Questions of Faith (pt 1)

If there is a god and he/she/it put us here on this earth for a reason, aren't we looking a gift horse in the mouth to live in constant anticipation of being taken from it and put on a cloud somewhere? Maybe even an almighty slap in the face: Gee, thanks for making the world - nice work - but I think I like your place better.

Personally, I'd like to stay here on earth and enjoy the cool grass beneath my feet, the creamy sweetness of ice cream on my tongue, and the kissable dip at the top of my child's nose. I want to continue to be astounded by fig wasps small enough to fly through the eye of a needle yet are crucial to the massive fig tree's survival (PBS).

I was raised to believe there was a better time coming and that our time here on earth was just a necessary wait at the bus stop to God's Right Hand. (I think our church was unusual in that it believed in a "Kingdom on Earth" and if deemed worthy for admittance we would be transformed.) I remember feeling guilty for not wanting my life as I knew it to end, to be taken from my parents, my sister, from a future husband and children. The idea of being flung into the heavens was a literal nightmare to me (read my fictional take on a dream I had at age six that has stuck with me for the last 30 years).

I no longer wait at that bus stop. I decided to walk away with my feet planted firmly in this lifetime, using and being grateful for the gifts I was born with. And to love this earth and all its people - now.

While waiting for a choral rehearsal to begin in the deep southern town I called home for three very long years, I was chatting to a fellow soprano. The details of the conversation have deserted me but how it ended are etched in my memory:

Ah caint wayt to git mah waings!

I was so astounded I could say nothing. I thought how sad it was that someone who was about to lift her beautiful voice - her gift - in the refrains of the expressed gift of the composer and conducted by a man who was in turn sharing his own gift of musical ability, would be wishing to be somewhere else, someONE else. To me, there is no greater gift than to be given the chance - the potential - to use and share our talents, to express our creativity here in the greatest expression of creativity - this world.

I do believe we are here on this planet to fulfill our potential, whatever that may be. I do believe "heaven" is the high we get from doing something we love and the challenge of learning how much more we can achieve (see my post on "Flow"). I also believe we should be helping others to recognize and pursue their own potential through teaching and compassion. I believe "God" is the creative energy within everyone of us, the spark of intuition, and the ability to heal and comfort ourselves through the inner wisdom we all possess and have access to through prayer, meditation, dancing, drumming, or writing.

You may question how I can prove any of this. I can't. You can't prove a feeling. (Although thousands of fellow artists, thinkers, and former fundamentalists will tell you similar things). And I don't need to. I am living the way that makes the most sense to me.

And I am at peace. Isn't that what any loving father would want for his children?

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Jour du Journal: Finding Flow

Join me at jlucyjournals for today's thought and writing prompt.

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Home is where the litter box is

I wrote this for a contest but then re-read the submission guidelines. Kind of missed the mark - details, details - but watch for the corrected submission when it wins the $5,000! Not wanting to waste a post opportunity, here it is:

Devon and Dorset (named for the southwestern counties of England) began their little lives in a shed in rural Mississippi. Eyes gummed shut and crawling with fleas, they were just hours away from death when we discovered them. And with ears bigger than their heads, they were the ugliest kittens you have ever seen. But into a box and into our lives they went.

After many Ivory soap baths and bottles of milk they began to revive and soon were tumbling and pawing at string and shadows.

A few months later we moved. Crated and mewing they complained as we drove them the 27 miles from their birthplace, but soon they were happily chasing lizards and cicadas at their new home. Our one-year old daughter loved these furry, meowing toys by hugging them real tight or sitting on their heads. Maybe because they were just grateful to be alive, they not only tolerated the tough love but adored her for it. They slept on her bed and purred her to sleep.

Another three years on and we moved back north. Not willing to leave our fur-babies behind, for four days and 1,500 miles, the car became their home. Two southern kitties with English names watched from the window of a subaru as fields turned into hills and hills grew into the mountains of Vermont.

Now five years old, our Ugly Kittens have grown into their ears and are two regal, handsome Cats. They still purr our daughter to sleep and mew her awake. But rather than sleeping in the shade of a Mimosa tree, they have learned to tiptoe through snow drifts and curl up in the glow of the woodstove. They are part of our family and have proven that home is where the litter box is.

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I am happy... really.

A dear friend of mine (R) called me yesterday. She is the best kind of friend; the kind you can neglect to call, forget her birthday, and lose track of the details of life, but we know we will always love each other. We weren't childhood or even college friends. We met while working in the Trust Department of a bank about 12 years ago.

I wanted her life. She was happily married, I was playing (and losing) the dating game. She was elegant; she knew how to wear clothes with style even if they weren't in high style (she was a walking J. Jill catalog when their look was white-blouse-romantic). Fluid. Sensual. She was stable, grounded and authentic (to my envious eyes) and had the best work ethic I had ever witnessed. I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. But we were both searching for something beyond the dingy gray fabric of our cubicles. We talked about books, writing, and living in a spirit of beauty. And so we clicked.

R had called to check on me. She told me she read a bit of my blog and her impression was that I wasn't content, maybe even unhappy. I admitted my summer has been frustrating with both kids home fighting over everything from who has the bigger scoop of ice cream to who gets to hold the expired grocery coupon.

And the noise. Lawd, the noise!

In preparation for Wednesday's return to school, today's big chore was to tidy up both kids' rooms. While I tried to get Little Lady to work through the categories of books, baby dolls, Barbies, vehicles, and farm animals, Tator was "singing" (piglet squealing), then rawr-ing like a tiger on speed, then wah-wah-ing a helicopter around the room. Inside voice, inside voice. Pleeeeaaaaassssssssssse.

And Little Lady: Mama, Mama. I can't do this Mama. I don't know where these books go, Mama. Why isn't Tator helping? Are you helping me, Mama? I'm thirsty. I'm hungry. My hand hurts. Ahhhhh, Tator hurt me. Tator's just messing it up again? MAMA!

But I promised R a positive post. A happy one.

But I'm not actually unhappy. I'm just not estatic. I am a mother of two young children who don't get along. I am a woman trying to work from home while mothering those children. A woman who loves silence, who loves to be alone.

Yesterday I read the blog post, The Incredible Vanishing Woman, by Noble Savage. I could have written it myself - not as well as she, of course - but the sentiments, even the discussions with Hubby. It got me thinking (i.e. writing).

My mother did everything around our house. She put her needs (to be a writer) last because what we kids were doing (going to school) and what Dad was doing (working, then getting his Ph.D.) was always more important in her eyes. I saw her sacrifice and did not want the same for myself. She told me once that whatever pattern you establish in the beginning of the relationship will stick. So I was determined to make it clear to whomever "took my hand" that we would have equality in our marriage.

Hubby won me over with his willingness to help around the house before we got married and I wanted to look after him and show off my "womanly skills." But once our relationship lost its first gleam and the toilet bowl did too, he no longer noticed it and I had to admit I had no womanly skills. And for some reason I'd get really angry every time I did (turns out I have some psychological baggage around cleaning as well as a severe allergy to dust, a combination that doesn't make for a merry maid).

And then the kids came along.

Hubby was raised in the South. Enough said? Children were a woman's business. Besides I wanted to be home with them. Work was his job, children were mine. I'm not saying he didn't change diapers, give baths, or play with them. He did. If he had to. And many, many tears were shed over my plight as an over-worked, under-appreciated servant whose very body was even in demand - for milk or sex.

In the almost seven years we have been parents he has become more and more helpful - the bedtime routine is practically all him now - and for that I am so thankful. But, I am also too controlling. And because of that I am complicit in my own discontent. Take last night for example. Tator came in our room at 4AM, his pajamas ringing wet. Now I could have elbowed Hubby and asked him to take care of it because I always take care of night time emergencies. But my reasoning to let him sleep were as follows:

1. He needs his sleep because has to work in the morning.
2. He wouldn't begin to know where the clean sheets or pajamas were (because 1. he has no idea where the kid's clean sheets are kept and, 2. I hadn't put the laundry away yet anyway).
3. He just wouldn't do it right. He would wipe Tator off with a clean towel instead of one that was ready for the laundry and would probably just pull up the duvet over the wet sheets and somehow wrap him up before stumbling back to bed.
4. I would stay awake during the whole process anyway waiting for them to need me.

But when I tell myself the truth it goes like this:
1. I need my sleep (just as much?) because dealing with two children all day on even a full night's sleep is exhausting. Not to mention that in between their needs I am trying to squeeze in making posters and sending out press releases for my workshops.
2. & 3. Who cares what towel, what sheets, or if Tator goes back to bed in a pink princess nightie?
4. So what if I'm awake, doesn't mean I need to uncurl from my perfect sleeping position and get up.

And so it goes. Hubby sleeps. I get up. I can't get back to sleep. I get grumpy with the kids when the chup-chup splats across the floor.

Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Tired? Yes. But am I unhappy? Truly unhappy? No.

I heard once that parents of young children and teenagers are in general, a wistful bunch. In love with our children and not regretting becoming parents, but not loving the day-to-day angst. Add some money issues to that and it's a little difficult to be all stars and rainbows.

But my dear R, I am OK. Yes, I am missing my coffee shop mornings and our talks about feng shui and simplicity in Barnes and Noble. Yes, I wish I was curled up in my big chair in my apartment quietly reading, uninterrupted. But I am pursuing my dream of working for myself and writing. I have my very own writer's refuge (although I have barely used it this summer), I have a loving husband who supports my dream and decision to stay home and tolerates (to a degree) my monthly meltdowns, and who is happy to do those chores that fire up my nasal membranes and my ire.

My life as a self-flagellating woman, mother, and housewife is not a barrel of monkeys but I know what I need, who I am, and what makes me happy. And I am trying to do something about it...

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Needing a dose of my own advice

Today is going to be tough.

Hubby left at 6AM to drive to our small capital city to present his case to the licensing board, trying to convince them that the hoops they are making him jump through are not only ridiculous but a potential disaster for our family. Hubby's boss has, out of the blue, decided to change the way she pays him and it has essentially cut his pay in half.

In the very early hours of this morning after I was awoken by a suddenly seemingly mile-long toddler son thrashing his arms and legs in the calm waters of my sleep, I lay awake trying to breathe. I was obsessively writing blog posts in my head. Ally McBeal-esque record needles screeching to silence were somehow included in a paragraph about my life baking fragrant bread in my gleaming kitchen and folding my children's crisp white clothing.

Another was post was about my carpenter friend, who although he works extremely long and hard hours at his own business, the $1,000 it would take to insure his small family is beyond reach. Today, having come down with strep throat he has to resort to over-the-counter meds or even asking a nurse friend to "acquire" samples of antibiotics from her office. My anger at those who don't think we need insurance reform rose into my chest and sat there squeezing my lungs.

And then I was back thinking of the effects a 50% drop in income is going to have on this family over the next couple of months. And my chest heaved and began to implode.

I am so angry at Hubby's boss I alternate between visions of storming into her office and spitting my anger in her face and sitting there dripping in tears and snot as I tell her how her random "effective as of August 1st" means the difference between us paying our next mortgage payment and not. Meanwhile she is paying her husband to lay down a marble patio in the back of their office.

I left my job to leisurely pursue my own dreams because Hubby was supporting us so well. Now, my new enterprise, suffering the normal pains of anything young and growing, is feeling pressure to perform, well and now. Another workshop has been canceled for this weekend due to potential attendee's last minute summer activities and surgeries.

And the car. It is 10 years old. The muffler is going, the check engine light is always on. It is our only means of transportation. The fact that Hubby is driving over a mountain and back today in a car which hiccups and burns oil doesn't help my attempts to catch a breath. Broken car, no health insurance... I can't follow this train of thought.

When I do finally drift back to sleep it is a fitful one. Hubby's kiss goodbye and my mumbled "good luck" just falls in with the panicked ramblings of my subconscious. An hour later I am unceremoniously woken by the cries of Poop, Mama! Its falling out! With eyes barely open and bladder full, I find myself cleaning butts and toilet bowls. Then it's onto breakfast sloped down the clean shirt, new tap shoes on wood floors, moooorrreee ceee-re- al! from one child before I've even had a chance to pour the milk for the other child. And my coffee? Ha!

My whole body is a trembling mass of frog eggs. Every whine from Tator shakes my brain, I feel faint when I stand, and if it wasn't for PBS this morning my next post might just be written from inside the residential therapeutic community where I taught last night.

I have been trying to stay very positive. I am a positive person when it comes to life's potential disasters. And we have always made it. We have been here before. When we owned two apartment buildings and the management company decided to no longer rent out our apartments without informing us (we were 2000 miles away) I had a miscarriage from the stress of coming that close to bankruptcy. We lost thousands of dollars when we sold our starter home. But we made it through. We are now both doing what we love, we have a beautiful home, we have family near by. We were finally financially comfortable (meaning we could pay our bills, keep a full pantry and splurge on the occasional latte). And then, WHAM!

Today it has just all caught up with me. All my it'll be oks are taking a licking when I look at my bank balance. The potential of my business is great as are the collaborative ideas Hubby and I are working on. On that I am trying to focus, but its hard, so hard.

Thinking positively is positively impossible when you can't breathe.

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Yes, I call myself a writer

Over the past few days I have unintentionally initiated quite the debate on my facebook page. The cynicism, sarcasm and disbelief over the healthcare debate I have posted in my status has riled up my sister-in-law (out of four kids, she's the only one who doesn't have the liberal views of her siblings, including, thankfully, my husband) and a former Sunday School/Bible School (boy)friend. But I have also gotten thank yous and Amens! from high school classmates and current friends.

I am not a political person. I never read the paper and the news is usually background noise to me, but once in a while my ears perk up. When I believe injustice is occurring (opposition to same sex marriage) or people are making insane accusations (Obama is a Muslim), I get really miffed.

However, I'm not a debater. Conflict makes me uncomfortable. Rightly or wrongly, I'm not a fighter. I can't think on my feet, I think with my pen (keyboard). And I think with my heart.

I have many things I want to say in response to the comments that were made on my facebook page. But today's not the day. I only have two precious hours to sit in the air-conditioned bookstore and just write before I have to pick up Tator.

I wasn't sure what I was going to write about when all that "other stuff" was on my mind and I wanted it off. And then I clicked on my google reader and saw this:

Call yourself a writer?

Why, yes, I do. Gotta read this one, thought I. And then at the bottom of the post I saw this:

I’m tagging Blues of a Waxwing, J. Lucy Muses, Motherhood: The Final Frontier, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em and This Is Worthwhile but feel free to do it even if you weren’t tagged.

I've been tagged. Love it! And incidentally, I've been tagged by the one person who makes me feel inferior when it comes to "reporting" opinion on the news of the day. Noble Savage is a journalist by trade. She know her stuff and she's not afraid to tell it like she sees it. She is one of the reasons I'm not quite up to telling it like I see it today (maybe tomorrow after I've a chance to think with my mind and my heart). So, thank you NS for the following meme.

Which words do you use too much in your writing?

Actually, just, and really.

What’s your favourite piece of writing by you?

For its honesty and the response it drew, this one. For its silliness, this one. For the therapy of telling a painful story, this one. And for my mommy world in all its glory, this one.

What blog post do you wish you’d written?

Due to my constant inability to keep up with all the blogs I've already bookmarked and my fear of falling in love with more if I follow too many links, there aren't too many options for this answer. I'd have to say pretty much anything by Noble Savage (did I mention how much I admire her informed rants?) and this honest description of normal, womanly, motherly despair and the self-prescribed solution by Lia Mack.

Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn’t written?

I do regret how much time writing this blog has taken from my family and any "real" writing (for possible publication). I do regret how some posts are not examples of my greatest writing, but I don't regret any particular posts.

How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing?

I don't have a large following *yet* so I don't know that I've made that much of an impact on the world at this point. But although no one has told me my writing has made a difference to them I have had positive response to a few of my posts. The one with the greatest response was this one asking mothers to keep talking so we can stop judging ourselves. I believe this to be so important.

This blog has made a difference to a friend of mine. She also started writing one only to discover it is therapeutic and that she, too wants to be a Writer. That makes me cry!

Name three favourite words

Debit or credit

…And three words you’re not so keen on

I'm soaked, mama! (at 2am)

Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?

In the world of writing I have a number: Julia Cameron, Barbara Kingsolver, Madeleine L'Engle, Anais Nin. In my new career of teaching journal-writing, it is Kathleen Adams.

What’s your writing ambition?

Immediate: To write everyday. Near Future: To be published in Brain, Child. Long Term: To make a living as a freelance writer and teacher.

What is the best compliment you’ve ever gotten about your writing?

That I am inspiring.

The rules:
If you have time to do this meme, then please link to my original, then link to three to five other bloggers and pass it on, asking them to answer your questions and link to you. You can add, remove or change one question as you go. You absolutely do not have to be what you may think of as a “published” or “successful” writer to respond to this meme, I hope people can take the time to reflect on what their blogging has brought them and how it has been useful to others.

I tag: Raising Smart Girls, Heidi's Notes from Vermont, and Slightly Irrational

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Health Insurance = Nazism?

Disclaimer: I am not a political person, neither am I a journalist. I have not researched for this piece, I am just writing what I know. And also, because I am ranting, please excuse the lack of finesse.

I am mad. Really, really mad. And I can't keep quiet anymore.

We don't have health insurance. As of August 1 we had to cancel the $570.05 per month/$5,000 deductible policy. Before that I had a $919/$3,000 deductible per month policy. Neither one of these plans did me jack-shit. During the first policy I was paying $30 co-pays and getting bills for $200 or $300 for various doctor and hospital visits (my son's EEG, for example) that they would not cover. From the second policy I was paying out of pocket every doctor visit - not that there were many of them because after paying almost $600 a month I didn't have a penny left to pay for a $40 back adjustment even though I could barely walk.

So, we have made the difficult decision, that wasn't really a decision, but a forced reality, to go insurance-free. Our children are covered because Hubby's recent pay-cut made us eligible for state insurance. But, because we had purchased private insurance we now have to wait a year to be eligible ourselves. When I called the state's insurance help-line I told them of our new financial situation I was told that no longer being able to afford your premium is not an excuse. If, however, we had taken his employer's insurance at $1,200 a month and his pay was cut, then we would be helped. One problem there: If we had been paying the equivalent amount of our mortgage to some insurance CEO, we would no longer have a house to go home to die when we were unable to pay the medical fees the insurance wouldn't cover.

Yesterday, I received a letter from our previous insurance company asking if, wait for it... Tator's fall down the stairs and Little Lady's tick bite were pre-existing conditions... what madness is this??!!

And now I am hearing that there are Americans out there who think Obama is a Nazi for wanting "socialized" medicine. This statement makes me so angry! The Nazis killed people. How in the hell can anyone equate Obama and those who want to give all Americans equal access to quality healthcare to people who tried to erase an entire race?! You know who is killing people now? The insurance companies! Obama is trying to help those who, like my family, find themselves in the ridiculous situation of having to deny themselves the very care they are paying for because the insurance company is so expensive and denial-happy.

Oh, the irony.

I grew up in England. My parents never had to worry about such things. After I was born my mother didn't have to leave the hospital after two days and go home alone with no nurse to visit her or go back to work after six weeks without pay. My father didn't have to choose whether his slipped disk was something he could live with because the alternative was being in debt to the hospital for the next 10 years. For how much I love this country and have become an American in all but on paper, I wonder sometimes if I shouldn't uproot this family and plant them back in my homeland where they would be cared for like the humans they are rather than social security numbers or medical billing account numbers.

When the Opposition to the new plan starts spreading falsities (like killing grandma) it does nothing but harm the process and the people they are trying to help. Instead of spending time in these town forums getting real opinions and suggestions from The People, the politicians are having to spend valuable time refuting the crap these "fear mongers" are issuing. Why can't they share their opinion without spreading lies and hatred? Apparently, they have always had a fully-inclusive healthcare package paid for by their employer and really have no idea what us real people are dealing with on a daily basis.

Get out of way and let Obama do his job and let me go get my very overdue Pap so I don't have to leave my children without a mother because cervical cancer wasn't caught early enough (God Forbid!).

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Conversations in the grocery aisle

As I am trying to find the toothbrush for which I have a coupon while trying to think over the, Mama, Mama, I want the Dora toothpaste! Mama, I want this one. Oooo, watermelon, I don't have watermelon toothpaste. Mama, I need this... what is it?, an old lady approaches me. I think she's going to comment on how cute my kids are or congratulate me on my ability to grab falling tubes while simultaneously remove brightly colored, cartooned products from my children's itchy fingers. Instead she asks me if I know where to find the baby wipes. I tell her the next aisle over. She then proceeds to tell me why she is looking for baby wipes. No, not grandbabies coming to visit. No, not a baby shower. She likes to use them herself, she has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you know.

Thanks for sharing.

A few aisles on, I run into an acquaintance, an older man I knew from my former job. We say hello and howdy-do and he asks me what I'm doing. I point to my cart crammed with two impatient children and far too much food and reply, Doing the mom thing.

He smiles indulgently and says, I meant, what are you doing with your time?

Oh, yea, nothing, nothing at all. Now, where are those bon-bons?

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The only good thing about him

Yesterday I was taking the laundry off the line. We have had so few line-dry worthy days that I try to schedule the washing around the weather forecast - not a simple task. This summer we have had frequent days of digging deep in the drawer for that last-resort pair of undies. As I took down a fitted sheet and began to fold it I was aware that I was thinking of someone I prefer not to. Unfortunately, every time I fold a fitted sheet this boyfriend of my early 20s is there in my mind. Why? Because nicely folded sheets are his only worthwhile legacy.

I was living away from home for the first time. I had a job as a bank teller and he was a customer. It didn't take me too long to realize he had started coming in daily and manipulating things so he was ready with his transaction just as I was ready to accept my next customer. He would arrive at my window gleaming like the Cheshire cat to deposit his wealth of charm along with his checks.

We began dating. It began as most romances do, all hearts and flowers. I even came home one day to find a bag of marbles on my doorstep with a note that said, "I've lost my marbles over you." Got ya!

Before long I was spending more time at his house than in my own adorable apartment. And not too long after that I was cleaning his dishes and getting instructed on how to "correctly" fold a sheet. His closet was off limits in case I didn't hang the clothes with the appropriate amount of space between hangers. We did not go anywhere or do anything unless it was something it he wanted to do, which meant I went off to Maine for a romantic weekend - by myself. We never sat in coffee shops or walked along the waterfront. We went to parties of his friends where he was the center of attention. But when we went to the one party hosted by my friends he sat there in a big huff and wouldn't let me mingle.

Still I hung on. For a year. Even when he called me and told me not to come over because his ex-girlfriend had stopped by. Even when he laughed at my (incredibly flat) pot belly and (deviated septum) crooked nose. Even when I began to question everything I was about to say in case it annoyed him. He never hit me or anything close to physically abusing me - in fact, you could say I was the abuser after I slapped him and screamed in his face, "why don't you just go and fuck her," after he told me again I had to leave because his ex was coming by. He probably already had.

Over that year I went from having ambitions to go on to grad school to making sure there wasn't a milk ring in bottom of the glass. I began wanting to write and living the artist's life in the "big" city and ended up positioning the corners of the fitted sheet in perfect symmetry. I lost myself.

But I sank so low on the self-esteem chart that the only way was up. My need to write and be creative was so strong it pulled me out of the hole in which I was scrabbling. With the help of two priceless gifts, Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance, and the friendship of two people who believed in me, I began to find my way back. I wrote my Morning Pages every day with the commitment of a drug addict. I put together my Authenticity Book with the joy of someone who is discovering a new friend.

I guess, I actually have to thank him. My sheets would be in a right mess if it hadn't been for him.

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Let's Keep Talking!

So, as you may have read, this has been a difficult week. I usually hesitate to write down the dreary details of my life because I think, who the hell cares about my little life? My anxieties, my screw-ups, my stressors? But then I get feedback from you and I realize just how important it is to share these things. We are no longer a village society and as a result parents (mothers in particular - and on them I will focus because I can only write what I know) are suffering. I feel guilty even using that word "suffer" - as if I have one micro-ounce of right to say I'm suffering when others around the world and around the corner are living in situations I can't even imagine.

But the truth is we do suffer, we mothers. We live everyday under the burden of the responsibilities and expectations of our societies, our families, and most of all, ourselves. And for the most part, we suffer alone.

How many of us would willingly admit out loud that we yell too loud at our children. That we have smacked them in anger. Have you wondered if this precise moment will be The One that sends your child to therapy in 20 years time? How many times have you called a girlfriend and pleaded for her to come over because if you hear one more time, I diiiiiidn't dooooo it, maaaamaaaaa, you may just put your head in the oven. We don't because we are afraid to be judged, judged to be incompetent at our "job." It's the same reason, I'll warrant, that so many of us don't budget for a housecleaner. Who wants to admit they are a slob?

We know:
1. Being a stay-at-home mom is the equivalent of two full-time jobs.

2. In most times and societies other than our own a woman had domestic help. Only when technology lent us a hand around the house was it decided that a housewife could do it alone.

3. Many other societies around the world know raising children takes community effort. No other culture isolates and puts the pressure on its mothers like we do.

4. Stay-at-home mothers of the 1950s spent the equivalent amount of time with their children as the working mothers of today. Why? From a young age children of that decade (and probably the 60s and 70s also) left the house to go to school or to play in the neighborhood, woods, barn, etc. in the morning and only reappeared for meals and bedtime. (I can't give you a notation on that tid-bit except that I heard it on NPR, so it's gotta be good, eh?)

5. Everyone needs to practice some self-care for their own mental and emotional health.

But we believe:
1. I SHOULD be able to do it all.

2. I SHOULDN'T feel this way about my children, I love them. I have no right to get so angry.

3. ALL other women handle it just fine. I am the ONLY woman who locks herself in the bathroom to cry (while the kids are pounding on the door to come in).

4. I am SUPPOSED to be always available to entertain and educate my children. (And feed them organic local food and not let them watch TV and sleep in my bed and breastfeed until they're eight and ...).

5. I am a FAILURE if I cannot control everything (plus, provide brownies for the bakesale or volunteer at pre-school).

6. I CANNOT leave my children to take of myself, that would be SELFISH and irresponsible.

I don't know how to do away with these self-expectations and beliefs. And our society will practically need a revolution before it completely loosens its vice grip on our self-efficacy. But the conversation has begun. All these mommy-blogs and the social-networks are helping us communicate. Reading our own thoughts, feelings, actions, fears, gripes and joys in other women's words - women from all walks and ways of life - brings us closer to accepting ourselves.

And until we accept ourselves we will continue to suffer.

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