Life is an Adventure, Right?

I bet there are all kinds of scientific studies out there that sing the praises of resilience, at the ability to look upon each new unexpected twist in life as something positive, as an opportunity, an adventure.

I’m too lazy to look them up, but in my heart I know what they say is true. A person is happier if she can face the bumps in the road with an upbeat attitude. Turn lemons into lemonade. Turn that smile upside down.

But the fact is, a good number of us don’t like change, including myself, even if we know it opens up the potential for unimagined, and sometimes unwanted, personal growth. Change is a certainty, whether we like it or not. Control is an illusion.

I also know there are lots of great quotes from really smart and prolific thinkers and writers out there that deal with this subject. I’m too lazy to look up those too, but I’ve come across them from time to time.

Below is a quote that a very close friend shared with me about a year ago, when I was about as low as I could get because of unwanted change, and not feeling very resilient:

“When you start to crack open, don’t waste a moment gathering your old self up into something like you knew before. Let your new self splash like sunlight into every dark place and laugh and cry and make sounds you never made and thank all that is holy for the gift, because now you have no choice but to let all your love spill out into the world.” – Brian Andreas

Easier said than done, Brian.

This past Memorial Day I took the kiddos to Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, a 734-acre park about 15 minutes from our house that has one magnificently majestic overlook of the Kentucky River. It was a perfect late spring day and the only plan we had was to explore the trails. We saw deer and wild turkey. We saw wildflowers and waterfalls. We saw tons of butterflies! We put our hands in the cold water of the creek.   We saw rocks (fossils!), tracks in the mud (bears!), and a fair amount of other humans, although not too many to crowd out our enjoyment of the day’s nature.

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My daughter sketched rock walls. My son asked me repeatedly when he got to eat the Cheetos we’d packed in his lunch. Both of them tried to fib about the number of items they’d found on their scavenger hunt checklists. No, son, you haven’t seen a bobcat. It’s 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

We chatted and I pointed out the big, gnarly tree trunks for which I’ve lately developed a fascination.   We crossed bridges and took funny pictures by the “Danger: Cliffs Ahead” sign. We kept our eyes open for the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer and the parasitic wasps (yikes!) that hunt their larvae.

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It was a good day. We arrived at the Kentucky River overlook, marveled at that, and had our picnic. Just the three of us, on top of the palisades, surrounded by ancient rocks and really old trees. My daughter was happy to “finally” see the overlook. My son was happy to “finally” get to eat his ham sandwich and Cheetos. And even though we were “finally” achieving their goals for the day, there had been none of the everyday bickering and fighting that is a natural occurrence between siblings. We were all relaxed and enjoying each other’s company.

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Our hike back from the overlook took us through one of the meadow paths. Due to some trail maintenance to improve muddy conditions, we had to take a detour up one of the steeper (not very steep) paths. This change in plan drew a few complaints that the path was too hard, too sunny, and too rocky. I wasn’t ready for the real world yet, so I pointed out different plants and flowers and bugs to engage the tiring kiddos in exploring their new surroundings.

This was working fairly well (maybe), and then a brownish butterfly with spots started fluttering around my daughter. She was startled at first the way this insect darted around her, grazing her arm, flying behind her only to pop up again right in front of her face. She’d smile and giggle and remind me how totally in love I am with her big brown eyes and her laugh.

The butterfly landed on her arm and stayed there for several minutes while we all marveled at it (nature!).   My son came in for a closer look, in awe of his big sister as is frequently the case. The little creature didn’t seem to mind how close these three giant humans were to its tiny delicate body.

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While we observed it and discussed its coloring and behavior, it flew off my daughter’s arm, flitted around and between all three of us before landing on my daughter’s arm again and then her head. Each time it changed direction or chose to perch on my daughter, another round of amazed giggles would escape my children.

Perfection.

Eventually the butterfly flew away toward new adventures and we continued climbing our own path. In a not very subtle way, I espoused to the children how lucky we were that we’d been detoured along our journey because surely if we’d hiked the other trail, we wouldn’t have just experienced the amazing awesomeness that was that little butterfly finding a friend in my daughter.

See! Good and unexpected things can happen when events beyond our control force us to change our plans. See, kiddos? See, Mama?

As we got further up the trail and came into a grassy meadow filled with wildflowers and bugs and butterflies, my girl found a butterfly resting on a rock (an Eastern Comma maybe?).   A daisy was on the ground beside the butterfly (I swear we didn’t pick it), so my daughter picked it up and tried to coax the butterfly onto the daisy. It flew to her immediately, content to take her sweet offering. She got the butterfly to land on her daisy four times, and just like with the earlier butterfly, every time it chose to fly close to her, she giggled and laughed in appreciation of the awesomeness of the moment. And there it was, on the daisy and surrounded by humans, content to just be.

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That’s what we were all doing that day, just being. Being present with whatever presented itself to us, acknowledging the possibilities of each new moment, excited to see what happened.

Granted, it’s easier to be open to the unexpected when you are in the glorious and peaceful woods, a place where you are actively focused on the knock knock of the woodpecker or listening to the powerful yet soothing sound of the waterfall. Nature has the sublime power to lure us out of our controlled to-do list world where we aren’t thinking about the bills we have to pay or how dirty our house is or the jolting changes inflicted upon us by the rest of the world. In the woods, we just are. And that’s OK.

Our hike that day was good for my anxious mind and the one my daughter inherited from me. We are already planning (ha!) our next adventure into the woods, Cheetos in hand.

I have this poem, along with the quote by Brian Andreas, hanging on my desk at work, in the hopes eventually I won’t have to constantly remind myself to just be.

The Peace of Wild Things-Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

and fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds,

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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I’m Moving to Key West

I’m Moving to Key West.

OK, not really. But as far as escapism goes, it sounds pretty good right now.

I could sell all the crap I own, scoop up the kids, and head seaward.

For a year.

Of course, there are many reasons why I wouldn’t actually do this (family, job security, love of KY, fear of the unknown), but still…it’s exciting to think I actually could.

I could write a book proposal to secure some upfront funding:

“Middle-aged mother of two packs up from the only state she’s ever called home, moves to the Keys and begins a life of island adventure.  Along the way, and possibly because of the fearless spirit of their mother, the two children magically begin to speak nicely to each other and clean their rooms and flush the toilet 100% of the time. 

With an average annual temperature of 77, thus eliminating the need for the children to wear socks, the three Kentuckians in the Keys spend the time they used to spend doing laundry lazily strolling the beaches at sunset and making cherished memories.

Amidst saltwater breezes, the family acclimates to their new coastal home by buddying up to grandfatherly fishermen and making friends with Hemingway’s cats.  The fabulous mother makes ends meet by waitressing while she works on the next Great American Memoir.”

It could happen. As a wannabe writer, what location could be more inspirational than Papa Hemingway’s home turf? I can feel the creative juices flowing just thinking about palm trees and bungalows.

Sure, Key West is known for its nightclubs, famous residents (or ex-residents) and French Quarter culture, but none of that matters to me. In my fantasy I’m going to find a nice quiet beach house where the sounds and smells of the ocean will waft in through the open windows day and night and the kiddos will turn into beach bums, running in and out of the house all day long, hair long and wild and streaked by the sun.

Think of the experience!

We’d learn science by familiarizing ourselves with the sea birds and the fish of the ocean. We’d discover the butterflies, bugs, plants, and flowers that live in a tropical climate. Think of the vegetables we’d grow in our garden!

We’d become healthier by eating fish and fresh veggies every day. We’d bike or walk everywhere we went, so we’d stay in shape for sure.  What we didn’t catch or grow ourselves we’d purchase at the local Farmer’s Market and stash our goodies in the baskets we’d all have attached to our bicycles.

We’d learn about tropical weather and freshen up on our hurricane preparedness skills.  We’d listen to thunder and watch lightning illuminate the waves during evening storms.

We’d declutter our lives out of necessity by living in our small hut, perhaps with the kids even sharing a room. Of course, the salty air being good for everyone’s constitution, we would relish our close quarters and grow closer as a family.  We’d enjoy not being weighed down by our attachments to material goods for which we no longer have room. There’d be nary a thought of iPads or video games in their sweet little heads.

We’d absorb ourselves in the literary culture of Hemingway and Tennessee Williams and sing along to Jimmy Buffet in our bare feet while drinking margaritas.  Well, I’d have margaritas. I might indulge the children with a Sprite. I’d let us all indulge in the occasional cheeseburger.

We’d experience the wild, anything-goes culture of the Keys and chase the crazy chickens that roam the island.  We’d fall in love with Hemingway’s famous polydactyl cats and compare them to our own two felines who made the journey from Kentucky with us.  They’d adapt to their new sandy environment just fine, and hey, no inside litter boxes!

The school district is a small one, so the kids would undoubtedly get a first-rate education with almost individualized attention. I would find work during the day so that the kids and I could enjoy our evenings together. Of course, the island being one big family, I would rest assured that in giving my children free reign to roam and explore, someone somewhere would be keeping an eye on them.

I’d write about these mind-freeing island experiences at night after the kids were in bed, discovering more about myself and life in the process, sure that my new insight was conjured from the sound of the waves.

And hey, I’d live in a state where my vote for President might actually count!

Really, why wouldn’t I do it? Getting used to the idea that nothing lasts forever is really hard, so why not roll with it and take some big chances? Just think, that journey could begin after only 1,201 miles and 18 hours and 14 minutes.

Who needs reality anyway?

Questions I’d Ask My Mom

May 5, 2017

My mom would have been 71 years old today. Happy birthday, Mom. I miss you every day.

We always celebrated her birthday and Mother’s Day together, so early May was usually one big blur of laughter, family, and gardening. The two special events were celebrated as one. When she died twelve years ago, well, Mays haven’t been the same since.

It’s true what they say, that while the intense grief and pain subside, they never go away and you are never the same. I still miss her every day, but I’ve adjusted to living life without her.   When my own daughter came along 4 years after she died, and my son another 3 years later, Mother’s Day became a bittersweet holiday. In any given year since I’ve been a mother, early May has either been more bitter or more sweet, but lucky for me, the sweet side usually prevails.

This year, however, early May has me in one hell of a funky melancholy. I find myself despairing over all the questions I’d like to ask my mom but will never get the chance to. This isn’t a new experience for me as I often want to call her to ask about a recipe or for more information about an ancestor or dig for more details about her childhood.

This year, though, I find myself wanting to ask about her experiences as a single mother. The past year and a half has been challenging, to say the least, but I’ve learned to survive. I think. I have “mostly” healthy coping mechanisms and a large village that, while I find it difficult to ask them for help sometimes, will always be there for me when I need them.

Now that I can survive daily life for the most part, I’m realizing parenting isn’t as easy as it used to be. My 9-year old girl and 6-year old son continue to grow into themselves, encountering life and obstacles along their own paths. My heart aches with the need to ask my mom how she raised my brother and me by herself. How did she survive?

I would ask her how she got out of bed in the morning, but I already know the answer to that one. What choice did she have? People have often told me how strong I have been through all this mess and say they couldn’t do what I do every day. Nonsense. I know how Mom would answer this question because I would answer it the same way: you do what you have to. What am I going to do every morning–not get up and take the kids to school? Not go to work? What am I going to do in the evening? Leave the kids at home while I go out? Not go through their backpacks or make them dinner? Not bathe them or cuddle and read to them at bedtime? There is no choice here. I’m not going to abandon my kids and run away so what other choice is there? You do what you have to do. You survive because you must. It’s not always pretty. Or clean. But it gets done.

I would ask her how she got her self-esteem back after my dad left. Did she get her self-esteem back? How did she accept the blow fate dealt her (wait, I don’t believe in fate…let’s rephrase…). How did she accept the world is an unfair place where bad things happen to good people? How did she avoid becoming a bitter, hateful woman? I have to admit, sometimes the future self I see in the mirror is full of hatred and bitterness. It’s not pretty. How did she avoid that and spend so much of her life laughing? How? I need some guidance here.

How did she get any sleep when she went to bed worrying about where money for the next meal would come from? Or money for a doctor’s appointment? Or clothes for my brother and me? Or school trips? Or college tuition? Or rent? While money is an issue I worry about constantly, the depth of my concern is not nearly as deep as my mother’s was. She raised two kids in poverty. I am not, yet I still worry whether I’ll be able to provide what my kids need. And if I can’t provide it, how do I explain that to them?

How did she manage all these worries and not let my brother and I see her worrying? I mean, as we got older we obviously knew we weren’t wealthy and lived paycheck to paycheck, but Mom always seemed to take this in stride. Did she cry in secret? Did she go to the bathroom when her anxiety overcame her so she could get all her crying out when we weren’t looking? Not that I’ve ever done that, mind you.

Besides her own village of family and friends, I know one of the biggest sources of comfort and peace was her faith. The strength of her faith allowed her to persevere in the darkest times. How did she sustain that faith? How did she reconcile the shitty cards she’d been dealt and still believe and gain strength and courage from that belief?

I’d question her beliefs with the fervor of Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men if she were here today. I’d beg her to tell me how to handle the truth. How on Earth could she sustain that faith? I want that faith. I want that comfort. I want that knowledge that in the end it works out OK and that things happen for a reason. God and I have had a love-hate relationship for a while now. I want to ask my mom how she landed on Team Love. My natural state is Team Hate.

How did she muster the strength to say enough is enough and start the journey to single parenthood? Did she imagine the challenges she’d face? Were they better or worse than she thought they’d be? Was it worth it?

Did she lie awake at night wondering if the cheeseburger and fries she had for lunch was going to clog her arteries and lead to a premature death? I wonder if that’s just me.

Did she second guess every decision she made wondering if it was the right thing for my brother and me? Did she trust her gut?

Her answers might not be right for my situation, but it would be a start. She could have provided me a blueprint with how to navigate the mazes of choices and conversations that now confront me. Sure, I could find a blue billion recommendations on the internet or consult experts on the subject in books from my local library, but I don’t want them and their opinions. I want my mom.

And there you have it. I will always want my mom. If I’m lucky enough to be alive when I’m 95, I’m pretty sure I’ll still want my mom. I suppose we are never too old to wish for the safety and sweet comfort of a mother’s embrace. Never too old to relish in her acceptance and love that has no boundaries or judgment.

As each new challenge presents me with new choices to make, I’ll always wonder what she would have done.

For now, I’ll continue to look upon her as a role model. I’ll try to be my best self and make the right decisions for me and my family. I’ll try to fight when fighting is needed and let things go when I don’t have any fight in me that day. I’ll try to end up on Team Love, hoping for me and my babies that there’s honor in that fight.

Oh, and the kiddos and I will be digging in the dirt this Mother’s Day. And laughing.

My First Visit To A Mosque

A week ago I entered a mosque for the very first time.

My visit was part of an effort by a local organization made up of everyday activists, like me, to be the progressive change we want to see in the world. The meeting of folks from my group and the mosque was part of an ongoing program to “Meet Your Muslim Neighbor.” The mosque routinely opens its doors to the community for an afternoon of education, prayer service, and fellowship.

Can you imagine in your own house of faith, routinely opening your doors to explain to your community that everyone who practices your religion is not a terrorist?

Me neither.

Before my visit I knew very little about Islam or Muslims except that it was a peaceful religion (anyone can radicalize anything if they’re looking for a reason to do bad things), their faith was different than the one I grew up with in terms of culture, and they were the subject of a lot of hatred that I didn’t understand.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I’d never been a bit anxious sharing a plane with a man of Middle Eastern descent. I consciously chose to not let fear, stereotypes, and popular culture win the fight against reason in my brain. But still, I can’t deny I had those thoughts, as fleeting as they might have been.

Luckily, I have since then tried to educate myself about Muslim religion and culture. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a presentation on Islam by a local professor of Islamic Religious Traditions. From this brief presentation I learned the following:

  1. Muslims believe in only one God, the same God of Jewish and Christian faiths.
  1. They pray 5times a day.
  1. Sunni Muslims make up 85% of the faith. Shia Muslims make up 15%.
  1. Sunni Muslims are more like Protestants in that they rely on text for spiritual guidance.
  1. Shia Muslims are more like Catholics in that they believe in an Imam, a sort of Papal figure.
  1. They pay a charity tax of 2.5% of their income.
  1. Any Muslim culture that adheres to Sharia law for the faith community, does so acknowledging the country’s law supercedes it. In other words, the legal structure of the country in which a Muslim lives is the ultimate authority even if the religious community follows religious law within its faith.
  1. The head scarf worn by some Muslim women, the hijab, is usually a cultural choice made by the women who wear them. Not all women who wear the hijab are being forced to do so. In fact, many Muslim women wear it as an expression of femininity. Egyptian women wear it as a source of power.

That was the extent of my knowledge of Muslims before my visit to the mosque. That and the fact that several Muslim households live on my block. Since the election, I’ve often thought that I should reach out to them, let them know that they are welcome and all the hatred expressed toward them in many places is not representative of me and mine. I never acted on that urge to reach out to my neighbors out of fear that I would offend them somehow, me being fairly ignorant of their culture. What good would it do to reach out in peace and then be offensive or seem self-serving?

So I did nothing.

But I did go to the mosque.   I went for me, to learn, but also to support the Muslim members of my community who, yes, even in Lexington, are being targeted for harassment by ignorant idiots that are a waste of my Oxygen.

Ahem.

The mosque we visited is a new one, built in front of the old one on the same property. It’s not super-fancy on the outside, but it is brilliantly gold and round and shiny. Inside, though, while tastefully decorated, it was not fancy in any way. There were separate areas for men and women to store their shoes, as shoes do need to be removed before entering the prayer hall.

Why do Muslims remove their shoes upon entering a mosque? They do it to keep their prayer hall clean. When Muslims pray, they bow and then they kneel, or prostrate, on the ground.   They simply want the area where they come in contact with the ground to be clean.

I knew the mosque did not require visitors to wear the hijab. We ladies all brought a scarf just in case and while I did not intend to wear mine initially, I did have a friend help me with one before the educational presentation began. It just felt like the right thing to do.

Modesty in dress, for both men and women, is a key belief in Islam.

The prayer hall in the mosque was oriented toward Mecca, with windows all along the other walls, providing a very light and open worship space. Our educator for the day, a converted Muslim who is a professor of Islamic studies at another university in town, stood at the front of the room while visitors sat on the floor around him. He was very folksy and funny and honest about Islam.

I learned new things about Islam from him (and I apologize if I flub some terminology here):

  1. Muslims, Jews, and Christians are all religious descendants of Abraham, believing in one God.
  1. Muslims study Jesus as a prophet, just like Mohammed.
  1. Where Muslims believe Christianity erred is in elevating Jesus to the divine. They believe there is only one God, only one divinity, the one worshipped by Muslims, Jews, and Christians. They do not believe in the Trinity of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
  1. Islam puts an intense priority on how Muslims treat their neighbors. I’m paraphrasing here, but a lasting idiom in the faith goes something like, “better you die of hunger than to have food and not share it with your starving neighbor.”
  1. Muslims pray 5 times a day, scheduled to coincide with breaks in the day where you should stop and acknowledge God in your life. If Muslims can come to the mosque for prayer, that is encouraged, but they are taught to pray wherever they are.
  1. Prayers are recitations of the Quran, to be spoken melodiously, which is why sometimes they resemble songs or chants. If a Muslim is at a mosque, the prayers can be led by a faith leader. If a Muslim prays someplace else, the text spoken in the prayer is up to the individual.

Our educator was sure to tell us, though, that there are no prayer police that punish Muslims for not praying 5 times a day. They sort of go on the honor system, a concept I’m sure those of us in other faiths can understand and appreciate.

Just like in any religion, there are certain scriptures, certain texts, that can be taken out of context and twisted into whatever teachings madmen need to use to motivate extremists to do their bidding. Muslims don’t drink and believe in modest dress for both sexes. The 9-11 terrorists who got drunk in strip clubs and boasted about their 77 virgins…these were evil, misguided men who were not following the tenets of Islam.

Answering a question from the audience about the treatment and place of women in Islam, our educator answered that while Islam is a slow-evolving faith, most American women Muslims have the same rights as and are considered equal to men. American Muslims are intensely aware of women’s issues and are having conversations to further women within the faith. Disclaimer:   this is one of the areas in which I hope I am not butchering our educators words or intent.

As our educator enthusiastically answered our questions, I wondered how exhausting it must be to have to explain your faith over and over again, even if to such a well-intentioned audience as ours. No matter how excited he might have been to explain his beliefs, the context that he was doing so, at least in part, because some people believe all Muslims are terrorists, was inescapable.

As someone who grew up in a progressive Baptist Church, only realizing when I went away to college that all Baptist churches were NOWHERE NEAR as progressive as mine, I can’t fathom what it must be like to encounter those misconceptions on a daily basis. Even now, when I say I attend (sporadically) a very progressive Baptist Church, I must explain what that means because most people think of Baptists as extremely conservative Southern Baptists and that’s not remotely who we are.   The frustrations of our Muslim neighbors must be mine times infinity.

Our educator told us the story of how he and his wife can gauge what’s going on in the world by a trip to the grocery store. His wife wears the hijab and if she notices more dirty looks than usual while shopping, they can be guaranteed when they get home there has been a terrorist event somewhere in the world.

How sad is that?   These are people who live with this every day of their lives. These are peaceful people, faithful people, living in our community. People who give them dirty looks because they look Middle Eastern or wear hijabs is unacceptable to me.

Islam is the second largest community of faith in Lexington and while I am proud of my multicultural city in so many ways, it’s so apparently obvious we have a ways to go.

After the presentation was over, we were invited to observe prayer services. While it was interesting and beautiful to watch our new friends pray, I also felt like a gawker who was observing something private and sacred. I was happy they invited us, but when I attend again, and I will, I hope to be more participatory in some way and less someone staring at something I’d never seen before.

Our hosts invited us for food and fellowship after prayer. For someone who grew up with pot lucks in the Fellowship Hall basement, this was nothing new to me. Sure, I had the best falafel I’ve ever had IN MY LIFE, and you don’t get that often in Eastern KY, but the only thing different about socializing in the mosque was that we walked around in our sock feet.   The same laid-back, easy conversation talking about faith and culture and customs…while the subject matter was new, the act was not. The congregation was as welcoming, as funny, as real and true and personal as any church I’d ever been to. They even had to shoo us out of the reception area as they got ready for a congregational family night (we were invited to stay for that of course). I don’t know about you, but during my traditional Baptist family night gatherings, goodbyes took a looooong time and involved lots of shooing.

Later that afternoon, after my visit, I was thinking about the toll it must take on the health of the mosque members to be constantly on edge and wondering (they must be, I would) if they next time they open their mailbox or the door to the mosque that a bomb might go off. Being constantly on edge, constantly on alert, is not good for the human body. It raises our cortisol and inflammation levels and prolonged stress to the body can lead to an early death. I’m not exaggerating here…can you imagine having thoughts of hatred and bombs every time you enter your house of worship or simply because you look different than everyone else when you go out in public?

Me either.

And even later that night, I found out the mosque I had just visited, the congregants I’d just met, had received a bomb threat in the mail. A bomb threat received for no other reason than the misinterpretation of a faith.

I felt sickened. Literally, physically, sickened. I could not believe this magnificent day in which I learned so much, met so many wonderful people who were like me in so many ways, during which I’d hoped to provide a bit of support for my neighbors, ended with a cowardly, misinformed act of hatred.

I WAS FURIOUS. How dare these people? These idiots? These losers? I get riled up just thinking about harm coming to the people who had just opened their doors to me when they never know if the person they are letting in is intent on killing them. I’m reminded of Charleston, SC, where 9 people studying the Bible opened their doors to man full of anger and hatred and consequently lost their lives.

After learning of the bomb threat, those of us who visited the mosque sent letters and notes of support. Today in the mail I received a hand-written thank you note for my supportive card. The note said they’d received so many and were so appreciative.   The mosque has displayed them on a wall to remind them that they are loved and welcomed in this community.

So, one day this week or maybe next, my children and I will make some chocolate chip cookies and walk down to the end of the court and offer them to our Muslim neighbors. On the way, we will talk about how we are kind to everyone whether or not they look, dress, think, or talk like we do. We will talk about acceptance, and appreciation, and judgment. And we will begin a conversation.

Wait, Everyone Doesn’t Conduct Family Meetings in the McDonald’s Bathroom?

I’ve been in my share of McDonald’s bathrooms over the years…what with having Salyer Bladder (somewhat sketchy family affliction I blame on my mother and aunt), cruising in high school (not many other places to go), and numerous stops involving say, ingestion of too many foreign substances (college), but today’s episode is one that was never even on my radar, even with my multi-faceted experiences with the location.

As some of you know (and how could you not?), I’ve been experiencing a wee bit of stress in the last year and since the election, it’s just been compounded in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I have always had finite amounts of mental energy and brain space. I need time to absorb and process what I learn. I am easily overwhelmed.

Between single-motherhood and the three weeks since the President’s inauguration, I am more easily overwhelmed than usual.

My daughter has known for a few days now that today is the day she gets her stitches out. Two weeks ago she decided to slice her thumb open on a can of soup and received 5 stitches from the very super awesome Baptist Health Urgent Treatment Center at Brannon Crossing (for you local folks in case you ever need their services).

The anticipation of stitch removal has been weighing on her mind and as I dropped her off at school this morning she asked me if we couldn’t postpone it for just one more day. No, sweetie, we can’t. Today is the day.

So when I pick my lovely babies up at school this afternoon I’m anticipating a bit of resistance, so I come well-armed.

I’ve got juice boxes and snacks.

Daughter: I don’t like Goldfish.

Me: Since when?

Daughter: (snort) Since like, foreeever!

Son: I don’t like this juice.

Me: Well, have some of my water.

Son: I’m not thirsty for water.

Ok, so struck out with the snack idea.

Daughter: I don’t want to get my stitches out.

Me: I know, but you know it doesn’t hurt, right? I’ve told you that, your friends have told you that…

Daughter: But I’m still scared.

Me: I know. Here’s E.B. (her Easter Bunny that she cannot sleep without and that makes everything better even at her ripe old age of almost-9).

When we arrived at Baptist Health Urgent Treatment Center:

Me: Look, guys, there aren’t may cars here so we might get in and out pretty quick!

Daughter: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!NONONONONONONO!!!

Me: Oh dear God.

We get inside Baptist Health Urgent Treatment Center and register ourselves.

Me: (cue inner boot camp instructor:) Daughter, you will do your math homework until the doctor comes for you. Here is a pen and paper. No, I don’t have a pencil but I will email your teacher to tell her it’s all we had so you don’t get in trouble.

Son, you WILL write these sight words until you know them. Five times each. Go!

25 seconds after we are registered and impromptu homework stations assembled: Daughter’s name is called.

Well, glad I wasted time on assembling homework assignments, iPads, and books to get us through the long wait time folks usually encounter at urgent treatment centers.

Universe: You can’t make her (me) happy.

Daughter gets her stitches out. It doesn’t hurt. Boy is intrigued by stitch removal process, but also grossed out, so his eyes dart between stitches and iPad enough that I think he’s receiving subliminal messages from the Devil, so I remove the iPad from his tiny little hands and proclaim the medical treatment area an iPad-free zone because I said so.

I’d also packed a book to read to my daughter. This seemed to work as a calming mechanism when she got her stitches so I thought it might work to alleviate some anxiety about getting them removed.

The thought of the book comforted her, but as they began removing stitches, apparently the story and her loving mother were not sufficient to comfort her as she said, “Mom, read it with feeling!”

The poor doctor raised his hands up in disbelief and tried with all his might not to bust out laughing. He only half succeeded.

To daughter’s dismay, I boomed, “Once more with feeling!” and began to read dialogue.

Stitches were out, scab was inspected, and bandage applied. Life was good, though we still had homework to get to.

On the way to the urgent treatment center, I’d told the kids that after daughter’s stitches were out, we would eat out and then go to karate. It would be a reward for successful stitch removal and an early treat for son’s birthday the following day.

We get into the car and I say, “Ok, kiddos, who is up for McDonalds??!!” Son grunts and daughter proclaims she doesn’t like McDonald’s. Sigh. I didn’t even ask her when she changed her mind, as her palate apparently fluctuates based on her mood . Usually the only place those two ever want to go is McDonald’s. Apparently they have the best toys.

After telling them that was the only place we could go and get to karate on time, they both declared they didn’t want to go to karate.

I found myself taking lots of deep breaths.

“Well, kids, if we don’t go to karate we aren’t going out to eat. We’ll go home and have peanut butter and jelly.”

Daughter: Fine!

Son: NOOOOOOO!!!!!

Moans and protests from back seat of car. I was amazed at the amount of strength with which I was able to squeeze the steering wheel of the car.

Me: “You know what, we are going to McDonald’s because that was my plan and we’re on a tight time schedule and you have to go to karate because before we signed up we talked about the classes and the schedule and you agreed to go twice a week and there is no other night this week we can go and we aren’t wasting Mimi and PopPop’s money because they pay for you to go these classes and they paid for your uniforms and that is what we are doing. Period.”

I felt like Sean Spicer. With no alternative facts.

Silence from the back of the car.

So we get to McDonald’s and along with two grumpy children I lug in the Big Bag of Stuff containing karate uniforms, iPads, homework, books, gross juice, and intolerable Goldfish.

It turns out the boy was feeling puny because he was coming down with strep throat, but we wouldn’t find that out until the next day. Even Moms of the Year like me can’t always predict the future.

So I tell the kids to go find a table and I will order the food. I give the Big Bag of Stuff to daughter and ask her to take it to the table and begin her homework. She rolls her eyes, sighs, accepts the bag, and then immediately lets it drop to the floor like it’s too heavy for her poor delicate muscles to handle.

I spin around with the if-you-broke-the-iPad-because-of-your-attitude-we-are-going-to-have-a-come-to-Jesus-meeting-right-here-in-the-middle-of-McDonald’s-look glaring daggers at her.

In my meanest voice, I order her to go sit down and I grab the bag from her. As I did so, I slipped on a puddle of water in the floor. I didn’t go all the way down, but it was awkwardly close, and in hindsight, probably very amusing to the other patrons.

Turns out I pulled some kind of muscle in my right leg while doing my graceful save-face move, so I stalked/limped over to the table. I put the bag down, got the homework out, and dared either one of them to make a sound until I got back with the food.

As I’m limping up to the counter, my face probably red with frustration, I hear daughter whimpering from booth that I don’t love her. Oh, little tiny baby Jesus, help me.

We actually accomplished a lot at dinner. Son and I read two books and worked on spelling words. Daughter needed frequent reminding to work on her math and a common refrain was:

Me: Do your math, please.

Daughter: I don’t know how. I can’t do it. I’m stupid.

Me: Yes, you can, just do it step by step. You know you aren’t stupid.

Daughter: Then why can’t I remember my multiplication tables?
Me: I don’t know, honey, maybe you need to work on memorizing them.

Daughter: So you do think I’m stupid (sob sob sob).

Me: Sigh. Big sigh.

Daughter: Are you mad at me?

Me: No.

Daughter: Are you frustrated with me?
Me: Yes, I am. Please do your homework so we can just be done with it.

Daughter: You’re rushing me.

Me: No, I’m not rushing you, but you need to focus so we can get this done.

Daughter: You love (son’s name) more than me.

Me: No I don’t.

Daughter: (almost screaming): Yes you do! You never yell at him to finish his homework. I hate you!

Me: (wild-eyed, white-knuckled, through clenched-teeth with scary Mom voice): DO. YOUR. HOMEWORK. NOW.

Children: You’re scaring me.

Yep. I’m that Mom. In the middle of McDonald’s. That’s me.

After the homework was finally, sweet lord Jesus thank you, done, I hunchback-limped my way to the McDonald’s bathroom, dragging the Big (and apparently very heavy) Bag of Stuff, thumb-bandaged girl, and strep-infected boy behind me.

Once in the big stall, after ordering them not to touch anything they didn’t absolutely have to touch, I got them undressed and into their karate uniforms. After having several minutes of calm toward the end of dinner during which to find my composure, I told the kids we were going to have a family meeting.

Son: In the bathroom?

Me: Yes.

Son: (looking very confused) Why?

Me: Because we need to talk.

Daughter: Can’t this wait until we get home (eye roll)?

Me: No.

Daughter: This is so embarrassing.

Son: Can we sit down?

Me: No.

Son: But we always sit down for family meetings.

Me: Ok, guys, we have to learn to roll with the punches, OK? If we need to have a family meeting in the middle of the McDonald’s bathroom then that’s where we’ll do it.

And we did. We talked about the importance of being patient and understanding with each other. We talked about even when we have disagreements or are frustrated, the love that we have for each other never changes (saw daughter start to protest but after look of death she wisely changed her mind).

I told the kids that these requests apply to me too, that just like I’m asking of them, I also have to make an effort to be better at these things.

And then we washed our hands.

I’ve often thought to myself it’s hard to raise kids when I’m not done raising myself, but it’s true. We all do the best we can with what we’ve got every day. Today my mental energy and patience bottomed-out. My daughter’s Mini-Me personality got to me as it does more often than I’d like to admit.

Life is hard. Sometimes we excel. Sometimes we crash. Both of those outcomes are OK. I want to raise kids who can handle adversity (even the miniscule kind we experienced at McDonald’s) and roll with the punches and not be broken afterward. To set that example for them, I have to exhibit those abilities myself. And I’m working on it, but it’s hard. So very hard.

So, while I hope to avoid future family meetings in McDonald’s bathrooms, I guess you just never know when those opportunities for growth and discussion are going to occur. I’ve got to be ready for them.

**********

P.S. Son tried to swipe a Cadbury Creme Egg and a pack of gum from the grocery store today, just in case you thought I was picking on my daughter.

We Weren’t A Moment, We’re A Movement

It’s been less than two weeks since the historic Women’s March on Washington, although it feels like it happened eons ago. A lot has happened in the last 10 days, most of which turns my stomach. The Women’s March, though…that’s a movement, baby, and it ain’t going anywhere, and that gives me hope.

I don’t remember when I heard about the Women’s March, but I looked forward to it from the moment I learned Lexington was having its own sister march the same day. After such a horrifying campaign, an unbelievably frightening election result, this was something I could do to stand in solidarity with other women across the country who were as angry as I was.

I started thinking about what kind of shirt I would wear, whether I’d carry a sign, whether to take the kids with me… I wasn’t sure if I’d have child care, but I decided I was marching rain or shine, with kids or without, come hell or high water. The pull I felt to participate was overwhelming. I couldn’t not march. I’m betting many marchers felt the same way.

Since the election I’d devoured as much political information as I could, involved myself in progressive activist groups, armed myself with facts, and tried to understand the foreign political landscape in which I was now living. To this day, I’m still not quite sure how we got here.

As the day of the march approached, I witnessed my own patriarchal state legislature take away my rights as a woman. Of course they know what’s best for me. I was already angry, but I got angrier. I understand you’re mad you can’t have babies, boys, but get over it and get out of my uterus already.

A friend of mine from work heard I was marching and asked if she could come with me. Absolutely! She devoutly crocheted every night for a week to get her hat ready for the march. A friend from high school who I hadn’t seen for 27 years, though we are friends on Facebook, asked if she could march with us. Absolutely!

I had friends from California to Texas to Florida and Chicago who were marching in their own cities. I had friends from New York who went to DC. I know many people from right here in Lexington that went to DC.

The excitement building inside me had to be visible to those around me. I felt like I was literally vibrating. This day was going to be unprecedented!!! And it was.

I spent the night before the march getting my signs ready. Here they are. I stole the ideas for both of them from friends as I have no originality and as you can see, no artistic skills. Thank you, Deirdre and Lucy.

I’d picked up my shirt that afternoon. I was covered. I was ready.

shirt

The morning of the march I kissed my babies goodbye and watched them go off with their dad. I’d decided not to take them, the best decision for us, but one that I struggled with mightily.

Before they left, though, they asked me where I was going. I told them I was going to walk through downtown with a bunch of people who were as upset as I was about some of the things happening in the country. My daughter asked me what kinds of things. Trying to be as honest as I could, I told her I was marching because it’s not OK to be a bully. It’s not OK to think that someone else should be the boss of my body. It’s not OK to be mean to women. It’s not OK to make fun of people who don’t look or talk like we do or people who have needs we don’t have. I told her it’s not OK to hate people.

Once I had the house to myself I found a website that was streaming the speakers from the Women’s March in DC (thank you USA Today). As I was getting ready for the day I heard from people I respect for their work to advance women’s rights all over the world.

I watched the fabulously brilliant Gloria Steinem tell us that sometimes pressing “send” is not enough and we have to show up and make our physical presence felt.   She reaffirmed what we already know: it is our right as women to choose when and whether to give birth without interference from the government. And she predicted that each of us individually and collectively would never be the same again, a sentiment I feel more in my bones every day.

I watched Elizabeth Warren and Cecile Richards speak about the power of women in the United States and all over the world to rise up and find their voice; to be heard.

I watched Ashley Judd interpret a poem from a teenager from Tennessee about Nasty Women. She spoke powerful words. She spoke truth. She spoke words that many people are uncomfortable with, but in the end, what was so wrong with them? As a woman, I know what blood-stained sheets are. I’ve had them. So has every woman. It’s part of this magnificent power and gift the good Lord gave us as women so why should we be ashamed of it? Why does even thinking about menstrual blood or women’s reproductive functions make us turn our noses up in disgust? If you’re here on this Earth, male or female, you should be thankful women have had blood-stained jeans; it means they were able to produce you. You preach it, Ashley, I’ve got your back.

The voices of these brave and fierce women got me even more riled up for the march. By the time my friend got there in her pussy hat (and by the way, we OWN that word now thank you very much), I couldn’t wait to get out the door!

After we made our way downtown and parked, we looked for my friends carrying our organization’s banner.   Looking out over the courthouse square, I saw a sea of people. Thousands of people.

lex1

Women like me were there, sure, but I also saw way more men than I’d expected. Shame on me. I saw black people, white people, brown people, gay people, differently-abled people. I saw women. I saw men. I saw transgender folks. I saw old people and young people and I saw children. I saw college students and gray-haired grannies. I saw people in wheelchairs and kids sitting on the shoulders of their parents. I saw Christians, Jews, Muslims, and atheists. I saw people marching for women’s rights, children’s rights, LGBTQ rights, aged rights, immigrant rights, for the separation of church and state.

Thousands and thousands of people making a very strong statement to our new administration that bullying, hatred, discrimination, misogyny, and xenophobia were not going to be tolerated.

The atmosphere buzzed with electricity. The crowd was elbow-to elbow so you got to know your neighbor pretty quickly. While we couldn’t see or much hear the speakers at the podium because we were so far back, what we did do is meet new people and realize that we weren’t alone in being horrified at the actions of the man who is now our President. That’s a powerful thing.

When the march finally got started it was slow going, but not as slow as it would have been had the Lexington Police Department not shut down the streets for the march. They were not originally scheduled to be closed, but LPD amended the plan on the fly when they saw the number of people planning to march and we are very thankful they did. All along the march route, police officers were polite, courteous, and encouraging. We appreciated their professionalism and are lucky to have them in our community.

I’ve walked – and jogged a bit too – in the streets of Lexington during the Midsummer Night’s Run, but this march had an entirely different atmosphere and was most definitely a different experience. During the Midsummer Night’s Run everyone is a solo player. During the march, the entire purpose was to be together…to make our voices heard and to amplify our messages by saying them together. Together, we will make a difference.

Finding one’s voice, literally, is more difficult for some than it is for others. I was slow to warm up to the shouting of slogans like “Love Trumps Hate,” or “Rise Up,” even though I believe in those mantras, and for about the first ¼ of the march my effort at vocalizing was less than spectacular.

But then came “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Matt Bevin has got to go,” and suddenly it was much easier to project my voice. For those of you who don’t know, Matt Bevin is the Republican governor of the state of Kentucky. He believes he is smarter than me and has the moral authority to make decisions for me about my body. Bless his heart.

Then, though, about halfway through the march I heard the chant, “This is what democracy looks like,” and my voice boomed, deep and guttural, out of my throat and into the world as I repeated this new adage. And the world heard it. There is something visceral and almost overwhelmingly empowering about hearing your own voice speak up, rise up, and be heard. Hearing my own words encouraged me to be even louder and more passionate in their utterance, if that was possible.

And there we went, our merry band of protestors (thank you, Nema), almost dancing down Main St. in our rhythmic proclamation that this, we, all of us—this is what democracy looks like.   All ages, genders, and colors rising up at the indecency we saw in the world.

We weren’t a moment, we are a movement.

After my friends and I had completed the march, we watched the other marchers as they walked the route.   We cheered them on, encouraging them to find their voices as well. We saw cute babies, great outfits, and some really, really clever signs.

And the people just kept coming. It was amazing.

lex2

 

Perhaps the funniest moment of the day occurred when my friend was stopped by an older lady wearing a clerical cloth. The lady politely asked my friend about the significance of her hat. There were thousands of pussy hats marching in Lexington that day. I cracked up, because I am 12, at the sight of my pussy-hatted friend telling this charmingly distinguished woman of the cloth about the pussy hat. Friends, it doesn’t get any better than that.

pussyhat

After I got home, I took to the internet to devour any and all news coverage about the Women’s March. With each new tweet, each new Facebook post, each new interview on CNN and each new picture from a different city in this country, or the world, with each new estimate of people in the streets, well, I didn’t really know how to contain myself.

I’d been a part of that. My feet pounded pavement in solidarity with my sisters and brothers all over the world. We were noisy and we were active. And weren’t going anywhere.

I slept in my protest shirt that night. I couldn’t bear to take it off. I had to hang on to the power and emotion of that moment because in the end, the struggle for change is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And when you run a marathon (or so I’ve been told), you have to focus on happy milestones to get you through because there is a lot more pain than reward. I didn’t want to let go of my prize just yet.

So, the next day, when I felt like wearing the shirt again, I did. I wore it while I cut out pictures and articles about the march from the Sunday paper. I wanted to save them for me, yes, but also for my daughter and my son. One day soon I will remind them what Hillary Clinton said the day after she lost the election, “never doubt that you are valuable, powerful, and deserving of every opportunity in the world and every chance to pursue your own dreams.”

Then I slept in it my shirt again. I had to hold on to the moment, hold on to the feeling of being one with the millions of other people who elevated their voices in the name of love and acceptance to defy hatred.

Over the coming years as we persevere in solidifying our movement, we will get bogged down in political drama, policy details, and definitions of words, but we can never let it beat us.

I’ve heard the cautions about forgotten protests and movements that failed to produce change in our government and ourselves and those warnings have merit. And while I have no quantifiable data to ensure anyone that this movement will not fade or falter as it evolves in the world, my gut is telling me it’s here to stay.   The outrage at our current leaders is still as palpable as it was the day of the march.

Eventually I did take the shirt off, but I wear it every chance I get. We all need to be reminded that a woman’s place is in the revolution.

We aren’t going anywhere.

#Resist

leia

#DressLikeAWoman

 

Note: The pics of the Lexington crowds and the hat-wearing cat are not mine. They came from somewhere in the Twitterverse.

 

 

 

 

Why Aren’t More Women in Politics and What Can I Do About It?

Recently, as the Republican-controlled Kentucky General Assembly, with help from Democrats, rammed through two anti-choice bills that were signed into law by our Republican Deity-In-Chief, I found myself more politically active than I have been in years.  I’m mad, fed up, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

As I am making multiple phone calls to senators and representatives urging them to vote no on a bill that would unconstitutionally ban abortion after 20 weeks (before most women even have their first ultrasound to determine if their baby is healthy) as well as a bill requiring a doctor do a TRANS-VAGINAL ultrasound (if you don’t know what that means, look it up; trust me when I say it’s invasive) while describing the fetus and making the woman listen to the heartbeat, I noticed, and was for some reason shocked, that all the people on the committee hearing this bill were men.

Even as I made these calls, I knew these bills would pass. The Republicans in the General Assembly were like kids in the candy shop, rubbing their hands together in the anticipation of everything they could ram down our throats their first week in office. Because, of course, these are “emergency” bills that had to get passed the first week of their session, with votes being called for before new Assembly members had even received an orientation to their positions.

But I digress.

And while I’m mad at they hypocrisy of Kentucky politicians for the inept, uneducated view they have of we women who obviously can’t be trusted to make up our own minds about what’s right for us and our body and our children, I’m also angry at me. Kentucky was the last holdout among Southern states with one side of their legislature controlled by Democrats. Any idiot with a brain in her head could have seen this was coming in my state, even if she was convinced Hillary Clinton was going to be our next President.

What did I do? I voted. And talked to people, most of whom think like me. I chastised people who didn’t vote (I still do that…so freaking VOTE next time already).

But that wasn’t, and isn’t, enough.

We need more women in public office. Period. How can we expect a legislature made up of people who have never known what it’s like to be pregnant, or have a child, or lose a child, or have to scramble for child care, or lose pay because they had to stay home with a sick kid, to make our concerns a priority? We need more women in office. Period.

But what am I to do? I can’t run for office, even though Kentucky Democrats have a fantastic program to groom female candidates for elected office. Even though there are organizations developing new ways of thinking, communicating, and campaigning based on the epic Democratic fail of last November.

I am a single mother of two who works full-time. I do well to get evening and weekend hours of work covered by family or a babysitter and every time I get an hour or two to go to a meeting or an exercise class, that is a luxury I cherish.   And I’m lucky. I have family and friends and babysitters. There are many women out there who don’t have the luxuries I have.

I also can’t afford to jeopardize my job. I am lucky enough to be employed by a city government, and it wouldn’t take kindly to an employee doing election work on company time. I don’t have the luxury of “scaling back” at work or relying on another income to cover me while I run for office.

Also, there is that kid thing. Even if I did find a way to run for a local office while maintaining gainful employment, I would have to sacrifice formative time in the lives of my two children, both of whom are under 9 years old. That’s a sacrifice I can’t make it, even if I did have a spouse at home to cover me. I’m not willing to miss soccer games and gymnastics meets. I’m not willing to miss bath times (OK, sometimes bath time stresses me out and I could miss some of those), or bedtimes cuddles, or the tidbits about each kids’ day that they seem to divulge to me only as we cuddle in bed at night. I’ll never get that time back.

I am not alone and I don’t feel like I’m being selfish. I know other women who are way smarter than me and would make much better officeholders than me and that do have support at home and they can’t make that sacrifice either. Let’s face it, and with all due respect to the fantastic dads out there who do run households, it’s primarily the women, even those of us who work full-time, that manage the household. If we don’t do it, who will?

There was an article circulating on Facebook recently about the unseen second workload women face, the workload of managing the family schedules, making sure the doctors appointments are made and the school forms are signed and doing all of this while working outside the home and still doing most of the housework (although the guys should be commended for doing better at sharing household chores these days). It would be almost impossible to have the time and energy to campaign for office at the same time we’re commander-in-chief of our own households.

Being there for our kids and keeping stable households, we won’t get another chance to do that. We can always run for office…someday.

Or will we? I used to say in college, back in the early 90s when I was more politically active, that the one thing that would make me pick up a sign and march in a protest was the government trying to force its views on my body. And here we are.

And there I will be on Saturday, marching in downtown Lexington with my sisters and brothers who have sat silent on the sidelines for too long. Somewhere deep down, I don’t ever think I believed it would come to this: government not trusting me WITH MY OWN BODY, a rise in hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities that if not caused by, is at least correlated with, the future President mainstreaming the behavior, a presidential cabinet made up of a bunch of foxes who will be charged with guarding their own hen houses, taking away health care from millions of people who only recently developed the ability to have some control over their own health, politicians who think they know better than 99.9% of scientists who know climate change is real, an education secretary who has no freaking idea what public education is or how to improve it, an energy secretary who thought he’d be in charge of oil and gas development, being afraid to flip on the TV for fear of hearing a news blurb about our future President and then having to explain the word “pussy” to my kids, and dear God in heaven, I could go on and on.

I’m a little bit fired up.

And I’m not alone.

I am privileged to be a member of two groups in Lexington who are politically active and who are working to improve the lives of all of us. I’ve also recently started paying attention to the Democratic Party of my county and state.   One of my groups has been an active and effective network for years while the other sprang up organically after the election and boasts over 4,000 members on Facebook. At our second organizational meeting held this month, we drew 78 people. 78 people fired up enough to be patient with us through our organizational process, before we can really even get down to the nitty gritty.

One thing I hear consistently from all of these people is that they are fed up and they aren’t going to take it anymore. Especially with the new group, many of these folks have never been politically active before in their lives. The established groups are reporting record turnouts to meetings and events and report similar increased attendance at affiliated groups all over the state.

At a meeting I attended earlier this week, I mentioned how I would come to more of their gatherings except for the child care issue. You know what they told me, this group of middle-aged to older ladies? Bring them. They said they’d never had anyone ask about bringing kids before and surely we could get a volunteer to watch them. I even suggested I could bring the kiddos and let them go at the iPad for an hour and a half while I plot the Democratic revolution in the state of Kentucky.

So you see, while it may be hard for me to be engaged as a candidate for office, I can be engaged and make my voice heard in other ways. How many women out there would be more actively involved in progressive change if they felt comfortable bringing their kids along?

We all have a voice. We all have a role to play. We just have to do it.

And from what I can see, women in Lexington, in Kentucky, and all over the nation are poised to make every one of our voices heard. We will not be ignored.