Start with Women

Packed train from the 2017 Women’s March

Go green. Sustainability. Stable state system. Equitable. Environmentally friendly. So many buzz words, what does it all mean? It means our world is aching, we have sores all over the place, and we are crying for healing. I believe for that healing to work, we must start with women.

Why

First, why do we care? Why do we care about “going green” and sustainability and all of this? I care because I care about being a good steward. As a mother, I wouldn’t leave my house littered with broken glass, toxic smelling things, and donuts all over the house. If I did this, my family would have cut feet, be unable to breathe, and die of heart related diseases. I wouldn’t be responsible for my son or be healthfully supporting my husband. And, I certainly wouldn’t be helping myself.

I define sustainability around the “triple bottom line”. That is, we balance three things in equilibrium. We balance people, planet, and profits. Another way to word this is economy (profits), environment (planet or place), and equity (people) are balanced together. They are all a part of a three-legged stool, and if one leg is shorter than another, the whole thing falls over. If one of these factors is out of balance, our balance sheet doesn’t balance.

I’ve written about this before. And, I will write about this again. Until we have achieved sustainability in a majority of countries, we will still need to hear this message.

Every time I write about sustainability, I peel back more layers. When my aunt gave me the book 50 Ways You Can Save the Planet I was introduced to the environmental layer of measuring the health of our world. When carbon offsets were introduced, it was a market based approach to merge both the environmental and economic layers of sustainability for business. This allowed companies to take another stab at showing up as responsible to our world. And, when we mention things like equal pay we are introducing the layer of equity, or people, in one attempt to balance the people portion of the balance sheet.

Women are the Canary

I will argue that we need to look at women as the canary in the coal mine. This should be our current litmus test on whether or not we are on the road to sustainability. And, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to be on the road to sustainability.

It’s 2018, and though the wage gap is closing (by how much depends on the resource you use), in many cases, the gap is still about 20%. That is, women still make about 80% of what men make, and yes, in the same industry. So, women are not equal when it comes to monetary possessions, or economy.

So, with less money, women age, and then outlive their partners. With less money, they are more at risk to be in poverty. Aging, is already rife with challenges. Add the burden of fewer resources, and I have to question, are we setting women up for success as they age? We can and should do better as a wealthy society, ensuring those who have “paid” into systems are taken care of regardless if they outlive partners.

When we are connected, when our social capital is high, we have less disease, less depression, and longer lives. Robert Putnam, in his 1995 (reprint 2000) book Bowling Alone described our decline in social capital, in detail. And he noted how it’s related to many of our noted ills in society. A follow-up book, Better Together, breaks down how we are better together. While all relationships and social networks can benefit from higher social capital, I believe women being more connected have a cornerstone importance to change our society to a more sustainable world.

Connect Women First

We need to connect women first. Reconnect women to each other, and then I believe we will have a ripple effect of connectedness across gender, age, and social class.

Relearn Basics

To start this, we need to reconnect with the basics. We need to relearn how to truly listen. We need to get back in touch with that which brings us joy. And, we need to lead with love.

Listen

Steven Covey said that people often listen with the intent to respond. That is, in conversation, we aren’t truly listening. We aren’t practicing empathy – truly joining someone in their emotional journey, the kind of support we really need. We might be sympathetic, noting their emotion, but then we follow it up with advice. Brené Brown talks about this is a short empathy video, where she reminds us that sympathy usually starts with “at least…”

Truly listening means sitting with someone withholding judgement, truly trying to hear their story, to understand, and join them on their emotional journey.

Live in Joy

Another key point I believe women need to focus on is living in intention, and specifically in joy. I will speak from a women approaching 40, 10+ years a mother, and 10+ years a wife. This is my lens.

It was so easy to get into the role of get up, make the bed, get the food, clean the things, and do it all over again once my son was born. Caring for an infant, and then a toddler, and then a school aged child, routines became set. That routine lead itself to forgetting, where self-forgetting became easy. Forgetting my self-care for others’ care became easy. There was (is) always something else to do. Then, one day, in a mini-retreat, I made a joy list. I compared that joy list to the things I was doing every day. The two were wildly different. I made the commitment to myself to live more in intentions that brought me joy. Doing so, I was more easily able to show up with joy for myself, and then for those I care for. Namely, my husband, and my son.

Live in Love

Now that we are living in joy and truly know how to listen, our next ask is to show up with love. We are listening to our sisters, we understand their stories better, and now we can show up with deeper empathy and compassion to truly walk with them in their path. All these steps will build our social capital. Build our connections to each other. Bring us closer together.

Share with others

By bringing us closer together, sharing this vision with others, because we want to. I do believe we need to, but let’s do this because we want to. When we come together from a place of healing, we will create a stronger fabric of social capital among each other. When we have that strong fabric, knit together, we will better be able to solve the problems the world has thrown at us.

Call to Action

I am calling for a rise of the feminine. Let us come together, do this together. Be together. Truly, we are better together, and together we can do so much.

Resources

Better Together, by Robert D. Putnam & Lewis M. Feldstein, 2003

Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam, 2000

Empathy Animation, voice by Brené Brown, 2013, https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw

Gap between men’s and women’s life expectancy no longer closing, data suggests, Sep 27, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/27/gap-mens-womens-life-expectancy-no-longer-closing-data-suggests/

Gender Disparities in Health and Mortality, 2007, http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2007/genderdispa9e5b7bddc5c

Gender wage gap just shrank for the first time in a decade, the, Sep 15, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/15/the-gender-wage-gap-just-shrank-for-the-first-time-in-a-decade/?utm_term=.a9e5b7bddc5c

In which countries do women outlive men by more than a decade?, May 20, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/05/countries-where-women-outlive-meowed-spouses

Life Expectancy at Birth (in years), by Gender, 2009, https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/life-expectancy-by-gender/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

Narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay, the, April 3, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/03/gender-pay-gap-facts/

Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, the, 2016, https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Social Security for Widowed Spouses in Retirement, https://www.nasi.org/learn/socialsecurity/widowed-spouses

Why is life expectancy longer for women than it is for men?, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-is-life-ex-of-marriage/

Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage, Jan 19, 2010, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/01/19/women-men-and-the-new-economics-of-marriage/

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Tips on Being Green: Start with Waste Reduction

We need new system design.

Sustainability has been important to me as long as I can remember. I started the journey when I was young, with a book my Aunt sent my family: 50 Ways You Can Save the Planet. Until then, I had no idea the planet needed saving. Since, I’ve paired down that focusing on educating people about the environment is one of the reasons I’m here, on this planet.

Why

Why do we need to educate ourselves on the environment? Because in our hurried society, we are so busy taking care of basic needs that we either forgot, we’re not taught, or a combination, of all the things that we need. The rampant fires, the rising waters, the continued pollution are all reasons why we need more environmental education.

Handily, a friend, in the food buying club world, asked for recent resources on how to do green. Thinking about this, I realized that I don’t turn to too many outside sources anymore.

While it’s good to stay up to date on recent bloggers, I have found that following a few basic principles are more key to living a green life.

And, funny enough, I got on this topic with my husband the other day. Husband never really understood why I preach a green, organic life. In a fit, I expressed, exasperatedly, it comes down to keeping our basic life resources clean so that our kids and their kids can drink from the tap without fear of contamination. So our kids and their kids can walk outside without a gas mask because the air is so polluted. So our kids and their kids can use the earth without fear it’s so contaminated with pollutants they cannot grow healthy food.

Whole Life

The bottom line it’s about a whole life thinking. Thinking in terms of what we need every day and shaping our health around that.

Systems Thinking

It is a simple systems concept, from start to finish. If we reduce the amount of things we take in, we will reduce our output.

Reduce Input

So, what does that mean in the day-to-day? Let’s take a look at the kitchen. In the kitchen we prepare food, we cook food, we consume food, we clean containers that helped with the whole thing, and we store all the unfinished bits. When we reduce our input, we are using reusable containers, for one. When we wash our dishes, we are using chemical-free agents to do our cleaning, so we reduce our input of more chemicals in the ground and through the water filtration process. When we reduce our input into systems, we are reducing our waste. So, we are recycling and composting as much as we can, based on where we live.

Reduce output

A natural consequence of reducing our input will be reducing our output. When we use durable plates and silverware, we simply don’t have to throw away as much. When we use reusable containers for our food waste, we aren’t throwing away plastic bags that held a sandwich. When we buy in bulk, we also have less packaging to throw away or recycle. Coming from this aspect, once you start picking away, one at a time, places where you used to throw something away and you’ve replaced it with a durable good, you’ve already started reducing your waste footprint on the world, and you’ve started being more sustainable.

Whole Foods

A huge place this waste is found is in food. Have you noticed how much packaging it takes to get our food? I’ve seen Kiwis in plastic clam shell containers, not to mention everything on the inside aisles of a grocery store.

An easy way to reduce the amount of output you have is to eat whole foods. Buy apples instead of applesauce. Buy fresh corn instead of canned. Buy heads of lettuce instead of lettuce in tubs. Learn to make your own food with whole ingredients instead of buying cans of soup, sauce, and everything in between. Even if you just pick one thing, you will have begun the waste reduction towards a more sustainable world.

I’m not typically a fan of fad diets, but we have found where they have shifted us into better health after letting go of foods that aggravate sensitivities. A few years ago, we began eating in the “Whole 30” way. Basically, we eat a chunk of meat surrounded by vegetables. Whole 30 advocates argue that the added chemicals to our food is making us sick, so eliminate those, and you’ll feel better. Whether you’re eating paleo, keto, or a vegetarian diet – generally speaking, you’ll be eating more whole foods. Whole fruits, whole vegetables, not preprocessed in some plant. The more you get into these diets, you may find yourself making your own broth, roasting whole chickens, and tending after your own hens to get your own eggs out of your own backyard. All of these steps will simply reduce waste in your home. The bonus being, you’ll eat better too!

New System Design

Another important aspect to sustainability is design. Running on carbon stealing, over built, waste inducing design will not solve our world’s problems.

You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

~ Buckminster Fuller

We need a new way of thinking about things. Paying attention to new technologies (new ways of designing buildings), participating in politics to update codes (seriously, why is greywater illegal?), and buying the new technologies as you can afford it (can’t wait to get my Tesla!). All these things will help move us towards a greener world.

What Will You Do?

So, the next question is – what will you do? First, assess where you are.

My favorite assessment is “My Footprint”. It’s gotten a facelift since the last time I took it, and it’s still quite informative. Full disclosure – here’s the link to my results: http://myfootprint.org/en/your_results/?id=3357605. On my family’s lifestyle, it would take 3.08 earths to sustain us. While this is much lower than the country’s average, seriously 3.08 earths? I only know of one we can access, today.

Try both of these quizzes. My Footprint is great for adults and covers a range of systems that keep us going (http://myfootprint.org), and this Scholastic quiz (for kids) breaks down kid-friendly ways to reduce your impact (http://www.scholastic.com/downtoearth/quiz/howgreenareyou/).

Now that you’ve assessed how green you are, what is an easy first step you can take? Where will you reduce your impact? What change do you want to see? Please share your quiz results in the comments below!

Things that won’t get a blog post, five years later

I wrote this post five years and one month ago. A post about things on my mind that I wanted to acknowledge but didn’t want all out there, in the inter webs. Although five years have gone by, some of those same worries remain.

There is at least one difference. My mindset has shifted, and I’m beginning to acknowledge my biblical upbringing that reminded me to let worries go to a higher power. I’m not saying I actually do that, even successfully, but my awareness towards letting go is increased.

Here’s a little then and now…

  1. Financial (school) debt
  2. Concern over how (financial minister) counselor will help us
  3. Familial miscarriage, sadness and hope
  4. Anxiety over new job and daycare
  5. Food club changes that will happen with new job
  6. Missed birthdays, gifts, and calls
  7. Familial impending marriages, reasons for and against with limited knowledge
  1. Financial debt still there
  2. The counselor helped us get on the same page, we’re still working on it
  3. Familial struggles abound, differently, though with hope and joy
  4. Questions still abound over logistics and cash flow with tuition and schedules
  5. Things changed, ever still, in the food world
  6. Still working on sending out cards, now it’s in the schedule
  7. We all suffer and struggle, how can we be free?
I saw this double rainbow a few months ago on my way home from an evening event. Few things describe hope better than a rainbow.
I saw this double rainbow a few months ago on my way home from an evening event. Few things describe hope better than a rainbow.

In the last five years, I’ve been introduced to two ways of thinking about events. In my oil business, we talk a lot about personal growth and development. I can see clearly how a shift in thinking is needed and how it affects my growth in this (or any) business. Although I’m not always sure what to do in a minute-by-minute assessment, I am paying attention and attuning my attention to these different ways of thinking.

One new way of thinking is Byron Katie’s “The Work.” In her work, she invites us to just ask, “Is it true?” Any thought that comes to mind, “Is it true?” Through the work of inquiry, she guides, you can relieve yourself of unnecessary suffering. Suffering that we have ultimately brought on ourselves.

In this oil business, a lot of people come to the table with varied perceptions on money. The ones to overcome are usually it is negative. I’ve observed people judging what other people can spend, making decisions for other people. I’ve watched people  feeling jealous over what other people have, and simultaneously criticizing other people when they spend what we feel is too much. (Back to Byron Katie and assessing whose business is it! Answer: not ours!)

One way to free our thinking, specifically over money, is to consider money as energy. Money is simply a transfer of energy. So, how are we feeling towards that energy, at its base. Marianne Williamson’s The Divine Law of Compensation is oft references to help guide one to new thinking about money. In the intro, she proclaims she is a student of, for more than 35 years, A Course in Miracles.

A Course in Miracles is the second thing that’s come my way in the last five years. The words that emirate from this text ring true to me. It’s like veils have been revealed from the Catholic/Christian teachings I was given all throughout. It feels as if things I’ve known in my heart are being stated in another way, validating questions I’ve had.

The message I want to impart today though is the reinforcement of not worrying. The reminder that the only true thing we can know is love, and nothing else is real. The reminder that when fear creeps up, it is the ego getting in the way. So, let fear go, let the ego go, do not worry. Do your work, trust in God, and be on your way. It will work out.

The calls to have faith that I never understood from 3rd grade on now (kind of) make sense to me. I’m still working on all this letting go and to have faith, but it’s as if I can feel the reasoning now. Something I couldn’t have said five years ago when all those worries crossed my mind.

From an enneagram 9: I matter

It usually starts like this: I decide I want to do something. Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s reading. Maybe it’s honoring the time I gave to work. Maybe it’s showing up at a meeting and holding back my opinion until I think it’s absolutely relevant. I am waiting, watching the energy in the room, inspiring myself to get the courage to be vulnerable or say what’s on my mind.

I identify as an Enneagram 9. One thing we 9s have a hard time with is owning our feelings and recognizing that we have an opinion that is worth hearing. If, for example, I appear to be lost in thought, as soon as someone asks me what’s on my mind or what my opinion of a thing is that might be happening at that moment, all those thoughts and conclusions I was drawing disappear with the interruption. It takes me, sometimes, a very long time to identify what I was feeling in a moment as I test out feelings, measure against experience, and see if that is right.

Some call Enneagram 9s the Peacemaker. At first, when I read that we 9s like harmony, it didn’t sit well. I resisted that thought. But, as it sat, as I rolled it around in my mind, I acknowledged that it does ring true. I don’t like to make waves. I want to be valued. I want everyone to be valued. And, I want conflict handled elegantly without too many raised emotions. Loud outbursts of anger, for example, make me withdraw. Unless it’s my own!

So, it starts with the formation of an opinion. And it often tracks where maybe I get interrupted. I raise my hand to speak, and someone speaks over me. I set up to write, and someone walks in the room and just starts talking. I voice an opinion in a group and someone contradicts it, in effect telling me that my opinion wasn’t just invalid, but not true.

And, I remain conflicted. I desire harmony. So this other, whomever it might be – a family member, a colleague, a friend, should be valued more than me. “I don’t matter” is the story I have told myself since I was small in the midst of large family gatherings where talking over one another was the norm, and I sat quietly at the table trying to make sense of it all wondering why no one would listen to me.

As an adult, one thing I struggle with is rewriting the story. It’s just a script, I am reminded by coaches and self-help gurus. And, the thing with a script is: it’s just words. You can change the words. Our human world is complex. We are messy. We all have an important point we bring to the table, coupled with a valuable fear that shapes our human existence.

I am writing this, harkening back to a comment a friend made how my blogs are very-diary like. Though that’s not my intent, I can see how it reads that way. Especially with a post like this. I am reluctant to post it. It feels too vulnerable. I can hear people chiding me for feeling this way. I can hear voices saying things like, “suck it up, life ain’t fair,” or similar. But, those voices reinforce the old script, that I don’t matter.

Here’s to a new script. Your voice matters, even if it’s expressing loudly and angrily. Your voice matters if it takes all the courage to speak up and you are still as quiet as a church mouse. MY voice matters because I am the only one that shares this perspective with my experience. I have something to add to the conversation, and some days, my patience wears thin waiting for my turn to speak.

Sometimes what you're most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.
Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.

The Reading List

What have you been reading the last two weeks? On my list are some things like:

What sticks out in your mind as news of the last bit?

The Reading List

And, for the next installment of “the reading list.” The last few weeks has found me contemplating things like…

Are we looking at the wrong factors when considering health care? (“Hospital toilets offer clue about what’s wrong with US health care.“)

According to Renner, we are. In his piece, he gives a surface glance at a solution of preventable care. So, imagine my surprise when I skim over to The Atlantic, to find what I had been reading in hard copy, and I come across Andy Hinds article describing the necessary ridiculousness of exercise (“Your Workout Looks Ridiculous“). Do you exercise? What is your favorite version? For my part, I always hope to do better at (as in restart the routines even) swimming, walking, and biking.

These are all well and good – surface discussions into how we can create a more sustainable society by encouraging fitness on every level. But, I was really reading about labels. I was reading about the DSMMD downgraded Asperger’s – no longer making it a certifiable thing (“Letting Go of Asperger’s“).

On the book side, I am finishing (or working on) The Defining Decade, The 12 Tribes of Hattie, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Enneagram: Understanding yourself and others in your life, What Type of Leader Are You? Using the Enneagram System to Identify and Grow your Leadership Strengths and Achieve Maximum Success, and Your Seven-year-old: Life in A Minor Key. Recently, I finished K Is for Killer: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery. On the shelf, waiting to be read include The Story of My Assassins and Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics.

Sometimes I think I’m addicted to books. I have to have a steady stream coming in from the library and from Amazon. I need to smell them, touch them, feel them. I need to absorb their words and ideas within. So, the above mentioned ideas are on the continued quest for understanding myself and the world in which I live – compared to and along with those around me. Coupled with the fiction to take me away from this world and understand a time or a place not generally known to me. The never ending expansion of ideas that make our world interesting, rich with content, and enable us to grow.

Creativity

A glimpse at where I can be creative: my accessories. I haven't purchased a new ring since my resized wedding band ($8, thank you). This is the second most expensive ring I've purchased ($26, the other being $23). A great find from Button, a local consignment shop.
A glimpse at where I can be creative: my accessories. I haven’t purchased a new ring since my resized wedding band ($8, thank you). This is the second most expensive ring I’ve purchased ($26, the other being $23). A great find from Button, a local consignment shop.

Self-discovery, a life long process, trying to assess our strengths, our weaknesses, what sets us off, what sets us on fire… all to assess our place in this world, to figure out where we belong, what we should be doing, our best strategies in working with our families, our colleagues, our friends. In 2010-2011, I recall writing more about my observations of others’ reactions towards things. The last two or three years, I’ve been more inward, considering my reactions to things, events – past and present.

So, from past to present – throughout my life, I’ve been prey to quizzes. Starting with the ones that appeared in  Seventeen magazine that later morphed into MySpace and Facebook. Now, the self discovery quizzes I take are in the form of reading about the Meyers Briggs (Please Understand Me I and II or learning all about the Enneagram) or they are found under the pretense or assumption of scientific research with downloadable apps, found exclusively on the App Store (or in the Android Market). And, I am victim to their guile in self understanding.

When confronted with the question, “What are you thinking/feeling right now?” I often freeze. My mind could be on a train of thought venturing deep into… and the question is posed and *POOF* the train evaporates as I struggle to come back to the real world. What was I thinking? What am I feeling? It’s as if a hollowness comes over me and I cannot identify what it was. I need to step back, assess, retrace my steps. It’s in those assessments, away from the question that I am often able to get more clarity.

Back to quiz taking. One was created from Steven R Covey’s book Great Work, Great Carer, written in tandem with co-author Jennifer Colosimo. I found it after delving into (still unfinished) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I started reading it during a moment of calm between all the varied things I have been involved in – church, social justice volunteering, food club, and work. This was just before the feeling of staleness and a new rut came over me. This was post Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Strengths-Based Leadership. This was on the continued discovery of self. This discovery of self to lead me to what Po Bronson thinks we should all be doing, finding out What Should I Do with My Life?

I took this Great Career quiz sometime ago, and tonight, for kicks have retaken it. The quiz simply takes you through a variety of tasks that would be found in a variety of careers. Asking things like, “Do you want to be a forest manager?” to “Do you want to organize complex filing systems?” Then, you rate it on a five point scale – tapping in one direction for very much so and the other for not really at all.

Topping the list, consistently, has been the path of “creative”. Prior to this veil of thinking, I have forgotten how important creativity in work is to me. So far out of the every day is my drawing and painting and sketching, that I only focus on the task lists, the organizing, the leading. How could I have forgotten that I love to draw? How could I have forgotten that I love to get dressed up and put make up on, not to showcase some feminine ideal, but because of the creativity involved. I call it “painting my face”. Some of the most enjoyable moments in a work day involve brainstorming or designing. Yet, a decision I made when I was a freshman in college (the first time at MSU) made me focus on the reading/writing side of a career. This cognizant choice to make a perceived safe decision away from the heartbreak if someone didn’t like my design… Is that why I am in any perceived ruts now? Am I in a career stalemate because I failed to acknowledge when I was 20 the need for creativity that I have?

Diverted

2-3 cups of guacamole on top of 9 cups of salsa (all homemade).
2-3 cups of guacamole on top of 9 cups of salsa (all homemade).

The salsa was made. 9 cups. The guacamole was created. Maybe 2 cups. It was packed. It was ready. Now all we had to do was get the rest of our stuff: swimsuits, towels, water bottles. We’d have to stop on the way to get ice. But, then, we could play, munch, and build community with my fellow staffers.

“Levi,” I called, “It’s time to go.”

It was only a mere 20 minutes since my husband had left for work. Clifford, via PBS Kids, was humming along on Levi’s computer.

“Come on Levi,” I attempted, again, “We have to get ready.”

Nothing. No noise at all. Was I so engrossed in salsa and guacamole that I didn’t hear… well, something?

I walk to the living room. The computer is humming along with no audience.

I walk around the couch, a foot into the hall, and I turn left.

“Odd”, I thought, “his door is closed.”

The silly boy put himself to bed, for a nap!
The silly boy put himself to bed, for a nap!

So, I open the door. The newly created “fort-bed” was closed. There was silence. I walked over to the fort-bed, and I lifted the cover. There was the boy. He had put himself to bed. He had put himself down for a nap. It was 2:17. We needed to leave now to beat anymore rush hour traffic and visit with staffers for about two hours. This boy was out cold. We were not going to make it.

My colleagues were without salsa and guar, but I will bring it in the office tomorrow. We’ll have a reprise of our “staff fun day.”

It’s these kind of conflicts, though, that boggle my mind. How are we supposed to navigate all of this? All of these responsibilities and ideas of where we should be. Staying focused on multiple goals (multitasking life!) in order to serve all the masters we serve.

I made a choice. Experience has taught me that rested children are happy children. I want to build our home for success, and that means ensuring one’s basic needs are met. Sure, I went without bonding with staff, but my son is more important. I may not be at my job next year, but I do plan on having my son.

Levi toured his revised fort-bed that now is bolstered by all the dining room chairs.
Levi toured his revised fort-bed that now is bolstered by all the dining room chairs.

Later in the evening, I was validated with my choice. Levi woke up two hours after I caught him napping. After we had a simple dinner, he confided, “I’m in a much better mood.”

“Oh? Were you in a bad mood before?”

He shrugged his shoulders but offered that the nap certainly helped. And, all day he was polite! Pleases and thank yous for nearly everything! He was cuddly and fun to be around. The monetary pay is crap, for being a mother. But, when I can get a Levi hug – life is better.

For more recent reading on the crazy imbalances we subject ourselves to – choosing work over family life, and the strange dichotomy between men and woman, read the following.

Tuesday, May 22nd

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Birthday Cupcake Ideology (Photo credit: alexis22578)

I have moved the computer to the kitchen. One light bulb is out, and the orange glow in our soon to be outlawed incandescent lights is disturbing my visual field. The dishes need to be put in the dishwasher. The floor still needs to be mopped. We have grocery bags that don’t have a great home, scattered among the chairs. Levi is in bed, whining for his squeezy bottle.

Tonight was one of those interesting parental evenings, where the child needs some semblance of attention and is manifesting that want in ways that are not comprehensible to the parent (me).

I picked the child up from school tonight, thankful for a low traffic night in this resurgence of rain and 60 degree weather. He was waiting, coat on, backpack on. As soon as I got to the door he was there with his teacher. A far cry from the night before where I could not find them. They ran an errand just as I arrived. Mind you, I was pushing the 6:00 clock pick up with my 5:58pm arrival. (I’ve been sick; I was trying to nap.) So, tonight, arriving twenty minutes earlier, they were ready for me in more ways than one.

The child was fairly pleasant. He removed his backpack immediately upon my arrival, claiming he now needed to get his snack. (I usually let him get it out after we get settled in the truck.) This was an amusing feat, regardless, for myself and his two teachers. I signed him out, and we resettled his backpack.

All was chipper.

We were low on a few grocery items that I don’t procure from my buying club (cheddar cheese, sour cream, yogurt, pasteurized milk, deli meats), so we ventured en route to the nearest grocery store.

The child continued with his chipper, playful, obedient mood. All this, to the pleasure of his mother (me).

We have an uneventful trip at the crowded grocery store, collect our items, and a new toy, and head out. The grocery store trip was accompanied by the 5-year-old being able to ride on the cart (in ways store staff don’t always approve) most of the trip. I was comfortable with this mode of transport as it 1) let me know where the 5-year-old is always and 2) kept him occupied in a pleasant way. All tactics aid to keeping the 5-year-old chipper, avoiding meltdowns, and allowing said child to remain obedient. All these things make mother pleased.

Once we are loaded into our car, backed out of the parking light, where full-trendy-grocery store parking dances commence (the car next to us pulls out, another pulls in, we pull out, another pulls in behind us, while dancing around drivers who quickly turned to pedestrians whilst navigating said parking lot and dance), and on the road — I tell the 5-year-old what’s for dinner. It goes something like this:

“So, when we get home, we’ll have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Okay?”

“Ooh, and I can have gold-fish crackers too!” replies the now excited 5-year-old.

“Yes! You can have gold-fish crackers with your grilled cheese sandwich.” I assure the 5-year-old, relieved that tonight, we can forego the nightly dinner argument.

Fast forward to being home, having groceries put away, the 5-year-old watching a Barney-Thomas the Train-Bob the Builder DVD on loan from the library, me grilling the sandwiches away. (Mine is more gourmet adorned with the deli meat and swiss cheese).

Note: Our microwave broke several weeks ago, beyond repair. We are down to a puny heel of bread. I brought two, very frozen loaves up from the deep freeze. They are now (3 hours later) thawed to a usable stage.

I let his small, grilled cheese sandwich cool, cut in half, on a plate while mine finishes. I mention to the 5-year-old that his grilled cheese sandwich is nearly done. I will even let him eat in the living room. (I don’t want arguments. I want easy dinner time which should transfer to easy bedtime.)

I hear no reply and mistake (yes, mistake) that for continued acceptance of before mentioned and vetted dinner menu. The gold-fish crackers have already been consumed.

The 5-year-old walks to the kitchen. The 5-year-old notes that these are indeed grilled cheese sandwiches.

“But, I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Grilled cheese is too dirty!”

Get it? Grilled cheese is toasted, crumbly bread, after it is grilled appropriately. It makes more crumbs than a fresh loaf of bread (one that is not available due to our no-microwave-fresh-from-the-freezer-state of bread).

I insisted that this indeed for dinner. After a 10-20 minute whine-fest in his room, the 5-year-old comes out. (The rule is that the living room and kitchen are more or less “happy zones”, any other inconsolable fit must be had in his room. He is allowed to return when he is in a better mood. We have found this to be a good tactic toward self-soothing.)

He says, “I can eat the grilled cheese sandwich in the living room, right?”

Ah, the life of a parent. It’s never-ending, unpredictable roller-coaster ride of developing minds.

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