Thursday, September 25, 2008

When it's OK to be sexist

All right, let me preface this with a disclaimer. I really don't like the Today show, I swear. There is always something on there that irritates me for the rest of the day because they are either freaking you out about the dangers of eating something (it will either make you instantly fat or poison you), or reporting on seriously lame scientific studies that later end up completely discredited. Unfortunately, I hate complete silence even more, and there is nothing on during the day, so I had Today on in the background while I showered and got ready during Sam's early nap. True to form, they reported on some lame "breakthrough" study that wasn't much of a breakthrough.
Here is the result of the survey/study/waste of grant money:
There are still some jobs out there that people prefer to see filled by a particular gender.
Insert eye roll here, and let me say "well, duh."
Look, I am all up for gender equality on a basic level of human rights, and am infinitely grateful for the strides made in women's rights over the past several centuries. If I lived 400 years ago, and said most of the things I say on a daily basis, I'd have been beheaded long ago. I'm grateful for the right to vote, my college degree, and being able to do anything I dream up if I'm willing to get off my lazy kiester. Women in history have died because they didn't have those basic rights and dared to speak up about it. I'm even more thankful that I live in a society where I can choose to work as a mom, or I can choose to stay home and raise my baby, although recent economic changes might make that decision for me.
With that said, at the risk of being ostracized from the female gender and having to join a marginalized splinter group, I have to say that when it comes to social science "equal" does not mean "exactly the same," and there are a few times out there where it should be acceptable to be a little sexist.
Are there people that stretch beyond the general limitations of their gender? Absolutely, just as there are people who stretch the normal human ramifications of intelligence and strength, and these people should be given a chance to excel. Do we, however, offer everyone a job at NASA because "if so-and-so is smart enough, everyone must be?" Do we tell everyone to pull a bus with their teeth under the guise that "If so-and-so is strong enough, everyone must also be?" No, because that is ignorant and dumb, but it is no different with regards to gender. I think Sarah Palin would make a great vice-president, but there is no way on the face of this earth I would vote for just any woman for the sake of having a woman in the job. Less visible jobs are no different, and I find it inexcusable that we live in a society where gender stereotypes are mocked in sitcoms and commercials (stupid man, doesn't know that one sheet of Bounty will clean up his mess, allow smart woman to save him from himself), but speaking of differences seriously and respectfully is practically a capital offense. Why is admitting gender differences such a taboo? In order to redeem myself in the eyes of angry women everywhere, I also think there are jobs where it's reasonable to understand why someone might say "I'd rather a woman does that," and to prove my point, I'd like to offer an example of each.
The study on Today specifically referred to the fact that people expect and prefer male police officers. They were acting like this was a crazy stone-age mentality or something. Seriously, its nothing personal against women, but if I am being attacked and am a victim of a crime, I want Goliath showing up to save me. I can admit it. Yeah, I know David won that fight, but in the heat of the moment, there's just no reasoning with my sympathetic nervous system. Find me the biggest, burliest man ever, preferably one with a temper and who recently quit smoking, and sic him on the creep! If Goliath is unavailable, yeah, I'll take David, but the last thing anyone wants is someone smaller (and cuter and skinner) than them showing up to save them from the bad guy. Now, on top of feeling like a mega-wuss who should have been able to take care of business myself, I also will feel infinitely guilty if 5'2" 100 lb Policewoman gets injured while 5'6" none-of-your-business lb me stands idly by. I'm sure it is even worse for a guy. Plus, I want someone strong enough to pull my fat self out of a crashed car if need be. I think women make great detectives (as anyone who has tried to find out which kid broke a family heirloom knows), and have the compassion for working with victims that Mr. Burly might lack. I know they are carefully trained in how to take out criminals, which I am not, but I just don't think societal awareness will ever overcome the natural desire humans have to feel protected by someone large and in charge when the chips are down. It's the reason animal packs tend to be led by the biggest and strongest, and I seriously think it is in our genetic code as humans to want to see Gigantor on our side in the midst of fear. In fairness, it's not just women I don't want to see coming up on an armed gunman in a dark alley, there are plenty of men who weigh less than I do (I married one of them), and who are better suited to computer programming than serving and protecting, and I feel the same way about them. Should women be cops? Yes, but be prepared to have something to prove and face a little bit of "I'm not so sure about this" from the people you save. Like I said, nothing personal.
On the other hand, I'm not exactly crazy about male labor and delivery nurses. Male nurses in general are still fairly uncommon, but as a woman, there are some places I'd just rather not see them at all. People who know me really well may be surprised to hear that, because I prefer to go to a male OB/GYN. I have to say, I prefer a male doctor for one reason, and one reason only--when I am in labor, whining and complaining about the agony of it all, I don't want a doctor secretly thinking to herself "For crying out loud, I did this seven times without so much as a children's Tylenol. You are such a priss." I prefer a doctor who has no idea what this feels like first-hand and is therefore willing to hand out an epidural the second I say "ow." Beyond that, my doctor was thoroughly "vetted" (as the politicians would say). I've known him since I was a kid, he delivered my siblings, he practices the same religion I do so I know his basic views on life and the importance of children. I wouldn't really care about the religion thing if it weren't for the fact that we do not drink, so I know that even if I go into labor at 11pm on a Friday, I'm guaranteed he won't be tipsy. I appreciate that, and as a worrywart, the less things I need to worry about, the better.
I don't however, want just any guy in the room when push comes to shove (no pun intended). I barely wanted my husband in there, and if it hadn't been for my desire to force him to share in my pain and feel bad for me, I might have kicked him out. I'd just prefer to keep the number of men who see that experience extremely limited. My father (or mother for that matter) are not welcome into the room, and I would hate to live in a world that has become so PC it is considered inappropriate to kick a strange man out of your hospital room when you feel exposed. You already have to chuck your modesty out the window to give birth, can't we have a shred of control back without being considered intolerant? If I don't have the time or ability to personally ensure they aren't perverts (even though I'm sure they're not), I don't want them anywhere near me.
There has to be a few places left in our world where it's okay to be a little unreasonable and sexist to protect our personal feeling of safety. Irrational feelings are part of what makes us human and we already have to spend a huge amount of energy overcoming them to be considered civilized (like not tackling the stranger in the grocery store who touched your baby's face with unwashed hands). I don't find it all that earth-shattering to find that most other people retain some of these feelings too, and I don't condemn people for it either. Meredith Viera might think you are a shocking caveperson, but I think you are normal, so take heart. Drop the guilt, Today show, people have enough to worry about!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pick and Choose

I got some news yesterday. Now I know that I will not be spending my Saturday morning lounging around in my PJs (as previously planned), but will instead be attending the funeral of a family friend, who passed away in his late nineties after a long and fulfilling life. Nothing changes plans as unexpectedly as a death. While this man and I were not particularly close, this was someone I had a huge amount of respect for, and since my parents do not live close enough to pay their respects in person, I will be there to represent my family. Ironically, after the funeral, I am going to a 4-year-old's birthday party, but I guess that is what the Circle of Life song was all about.
Strangely enough, this news came on the heels of a lot of thinking I'd already been doing on this topic.
Last week, I watched The Queen, which I'd already seen, but it was free Starz weekend, and as long as a movie isn't R, I'll sit through just about anything. The movie is about the royal reaction to the death of Princess Diana--a major worldwide event I actually remember. I was thinking about how strange it was that anniversaries were going by of things I could remember. As a kid and teenager, everything always seems to have happened before you were born, but here I was, remembering where I was when such and such happened, just like an old person. 11 years since Princess Diana died, 7 years since September 11, 2001. I remember Princess Diana dying because my mom was the one who told me. The reason it is so vivid in my mind is because I could have sworn she said "Princess Leia died today," and I couldn't figure out if she meant the character, or the actress who played her, but it seemed rude to ask when she was obviously sad. I also had no idea she liked Star Wars so much. Turns out, she didn't, and Carrie Fisher is very much alive, but I will never forget the conversation. I didn't piece it all together until I got home and saw the TV coverage.
Remembering my awkward reception of this news reminded me of all the other deaths that have fallen on my parents' unfortunate shoulders to report to me over the years--Phil Hartman (one of my favorite comedians), Memphis (our beloved dog), numerous other pets (Chips Of Hoy, our rabbit springs to mind), practically countless fish, including Fluffy, PeePee, and Forgetful Jones (hey, no one can name a pet like 3-year-old me). Once I hit adulthood, it got even worse when Mom was the one to call me about Daniel's father. Again, I thought she said someone else because the thought of Daniel's young and healthy father dying was so far away from my realm of possible, and again, I was wrong. Only a few months later, we had just left the Hospice house when my father called me to come back because my Grandfather had passed away while Grandma and I went home to sleep. Far too shortly thereafter, it was one of our best friends, Jeff. By this time, I had learned how to recognize the "death tone" in my mother's voice and listen carefully, never assuming anyone to be immune. As an adult looking back, the deaths of Fluffy and PeePee aren't all that big of a deal--they were 9 cent feeder fish--but at the time, it was all a preschooler could handle, I'd had them as long as I could remember. For feeder fish, they did last a long time. Each succeeding death felt like the worst thing to ever happen to me, as I grew up, the degree of the loss grew right along with me, and every single time, it was my parents who had to tell me. In the early years, they had to explain what death meant in a way I could understand, even if Mom wasn't too sad about not having to clean the fishbowl anymore, and in more recent years, they have had to deal with their own intense grief as well as mine.
As I thought about all these events in a matter of mere minutes, I felt bad for my parents. It must have been so hard for them to have to tell me about these things. I realized in that moment, that I would someday have to do that for Samantha. I hope it is a day far removed from this one, but eventually it will fall to Daniel and I to have so many hard conversations with her.
You never think about the hard conversations when you dream about having an adorable baby. You think about little booties, and who she'll look like, and whether she'll be an ASU or UofA fan. I, for one, am intensely grateful for this. As much as I wish I could pick and choose which aspects of parenting I am going to participate in (several orders of tickle monster, star of the school play, and hold the surly teenager sneaking out of the house and sicknesses please), I can't. Because of this, I am very grateful for the selective amnesia that comes with potential parenting--what I believe to be a tender mercy of God. If everyone had a completely clear knowledge of the trials we would have to guide our children through, I don't think anyone would sign up for this parenting thing. It is only after we have the blessing of children that we realize the pain is entirely worth it.
Because of this, I will continue to enjoy baby cuteness as it comes, and try not to worry about the hard times ahead. For now, I'm going to pretend Junior High doesn't even exist, just to make it easier on all of us. I might also hit google, just to make sure Carrie Fisher is still going strong--I'd hate for mom to have to make another phone call.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'd do anything for love (but I won't do that)

Daniel is spending today at the Diamondbacks game with his mom and brothers and brothers-in-law to celebrate his Mom's birthday. They gave her a Momma and the Boys night. I don't know how crazy she is about baseball, but Daniel says she'll enjoy it because they enjoy it and they'll make it fun for her. What a sweetheart to spend her birthday present doing something they like more than she does! This is where his mom and I differ.
I love Daniel. If he ever needs a kidney, I'm there. If he ever takes a dream job that requires us to move anywhere in the world, I'll pack up the house and learn a new language. I'll complain for a few weeks first, but I'll go and be supportive. For his birthday last night, we went to a Brazilian all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to start sweating meat any minute now. There's meat in my pores. The place reminds Daniel of his time in Brazil, so I am happy to sit there, knowing my week of keeping careful track of what I eat and trying to shed this baby weight will be obliterated in one hour as food parades by my table on swords. I very nearly dodged a meat coma. Basically, I'll do anything he asks of me, with a notable exception.
I hate baseball. So sue me.
As his birthday draws nearer (it's tomorrow), Daniel's started dropping "subtle" hints about how he would love to take Sam and me to a baseball game. My response is "I'll pack the diaper bag with plenty of bottles and scrapbook while you two are gone. Have a great time and don't let her get beaned with a foul ball."
If you like baseball, more power to you. I'm not trying to change your mind. It's just that I, personally, would rather watch grass grow than watch baseball. At least the snacks would be cheaper.
There is no point in making a bunch of comments about "America's game...blah blah blah....favorite pastime...blah blah blah...smell of the grass...blah blah blah." If those arguments had an iota of efficacy with me, Daniel would have won me over years ago. He even tried going after my weakness, to zero avail--I can get Cracker Jack at the grocery store, and hot dogs are just as good at Costco, plus they cost about a million dollars less.
On top of being insanely boring, you can't even zone out and read at a game because depending on where you are sitting, you could get hit with a stray ball. If I did get hit, Daniel would be mad I didn't catch it (because I never catch anything that's thrown at me), so I'd have a concussion and he'd be bummed out that we can't take the ball home. I don't understand why Daniel thinks it would be fun to go with someone who is completely miserable. I like going to the Suns all right, and I like football games (which are unfortunately all on Sundays, and please note I said football, not the Cardinals), but he's always pushing the baseball. I think he has this idea in his head that I will go and be smitten by the Americaness of it all and love it forever. Has he even met me?
I'll pass.
The last game I went to was while we were dating. Haha, bait and switch! (I'm just kidding, I complained my head off then too) Anyway, I kept myself occupied by counting how many times Steve Finley adjusted himself during every at bat. If you think I am joking, the record was 9. Mr. Classy isn't on the team anymore, and even when he was, my disgust kept me just one small step above clinical insanity. If there had been extra innings (which should be banned as a form of torture), I would have literally died of boredom.
So, yes, Daniel, I love you, and want you to have a happy birthday. There is an awesome present wrapped and waiting for Sunday. You are welcome to take our daughter to a game and try to raise her a baseball fan, I won't get in the way and force my personal anti-baseball beliefs on her. I won't even make comments under my breath about how they're all on 'roids when she's in the room. I promise. You can buy her a baby-sized hat, and I'll pay for the ticket.
Just please, please, please don't make me go. Wouldn't you rather have a kidney?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Eve of Destruction

A storm is coming at my house.
Nothing is safe.
I can feel it.
Just like those animals who know when the weather is changing, I have a prickling in my thumbs. It think the rest is about "something wicked this way comes," but the Shakespeare was one of the first casualties of Mommy brain, so I can't be certain.

It's the prickling of a mom whose baby is about to be mobile.

I've been in denial long enough. I've told myself, as my baby rolled over constantly, that she was just going back and forth and playing around. I've told myself that she was just bunching up the blanket, not actually moving off it. I've lied to myself that until she started using her arms we were fine--she would never get anywhere effectively with her face mashed into the carpet like that. I've said she was just practicing and she needed to exercise because crawling is a hard skill to master, so most babies probably start trying around three months. This isn't too early, no reason to stress. She won't be causing me real trouble for months.

I have to admit to the lies since today alone, my child rolled herself over the distance of two blankets and into the vertical blinds, rolled to the TV stand and kicked a bunch of DVDs to the back of the shelf, and later backed under my craft table like she was pulling into a parking spot. The vertical blind thing was fun, I caught her trying to lick the sliding glass door; her toes dirty from the window track no one ever cleans that is always full of dead bugs. A minute before I was washing dishes while she played in front of the TV, I look down to inspect a pan and she's found a bug buffet. That's just super. Apparently, you can really move effectively with your face in the carpet like that. Who would have thought?

Forget months, if I have a few weeks before she is full-blown crawling everywhere I'll be counting my blessings. Even if she doesn't crawl that fast, her rolling is more effective than most tweens walking is. It's also less bitter and slumpy. It is clear to me now that the plastic electrical outlet covers that have been in place since my 6th month of pregnancy represent woefully insufficient babyproofing. I am entering panic-mode and my mind is racing to keep up with my whirling dervish on the floor. Here's a sample of the train wreck I have become.

Sure, I can keep her out of harm's way and make sure she doesn't eat bugs, but only if I never do anything else again. Ever. For crying out loud, why are all the plugs so close to the floor!? Does anyone actually put electronics on the floor? No, they have to have long death-cords to reach from the stupidly placed plugs to the actual location of the needed device. That makes a ton of sense. Either the electricity people hate babies, or hate parents. It's a conspiracy. Don't even get me started on exterminators spraying poison in all the tastiest edges of the house. If you don't hire them, the poisonous bugs will attack as your cherub rolls around, so I think they're in league together. That's the only answer I have. Either way, poison is lurking.
The TV needs to be anchored to the wall, and where can I get a vacuum attachment that is actually somewhat effective? Where did this feather come from? Can a baby get bird flu from an escaped pillow feather? Can people get bird flu at all? I've vowed to teach rather than insulate 100%, so which of my beloved objects can be broken during the learning process? Do I have to get one of those really stupid-looking duck spout covers for the tub? Her infant tub doesn't even reach the spout end of the bathtub, and I do want to maintain some semblance of normalcy here. How many baby gates is too many? Toilet locks? Too soon? She can't stand up on stuff yet, and what if I have to go in a hurry? I had food poisoning just last week, the last thing I would have wanted to do was enter a password before throwing up.

You get the point, and I'm learning. I just had hoped she wouldn't be getting around so well, quite so soon. I fear for my stuff, but mostly, I fear for my sanity.
Plus we have a shiny garbage can. If other children have taught me anything about it, it's beyond delicious. Garbage cans that scream out to be licked--what kind of parents are we!?

Monday, September 1, 2008

My big adventure--why do they always involve poop these days?

Warning, this is gross.
So, today was my first day "Cleaning poop from in between my baby's toes." I am seriously hoping it is my last as well, but given her ability to get poop where it should never be, I doubt that.
Sam decided to have a diaper blowout in her exersaucer, and before I could notice, she spent about 5 minutes dancing in and smearing the poop that had fallen into the plastic disk under her. Nice.
It was like a horribly perverse finger-painting under the exersaucer.
When Daniel came home, the clean freak got the best of him and Captain Supportive merely said "Thank heaven it didn't get on the carpet! Oh well, whatever." Yeah, you spend 15 minutes cleaning up a poo painting and trying to scrub miniscule toenails and we'll see how many "whatevers" you toss out then, pal.
Anyway, just another lovely tale of poopies gone wrong at my house. At least she's not on solids so it doesn't stink. I fear the day it starts to stink, I have a really bad gag reflex. Everyday is at least a two outfit day around here. I can't tell if the Huggies are just lousy diapers or my daughter is particularly talented. It could be talent, she does seem to enjoy watching me discover her mess. Maybe she's just enjoying the look on my face and exasperated "Oh, Samantha!!!!" sigh that comes out of my mouth at least 10 times during the clean up. She is always all smiles and giggles while I work to reverse her latest exploit.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love being a mom? Really, despite the #2 incidents, I do.