somehow, but I’m too tired to go there.
Our hearts go out to our friends who have lost their little girl. Our thoughts and prayers are with them tonight.
Who is The Wiz?
15 Mar 2005 05:38 pm
By Heather O.
Just to clarify, quickly: Heather O. and The Wiz are, in fact, two different people. It seems that that fact isn’t totally clear, as there have been many comments directed towards me on The Wiz’s threads. (Not that it matters a whole lot–I’m reading most everything, too, so the messages will get to me.) The Wiz’s husband doesn’t feel totally comfortable about her revealing exactly who she is, so she has adopted the pseudonym “The Wiz”. But don’t worry, it doesn’t stand for anything totally cheesy like “Woman in Zion.” We may not be the most intellectual blog in the Bloggernacle, but we are definitely not THAT bad! The Wiz was given that name by her older siblings, because she used to disappear into her room a lot to read, and it became a joke that she was up there conjuring stuff. So it’s not a cheesy acronym, it’s not some freaky tie to some black magic voo-doo, it’s simply the use of a nickname that her family gave her as a young adolescent. And seriously, if you had a cool nickname like that, wouldn’t you want to use it? My adolescent nickname was never that cool. Since I am somewhat taller than my sisters, I was unceremoniously dubbed “The Amazon.” (And I have to say, I am not THAT much taller–sheesh!) Needless to say, I have not cultivated the nickname in the same way The Wiz has. Although as a woman, such a name calls up cool images of powerful warrier women who conquer stuff, the idea of being connected to a race of uni-breasted b****es was not that appealing at age 13, thanks.
We are both thrilled, however, that y’all are loving the blog, and we are working to get more folks on the permanent posting list soon. Thanks for the love!
14 Mar 2005 10:07 pm
By Heather O.
I know that all of you mommies out there have strong opinions about education, and ladies, I want to hear them all. I have a preschool dilemma, and need some thoughts. We enrolled my 3 three year old in a Baptist preschool this year, and it has turned out to be a wonderful thing. Top on the list of good things is that I get to have 8 hour to myself every week, and believe me, I live for those precious child free hours! But I think it has been a good thing for the boy, too. He now talks about his friends, the activities he does at school, and the things that happen there. Granted, he’s not learning rocket science, but I do think there’s a lot to be said for the fact that he is learning how to follow directions, how to sit still and pay attention, and how to interact with other kids. So, all in all, we’ve have been thrilled.
Ok, here’s the dilemma. They have raised the price for next year by 40%. That’s a huge jump, right? And really, our finances are slightly stretched as it is, so we’ve decided that we definitely can not afford to continue this particular preschool next year. So I guess that leaves us with the following options:
1) Find another, cheaper, preschool. I have no idea how plausible this is, having not done the necessary comparison shopping.
2) Start some kind of “joy school” with other families in the ward. I have never done this, and wouldn’t know where to start. Thoughts or suggestions on this one?
3) Do some kind of home school, academic based preschool stuff with him on my own. Again, no idea where to start. Home schooling advocates, please advise!
4) Keep him home and let him drive me crazy all the time until he’s five and I pack him off to all day kindergarten. Or military school. Depends on how much he poops on the carpet between now and then (sorry, you just can’t keep poop out of a post on mommyhood!)
5) Start my own preschool here. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! INSANITY HAS ARRIVED!
Like I said, lots of you moms seem to have serious opinions on this, and I want to know them all. Every single one. Don’t leave anything out. You can even include more poop stories if you want. We’re all mothers here!
By The Wiz
Well, since it appears that nobody is reading this blog, or if they are, they’re not commenting, then I guess I’m posting “just for me.” Which is fine, really, because all I need is an outlet. Also, it could be possible that blogger is not letting anybody comment, and I like that thought because really, when all else fails, I like to blame the inanimate object.
So I take my oldest daughter (5 yr) to gymnastics today, and was very surprised to see Niles Crane, aka my pediatrician. Apparently he has a daughter just my daughter’s age, who’s also enrolled in gymanstics. Coincidence? (yes, probably) Is there really such a thing? (debatable)
A little background here — he was the pediatrician available when my daughter (4 yr) had the nasty rectal issues (see previous post), since my regular one had moved. But originally when my dr. moved, the clinic wanted me to choose another Dr, and I chose Tall Lady. However, Tall Lady was unavailable to see my little Sweetpea with the Incredible Vacationing Colon, so we got sent to Niles. Clear as mud? So, I loved the way Niles handled the situation and basically cared for us, so I decided to make him the regular pediatrician for all my kids, especially since Tall Lady hadn’t actually seen my kids, so I didn’t think she would care.
BUT, since I had already made an appointment for my son’s 18 month check with Tall Lady, I decided to keep it, since appointments are hard to get at this clinic, and he was basically a healthy kid, just needed his vaccines updated. He had a rash, which she could not diagnose or treat. She said to just put lotrimin on it, and excema medicine, maybe a little Neosporin, and see what happens. Well, I’ve noticed it’s been spreading down his legs, and no amount of any lotions are doing anything about it. I was just wondering if I should take him in, when I run into Niles at gymnastics, and I figured, hey, a little free medical care! (Don’t doctors love it when we ask them medical questions outside of the office? I’m sure they do. They don’t want a life outside of medicine, do they?)
Well, he told me exactly what it was (viral-linked to the cold he was getting over), how long it would last, (a few weeks to a month - quite a while in the life of a rash) and what I should do about it (nothing). It was awesome! And although I felt a little bad about taking the free medical advice and interrupting his day, it also made me wonder about the reason he was the one I got sent to when Sweetpea was sick.
See, I’m not so sure I believe in coincidences at all, because he knew exactly what to do with my daughter (incidentally, when I ran into my old dr. and told him about the prolapse, his eyes got wide and he said “Wow! I’ve never seen one of those!”). Today, he did not seem to mind looking at my son. I really think that one of the reasons we were thrown together today was the Lord telling me he had chosen my pediatrician, and assuring me that He was looking out for my family. I firmly believe there is a solid reason that he is our doctor, even though I had made a different choice originally.
I know it’s a little thing, and it could be coincidence after all, but I like synchronicities like that, and I choose to feel comforted.
By The Wiz
OK, I’ve been reading about vomit, I linked over to the poop chronicles, and I have read some nastiness today. So what can I do, really, but add to the nastiness that already exists in cyberspace?
So, my 3 year old (now 4) was on the potty, toiling away. She starts crying that she needs help wiping. My 5 year old rushes to her aid, becuase let’s face it, she likes to feel superior in the potty department. I listen carefully, knowing that I will be up there in a few minutes. Well, the 3 year old’s wail grows louder, and my oldest pops her head over the railing, saying she can’t make it go away.
So I go upstairs, and what do I find? (I know, you’re thinking poop everywhere, diarrhea, something nasty. Well, it was nasty indeed, but I doubt you know what it was.) Drum roll, please……..it was my daughter’s rectum! Yes, she had pooped herself inside out, and now part of her large intestine was seeing the outside world, which is wrong on SO many levels!!!!
I freak out (obviously), call her dad and tell him to come home from work, (he was working late) and then call my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law is a GI nurse, and I was truly grateful that she lived nearby, because I did not know what this was protruding from my daughter’s anus. The cries were increasing by the second. (”Just get a big wipe, Mommy! I need a big wipe to make it go away!” “Well, hon, I think we might have to go to the hospital.” “Do they have big wipes at the hospital?”) Well, my mom-in-law showed up, said it was a prolapsed rectum, put some gloves on, and with a little lubricant, simply pushed it back up to where it should be. I was amazed and appalled, and instantly went on line to read all I could about prolapsed rectums.
So it happens AGAIN about a month later — I guess the intestine liked his (her?) short lived view of the outside world, and decides to take another trip. This time, I do the honors of sending it home. When it happens a third time a few days later, I call my mother-in-law again, she brings over some surgical lubricant, and we begin to carry latex gloves and lubricant around in our diaper bag, you know, just in case our daughter decided to poop herself inside out while in public. When I tried to give a pair of gloves to her preschool teacher, she declined, opting to keep my cell phone number instead. Hmmm….
So when I take her to the doctor, (my regular pediatrician had just moved, and I was assigned a new one) I swear by all that’s holy, Niles Crane walks in to examine her. I did not know David Hyde Pierce was a pediatrician on the side, masquerading with a phony name, but apparently that’s the case. He simply prescribes a mild laxative to get her cleaned out, and all is well. It’s not COMMON, per se, but it’s actually not that uncommon, either. (I was also applauded for not rushing her to the ER, because apparently ER doctors don’t know what it is, and try to take tissue samples, and the longer you leave it out, the more intestine decides to make the trip, and it’s not pretty. )
So, while I still have sympathy for people who’s kids have diarrhea on brand new carpet, whose kids play Picasso with their poop (my youngest has now figured out how to remove a poopy diaper), I say you haven’t truly lived as a mom until you’ve had the heart warming experience of trying to explain to a very scared looking preschool teacher how to send your child’s rectum home.
10 Mar 2005 12:24 am
By Heather O.
In the Spirit of FMH poop chronicles (and this time the link goes to the stories, I think!) I venture into the vomit chronicles. Yes, since poop has pretty much been covered, let’s continue with a different bodily function theme, shall we? And in interest of full disclosure, if you have a weak stomach, please, don’t continue reading this post. Read the one about cupcakes instead. (i.e. “you’re such a good mom”. See link on side bar.)
As already been discussed, despite the fact that I only have 1 child, I have been pregnant more than once. And I am not the dainty kind of pregnant gal who says, “Oh, the nausea was terrible–I actually had to throw up once!” Nope, I’m the one who knows where every single bathroom is on every single floor in the building where I work because I have barfed in every single one. I’m the one who threw up the Sacrament, almost bowling over a deacon in my frantic efforts not to spew on the pew. I have thrown up into trash cans, parking lots, and airsick bags aplenty. And FYI, if you want to clear an airplane aisle wicked fast, just hold a full barf bag straight out in front of you and say, “Excuse me, but I REALLY need to get to the bathroom.” It’s like an ambulance going down main street. Everybody immediately moves to the right. And in this particular case, they were well to move quickly, because I didn’t quite make it to the miniature lavatory. It took 3 warm wet towels and assistance from the flight attendant to get everything cleaned up.
But I have a story that tops even spewing on my shoes outside an airplane bathroom. I was driving home, small child in the back, and felt that all too familiar feeling. I had just gone grocery shopping, and I thought I could get home before the barf-a-rama began. Sadly, I was mistaken. I upchucked my lunch while driving, and got it all over myself. And I mean, all over myself. So, I finish throwing up, and I’m kind of crying, snotting, and hiccuping all at the same time, horrified that this is happening to me. I pull into the garage, gingerly unstrap my small child so as to not scumify him, hobble into the house, where I promptly throw up again, and feebly begin the process of cleaning up. Then I start hearing some very sad, very plaintative crying coming from the garage, the last place I could remember seeing my very small child. I walk over to the garage, but the location of my son is not immediately apparant. I look a little closer, and realize that in the pursuit of a ball, the child is stuck under the car, pleading for help. So I unstick him, and of course, he is covered with axle grease, or oil, or whatever that sludge is that collects under cars. Then I am subsequently covered with the same stuff, because my sobbing child threw his arms around me when I dragged him out from under the vehicle.
So here we are, mother and child, covered in sticky black goo and colorful, stinking vomit, and a car full of groceries to unload. I did what any Mormon woman in my situation would do. I called a girlfriend in tears, just to hear somebody say, “Yeah, that’s pretty bad.” Then I called my husband, and told him it would be a good idea if he came home a little early that night. I also think I let the groceries sit there until my cousin unloaded them for me, because I’m not really sure how the groceries got in the fridge, I just know I didn’t put them there. I think the smell and sight of food were just a little bit unbearable to me at that moment.
So there you have it, my grossest story to date. If you have a similar story, please share. I’ll just make sure I read your comments after I’ve put away my groceries.
08 Mar 2005 10:07 pm
By Heather O.
So, I’m sitting waiting for husband to get home. Dinner has long been eaten, the dishes are put away, the child is asleep, and my husband is still not home. That’s ok, he said he had to work late. The time ticks away, and I realize that it’s 7 minutes past when he said he would be home. 7 minutes late! Where the heck is he? I tell myself not to get annoyed, because he is probaby finishing some project that took longer than he thought it would, and certainly these things are out of his control. After all, Dr. Phil has said that you can’t hold people responsible for things they can’t control. (And if you can’t trust Dr. Phil, who the heck can you trust?) So I remain rational, until I look at the clock, and realize that three more minutes have passed and he’s still not home! He’s now officially 10 minutes late! I can’t help it, I start imagining things.
I start with the mundane: the elevator is broken, he has to walk down from his office and his car is parked at the very farthest parking spot. Yes, that’s why he’s late.
I move on from there to the slightly more dramatic: He’s slipped on the ice, twisted his ankle, and is hobbling to his car. Poor guy.
Then I realize that one more minute has passed, and he’s still not home, and things rapidly progress to the morbid: He’s been in a car accident, his wallet was thrown from the car and the paramedics have no idea who he is and only notice after they have pried him out with the jaws of life that he has a wedding ring on, and they have to notify the FBI to track down his panicked wife. Oh my gosh, it could be hours before I hear about this!
Of course, after 5 more minutes have passedI can’t help going to the completely irrational: He’s having sex with his secretary, and he’s just now scrambling into his clothes while his hot blonde airhead with the big boobs begs him to stay just a little bit longer but he has to explain that he has to get home to his nagging wife or she’ll do something crazy, like show up at a meeting in the middle of the night with her slippers on! (um.. not that the slipper thing has ever happened. Who would do such a thing when she was nine months pregnant and it was February in Boston? Surely, only a madwoman.)
The screen door bangs, the front door opens, and my DH enters the scene.
“Where have you been?” I say, trying to sound casual.
DH looks puzzled. “Uhh-work? Where else would I be?”
“But you’re so late!”
DH looks at his watch. “16 minutes later than I said I would be. I’m not really that late.”
“I need you home when you say you’re going to be home.”
“I’m home! I’m 16 minutes late! What’s the big deal?”
“You could’ve been dead, you know that? All I need is a phone call to tell me that you’re not dead!”
And then my DH does something that makes me realize why I married him, why he is the ultimate Heather manager. He smiles, walks over to me, kisses me on the top of my head, and said, “You were having fun imagining things about me, weren’t you?”
Heaven help me when my son becomes a teenager.
By The Wiz
Any woman will tell you that it is horrific to have a baby at the end of the summer. The heat, the heat, and oh yeah, the heat. Well, I had a baby at the end of one of the hottest summers on record. (And yes, that makes me better than all of you, in case you were wondering.)
But I survived, and the purpose of this post is to generate discussion on whether or not I should put him in school right when he’s only been 5 for a week, or wait a year, and put him in when he’s 6. I’m going to be sexist here, and say if it was a girl, I wouldn’t even think about it, just put her right in kindergarten. But coordination and sports are (generally! I’m speaking generally!) more important to boys, and driving and dating is harder for a guy to wait until his junior year, and actually, the kicker for me, is the mission.
You see, I really think it’s valuable for a man to have at least some college before his mission. And if I put him in school right when he’s 5, he’ll have a full year after he graduates, and have some more experience to take to the world. Of course, his schooling will have to take a break, but that’s not uncommon for Mormon men. But if I wait, and give him the benefit of being bigger, older, and more coordinated (hopefully) throughout his schooling, then he’ll be nineteen shortly after he graduates, and off he’ll go! (Taking agency into consideration, of course. There’s no guarantee that my son will want to go on a mission, but hey, I’ve got to be positive, right?)
My son has yet to turn two, so I know stressing about this now can only take years off my life, but I do think about it quite a bit, and ask everybody I know who had a boy in the summer - or early fall - what decision they made and why they made it. Was the kid so ready for school that you were going to pummel him if he stayed home another year? Did not having to worry about college applications right away, knowing the mission was coming first, help or hurt? And how did you know what to do? Of course it’s kid specific, but really, what is the deciding factor here?
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