Rulers of Our Own Castles

I have been thinking about this blog a lot lately.

Growing up I was taught that I was a piece of property owned by my parents.

Heads up Mum, I am not racking on you, I am just stating how it was. I don’t really think it was a malicious idea that my parents came up with, it was traditional way of raising children, especially daughters.

I was taught there were certain ways I was to look. I couldn’t dye my hair until I was a bit older (and could pay for it myself…that makes sense) and I also wasn’t allowed to get tattoos (I did when I was 16 anyways) or piercings (which I also did at age 18).

Sex was also a super taboo no-no.

I never really had anyone to talk to about my sexual inclinations or how to protect myself. What I learned about sex was what I learned in sex-ed, TV and from what my older sisters joked about.

So, at a young age, I learned that my body was a temple, but it also wasn’t fully mine… until the day I realized I actually did have complete control.

There came a point where what my parents told me and demanded of me no longer aligned with what I wanted to be. I wanted to control my own self and I guess that came in the form of rebellion. I am also quite the polar opposite when it comes to some of the views of my parents. Piercings and tattoos can be beautiful and also reminders of life experiences. Sex is a fundamental part of life. There is no such thing as sluts.

I find the idea of basing someone’s worth solely on the amount of people they have had sex with completely absurd. As long as the sex is consensual, they aren’t sleeping with your partner, breaking up another relationship, or purposefully spreading STDs, why the fuck would you care what someone does with their body? Also, sex is (mostly) awesome… so… shaming someone for having an awesome time doesn’t make any sense to me.

So, here I am, the mother of two girls. One of my girls is almost 14 years old and the other is 2 and a half. I don’t have much to worry about with the toddler yet… besides keeping her alive and preventing her from tearing our house apart, but my teenage daughter is at that age where she needs a lot more guidance.

My ideas on these subjects could all backfire on me, but I am hoping they won’t.

What I want to instill in my daughters is that when they can fully comprehend the idea – THEY get to decide how they wish to treat their own bodies.

What? Hold the phone. I am not saying my small child knows when she should be able to get a tattoo or anything – there is definitely an age when I think it is more acceptable for them to be able to choose those things.

What is that age? Um, probably different for each of them?

The biggest factor is how the communication flows between us.

  • Are we able to have an open conversation about the repercussions of some of their choices?
  • Is what they are feeling a fleeting idea or a thought coming from peer pressure? Or is it something they have been thinking for a long time and know the pros and cons?
  • Can I trust their judgement and can they trust my advice?
  • 1 MILLION other things that I can’t list here.

I can feel when my oldest is really serious about something. She is probably more mature than most girls her age and it can be a real eye-opener for me sometimes.

So, when the idea was brought forth to me that she wanted to get her nose pierced I thought of all of these things and more. I also had the fleeting thought that my parents (her grandparents) would be pretty upset if their grandbaby visited them with a new piece of ice in her nose. But, it didn’t stop me from having an open conversation with my kid. If anyone is willing to go up to bat for her daughter making the decisions about her own body, it’s me.

The discussion about the nose piercing lasted about four weeks in our house. I had my nose pierced before and flat out told her that it hurts, mine became infected and kind of looked like a big boog on my nose. It didn’t suit me. If the idea of these things didn’t phase her, she was probably more serious than I thought. She also had to pay for it herself… or so I told her.

Then the text came one day from her Dad – we are pretty lucky that we are both pretty rad, because I don’t think my Dad would have ever have opened up this door – and the text said, “Hey what do you think of M. getting her nose pierced?” Since we had been talking about it at our house for quite some time, I told him that when it boils down to it, a piercing is just a hole. A nose piercing won’t change her in any other way besides putting a tiny hole in her face. A nose piercing doesn’t open the doors for undesirable behaviours like underage drinking or drugs or prostitution. It is just a tiny hole in her face filled with a pretty gem.

Lo’ and behold, Teenager and Her Dad were close to a reputable piercing shop – and honestly, I am not even sure I would have wanted to be there in person – so they walked in and she got her piercing. The only request I had was that I got sent a video. She took it like a champ and much better than I did when I was 18.

But, what I am really hoping she got from the experience was that she is the ruler of her own castle – her body. She get to make the decisions of what happens to it, how it is modified and how it is used. I hope with all of my heart that it gives her strength to say “NO” when she means it and “YES” when she feels it. I hope it gives her confidence that she can not be used like a toy and also that she can respect her body for what it is…

Her temple, her castle, her self.

 

Love Yourself,

Allison

PS) She’s a beauty inside and out!

love love love

 

Guest Post #1 – By “M.”

This is the first Guest Post here on Waking Up Thirty. 

We all go through different trials and tribulations in life – how we battle them is much more defining than the actual outcome in a lot of instances. 

Cheers to “M.” for being brave and sharing their story.


M Gp

By “M.”

In January, I wrote a list of goals for 2016. I am not a fan of resolutions but I do believe if you write things down there is a better chance of them being crossed off and accomplished. The list included items like drink more water, plan trips not purchases, breathe, compete with myself not others, Do Mud Hero, Not Since Moses run and 10km at Maritime Race weekend, Love myself, be in bed by 10pm, Go to church more regularly, more day trips as a family, more get togethers with friends, Seek Joy and At the top of the list, Get Pregnant and have another baby.

Well it is more than half way through the year and I am still not pregnant and we started trying about 6 months before I wrote that list. I’m not sure why it hasn’t happened yet. With my first, it happened quickly. There are reasons I’m sure. Physical reasons, emotional reasons, timing, purpose etc…  Trying not to focus on it is an exercise in futility. Instead I try to listen to all the subtle truths being revealed. Truthfully it amazes me how we multi-task in this life. We carry on in our day to day (jobs, doctors appointments, friendships, family obligations) while just under the surface or behind closed doors we balance the emotions and struggle we experience in the waiting, in the living, in the knowing of not knowing, in the realization that we can only control so much. This is true of so many of life’s experiences not just trying to conceive. I’ve seen it in my friends and colleagues who care for their ailing parents or battle illnesses all while showing up for work , taking care of their kids and all with such strength and grace. It’s Amazing.

As a planner, someone who makes lists and crosses items off and someone who isn’t particularly fond of change, when you are ready to embrace a new life altering change and it just doesn’t happen it’s unsettling. I remember a quote from Ruth Houtby at the pulpit “Losing Control is losing the illusion that we were ever in control to begin with” This quote has had so much meaning in so many situations for me and yet I keep hearing it and learning it in different contexts. It feels particularly relevant right now.

I read this article the other day about how to support a friend through infertility. It made me realize three things. 1. We are not alone in this experience 2. I have some amazing friends. 3. The last paragraph… “At the end of the day, whether you are able to have the family you desire or not you will be made a better person by the experience.” Katie Hintz-Zambrano writes “While that is not an easy thing to tell a friend (or hear), it’s a reality of the experience. You will be a better parent, friend, sister, wife, person in general.” I would extend this to husbands and fathers as well.

I truly feel this. Even though it is hard and a struggle not knowing when and/or if it will happen for us again, it is shaping me and our family, growing us and challenging us to be more appreciative of the family we do have and more willing to explore new experiences and take more chances. We are living life more fully, more presently.

Have you ever written an “I am” list? You know the ones where you write “I am…” at the top of the page and then fill the page with positive affirmations about yourself? It’s big in the self-help world. Anyway I have. I am kind, I am generous, I am a loyal, I am happy yadda yadda… I get about two lines in and start trying to think about how I can re-frame negative self talk to be positive. (Side note: why do we carry such negative self-beliefs) But one truth I know is that I am a good friend. I care deeply about my friends and I prioritize maintaining friendships. It brings me joy to sit with friends and connect, no matter what the topic or context.  It is equally joyful and challenging to connect with friends who are experiencing something in their lives you wish to be experiencing in your own. When you are trying to get pregnant you become that much more aware of all the pregnant people around you. I have experienced so many emotions as my friends experience pregnancy and the birth of their children, some for the first time and others the second time around: excitement, joy, jealousy, resentment, gratitude, sadness, guilt, longing.  I have also become a more sensitive friend. I am that much more aware of the questions I ask or  how I talk about my own child with others. It is so easy to complain about sleepless nights, how whiny your child is or the general struggles of parenting. I no longer take these things for granted.

In the midst of a particularly rough weekend which corresponded with sleep deprivation, PMS and the cycle that is the roller-coaster of emotions one experiences when trying to get pregnant (sorry if TMI) our family sought refuge at my mom’s. After I left she wrote to me. She said “You need to be more kind to yourself and trust your instincts. You are a good person. Sometimes I think you need to reverse the golden rule and do unto/for yourself as you would do unto/for others. Love you”

It meant the world to me to read those words from her. I felt as though she looked at me and really saw me. She saw me where I am currently and said exactly the words I needed to hear.

I know I am so lucky to have had a successful pregnancy the first time around and to have a loving husband and awesome little boy. Throughout and as a result of this experience I have also had the opportunity to cross off some of the other items on my list such as competing with myself and not others, running a few races, planning trips not purchases, taking time to breathe, practicing self-care and mindfully seeking Joy.  What Katie Hintz-Zambrano writes is true. I am a better wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister and person for having this experience. I am learning and growing. I am present enough to recognize that there are so many known and unknowns becoming manifest and in the midst of it all, I have hope.

  • “M.”

 

Thank you so much for the entry, “M.” 

I think we can all agree that life doesn’t always give us what we want, but it has a way of giving us what we need. 

Here’s to the strong ones who push through!

 

Love Yourself,

Allison

Life With Bully

I follow George Takei on Facebook and I read his posts pretty much daily. I don’t care if he has a team of assistants who post for him or not, I generally find about 50% of what he posts interesting.

Today he shared a Whisper post (through Buzzfeed) about the parents of bullied children. Like I said, I always read the posts from his page – but furthermore, I always go to the comments to see what the real people are saying.

See the Buzzfeed post/Whispers here.

Some of them have such heart wrenching stories.

I can’t even begin to imagine being the parent of a child who is being bullied for things that are out of their control – like their child having glasses, or being short or having a scar etc.

When we become parents we immediately and fiercely love our offspring and to see them hurting or struggling with something like bullying can be so infuriating and can make you question so many things.

Like, “why can’t others see how awesome my child is?”

And it can be equally as sad to know that your child’s once pure and carefree heart is now betrodden with thoughts of self-doubt and worry of what the next day brings. It can be so heartbreaking to see their innocence get stripped from them unwillingly. It takes away a bit of their spirit and turns it into dark matter.

The confusing part of this is that we often equate The Bully as being some sort of delinquent or dehumanized oppressor.

This idea is false.

I can almost guarantee that the majority of the time The Bully is just as loved as the victim.

As much as I can’t imagine being the parents of a bullied child, I also think about being that parent who discovers that their child is being nasty towards someone else. The shame that would course through my body would be apparent. None of us want our children to be the bad guy in stories or the Regina George’s in school.

We want our children to be good people.

We want others to look at our kids and think, “Wow, they did a great job raising these remarkable young humans.”

But, they aren’t going to come by this goodness magically.

I know there are some children who have had the shitty end of the stick and their bullying ways come from a history of abuse and learned behavior. It is common for anger and rage to be a coping mechanism and that is very unfortunate. Not only are these kids a victim, but they continue to victimize and try to push the pain onto someone else. I hope that in today’s world these children are given more of a chance than they are discarded and seen as a lost cause.

I know elementary and Pre-K bullying can be all kinds of rough. How do you deal with parents who won’t acknowledge the problem (or even care) and how do you communicate with the children effectively enough to put an end to it?

I can’t give any insight into that situation because I have never encountered it. I have dealt with a bit of middle school drama, but nothing major. My oldest girl has had things run pretty smoothly for her. She’s chill, pretty level-headed and deals with any escalating drama in the most diplomatic of ways. Pretty awesome for an almost 14 year-old. I can only hope my youngest’s school days turn out so smoothly.

 

I do remember my own first week of grade 7 – I had an older girl yell at my from across the yard that she didn’t like me because I looked like someone else she didn’t like. It made me nervous. She probably gave me a few cold stares in the hallway and a couple of shoulder bumps, but nothing to the extent that happens with incessant bullying.

This happened a couple of times over the span of my middle school and high school life. I had another girl rag on me pretty hard (unwarranted as I barely knew her) when I became pregnant in grade 12. But, by then I didn’t give a shit what people said about me. If it wasn’t physically hurting me, I didn’t care.

If anything else happened to me, it wasn’t significant enough to be emblazoned in my memory bank.

As an adult I have learned that bullies – or Assholes, as adult bullies are called – usually always back down when they realize their target is a bit harder to hit than they thought. Whenever I have fought back or showed by bullies up or given them back some of their own medicine, they almost always back down.

I know this doesn’t always work with child bullies because The Bully often doesn’t give up so easily. It can be kind of fun for them to have a bit of a challenge. That’s why kids think it is such a time to play the same level in a video game over and over and over. They do it until they think they win.

Then again, I know have also deterred my bullies/assholes by killing them with kindness. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it is so satisfying to see the realization come over someone’s face that the road they take is a lot lower than they think – and it is a shock to their system to realize they get zero respect for doing it.

The childhood bully won’t always walk away from a situation like that and sometimes the child victim is not even going to try to sway them by being nice.

Do you want to know why this happens?

Sur-fucking-prise!

…It is because we are all different and we handle different situations in different ways. EVEN AS CHILDREN.

Every.single.thought.

Every.single.action.

Every.single.reaction.

Can get a completely different response from different people/bullies/victims because we all think, act and react in different ways.

There is no concrete solution to end bullying.

Each bullying situation is completely and entirely unique. So, when I see blanket statements like, “The victim just needs to stand up for themselves!” or, “Just ignore it.” I get a bit enraged.

It isn’t just a matter of teaching our kids to be more confident, how to defend themselves, how to read people, or to just be good.

We need to teach them ALL OF THOSE THINGS and more.

We also need to listen. We need to listen to them with EVERYTHING. Our ears and our eyes are great observers, but our hearts tell us when things are a little off. We need to actually hear our kids when they tell us something isn’t right. We need to admit and be open-minded when we realize our child is a victim or even the one victimizing. I know it can be really hard to realize your child has hard time coping with a terrible situation, or maybe they are The Bully, but it isn’t going to change them or a damn thing about the situation just because you know about it. We need to take action.

We have to talk to our kids. Show them what empathy is. Teach them about self-respect and kindness and what it feels like to take the high road.

Let other people help your kids, too. Not every one of us has the answers. Someone else might have a better idea or a clearer view of the situation. Just because you had a child doesn’t mean you are an All-Seeing and All-Knowing Deity. Sometimes we just need some damn help helping our own kids. On the flip, if we see a kid that isn’t getting that help, the right talk or learning experience, we shouldn’t be hesitant to step up.

Dog-fuck civilization when it thinks it doesn’t take a village to raise a child.

 

Love Yourself (and yo’ kids),

Allison

Bully

 

See You on the Other Side

Do you remember us?

We used to be fun, spontaneous and down right self-absorbed. It was magnificent.

Back when we had our childless weekends together, when my oldest daughter would stay at her Dad’s, when we would stay up all night with friends, spend the day in our jammies and make grueling decisions like, “do we go to the grocery store for snacks, or do we just hit the drive-through?” Since one of those options included putting on bottoms other than pajama pants, we would usually go for the latter. 

We had no one to tell us how to live and we did what we wanted. Even our bodies were happily put through the abuse they endured – sleepless nights, too much alcohol, long trips on the four-wheeler, sunburns and bed aches.

 

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Fast Forward to present-day and the table has been flipped upside down.

We no longer get to choose how long we sleep, or when it happens – thanks to a toddler who still does not sleep through the night. Our activity options are also limited. Most of our plans have to include our kids, otherwise they just aren’t going to work for us.

Really, having a childfree night would be nice, but the thought of putting ourselves through an all-nighter on purpose sounds like mere fucking torture. Sleep is so important to us now, but instead of sleeping all day, we try to make sure we get the right kind of sleep at the right time – you know, like at night.

This stage of our lives can be lonely and is really hard.

We are raising babies and teenagers, yet trying to work enough to ensure our future.

It is a grindstone – and even when the weekend comes along, there isn’t enough time in two days to make up for the time missed during the week.

As for friends – OUR FRIENDS –

Since there is barely enough time for my husband and I to be with each other, and also take care of ourselves and our children, and managing our property or what-have-its – my DEAR FRIENDS…

…there is barely enough time for you.

When I do make time specifically for an evening out with friends or an event, it is calculated to the max.

Do I need a sitter? Do I need someone to watch the dog? Am I going to need to take a cab home? If I need a cab, how will we manage to get my car in the morning? If the toddler goes to a sitter, how many snacks do I pack? Do I actually have to wear real clothes or will my yoga pants suffice?

Long gone are the days of trying to decide between the grocery store and drive-throughs. Our priorities are in a vastly different order than they once were and are balanced very delicately.

It only takes one raucous and sleep deprived night to ruin an entire week in this house.

I totally understand that it can be frustrating to not see someone you once had friend-affair with. We were together a lot – almost inseparable at times.

But, do you really want to see us now? Do you want to chill with tired, worn out us?

We promise that we love you. If we didn’t love you, we wouldn’t have so much respect for you to realize that we don’t see you quite enough. We honestly wish we had more time for you all – and we are sorry that this has happened.

But, here is the bright side:

Somehow this will all get easier.

We will figure out how to balance our lives a little better.

Our children won’t be quite so schedule dependent and maybe we will get to sleep easier and with that our days will come easier too.

We will never forget our fun ass times we had together. We won’t forget the memories we made and the histories we have developed with our Dearest Friends.

So when that time comes –

Don’t forget us.

We will see you on the other side.

 

Love Yourself,

Allison