Ultimate Juggler

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Girl Power

"What girls are discovering, to their infinite heartbreak, is that boys will happily agree to any form of sexual experimentation a girl cares to offer, but will reserve certain honors for the girls who build power in the ancient ways. If you want a boy to invite you to the prom, or to treat you well, or to speak highly of you to his friends, or to spend long hours thinking about how he can work his way into your heart - if what you want from him is courtship, romance, and respect - the very last thing you should do is ambush him with a sexual favor. That girls no longer know this to the marrow of their bones - that this knowledge comes to them in a slow awakening of misery and shame - is testament to how badly our culture has failed them." (emphasis mine)
Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic (April 2006)

This quote was written by the author, Ms. Flanagan, in response to letters sent to the editor about her article on teen sexuality that was recently published in the Atlantic. I remember reading the article and finding it very interesting.

I am including the quote in my blog and adding emphasis because I would like to express my agreement that our society is letting down today's young women by not teaching them how to achieve their dreams, goals and desires. I wonder how many of us in the company of tomorrow's adults (i.e., parents, educational providers, family members, etc.) even know exactly what their dreams and desires are. And if not, I wonder do we care to find out?

I would suspect that today's youth are full of dreams. I would also guess that the age-old goal of finding true love and receiving it might make their list of desires for the future. I could be wrong, and a formal survey might is definitely in order to establish this assumption as fact, but for the sake of limited time and resources, let's agree that many teens are interested in relationships and sex. I am around many parents and know that as a whole parents are very interested in helping their children succeed in school and at their extra-curricular activities. Many of us are also saving and sacrificing for their financial futures. But are we helping to guide today's youth toward achieving goals in their personal lives, for e.g.,in the areas of love and self-respect?

Today, young women are at a turning point in history. For the first time, we have reproductive and sexual freedom coupled with experience. In the sexual revolution of the 60's we had freedom, but not the experience. Today, we have a generation who has experimented with that freedom, making the young women of today knowledgeable about what sexual freedom does, and doesn't, give to a woman who chooses to use it indiscriminately.

But do today's young women really know? I would say that they know about sex, contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases. However, I wonder whether they have a view on changing societal norms and relationships between the sexes throughout history? What about love? Only perhaps if they are reading literature from different genres and time periods and/or are being educated in these subjects.

This is where I think our culture needs to step in and add to the knowledge of our young women and men so that the can have the power that comes with adequate knowledge. Freedom without knowledge is not power. It will only be when the kids today are equipped with how to achieve their goals can we say they are truly emanipated.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No More Tears in Heaven

It is Wednesday night now and my nephew of 21 years of age took his own life about 50 hours ago. I won't say much about him out of respect except that I will always think of him as someone who had the utmost of ideals and who struggled to function in a world that did not live up to his expectations. Goodbye Chris, I will always miss you and admire you for your dream of a better life. You were not wrong in what you wanted. I hope you have found it now. May your soul be at peace.

As a mom of 3 boys, my nephew's death caused me to look at my sons and my role in their life in a different way. I hugged my 5 year old more often over the last couple of days and spent more quality time with him. I worked hard on my office work so that I could free up more time to be there for my three guys in the next couple of days and over the weekend.

I remember being age 20 and, although independent and living on my own, how I felt so scared and confused about life and my future. Now 37, I hope I never forget this fact when my own children are that age. I want to stay involved in their life as a friend and a guide. I think that children are always our children and they need us to be there for them, even when they don't ask. We need to stay connected with them, especially when they are spreading their wings and learning to fly on their own. Life can seem so daunting when you are trying to make it on your own for the first time.

My heart is so saddened for the all of the young people who are suffering a silent anguish right now and contemplating ending their own lives. May they please speak up to someone and voice their thoughts. I wish I could tell them that life DOES get better, yes it is hard, but over time the problems will not seem so great. I hope that this never happens to another person - it is such a terrible and tragic waste.

Goodbye for now.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

To Blog or Not to Blog

I have exciting news to share. The MMO is featuring Mamas in Blogland this month. I have already devoured one article and need to pace myself before reading the rest at one sitting and thus neglecting my other duties. I have anticipated this issue and am enjoying being in the online community of mothers. Hey, for those of us too busy to connect in person, mommy blogs give a cyber connection a bit similar to female bonding.

This is my update in blogland: 1 post published, 1 draft barely started and I post being written. Not bad for my first week. I can see from the onset that blogging, though very rewarding, is also time-consuming and will eat away at other things going on in my life. But, without making promises I don't intend to keep, I am determined to continue on the blogging path.

Why? Well, to state the obvious, blogging keeps my entries more neat and orderly than my low-tech mish-mash journal. In addition, there is a community-minded feel to blogging, especially when my intention is to create a sort of one-sided coffee-house exploration of ideas which will focus on, at least for the time being, issues related, but not restricted to, motherhood.

Another goal I have for blogging is to continue fine-tuning my writing. Admittedly, life has kept me from advancing far in this area, but my dreams are alive and well, partly strengthened and inspired by the ample supply of role models who have successfully started, or changed, careers later in life. My goal is not monetary success (however it would be nice to make a buck!). I simply hope to contribute to positive change in our society and perhaps, if ever gifted enough, to influence and stimulate thinking about Canadian, and possibly worldwide, contemporary issues.

So, in keeping with my goals, I will conclude this blog with my opinion of something that will improve Canada. I believe we are missing a Canadian version of the MMO website. If I am wrong about this, I will promptly post a link when I find it. Who knows, perhaps my calling is to fill the void. Specifically, I am referring to a website devoted to intellectual articles about social concerns affecting Canadian mothers and fathers. While MMO is universally thought-provoking and appealing to mothers, and hopefully also to others interested in the mothering cause, clearly many of the legislative issues mothers in America face differ substantially from more socialist countries such as Canada.

Despite the fact that we have more government-funding per capita set aside for childcare than our southern neighbours, I must say that, speaking from ground zero, all is not rosy in Canada's Mommyland. One look at how the daycare platform differed between the Conservative and Liberal governments during the last election sheds light that the topic of childcare is continually being discussed by parents across the country. I will plan to post my experience with government support and raising children in Canada in the future. There is much buried inside on that topic itching to get out.

A last note: I have subscribed to a new Canadian liberal magazine called the Walrus. I have also given a subscription to my brother in Ontario as a Christmas present. Furthermore, I am posting a link to its website after I publish this post because I believe this magazine is greatly needed in Canada. I have one expectation from this forward-thinking and worthwhile magazine in return: that they regularly include stories about Canadian family issues and cover them in an open-minded and accurate manner. I plan to post on this topic in the future as I have more to say here. I also realize the need to communicate this thought to the Walrus if I ever hope for this to transpire. Heck, I'll be honest here - I have another goal: to publish an article and - hey, why stop there - frequently contribute articles about social and family topics of interest to Canadians. Dreams, dreams and more dreams - they never end.

Well, Mom needs to go now and help with dinner and putting the kids to bed. If anyone has taken the time to read this, I hope you are better for it. If not, I hope you at least enjoyed your time. And, in case you did not, may I at least tell you that it was very nice to have your company.

Cheers.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Be yourself

Always insist on yourself. Never imitate.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I just finished reading an editorial article on one of my favourite websites about mothering, MMO (The Mothers Movement Online), about a book published recently entitled The Mommy Myth by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels. This book will be added to my evergrowing must-read list.

While I'd be certain to have more to say if I ever read the book, the article about the book was thought-provoking in itself. The theme of the book exposed in the article was what captured my attention. I identified with the reality of the idealistic mommy images portrayed by the media in the early-to-mid '90s during the time my children were born. The images came primarily via parenting magazines in my case, and occasionally on television commercials, however I did not witness the latter to a large degree because we did not have cable television at the time.

Every role and function, including
motherhood, is idealized by the media in the attempt to increase market share. Whether it be a fictitious representation of the ideal male or female physique, SUV driver, IPOD user, mother, father or grandparent, the idealization of consumers is rampant in our society. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves as a public in order to see through these depictions for what they are (comically surreal) and boycott the products if we find the idealization to be offensive. We can protest if we wish to, however I think education is a more effective method of striking at the heart of the problem. The false representation of motherhood is no more than a dim-witted marketing ploy that any of us in the role of motherhood would quickly deduce.

The scheme undermining mothers is by manufacturers of parenting products. It is a fact that when we have children our expenses will increase, and so will the many businesses eager to make some money off of us. There is no ploy an enterprise will not stoop to in order to create a 'need' where none previously existed. Doesn't the creation of a perfect mommy image using a product that makes her life even more perfect seem a likely tactic with which to seduce the imperfect mothers of the world? This method has been used for ages and we need a discerning and critical eye to see through the lies. We mothers, and consumers in general, should give ourselves the permission to be who we choose to be, how we choose to be it, and not simply follow what the mass media tells us.

Tomorrow I will attend my first meeting with a mothers group in my new hometown of St. Lazare. I am hungry for the comaraderie of other women in my situation and the opportunity to share opinions about topics such as this. It has helped me immensely in the past and I am happy to know a group like this exists in my community.