Things, November

Having Kamel home on paternity leave has been so nice. It has also been a lesson in the differences between “men out in the world with babies” and “women out in the world with babies.”

Exhibit 1: Kamel is in the grocery store. Checker is googly eyes mad-crazy at Fae. She then says “Stay at home dads are my weakness!” to Kamel. He replies, “Oh, I’m just on leave.” She says, “That’s like a whole MOVEMENT right now!”

I am at the grocery store with Fae. The most I get is “How old is he?” “Oh she’s ______ months.” And then I struggle to open the door and pull the stroller through while also carrying groceries by myself.

Exhibit 2: Kamel posts a photo of himself holding Fae while playing video games. Comments include heart eye emojis and “What an attentive dad!”

Exhibit 3: (This is with Gabriel and not during Kamel’s current leave, for the record) While changing Gabe’s diaper in a men’s room at a car dealership with no changing station, “I’m really sorry there are no changing stations in here. You’re doing a great job, man. I’ve got 6 kids at home. Keep it up.”

Me nursing Fae at the Zoo while it is pouring down rain. I am sitting off to the side, not blocking anything, minding my own business while Gabe and Kamel run around an exhibit. The sign on the door said, “Please no strollers because of crowds” and there was maybe 3 other people in the exhibit.

“Um excuse me, you can’t have your stroller inside any of the buildings.”

“Oh, yeah… I just have this one in the car seat.” (THE ONE ATTACHED TO MY NIPPLE)

“Yeah, everyone does. No strollers allowed in any of the buildings.”

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… Not impressed, Zoo. Not impressed.

Winter is so dark. How is it possible that I keep forgetting this? Thankfully it comes on the heels of twinkle lights and social events and cozy clothing and hot tea! My god, the hot tea. A cup of tea can just CHANGE a person, amIright? Other positive winter feels include: indoor open swim for Gabriel and Kamel, slippers, Christmas lists, secret santas, not sweating, winter ale, and those crisp sunny days.

Earlier this month I saw Gloria Steinem in conversation with Cheryl Strayed and I cried 4 times during the discussion. The biggest sob fest was when an older Asian woman came up to the microphone and thanked Gloria Steinem for being such a good friend to her and for coming into her garden on Whidbey Island and for breaking her isolation due to her language barrier. Water works for days. Things I learned from the discussion:

  • When the media freaks out about young women claiming they don’t need feminism, it’s kind of a joke. A 20 year old posting a sign on twitter does not take into account the millions of women who are 30+ actively living and preaching feminism in their daily life. It is a reminder that the world views women’s contributions as being only as good as their young, ripe bodies. The voice of feminism does not end at 29, does not end at menopause! Women get more radical with age.
  • Feminism is all encompassing. It includes gay rights, all civil rights, all equalities. Feminism is for everyone. People of color have always been at the forefront.
  • At times it feels like we are slipping backwards, but these conversations weren’t even happening 70 years ago. Do not despair.
  • The most important freedom is the freedom over our own bodies and our own reproductive rights. The choice of when and where and if to have children is a basic human right. It is a domino effect of all freedom.
  • (This I did not fully realize until this conversation) Women are still not equal under the law in the United States because the Equal Rights Amendment has not yet been ratified. We are, literally, legally not equal at this time. If you think this doesn’t actually mean anything, the supreme court rules on the actual law, not the assumed law and as major cases about women’s health come to pass, it does count that the constitution does not say “All men and women are created equal.”

Fae goes to daycare in a few weeks. I’ve been sad about it all month. I’ve gotten accustomed to her. And I don’t want to be away from her. I’ll get over it. Daycare is good for her and me. But… my baby!! I want to snuggle her and see her crinkle nose smile every day, all day. The world is full of a million contradictory things I want all at the same time and cannot have.

5 thoughts on “Things, November”

  1. Ugh, I feel you with the super dad comments. Every time my husband comes home with a comment like that, he’s beaming and feels so good and I immediately go to the negative double standards. Yes, it’s great that husbands are more involved now than they were 50 years ago, but they are dads. Our expectations should be the same.

  2. Bob constantly gets hit on when he’s with the baby. Or it’s assumed he’s only with the baby because he’s in trouble (ex: he and the baby bought me flowers the other day and 2 women approached him and said something along the lines of “oh my you must be trying to get back in mommy’s good graces”). Both are infuriating.

  3. A cup of tea can absolutely change a person. Caitlin Moran put it better in her posthumous letter to her daughter (so good!) : “always remember that, nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit. You’d be amazed how easily and repeatedly you can confuse the two. Get a big biscuit tin.”

  4. “Women are still not equal under the law in the United States because the Equal Rights Amendment has not yet been ratified.”

    I did not know this. I have been horrified all day.

    If you haven’t already, you should email the zoo about your experience. I get that they probably have to have that stroller policy, but they should better train their employees about how to NOT BE DICKS to nursing moms.

    I’ve been drinking lots of hot water with sliced ginger. Refreshing and good for you!

  5. The inequity in responses between dads who stay hone with kids and moms who do disgusts me. Over half my case load is single moms. They often struggle to raise kids on a small income with no child support because the dads are in prison, substance abusers, etc. They are daily caring for kids with mental health issues and complicated grief and feel guilty any time they admit their jobs are hard, thankless or too much. We live in a culture of mother blaming if a woman is not automatically caring for her child. If a father bails it seems normal and if he is the primary caregiver he is a saint. This has got to stop. My heart breaks for this issue. I so badly want us, as a community, to support parents- period. They are giving of themselves constantly, no matter if it’s while working or staying home and we are not making this job any easier by only praising dads who are at home. So appreciate you writing about this,

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