RSS

Defining Oneself: Time for a War on “Mommy”

Ok, I was surfing the internet instead of writing (something I’ve been known to do…) and came across this article on one of the message boards I frequent. Ironically it’s on the Wall Street Journal’s blog website.

For those who don’t want to read the article or can’t access the link…a quick summation would be that the author–a writer and mother–feels offended by the word “Mommy” when used by others in reference to her.

She feels it’s demeaning and childish.

I can understand part of her viewpoint. I don’t want strangers or even my family (other than my baby and husband, or my family when talking directly to Evie saying something like “You have your mommy’s eyes.” or something like that) calling me ‘mommy’.

But do I feel as the author Taffy Brodesser-Akner does? No. Not really.

I don’t think the word ‘mommy’ has a negative connotation, I don’t think it’s being used to condescend to the woman being referred to. I think the word ‘mommy’ being used for advertising purposes like described in the article is done because so many women themselves are referring to themselves as mommies, mamas, or mothers.

So what is wrong with that? A time existed in our not too distant past when women almost seemed to want to suppress the fact that they were mothers. Belief by many, many people was that a woman had to choose…either motherhood or a career. But a growing number of women have realized that the two do  not have to be mutually exclusive. The realization has come from many women and businesses that careers can also be had from the comfort of a woman’s home office, allowing that woman to be with her children during the so-called formative years.

How in Rumplestiltskin’s name of all that’s hole-ly is this realization a bad thing?

Society is now starting to tell women that it’s wonderful to be a mother while working on your career–and so many women are identifying with being mothers that advertising agencies have noticed–and the number of work-at-home mothers is growing by leaps. Women are starting to ‘have it all’ just like their male counterparts.

So if being called ‘mommy’ is anti-feministic like Brodesser-Akner is implying, I don’t want any part in her definition of feminism. I revel in being Evie’s mom. I obsess about the cute clothes I can put on her for various occasions and about the next absolutely adorable cloth diaper I will be buying her next. (OMG, how anti-feminist am I? I actually choose to wash my daughter’s diapers!)

I also obsess about my career, too. I plan my marketing campaign for upcoming releases, I work out kinks in my next novel’s plot and characters. I research crime procedure, ways to murder people that don’t involve guns, and Civil War prison camps in Indiana, April of 1865…

I am a career woman. A career many people think about and dream about. I have what I want and what I worked toward since I was in high school. I repeat…I knew what I wanted and I went after it. And got it.

While I was going after it I met a man I love and I married him and we made a child together. My career and my family are not two separate conflicting entities. They are who I am. Both are part of the straw hat I’ve woven for me to wear (other strands include wife, daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, cook, photographer, graphic designer and border collie wrangler and doggy door attendant) throughout my life.

I want to be called ‘mommy’ if that’s what it takes for society to recognize the dual roles I now occupy. I am a mommy. I am also a career woman who is educated in my profession. I just do my work from home, with my daughter sleeping in her boppy pillow beside me. The writing gets done. And the baby gets fed and changed. And Justice dog gets to go out 837 times each day.

baby and dog asleep on couch

Evie at work.

So go ahead and call me ‘Mommy of Evie’. You can also call me B.G. Lashbrooks, author of romance novels. They both refer to the same person.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 16, 2011 in baby, writing

 

The Speculation Game

Let me share a secret…I’m fascinated by my daughter. Thoughts of who she will be, what she will want, like, do…each new experience she’ll have is gold to me. of course, she already seems to have some strong preferences already. She’s not yet 12 weeks old, but she was enthralled by the music of the movie Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Watched nearly the whole movie. She also likes Cincinnati Reds baseball…with a strong crush on Ramon Hernandez. She likes dogs and the cooking network. She does not like tennis shoes that tie and isn’t too fond of being put in her carseat. All of these likes/dislikes are clear already.

A hint of who she is?

When she was first born I would stare at her, trying to ‘take the parts apart’ and see who her chin reminded me of, whose eyes she’d inherited, did she have her daddy’s dimples? I’d look at her hair and try to describe perfectly just what color it was…Somewhere between my shade of brown and a golden warm blond was my guess…I thought it would darken as she grew.

It thrilled me when we woke up one morning and her hair was turning red. It was so unexpected. So different. So not what I pictured. How could this little being have surprised me so? I’m sure it won’t be the last time she surprises me.

I didn’t know who she would be or what she would look like while I was pregnant. In fact, I wasn’t even sure she was a she. She hid that from me until I was eight months along. Surprise seems to come with having a baby.

I can handle surprises.

Writing a book is a surprise each time. I don’t know who or what the book will be when I first start the gestation process. I definitely didn’t expect Olivia’s Journey to be a full-fledged novel. It started as an assignment for a creative writing class, actually. And I have no clue where it came from. Not really.

I remember being stressed during the class–my mother had been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and we were dealing with that…I didn’t have time to be an adult student keeping up with classes and helping take care of my ill mother. I definitely didn’t care about my writing then. How could I?

But one night I entered that half-waking state where I could still think and remember but there were no filters…and the first line of Olivia’s journey popped into my head. So I wrote it. Then I wrote the next line, and the next. I stopped when I had a full short story. I think it was about 20 pages long then.

I was satisfied with it, proud even. And done. I hated the subject of the Civil War. I would read historicals, but was never brave enough to attempt one–mostly because of the research involved. But then..people kept asking what happened next. So I kept writing. And researching and researching and researching…

But finally, the baby was born. And I don’t mean Evie. I put a lot of work into my book, more than 300 hundreds researching and about the same writing the first draft. I lost track of the time spent on edits. The book took me over a year–around life obligations and all–but it was finally born.

When I wrote that first line I didn’t know what direction the book would take or if it would be a book. I am not a plot-n-plodder. I don’t create a map of where my story is going to go and plod through the writing. No, I enjoy the surprising twists that my characters want in the story. I don’t know where they’ll end up at all. I just write until I get where they need to be going.

I believe a writer needs to do this–to allow the book to take the path that the characters create. I believe a parent needs to let their child take the path they need to create for themselves, too.

I’m the one who likes Ramon Hernandez, not Evie. Her daddy is also a Reds fan. Yet if Evie wants to like the Cards, she can. If she doesn’t like baseball at all, that would be fine, too. I want her to be who she wants to be, just like I want my books to be the stories they need to be.

I’m fascinated with Evie’s hair and I’m half tempted to go borrow my 9yrold nephew’s toy microscope and put a lock of the baby’s hair under it to see if I’m not crazy…to see if she really does have red hair. Everyone is saying she does, but what if she surprises me again?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 14, 2011 in baby, writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Watching Excerpt

I am posting an excerpt from my most current WIP Watching: You can find it in word format here…

People who preyed on those weaker and more defenseless than themselves deserved whatever punishment was thrown at them. That thought was at the front of Dr. Georgia Dennis’s mind as she picked her way over fallen branches and loose rocks, only steps behind her partner. “He’s either a sadist or a mission killer.”

“Any evidence to back up your theory so early in the investigation?” Her partner and supervisor asked. Georgia fought a sneer as he easily stepped over a fallen log that she would have to climb over.

“Method of death…sir.” The sir was tacked on for protocol’s sake. She and Hellbrook shared little respect between them. Hadn’t since they’d met eight months earlier when her former unit had joined with his for a sniper case in Seattle.

“Continue. Talk it out for me.” Impatience was evident as he waited for her to climb the log.

Georgia accepted a helping hand from the third person on their six mile trek even though she knew it would lessen her capabilities in Hellbrook’s eyes. The local agent, Elias Stanton, had met them at the base of the mountain to lead them to this crime scene. It didn’t take Georgia’s skills as a profiler to see the man wasn’t lost to the undercurrents between her and Hellbrook. Undercurrents that were completely Hellbrook’s fault. He’d made it clear when she’d transferred to his team–the Complex Crimes Unit–six months earlier that he thought her presence in one of most elite divisions in the FBI was based on nepotism. Yes, her father had created the division, but Georgia had earned her spot. Regardless of what Hellbrook thought.

Georgia adjusted her backpack, scanning the overgrown trail for any signs of the killer the locals may have missed. “Stoning. It’s a traditional method of killing, used as far back as Biblical times. Four young girls becoming aware of their sexuality. He sees it, decides to cleanse-therefore, mission killer. Alternatively, he could be a classic sadist. Someone who wondered into the idea of stoning, possibly by throwing rocks at a small animal-or even a smaller child. Someone who enjoys watching his victims suffer. Someone who picks those who can’t retaliate. Or those he puts into positions where they can’t fight back.” She threw a glare at him, challenging him to argue, as she ticked off the points she made on her fingers. She wasn’t talking about the unknown subject-the UNSUB-and she wondered if he knew it.

“So someone who enjoys hurting others?” The local agent was confused and it was evident in his tone. Georgia was used to that. Many agents–even if they were good agents–struggled with the idea of profiling.

“Yes. And he’s raging against all females, especially those similar in type to the four victims. Was there any signs of sexual assault?” Georgia hated to ask, especially since the victims in this case were all teenage girls. She hated when the victims were kids, always imagining her four-year-old son Matthew in their place. Imagining herself in their parents’ places.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

I should be sleeping

I should be sleeping instead of blogging. But tonight I’m filled with a sense of restlessness I can’t explain.

I suppose I can give it a shot…

The baby is sound asleep in her little bed beside mine. She’s snuggled into her Swaddle sleep sack, with her reddish hair fuzzing around her little head. Her blue eyes are closed.

She looks like a cross between an angel and a caterpillar. She’s adorable and sweet. Doesn’t look like the little monster who demands my attention the moment I attempt to do something not Evie-related.

God, I love that little baby.

But I can say one thing…having a baby wreaks havoc on a woman’s writing routine. I’ve not written anything substantial fictionwise since she was born almost eleven weeks ago. Mostly because I’ve been tired and because I need to write the non-fiction articles that I am paid to write. We need the money while I am on maternity leave. Once I’m back at the exclusive clothing boutique where I work a few days a week things will get better…but when will I find time to write my novels?

Evie goes to bed at 10 every night and is up at 7 the next morning. I guess I could write between 10 and midnight…but by that point I am ready to relax for a few hours without a baby in my arms.

I just need to force myself to write…for at least one hour each day. Somehow I am going to do it.

My daughter deserves a mother who sets goals and achieves them, a mother who has dreams and does what she has to to make those dreams a reality.But darnit, this mother is a wee bit tired…can’t dream chasing wait a few…um…years?

Seriously? No. I am going to finish these darn books. (Watching has just a few scenes missing/needing revised, but I am so not in the mood to write them).

By my daughter’s first birthday I am going to have Waiting and Watching completely finished and Wanting in the revision stage. Somehow, I am going to carve a slice out of the clock and write these damn stories!!!!!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Raising Christmas Evie…an answer to prayers

I wanted to write days ago, but well…time got away from me. It actually ran away from me, strapped to the back of my baby daughter.  My little Christmas present made her grand entrance into my world on Christmas Eve.

I can’t explain how it felt to see her and know that this was my child, the one piece of me and my husband that truly mattered. Nothing matters now, not the way she does.  Yes, my writing is important to me…often vital to my mental well-being. Yet if I never write another word, I know that my life is complete because of her (and her daddy).

She truly is my miracle baby, in more ways than one…

Christmas 2009 I went home angry at the world, my family, at myself and my husband, and even at God…though I wasn’t sure I still believed. I am not a militant or hardcore Christian. I don’t go to church every Sunday (somewhat due to my working every weekend…but that’s another story), but I know what the Bible says and I know what I sort of believed to be true.

But Christmas 2009…that was the breaking point for me.  My husband and I had been married for six months, but together for five years. We’d been half trying for a child since about 3 months before we were married, and once we were married we began trying in earnest.

It wasn’t happening, and it was mostly because of my body and the fact that we were on wildly conflicting work schedules where our time together was limited to only weekends and early mornings during the week.

The year 2009 welcomed 6? 7? new babies into my family, via my siblings and my cousins and seeing these babies was highly upsetting for me. It felt like I had failed and that it wasn’t fair.  My husband and I were older, more responsible, stable and educated people. We had our own home to offer a child and we could easily support one. Yet we could not make one.

I went home that night and straight to bed, upset and hurting. I remember praying that God give us a child before the next Christmas. Praying harder for that than anything I’d ever prayed for before…and not truly believing it would happen.

And then my confused body just simply stopped working in that way. I now had no hope for children anytime soon.  Yet there was no clear medical reason for what was going on. We discussed it and decided maybe it was time to take a break, to give me a chance to alleviate some of the stress that trying had placed on me and to give us a chance to pay off some bills and get some breathing room.

By this time I was working part time and focusing on my writing career and had no health insurance. It kind of made sense to wait until I could get on my husband’s policy during the open enrollment period–8 months away.

Fast forward to April 2010…my body still wasn’t working–at least not obviously.  I was still stressed but not as much, I was just tired. Extremely tired.  I just shrugged it off and started taking vitamins again. I’d struggled with anemia in the past–many times–and that had always made me tired, too.  Usually after about a week of the iron-fortified vitamins I started feeling better. Not this time. I was still tired, so I started taking afternoon naps instead of working on my novel.  I thought nothing else of it.

May rolled around and I was still tired, so I started going to bed a bit earlier. No problem, I love sleeping and love long naps–so I did what I wanted and slept. And slept.  And slept some more.

On May 11th my husband was sleeping and I got hit by a surge of energy and ended up cleaning out the bathroom shelves. I found the last of the pregnancy tests I’d purchased when we were trying to conceive. I’d hidden it in the corner of the shelf, but I’d always known it was there.  Taunting me. Teasing me. Reminding me every time I stepped into the bathroom that I couldn’t do it.

I decided to get rid of the test, yet the frugal, practical side of me couldn’t see throwing away a test that had been unused. So I decided to use it, just to reiterate my own failure and as a joke since my husband and I had started taking precautions (though I secretly thought they were unnecessary) and to just get the damned test out of my sight and out of my house.

So I took the test. And I watched it like I had so many others. It took less than 10 seconds of the required three minutes for a positive result to appear.

I had never been so terrified in my life.  I was terrified that I’d imagined it, terrified that it was a test malfunction, terrified that it was true. So I stared at the test and stared at it in a state of shock I cannot with any words describe.

So I went into the bedroom and woke my husband. My simple “I need you in here for a moment…” is a conversation starter I will never forget. He stumbled into the kitchen (he does not wake easy) and I pushed the test across the island to him…he stared at it. Then he asked what it was…then he focused on the simple white stick.

“You’re f*****’ sh*****’ me?” Then he stumbled back to bed.

Not the response I expected.  A few minutes later he popped his head back outside the bedroom door…”Did you just…”

“Yeah…” Not the greatest response, but I still hadn’t put it into words just what the test signified.

“We’ll talk when I wake up.” It was one p.m., he’d get up at five, since he worked night shift and had to work that night.

Sounded good to me–I needed time to process and I always had trouble processing when other people–including my husband–were around.

Well, I processed by going to the store (I don’t remember the drive) and buying seven more tests.  By five o’clock our kitchen counter was littered with positive tests, pink, blue, digital, plus–they were all there for my husband to see when he woke up.

Fast forward a few weeks and I am extremely sick and had been diagnosed with hyperemesis–or extreme morning sickness. I was definitely pregnant, we’d had an ultrasound and been given a due date of Dec. 27, 2010.  I’m sick, tired, and terrified but we are also extremely excited.

Around fifteen weeks I get violently ill (more so than with the hyperemesis), vomiting every fifteen minutes from about 6p.m. on a Sunday night until 6 a.m. on a Monday morning. By 7 a.m. I’m at the emergency room, released a few hours later. Diagnosis–hyperemesis and dehydration. By 3 p.m. my husband takes me back to the hospital. This time my doctor is called and I am admitted. They don’t know why and the anti-nausea medications are not working. But I am being hydrated through IVs and being monitored.

By 10 p.m. I’ve spiked a 102+ fever and my doctor diagnosis a hidden kidney infection that hadn’t shown up on any of the previous tests.  I spend two nights and three days in the hospital but am finally released with a low dose antibiotic that I will be taking throughout the rest of my pregnancy to ensure the infection does not return.

At 20 weeks we are scheduled for the big gender ultrasound.  All of the grandparents and my sister are waiting to find out the results. Our results via ultrasound–it was definitely a baby.  A mischievous baby who’d refused to hold still long enough to show us whether our nursery would be pink or blue.

Disappointed…but my biggest concern before the ultrasound was that there would be something wrong with my baby. After the ultrasound I didn’t care that we hadn’t found out the gender, I was just thrilled to see little arms and legs waving around wildly.

On my 30th birthday, we went in for another ultrasound…mainly to ensure that our baby didn’t have an overly large head (my husband had had a larger head at birth) and was in a good birth position.

But it was very clear from the screen that our baby would be wearing a lot of pink clothing. I’d never imagined I’d have a little girl–I’d always thought I’d have boys. Boys were a lot less frightening to me. I had experience with little boys through my nephews. But a girl…

I’d always hated the color pink, hated the stereotyping and gender roles that delineated our culture. My little girl would not be one of those little princesses. She would not watch the Disney princesses, as far as I was concerned.

But then I saw the little girl on the screen…and later that day I bought pink. A pink sleeper, a onesie that said “My ❤ Belongs to Daddy” and a little pink blanket. My first gender specific purchase. They were hers…

The next few weeks rushed by quickly as we bought the crib and had the baby showers. I was still sick, though not quite as badly; I was still tired, but it was manageable. I was still working…

On December 14th I went on maternity leave because although my job was easy, I was getting too tired by the end of my shift.  At this point I was 37 weeks and a few days pregnant.

The next ten days were filled with naps and doctor’s appointments.

My body once again refused to work. I wasn’t dilating at all.  So it looked like I would be spending Christmas the size of a whale. No big deal, I was just excited to have a baby coming and though I was tired and hurting and ready for it to be over with, I was also glad to not have to go through labor yet.  I’d spent most of this pregnancy terrified, so why wouldn’t I be terrified of delivery?

On Dec. 23rd I go in again to get checked, only to be told there was no change. No dilation and I would not be getting my baby before Christmas…so we made plans to induce labor on my due date of Dec. 27th.

I was looking forward to Christmas because–dammit–I was hungry and I wanted persimmon pudding!

Christmas Eve, I sleep in.  By this point my husband was sleeping in the nursery on a rollaway mattress because I was horrible to sleep with (I lost count of the number of times I’d kicked him or hit him in my sleep, poor man!).

Enter one determined Border collie…

It was close to ten a.m. and Liberty the dog had to go potty…or so I assumed. She kept licking my hand (something she often did when she wanted to wake me up) and then my face, whimpering and jumping around on the bed. I just assumed my husband had overslept and Liberty–and the other two dogs–just couldn’t hold it anymore.

Still, I rolled over to escape the relentless Border collie…I just wanted to sleep. A 39 week 5 day pregnant woman just wants as much sleep as she can get.

As I rolled over,  I felt a trickle. Something wasn’t right, but I just thought I had to go to the bathroom. I stood up and walked into the living room…by the time I got there I realized something truly wasn’t right. I was bleeding, and it wasn’t minor.

I went to the restroom just as my water broke. But it wasn’t just amniotic fluid. I was passing blood clots. I pushed Liberty out of the way–she was standing outside the nursery whimpering–and opened the door to the nursery and told my husband I was bleeding and I needed him up immediately. I don’t think his knees even bent, he just sort of floated up. While he put on his shoes and used the restroom I had time to grab the hospital bag and my coat. To call my mom to come clean up the blood and to take care of the dogs. Five minutes later we were on our way to the hospital. I was calm.  I wasn’t in any pain, and more importantly, the baby was moving around like crazy. She was ok and that meant everything.

By 10:30 we were there, and they rushed me past the admitting desk and straight up to the labor and delivery floor.

And then the bleeding stopped. I was not dilated any more than I had been the day before.

In fact, I felt pretty good.  I was still calm. I knew I’d be having a baby that day.

They hooked me up to IVs of fluids and pitocin to increase the contractions and their strength. Ok, it worked some. I could feel some contractions, very minor ones. But still no dilation.

At about 2 p.m. the nurse came in to check on me…I was having an incredibly strong contraction and they wanted to see how I was handling it.

Pretty good–I hadn’t even felt it.

An hour later my doctor arrives to tell me the baby’s heart rate was dropping slightly after every contraction. And I still hadn’t dilated. Once again, my body was not working. Big surprise, right?

We discussed options and potential outcomes before arriving at the decision to do a cesarean. At 4p.m. the surgical team had arrived and I was prepped and on my way back for the surgery. The anesthesiologist did the epidural and I was numb. My husband was led in. He and the anesthesiologist stayed by my head, talking to me while they did the surgery. I asked the anesthesiologist how long on average a c-section would take.

“Let’s see…” Was his reply.

A few minutes later he returned…”Three minutes…”

I heard my baby crying as they cleaned her up.

They handed her to her daddy and he held her next to my face. That first upside down view of her little face is one I will never forget.

It was 4:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve. We named her Evalyn Claire, a name we had picked out a few years before we’d started trying. We hadn’t known our Evie would arrive on Christmas Eve.

The little baby I had prayed so hard for on Christmas day 2009 had made it for Christmas 2010–with less than eight hours to spare.

Christmas Evie was here…an answer to her mother’s prayers.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 30, 2010 in Uncategorized