My Women’s March Think Piece

…because there needs to be more of them, right? I actually think there does.

I woke up at 3am to catch my flight. I had my bags mostly packed and I grabbed a lyft to the airport, leaving my husband at the door and the kids asleep. I was happy that I would be on my second flight of the day during the inauguration so that I wouldn’t have to see it on CNN in the airport or watch the responses live on social media. I was not exactly excited when I got to the airport, I was mostly nervous and sad. If I let myself, I could pretend like I still lived in a vacuum where Trump wasn’t peacefully becoming the President, but the entire morning felt like the end of something.

In the security line I kept my eyes out for pink. Every single woman wearing any kind of pink I happily assumed was going to the Women’s March. That was probably untrue, but you’ll never prove it to me. I kept my pussy hat in my purse. This is where I’m going to admit to being a little bit too cool for school. It’s not a proud thing to admit. It runs through my whole life. I don’t like looking silly or standing out in public. I feel safest as an anonymous person. I don’t want people to see me.

When I made it to my gate there was a gaggle of women in pink hats over to one side. I went over and sat near them, I smiled. I still didn’t take out my pink hat. I watched as it became clear that they didn’t know each other, but it seemed like they did. They were taking photos together and sharing swag. Another woman came and sat near us. And another. And another. I saw one sheepishly take out her hat. “I’ve never knitted anything before,” she said. She was apologizing for the hat mess. But everyone just encouraged her and cheered. Literally cheered. Another woman took out her hat. And another. I took mine out and set it on my lap. I undid my pony tail and fluffed my hair. I slid my hat on and kept my eyes to the floor. I was a little embarrassed now that I had waited so long. One of the women in the original group asked all of us if we could take a group photo. On several women’s phones there is a group photo with me in it and a bunch of strangers.

One of the women, who said she was a teacher, started passing out stickers.

“Do you want a sticker?”

“YES!” I said.

“I have others that don’t have swear words, if you don’t like swear words,” she said.

“I love swear words,” I said.

As I walked on the plane I started out confident. But very quickly wanted to shrink away. Many men stared at me, glared at me. I heard whispers and hisses of “feminist.” I saw eye rolls and sneers. I stood straighter. The feeling was awful. I realized that the rareness of this experience is white privilege. I get to live anonymously, while many people of color never ever do.

On my second flight out of Denver there were so many hats. So so many. There were only a few people who were not going to the march on my plane. The flight had a buzz running through it of excitement. We were asked to all stand up (if attending the march), and turn for a photo. These photos ended up on a Buzzfeed list later that day. In my row all three of us were headed to the march. A 70 year old grandmother (who liked like she was 50, if I’m being honest), a 24 year old grad student, and 31 year old me. I got choked up when the older woman told us we had to keep fighting, that it would be ok, that we’d get through this, but that it was going to be hard. All three of us chatted for three hours.

I also want to talk about how I was afraid. It seems stupid to say now, but as I was headed toward DC no one knew how this would turn out. Would someone try to hurt large numbers of us to make a statement? Would violence break out? There were so many possibilities for something to go wrong. I had taken photos of my kids the night before I left. Purposefully. I looked at them before my flights. I was afraid, but I kept going. There were times,even though I could see the other travelers with similar purposes, where I felt like a lone soldier.

The morning of the march I was really excited. I wanted to get there, I wanted to see the people, I wanted to be in it. Walking over to the rally point the streets were absolutely filled with marchers. Women of every age, of every color, of every background were pouring in from all sides. As we walked close and closer the amount of people overwhelmed me in the best way. All of these women, on some level, had been gutted like I had been. All of these women, on some level, had decided to say NO. I had been fairly isolated in my fear/anger/despair. The internet is there, yes, but I mostly sit in my office all day, or sit with my children, or cry to my husband and pull at my hair, and worry that I am yelling into a vast empty hole. But this… tears fell out of my face as we walked by hundreds and thousands and then hundreds of thousands of people. I am not alone. We are not alone. There are many people who were there for a variety of reasons, but the uniting aspect was: THIS IS NOT OK. There really are more of us than there are of them. That has to matter.

OK, now I’m going to touch on a subject that is controversial. Hold on to your butts. I posted the photo of my coat as I was walking onto the plane and then turned off my phone. When I landed in Denver and checked my phone, I was beyond flabbergasted by the amount of support I was seeing. Comments and shares and likes and messages. Text messages, DMs, Facebook messages. I audibly gasped in my seat. The gasp caught in my throat. It is a very rare day where I feel so many people lifting me up, so many people proud of what I’m doing, especially because I initially felt the expense of going was selfish. I worried it was selfish to be doing something I felt more than ever called to participate in – even though it took me away from my family, inconvenienced Kamel, caused me to take a day from work, and cost us money we don’t really have. And then to have all of this support was just… a shock.

Now it has been a few days past the march. And though it may have been one of the biggest demonstrations nation-wide the country has ever seen, it is becoming really trendy to tear it down. Should we talk about why there were less POC? Yes. Let’s talk about it. Does it de-legitimize the purpose and the large show of resistance? No. I am now feeling immense pressure to apologize for the fact that I am a white woman and attended the march. I am feeling pressure to feel shame for attending an event that more POC did not attend. I wish I could have made the march feel more inclusive. I am resisting the urge to talk about how many Black Lives Matter signs I saw, I am resisting the urge to talk about how many POC their were, because it sounds a lot like saying “I HAVE A FRIEND WHO’S BLACK!” I struggle with how to talk about this because I am WHITE and I have FEELINGS and so I feel like those two things make any opinion I have either a cry of “you’re so privileged!” or “Stop putting your discomfort on the shoulders of people of color!”

But here is my truth: Maybe this march brought together people who had never had a political awareness before. Maybe it introduced them to what it feels like to be part of something bigger than themselves. Maybe it inspired them to donate money to causes that help everyone. I think those things are true. What I think is really unhelpful are comments like: “I better see all of these white people at the next Black Lives Matter protest.” How does shaming people who are willing to step out of their comfort zones, who are asking questions, who are willing to learn, who are not career activists help the liberal agenda? And yes, white fragility. So sad, white people with their hurt feelings. But no one likes to feel like the thing they did that was hard for them was worthless. My truth is to have more compassion. Holding a person’s hand and helping them towards a path with more awareness and activism and woke-ness is way more effective than yelling at them and telling them how they still are wrong and uneducated and bad. Should POC be in charge of holding the hands of white people and leading them towards truth? No. And I am definitely not saying the experiences of POC should not be shared regarding the Women’s March. But instead of looking back and saying the march was meaningless, we should be encouraging everyone who participated on that day towards the next event. Towards the next call for social change and resistance of the Trump administration.  Tearing it down, writing think pieces about it’s holes, and turning the viewpoint on itself is on ONE HAND important but an ANOTHER only benefits those who are most afraid of a united women’s movement. Proceed with caution.

Things I Am Terrified Of

Scalding hot tea, precariously in my hand and wily children that want to climb up my leg and take me off balance.

Regret. Especially about the big choices that take you in different directions.

The world flooding and burning and mass death because of greed and it happening in my lifetime. In my children’s lifetime.

Dying for perceived selfish reasons in the eyes of my children. (Why did mom have to go? Why couldn’t she have stayed with us?)

Dying and breaking my kids.

Water damage and mold in the house.

Secret house catastrophes that you don’t find out about until it is too late and it’s gone on too long.

Head wounds in children.

2017 Book Club Revealed + Winner!

So! Here we are. A list of books and the promise of 1 winner to win them all! My plan is 1 book a month and one instance of two books in 1 month. We start…now!

I grabbed from everyone’s suggestions except for me adding an Atwood into the mix. Because of course. Plus I have a goal of reading them all and it’s been a while. So here we go!

January: My Life On The Road by Gloria Steinam. This one first because i already have it, haven’t read it, and I feel like this is the month for it.

February: I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. This is a short month, so a book of essays is fitting.

March: America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray. This is a long one, so we need a long month. I am ridiculously excited for this one. I love historical fiction(y) things.

April: Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. It’s my birthday month, so Atwood for all!

May: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I love Colson Whitehead. This will be the third book I’ve read of his. He is so masterful. Plus he has a really lovely sense of dry, self deprecating humor and when he used to be more active on twitter it made my whole day.

June: Orleans by Sherri L Smith. June is for dystopian YA. Obviously.

July: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson AND The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley. The days are long in July. Enough daylight to read two books. Plus I just feel like we should fully understand how to survive massive disaster. I just think MAYBE that might come in handy this year and into the future.

August: Station Eleven. I have heard nothing about amazingness about this book. I was writing when this was all the rage and therefore not reading, so I’m so very late to this party. If anyone else is late to the party, come party with me.

September: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I was ridiculously obsessed with A Secret History and again, missed the boat on reading this when it came out. So, back to school time equals back to Donna Tartt. Heart thump.

October: The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits

November: Homegoing by Yaa Gynasi.

And nothing in December because that is a coo coo bananas month and no one can be held accountable during the holiday hubub. Will you join me on this reading journey? If you see something you want to read, mark it in your calendar and then come hang out in comments at the end of each month. If there is something on this list you have already read and have strong feelings about, please please come and share your thoughts. Talking about books is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.

Oh, and before I forget…. the winner of a box of books courtesy of me (and random.org), just because I love to share the beauty of READING is…..

MADDIE!

So Maddie – you will get a box of books delivered to your house. 🙂 And if you’ve read some of these (I know you have) – share them!

It’s Done, It’s Over

… that’s what I said to Kamel after I watched President Obama’s final speech. I know he meant to inspire action and civic duty, but this was my imperfect Camelot. And we’ve been defeated by the troll army. I’m watching a poised and graceful leader bow out to make way for a genuinely bad person who will represent us all.

“Why are you crying, Lauren?” Kamel said to me, with concern. Because how could I shed anymore tears? (How am I welling up just writing this?) How could I be holding my hands to my face and really crying, yet again?

“Because…” I stammered, choking back sobs, “…because this is it. It’s done.”

“No it’s not,” he said.

Sometimes I just want to scream at him that he doesn’t get it. YOU DON’T GET IT. How do you not see?

“Yes it is. It’s over. That was it. And now… and now it really is going to happen and it’s all bad things.”

“It won’t be that bad,” he says to reassure me.

“Yes it will,” I say as I walk to the bathroom to get my toilet paper because we’re all out of kleenex in our bedroom.

“It will be that bad,” I reiterated as a fresh wave of tears sweeps over me.

Because somehow, even if I don’t agree, even if he never had my vote and never will have my vote, we have ALL allowed him to be the leader of this country. He will represent us in foreign affairs, he will hold the pen that signs new laws, that takes away freedoms, that declares war. His stupid little fingers will spew nonsense on the internet that will mean more because he will very soon have the title of President of the United States behind his name. And everything he says and everything he has ever said will be immortalized because he will hold that office.

I know that President Obama wanted to inspire hope and action with his final speech, but I do not feel hopeful. I feel sad and tired.

There is a game being played and the players are too far away for me to reach. The outcome happens and I can’t change it or stop it or influence it. I’m not rich enough, I’m not powerful enough, I’m not important enough. My dissension is an annoying gnat on a hot summer day. I am David and the giant is so big that I am squashed by his giant foot before I can even load my sling shot.

I want to be proven wrong. I want to prove myself wrong. But the run away train seems too far ahead for me to catch.

I am the lone woman screaming in the gallery of Congress while they drag her away. The conversation pauses on the hearing floor. And Senator Graham chuckles under his breath before saying, “At least we’re clearing the room for you…” before continuing with his buddy-buddy questions to Sessions. Because they’ve known each other for years and who the fuck am I?

Episode 32: Chores: We’re, Uh, Doing it Wrong?

It has officially been a year of podcasting! What? I feel like it’s been 5 years of podcasting. Ha. Not that I am an expert, but I haven’t I been doing this for way longer? Crazy.

On this episode we hear from YOU! With a Kamel and Lauren commentary track plus tangents. Things I learned:

  • We are apparently immature babies about doing chores and there is clearly a more elevated system we are not capable of.
  • Some of you have some SWEET setups!
  • I want in on that.
  • Everyone needs a house husband.

If any of you are also immature chore losers, or of the elevated variety, please discuss in comments! I am genuinely fascinated by how others manage to do the dirty work of life.

BIRL Book Club is Back!

Hello! It is a new year and I am ready to get back on the horse of READING. Do you want to join me? This time around I won’t be having anyone writing up posts for me, but if you want to read along with the list I am looking for a hearty book club discussion in comments.

First, though, I need to build the list! I am looking for book recommendations. Anything that you highly recommend that you have read recently/semi-recently, please tell me about it! Some of you have already left awesome suggestion on instagram and twitter! This means that you are already entered to win this year’s book giveaway! Surprise! 

If you haven’t left a suggestion yet and would like to win the full reading list, please leave a book recommendation in comments! One lovely winner (chosen at random) will be receiving a big box of books from Powell’s! 

All kinds of books are welcome! YA, Non-Fiction, Genre, etc. I want it all. books written by POC and women are especially welcome, but I guess I can read a few books by the mens too.

I will be posting the list and an estimated schedule in the next two weeks. I hope some of you will join me in reading along!

Weekending 44: Holidays Part 2

This is a week late because the holidays were happening and I wanted to live them and THEN report back on them.

The kids have started doing this thing where they just yell at each other during bath time. They think it is the best and funniest activity.

We were an hour late to Christmas Eve because naps did not happen when they should have and there was wrapping to be done and showers to take and food to buy and it was a giant race to the finish line. But we made it!

There was family and presents and food and joy.

Grandparents and Great-Grandparents and Uncles and Aunts and Cousins. And cookies. So many cookies.

And Kamel is in basically none of these photos because he rented a fancy camera for the weekend and it was manual only and … I can’t be trusted with such things. I do not have time for manual cameras, ok? It’s just not going to happen for me.

I really really love the mantel at my parent’s house.

Christmas morning started at about 730. Kamel brought Gabe into our room without him seeing the tee-pee that Santa had brought. And by Santa I mean that my grandmother had made me when I was little and we now have for my kids. *Magic*

Fae was appropriately WOAH about it.

Gabe now lives in there. We see him for meals.

And then we all went downstairs to scope out the tree!

And all the gifts my parents had brought over a few days before, along with Kamel’s parent’s gifts that were shipped and wrapped by us – like magic!

My parents were such good sports and came over right away in the morning so we could all do presents together!

Fae was a little overwhelmed, so for a while she just stayed on Kamel’s lap just like this, clutching a christmas tree cookie.

Both the kids were super into creating present piles!

(Oh! This was Kamel’s christmas present from moi.)

We got Gabe a Sofia The First amulet. I wouldn’t allow Santa to take the glory for that one.

Tia Regina and Tia Lara got the kids an outdoor picnic table! So of course, lunch had to be al fresco! Fleecies and coats and boots for all!

It wasn’t raining, just cold. So we played outside most of the afternoon.

A+ parenting.

Then we went to the beach! And stayed there, throwing rocks into the water and watching Gabe ride his bike, and saying hello to all of the dogs, and playing on swings until it was very, very dark.

(Epic toss into the water, Gabe. Epic!)

Oh look! Kamel let me take a photo. It isn’t completely in focus.

On Monday, the kids were out of school and Kamel and I had the day off from work, so we went over to Claire’s to terrorize their cat, Nala.

(And love it unconditionally) GROUP HUG.

And then we ended the weekend with dinner at my parent’s while Kamel helped my dad set up his new computer!

The end!

Heading Into 2017

On the morning of New Year’s Eve we were on our way to the zoo with the kids. Kamel said to me, “Wait. Is TODAY New Year’s Eve? Is it? Oh my god it is! I thought I had another day! I feel robbed of a day!”

And that is a perfect explanation of how the year went for us.

Most of 2016 for us was a mad-dash. I made plans and then promptly forgot them, only to be reminded the day before, hours before, etc. I skated through by the skin of my teeth in all things. If your experience with me has been that I have all my shit together. Well, friends, that is all smoke and mirrors. My children are lucky to have clean pants and I am always surprised there is food in the fridge.

A lot of people wanted the last few months of 2016 to zoom by. They wanted to skip ahead to 2017. But I had the opposite feelings. I’m afraid of 2017. I am not really hopeful. I am not looking ahead to a clean, shiny new year. I am dreading the climate in the U.S. I am dreading the portrait change in the federal buildings. I am looking ahead with trepidation that the safety of my family may be in jeopardy, that the financial future looks uncertain, that the world is not a kinder, better, healthier place than it was a year ago. The end of 2016 has left me sad and full of feelings with no outlets.

So in 2017 I march.

In 2017 I will be stronger. I will run further.

In 2017 I will spend more time outside.

I will give more than I ever have to institutions who work to protect all of us.

In 2017 I will be sad but I will also be in action.

I will be kind but I will be unyielding.

In 2017 I will be tired, but I will do it anyway.

I will read.

I will drink less and sleep more.

And when the world is bleak and I feel lost, I will play. Because there is always hope somewhere and I need to remember to look for it.

The Burden of Being The Oldest

I have been thinking about this post for weeks but have not had a quiet moment to sit and right it until now. I have been feeling painfully protective of Gabriel lately. The necessity of mothers and fathers everywhere to hang back and hold your breath and watch your small (and big) child exist in the world becomes harder and harder the older they get and the more injustice and mean-spirited crap they face. I am just at the very beginning of all that.

But more than Gabe telling me that so-and-so doesn’t like him or someone at school doesn’t want to play with him, I am most protective over his interactions with adults.

When you are the only 3.5-4 year old at any event. When the other kids are babies and young toddlers, who are adorable even in their tantrums, whose desires are simple, who have only a few demanding words – it’s hard. I hear all of his questions, his attempt at organizing the world, his energy level, his magnetism to touch all the things he shouldn’t touch and play with all of the things he shouldn’t play with and I feel self-conscious for him. While other babies and his little sister toddle around, picking things up that we don’t want them to have, we chase after them, removing things from their iron grips or redirecting them to tissue paper. But with an older child we say, “No Gabriel. Don’t play with that. Put that down please. That’s not a toy,” or “Gabriel, gentle! Be gentle!” or “Not over there, Gabe. Stay out of that room.” And it’s not cruel scolding or even really a raised voice, but there is a sternness there, that only he is subject to.

Babies and young toddlers are adorable inconveniences. Older kids can be, genuinely, exhausting. But Gabriel isn’t actually doing anything wrong. He’s playing, or he is excited, or he is exploring, or he is talking without any volume control, or he isn’t hungry but needs to sit at the table anyway, or he has no awareness of his own physical space.

Almost every day at daycare pickup I have to hear about something Gabriel did that wasn’t awesome. Whether he bumped his head (oh well) or he smacked another kid with a block because they were continually pushing over his tower (not great but probably deserved) or if he didn’t eat the food that day (not surprised) or if he was “overly excited” (wtf he is a little kid) or if he was sensitive (he has big feelings) or he was grabbing kids faces (wtf Gabriel) or WHATEVER it is…. I get that update. And it makes me really uncomfortable.

I have great respect for teachers and assessments and if my kids turn out to suffer from a learning disability or have a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed, I want to be 100% on board. But I also don’t want Gabe to be labeled a bad kid because he is an energetic, goofy, theatrical, goober face. He is super loving, who has big feelings, who is still learning to follow directions and listen with his ears. I don’t want him to feel like he is a bad kid, because he isn’t.

I don’t think that Gabe is forever being scolded at school. I think his preschool is teaching all of those little hoodlums how to be actual humans in the world. How to sit in a seat. How to respect personal space bubbles. How to pick up after themselves. But these little picky feedbacks I receive paired with parenting being a constant lesson in picking my battles, consistency, and kindness, plus my sensitivity to his interactions within our social group – it has me feeling sad for him. He is still so little and I want him to be treated with patience and kindness. I don’t want people to see him as this giant limbed energizer bunny bound to destroy all things breakable. (I mean, he is, but he is also so much more!)

As kids grow they get more complicated. Gabe doesn’t stay where you put him. He gets himself up after naps. He gets his own milk out of the fridge. He wants to know why. He can acknowledge when his feelings are hurt. He hears what you’re saying to him and chews on it. A few days after he’s done something wrong he will often say to me (while in the car or during quiet moments) “Mama, I’m sorry I broke daddy’s glasses,” or “Mama, I’m sorry I splashed all the water out of the bath.”

In a lot of ways babies are more fun. They are so cute. Even when Fae adamently says “Nnnnnno!” I just want to scoop her up and cuddle her. When Gabe says, “NO!” I repeat what I’ve asked him to do and say, “If you don’t pick up the thing you threw on the floor by the time I count to three you’re going to be in timeout.”

I don’t want the bulk of his interactions to be negative. I don’t want the world to view him as exhausting. I worry they do because he is, but he is also so many other fantastic things too. I hold my breath and watch him exist in the world. But I also tell him how amazing he is.

Weekending 43: Holidays Part 1

This weekend was cold. Saturday was in the 20s and we started the weekend off by getting Fae a booster flu shot.

She did so good though! And stopped crying within a minute. Gabe was telling me all about how the ear worked. (ha)

It was so so cold, but the weather has been wintery for weeks now (as does happen in winter) and we just had to get outside.

Even with backwards helmets.

Even when the playground equipment was so cold it was practically burning my hands. You try to keep gloves on babies.

It was us and 1 other family at the park. Gabe kept saying “No one is here!”

Oh, we also made burgers.

On Sunday! Gabe got a haircut! And though he flinched and whined, he DID NOT CRY. (Or scream or repeat “almost done almost done almost done” like the traumatized kid he is.)

“Look over there, Gabe. Do you see that big snake on the wall?”

He is so fair with his short hair. His edges are all blonde like they glow.

Whoops.

(She did not get up there by herself)

(My oh god please don’t die face)

This is for sure the cover of the official holiday album of the PNW.

After haircut we played at the park, cut cupcakes, and then went to grab brunch. Where Fae busied herself by rearranging the furniture. How nice of her. Then she broke a jar of something and out of humiliation and after offering 700000 times to pay for it, we left.

Oh look at this adorable face. The face of a little girl who refused to nap, cried for 20 minutes, was quiet in her crib and not sleeping for another 30 and then fell asleep for 20 minutes only to wake up SCREAMING in a sweaty drooly mess. Adorablness is deceiving! (No it’s not, COME SNUGGLE ME FAE)

Then it was holiday party time!

The kids were so happy and so excited and such good sports. The cocktails were fantastic, the meal was super delicious, Claire and Lincoln were awesome hosts!

The kitty fled the children, as it should. But trying to find it was just as much fun as being able to pet it (never happened).

I really love my people.