Feb 26 2006

Word Challenge: War and Hate

Published by at 2:16 pm under amy's head,challenge

I am doing War and Hate all in one, baby. You think I’m cheating? SUE ME. Besides, I vomit up enough words that it will be way way way more than necessary to cover both. If I were a better writer, I would be able to tie it all in with half as many, and make all coherent, but oh well, this is me and my rambling brain and I just have to work with what I’ve got, yo. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this post is all about my friend Chris’ Word Challenge. Perhaps you’d like to read the other entries, or even join in! (Chris would be so ecstatic, you should totally do it.)

Have you read Harry Potter?

If you ask someone that question, you get various responses. A lot of people have read them and love them. Some folks have tried and gotten bored. A majority of folks who have not read Harry Potter will answer vehemently, along the lines of, “Yeah, like I’d be caught dead reading Harry Potter.”

There is a better example of this mind set, in fact, I remember there was a movie or a book or SOMETHING a few years ago that I was totally into (along with the rest of the known universe) and James scoffed at it, and at me for loving it. Just about everyone who wasn’t all into it followed the whole, “Ew, everyone and their dog is going on about that, I’m way too cool for school to be into THAT.” James was giving me the business about it every time it came up, and finally I got sick of a) hanging my head in shame or b) defending my “guilty pleasure” which always ended in hanging my head in shame (DAMN I wish I could remember what it was.) Finally, I spoke up and said, “You know why EVERYONE in the country likes XYZ? Because XYZ is actually GOOD, DAMMIT!”

(Now that I think about it, I think it was the first season of American Idol, and I think I said, “Because these folks can actually SING, dammit!!”)

Whatever it is, the things that we like, read, watch, wear, attend, what-have-you.. these things define who we are, which I think is why we get so adamant about separating ourselves from things which we don’t want to be seen as. As teenagers we rebel against our parents with the need to define ourselves as separate entities from them. And yet then we band together with our friends and “non-conform” in our own group-conforming way. Years out of high school, we all still have our cliques and ways of conforming and non-conforming to show ourselves to the world in the light in which we wish to be seen.

Jon on Blurbomat recently posted thoughts on this same sort of subject in his post, “Going Big” which I read and nodded my head along the entire thing. I’m also reading (OK, i’m re-reading it for the umpteenth time, you caught me) Chocolat, by Joanne Harris. I own the movie, and also love it, but the book has a lot of different aspects which aren’t really pinpointed in the movie. One of the characters in the book, Guillaume, owns a small dog whom he loves dearly, but is very sick. He seeks comfort from the priest and the book’s antagonist, Francis Reynaud, who informs him that dogs have no souls and he’s wasting his time and feelings on a pet. The sad day comes when he has to allow the vet to put the dog to sleep because he is in too much pain. The morning after, he comes into Vianne’s shop. Vianne and Armande let him grieve in his own way, and in discussing the “advice/ comfort” that Reynaud had given, Guilliame asks Vianne what exactly she believes in. She thinks for a moment, and answers, “I believe in whatever makes you happy.”

At Bunko a few weeks ago I sat down to a new table to a discussion in progress about staying at home with one’s kids. It was decidedly pro-staying at home, which is fine, but I thought it needed another point of view, which would be mine, which would be hello, some people HAVE to go back to work in order to pay their mortgage and buy, oh you know, FOOD AND ELECTRICITY.. I really wasn’t riled up as I dove into the conversation, just matter of fact, but as one lady pressed me about what exactly the cost of daycare, and gas, and eating out while at work, and didn’t I think, if I REALLY added everything up, the cost of working would balance out and make the entire situation not be worth working? The fact is, I make more money than daycare, gas, etc. (which came out great, btw: “Actually no, I make more money than all those things. I make a boatload of money!”) and if I didn’t go back to work last fall, we would be in pretty dire straits. Like, defaulting on our mortgage kind of suckiness.

I really don’t mind people feeling strongly about staying at home, or going back to work, these parenting issues are important and it’s important to think them over and decide which side of the fence you are on. For example, I believe that breast feeding is best. However, I’m not going to go hand out pamphlets to the formula-feeding moms, that is THEIR decision, and one I’m sure they came to after a lot of thought. I will however, give a momma breast-feeding in public a grin and a thumbs up, and if I’m really feeling cocky, a “YOU GO GIRL!” But I digress. The point is, it’s a damn good thing that I actually feel good about being back at work at this point in my life, because IF I had really felt miserable about my needing to work and being away from my kids all day long, this woman GRINDING it into me that I really “could stay home, if I weighed all the costs” (except that no, I COULDN’T AND I THINK I KNOW MY CHECKBOOK BETTER THAN YOU) would really have made my misery make me want to cry myself to sleep that night. As it was, I just got a little pissed, and then forgot about it until now. I’m not really mad at this woman either, btw, I think she just got a little too into the discussion to hear my side, and was so positive that her choice was the right choice for everyone, that it got a little carried away.

We all make choices for the good of our families and ourselves. I don’t think it’s anyone’s job to make that decision FOR them, or make someone feel bad about that. Just as in Chocolat, Vianne’s response to Guillame, “I believe in whatever makes you happy,” is entire message of the book. Not only living your life in a way that makes you happy, but NOT pressuring others to live THEIR lives according to your beliefs. The “battle” between Vianne and Reynaud really is about letting people be happy with their own choices, which also means allowing people to do/ read/ watch/ love the things that they want to love and makes them happy regardless of whether it is cool and exclusive or if it is totally mainstream and gauche and, you know, American Idol and Britney Spears. Or choosing to stay at home with your kids. Or choosing to have an abortion.

So how does War tie in to all this? I believe that a lot of the wars we’ve seen lately revolve around this issue. If religious groups (or zealots, I guess I should say) could just allow others to make choices and not try to force their own choices and beliefs on them, would there be terrorist attacks? It makes me a little frightened of events in our country. When we try to remove other peoples’ choices from them and foist our own beliefs on others, I think it spells trouble. We already have domestic terrorism with church burnings, abortion clinic bombings that sane people frown on, regardless of their beliefs, but we also have the more subtle things, pharmacists refusing to give out birth control/ morning after pills because of their beliefs. I believe with every fiber of my being, that abortion is wrong. This means, that I won’t be having any. That’s my choice, for me. I would never, ever deign to make that decision for someone else. Just like I won’t make the decision for other mommies to breast feed exclusively, or stay home or go back to work, or any number of things.

Free choice, people. Living a life that will make you happy. That’s what it’s all about. That, and not deeming yourself worthy of making those choices for others. Not belittling others because their choices are different. Not throwing bombs because their choices are different. Not flying planes into buildings because their choices are different. It starts out small, but we are all warring in our own way, battling over choices, and trying to impose our personal choice on others.

Hate and War

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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Word Challenge: War and Hate”

  1. Tamaraon 27 Feb 2006 at 8:56 am

    I bow down before you. What an AWESOME entry. I Loved it. Good work.

  2. raineon 27 Feb 2006 at 9:05 am

    Aw thanks, chica :)

  3. Caitlinon 27 Feb 2006 at 10:10 am

    You don’t know how much I appreciate your stance on breast milk vs formula. Seems there’s not much middle ground there these days. At a sahm support group I went to once, I was made to feel like the world’s worst mom ever because I fed my son a bottle. Since I was a stay at home mom, that made me doubly bad and lazy to boot. Not once did anyone ever stop to consider that formula is -not- the only thing that can go in bottles. I pumped for 3 months, until my supply gave out because Paul couldn’t nurse. Yet because I used a bottle, I am a bad and lazy mama.

    As for the work vs stay at home, I think it’s sad how it’s always the mom who is bad for going back to work. We applaud the fathers for supporting their family, and if they’re a stay at home father, then they’re almost god like for “sacrificing” their career. But us? Leaving a job we enjoyed is expected.

    I saw an interesting article awhile back about the cost of the mother going back to work. The upshoot was that if you have a couple making $60k a year, you take daycare costs out of that, not the woman’s $15k salary alone. People tend to put a negative value on stay at home moms. Since you don’t actually get salary, you should feel guilty for occasionally doing something nice for yourself, like getting new shoes when your old ones bite the dust.

    I also think that stay at home vs working isn’t always about the money. Some women just aren’t cut out to be stay at home moms. It makes me miserable, because when I look back at the last year, I can’t really point to any accomplishments the way I used to. Wrong or right, that’s something that is important to me and I just can’t dismiss it. I’m not one of those internet supermamas, who some how manage to get all their projects done, keep a overachiever baby, and the house sparkling clean and blog about it. My projects always lose out because I’m too tired after keeping with Paul, and keeping the house sorta clean to do anything else.

    We’re on the opposite side of needing to go back to work, so if I mention I want to go back to school, which would involve Paul being in daycare for less than 10 hours a week, my family reacts as if I have just said – “Oh, got a new job, gonna be working 100 hours a week, and screw daycare, Paul can play in the beltway until Clayton gets off work”. Ever since I made the mistake of mentioning what I thought was a good thing, I’ve been subjected to constant guilt trips.

    I am just very tired of this war against mothers who don’t fit the breastfeeding stay at home domestic goddess profile. We’re not bad women, just human like everyone else.

  4. raineon 27 Feb 2006 at 10:33 am

    Don’t you just wish people would just chill the fuck out?? Seriously Caitlyn, I think going back to school would be a great idea – and I think you should totally do it if it will make you happy. If your family gives you grief, then I’ve found that crying helps make them see how serious keeping hold of your sanity is :) Staying at home is so freaking hard, when Ethan started morning preschool 3x a week I almost cried with happiness – and that was still with baby Jocelyn at home! Getting out of the house sans baby is so important to your sanity, and if you feel like you can’t connect with all the other SAHM’s in your area, it is even harder. I always felt so inadequate, so unlike the other “super-moms”, although I *know* that a lot of that was just in my head. I wish I were still staying at home so we could hook up during the day, chica!

  5. Caitlinon 27 Feb 2006 at 11:19 am

    Yeah, I’m counting the days until Paul is old enough to go to Mother’s Day Out or something like that. :) If Paul is at a point where I can actually get my homework done, I’ll be starting this June.

    I try to cut my family some slack, because I know it’s been 20 years since my parents had young children in the house, and double that for my grandparents. I know I do a pretty decent job, but it’s still hard to brush aside all the criticism when it’s coming from people you happen to care about.

  6. mistyon 27 Feb 2006 at 3:44 pm

    i couldn’t agree more with everything you said, and i don’t say that to just be agreeable – i’m always up for a good discussion. but it’s so true. there’s so many people ready and willing to jump all over people for what THEY think is right, without being willing or i even believe for some even able to give your shoes a chance.

    i had a friend once who used to tell me i was going to ‘end up working at mcdonalds when i was 60′ if i didn’t start putting money away instead of ‘blowing it’. and what i blew it on? a NEW HOUSE which is oh, an investment, and i think a few things for the house – not even many because we were fairly house poor, a washer and dryer since they didn’t convey. but because we were not putting every spare dime away from retirement i was made out to be, basically, a dumbass.

    as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone/isn’t illegal, i’m still not sure what other people are doing sticking their noses so far into others businesses. it’s a wee bit scary.

  7. raineon 27 Feb 2006 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks – I really feel strongly about it. I would have to say, if I had to define my beliefs, that this blog post is it. Be happy. Don’t make others be unhappy. Forever and ever, amen.

  8. » Word Challenge: Sorrow - Crazy Mokeson 01 Mar 2006 at 9:41 am

    […] I would have to say, this is the one thing in my life right now that makes me want to cry. I know I’ve said how work is good for me right now, and when I went back, it was really out of financial necessity, and I may appear to be all gung-ho, “Working mothers UNITE! Together we can CONQUER THE UNIVERSE!” but I miss my kids. When I was talking to the lady at bunko about the costs of working vs. the costs of staying home, I was so sad, even in my defensiveness. I miss being the one to feed them their lunch, and send them to time-out for being a snot, to sit on the floor and play with their toys, to lay on my back and give them SUPER-GIRL!s and SUPER-BOY!s, to start getting Jocelyn potty trained, to tuck them in for naptimes, for kissing the boo-boos, for taking them outside all bundled up to play, to see them all day and have them drive me so crazy that I wish I was working.. I miss my kids. Not seeing them all day makes me so sad. […]