Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

This week, one of my hero’s passed on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family:

Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.

Guy B. Johnson

My favorite F word

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 So, what are you studying?

Me: women’s studies

Oh…. does that mean your a feminist?

Me: yeah. I’d like to think so.

Oh.. (let the judgement begin).

  Angry.     Lesbians.     Hair legs.

Superiority over men.    Hating men.

Trying to
throw out every tradition.

Anti feminine.   Against lipstick.

Crazy.    Egotistical.   Excluding groups.

Anti stay at home mom.

Against dating chivalrous men.

Pointless, angry picketing.

Rejection of female characteristics.

Annihilation of gender.

Feminism: this is not actually what the word means for everyone.

I like men. I like men so much that I am dating one. And I even want to be married. I have come across so many people asking me why I am a feminist if I have a child and want to be married. Why would I want both?

I want to hit people with my textbooks sometimes. I hope that if I hit them hard enough, some influential advocates and writers words will imprint their brains.

Permanently.

But instead, I smile and explain what it means to me. What careers I aspire to go for. And what feminists have influenced me. If they want to walk away confused or in disbelief, so be it.

I find it interesting when the topic of feminism comes up among friends. They all want to give input but many don’t back anything up with real history or facts. Some don’t know my major or beliefs and so they crack jokes, looking to be for approval or fuel for the fire. They knock it or make fun of the way “feminists” act. Some do understand what the word means but dare not relate to it.

They don’t want to be identified with it.

Maybe its fear. Or ignorance.

I think a big problem is lack of education. And having too much privilege without understanding how they are able to live the way they do. For me, it seems that every day perspectives around me are narrow. My major and the education I’m being provided with allows me to see things in a whole. A large perspective.

I understand the struggles women deal with every day. Blindly.

I have struggled a lot when trying to be who I am in a society that is hell bent on narrow standards. As a young woman, I have to constantly adhere to a certain way of speaking, thinking, looking and appearing. I am supposed to as Adrienne Rich defined it, “play the part”.

I felt like a performer most of my life. I should behave the way a lady should. And abandon my strong will. Be quiet and obedient. Dress appropriate and never defy men. Not my father, my grandfather, nor my uncle or brother. I shall find a husband to obey too. Maybe get some education. A job in a woman’s field. That’s the life.

I have grown up on conflicting music lyrics and media messages, giving me a false sense of hope in the term modest. Why be modest or virtuous when men sing and obsess over my breasts. My ass cheeks in a tight skirt and leather thigh boots I will never afford but so desperately have wanted in order to fit in with those popular girls in high school. Fashion changes so much during adolescence because of a constant hunger to fit in.

I need to fit in.

I need to be sexy. And wanted. But not easy. I can be alluring but sexy too easily means loose. Floosy. A whore. Stay away from those whores. They are trouble. No, you have to be a middle girl. Someone who is not fake, but fake enough to have a click (popularity). I must be sexy but not too sexy (or else I’ll be the school whore or end up pregnant). Buy those expensive jeans that everyone has. Steal them if you have to. Too fat? Binge and purge. Don’t eat at all. Live off of gum. Do what you gotta do.

Or kiss your highschool life goodbye.

No matter what, I always felt trapped. I always felt like I was pressed to please but couldn’t. My breasts were too big. Or not big enough. I wanted to fit in one day and stand out the next.

My decision to have my baby at 16 was majorly life altering.  Even then, I saw sexism in the works. I was removed from finishing my junior year in my town high school. Being three months pregnant was deemed too dangerous for my (their) wellbeing (reputation). My own father could not handle being a father to her only daughter. My ex bailed shortly after learning I was carrying a girl.

The reality of how men and women are raised is more and more obvious to me every day. In raising a little girl, I see the struggles I faced sometimes repeating for her. What I am thankful for is my awareness.

Feminism to me, is advocating. Its having awareness. Using your education and resources in order to make life more equal for men and women. To stop the objectification of women. To give voice to the many girls that are abused, neglected, raped, or killed because they are not able to fight back. Because they are women.

I want my daughter to feel value and self worth. Not to define it by the length of her denim skirt or the color hair she desires to have. Not by the size of her bra or the amount of guys that want her. I want her to understand her body. To not feel ashamed of her anatomy or what can be done/not done to it. To understand the dangers of assault and rape as well as how to defend herself. I want her to not just feel like she is strong and able but to learn about many people around the world who aren’t. To be educated in how other countries live and behave. Modesty means appreciating your privileges, not exploiting others for what they lack.
 

feministingmama

Diving into feminism and kindergarten!

  Today went as magically as could be imagined. My daughter loved school and cannot wait to get back tomorrow to her classroom. I was so proud that she ran onto the bus, until she gave me no hug and left like I was invisible. One point for independence. I so needed the tissues more than her. Independence is good though. It means I did everything right. Being a single mother for the past five and a half years has served me right. She needs me a little less. That’s what parents should be. Support and encouragement towards becoming self sufficient. Although I will never be able to imagine a time when we have to part, I am so proud at the reality of my daughter having to move forward with her life. Every tiny step she takes on her own, from her first steps to the steps onto the bus today, she is becoming herself. A person with dreams, inspirations and a desire to grow.

  I am so inspired by the feminists I am reading currently into in all of my courses. It is really amazing to be able to apply my studies to my life. To actually use what I am learning to shape my own life and experiences. No thanks to square dancing or calculus, I am not earning a relative career in those topics. I am not earning a degree in applied math or science. I will not be studying anything mind numbing like some of the courses I was forced to take in early public school. I am proud to have hand selected and earned my position in my field. I hope to luck out and find my career after becoming a graduate student. I truly believe that through praying and focusing, I have been led to the best directions for myself. So far, all my courses have further educated me to a direct interest. I have almost solved the age old question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

  I think that writers like Wollstonecraft and Beauvoir had great points about how women were treated as an “other” or “unbeing” in society. What’s worrisome to me are the many women around me who choose to be inferior and grounded in their lives. I feel like women are so afraid of taking on the responsibility to become more.

  Although I am proud to be a mother as well as a sole provider for my household, I know that it is a hard to juggle and keep up. Not many girls are willing to juggle a child along with their studies and a job. I also think a current problem that is digressing the progress of women is many uneducated people choose to hold their own success back. I do not think that becoming a mother is a setback by any means. My motherhood journey is what launched my success and my drive grew stronger with becoming responsible for another person. I grew into my multiple roles. It is never easy and I do have times where I feel the weight of my juggle act. But its liberating. I enjoy that I am able to have all the experiences and benefits that I do. I have them because I chose to pursue everything. I get scholarships and aid because I have learned how to form relationships with colleagues and professors enough to get recommendations. I have also learned to apply my skills and better my weaknesses. As I mature, I continue to grow and expand my knowledge of the world around me. I am not the same person I would have been had I not had my daughter.

What bothers me are the people who choose to do nothing. No mental stimulation or personal growth. People who choose to be stuck how they are. For years or sometimes forever. What the problem with doing nothing is, is that those who do nothing change nothing. You do not help out your peers in any struggle when attributing to the causes. When you ignore problems or live in cycles of oppression, you encourage it to exist. When you do nothing to support your peers as humankind, you cause gender divide. Society is structured with dichotomies of relationships, caused by resistance to change. It becomes a problem when we raise our children to be racist, sexist and ignorant out of a lack of desire to change our ways. Its selfish. And lazy.

  One thing I do to support changing the way I was raised is to reinforce equality and positive images in the lessons I teach my child. I make sure I explain family structures and love in a variety of ways. I teach her that love is love, regardless of sexual orientation. I teach her that gender differences is nothing but the difference of genitalia, not in her looks or ability to succeed. I highlight all of her characteristics. Without telling her she is boyish or girlish. Its a constant effort on my part to watch my language, verbal and non verbal, as well as what I choose to give her. I select what films we view and I think about the kind of stories I tell her. I care about how she feels. What she thinks. And I support her to progress in whatever she loves. (Unless its something like destroying my homework). I take pride in my choices. Seriously. Because those choices are making my child who she is.

I have taken my daughter on my campus many times as well as to my classes. We have also been attending different organizations since she was a year old. I have been involved I. Student government, the school paper and have worked hard to help change my colleges to be more family (kid) friendly. I have been stared at. I have pushed limits. I have asked questions others dared to. And pressed for changes others never bothered to ask for. Out of their comfort or ignorance. I have taken a few years to realize I am so made for my field that I was meant to be where I am.

Its pretty great to feel like you belong. Like something in you just feels at home with your choices. When I am in my classrooms, although anxiety of homework rattles my brain, I am excited to learn. I do not take for granted any of the privledges I have in my life. Its important to be thankful. Above all, I am tired of people blaming others for their short comings or failures.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you aren’t happy with your life, change it. You can shape your life based on your choices.

When you feel something is not right or you work so hard to make something wrong feel right, it may be time to move on. And when you choose to give up on your dreams, you are to blame.

If you wont even try, you lack ambition, not options.

feministingmama

Will you raise your son like you raise your daughters?

  I have thought a lot about what it would have been like to have had a boy. To have experienced a son with a man who desperately prayed for a boy and was not so thrilled to have a daughter. I was proud to have a healthy baby, no matter what the outcome. Now that my child and I are older, I have realized the power and significance in my life since having a daughter. I have realized the value of educating my child about gender and equal opportunity. I have also noticed the difference in how we have been treated all because I have a girl rather than a boy to raise. Here’s what I have summed it all up to.

We live in a world where (all over the planet) male children are valued more than females. Male babies are welcomed to families with more enthusiasm for the fact that they can carry the family name. A strong boy is always welcomed to be born first so they can be the oldest and the protector. In some countries, boy children are valued higher for their physical abilities to work and earn income for the family. Males are also able to carry out family traditions such as religion and possibly a family company.

In other parts of the world, female children are used as a system for bartering and gathering dowry to earn status and income. Land. Reputation. Daughters are valued as a service or deal while male children are kept as leaders of the family. Girls are sold into sex slavery and married off young in order to provide benefit in highly poor regions. Some countries find it beneficial to send the boys to school while the girls have to work in sweatshops and on farms. This is valid and recent information. So many girls all over the world are treated unfairly in comparison to males. So many girls are aborted, abandoned and devalued through trading their lives for income or status. Its nothing more than a sales transaction, while some little girl somewhere is being raped repeatedly in a brothel in order for her parents to afford their farm and boys to make a living.

This stuff is real. It happens. To this day.

I have come to appreciate all of my advantages in being a young, white and independent female in America. To be able to choose my fate, apply for assistance and live by myself at a University. To have food on my table and clothing for myself and my child. I can recognise my advantages as a teen parent, though having been abandoned by my parents. I still have options. I do not have to care for my parents financially or emotionally. I will not ever have to be responsible for their debt. Nor will I have to give up my own child for their gain. Not me. I made my choices.

And lucky for me, I survived.

  Somewhere, far away, I know girls are worse off than I was. Homeless. Starving. No education. No ability to take care of their kids. No contraception but sometimes no other means of survival but to turn to prostitution or stripping. To turn to marrying onto a loveless marriage in order to get bills paid and a loveless union for a roof over their heads.

How many men have had to face these trials?

How many young boys have been traded in order to harvest the crops and afford the family home?

How many boys have been sold into sex slavery and then forced to have abortions or operations for far worse problems from having to have sex with hundreds of men a month?

Of course, young boys and teen boys have also been sold or kidnapped in the past. Its not only a female focused crime. However, the point is to look at the value of each gender. Why should either child be more or less important?

In America, children are gendered even in this generation. The way we dress our children, the toys we select for them and the things we prioritize for them are GENDERED.

Look in target. Toysrus.

Stroll down an isle in the girls section and tell me what you see. Do you see pink, glitter and accessories? Dresses, tight materials and low cut everything? What are the toys like? Do you see any science kits or legos in the girl isle? Does dressup consist of firefighters, doctors or lawyers? Or do we see imaginary character costumes? Fantasy or domestic roles over police officers or dentists.

The funny thing is, most people are senseless and don’t even notice. Check out the toys that are eye level to children. What does the media and the toy industry want your child to aspire to? If you think it doesn’t hinder your child’s ability to develop based on gender bias then your wrong. Your dead wrong to say you would let your boys play with Barbie’s. And when my daughter wants to grab trucks or wrestlers, she’s stared at. Why is that?

Though I can go on forever listing the ways western culture gender divides children, my main point lies in the way we choose to raise our children. We choose this stuff. From the nursery until the college dorm, we hand pick and design the way our kids develop. We encourage things based on their gender as well as what is normal for our societal norms. This complicates your child’s ability to differentiate between fantasies and real goals. Our daughters find fantasy play more pleasing than hard laboring or leading their own dreams. Because we tell them its OK to be dainty and submissive. To wait for a husband to pay for their every need and build their home for them. To be the breadwinners for them and provide the stability. Leaving all the pressure on the males to complete those sometimes impossible achievements.

We also rob female children of their own achievements by making them feel as if certain goals are unattainable. As if they simply cannot and should not be able to take care of themselves. 

  I appreciate that I do not need another person to take care of me. I have had to grow up very fast due to many things in my past that didn’t allow for me to be submissive or for lack of a better term, effing stupid. I have not had the time or patience to sit around and wait for others to take care of me or save me. I have never settled for less than what my mind believes I can acquire. I believe in myself. Regardless of my gender or the oppressions I have faced, I know I can reach as high as I allow myself to.

What I will pass down to my daughter is the knowledge and abilities to take care of herself. I want her to understand the history of women all over the world and the strides many made to overcome their societal limitations. To overcome the struggles pushed onto them for simply being born a female. I never want to hear my daughter say she does not appreciate who she is or what abilities she has. We all should be thankful for what we do have because someone out there has it way worse. I want her to be compassionate and have a desire to serve others. To help make the world have equal opportunities for both genders.

I want her to know the struggles young girls face every day. Instead of being blinded to the crimes and awful treatment afflicted by strangers, families or cultures.

  I have had more than a handful of people curse me with the conclusion that because I had my daughter young, she may get pregnant young. Correction. Will get pregnant young. As of she will spitefully plan it. Or I will not reinforce the lessons I learned hard enough. Maybe they even though in some ways, my “stupidity” gene was hereditary. I have mostly been stunned enough to pause before reacting. My favorite was the time an unnamed person told me that I’m in trouble for having a daughter because she can be pregnant as a teen. To this I replied, “well I suppose it would be better than having a son who can impregnate twenty women at once if he tries hard enough.” Yup. I said it.

I have also been told that I am in trouble when my daughter becomes a teen because girls are just worse off. They are troublesome for wanting to dress a certain way. For wanting sex. To date. To be popular. To be noticed. Its been said that girls are the ones who seduce. Who beg for attention. Who ask for it. Attract rape. Attract pregnancy. Well, I would like to know what made women feel the need to compete against one another. What makes the females want to act certain ways and go through certain things that males don’t. Supposedly don’t. 

  Some day, when I have a son, I am going to treat him as equals with my daughter. I want to educate my child(ren) about sexual health, body changes and hormones. I want to provide curfews and standards for both sexes. I also want to be fair. I want my boys and girls to feel value in themselves as unique individuals with different passions and dreams. I do not want to blame their short comings on their gender. Or limit their options based on what society provides for each gender.

Wake up people!

The truth is, no child should hold more value over the other. And no child of anyone should have to feel inferior in their family. We set the standards. We have the choice to make the boundaries. But parents have to be willing to put in the work and effort.

While I raise my daughter, I show her how to respect herself and respect others. I show her how to use compassion and kindness. How to appreciate her talents and work on her weaknesses. We love animals and nature. Art and science. We do not do things based on the fact that she is a girl. However, I do not want her to be gender neutral. I won’t tell her she does not have to identify strongly with being female. That’s not what feminism is about. What I wish for my daughter is to stand up for the fact that she is a female, but to make her own definition of what is appealing to her. Not what society forces her to like.

I will not blind myself to the fact that she will soon have emotions of all kinds. She will hit puberty and go through social obstacles. Like any other child. It all comes down to how I will handle it. And how I will educate her to make her own choices.

The best gift you can give your child, boy or girl, is the whole picture. Instead of allowing a narrow view of life, give them the whole picture and allow them to make their own mind up. If you can teach your children to be independent and well rounded, your job as a parent is complete.

  So here it is. Some day I want more children. Once I am married and in a home of our own. A home built up on values and equality. A family that appreciates each others uniqueness and talents. When the days come and the obstacles hit the front, I will deal with them as fairly as possible. When I have sons, they will hear the importance of safe sex and commitment. They will all hear about curfews. About self respect and self reliance. Independence. As well as knowing when to ask/receive help. I want all of my children to understand the importance of permission. To say sorry and take responsibility when making a mistake. I want my sons to respect and care for their future partners but also accept when a partner wants to be independent. To never leave a girl if she does not want to be intimate. To earn their lovers. To earn trust.

These are the qualities all children need to be raised on.

Its what will help weaken the gender standards. So we can all start living with equal expectations and opportunities. For the better of our own and future generations.

The magical thing about freedom of choice is that we do not have to live like the past. Society has the opportunity to record history and learn from it. Change is the only way to make a difference in this world.

feministingmama

The anti-babymama

   If it is one thing I really hate about teen pregnancy Stigma’s its the obsessively used terms “babymama” and “baby daddy”. I just cannot come to terms with associating myself as one. I hate the slang of it as well as the common usage. When someone says that, it makes them sound uneducated and ignorant. When someone says that to me, it makes me feel like I am uneducated and disrespected. I am a woman. A mother. An unwed female with a child. And you sir/madam are a genius because it did in fact take two people to make my child. I did have to reproduce in order to become pregnant. I also have biological attachment to my child, as well as the sperm which made my child. But in no way. No way. Do I want to be referred to or asked about any “Baby mama drama”.

This culture and time period I am growing up in has a lack of understanding or appreciation of parenthood. At all ages, women are degraded and judged for their unwed mothering. The slang terms and stigmas associated with the younger ages are the worst because both imply age with ignorance. I am not a dumb person. I am not a slut. Or a poor case. I do not act “crazy” or make up stories to egg on custody battles. What other things can you all think of? What does a baby mama do?

Am I not considered one because I am earning my degree and independent? If I were living in my parents basement and harboring unhealthy feelings for my ex, would I make the par for that term? Would I need to talk like I am uneducated and dress like I am a stripper? Or does a baby mama have to dress great, have tattoos and spend all the child support money on things she can’t afford in order to spite the ex? I have heard so many different aspects of the term from the media, TV dramas and the mouths of my own peers.

Is being a baby daddy as simple as being the sperm of a child’s conception? Does the “daddy” part only imply an involved father or is it a deadbeat? Does this man have to be a jerk and horrible parent or just a parent who is not engaged, committed to or married to the mother of the child? With all of the contradicting definitions, it is quite hard to keep up. To make the bar. Do I even want to be in those categories?

I am sick of being looked at or thought of as a jerry springer case. As irresponsible or reckless. As someone who is not considered a good mother or a balanced mother because of my age. Why is it that women who are married aren’t called baby mamas? Are they referred to as more than just the biological mother because they have the capability to be what society thinks is a prepared parent? I got news for everyone. No parent is a fully prepared parent. Not at first. Maybe not even after the second or third. No one has every detail planned AND executed perfectly. A wedding ring does not mean a woman is qualified to be a mother. What the problem really is, to be blunt, is that its no ones right to classify a woman and her parenting capability. Its no ones business. But hers.

Now that I have ranted about that, I need to tackle some interesting comparisons between males and females in unwed parenthood. As it seems, from my experiences, the woman will always get the grief and judgement full force. While the males seem to skid by and get a social “pass” for not being ready or making a mistake. I do not make this stuff up. I’ve seen it and lived it. I have studied it. And now, I’m speaking out about it.

So what makes a man a father? What makes a male qualified to parent his child? What makes him unqualified? And really think about this…  do the laws and regulations of custody/Childsupport really abide by societies standards or what is actually best for a child? No matter what state you live in, it is good to research and understand the laws which your society follows.

In New York state, once paternity is established, the father has the obligation to pay 17% for their first child of support. After one child, the percentage is divided up amongst what is left after the first portion. If the father makes children with different women, each child gets money according to the birth order. In the year 2013, it is a fact that 40% of children are born out of wedlock. Think of how busy the child support bureau must be!

When a young man has children with more than one woman, whether by affair or new relationships, he is required to provide care doe each child. Quite often, teen parents become pregnant again within the first two years of their child’s life. That being said, many couples do not make it through the trials and tribulations of early parenthood. They find new partners and start family planning with them. In the community I live, when a man has more than one woman and children from each, he still does not get as much slack as the women. Even if he cheats. Society says that he will just have to pay the support, pay his dues, and no further action is required. It is not acceptable but also ignored if a man fathers many kids. From a biological perspective, he is just spreading his seed. Taking a deeper look from a sociological perspective, he is just trying to find the right partner. Or a better partner. If you examine different species, you will see it can even be quite common for animals to populate with multiple partners to ensure surviving kin. Healthy kin. So I want to know, are we really more evolved than animals in our reproductive traditions? Are some men hard wired to behave out of instinct? Are some women? What makes sex so irresistible that humans find having sex with multiple people is sometimes more satisfying than finding one mate for the rest of their lives? Is this biological? Is it a way of survival? Or is it that sexual drives hold value for some more than establishing a family? One family.

I ask these questions not to be funny but to make everyone think. If we are more evolved than animals and have a deep, intellectual understanding of the world, then why do we sometimes act on pure animal instinct? I certainly do not think its completely natural for the human species to populate with multiple partners, or else that is how we would evolve. There is an importance to picking out the right partner. There is an actual science to it. On how we select our mates and how males/females select their life partners.

This has a lot to do with the terms baby mama and baby daddy. I want you to think about why it becomes a social phenomenon of having unwed and single parents. A lot of factors play into why relationships do not always work out. Economics, religion, education etc. What are the standards in american culture for choosing a mate and does it vary based on gender? Do females have different preferences in their mates, either choosing men for just sex or men to be fathers and partners? They sure do.

What makes me think about my own life is how harshly I have been judged in the past for having a child unwed and too young. For being considered foolish. When my ex left, when I was left with all of the responsibility, why was he not expected by society let alone his family, to be responsible? Why was I questioned and blamed for being abandoned and expected to pick up the slack? Why are most girls expected to when they are not married?  Is it punishment for us choosing the wrong person to father our children? Furthermore, if a woman knows a man had a child but did not stick around, then why would she choose him to father a child with? What makes females think that a man can be changed? Or want to father one child over another?

The answers to my own personal position are that I did not think long term how the man I chose to be sexually active with would be as a father. I did not fully weigh the fact that he did not think about being a father either. I was given the choice to abort or not. I was given the bills. The pregnancy. The responsibilities. As expected because I was perceived as the one who chose to make a mess. So I had to clean it up. And when it became clear that I would be a single mother, not one thing was done to ensure the man would not continue to have sex and make children elsewhere. I was harassed about being put on the pill. The shot. Anything to keep me from “doing it again”. No one asked if the father would be safe. What form of birth control he would use after. If he would make wiser choices. Or be a fulltime parent. In fact, when your a “baby daddy”, society mostly assumes you will be a check.

I have not chosen to label myself based on those terms. I have also decided to put thought and time into finding the right man. Through my maturity and experiences, I have began to understand what it means and takes to be a parent. I made my child and birthed her. But that is not what makes me a mother. What makes me a mother are my daily sacrifices and obstacles that I choose to overcome for my child. I did not anticipate having a child at 17 but I knew what sex led to. I do everything in my power to be there for everything. To raise her with morals, values and an understanding of the world around her. That’s what a mother does.

A father is not defined by the money they send through a check or the fake stories they tell people. If you receive a card once a year from the man who made you, guess what? He’s not a father. A sperm does not equal a parent. What makes a father is a man who is willing and able to put his time into his child. His sacrifices and his love are constant. His efforts are not begged for. His time is not precious but rather a gift for the child. He makes choices to benefit his child. Helps with the work and the obstacles that comes with parenthood. Whether a couple stays together or not, a father is someone who does not abandon the child. For anything.

What is hard to swallow is that people still judge me for being young and impulsive. It is wrong to judge anyone. It is also wrong to push high standards on women over men. To not put any standards on men who make children without putting in the work. That’s proof of patriarchy at its finest. For it to be acceptable for males to not sacrifice the same as the female they made a child with should be a crime. But in most states it isn’t. And in fact, family court values parenting as nothing more than a sperm and egg. Even if you are unmarried,  a single mother is not protected fully by law. Nor is she supported when the father is abusive or a “deadbeat” aka not involved. It is all black and white. No shades of gray to protect the child. That’s the sad truth.

What I do wish to impart on my peers is the importance of self worth. Of choosing a partner that is both trustworthy and intelligent. Compassionate and raised with morals. When you choose a partner to father children with, do it wisely. No matter what type of union you are in, either straight, gay, married or unmarried know the importance of mate selection. Know how to protect yourself when being sexually active. Most importantly, research and know all of your rights. Understand your responsibilities before bringing children into the world. Something so intimate and special should be one of the most important choices you will ever make. Parenthood should never be taken lightheartedly.

feministingmama

“All by myself”

 
  We finally have made it to September. My daughter seems so excited for kindergarten. I have been shopping for what I can to prepare for kindergarten. I was so excited to receive my silicone baking cups in the mail finally!!! I cannot wait to use them for organizing her school lunches.

   Today we picked up some more finger foods and snacks for her lunches. I also found some pretty cute Tupperware. This is what my life comes to. I am excited about lunch containers. Its a new chapter in her life so I want
everything to be perfect.
   

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I am trying out new recipes for my daughter to add in new food groups she isn’t used to. I also need to amp up my diet which now consists of anything I can get at campus or junk. No breakfast. And cookies. I am horrible during the semester. I snack way too much and end up not feeling 100%. I need to focus on eating the right types of food. Also, I need to live off water. I am a maniac when searching for beverages because nothing seems to be natural anymore. I hear so much about GMOs and added dietary chemicals. I search for 100% juice or it goes back on the shelf.
  
   So far this past week I have labeled books, prepared her backpack, and tried to encourage her as much as possible. I am dealing with my own stresses but trying not to let it show. I have trouble hiding my feelings from my daughter. She is the only one who can see right through me. She knows all my weaknesses and fears. She knows my happy face. My angry face. She will even walk into time out because she knows my “I have had it up to here” face. You all must know what I mean!

  What is bothering me is that her going to kindergarten is a big marker of independence for us both. I am starting to decide what career I want. The clock is ticking. I have to come up with answers. I need to get a plan that is fail proof. I have no where to live after I graduate. I have to find an apartment, find a steady job and get a car. I have to make sure its in the area so my daughter can stay in her district. I need to do it all by myself. The lesson of the week has been that phrase exactly. What I am most afraid and eager of is having to and needing to do this all alone.

  I have been in a serious and committed relationship for three years with a man who is not the father of my child but the only person she knows most besides me. He met her when she was only two. She is nearly six now. We are both college aged and busy with our own paths. We have made it through so many things that I feel like we are almost invincible. We thought long and hard about some major decisions and decided to follow our own hearts but in different directions. No, not a breakup. Physically. As in latitude, longitude. He is going to go to Africa to serve and help people. I am going to finish my college degree and find the career of my dreams. With all of our friends all rushing to be married or pregnant, we have been very different. We have stayed committed and happy without rushing to be more than just our ages. It has made us happy and closer than ever to follow through on our own life plans. Something I learned a long time ago was that giving up your dreams for any guy is not love. Its settling. And abandoning your own passions. I’ve done it before. And I got a daughter out of it. I am so thankful for that. But now is my time to get it right.

   I had to say good luck and see you later to my best friend, my only real love last night. He will leave tomorrow evening on a days journey to Africa. I am so blessed to have him in my life and to have his family. We are so in love and in sync with each other. I never really felt loved by anyone like I do with him. Though we both cried and had a hard time parting, we feel joy at the great experience we are giving each other. To be able to grow and follow our own paths. When both of us are done in a few semesters, we can then be reunited and see where our five year relationship. We have plans for the future together but first we need more than ever to complete our own goals. He is my hero and I admire him so much. For all that he does for others. He constantly puts others well being before his own. He is active in church and also a well adjusted guy. He has been the best thing to ever happen to my daughter. She is so excite for him to go to Africa and see zebras. She tells everyone about him nonstop. I never thought I would find someone to whole heartedly accept myself and my daughter, for all that we are.

   I can honestly say I have loved him fro. The start. (Really, I said I love you the first week). I dated a lot after my ex, even though Bella was a baby. She never met any of the guys really. Unless I was friends with guys I did not want her to be raised meeting all different guys. Still, I was only seventeen with a baby. I did want to date. I went through a whole lot of frogs and didn’t feel right with any. I felt like I could just skip being emotional to avoid being hurt or abandoned again. Love was not for me. Until I met him. Now some friends ask me If I’m open to dating while he is away. Its not on the table. When you know, you just know.

 

I have had a lot of obstacles but I finally know what I want in my life. I know who I want to be. Who I am. And who I want to spend my life with. I am thankful and happy for the friends i have. For the memories I am making with my daughter. I can actually say I am at peace with my life. All because I am not afraid to do things by myself. To accomplish my goals and make my own dreams come true. Like I deserve.

Love is having your heart walk whole outside of your body. For me, half beats strong in Africa and the other half is cuddled up on my lap. I finally found my home.

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feministingmama

Its OK to have “Just a mom”.

   Hold me to this. I have an idea. One that will some day hit Barnes and Noble. With my name on it. A children’s book. A classic , award winning series”. I will call it “One is enough”.  I will even illustrate it (there goes my art skills in action). And it will be dedicated to my sweet daughter.

  My story will be meant for children all over the world (offered in every language and in every library). It will discuss various situations in life where one parent was enough. I will make a series for fathers and for mothers who are single. From being widowed, abandoned, divorced etc. For all of those situations. The ones where people wonder, stare and question (sometimes out loud) if one parent is enough. Guess what?

   It can be.

I have had a rough but enjoyable journey with my daughter.

My ex had tried a few attempts at being in her life, mostly due to my dumb encouragement on giving her a chance to know who he was. It did not stick. It just did not work. One of the two of us was mature and ready enough to be a parent at 16. The other, not so much.

I have stressed and thought over and over about what is best for my child. Not what looks best. Or sounds best. But what is functionally best for her well being. For her future. She has on her own questioned things. All she has ever known is mom. She has literally been with me her whole life without view of another parent for any of her milestones. I have packed every lunch. Set every bath. Kissed every booboo. Wiped every tear. I have 100% supported her life and well being. But some insist that it is still not enough. It cannot be enough for her to have one parent. She must be lacking in something from deprivation. She must have some ugly or bitter trait from not having two parents. She must be forming “daddy issues” or not comprehend where babies come from.

Even some judge, somewhere, will tell me “that is not good enough”. The american, hetero-normative parenting diagram states that it takes two to tango. So when one parent skips out of all the responsibilities, memories, milestones and bills, its still inappropriate and lacking for a child to have a parent who does it all. That’s simply not enough to meet everyone’s standards.

Of course not everyone admits this out loud. They do it through actions. Its so normative to have two parents that a child with one is questioned out loud if their other parent is dead. Or disappeared. Its natural for kids to question things. But who fills their heads with the idea that it is OK to ask another if they are missing or lacking something? How does that child feel when other kids ask them why there is no dad or mom. Like shit probably.

  I have not raised my daughter to go around asking people why they have or don’t have a parent. I have told her countless stories about families of all colors, sizes and orders. Some families have two moms. Some families have two dads. Some families have just grandparents. Some families have a mom and dad and sisters and brothers. Some families are made of many relatives living all together. And then, there are some families with just a mommy and a child. And that’s OK too.

Its such a sensitive thing, explaining reality to a child. Those moments we have to burst their innocent bubble and fill it with the grime of the earth. The things we hope to not cause them pain or anguish. Yet we have to. Some information needs to be explained so that other kids don’t fill their heads with bad feelings about it. I have had to sit my child down when she asks why some families have dads and some don’t. She has asked me why I do not have a mommy or daddy. In her eyes, I am everything. And I have all the answers. I am the all knowing mommy god. I try to be light in detail but truthful. Since those times, some kids have asked her about her parents. She simply tells them ( in a strong statement), “I don’t have a dad, I have a mom”. 

  I do not wish to fill her head with negativity. I do not think it is my job to give her every detail and explanation on why my ex is not involved. Why he chose to make bad choices. I know some day he will have to answer to her when the time comes. That will be for him to come to terms with. What I try to focus on is what mommy and her accomplish. It is not about what we don’t have. Its what we do have. We have always had each other. That’s what we will always have. No matter what.

  Being a parent is a full time job. It is exhausting and beautiful. To be a parent, you have to invest your full attention. Your every days. Your heart and soul. You have to be willing to sacrifice your last dime for them, your only piece of bread and your last breathe. They are a part of you. A literal part of you, only outside of your body. My daughter is like my heart, walking around on this Earth. With her own personalities, ideas and dreams. My daughter has a little bit of me but she is 100% her own person. She knows what she wants and likes, even at five. She is preprogrammed. She is not a toy or a puppy but a real person with a bright future.

I hope that as she grows, from the love and encouragement I give her, that she can be who and what she wants to be. She has had such a fulfilling childhood already. A normal one. Filled with friends, dance classes, stuffed animals, VHS tapes, classic bedtime stories and so many people who love her. We have a wonderful family built up by the friends we have made and real love we have been shown (not by blood family). It does not matter how anyone is related to us or not. We have been just fine.

  To all the people who have had and will have the future audacity to ask my child why she does not have a father: it doesn’t matter. Its none of your business. Its none of your concern. My child’s single parent lifestyle is not contagious. It will not make your child rebellious or low income or crazy. In fact, having each other is pretty damn awesome. One really really is enough.

feministingmama