Friday, April 10, 2009

The Motherscribe Interview Series: the 16th interview...

My 16th interview is with Anonymous who lives in Texas. She is a stay-at-home mom. She is 41 years old, married with one child.

What does the word feminist mean to you?
For me it has always meant anyone who believes in the power of females.

Has the meaning changed over time? I think it has, for society at large. The word “feminist” brings the image of a granola, crunchy woman from the late 60’s and 70’s when the movement first started. Today, I think that image is associated with the lesbian community is some ways.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? I have never bought into the need for labels, so I am just me. I consider myself a strong female, who believes in equality.

Would others consider you a feminist? Maybe a few people would call me a feminist, most would consider me a gay woman first and foremost which may tie into the feminist label.

If you are a feminist, do you feel comfortable owning that title in your everyday life? I am comfortable owning who I am every day. I live my life and that entails being happy with myself.

What are some images that come to mind when you think of the women’s movement? The 70’s, the Dyke March in DC during Gay Pride, women dealing with poverty, and the women who worked in the factories during WW II.

What was the greatest gift of the women’s movement? I think that society shifted its overall view of women and the contributions being made by women. I also think reproductive rights being granted was a major victory.

What was the greatest failure of the women’s movement? The ERA was the only major failure for most women, but I think the fact that women just sort of came to the conclusion that the fight was over for the most part was the real failure. If you give up at a ½ victory, what does that say about your convictions that you believe in the cause?

Did your mother work outside the home? Yes.

How did that affect you growing up? I had to become the caretaker for my 3 younger brothers.

What impression did that leave with you about women working outside the home? It was the normal expectation. I did not have any friends with stay at home moms.

Was your mother a homemaker? No

How did that affect you growing up? I had to fend for myself at an early age. I had to figure out how to cook simple meals for my brothers and myself. I had to clean the house, get the younger ones ready for school, which in essence means I was the homemaker, as typically defined starting around the age of 7.

Did your father respect your mother? My birth father did, even though they were never married. The men she married did not. There was a great deal of violence in my home as a kid. She married dead beats, who abused me while she was at work.

Did your mother respect your father? Not my birth father. I don’t know if she respected the other men she married. She must have on some level, because she stayed with them no matter what.

Who were your earliest female role models other than your mother? Probably my teacher, as the rest of my family was very dysfunctional.

Was getting married/partnered a conscious goal or focus early on in your adulthood? Never, I only had examples of bad relationships and did not want that, nor did I want to ever have to answer to anyone.

Is there an event(s) that affected you in childhood/adolescence that impacted your identity in a positive or negative way? Yes

Have you ever dieted? Yes

Are you happy and/or comfortable with your weight? Not at the moment. As a medical person, I know I could stand to lose 20 pounds, which would make me healthier.

Would you describe yourself as someone with “body issues?” If so, when do you remember this starting? What do you attribute it to? Yes, because I have hundreds of scars affecting various body parts. It started as a kid, as a result of sexual and physical abuse.

What do you wish your mother had told you about marriage, life, anything…that you didn’t hear from her? She was a very depressed woman with mental health issues, so there is nothing I can think of that I would have wanted to learn from her.

What role did your father play in your childhood? I did not meet him until I was 13 years old.

What was your relationship like with your father? It was the only thing that kept me sane and stable. He was a good man, who taught me how life and love is supposed to be.

How do you feel about aging? The only thing I hate about it is I know I won’t be around forever. Having my daughter in my life, makes me want to be around forever, so I can hang out with her.

How do you feel about plastic surgery? If used for the right reasons I think it is a good thing. I personally would love to have the money for a breast reduction.

Did your mother or another caretaker talk to you about sex and what to expect? Never, I was sexually abused as a kid. I have reason to believe my mother was too, but never discussed it or dealt with it.

How was your first sexual experience? Not counting the abuse? It was nerve racking.

Is marriage liberating or inhibiting sexually? What sex? My partner and I have not been intimate since she was pregnant with our daughter. I have always been a non-monogamist, so in this case I would say inhibiting.

What makes you feel sexy? Flirting with women, makes me feel pretty good. Getting dressed up, going out, being noticed by someone new are all positive builders for me.

Do you have the energy/desire for sex at the end of the day? Yes, but no outlet.

What turns you on? The mind is a great turn on. The brain is the sexiest organ in the human body. A great conversation with an intelligent and confident woman always has an effect on me.

What would make your sex life better? A willing partner would be a GREAT start.

Why did you decide to be a stay-at-home mom? I did not want to pay a nanny to raise my kid. It was an active choice to bring her into the world, and it was my responsibility to raise her and pass on my values.

Do you consider it a job? Do you feel that you are valued? I don’t consider it a job. I am having too much damn fun for it to be a job. I think the people around me see what a good kid I have and they tell me I have done an outstanding job with her, so I think I am valued.

Do you feel supported by your partner? No

Do you see evidence of “The Mommy Wars” in your everyday life? No.

Do you feel supported by other women? Yes

How old are your children? 3 soon to be 4.

What do you want to do differently with your children than what you received from your parents? So many things, but the biggest one is creating a peaceful, loving environment where she can grow into the person she is meant to be. I give her boundaries but do not stifle her unique personality. Allowing her to explore her emotions, her gifts, and her limitations and then giving her a soft place to fall at the end of the day, when there are bad moments, failed attempts or celebrations.

What would you like to carry on that your parents established with you? My dad gave me the gift of compassion and understanding. He taught me that every person has value, but that sometimes you have to work harder to find it within some people more so than others. He had great empathy for others and strived to make their life better in even the smallest of ways.

What do you love about being a SAHM? The joy I see in my daughter’s face. I love the way she thinks and I love having this chance to get to know this little human being. I love being able to see the world through her eyes, and experience things as she does, without pressure to perform perfectly. Life is an adventure with her and I love every minute of it.

Is there a dark side of being a SAHM? Isolation is a definite dark side. It seems that in the LGBT community, in DC that having kids seemed to be looked down upon. I lost most of my friends as a result of having a child. I have a stronger community at her school where all the other families are straight couples. The other moms are extremely supportive, concerned with our welfare and loving towards us.

In the early days, I was dealing with a depressed partner, and caring for our daughter. It was all on my shoulders, and I was contracted to write a medical manual. I had no support from anyone. I was getting 2 hours of sleep a night. I finally had to give up the contract and the dream of being published. I could not function well at both, and my daughter’s care came first as it should until she is on her own.

What was your career before you had children? I was an EMT and Medical Instructor.

Has it been hard to let go of that identity? Or you still identify with that role? I will always be an EMT in my mind; it is how I will always identify, because I worked as one for nearly 20 years.

If you had a choice to return to work, would you? Yes, and am working towards that, now that my daughter is in school.

Do you believe a happy, fulfilled mom is a better mom whether her choice is to work outside the home or to stay at home with her children? Yes. I think that a happy fulfilled mom makes for happier kids, which leads to an even happier mom. What better lesson in life can we teach our kids, than the one about seeking happiness?

Can women do it all? I think some women can do it all, and that others are limited by their choices, their inner fears and self imposed limitations.

How has having children changed the relationship with your partner? It has changed it significantly for the worse.

Do you have dates with your partner? She has no interest in doing anything with me alone. She usually goes to bed very early every night. It is hard to have a date when the other person is snoring.

Do you have personal “ME” time scheduled every week/every day? Yes.

How do you combat stress? Exercising, writing, painting and volunteering at my daughter’s school are all ways for me to unwind.

Do you get out regularly with girlfriends? Yes

Has it been challenging to retain a separate sense of self from your role as mother & wife? No, I am pretty stubborn when it comes to who I am.

What do you do to facilitate that? I just do it. I know who I am, and I don’t let outside factors affect it.

Does your partner help make that happen? No

Do you help create personal space for your partner? Yes, she can go do anything she wants anytime she wants, she travels alone, she is encouraged to seek out friends and have dinner or go out for drinks. She chooses not to do any of those things. She travels for work and spends time with her co-workers.

Does your partner share in household tasks? She does the dishes.

Are you happy and/or fulfilled with your life? On a scale from 0-10 with 0 being unhappy and 10 being very happy; I would say I am probably at a 6 or 7. I have things, like my daughter, which make me very happy and then other things which make me a little less happy.

Why? Everyone has things they wish were better, improved or different. The trick to being relatively happy is accepting things that will never change and working on the things that can be changed and matter more.

How did you think your life would be when you got married? I thought I had found a lifelong partner.

How do you feel now? I ended up with a really good roommate.

What did you dream of being when you were a child? Free

What do you yearn for? Peace

How do you feel about the sexualizing of young women in our society? I think it sucks. I think that we have bought into the sexual image as a society. Women have yet to take a stand and say, “Nope, there is more to me than this!” The whole kid beauty contests, the clothes for young girls getting skimpier, the magazine covers, all are setting us back as women. Until women stop the craziness today, future generations will suffer.

It kills me when I hear women complain about not making as much as their male co-workers. I see them dressing the part of the “sexy female” because that is what they were taught by society. How can a male appreciate your working brain when all he can notice is the cleavage they are showing off all the time?

There are three things I reinforce for my own 3 year old daughter every day. She now repeats the mantra, “I am strong, brave and smart.” If I can give her the gift of self confidence in those three things, I will have given her something I am seeing less and less of around us. I see moms of her classmates more worried about a kid’s hairstyle, the way they look, and hell even allowing them to wear make-up. It totally buys into the belief that women must “improve” the way they look in order to get ahead in life.

Our daughter knows, because I tell her that I will love her no matter what she looks like, what she wears, where she lives, what she does when she grows up, or who she loves. I love her no matter what, just the way she is or chooses to be.

Thank you, Anonymous.


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