Ditch The Dolls, Girls Deserve Better Toys

As I was in the middle of a rough Tabata session today, the instructor brought up dolls, and I realized, our girls deserve better toys.  She said she never let her mother buy her daughter those American Girl dolls… and then I was too busy doing kegel exercises in between jumping jacks to hear the rest.  As I was surrounded by women, of all shapes and sizes, lots of mothers, college students, young and old, I realized that the dolls of my youth, did a terrible job of representing my worth as a woman.

As I left Tabata, red faced and drenched with sweat, I felt like a strong, sexy woman.  I didn’t care if my makeup was running, because I didn’t have any on.  I didn’t care that I had armpit stubble every time I went up for an extension. I didn’t care that my chub roll showed each time I sat down, or that my sports bra did a terrible job of hiding my back fat.  I didn’t even care that through the smell of sweat, I detected a faint smell of urine (must do more kegels).

I was the complete opposite of any perfect little girly, girl doll of my youth and yet I felt strong, empowered, and beautiful.  Fuck you, Barbie.  Thanks to you, (and other pink plastic toys) it took me 36 years to get over the definition of feminine in my own head.  In that moment, walking out of the gym in all my glory, I was the definition of woman.  

It’s no wonder that my daughters have never played with Barbie dolls or owned any doll that eats, pees, poops, cries, farts, or whines.  A relative bought them each an American Girls Dolls and they sat in a stuffed animal bin until their blonde silky hair got matted and I gave them away.  Rag dolls and porcelain dolls creep me out, almost as much as a Barbie Doll with a 3 inch thigh gap. These types of dolls serve no purpose in raising self sufficient girls.  

I’d rather my daughters have a doll with dirt on her face.  One who drives her own truck, rather than ride shotgun in a convertible.  I want the dirt to come from fixing her own flat tire and thick, beautiful thighs to show she lifted that truck tire into her flatbed by herself.

A girl needs a set of weights in addition to a kitchen set so she can not only learn to cook her own healthy meals, but build the muscle to become strong.

Instead of a princess castle, she needs a tool set.  The pallet crafts of today, will be tomorrow’s home repairs, making her more independent and empowered.

If you still need to get her dolls, ditch the high fashion outfits and tutus, and buy female dolls dressed like professionals, doctors or scientists.  These are positive images that will inspire them into these careers as they get older.

Pretend play is important, just make sure your kids have a lot of options.  We had a dress up bin that contained princess dresses, but it also had everyday hero costumes like a firefighter, super heroes and professional costumes, like a veterinarian.

Whether you subconsciously buy the same toys you played with as a kid, or you think you’re doing what every other parent does, stop and think of it’s purpose and most importantly, it’s message. Paint the image you want your children to see, don’t let others control that.  


Holiday time is coming! Please consider buying purposeful gifts this year.  If you need toy ideas, click on the red hyper links in the text.  It will bring you to samples through my Amazon account.

It’s Time To Change The American Dream

When my kids grow up, I want their hearts to be free, their souls to be nourished, and their burdens to be few.  

Part III: It’s time to change the American Dream

College grads with more debt than job opportunity.  Jobs that take us away from our families while barely paying us enough to make repairs on our home.  Happy marriages that are statistically more likely to end in divorce.  Entitled kids that can’t see beyond their tiny phone screen.  16 million people suffering from depression in America.  Food that is literally killing us.  These are all things that are “normal” in American society.  All things that are part of the American Dream, we are unconsciously living.

This version of the American Dream is soul crushing and has to be changed.  Recently, my husband and I tried to make some drastic changes to our American Dream.

We put our 2000 square foot home on the market to live in a 700 square foot camper for one year.  We were only going to keep the essentials (clothes, sentimental items, etc), pack them into the truck and travel with our 3 girls across the country (and back).  I had a writing gig for money and of course, we would have some money from the sale of our home.  We were going to document our travels and share with the world our new version of the American Dream.

More importantly, we were going to fulfill our dream of spending a year together as a family, seeing things none of us had ever seen before.  As a teacher, I could teach the kids their online school work to ensure they met the “standards” but in traveling, they would be learning through experience, and there’s no greater lesson than that.  Exploring caverns, and writing about adventures.  Meeting Native Americans and learning about their sacred land. Camping under the stars and learning about science in our true environment.  These lessons would be truly unforgettable.

However, this didn’t happen.  We expected to sell our house in days, it sat on the market for weeks.  We started to get pressure from family regarding our parenting and whether we were thinking of our own children in all this.  It turned nasty, because some were too stuck in their selfish feelings that they were not able to see the amazing experience this would have been.

What I’ve learned is that the majority of people are afraid of change.  They’ll work a dead end job where they spend more time at work than with their family, because they’re afraid to take a risk to try something different.  They’ll listen to their kids complain about countless tests and an epidemic of bullying, because they don’t understand the endless school options now available.

I’ve also learned that many of the people who judge us, are the same people who discriminate against others.  Their fear of the unknown motivates them to have a very closed-minded, one-sided view of the world, and they’re not afraid to give their very judgmental, biased opinion.

While these people are driven by fear, my husband and I are driven by purpose.  Our purpose is to expose our girls to things in life beyond their current understanding.  To bring experience and passion into their lives so when it’s time, they will make decisions based on experience, rather than someone else’s belief.  They will be strengthened through our ability to take a risk without fear of failure and given the confidence to follow through on their dreams.  Most importantly, we’ll give them the freedom to choose because we realize the importance of never telling someone who or what they can be.

Our dream is on hold right now, but it’s not dead.  This year holds a lot of changes and we are very excited to embrace them and share them with all of you.

To be continued…

Want to see how these views were shaped?  See About a Boy and About a Girl.

To The Man Who Served My Husband Sympathy For Having 3 Girls

To the man who served my husband sympathy,

You may not remember us, but we were the table of 5 that sat in your section on Tuesday night.  You greeted us with coasters, gave us your name and addressed my husband,

“3 girls?  I’m sorry, dude.

Yeah, you sorry alright.  

You’re a sorry excuse to try and bond with my daughter’s proud father by apologizing to him (in front of our girls) for their gender.  As if he is cursed, or less fortunate that God didn’t bless him with a boy.

My husband wanted to put your gangly neck in his 20” bicep while I force fed you the horse shit that just flew out of your mouth, but that would just be uncivilized.  Instead, my husband responded as he usually does when misguided people make comments like this about, and in front of, our daughters,

He simply said, “don’t be. I’m extremely blessed,” and then smiled across the table at our girls.

Once you left, our girls asked, “why did he apologize for us being girls?”  My response to them will come later, but as for you Mr. Waiter…

I don’t believe you’re a bad person.  I won’t even label you a sexist or a misogynist.  I think you are a representation of society’s view of women and your unconscious comment was something you’ve heard and maybe repeated numerous times before.

I mean, who doesn’t already know that girls are way too emotional, and 3 of them?  Forget about it!  My poor husband is going to be a prisoner in his own home with 3 bossy, PMSing girls who make it their mission to bring their cursed misery down upon their old dad.

Those bitches are going to drive him crazy with their non stop talking and drama.  Can a guy just come home to a warm, home cooked meal and a cold beer without their women getting their panties all in a bunch over nothing?

Oh, and just wait until they’re teenagers!  Those curves are just “asking for it” and boys will soon be breaking down dad’s door in hopes his precious little girls will be ready and willing.  You’ll be on 24 hour pussy patrol, and that no longer is a good thing, dude.

You’re screwed either way, Dad.  Bring them up to be ladies who don’t raise their voices, and they could be whores, easy, or loose.  Then again, raise them to be strong women who speak up for themselves, and rejected boys will just call them those names anyway.  

From a reputation standpoint, all a boy has to worry about is throwing a ball without getting called a pussy, or reading a book without getting called a little bitch, or… wait, those are just more labels used against boys that actually insult women.  

Maybe it wasn’t a playful joke and you were sincerely apologizing for the worry Dad will endure by having 3 girls.  Maybe you’re aware that 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age 18 or that young girls are 4 times more likely to be a victim of rape than adult women.  Maybe you were making a joke at the expense of the 20 million women who have been raped at some point in their lives.  I don’t think you’re a bad person, so I’m going to assume this was not your intent.

I believe you meant no harm, it was just a little statement.  I should probably quit being a snowflake and “man up,” but here’s the thing, I have daughters to raise.

sympathy-3-girls

After you left, I told my daughters that girls like them are changing the world.  That once upon a time, girls couldn’t vote but now we represent the majority of voters.  

I told them that once upon a time women couldn’t work, but now the amount of women becoming doctors, lawyers, and accountants has tripled since the 1970’s (maybe later I’ll show them pictures of those bra burning, man-hating feminists).  

I told them they can be heroes, serving as police officers or as one of the 1.6 million women in our US military.  

I told them women represent the largest population in America and that strong, smart girls like them can be intimidating to some boys.  

Then I gave them a wink, and hoped my words answered the question posed by our server, and filled their hearts with courage as they face all the obstacles ahead of them.

When you came back, they smiled like they knew something you didn’t, and they did.

be-the-change

My daughters didn’t deserve to feel bad about being born girls.  While they are not entitled to much, they are entitled to self worth.  You didn’t give them their first lesson in gender bias and it won’t be their last.  They will deal with discrimination from good intentioned, misguided people throughout their lives.  I just hope that this letter, and the faces of my 3 girls, will make you think a little more about who’s sitting at your table.

Sincerely,

Mom to the Smart, Powerful Bosses at Table 23

 

coparenting holidays

How To Co-Parent During The Holidays

If you’ve been through divorce, you remember the day that changed your life forever.  For me, it was Easter.  My husband had made some extremely selfish choices and I was left to protect our girls, 5, 3, and 11 months old who no matter what came my way, managed to keep me going.  

This was me walking to my first Easter celebration alone.  I had 3 babies and a dog as I walked up to greet my entire family who were full of questions I didn’t have the answer to.

That Easter the girls had no idea what their dad and I were going through.  They were so happy to find their Easter baskets and they picked through each egg one-by-one.  They held up their Easter goodies and snuck sweets well before their traditional bunny pancake breakfast.  I made sure to keep their normal traditions and routines alive, while their dad spiraled out of control.

A lot has happened over the last 7 years.  Holidays have come and gone with or without their dad.  He missed his daughter’s first steps, first birthday, first Easter, and continues to choose which life events are worthy of his time.  Through it all, I have been their constant. 

Except this Easter.

  • This Easter he decided that it was on his weekend so I did not get to spend Easter with them.
  • This Easter he decided that the Easter bunny wasn’t coming, even though 2 of 3 kids still believe. 
  • This Easter, the girls didn’t wake up before the sun to scurry find their Easter baskets, instead they were ignored in their room until 11:00
  • This Easter they didn’t get to eat my famous bunny pancakes
  • This Easter he decided church wasn’t important.  

How many more years do they have before they stop believing?  Before they don’t wake us up early and find pure joy in the surprises those baskets hold.  How many more years do we have before they don’t care about bunny pancakes?  When will they stop having faith because of the inconsistencies in their parents?

This Easter, I cried all morning long.  I couldn’t even look at Facebook because all I saw were happy Easter pictures.  All I could think about were my kids ignored in their rooms on a day that is usually filled with so much love and magic.  

I texted Madie to make sure they knew the Easter Bunny didn’t forget about them:  

“Did the Easter bunny come?”

“NO.”

“Well, he came here!”

“He did!”

“Yep!”

“What did he do?”

“Well, I went to do laundry and found a basket in the washer machine!”

“OMG!!”

I called to talk to Makenna and her little face was pouty as she stared at her iPad.  I told her the silly Easter bunny messed up and came to our house instead.  She said she wanted to come home and I told her she’d be home soon and I’d leave everything the bunny brought for her to find when she gets here.  

I underestimate their intelligence since even when we were camping last year, the Easter bunny managed to find our tent, but they went along with it and I sent my Easter love before hanging up and bursting into tears, again.

Why do I always find myself making up for his mistakes?  It’s an easy answer… While it’s not fair to me, it’s what a good parent does.  A good parent is consistent and always makes sure that their kids feel safe and loved. A good parent is selfless when it comes to their child’s needs.

This is not the first, and it is definitely not the last holiday celebration he will ruin.  One year, he returned all of the kid’s Christmas gifts, because he said I was ungrateful.  I went to the store and purchased them again.  

A few months ago he told them to bring a lost tooth home because the tooth fairy didn’t come to his house.   On Halloween, he posted pictures of them in their homemade costumes and said he was getting ready to take them trick-or-treating.  Meanwhile, he had chosen to not see them in over a month.  He doesn’t seem to care about actually spending holidays with them, as long as it can look like he did.

So, why keep them from me this Easter?  It has always been my holiday.  He is not religious, he’s never done Easter bunny duties, he doesn’t find joy in waking them up to spend Easter morning with them.  Another answer I can’t swallow; even after 7 years and all I’ve done to raise our kids with consistency and love, he still uses them to hurt me.

I have learned that the secret to coparenting, is to rise above.  

Easter holds some bad memories for me and this year just adds to it, but I will rise up.  I will celebrate Easter because it’s a day of rebirth.  It was the day my daughters and I rose from the ashes and started a new journey together.  This year, I realized that he isn’t capable of hurting me, because through his actions, I have only become a stronger woman and a better mom.

The Worst Way to Celebrate Women’s Day

I woke up to a sink full of dishes and piles of clean, unfolded laundry the dogs were chewing their bones on.  I got my three daughters up for school, laid out their clothes, only to hear one complain her skirt was too long and the the other complain hers was too short.  I made three lunches to nourish their bodies while they are away from me, and made sure their homework was placed in their signed binders.  I drove my middle schooler to the bus stop and as she exited my car I said, “today is International Women’s Day, do something beautiful.”  She quickly responded, “Mom, yesterday was National Touch a Tit Day.”  

My heart burned as I asked whether she was touched. She rolled her eyes and shut the door.

I’ve seen many posts about International Women’s Day online.  Women laugh and poke fun at the stupidity of losing a day’s pay or letting their kids starve. Men make “locker room jokes” about “getting back in the kitchen” or wishing they had told their wife to do their laundry earlier.  I’ve seen the organizer of today’s strike get called a terrorist because she is a Muslim and the protestors equated to a cult.  

I myself, struggled with finding meaning in the strike. The world needs women.  

The world needs her giving heart and creative mind.  The world needs her to make the boo boo’s go away with a single, soft kiss.  The world needs her to squeeze out the day’s hate with a warm embrace.  The world needs her reassurance and her encouragement; that no matter what we face, we will persevere.  The world needs her to prove there is no better reward than that which comes from pain.  The world needs her to fight, because we know that nobody offers more protection than an angry mama bear.  

Women must be more active in society, but more importantly in their own home.  If your husband, brother, uncle, or friend makes a crude, gender specific joke, call him on it.  That doesn’t make you a feminist – that makes you a hero to any little girl who you saved from hearing it at school.  

If your husband, brother, uncle, or friend talks about doing things to women without their consent, call them on it.  Little boys will take those “jokes” to school and enact them on little girls, for example touching her breasts due to “National Touch a Tit Day.”

If you find out that your daughter was harassed at school, call the mother f* school.  There are things the school can do, the most immediate being an announcement about respect.  

Don’t like how the school handled it?  Take action in your community.  Build awareness on gender specific issues- Make a PSA and post it online (ours will be on youtube soon), pass out flyers you created, attend town hall meetings and make sure there are laws that protect gender equality.  

Whatever you do, don’t be silent.  If we accept harassment and groping in middle school, what is to be accepted or ignored later?  One in three girls are raped before the age of 18.  We must use our voices and teach our daughters to do the same.  

It’s ironic that I struggled with how to celebrate International Women’s Day and then was smacked in the face by my daughter’s revelation of National Touch a Tit Day.  

I will celebrate by continuing to raise three amazing little women.  One day I hope they will take the torch and bring new light to the world.  As a woman, I know that in our society, her torch will be put out by many people in her lifetime, especially men.  I know that this is not the first time she will be harassed at school or work.  I know that I cannot protect her from all the gender specific “jokes” in her lifetime.  As her mother, I will teach her about sticks and stones, but as a woman I know that she will sometimes feel like they are boulders holding her down.  In the end, I hope her torch is still lit and that enough action in her lifetime keeps her world, and the world of those around her turning.

And now, on International Women’s Day in 2017, I will fight the fight by writing an email to my daughter’s middle school about tits.