Guest Post

Bedazzled Unicorns

“Hi, can I take your order,” said our waitress.

“Hmm, what? I’m sorry?” I say sharply while wrangling my 2 year old and trying to pull the iPod out for the big boy.

“Your order?” she repeats.

Quickly I give her our order, but not quick enough. I saw the little elderly woman eyeballing us and then it happened right as I was about to say “funny face pancake” she abruptly interrupts me, walks over to my youngest, caresses his head {which totally ticked him off} and starts reminiscing about how she had a great, great, great grandfather with red hair. “And oh, I’m sure he got his red hair from his mama.”

I wanted to say, “get your hands off my child and leave us to our funny-face pancake, and by the way I dye my hair.” Instead I smiled, nodded politely and said thank you. 

After I tweeted this little scenario, a fellow redhead replied “You’d think a redhead was a bedazzled unicorn or something, people act like they’ve never seen one before.”

7 Myths About Homeschoolers

Hello, Bluegrass Redhead readers! I'm excited (and nervous) to be sharing in this space. Sarah and I go way back to 2009 when we met through our midwife and had babies within a week of each other. (My second, her first - both boys.) We've been debating current events ever since!

There are a few disclaimers I'd like to start this post with:
First, I'm a textbook INTJ Gen-X-er, meaning my mantra is "You do your thing; I'll do mine."
Second, I'm not here to debate the merits of any one kind of education. (see disclaimer #1)

We are homeschoolers. Most homeschoolers will tell you they never thought they'd be homeschooling. I'll go even further: I never thought I'd have three kids and stay home with them full-time, much less be homeschooling them. But here we are, and most days we're happy about it.

If you ask ten families why they homeschool, you'd probably get ten different lists of reasons. Still, given statistics from the US Department of Education, the number of homeschooling families is growing and their motivations are changing.

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

  Photo Credit:   CarbonNYC [in SF!]   via   Compfight     cc

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC [in SF!] via Compfight cc

Over the Holidays my mom decided she wanted something extra special for Christmas. After watching an episode of Today Show, she shares with me the process of freezing eggs. Having received cartons full of her homegrown chicken eggs on a weekly basis for over 3 years now, I assumed she was telling how to freeze chicken eggs so they last longer. As someone who occasionally worries that I’ve had the eggs in my fridge too long, I thought she was on to something. I intently listened as she described the process of taking the eggs, storing and freezing them, until she got to this part in her story… “then you throw a party, like a baby shower, but for frozen eggs”.Then, I realized that she wasn’t talking about her chicken’s eggs, she was talking about MY eggs!  

I admit. I’m a junkie for ambition. I want to accomplish a great number of things. I’m 32, recently married and working to build a software company from the ground up. I have aspirations to get a doctorate degree, run for political office and continue to be active in my community. Many books have been written to help people like me realize that having children doesn’t mean you lose the opportunity to be an ambitious person. While I believe this in theory, I wonder how true it will really be for me and my husband. I’m grateful for the friends and mentors who have paved the way and continue to remind us that having children doesn’t really indicate “the end of your life”. 

And the classic “have fun while you can” advice isn’t always the case. You can have adventure and be ambitious while having children. But how does all of this really shake out? Are these frozen eggs the solution to following your dreams THEN having kids? 

Turns out the frozen egg cocktail party (what my mom describe as a baby shower) is either an informational gathering bringing together fertility doctors, egg storage companies, and women who are interested or who have experienced the process OR an event where you announce to your friends and family “don’t worry about my ambition, take the pressure off me, I’ve frozen my eggs”.  

Instead of the pressure to hurry up and have kids, I now have the pressure to freeze my eggs. But I’m only 32. Isn’t the 30’s the new 20’s when it comes to having children?  Can’t I just be 32without the pressure of having a kid or planning the future of having a kid by freezing it in a box until “I’m ready”. After all, most people, when giving life advice, also say, “You’ll never be ready”.  So who’s to say I won’t freeze my eggs then wake up when I’m 55 without children but with a container of my 32-year-old eggs that can’t be used?  

Can I not be ambitious while having children? Is this not possible? The assumption is that I will be the one to do the heavy lifting in our family when it comes to raising a child. What if my husband is willing to pick up that load so I can be ambitious and accomplish all of my goals without having to give them up? What if he is ok with being the one our kid runs to every time he/she gets hurt? This blurb from a Guardian article in response to Sheryl Sandburg’s approach in “Lean In” hits the nail on the head. 

It’s a normal assumption that women will have kids, and that mothers will become the primary caretaker over the father. It’s also normal these days to modify “mother” into “working mother”. But “father” is also a “working father,” yet we don’t seem to use that term very often. It’s normal to see the well-worn media image of a tired, hard-working father loosening his tie as he walks through the door to greet his wife and kids late in the evening, but a woman coming home late from the office is more often a punchline. It’s normal to call a woman neglectful for hiring a nanny, or lazy for taking maternity leave. It’s normal to make wild assumptions about women as a whole, regardless of the wide variety of individuals that the female gender encompasses.

The assumptions must be absent from the beginning. It must be accepted that a woman’s place is wherever she wants to be. The final frontier of gender equality is individualism. Just as a man is allowed to decide where his happy balance of home and work life is, so should women. Women’s place is no longer in the home. We all need to stop assuming it is.
— Sheryl Sandberg

I don’t have a profound solution on this topic. I’m still wading through the advice and options and deciding if I go with the “kids won’t ruin your life and ambition” or the “I better freeze my eggs in case they do” version. I welcome your thoughts.

I Never

Let’s play “I Never.”

No, I’m not about to take us down memory lane to a junior high slumber party. I’m talking about examining those things we said we’d “NEVER” do when WE had kids… and then laughing out loud at how naïve/idealistic/very well-rested we were before we became parents. Ha ha. We were adorable. 

The church I used to serve shared space with a wonderful preschool. It was the only program in the whole metro area that was co-op, so they were always full, with a waiting list. I used to laugh at the parents who came the night before registration and camped out in lawn chairs to get their kids into a class. Like it was Springsteen tickets or a new Star Wars movie. I would get up really early on registration day and take donuts and coffee to those mothers who braved the elements for their kids' education. But I also thought they were nuts. 

I still kind of think they were nuts. However—last week, I went a full hour early to pre-K registration, because my little guy is totally attached to his school, and I really wanted him in a particular class that is convenient to our schedule.

So, what I'm saying is I SAID I'd never wait in long lines to get my kid into a school or activity but...

Why #TBT and Timehop Are Good For Moms

When it comes to social media fads, I'm a little bit of a party pooper. I won't re-post the graphic that says "Sisters are the best! Share if you also love your sister!" (even though I do, in fact, love my sister). I don't change my profile photo to raise awareness for the cause du jour (even if I support it privately). And when my entire family got in on the #icebucketchallenge, I refused to post a video proving that I poured ice all over my head (which I did do, eventually).

Why?

Overwhelmed

When you’re pregnant, the word “excited” comes up about 70 times a day.  It’s almost reflexive in conversations. 

“You’re pregnant? How exciting!”  

“Yes, we’re excited.” 

“How far along are you?...You must be excited.” 

“It’s a girl! I bet you are so excited.” 

“Oh, you’re starting to dilate. EXCITING!” 

I’ve been reciting the exciting chorus while struggling with a dark secret:  Here, at the halfway point of my second pregnancy, I’m not excited. 

3 Things To Say To A Teenager Who Is Struggling

Having a grown child and three teenagers at home, it’s safe to say I’ve navigated my share of young adult turmoil. Hearts hurt by friends they trusted. Classes, teams, activities where they are stumbling to keep up. Poor choices that leave them feeling a stranger to themselves. And this constant, exhausting battle between excitement and anxiety for the future.

Through dozens of conversations with my kids over the years, I’ve learned that parents have a unique opportunity - and responsibility, even – to offer balm when their children are hurting. Here are three phrases I have found to be particularly helpful when talking to a teenager who is struggling.

Naming It

It’s been a long, messy process, but I’ve finally learned to read some of my own cues. When something is bothering me, for instance, I tend to consume food and drink straight from the container. The quantities aren’t excessive, but it’s definitely not normal.

So when, in December of 2013, I found myself leaning against the kitchen sink and staring at a blank wall, a bag of chip crumbs in one hand and a nearly-empty bottle of pinot noir from the previous week in the other, I was surprised.

What was there to be upset about? We had just gotten Collin’s diagnosis. The one we had been pursuing for almost five years. Hooray. Right?