NOTE: I want to touch on the gendered language I used in this post. I am a stickler for inclusive language – you can ask my students. I work really hard to make sure everyone feels heard and represented when I write and speak. In this post I am going to use the term ‘woman’ and in that I am talking to anyone who would like to identify with this term. I am also going to use the word ‘mother’ and again, I am including anyone who would identify in this. The issues I am talking about here are typically found in hetero-relationships, however, this is not exclusively the case. I am talking about work from home mothers, stay at home mothers, work out of the home mothers. No mommy wars here. No one is safe.
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It has been a while since I have posted and for that I am sorry. I have been out of commission in many ways for the last little while. Firstly, I had a hysterectomy 2 weeks ago which was a flippin’ wild ride and I am very much still on the roller coaster of healing. I have yet to even begin processing the emotional and spiritual and sexual repercussions and how this has changed me as a woman. I have been documenting that journey on my business page here.
Aside from my surgery, I have also gone into my ‘mind-corner’ (I do my best thinking there) and I am re-evaluating where I am at in my life. I feel angry. I feel sad. My work feels like an uphill battle in a broken system and I cannot stand taking such a safe position anymore. It is making me rant daily (sorry Alana and Gray), I can feel it choking out my throat, I can feel it draining me. I am going to use my voice. I have outgrown my old skin. Safe is no longer comfortable. I cannot go back.
I have danced around it. I have justified. I have hinted. I have implied. I need to go straight ahead.
I am surrounded by amazing people. My community is wonderful. Choose a ring around me from my very closest and dearest to my arms length members and they are all wonderful as hell. My pre- and post- surgery support for me and my family was such a great indicator of that. Yet, I see a trend over and over again. Women, yes, I am speaking about my female-identified people, are living lives that are mediocre and well, shitty. They have shitty relationships. They feel shitty when they get up. They express they tolerate abuse in their relationships whether it is physical, emotional, financial or verbal. They are taken for granted. They have lost their voice.
My passion is to have women who are parents feel like they are financially and emotionally interindependent in their families. What is this made up word? Well, I heard it from the amazing Dr. CV Harquail at the Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum Toronto (#EEFTO) conference last month. It was such a perfect word. In the context of relationships, each member of the dyad (or more) can stand on their own financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually… however, they are better and more, together. This can be applied to people or objects…. like a tree versus a forest.
I always felt like this with Alana and could not come up with the word. We are kick ass individuals that together are magic and a force. Pull us apart and we are still pretty awesome.
So, where does my mission for financial and emotional interindependence for mothers come from? Well, I watch women put up with shit and I could not figure out why they would not take the leap towards demanding something better. Why stay? Why are they not insisting they are worth more? Why are they still making excuses for their partner that doesn’t support them? Or doesn’t treat them like the amazing humans that they are? Why are they sacrificing their needs EVERYWHERE and not just the occasional here and there that one does as a parent?
I was recently ranting about this to Alana in bed shortly before my surgery and it was late, and I was tired, and I had ranted over 6 – 8 times that day about different feminist topics and then it hit me. It hit me so hard I felt like such an asshole that it had not hit me earlier. The kids. We put up with so much because we primally want to have our children close. We want to know where they are sleeping. We want to hold them if we need to. We want eyes on them. We want to know what they ate. We want to know they are safe. When you leave, you lose that. Even if it is only here and there. Fuck, that is scary. I know. I did it. I feel like I have lost a limb when Gray walks out the door to visit my ex. I cannot sleep. I worry. I know she is not cared for properly. I know her emotional needs are stifled. I know she is shamed. The older she gets, the more she shares with Alana and I about this. I watch her scared to tell the other household how she feels when she is there. It is so hard knowing that she doesn’t sleep when she is there. She tells us that she feels better at home.
I have been doing this for almost a decade. I am not a parent that has my worth tied up in motherhood. Not at all. That piece is not a complication in my case and I still feel such loss when Gray is not in mine and Alana’s care or with someone I approve of caring for her.
So you stay. You stay and endure financial abuse. Untreated addiction and mental illness. Lost passion. No room for you to put your goals and plans as a priority. Crumbs of seemingly good acts from your partner that carry you through the next week of shit (like being ‘allowed’ to go out for a friend’s birthday dinner and drinks, but you still have to get up the next morning with the kids even though you had a late night since you used up your ‘you time’ on martinis).
We can have better. I want mothers to feel confident in their ability to take up the space with their wishes and wants. Also, it’s a bit ridiculous that I’m referring to a mother’s needs as wishes. I want mothers to have financial stability in their own right so they do not have to stay because they cannot afford anything else. I want mothers to use their voice and not be scared. I want mothers to sparkle. I want to help.
This is me declaring my mission. I have not figured out the middle steps yet. I trust that they will come. I want to hear from women who feel safe and confident and who are thriving in their household. Who can talk about their passions and know that they are respected as much as their partner’s passions. Who can safely tap into their powerful magic. Who feel like they are sparkling. I know you are unicorns. I know motherhood puts us in an inherent state of dependence. Of fear. Of sacrificial love. I do not know where to start picking this apart so I need help. I want to hear ideas. I want to hear stories. Together we can create better.