One-Woman Strike

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Mother’s Day Strike,” which was about taking the day off on Mother’s Day. It was funny and irreverent and total make-believe nonsense.

But last night, after perusing The Facebook and feeling more and more helpless to the hurt and pain and crazy, I started to wonder.

What if I actually did organize a Mother’s Day Strike?

What if I took this symbol of wholesome goodness, synonymous with America and apple pie – the construct of mother – and used it to remind ourselves of the one thing, maybe the only thing, that we can agree upon?

You may be wondering what that one thing is because, goodness knows, it doesn’t look like we can agree upon anything anymore. But according to every mother everywhere, it’s a love for our children.

A love that transcends cultural differences, religion, race, class, and even politics. A love that makes us think hard about the future, a time and place that we will never see but they will live. A love that personalizes every news story, every tragedy, and every tweet.

What would a Mother’s Day Strike look like exactly? I’m not much of a political activist, but here are a few thoughts off the top of my head.

On Mother’s Day, we would take all of our bouquets and gifts and pile them up on the steps of our state capitals. Mountains of flowers and handmade cards from our children would rest at the feet of the democratic institutions that have failed us and them.

Perhaps there would be a few speakers, some arts and crafts for the kids. We may even serve brunch and have a mimosa or three. (I’ll coordinate the SignUpGenius. Dibs on the fruit platter.)

After that, we could take pictures of ourselves with our children and post them to The Facebook and Instagram, tagging each and every one of our state senators and the president with a special message that says, “The Mothers are Watching You.”

Because everyone knows that moms have eyes in the backs of their heads and that is enough to scare grown men, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here. 

Then we’d take to The Twitter and write the same phrase – The Mothers are Watching You – adding in the handles of our elected officials along with a personalized message detailing what, exactly, we’re watching with those eyes in the backs of our heads.

Oh, and I even have a hashtag: #momwatch

For the more radical mamas, we could consider a march, although I’d prefer a sit-in because it is, after all, Mother’s Day. And then we could get arrested, which would be such an act of America turning on itself and its extolled values that we may just get people’s attention.

Arresting mothers on Mother’s Day?!?!

Yes.

Finally, to really bring it home, we’d make t-shirts. Not just your regular t-shirt with “Mother’s Day Strike” emblazoned across the front. Nope, there will be no words. Just pictures. Thousands of pictures of mothers’ faces giving that look.

The one where we stare hard without blinking, slightly raise our eyebrows, and tense every muscle in our face into one big frown. The one that stops everyone in their tracks. The nonverbal message screaming, “I have had enough.”

Because I’ve definitely had enough.

I have had enough of children shooting other children in schools. Receiving email messages from my son’s high school alerting me to the fact that they are practicing a “lock down drill” just like they would, say, announce the school lunch menu.

I have had enough of big business poisoning the air my children breathe, the water my children drink, and the food my children eat. Leaving us to wonder why there are so many new food allergies, cases of “mystery autoimmune diseases,” when they know exactly what they’ve done.

I have had enough of terrified children in jail cells, their mothers – women who are just like you and me – far away. A cruelty that no mother would ever, ever in a million billion years inflict on another.

I have had enough.

Have you?

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10, 2020. I’m booked in the morning with brunch, but after that, I’m hosting a one-woman strike. Hope to see you there.

Share this with other mothers who have had enough. Or anyone who has a mother. Which is EVERYONE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy and Me Take on the Patriarchy

My daughter told me that when she grows up, she’s going to be an inventor.

First on her list of inventions? Special gloves with gripping fabric that protect kids’ fingers from freezing on the monkey bars. Speaking of fingers, she’s also going to invent a Barbie doll with hands that flex. When I asked her why, she said Barbies need to be able to hold things.

“Like what?” I asked.

“Knives,” she replied.

I didn’t clarify if these knives were for cooking or something else. Some questions are better left unasked.

She also thinks Barbies should be able to wear regular shoes like boots and tennis shoes. Not just high heels because those aren’t good for running. And Barbie needs a backpack instead of all those glittery purses.

“For hiking?” I asked, warily.

“No. To carry books. Lots of books,” she said, looking very serious.

After explaining that she planned to give her inventions away for free, I reminded her that the revolution will not be funded, so she needs to make some cash. Her new plan is to sell the Monkey Bar gloves for $15 and the Barbies for $10.

I’m intrigued to see how this little girl turns out. Indeed, I’m intrigued to see how this entire generation of little girls turns out.

Girls who grew up with an African-American president, saw the rise and fall of the first female presidential candidate, sobbed when a “bully” was elected.

Girls who marched with their mothers and grandmothers or watched it on T.V., their eyes transfixed by this demonstration of women’s power and love.

Girls who know the phrases “Time’s Up” and “Me Too” but don’t know (yet) what they mean.

Girls who look to us, their terrified and enraged mothers, for reassurance and guidance.

Yes, I’m intrigued to see how they turn out. And I’m intrigued to see how we, their mothers, turn out, too.

Women March -Mimi

The other day, my daughter asked if she could write on the computer.

“I want to be a writer like you,” she said.

So I dusted off our old laptop and we sat down together to write. I worked on my blog while she typed away.

“What are you writing about?” I asked.

“It’s a fairy tale,” she replied distractedly.

“That’s nice,” I said, going back to my own writing.

About 30 minutes later, she finished and asked me to take a look. So I read her fairy tale, which was infused with true love, magic, and the times in which we now live.

Her protagonist is a biracial princess named “Rapperpunzel” the only daughter of an African-American king who looks a lot like Barack and a white queen fashioned after her girl-crush Emma Watson.

Rapperpunzel chooses not to marry the Prince (they’re just really good friends) because she wants to focus on her work.

“What’s her work?” I asked. Delighted, surprised, intrigued. 

Hoping that she would say “President of the United States” or “women’s right activist” or…

“Mom,” she said with a bit of attitude, “She’s a rapper. Get it? Rapperpunzel?”

I was a little disappointed. We were soooo close. But while it was not quite the answer I was expecting, that’s how this mother-daughter thing works. And how it always has.

We do our best as mothers to teach our daughters the lessons of our lives, but then it’s up to them to decide how they want to live.

The freedom to decide – to have options and to make choices unhindered by gender – that’s “taking on the patriarchy.” Regardless of what they choose.

As I watch her tap away at the keyboard, I realize that I’m no longer excited to see how she turns out, as if there is a “right way.” Rather, I’m excited to see her make choices about how she will live her life.

Freedom. Options. Choice. That’s the ultimate goal of the women’s movement and feminism.

And for me, that’s my goal as a mother.

Mommy and Me Take On...

Help us take on the patriarchy. Share this post with other brave mamas and papas who are raising brave girls. 

 

Marital Advice No One Gives You

Last weekend I officiated a wedding. Because apparently, it’s all the rage to have a totally unqualified person marry you.

Which is kinda perfect because people who get married are usually equally unqualified to do so.

Myself included.

I decided that I wanted to marry my husband on our first date. While that sounds romantic and all, it makes no sense whatsoever and is totally insane.

Most of us can hardly decide what to order at Starbucks let alone who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.

(Caramel Frappuccino or Pumpkin Spice Latte? Hmmmm…..)

But we do it all the time. In Las Vegas alone, there are more than 300 weddings a day, which indicates to me that getting married seems like a super-great idea when our cognitive functions are impaired.

We know the statistics. Half of all marriages end in divorce. And I would wager for the fifty percent who stay married, most would agree that things didn’t turn out quite the way they’d expected.

Which is why I wasn’t surprised the topic, “Marital Advice No One Gives You,” got the most votes for my Friday blog.

What did surprise me, however, was that all of the people who voted for this topic were currently married.

So the advice I’m giving is not really meant for the doe-eyed couples who are engaged or newlywed. There’s loads of advice for them out there, nonsensical stuff like, “Never go to bed angry.” Which in my opinion is actually a very good idea when the alternative is stabbing your spouse with a fork.

Or my personal fave, “True love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Which in my opinion is a very bad idea unless you want to wake up with a fork sticking out of your forehead.

No really, I’m not kidding. You’re going to want to stab him with a fork someday.

Rather, this post is for those of us who are in the trenches, slogging it out. Married for a while, maybe with a kid or two. Because this is when we need marital advice most of all.

Marital Advice No One Gives You

  1. Make fun of everything, especially each other. Develop a dark sense of humor for the hard days, delight in the absurdities of the good days, and whenever possible, laugh at yourself and your spouse because honestly, you’re both jackasses. I once told my husband that when he gets angry, he looks like a silverback gorilla and should maybe try thumping his chest for dramatic effect. We both started laughing and that was that.
  2. Rather than trying to change your spouse, accept who they are and get on with it already. It’s hard enough to change things about ourselves that we don’t like, let alone change things about other people. Your energy is better spent figuring out a way to appreciate and live with this imperfectly perfect human. Every morning, I get up to write, sometimes as early as 4 a.m., which means I pass out around 9 p.m. every night. Rather than getting grumpy about it, my husband uses the time to play video games with our son or watch war movies, both of which are frowned upon by me. But I’m unconscious, so there’s no frowning. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  3. The stuff you hear most couples fight about (money, kids, chores, and sex) is totally 100% true. You can’t avoid the conflict these issues bring up, so if you find yourselves struggling, go see a therapist (individual and/or couples). They have graduate degrees in this stuff and actually know what they are doing. Between the two of us, we’ve had three therapists going at the same time on various occasions. Rather than seeing it as a sign that your marriage isn’t working, see it as proof positive that you are committed to your marriage. And if you think it’s too expensive or too emotionally difficult or too much time to go into therapy, the alternative (divorce) is that times 1,000.
  4. There is no such thing as 50/50 except when you’re sharing dessert. Rather than performing long division to figure out if you’re both equally contributing to your marriage, parenting your kids, etc., rewrite the equation to You + Spouse = 100%. This puts you on the same side and shifts your mindset to getting through this life, together. As much as I’m a feminist and believe in equality at home, I am the primary go-to for all things related to our kids. For one thing, I’m better at it, but secondly, I like doing it much more than my husband. And for us, it works. Find your 100% together, and as long as it’s working for you, it’s working.
  5. A good marriage is not about being “soulmates” or “living happily ever after.” It’s about being able to look at your spouse and think, “This is my ride-or-die homie, the one person on earth I’d want in the trenches with me.” A few years ago, we were out shopping and I saw an elderly couple going through the store. The wife was in a wheelchair, and she was clearly disabled by a stroke or something else awful. As her husband pushed her through the store, he pointed out the pretty lights and the artwork on the wall, whispering in her ear. And I thought, “My husband would do that for me someday, too.” If you know in your soul that your spouse is your ride-or-die, then you are rocking this marriage thing.

I am no expert on marriage. Just ask my husband. After seventeen years, we’re still figuring out how to “fight fair” and not stab each other with forks.

But here’s the deal. No one is an expert at marriage. And perhaps that’s the last piece of advice I’ll leave you with.

So keep doing your best, keep slogging it out, and whatever you do, keep trying.

Sharing is caring. Send this post to your soulmate ride-or-die homie. (Or a newlywed, just for kicks). They’ll thank you for it.

Oh, and send me a suggestion for next week’s topic! It’s a write-in ballot this time.

 

 

 

 

 

Bad*ssery @Work (Lesson One: It’s all hearts, rainbows & ninja swords)

Let me start off by saying we’re all badasses.

Whether you’re a woman who works outside the home, inside the home, or some combo of both, you are a badass. Whether you have kids or not, you are a badass.

Because total badassery is what it takes for a woman to make it in this world.

But today, I’m going to focus on women who work outside of the home, the majority of whom (70%) have kids and work full-time.

This does not mean they are more badassy than stay-at-home-moms or working women who don’t have kids. It just means they have different challenges that require different techniques in badassery, and that’s what I’ll be exploring today.

In my opinion, working women who have children deserve to wear a Badassery Badge wherever they go so people can be in awe of them.

Something like a “Girl-Scouts-Meets-Special-Forces” badge with hearts and rainbows and Ninja swords.

Because the world (especially the working world) is not set up for them to succeed. It’s not that the world doesn’t like them. Rather, it’s just the world doesn’t know them very well.

Men have been leading businesses, running our governments, and generally kicking ass for thousands of years. And as a result, men are killing it at work.

There are more CEO’s named “John” than all of the female CEO’s combined. The U.S. Congress is more than 80% male. And men are offered higher salaries than women for the same work.

I’m not sharing this to make you angry at men. I love men. I’m married to one. I gave birth to one. Most of my mentors have been men.

And all of them want me to set the world on fire even though it may not be in their best interest.

Rather, I’m telling you this so you will stop blaming/shaming/hating yourself when you find it so hard to keep your shit together.

It’s not your fault that maternity leave only lasts three months, which is just about the time you finally figure out how to take a shower again, and now you have to go back to work full-time.

It’s not your fault that crying at work is considered “too emotional” but raising your voice in anger is not (for men, anyway).

Or that you’re more likely to be asked to plan the office birthday parties than take on a new strategic initiative.

It’s not your fault.

There is nothing wrong with you, you are not inferior or less than. You’re just trying to make it in a world that was not designed for you.

And that’s why it’s so, so important that you stay in the game because even though it’s hard, we need you. All of us do.

We need you to create a world that actually works. For men and women.

What would such a world look like?

Let’s play pretend for a moment and visit that world. Put on your princess dress (or borrow one from your daughter), grab your magic fairy wand, and let’s go.

There’s an issue that strikes fear in the hearts of most working mothers. An issue that requires logistical skills on par with an air traffic controller and significant financial resources to solve.

That issue is after-school pick up.

A deceptively simple concept, after-school pick up takes place sometime between 3:28 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. at my child’s elementary school.

Do you know where I am between 3:28 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.?

At work.

Which creates a bit of a challenge for me. My options are to send my child home to an empty house (which is illegal), hire a babysitter for $15/hour (which is expensive), or quit my job (which is stupid).

If women were also leading businesses, running our governments, and generally kicking ass on a level equal to that of their male counterparts, this is how after-school pick up would go:

  • First, the bell would ring at 5:30 p.m. because last time I checked, a full working day is 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Dolly Parton even wrote a song about it. For the movie 9-5.)
  • Second, the children would have already completed their homework, eaten a healthy dinner, and attended their sports practices/music lessons/Yearbook meetings. (All of which would take place at the school because that’s efficient, and if women are anything, we are efficient.)
  • Third, there would be an onsite restaurant where we could pick up dinner for the rest of the family. (Or down a couple of glasses of wine before actually picking up our kids.)
  • And finally, all of this would be free. Because the PTA no longer plans bake sales but drafts federal legislation to increase funding for our schools. (And all of this legislation would pass because half of Congress would be female and our President would be a woman.)

Yes ladies, that’s what would happen.

So the very first lesson in Badassery @Work is to understand that the world is set up for men to succeed and, if we ever want to have our make believe/after-school-pick-up fantasies come true, we must bring our inner badass out into the world.

At home. At work. And everywhere in between.

What does that look like exactly?

It looks like speaking up in meetings like a badass. Supporting other women like a badass. Advocating for better parental leave policies like a badass. Believing in your self-worth like a badass. Raising your hand for a new project like a badass. Taking risks and failing like a badass. Delegating caregiving responsibilities like a badass. Negotiating for what you need like a badass. Saying “yes” before you feel 100% ready like a badass. Saying “no” to stuff that you don’t want to do like a badass. Questioning sexist assumptions like a badass. Giving up perfection like a badass. Asking for help like a badasss. Staying in the game like a badass.

And most of all, it means being brave. Like. A. Badass.

You know how you can start? Like right now? Email this post to a woman who needs it. Put it up on your Facebook page and own it. Text the link to your BFF and say, “Let’s do this.”

That’s your homework for lesson 1 in Badassery @Work.

Class dismissed.

If you’re still reading and want to hear more from me on this topic, send me your email address via the form below. I’m working on a new project – {Re}Finishing School for Brave Women – that’s designed for working women who want to set the world on fire. 

Yes, I would like to set the world on fire with you.

 

AND I would love your feedback on next week’s topic! Email me at kandaolmstead@gmail.com if you have a cool idea.

 

Masters in Bad*ssery (And Why Every Woman Needs One)

Lots of people get their MBA’s to learn how to run a business for profit.

The Masters in Badassery is similar. Only you substitute “run a business for profit” with “run your life for yourself.”

If the idea of running your life for yourself makes your heart pause because it sounds terrifyingly selfish, I totally get that.

For most women, even basic self-care (sleeping, eating, the occasional mani-pedi) feels like an indulgent self-centered luxury if not an outright act against God.

If the idea of running your life for yourself makes your heart pause because there’s no more room on your “To Do List” for YOU, I totally get that, too.

We have loooong “To Do Lists,” and most of them are other-centered. Adding ourselves may make it combust into flames.

But running your life for yourself is not about whether you’re at the top, middle or bottom of the “To Do List” (where we typically find ourselves). And it’s not about setting fire to the list. (Although wouldn’t that be nice.)

Everything on your “To Do List” – all of it – is your life. There is no magic fairy wand that will make those things go away. And whether you are at the top, middle or bottom isn’t the point.

Rather, it’s about how you “do” your “To Do List,” and by that, I mean instead of having the items on your list run your life, you run them. 

Like a badass.

Here’s how this might look.

Ever been invited to a neighborhood potluck? The one where everyone brings a homemade dish (if they’re a woman) or a bag of tortilla chips (if they’re a man)?

We have one every year in my neighborhood, and I bring a gorgeous fruit pie. That someone else baked. Someone named Whole Foods.

I even put it on a plate and break the crust a little bit.

Bam. Done. Total badassery.

Ever volunteer at your kid’s school? I used to do this every week, which was a complete nightmare.

The commute between my office and the school was double the amount of time I spent volunteering, my daughter sobbed hysterically when I said goodbye, and the kids were so snot-covered that I should have been wearing a hazmat  suit.

The ROI simply didn’t add up.

So now I volunteer to run the Halloween Party, and I do it in such an epic, badass way that I feel absolutely no pressure or guilt to do anything more for the entire year.

I bring in a smoke machine that makes all the kids super-excited and wheezy because apparently it’s better suited for outdoor use or dance clubs than elementary classrooms.

I make a “witches brew” with floaty corpse hands and dry ice. (Cautionary note: Dry ice has been banned from most elementary schools because it burns through children’s esophaguses so you’ll have to sneak it in.)

And I roll in dressed up like Wonder Woman. Which makes me the most awesomest, coolest mom ever.

wonderwoman

Total badassery.

Running your life for yourself looks like figuring out ways to make your life work not just for everyone else, but for you.

Running your life for yourself is something women need to re-learn how to do. And I say re-learn because somewhere between our girlhood and now, we forget how to do this.

If you cannot imagine ever, ever living this way, let me re-introduce you to your twenty year-old self.

Because I bet THAT woman knew how to run her life for herself.

Granted, she didn’t have the same responsibilities and pressures and commitments that you have today. But she still had responsibilities, pressures, and commitments.

They were just different. (And less loud because they didn’t have mouths that talked, begged, or screamed.)

She didn’t succumb to the “right way” to do something because she either didn’t care or she didn’t know any better.

The first step in getting your Masters in Badassery is to remember your twenty year-old self. Like, really remember her.

What would she put on her “To Do List”? And how would she manage the stuff that’s on yours?

Here’s my list:

  1. Make dinner
  2. Attend child’s service club meeting
  3. Buy birthday present for dog
  4. Go to 4th grade Back to School Night

Hmmmm…. What would my 20 year-old self do with that list?

  1. Make dinner  What’s cookin’ Whole Foods?
  2. Attend child’s service club meeting after a glass of wine
  3. Buy birthday present for dog  Here’s an extra scoop of dog food
  4. Go to 4th grade Back to School Night (This stays on the list because how else am I gonna sign up for the Halloween Party?)

Now it’s your turn. Lemme know how it goes.

Sharing is caring. Send this post to a badass girlfriend. She’ll thank you for it.

(Oh! And don’t forget to vote for next week’s topic! I’m posting every Friday now, and I love love love to get your input. Survey is below. xoxoako)