we are so, so, broken.

it feels, to me, like we've reached this certain breaking point.  a place that i'm not sure we can move back from.  people killing each other in the streets out of anger.  everyone is at each other's throats, and it's all become terribly un-civil.  black and white. men and women. muslims and christians. gun rights and gun control. there is no intelligent, respectful debate.

it all became too much for me yesterday. as a news alert popped up on my phone and i read about the horrors of the shooting in dallas, the tears started flowing.  i rolled over and clutched onto my husband, sobbing into his shirt, until all my tears were gone.  i cried for them all.  for the babies sitting in the backs of cars, watching their fathers get shot.  for the boys crying for their daddies on national TV.  for the families of police officers who now have to be more terrified than they normally are as they send their loved ones off into the line of duty.  for all of us, who are heartbroken and disgusted by what is happening here.

and as a mother, as my instinct is to do in times like this, i went in to see my babies, sleeping soundly in their rooms.  i tucked my big boy under the covers and started at him.  smoothed his hair.  kissed his cheeks.  watched his breathing slow and steady, watched him roll over and look for his blankie.  as i closed his door, i felt thankful that he's two and i don't have to explain all this to him right now.  in my baby's room, he's still easy to lift out of his crib and rock.  as i held him close and rocked him, i thought of how much lighter his skin is than his brother's.  he's a pale, white, baby.  he's inherited his father's skin color, german and dutch.

my boys are white. i have given the world two more white boys of privilege. it is one of my greatest fears as a mother that they will use that privilege against others -- people of color, women.  they will never know life without their whiteness.  and there is a certain level of guilt i feel because of that.  it i sounds silly, but it's true.  i want to make sure they know that their whiteness isn't a privilege, it's a burden. it comes with responsibility.  as white men, it will be their responsibility to help lift others up, help their voices be heard.  to value each life equally.  they're so little right now and i haven't figured out how to start teaching them this, but i feel that talking about it is a good place to begin.

you can cry against police brutality without hating all police.  you can be wary of criminals of any color without criminalizing all people of color.  you can be fearful of extremists without hating all muslims.  evil does not know one profession, one color, one religion.

i'll end this with the words that always come to me at times like these:

one love
one blood
one life
you got to do what you should
one life
with each other
sisters, brothers
one life
but we're not the same
we get to carry each other
carry each other

good for her.

do you guys remember hilary rosen?  nope?  didn't think so.  unless i took grad classes with you on the weekends, i highly doubt you know who the hell i am talking about.  well let's rewind a bit to the 2012 presidential election for a supershort back story.  promise it's short.

so i am sitting in my all-day weekend class, chatting with the a female classmate friend of mine sitting next to me.  sometime during the week before, democratic strategist hilary rosen made a comment about ann romney on CNN, saying she'd "never worked a day in her life."  i brought the comment up to my friend [a very brilliant and strong feminist who i always kind of looked up to in classes], and said that rosen did kind of have a point, that staying home was different from working a job.  my friend said to me, 'that's not the point.  feminism is about supporting the different choices women make.'  i immediately shut up.

i will never forget that comment, because she was right.  in a very succinct sentence, this woman had summed up what i was clearly missing about feminism.  we support one another in making whatever choices we decide to make. 

this is something that i have been thinking of more and more as i get ready to have this baby.  there are so many - SO MANY - different ways of doing this whole mommy thing.  you can choose to work and put your child in daycare or hire a nanny.  you can choose to stay home and attend to your child's every need 24/7.  is one harder than the other?  depends who you ask.  you can choose to get an epidural at the hospital, or you can choose to have a natural childbirth at a birthing center.  is one harder than the other?  again, it depends on who you ask.  it's no picnic no matter how you get that baby out of there.  but moms debate one another endlessly.  'you know epidurals are not healthy for the mom or baby,' some will say.  'there's no prize for getting the baby out naturally,' others will say.  you can choose to breastfeed, not able to go more than a few hours away from your babe as you are his only source of food.  or you can choose to spend money on formula, where there is definitely a trade off.  but here's the question no one is asking: does it really matter who has it worse?

it's everything.  it's the breastfeeding mamas versus the formula feeding mamas.  it's the natural birthing mamas versus the planned cesarian section mamas.  it's the photo of supermodel momma gisele 'multitasking.'  the moms are split into two groups, as they almost always are: those who think this is a great stance for working moms, and those who think that gisele is somehow making other moms feeling bad.  no one speaks up and says, well damn, that's not quite what my life looks like when i breastfeed, but good for her.  it's the photo of the fit momma showing off her bod with her three diapered kids sitting around her.  there's those two groups again: those mommas who find this inspirational and motivational, and those who insulted by this and feel as if they are being called fat.  no one speaks up and says, well i don't know how she finds the hours in the the day, but good for her.

why do we do this?  why do we need to justify everything - that staying at home is harder, that moms don't have any excuses to not work out, that showing a woman breastfeeding while getting her hair done is an affront to all mommas, that moms who choose to have a natural childbirth do so just for bragging rights - rather than just using those three little words?

good for her.

and no, it doesn't count if you say it sarcastically.  you have to mean it.  you have to look at the mom who goes out of her way to cook an organically-grown, sustainably-sourced meal for her family and say good for her.  you have to look at the mom who puts on the toy story dvd for the hundredth time so she has just half an hour or so for some time to herself and say good for her.

it isn't just moms, either.  let's stop competing with one another for who is doing more, who is happier.  ignore the headline that dares to say couples with kids are more likely to get divorced, or childless couples are happier.  don't push the stay-at-home mom by brag-complaining about your 80 hour work week.  don't taunt the workaholic by reiterating you are up to your eyes in diapers all day.  these are the choices we make, and as feminists today, we must support one another's choices - whether it's the choice to not work and to have a family, or the choice to not have a family.  there is no right and no wrong answer here.

image via

women.  yes, you.  stop tearing each other down.  support one another's choices - even if they aren't the ones you would make. 

and i promise you, you'll stop feeling like everyone else is against you once you start supporting those around you.

on guns + schools + my fears for our baby.

today i want to talk a little about guns.  i will probably offend some people with this post if you don't share similar views to mine, and i accept that.  don't read it then.  i am writing this post after reading a few hours worth of coverage on the latest school shooting at arapahoe high school in littleton, colorado.  i've been told in my life many, many times to not speak when i am angry.  to cool down, think things over, and then speak what is still on my mind.  but sometimes you have to speak while you are angry, while you are hurt.  because all too many times we cool down, the fire is lost, and nothing gets done.  the passion, the intensity of the moment disappears, level-headed discussions prevail and we see the same moments in history repeated, again and again.

i was in 8th grade in a middle school in colorado, about forty five minutes north of littleton when the shootings at columbine high school took place.  i was in math class and an administrator from the principal's office came in to have a word with our teacher.  she told us what happened immediately, and, because i am sure she didn't know what else to do, continued on with her lesson about exponential growth.

and it was just last year, exactly a year ago tomorrow, that i sat at breakfast with my sister annie when she scrolled through some news updates on her cell phone.  she was in town for my graduation + christmas party and we were enjoying a much needed day off, my first day after leaving my job.  she told me there had been a school shooting.  at an elementary school, she added.  we both stopped eating for a moment in absolute shock, which lead to a political discussion [we both have strikingly similar views on just about everything].

in between those two moments there have been more shootings than i can count. the time i was awakened by text messages from my cousin in NYC, asking me if i was ok, i wasn't at the movies, was i?  i turned on my laptop to see reports of a mass shooting just 20 minutes from where i had been sleeping, at the midnight showing of the dark knight rises.  the time my mom texted me to tell me a congresswoman had been shot, and we turned on the news to see reports of the arizona shootings of representative giffords.  the time i was still living in prague and read online about a shooting at virginia tech and saw the european response to america's school shooting issue around me.  and again today, as i logged on to twitter on my phone to respond to a message and saw tweets about yet another shooting, again in colorado.

so i read through them all.  i read the reports on msnbc, on fox news, on cnn, on the guardian, on the denver post, on 9 news, on facebook, on twitter.  and this time, for the first time with all of these shootings, i cried.  and cried.  for the victims who were injured not just physically but emotionally and psychologically - every singe one of those high school students who is now traumatized.  for the parents, as they stood in line waiting to hear about the safety of their children.  for the first responders and their families, putting their lives at risk to help ensure the safety of others.  for the teacher who was apparently targeted and his actions to try and lure the shooter out of the school, away from other targets.

but mostly i cried because my baby is going to be born into a world where this. keeps. happening.  and more than that, we let it keep happening.  with our actions.  with our culture.  with our words towards others.  and try as you might to shield your child from all evils in the world, eventually you have to let him go.  even if that place is somewhere you'd never expect such a tragedy to occur - such as a well ranked public school in an affluent suburb. 

i thought about this yesterday as we wrapped christmas presents and watched die hard - a tradition of PI's.  he loves die hard and it's one of his favorite holiday movies.  you know, i said to him, this is the last year we can watch this and wrap gifts.  it's not really appropriate for the baby.  he nodded and said, i'll show it to him maybe when he's eight.  and we had a good-natured discussion of when is the right time to expose your child to those levels of violence.  when is it appropriate to show him something that may be in good fun, but also requires a level of serious discussion.  we already know the ground rules we plan on having for violence and guns in our home.  but what your child is exposed to is a very wide range of cultural stimulators that do not cease to exist outside your home.  it's in their friend's home, where parents are pro-gun and have them in their home.  it's in the cops-and-robbers movie his uncle takes him to see on day out together. 

i am not arguing that all children exposed to violent video games or violent films turn out to be violent teenagers or adults.  take my brother or my husband for instance, both well-adjusted grown men who love die hard [and did as kids!] and video games i probably won't let my son play, but they understand where the line between reality and fiction is drawn.  as a parent, that's part of your job - to help your children understand where those lines are.  [and yes, mental health is a huge part of this debate as well.]

and as a democratic society, it's our job to make the changes we want to see around us.  do we want these shootings to stop?  then we better do something about it.  and i know people have - many, many people have - petitioned and worked towards and voted for stricter gun laws.  for background checks, loophole closures and semi-automatic weapon bans.  and state senators and representatives have stood up and said yes, yes, we support this, our constituents support this.  and then - congresswomen and congressmen are recalled.  bills don't pass.  special interests get in the way.  gun toting advocates cry foul over perceived freedoms being taken away.  the freedom to march into a school with a gun?  into a movie theater?  into a grocery store parking lot? 

when i had consumed all i could handle of the shooting coverage, i closed my laptop and cried.  i grabbed my box of tissues next to me and slowly walked into our bedroom, where PI was laying in bed reading a book.  i curled up next to him and put my head on his chest and cried.  i'm just so sad, i whimpered.  why doesn't anyone do anything about this?  

i don't know, he said, and stroked my hair.