Roles Redefined

I believe in roles — I’m just not a huge fan of rigid, gender-based ones (especially in relationships). Someone argued to me that these roles are nature. No, having a penis or a vagina is nature. What we learn about what people with those parts are able to/should do is nurture.

Little girls can play basketball and boys can be gymnasts. If my man is better at making a dish than me, he can cook it and if the trash is stankin’ up the house, I know how to get it up out of there. Simple enough, but many of us didn’t see it play out like this growing up.

Nowadays, though, the lifestyles of women in terms of career and other commitments outside of the home show that “communicate + collaborate” is much more practical than “girl jobs” and “boy jobs” around the house.

The notion of women staying home? Well, I’ll put it this way — if a man and woman agree it’s best for their family that the woman stays home, I fully support that. And vice versa. I hope when I have kids, my financial situation allows me to stay home for a while. I can’t see it being a lifelong thing, though.

I don’t understand why a woman who went to college, or is otherwise trained in a field or trade, would forego her God-given talents and skills to rear children and keep house. That screams “barefoot and pregnant” to me.

Now, if you’re working from home (entrepreneur, writer, etc.) that’s different. I just feel like I’d get fat and bored really fast if I wasn’t out and about making a living.

It may be some women’s dream to stay home while there man brings home the bacon. Excuse my cynicism, but I was always taught that whoever has the bacon, has the power.

I don’t even eat bacon anymore but I do enjoy money and no matter how much I love or trust someone, I don’t feel comfortable having no income as a grown woman.

Oh, I can picture the jabs made during arguments now. “You’re pissing me off — no allowance this week!” or “Chick, you don’t run nothing around here.” Nope, not having it!

Even if I have to check receipts at Wal-Mart or dress up like the Statue of Liberty and spin signs by the highway, ya girl has to have her own. Being disabled or on maternity leave, that’s one thing. A lifetime of being dependent “just because?” — no thanks. Maybe it’s the Leo in me but I expect so much more from myself. I like to get my shine on, too.

I know being a great mother and homemaker is hard work and deserves many accolades but my observations over the years indicate acclaim for these jobs typically only come one Sunday in May.

Yes, I know there is “something” in women that makes us more domestic and nurturing bu is there anything sexier than a man who can do everything for his kids that their mom can? Doubt it. Gotta love a man who can give a house a thorough cleaning. That means he takes pride in the place he calls home. Oh, yeah, push that broom baby 😉

The contrary has been suggested to me, though. Apparently if I don’t conform to gender roles, no decent man will want to marry me. Oh, word? Cause I’ve heard a song or two suggesting a woman who does her thing outside of the house was a hot commodity.

Drake NeYoStuck in a time-warp, are we? Much respect to the 1950s, but in a world where women work as hard outside of the house as men do, there needs to be more parity for household tasks.

I want my future daughters to know that they can bring home the bacon and cook it because they’re awesome like that. I also want them to know they should look for a partner who is both supportive and accommodating of whatever “roles” they choose to take on. Not to mention, all of their suitors should be comfortable rockin’ construction boots, a three-piece suit and an apron.

Golden Rule Reciprocity

I am a servant. I serve my students the best way I know how every day. I bring energy, love and knowledge. I offer these things freely, without condition or expectation of much in return. Sometimes, it’s a challenging role because all of my students aren’t open to these things, all the time.

Being rebuffed can hurt and is an uncomfortable feeling, but with my kids, that feeling never lasts long. I don’t hold grudges because I get that adolescents are moody, hormonal, and (unfortunately) have many of the same stressors we adults deal with. So, I roll with the punches, taking it all on the chin.

However, I get paid for those daily chin checks. Servant ≠ slave or idiot. I’m a professional, a salaried employee. Any other case of me giving my all (or even my “some”) and it not being respected or valued will not be tolerated. For too long, I’ve allowed people to undervalue or overlook the “gems” I’ve contributed to their lives.

For a long time, anytime someone close to me would say or do something out of line, I’d make the excuse for them that “no one is perfect,” “we’re all human,” or “he/she didn’t mean it.” While all of those things may be true, human nature doesn’t negate thoughtfulness or care.

Since I know people aren’t perfect, I am constantly work on becoming a better person. One of the reasons I even bother is so that I can treat others better and continue to be of service in any way I can — especially to those closest to me.

While I don’t require people in my life to go tic-for-tac with me in overall goodness or to hold the exact values I do, I expect The Golden Rule to be in their ‘Top 10.’ What I give is what I expect. I no longer feel awkward saying nothing less will be accepted. I’m worth it — and so are you!

To Thy Own Self Be True

I am a self-described people-pleaser. I love to make people feel happy, comfortable and proud. Contrary to what reality TV shows tell you, these aren’t bad things. That is to say, there is nothing cool about going out of your way to piss people off and constantly feel the need to make the point “I’m grown, so I’ll do whatever I want.”

No, you don’t earn cool points for being intentionally disagreeable (except among other social pariahs). Nonetheless, I envy people who naturally march to the beat of their own drum; people who do what they want without worrying about how others will react.

How freeing it must be to go about life thinking about what you want for yourself and not what others want for you. Ahhh, yes. Dare to dream. Sometimes, I still struggle to make small decisions (i.e. what to wear) and “medium” decisions (i.e. pursuing a professional opportunity) without stressing over what others will think. Meanwhile, most of my loved ones seem so unaffected by external opinion. I’m jealous.

I’m working on it, though. I realize I discover more about who I am, what drives me, and what I want when I turn down others’ perceptions, thoughts and expectations. Yes, these things are relevant and have their place. I’m not saying it’s OK to become your neighbor’s surrogate without consulting your husband or to move halfway across the world without talking to your family about it first.

I am saying that you are given one life and that life belongs to you — not the masses.

How much do you care about other people’s opinions?

Shot Down

Yesterday during my morning commute, Russ Parr’s voice came through the radio, announcing that the Senate had failed to pass a bipartisan bill that would require background checks for would-be gun owners. The purpose of the bill is basically to prevent convicted felons and mentally ill persons from getting their hands on firearms. Of course, lobbying groups such as the NRA spun the bill to look like some contra-Constitutional law and hypothesized that such a law would lead to a national registry of gun owners. I am not at all surprised by the NRA-led propaganda.

I am, however, surprised at how cowardly and selfishly our Senate voted on the bill. No, I was saddened and enraged. I burst into tears. I started seeing all the perfect little faces of the first-graders who loss their lives in Newtown, CT just before Christmas. I recalled the dread I felt as a child after the shootings at Columbine High. I remembered mourning my college neighbors at Virginia Tech during the tail-end of my sophomore year of undergrad. I quietly spoke to Hadiya Pendleton — the 15-year-old girl who was killed back home in Chicago days after performing in the Inaugural parade — through prayer.

Now forgive me if I didn’t add correctly, that’s 71 victims. Actually, that’s 75 victims. I can’t forget the perpetrators of these various incidents who took their own lives after their brief “reigns of terror.” Let’s be clear — their acts were reprehensible. But be clear about another thing — anyone who would let loose on a bunch of innocent people clearly has mental problems GALORE. Maybe it’s the special education teacher in me, but I can’t dismiss anyone who has mental illness — especially when said illness goes undiagnosed, untreated, and/or unnoticed. And the fact that three of the four killers associated with these acts were children themselves? Even sadder.

I’m appalled that the issues these young men had were noted by many but addressed by none. I’m pissed off that anyone who’s clearly missing a few sandwiches from their picnic basket can get their hands on guns. A couple of days ago, our leaders had a chance to curb things like that from happening. Rather, they decided to bend to the will of the gun-enthusiasts who fund their campaigns (and probably line their pockets on the side, too.) The fact that any dollar amount or political victory can trump innocent lives makes me sick to my stomach. How could they do this?

As I write this, I think of all the people I know who’ve been killed by guns. Without thinking hard, four come to mind — three family friends and one high school classmate. I’m tearfully thinking of one of my closest cousins, just a few months older than I am, who will probably be behind bars until he’s middle-aged because of a non-fatal shooting he was involved in. How does a 16-year-old get a gun again?

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords summed up how I feel quite nicely yesterday. So, I won’t say much more. I will add, though, that when Ms. Giffords runs into the 46 dissenting assholes (I mean, Senators) who know all about what she’s been through — she should smack the shit out of them.