Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm no Mom of the Year BUT....

Labor Day was spent laboring around here (no, I have not had another baby). We pulled weeds in the garden, repaired some fencing, and tried to get the bull we're planning to slaughter into the front pasture where the green Bermuda is the perfect height to fatten him up. We had 50% success with that. He was in the field briefly. Like most young males, he thinks with two organs, neither of which are his brain. After filling one of the organs (his stomach), he broke through the fence to get back to the herd of cows. Hence, the fence repairs. We should have turned him into a steer. We won't make that mistake again.

Speaking of green pastures, our pastures are GREEN! This is not always the case this time of year. We did not get any rain from this last hurricane but we are pretty damp as it is. And speaking of the hurricane - New Orleans dodged this bullet - hooray! We have very good friends in New Orleans who stayed with us during Katrina. One family only sustained minor damage, the other lost everything and moved to nearby Franklinton. Everyone is OK this time around!

Over the weekend I had a very important date. Jeff and I take turns (as do my sister and dad) taking the kids on date nights. It was my turn to take Jules. We had a great time but I was reminded about how rarely we go into the city anymore. We went to see Journey to the Center of the Earth, which Jules LOVED. The movie theater we went to was really big - well, average sized for a metro movieplex. Jules was just way too excited. He is used to our movie theater, which has just expanded to include 3 screens. It is downtown with a typical south Texas storefront. You buy your tickets outside at an old-timey ticket booth, then proceed into the lobby which is about half the size of my living room, where you buy popcorn from a local teenager. Then, until recently, you went either to the right or left of the popcorn counter, through a little black curtain, to enter one of the theaters. Now we also have the choice to go down the hall to the left to the THIRD theater. Very exciting! Also down the hallway are new bathrooms. The old bathrooms were in the lobby. There was one for men and one for women, both of which were one-seaters. If you sat near the back in the first theater, you could hear the toilet flushing (and the popcorn machine popping) during quiet moments of the film. When Jeff and I went to see Batman he came running down the hallway yelling, "Come look at the new bathrooms! Come see!" Now this is a man who travels extensively and regularly sees "big" bathrooms. But he was obviously (to my embarrassment) quite thrilled with the new facilities. So back to Jules - he gets very excited to go to big movie theaters in the city. We got our tickets first, then went to grab a bite to eat. It was a quiet meal. Our conversation went pretty much like this:

"When is our food gonna be ready?"

"Shortly. Are you looking forward to the movie?"

"Yeah. Do you think our food's almost ready?"

"Probably. Would you like to read the Jules Verne version of the story?"

"I guess. I wonder when the food is going to be ready."

Finally the food was ready. The lively conversation continued and consisted of:

"So...do you like curly fries?"

"Yeah. Do you?"

"They're alright."

The movie was great, if you are a ten-year-old. Jules is a ten-year-old. He loved it, loved it, loved it. After that we went to Borders to get a book or two. He was all wide-eyed and I was like, "Oh my God! Have I never taken this kid to a bookstore?" Gulp. I honestly don't think I have. He goes to the library weekly. Occasionally he asks for a book to be bought from Amazon. I'm pretty sure he's been in a Half-Priced Books location, but inside a big, gigantic, overwhelming bookstore? I don't think so...Bad mommy. Going to Borders tends to be something I do by myself. I love to grab a cup of chai and browse for a couple of hours....

We bought the 3rd Percy Jackson book for Jules, as well as, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. He then bought his brother an Indiana Jones movie for his birthday, and I picked up The Golden Compass for him, too. We have Journey to the Center of the Earth at home, and that is Jules' choice for our next "folding" book. Folding books are books that are read as long as the boys are folding clothes :).

Can we discuss a bit of national news, here? I have been thinking about Governor Palin and her situation. Her family is struggling with an unplanned teen pregnancy. Many American families (including some of my friends and relatives) have had to struggle and adjust to this challenge. I believe it is truly a private matter, and doesn't speak badly of the girl. Teen pregnancy can happen in any family, even in the ones that think it never will. All that being said, why is it bothering me so much? I think it all boils down to the fact that, as a mom of five children who consume my waking (and sleeping) hours, I am struggling with understanding her choice to take on such an overwhelming responsibility as becoming the vice-president of the United States (and let's face it - taking McCain's age and history with cancer into consideration - possibly the President of the United States) in light of what has to be a very trying time for her family. I was first put off by her decision to leave a 4-day-old severely handicapped baby who was born prematurely, to go back to work. I know quite a few working moms of great kids, and have juggled the briefcase and breast pump myself, but this is truly an extreme situation. I have NEVER known a woman who CHOSE to leave a 4-day-old baby to go back to work, and can't imagine I ever will. Especially a baby that has Down Syndrome. The baby is now 4-months-old and will be needing extensive early intervention, therapy, medical treatment, and possibly surgical procedures. And she's choosing to hit the campaign trail? Now, coupled with this new knowledge about one of her other children's needs, I am convinced that her family values and mine do not match. Her husband works in the oil industry, so it isn't like he is staying home being Mr. Mom. When I saw Palin holding her 4-month-old against her navy blue business suit, all I could think of was how inconvenient it would be to nurse in such an outfit. I think most parents in her situation would be looking for ways to cut hours and stress at work, at least temporarily. Running for the second highest office in the country doesn't seem to be what "most" Americans (women or men) would do, during a time like this. So is she really in line with "most" Americans?


Sardine Mama


  1. I am commenting on my own post. I am so torn over Palin! Well, not "torn" over who I will vote for, more like torn over my emotions at how I am feeling about having a woman this close to the Presidency. I consider myself a feminist - but why oh why couldn't it have been someone else? And as for her baby? Are my views of that on target with my own heart? I am honestly not sure. I think that what people need to see is more women with their babies in public, women in important positions, women at work - yes! We have babies! I have taken a baby to work and breastfed the baby during a meeting. So have friends of mine. Yay! But I also have a Downs brother. This baby is going to need so much attention and intervention - what does it say that she is choosing the path she's chosen? Why does it tug at my heartstrings so much? I know that she will have tons of support and help - a full staff to look after the baby...I don't want to be a part of the mommy wars - i don't want to judge other women and their choices...but I guess I am, aren't i? If I am so torn, it will be interesting to see how this plays out with all of the facets and fractions of America...and I guess I need to really think about my own views of feminism and if I am as far along as I'd like to be...

  2. i feel a lot of what you feel about palin, but didn't have the words. . . thank you for that!

    i also do wonder about the baby & when i saw the dh in a pic w/ mccain & wife, i thought about dh's own ambition & desire to be in the forefront & where the children were??

    i don't fault the daughter for getting pg, but i do wonder where the parents were when she was out having sex & livin life.... i wonder if she spends enough time w/ kiddos... i'm as well judgemental or at least concerned about this kind of stuff - but not everyone is, i guess.

    i also really want to know if she's breastfeeding!!

    i would really like to hear what other moms think... could i quote you on the AP board or should i direct people to your blog to get ap comments???

  3. Jules is waaaaaaaaay to obsessed with when the food is going to get to the table well i just wanted to say hi im on vacation currently sitting on a bed at my moms cousins house in Arkansas while bob sits on the floor doing homework for his college algebra class i can hear it pouring outside and the gutter (i think that's what it is) is driving me insane! welp i guess thats all see yeall later

  4. I can identify with your "twomindedness". Its great to see a breastfeeding mother in a national role, but my heart goes out to that baby. Here in Europe, we've mostly seen pics of his big sis holding him. And right now and in the coming months *she* is going to need her mom a lot. Hard to see how thats going to be possible if Mom is in DC.
    Its not that the wee boy wont be well minded, but he wont have his mom on 24/7 call.

  5. Janet and Brynna - I am relieved to see I am not the only mama with these feelings. They are really hard to put into words, aren't they? I've decided that this election is the line we're all crossing over - and it is a line that we can't go back over...what I mean is, an African American and a woman (2 women!)as candidates didn't just "happen". It was years and years in the making - a fight fought by so many who refused to give up and who risked (and lost, in some cases) their lives for equality in this country. This election is the result of that. And I think it is being cloudied because of it. If I think of Palin as a candidate and completely leave her sex out of it - it is very clear that she (and McCain) do not stand for my issues. If I take Obama's race out of the picture and just focus on the candidate it is very clear that he does stand for my issues. Women who are voting for McCain (who formerly supported Hillary) just because Palin is a woman are just as sexist as people who refuse to vote for McCain because Palin is a woman. Politics aside, if Palin were my next door neighbor, she and I would have absolutely nothing in common. Our family lifestyles (and values) seem to be opposite of each other. My wanting to say, "Yay! A woman! Finally a representative for successful mothers!" just isn't playing out. She just doesn't represent me. In fact, I have concerns that my feminine issues will lose ground, not gain ground, under McCain/Palin. So I'll keep waiting. My daughters, no doubt, will someday not even understand why this was such an issue. Thank God.

  6. I read your blog with interest and didn't respond right away because I wanted a chance to investigate on my own and process what I was reading. But I come back to this - when Kez was born with spina bifida (I know, not DS but very intense) it was time-consuming for both of us as parents. It zapped our strength, emotions, focus. It was like we had nothing else on our minds for at least the first year. I feel bad that Jul got the short end of the stick during that time, and we only had two children, and I was a stay-at-home mom. I think that Sarah Palin could be a great leader, I admire her for some of the hard decisions she has made in her experiences. However, I think that she is needed at home, her baby needs her, her other 4 children need her, and her husband needs her as well. This just isn't the right time.

  7. wow... i really enjoy reading the comments. it's a hard decision indeed. i wonder if it will polarize women & women's issues, and i wonder if the reason the discussion hasn't totally begin in the media is b/c we are afraid of dealing w/ all of this stuff. it's really hard to talk about among friends, much more difficult publically.

  8. Well, I keep trying to remember that no one would pay attention to Palin's family life if she were a man. Why should I care that she isn't the kind of mother I try to be? I do care, though. I guess there is a universal feeling of care for our children -- a collective motherhood, if you will.

    One of our boys has autism -- again, different than Downs, but I will tell you that a child with special needs takes MUCH MORE time and energy than a child whose needs are "normal." I have read that the divorce rate for families with special needs is at 70% as opposed to 50% for "normal" families. I can see that the time, energy and TOTAL self-sacrifice involved in "special" kids can really be hard on a family -- even when a parent stays at home (like myself).

    That said, I would never vote for Palin anyway. Like someone said, if we were neighbors, we would not be friends. She isn't a viable candidate for VP, IMHO. In one interview in the past year, she said she wasn't interested in foreign policy. She also said she had no opinion about the Iraq war. Hmm. Her son is being deployed to Iraq. Maybe she should get an opinion. She is a member of the NRA; I am opposed to anyone but the police having guns (I'm not into shooting moose, obviously).

    As for her daughter's pregnancy, I don't think it has anything to do with her ability to serve as VP. I imagine 17-yr-olds can get pregnant even with parents who spend every minute with their children. I was interested that Palin recently CUT funding for unwed mothers -- a program that provided job training. Hope her daughter doesn't need such training. I keep hearing reports of Republicans praising Palin because she is standing by her daughter. Well, who on earth wouldn't stand by her daughter in such circumstance? Oh, maybe someone who would leave her child with DS a few days after the birth? Sorry.

    I would love to see a woman in the White House. Sarah Palin is not the woman I want to see.

  9. hi i was directed here by janet. i am a very liberal mom who stays at home with my daughter and i do not agree with palin on any issue ive heard her speak but i still have to disagree with some of the comments.

    no one asked if al gore was ready to be vp when he had small children. i think women absolutely need to be in government and moms esp need to have positions running this country. i dislike her for many reasons but i dont think its appropriate to judge her on her parenting choices. mothers have a right to work as well as care for their children. it disturbs me the tone that some of the media is taking toward her. (and dont get my started on the hottie buttons i saw on old men at the republican convention)

    palin is not the woman for me- but i think she has the right to run.

  10. I am a little disheartened that this is such a dilemma for so many. It seems as though many women with liberal political views were elated with the potential of Hillary Clinton being a Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate. Which is great, though a lot of people dismissed criticisms of Clinton as "sexist". So are all those who will now criticize Palin, "sexist" as well?

    Janet Lynn wrote:
    i also do wonder about the baby & when i saw the dh in a pic w/ mccain & wife, i thought about dh's own ambition & desire to be in the forefront & where the children were??
    In a posed picture of two electoral candidates and their spouses, would you be asking the same questions of the wives? How is his presence in a photo an indication of his ambition? I would think it might be indicative of his support for his wife and her goals.

    Sardine Mama wrote:
    When I saw Palin holding her 4-month-old against her navy blue business suit, all I could think of was how inconvenient it would be to nurse in such an outfit.
    Interesting. My first thought was that it was great to see a candidate cradling her baby during a “serious” time – being able to embrace her motherhood right there in the political arena.

    Sardine Mama wrote:
    I consider myself a feminist - but why oh why couldn't it have been someone else?
    Anonymous wrote:
    I would love to see a woman in the White House. Sarah Palin is not the woman I want to see.
    I just don’t see why this should be such a dilemma. I too consider myself a feminist and yet I would NEVER want any woman elected to ANY position just for the mere fact that she is a woman. That, to me, is sexist. I am not making any commentary on whether she is the right candidate for you, simply pointing out, as you also did, Sardine Mama, that sex should be taken out of the mix when deciding on presidential elections.

  11. Upon reflection, I must admit that my reaction to Sarah Palin seems to stem from her party's claim to morality. This is the group who uses the phrase "femi-nazi". You're right, if she was in line with my political views I would be the first one to say, "Hold off on the mothering choices...that is not what this is about." But for her party, that so often IS what it is about. THEIR version of family values and nobody else's. In light of that - it causes an odd reaction in some of us....Most of my really conservative friends believe 100% in a mother staying home...this is REALLY important to them and they tie it into family values. This same group is also very protective of their children, with modestly dressed teens who are not allowed to listen to secular music or date - the husband is the head of the household....and this is their candidate? See the incongruity? Of course I know this is only the far right of the party...not representative of all conservatives...but it is my understanding that she was brought in to appeal to this particular group. Or maybe not. I don't know. I do think that with a record that includes cutting funding for unwed mothers and being a strong proponent of abstinence only sex ed - both of which are issues I think are important - it is somewhat hard to ignore the fact that she has a pregnant teen. It is kind of like saying, "Oh those family values? We didn't mean they had to apply to us..."

  12. Isn't it interesting about how Mama Bear charges to the forefront when a politician happens to be a mother & is not doing the right thing as a mom, as far as we are concerned? Women are our own worst enemies where the glass ceiling is concerned!

    Many women still place their family as their No. 1 priority, WAY above any career ambitions. That doesn't mean that all women must do the same, or else they are bad moms. Kids are very, very durable little people. I think it's hard to mess up so badly that kids will be scarred for life as a result. In fact, some adversity in childhood is often the jumpstart to a highly motivated adult.

    Palin will be a media darling no matter what her politics are because she looks & sounds so good. This is part of the reason Obama has come so far ... he's very articulate and has no shortage of charisma himself. But he's not quite as cute as Palin. The U.S. media are so shallow and fickle.

    Carol, you may never want me to post again after this!

  13. Wow! Seems like you hit quite a nerve here. I don't think you had this many comments since you asked what everyone was reading:D

  14. This is off topic - Julie, read Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore and tell me what it means. You're like, totally, awesomely smart....

  15. The mothering aspects of Sarah Palin do not bother me anywhere near as much as the fact that if she were a man, she would not be a candidate. She was selected solely for her gender (yes, her values appeal to a part of the Republican party that McCain wants to reach out to and she is charismatic, etc. But, bottom line, with her list of qualifications (or lack thereof) and experience, if she were male, even with the same Christian appeal and charisma, she would NOT be a candidate. And that is sexism--not feminism. Feminism has never been about getting women in to positions of power at all costs. It has been about equal treatment--about gender not being an issue. Unfortunately, that is the opposite of this situation. This is entirely about gender being the issue. The exact opposite of feminism. Sad.

    Regarding her family issues--I would be just as bothered about the teen pregnancy thing if she was a man. I think it is wrong of *any* parent to knowingly bring this level of attention in to a teens life at such a rough time. This should be a private family matter, but her family has brought it out in to the public spotlight. Does not matter that it was her mom that did it--would have been just as bad if it was her dad.