Working Moms and ‘Having It All’ | Between Broadcasts

U.S. News came out with a new opinion article today that contends “Women can have it all” or more accurately, working parents can have it all. However, it is written by two moms so you can see why I resonate with it as a female.

Ever since Anne Marie Slaughter wrote in the Atlantic that women cannot have it all, the debate over work/life balance has received much-needed attention. Perhaps, to a bit of overkill.

As a career-oriented single female, the last thing I wanted was to have children (at least at the time). I had plans. Big ones. They went something like this:

– Finish six years in the Air Force

– Travel and deploy as much as possible

– Protect my country …. and let the military pay for my college education in return

– Get a bachelors degree before getting out of the service

– Get out, go to school for two more years

– FBI

– Start a family

Those were the dreams of an 18-year-old who knew nothing about herself or motherhood. I’m not saying they were bad goals. I was young and they seemed quite doable. And then I had my first child at 20 and my life changed instantly.

Since then, I’ve heard it all.

– Moms shouldn’t work; Moms should work.

– Moms shouldn’t finish their education because then they are putting the needs of themselves before their children; Moms should get an education to be a good example to their children.

– Moms should put aside all hobbies and desires and dreams because pursuing those means they are putting their children second; moms who don’t pursue outside hobbies lose their identity and aren’t teaching their children good traits.

For many years I’ve been criticized because I am a working mother. For many years, my stay-at-home sister has been criticized for staying home to raise her kids. We both know the challenges the other is facing. I’ve been told I’m selfish, so has she. I’ve been told I’m not doing what is best for my kids, so has she. I have struggled and laid awake at night feeling like a horrible mother, so has she.

Here’s what I’ve learned, having children has made me a better person. Having children has helped me to learn not to be selfish, has given me more patience than I had previously. Has taught me the importance of looking out for the world as a whole so we leave a better place for our kids. It has taught me to appreciate my job while hating that I have to leave home at the same time. I appreciate the moments of being around other adults doing what I love, but I miss them terribly when I am away.

I don’t “have it all” if your definition is feeling like I am never failing, like I have the perfect work-life balance and get tons of sleep and spend the quality time I need at work and quality time with my kids. Sometimes one has to give for the other to work. Sometimes, my boss has to understand why I cannot go to work because my child is sick or is having a graduation. Sometimes my kids have to entertain themselves for an afternoon so I can get work done.

But I do have it all if your definition is “happiness.” We are happy. Despite all the advice I receive from others that is generally the opposite of what I’m doing at the moment, we are happy. And I don’t know what else matters. Probably nothing.

I make decisions and do what I have to with the information I have at the time and the knowledge of what my family needs. Sometimes, I’m wrong. A lot of times I’m right.

My only advice to you is to put your family first as much as you can and do what is necessary to have a happy and fulfilling life. When someone else tries to tell you how to raise your kids, take it with a grain of salt. When you feel the  need to tell someone else how to raise their kids, keep your mouth closed and remind yourself that you’re not perfect. And if you ever wonder what you should say to a working mom, a stay-at-home mom or any parents in general: read this. There is nothing more that should come out of your mouth the next time someone critics a parent who is loving, trying their best and is not abusing their children.

And here’s a fun little list for your enjoyment. Idaho ranks as the worst states for working mothers.

End Victim Blaming – It Starts With You | Between Broadcasts

I was planning to write a blog post about how sometimes the blessings we receive in life are the ones we were never planning on. I was going to talk about the ability to grow up in a loving family, with a dark secret, a childhood full of abuse that was kept hidden for years and the ability to overcome that and have a happy life. I wanted to talk about the purpose of working hard, and not giving up on yourself. How I found my soulmate when I had given up on love after a decade of bad relationship choices.

And hopefully someday I will go back to that post because I wanted to encourage anyone who has ever given up – either for making bad choices or for being victim of something they could not control. Because I did it and I am proof that it’s never too late! But first, after receiving messages and posts on my “News Anchor” Facebook page from people I’ve never met and thereby have no idea who I really am or the real story behind my life, I feel I need to reach out to those who are being told “it” is their fault. I feel the need to take a moment to stand up for them.

I feel that everyone should have privacy when it comes to their relationships, especially when those relationships end horribly and they leave with the guilt of knowing they shouldn’t have entered into it to begin with, or stayed as long as they did.

So when I went through my divorce, I didn’t talk about it with many people. My few close friends and family knew about the scary moments, the fears, the times I should have filed a police report and didn’t, the moments I went out of my way to talk him down from those scary moments, why I chose to stay as long as I did and why I finally left. And I won’t even pretend that when I left that I did it the best way I could, but I did what I had to.

I was never the best at picking relationships and where I excelled in my career, I failed miserably in choosing lifelong partners. I have to own that. The bad decisions I made, I have to own; including choosing the relationships in the first place.

It generally started with someone who was understanding and supportive, and then over time would put me down, make me feel worthless, isolate me from friends and family and then make sure I did not have the financial means of leaving by talking me into leaving my job or refusing to pay certain bills to ensure that I never had enough savings to leave. Then the stories would be twisted so when something in the house was mysteriously broken and we laid awake at night in fear of the next temper tantrum, I would be too embarrassed to tell friends and family the truth behind it and would let them believe the new version they were told.

How I met my soulmate, a kind man who really does respect us and never tries to control or manipulate me, I have no idea. But I am so grateful for him and the security he gives us emotionally, mentally and in every other way. Which is to say, if you’ve ever been in a relationship where you have suffered emotional, physical or mental abuse, please don’t give up. Please! Life does get better. I promise!

But I know it’s hard to think that will ever happen because if this is you, you are probably hearing the judgements from those around. The people who don’t know the truth. The people who blame you for leaving when leaving was the only way you felt safe. For choosing to fight for the safety of your children when others call you a gold digger and assume you just want child support. When people judge you for now being a single parent.

I’ve been there and I know you how feel. And so I say “shame on you” to those who judge others without having been in the relationship yourself. Shame on you for feeling you have the right to publicly comment on someone’s marriage, divorce, relationship based a rumor or a one-sided story. Shame on you for continuing the cycle of victim blaming that is plaguing our nation. It is because of people like you that rapists are allowed to hurt a young girl and the rapist is allowed to go free because of a “promising future.” That is why judges use the excuse that teen girls shouldn’t have invited someone into their room when the person we should be blaming is the mid-30s male who should have known that teen girls aren’t allowed to say “yes” to sex in the first place.

Shame on you for continuing this culture.

And to those living through it, be the voice others don’t have the courage to speak yet. And know, that it can get better.

::hugs::

As Usual, Society, Not Miss USA, Disappoints | Between Broadcasts

Any beauty pageant is going to get a bad reputation for being “shallow” or teaching women that “beauty is all that matters” but if you watch the Miss USA pageant while reading Twitter, what you’ll find is that A: We are our own worst enemies and B: So are other women.

I will never understand why women put each other down so much when we should be encouraging each other and lifting each other up. We should be rooting for the success of other women to help pave the way for the success of us all. As Miranda Lambert once said in an interview, she wants to see MORE female country artists, she was just helping break down the door so they could all get through.

But women in our society seem quite happy knocking each other down. As was very evident on Twitter last night. Follow the hashtag #MissUSA and you’ll know what I’m talking about. There were three things I read over and over and I’m going to debunk them all right here.

Miss Nevada: Smart and beautiful

1. The contestants are too stupid to accept the scholarships they win.

Really? I wonder where women in the Twitterverse got that idea. The winner, Miss Nevada, is trying to stop rape at colleges and universities across the nation. The judge told her that 19 percent of women are victims of sexual assault and wanted to know why it was being swept under the rug. Miss Nevada said we need to bring more awareness to the issue, as well as teach women to learn self defense (she’s a fourth degree black belt). Sounds to me like there are some brains in that pretty head. And Miss Pennsylvania is a product of rape and smartly said she is proof that our circumstances do not define our lives. Miss Iowa is studying finance, Miss Michigan Psychology with a concentration in women’s studies and Miss Oregon works in real estate development.

2. The contestants should eat a cupcake.

We have a first lady trying to curb obesity and yet it’s OK to want to cram unhealthy food into these girls’ mouths. One day about a year ago I was sitting in the cancer center waiting for my doctor when two ladies sitting across from me loudly began talking about how skinny I was. They concluded after several minutes that I must be anorexic. You can imagine how horrified I was to have two complete strangers talking about MY body as if they had any knowledge of what weight I should be, and diagnose me with a medical disorder and all while in a cancer center of all places. I was there, actually, because that just happens to be where my Factor V blood doctor is (Factor V means I have a higher risk of blood clots). A person’s body weight is between them, their doctor and their family. It is never acceptable to make judgements on other people, especially when we know nothing of their lifestyle. Further, America already has such a difficult time with body image, why are we adding to this?

3. And finally, those women need to do squats.

WHAT?! I saw that one from so many women and men I was sick to my stomach. These women, who others said they wanted to feed a donut to, apparently aren’t in shape enough. I was sickened to think what kind of expectations we are putting on today’s women when some of the fittest women (or at least the ones willing to sport a bikini on TV) in the country are mocked that they aren’t pretty enough or in good enough shape. Miss Nevada, the fourth-degree black belt looked just fine to me, as did Miss Idaho, a track star at Boise State.

I probably normally wouldn’t share a bikini pic on my blog, but here’s a few of the top 20 contestants just to prove how ridiculous those tweets were.

Miss USA contestants in swimsuit competition

Of course, I could be putting too much stock in the tweets, but I think it actually represents many of the things that are wrong with our society and I’m not talking about pageants (although I still don’t agree with the swimsuit category). Our society puts too much pressure on men and women to be perfect and it seems that women attack women the most, at least emotionally.

I won’t pretend Miss USA doesn’t try to sexualize these women and that’s a whole separate issue we need to tackle in our society. But these degrading comments from strangers I would wager are just as dangerous to our society.