Pantsuit Nation Restored My Hope at the 11th Hour

standard November 8, 2016 Leave a response

I just spent a pathetic amount of time trying to find a photo I took of Little L on election night in 2008. It’s lost somewhere on a thumb drive or a USB card, or maybe the laptop I was using back then. The fact that it’s not stored in my Facebook memories probably says more about how much my world has changed since then than anything else, but I digress.

In the photo she’s sitting in her highchair wearing not much other than a diaper. The tray in front of her shows the remains of the pitiful dinner I managed to pull together for her while keeping my eyes glued to the election Twitter feed. Olive slices and cupcakes. That’s it. That’s what my delighted toddler ate on election night 2008. There is no record of what her 3 year old sister had for dinner that night.

It was an amazing night. One full of hope and excitement. I couldn’t take my eyes off the giddy frenzy that was Twitter. It was all just such a high.

The last year has felt like the opposite of that high and I’ve often looked back at all the tragic events that have sucked the hope right out of the air and the vitriol that has filled it instead and wondered where it all went wrong.

Where did the love go? The hope? The camaraderie and support?

So much hate. So much anger instead.

It’s enough to make a person want to lock their doors and hide forever.

Even Twitter, so full of bubbling joy that night, has become a cesspool of muck.

Then yesterday I joined a top-secret-not-so-secret Facebook group titled Pantsuit Nation.

I was sick and tired of the increasingly desperate Facebook posts of people pleading 3rd party voters to not throw away their vote. Exhausted by reading the same rhetoric again and again. And lured by the hints of hope I was seeing from people who had joined the secret group.

I waded in with zero expectations and was gobsmacked into feeling hopeful again.

It’s not a group for convincing fence sitters or staunch opponents, it’s just a group of people celebrating Hillary.

No, no, not a “rah rah, ain’t she great!”, kinda place, just story after story about why people are voting for her.

Intensely personal stories about late term abortions, immigration, daughters and sons. About elderly parents who are voting for the first time. About terminally ill people holding on so they can see history made. Stories about triumphant love and healthcare. About beating odds that didn’t even exist 8 years ago.

It is a place of hope and love, of support and encouragement.

It is proof that all the goodwill hasn’t been sucked out of America.

Proof that lies in the fact that, as of this morning, 2.5 million people have joined the group and the comments aren’t angry, aren’t mean or demeaning.

That’s worth repeating. The comments aren’t angry, mean, or demeaning.

This morning in the Pantsuit Nation group I saw a photo of a man standing in line to vote, wearing the most amazing pair of red patent leather high heels. And the thousands of comments were all positive.

All. Positive. 

For a man who is so hopeful to cast a vote that might mean he can truly be himself, that he wore red high heels to vote.

I don’t know what tonight’s election results will bring. I’m crossing all of my fingers and toes that the nation turns out to vote in favor of love and not hate, but no matter what happens, I’m going to forever hold those red shoes in my heart.

Over the last few years, we’ve been showing our really gruesome underbelly. Hate. Racism. Sexism. Xenophobia. I don’t believe that these are new, I just believe that people have kept them hidden deep in dark closets and basements.

Maybe, just maybe, Pantsuit Nation is proof that what was really happening is the first step to the great clean-up. When it’s time to tackle that closet no one dares open or talk about, you first have to take everything out, lay it out, and start sorting.

We’ve laid it all out. I finally have hope that what comes next will be beautiful.

That baby who is no longer a baby covered in olive juice and frosting deserves to grow up in a world where people are loved for who they are instead of being reviled for being different.

No matter who wins tonight, I take heart in the fact that at least 2.5 million others feel the way I do. Because in the end, it’s proof that humanity hasn’t yet lost.

Pantsuit Nation

 

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The woman I’ll become

standard October 28, 2016 Leave a response

I have this vision of myself, later at some indistinct time in my future, in a house with a yard. It’s a cozy house with lots of snug areas to sit, with a warm comforting kitchen that is more welcoming than functional.

The me that I imagine I’ll be then isn’t lithe, nor is she overweight, she’s an indistinct somewhere in between. She’s somewhat inspired by the maternal figure in Trixie Belden, or at least as I remember her, portly, busy baking pies and cooking for anyone who might be over, and also by other literary figures who have charmed me over the years.

The thing about this me of the future is that she’s secure in the knowledge that people love her exactly for who she is and how she makes them feel, and not because she’s dressed in a particular style, or looks a particular way. She’s just very comfortable being herself.

She putters. She wears flowy colorful clothing clearly designed for comfort and not for looks. She brews tea at all hours of the day. She hand-writes quotes and hangs them all over the place. She has notebooks stashed everywhere in case inspiration strikes.

She’s always ready to have people drop by for a treat, a cup of something warm to drink, a chat in the yard or in the cozy kitchen.

She’s got advice if it’s wanted and an ear if it’s needed.

I like to think that she’s a safe haven because she’s so secure in her acceptance of herself as she is.

Occasionally I see glimpses of this me I hope to someday become.

The handwritten notes are already populating my office walls. The tea is already a fixture.

wall-notes

It’s the rest that still eludes me. That feeling that I could wear anything that makes my soul feel at peace and not worry about what others might think or say.

Once in a while I spot an item and think, “I need that. I must have that. Because one day that’s who I’ll be.” Usually I demure. And sometimes I don’t.

Which is how I ended up ordering the one piece romper jumper thing that everyone was talking about one day on Facebook. It’s utterly ridiculous, and yet my soul cried out for it and my wallet didn’t balk at the $14 price tag.

The package arrived and sat untouched for over a month. I couldn’t bring myself to face the ridicule, knowing how much I would love having it on.

The other day, I finally found the courage to try it on. I swooshed around the house, loving the feel of the fabric flowing around my legs, relishing the utter freedom of the endless comforting material.

Then I saw my daughter’s face, half smiling/half afraid that her nutty mother might actually wear this thing out in public, and I changed out of my romper and tucked it away.

It’s ok. I get it, I really do. And I’m not entirely ready to be that person anyway.

So, for now, I’m happy to let it sit there, in my closet, waiting for the day that I’ll finally be that person whose self-assurance shines through so brightly that what she drapes over her body isn’t what people will see first.

And maybe on quiet days, it’ll come out to play.

In the meantime, I’ll smile at the knowledge that I’m not the only one who bought the romper while it was on sale. The Facebook frenzy about it is enough to tell me that I’m not the only one who dreams of one day being that self-assured woman.

I look forward to sharing a cup of tea with them in the not so distant future.

****

Please note, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that the links above include my Amazon affiliate link. Should you click on them and purchase something like maybe a book to treat your inner child or a romper to tempt your future self, I’ll earn a teensy tiny portion of the sale and I will be endlessly grateful.

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I am a terrible juggler

standard October 21, 2016 Leave a response

Like most moms, I wear a lot of hats.

Wife. Mom. School volunteer. Family organizer/manager.

Like every mom who also has to bring home a paycheck, I wear even more hats on top of those.

Since I freelance, those hats, on any given day are doubled, tripled, and sometimes quadrupled depending on what I’ve agreed to take on.

I currently have two regular clients, one project I’m co-founding, and one on-again-off-again client.

So, yeah, a lot of hats.

And a nearly unmanageable amount of chaos.

Which I hate.

Because I hate disappointing people or not delivering what I’ve promised.

I keep trying to juggle everything I’ve got going on. Keep trying to stay on top of the requests, demands, deliverables. Keep trying to remember it all, keep it all straight, keep every ball in the air.

And, for the most part, I manage. No, the juggling isn’t gorgeous. Sometimes balls get snagged out of the air just before they hit the ground, sometimes two balls get caught at the same time, some balls don’t get the attention they deserve, but it all happens.

Until something happens to upset the balance and then it all goes to hell.

Two weeks ago, I switched phones. From an Android to an iPhone.

You’d think that would be fine, but, as it turns out, I rely on my phone rather heavily and having to change operating systems threw me.

My calendar got messed up.

The way my emails are sorted got changed.

The notifications are different and not as intuitive.

Tiny things. Big repercussions.

I scheduled an event on Yom Kippur.

I dropped the ball on a volunteer thing that will affect a bunch of people.

I forgot to calendar a meeting with someone at school and only realized I was missing it when I was already 15 minutes late.

I didn’t check the date that my sister had said she’d come see C in her play and told her to come on a day C isn’t performing.

Not one of those things is groundbreaking or disastrous. No loss of limb. No blood. No death.

But they’re adding up.

They’re adding up to me feeling out of control and with each ball that gets dropped I feel less capable of keeping the others in the air.

I feel the need to press pause. To breathe. Ground myself. Pick the balls up one by one again and start fresh.

But I can’t. Too many balls still soaring and needing to be caught and thrown back up.

So this is my truth today:

I’m juggling a lot of balls. Each one really, truly important to me.

And I feel terrible that I’m doing a terrible job of it. But I’m not going to stop trying.

This little block crafted by Robin Plemmons has sat on my desk for years. Maybe I should read it more often.

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We owe each other the truth

standard October 4, 2016 1 response

We have one rule in our house, other than the usual health and safety rules that can be found in most homes. Our one rule is this, we don’t lie.

Three simple words that sum up the hardest act in the world.

We don’t lie. We tell the truth. Always.

I made up the rule and, I have to admit, even I’m tempted to fudge it a little here and there. Lie about whether there’s chocolate left in the pantry. Lie about forgetting to get something critical at the store. Popsicles. Popsicles are apparently critical, and yet I can never seem to remember to put them in the cart. Lie about forgetting to schedule playdates rather than choosing not to because, dear god, not that child again.

Or even lie about how I’m feeling.

Yes, Mommy’s fine. No, Mommy’s not crying. 

But I don’t lie. So I tell the truth. I admit to my children that I make mistakes, that I’m making choices they might not like, that sometimes I want to hoard things and not share even though I’m always on them to share their things. That I have real feelings like anger, fear, sadness, and that I see no reason to shield them from that fact.

I figure that my four seconds of discomfort are well worth the fact that they’ll grow up knowing that I might not be perfect in any way, but that they can always trust what comes out of my mouth to be honest and that I’ll do my best to be real with them. In a world packed with uncertainties, I believe that this one certainty is a gift.

I’m a stickler about the no lying rule in my house, but I have to admit that I haven’t always stuck to it out in the real world.

It’s just easier, often, to stick to the approved script. “I’m fine, you’re fine, we’re all fine, isn’t parenting the most fulfilling thing in the whole world? Isn’t being a wife and a mother simply the best every day?” 

It’s easier to hide behind the thought that, by saying a little white lie, we’re sparing the other person’s feelings, we’re doing them a kindness.

It’s easier to say the thing that will save you from having to get into a bigger conversation than you can handle right then and there.

But what happens each time you hide behind a lie is that you’re cheating yourself and the other person of a real connection, something we all need desperately to get through this thing we call life.

I’ve been reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s books and listening to podcasts where she’s interviewed, and she keeps talking about life as if we’re all in a big body of water. We’re either treading water, drowning, or when things are going well, floating along on the surface. She explains that, to her, life is all about treading water and fighting the things that routinely pull you under.

Her analogy made me think of logs bouncing along on the water. If we’re each a log, subject to the whims of the currents and the storms, then the only thing that makes us more likely to survive is to lash ourselves to other logs so that we become rafts. The things that literally tie us together is connection, truth, little shared moments of honesty. The more we are real with each other, the stronger our raft, the more likely we all survive the journey.

So, much like my children know that when they ask me something, anything, I’ll speak the truth, a truth that they can hear, that’s age appropriate and relevant to their needs and wants, my friends should also know that I always strive to speak the truth.

I won’t make up a lie about why I can’t come have coffee with that other friend of yours, the one who gets under my skin.

If you ask me how I’m doing, I’m going to try my hardest to be honest with you. As honest as I am with myself at least. And if I can’t go into it right then and there, then I’ll say that.

If you ask me for advice or feedback, sorry sister, but you’re going to get it. And you might not love what you hear, but it’ll be true, and helpful, and I’ll be there to hold your hand as I say it.

And if you need to be truthful and honest with me, I’ll sit, as quietly as I can, and I’ll listen with my whole heart, because, as I’ve discovered over the years, telling the truth is only half the battle. Listening without judgement or assumptions is the other half.

This path of truthful speaking and listening isn’t an easy one. There are people along the way who like living the script, find great safety in the pretense. Those people might take offense, might even choose to not be my friend any more. And that’s fine. I’ve had to make my peace with that because, in the long run, I’ve found that the ones who see me, really see me and my truths as something of value, those are the ones I want as part of my raft for the duration.

Truth binds us together

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