Ok, I am a little bit proud of myself. You might think I’m completely bonkers, but hey, life is way too short not to enjoy small successes, right?
So, we’ve had some stuff breaking around the house. And of course, it can’t be one thing, it has to be everything, right? Why? Because that’s how life goes. The dishwasher, the vacuum, the bathroom light blew. The dishwasher is above my paygrade, and I certainly can’t pull it out and flip it to fix it. The bathroom and vacuum, however, I could manage. The bathroom was tricky because someone had painted over the screw I needed to access to get the cover off. (WHY do people paint over stuff they shouldn’t?) No worries though, it was a simple fix.
My daughter came in as I was dismantling my vacuum cleaner and sat down to watch me. She watched me take it apart, and commented how cool it was that I was able to do it. She watched me replace a belt, clean filters, and clean/adjust the brush. I explained the parts, what they do, and how I was going to fix it. She sat carefully paying attention. She helped me clean the parts. We laughed together, and both yelled with glee when the test run of the repaired vacuum confirmed it ran better than it had in YEARS. She beamed at me, so proud of what we had done. We then moved into the bathroom. I got on the ladder, and she held parts and passed me what I needed. Once done, she cheered and high fived me. She then commented “look mom, the girls fixed it! We didn’t have to wait for boys to do it!”.
I am very lucky to be the mom of a boy and a girl. This means that I have to raise two well rounded children who will grow into self sufficient, independent adults with great self esteem. Easy peasy, right? Not so much. I’m not a man basher. I’m not a bra-less ranting feminist. I’m just a gal who believes in equal rights for all but admittedly is flattered when my husband opens a door for me. I believe women should make the same as men for doing the same job. I feel men get skewered way too often. Has anyone noticed how television makes men seem like dolts? It’s unfortunate. My son already sees this bias on Tv and has commented on it. My daughter is already seeing the pressure of being “picture perfect” on TV, and also seeing certain gender stereotypes. I had a reminder today that I need to show her that women can do things that often stereotypically fall under “men’s” jobs. I try to do the same for my son. For this blog, I’ll focus on my daughter.
My husband does do a lot of the fixing of things. That’s mostly because he has the patience to do it. I often don’t. Sometimes things need strength, and that’s his forte, rather than mine. I am seeing more and more though that I need to take the time and gather the patience to do more of these little jobs because I want my daughter to see I can do it. If I can do it, she’ll know she can too.
I’ve been a working mom for pretty much her whole life. I balance a full time job, two kids, and I do it working an opposite schedule to my husband. I am proud of the fact she sees her mom having a career. I’m proud that she sees her mom contributing to the household, managing the family, and making sure everyone is taken care of. Ok, so she doesn’t see a perfectly clean house, or a mom who is perfect. And you know what? Maybe that’s a good thing. She sees me flawed, she sees I can’t do it all, but that I do my best. She sees that it’s ok not to have everything together all the time. That’s an important lesson in and of itself. I am happy, even if things aren’t always perfect.
Another lesson I have been working on teaching her is to not stand for nonsense. I keep my circle pretty small. It’s gotten smaller over the past year, and she has even commented about the fact that I don’t keep people around who don’t treat me well or who aren’t nice to me. Kids are super perceptive. I explain that I have plenty of people to love, who love me as well, and those are the people I keep in my life. People who aren’t nice or who treat me badly are quickly shown the door. I have no time for nonsense or wasting time on people who don’t like me. I want her to see that she doesn’t have to keep mean or nasty people around. It’s ok to say no, it’s ok to stand up for herself, and that she doesn’t have to hang out with people who are bad to her. I know we have a big push in this country to teach kids to be kind. I teach my kids that too. (For anyone interested, look up the children’s book about filling buckets, it’s fabulous). They came with me on my treck to look after cats, to provide Christmas for a family, etc. We talk regularly about ways to be kind, and how to act if people aren’t. That being said, I think women are often all too accepting of bad behavior. We think it must be us, or we can fix the person, or we feel like we deserve less than. I don’t want that for her. I want her to feel confident in her choices of the people around her. I want her to keep people who make her smile, and to move away from those who make her feel even an ounce of bad.
As a woman, we are taught to apologize a lot. Ever notice that? Someone will bump into you and women will often reply “I’m sorry”, as if our very presence was something to apologize for. We sometimes even apologize without even meaning to. Why? We are taught to be pleasant at all costs. We are taught, unfortunately, to often make excuses for bad behavior. I’m trying to teach her the opposite of that. I am working hard on saying “sorry” when it’s truly warranted, and not just on impulse when nothing is to be sorry for. I am teaching her that someone treating her unkindly is NOT ok, and she shouldn’t just tolerate it. We talk about decisions and choices, and how to handle situations. It’s a learning curve, but I think it’s working well.
I have always believed that almost all bad decisions are caused in some way by low self esteem and insecurity. It’s hard raising a girl in a world that markets to her by telling her she is too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, not pretty enough, not ok enough. That’s how companies often market to women. They play on our insecurities to make us but things to “fix ourselves”. Look at the beauty industry. It’s mostly based on fixing our “flaws”. How do I, as a mom, compete with that? How do I tell her she is beautiful inside and out, exactly as she is, when the rest of the world is all too prepared to pick her apart? Growing up, I dated boys who were bad for me. I was an easy target because I was often insecure. It took many years, and a big change in attitude before I met the right man for me and settled down. I had to learn to be ok with myself. Love myself. As Rupaul says “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?” And it is TRUE. How do I teach a little girl to love herself more than the world can make her believe differently? It’s a daily struggle.
I often write her notes on her board. One recently mentioned that she was kind, smart, and strong. I noticed a few days later that a school project had her creating a character and describing them. Her character had the same characteristics I had listed in my note about her. It hit me that she is listening. She is looking to me and her father to help her realized what’s good about herself. I will be working every day to make her see how great she is. Trust me, I’ll still tell her when she’s being a slob, but I want her to feel confident. Some days, she’ll choose her outfit and leave the house looking like a walking carnival, but if she feels confident and happy, I’m ok with it.
Raising kids is hard. I joke that my job is to make sure I don’t raise little assholes. The fact is, it’s pretty true. I have to raise kind, respectful, independent, loving people so that they can hopefully find happiness as they grow up. That’s a lot of pressure! I have to raise a daughter to know she is smart enough, strong enough, and wise enough to handle what life will throw at her. Even if it’s a broken vacuum or a difficult light fixture. If you can handle the little things, it’s sets the tone for the bigger things.
Looks like I better start learning how to fix stuff, eh?