Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Feminist Housewife's Take on Moms' Night Out

Anyone who knows me knows I am an anomaly. I'm a feminist housewife entrepreneur. I can see that you are perplexed. Let me further confuse you by adding another wrinkle: I'm a conservative (read: committed Christian) feminist housewife entrepreneur. How about them apples?

When I heard that Moms' Night Out was a delightful comedy depicting stay-at-home moms in their messy real-life truth, I was eager to see it. And I was not disappointed. So, I rushed home to do what I usually do after seeing a movie I love: I Googled it. That's right. I wanted to see what the rest of the world was saying about this fantastic movie. Surely they were as ecstatic as I was. Not necessarily. While those who could identify with the film (read: any mother on the planet without a nanny and a cook), most "critics" slammed the film. Here are a few of the comments I took particular offense to:

“depressingly regressive and borderline dangerous,” adding that it “peddles archaic notions of gender roles." - Roger Ebert 

  “why doesn’t she just hire a nanny, find a job and get out of the house.” - Kate Taylor, The Globe and The Mail 

“lack of a profession consigns the character into Eisenhower-esque irrelevance.” - Inkoo Kang of The Writer

I could go on. But, let's just start with these. I won't stoop so low as to disparage people I don't know (although I could probably accurately guess their lifestyle and type), I will address the five things Moms' Night Out gets right. 

1. Proper Use of a Apostrophe 

Thank you, Lord! There's someone outside the world of academia who knows how to use an apostrophe. Unlike the infamous multi-million dollar Sandra Bullock blockbuster Six Weeks Notice (which conveniently left out the the punctuation because they didn't know whether to place it before or after the "s"), at least this lower-budget film could manage to hire someone who knows a little something about grammar. For this journalist, and most any wordsmith, that's major. For a little lesson on proper apostrophe usage, please visit Your welcome, Hollywood. 

2. The Messy-ness of Life 

I don't know about you, but my life was a lot neater and compartmentalized BEFORE I became a stay-at-home mom. I'm not saying one is easier than the other, but from my experience, life's just a lot messier now. I don't have the convenience of an office or cubicle to run off to for 10 hours of the day like before. And I certainly don't have the disposable income (after feeding two boys) to hire a maid, cook or nanny.

Life is happening in my face, all the time, peanut butter smudges and all. And I like it like that. For those who find my choice somehow flying in the face of feminism, I'm sorry that is threatening to you. But that's a personal problem. 

3. We All Need a Break 

After you begin staying home with your children, it seems that people expect mothers to look zen-esque, never complaining. Some have the vision of a stay-at-home mom lounging on the sofa popping bonbons like popcorn gorging on Netflix reruns. Not so. I can tell you that is simply not the case. 

I work ten times harder ten times longer than I ever did at the office. To workout, I must rise at 5 am or it simply doesn't happen because the rest of my life is committed to serving other people. It was a choice, I know, but that doesn't make it any less exhausting. So, thanks, Moms' Night Out for shedding light on this forgotten piece of truth. Being a mother is hard, messy, stressful, delightful, joyous and depleting. We all need time to breath. 

4. Christians are Flawed 

Yep. I said it. And most Christians would agree with me. I know that most of those outside our faith look at us as hypocritical judgers, and they have a point. Some of us are. But so are some of them. That's because we are all human, and, therefore, subject to our own prejudices. 

The difference is that most committed Christians are striving to be better, tackling their own failings through biblical guidance. That doesn't make us better; it makes us human. Searching Bible Gateway you can see Jesus referencing judgment over and over. My favorite is Luke 7: 1-5, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plan in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." 

In essence, Jesus knew we would size each other up, and He warned us against it. When we start pointing fingers at each other, we are guilty of the same sin. 

5. We Are Enough 
We live in an air-brushed world. Heaven help you if you walk into a glass door or show cellulite at the beach. With everyone having a cell phone, taking pictures and posting them in a public forum, it's hard for any of us to grasp the fact that we can be just who we are and that's okay. 

We all have things we can do better, but it's not something to tear yourself up over. God loves us all, just as He made us. This is the over-arching point of the film, a reminder that we might not be perfect, but we might not be so bad after all. So, try to be okay with that. Use that as the framework for future "self improvement" instead of fighting against yourself or hating who you are today. Relax. Life's just too short. 

So for those critics of the film, who can't understand a conservative, messy, flawed life, I feel bad for you. The messes of my life are what give it texture and meaning. Without them, I'd be just one more pretender so-called Real Housewife wannabe aiming for perfection. For me, my life is perfection, even if it does come in dented packaging. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The War On Boys

Well, I guess it all started about ten years ago, when the doctor told me I was going to be the Mommy to a bouncing baby boy. Excited, I dove in, scouring stores for adorable little boy clothes, hats, accessories. That's when it hit me. As I viewed the pitiful ten-foot-by-ten-foot assortment of boy clothes at Target, I compared it to the miles of girls' clothes just an aisle over. That's when the rage began; that's when I was first introduced to the injustice of it all, the fact that the world is at war with boys. And it's just become worse as the years have progressed.

Now, the proud mother of two boys, I can see this same attitude penetrating all parts of my boys' lives, and I'm fed up. From school, to clothes, to online smut, the world is attacking the spiritual, emotional and physical attributes that real men should have. Instead, they hope to turn every boy into pseudo-women, feminine in their makeup so as to be easier to manipulate, or targeting them for pornography and so they devalue women, further weakening the family unit.

So, for all the moms who want to raise real men in a feminine world, I suggest we rise up in solidarity, and agree to a pact: we will raise our sons to be just that - sons. Not metrosexual versions of the male species, afraid of getting dirty, hard labor or (gasp!) sweating. As for me, I'm making a mental promise to myself and my children that goes something like this: 

  • I will not hinder his need to collect slimy, smelly, dirty objects. 
  • I will refrain from shouting, "Be Careful!" every time he climbs something higher than an armchair. (Boys, by nature are just not careful. They are, instead, curious, hence the slimy, smelly, dirty objects.) 
  • I will allow him to pretend he is a dragon slayer, cop, Indian, warmonger, or any other unfeminine character his imagination dreams up, with the understanding that this will not turn him into a weapon-hoarding serial killer. 
  • I will encourage him to run until he is overly winded and smelling of sweat and wind, embracing the fact he has extra energy that is kept pent up during school hours. Boys need an outlet, and I will eagerly support his need to exercise it. 
  • I will actively search for stores who aren't afraid to stock a healthy portion of boys' clothes in all sizes, and pledge my undying loyalty to them. 
  • I won't, under any circumstances, insist that my son accompany me for a pedicure, manicure, hair appointment, clothes shopping for lingerie, or any other feminine pastime unless a suitable babysitter is unavailable. (Let's face it, most of this would be torture for any boy, and if you are shopping for lingerie with your son, you have other problems). 
  • I will encourage a healthy and active interest in activities that surround him with spiritually healthy male figures, realizing that the World is destroying our church by starting with the men. By clearing the path toward other Godly men outside his home, he is being fortified by other role models who can, thereby, mentor him toward adulthood. 
  • I will let him explore (mostly) without limits, nudging him toward adventure that will feed the need for incremental independence. 
  • I will get dirty, on occasion, with my boy, fishing, camping, hiking or exploring with him. (This does not mean moms have to collect slimy, smelly, dirty objects).
  • I will explain why a girl on the cover of a magazine is not a realistic view of women; I will, instead, point him toward the virtues of amazing real-life girls, whose wisdom and kindness outshine rubies (and centerfolds).
  • I will pray for his spiritual, emotional, physical and mental development every day, so that in all ways his choices will point to the Lord, and away from the darkness of the World. 
  • I will cherish every time he holds my hand, snuggles next to me under a warm blanket, tells me he loves me or hugs me in a tight embrace, for these days are limited. 
"Boys will be boys" is a phrase as old as dust, yet, it is slowly losing its meaning in our modern culture. I, for one, want my boys to grow into men, not the World's version of what a man should be. 

So, bring on the callouses! I want my guys to be strong, courageous, compassionate, inspiring, hard-working men of integrity. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.