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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

What Makes A Mother

*What she means is that a mother with tattoos doesn’t seem like much of a mother at all.*

“You’re a mother with tattoos,” the cashier, in the orange Home Depot vest with platinum hair, cackles. You are just trying to purchase some magnets, two lollipops, two Coke Zeros, and fire-ant killer.

You try to smile and nod, but only manage a grimace. The cashier doesn’t seem to notice. Both of your kids stare at you expectantly, but you realize they are only waiting, as patiently as they can, for the lollipops in garish flavors like watermelon and cotton candy. You hand them lollipops, and they both grin like gremlins.

With all of your purchases in their separate bags, you turn to leave. Your husband pushes the three-year-old in the dayglo cart while your eight-year-old daughter walks beside you.

The cashier isn’t finished: “I mean, you’re a mom with tattoos. What do the people at their schools think? I mean…” (more…)

Graham Cassidy and the ACA

*Every time I used my insurance card, I was grateful for ACA.*

Here’s the letter I sent to Senate Finance Committee opposing the Graham Cassidy repeal.

Greetings,

I’m writing today because my family relies on ACA for quality, affordable healthcare. Because of this, I oppose the Graham Cassidy repeal.

Currently, I work as a freelance editor/writer, and my partner works for a small start-up company. For the last couple of years, we’ve relied on ACA for insurance for our family, which includes an eight-year-old and a four-year-old.

This week, our four-year-old complained about his leg hurting. We thought he might have bumped it, but he hadn’t fallen. Then, he started limping and refused to climb stairs or climb into my SUV. When I attempted to carry him on my hip to give him a break, he yelped and started to sob. I called the pediatrician for an appointment, once I realized that a limp is always something their office recommends having checked out.

I handed over my insurance card when I took him to pediatrician. He sat in my lap while we waited, which is unusual because he’s usually too busy to sit still. The PA looked over his leg, but called in the pediatrician for an evaluation. The doctor explained that he needed x-rays to determine if something was wrong with his hip or if it was toxic synovitis, inflammation of the hip joint that can sometimes occur after another virus. (more…)

You Were Ambitious

*I used to be ambitious. At least, that’s what people routinely told me.*

I was ready to write an essay on motherhood and ambition, but then my three-year-old wouldn’t let me leave at drop-off while his older sister waited in the car. He wouldn’t hurry up the stairs to his preschool or through the door to his classroom. We place his stuffed troll in his cubby and hang his green monster lunch bag on a hook. He walks even more slowly across the floor of the yellow room to the door that leads to the playground outside. “Could you hurry up?” I huff at him, and he grins at me. I’m annoyed at his slowness, but I’m also angry at my annoyance. His small legs only propel him forward so fast. He doesn’t hurry. His friends were already swinging on the swings and climbing up the equipment while he walks in slow motion and clings to my hand.

I hug him goodbye and discreetly glance at my watch. Now, I am running late. His eight-year-old sister has to be at camp in 20 minutes, and we will be hard-pressed to make it. One hug goodbye isn’t enough. He wants another and then another. Then, he wants a kiss, and then, he gives me a kiss on my arm as I try to look at my watch again.

“One last hug,” I say, “and then go play.” (more…)

Mother Knows Best: The Politics of White Christian Motherhood

*What disappears in the discussion of motherhood and faith is the relationship of both to race.*

In 1924, Robbie Gill, the Imperial Commander of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK), gave a speech entitled “American Women” at the annual Klonvocation (Klan speak for convention) of the Ku Klux Klan (1915-1930). She proclaimed:

We women of America love you men of America….We will mother your children, share your sorrows, multiply your joys and assist you to prosper in the way of this world’s good. In return, we expect you to recognize our power for good over your lives, and in the nation….We pledge our power of motherhood to America….Our knees can be the altars of patriotism to them.

For Gill, just as mothers parented children, they could also parent the nation. Maternity functioned as a claim to authority in public spaces, and she let Klansmen know that women as mothers could change the nation for the better. Gill, however, was not satisfied to let men (even Klansmen) dictate national politics and policies. (more…)

Track 18: What Fades Away

What Fades Away

Katherine Anderson Howell

 

The baby was 3 months old.

I wasn’t happy.

***

I spin and spin around the living room. My head feels lopsided, like it does when I’m too tired, or when panic leaves me hollow. The baby is in my arms. The baby laughs. I spin. I bounce the baby. I force a smile, which becomes a slightly more real smile, which becomes a little laugh. “Shake It Out” plays on repeat. Florence Welch and I sing the old platitude,  “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” The baby doesn’t know darkness. He thinks I am sunlight.

(more…)

Sharpening

Every Friday, I stuff folders in my daughter’s first grade classroom. I did not volunteer for this task. No other parents volunteered. The teacher needed someone to do it, so now I do. Part of the reason I agreed is because I was curious about what happens in first grade. While I sort assignments, crafts, and tests into piles for each student, I peer into the classroom to see what’s going on. I sit in the shared office for four teachers and watch the students through an open door. Four or five children sit at each round table. They complete their work at different times. They talk to one another. They watch and listen to the teacher as she calls out each word of the spelling test. A few kids are dreamy like my daughter. Some fidget and tap. Others have energy that cannot be contained by a blue plastic chair and a round table. They stand up and down looking for any excuse to move. More than a few sit perfectly still, waiting to find out what assignment they need to complete next. I fidget more as I watch the stillness. I move when they can’t seem to.

At first, stuffing folders was a chore that I never looked forward to. Friday morning would arrive, and I would wake up and sigh dramatically. Two hours of my morning offered up freely. Two hours that I didn’t get to write, research, or read. Two hours sacrificed on the altar of being a good and engaged mother. Two hours I would never get back. Two hours lost to me each week. Why, I wondered yet again, did I ever agree to this? I choked back irritation and filled the folders anyway. On more than one Friday, I considered backing out, but I managed to convince myself not to.

One Friday in November, or maybe December, my perspective shifted. All the folders were finished. I gulped coffee from my “World’s Okayest Mom” mug and then asked the teacher if there was anything else I could do to help. I asked before I realized what I was asking. “Pencils,” she said firmly, “We need pencils sharpened.”

So, I collected pencils, No. 2 and colored, from each table to sharpen one by one. There’s an electric sharpener in the teachers’ shared office. It sounds like each pencil it sharpens brings it inevitably closer to death. It doesn’t grind as much as gasp. I started to sharpen pencils, and it occurred me that I haven’t really sharpened a pencil since I was in high school. Would I remember how? My high school’s sharpeners were mechanical with a handle that you cranked. I loved that my hands provided the energy for the blades to make my pencils sharp and usable again. I loved the softer sound of grinding. I enjoyed the teacher’s sigh of frustration when I wanted my pencil the sharpest it could be.

I eyed the dying electric sharpener; I don’t trust it. I don’t even like the look of it. I inserted one pencil, then two, and three. Unsurprisingly, it gave up one last gasp. I overheated it. This wouldn’t happen with a mechanical sharpener, I thought as I gave it one last evil glance. (more…)