Women's Wisdom

Snips, snails, and puppy dog tails; sugar, spice, and everything nice.

Men are insensitive.Women love to shop and wear makeup.

Men don't cry.

Women are irrational and dramatic.

Men love porn and sports.

Women are nurturing and good at homemaking.

Men are always horny.

Women aren't as sexual as men.

Men are physically strong.

Women are the weaker sex.

Do any of these sound familiar to you? The better question is, do they feel familiar to you?

These are all things we were taught and perhaps handed down unknowingly to our children, if we have any. This is what society teaches us explicitly and implicitly through media and unspoken social norms.

As open-minded and progressive as I believe I am, last night as I lay in bed in the dark in the wee hours, staring up at the ceiling, I thought about how I have contributed to the passing down of some of these insane social laws. I say "laws" because there is a definite gender police ready to shame you and give you a verbal warning if you stray from these norms, even if you never signed on to abide by them. I felt pangs of guilt as I realized I had treated my son (my second) with more harshness and less patience than I had ever treated my daughter (my first) when they hit the challenging toddler phase. The worst part about it is that I hadn't even realized it until it was too late. Somewhere hidden in my brain was the decision that men were stronger and could withstand spanking and harsher discipline and girls weren't able to handle that. That men only understand the physical and women understand words and intellectualizations. That to foster connections to the physical realm in boys and to the intellectual world in girls was not only better for them than the other but essential to their wellbeing in this categorical world.

Putting aside how much of a mess I felt while transitioning from one child to two, how hard that actually is, and the impatience and frustration that came from that, I treated my little son with much more physicality than I did my daughter. "You don't want to brush your teeth? Then I'm going to take you against your will." And I did... I would grab him by the arm and take him while he flailed his arms and wrangled his whole body and yelled the whole way. I never, ever did that to my daughter. I felt like that would break her spirit. Why I regret this so deeply now is because after a few years of being my son's mother, I realize that he was born incredibly sensitive. Not just emotionally but physically. He senses energy- of people and places- like no one I have ever seen (even more than me). But since he was born in the physical body of a boy, my programming deemed it okay to manhandle him and spank him if I thought he needed the discipline and yell when he wasn't listening. Now at almost four years old, I am taking the necessary steps back to balance. I shower him with love and kind words but he knows I mean business when the moment calls for it.

While I never did the princess thing with my daughter, I did treat her more softly and talk to her and explain things to her much more than I did to my son. I'm sure some of it had to do with the fact I had more time to do so with her, but I'm sure some of it was programming too. Which is why I encourage everyone to question all their actions, beliefs, and motives towards themselves and others because we all have so. much. SHTUFF. inside of us that is not genuinely ours. So much shame. So many taboos. So many rules that were set for us, without our knowledge or consent. Let's look deeply inside ourselves and see what we need to throw out, shall we? To this day, I am surprised at what I find.

By the time my 3rd was born, I had worked out a lot of my issues with gender stereotypes and roles and made sure I treated him as he cued me to. What can this individual child tell me about his inner life? What does he have to say to me about what he prefers as far as learning goes? How does he communicate with me? How physical or not physical is he? How sensitive is he? How does he like to play? How does he like to receive affection? All are important questions when raising each child individually and- just as important- when re-raising yourself.

The topic of raising and mothering oneself is always a touchy one. No one likes to consider that their parents were lacking and many won't approach the topic out of fear they will disrespect their parents. Especially when many parents have a sacrificed a lot to raise their children and given a lot of love, time, and affection. Re-raising oneself is mutually exclusive from the gratitude and love some of us may feel for our parents. We were all born imperfect. As I say, this is the learning planet. We didn't come here to float on fluffy clouds and be fanned with palm fronds. We came to do the work. We came to learn and evolve, individually and collectively. So, we were parented imperfectly due to the simple fact that we are all imperfect. No blame. No guilt. Just fact. When you look at parenting from this lens, you can let go of what you think your parents owe you or what you owe your parents. From here you can step into the very mature role of filling in the gaps that were created between the child your parents raised and the true, whole, unique person that YOU are.

A lot of these gaps have their origins in these gender and sex rules.

Who knows the exact difference  between "gender" and "sex"? Most of us don't. I didn't until I looked it up so don't be embarrassed...

Gender: the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones).

Sex: either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

So,  gender has to do with your emotions and sex has to do with your actual machinery.

We teach girls and boys to never stray from their gender or their sex and thereby make life black and white and a whole lot of boring.

I think, "What if I was allowed to freely feel good being vocal and strong and defending myself growing up?"

... "What if I wasn't always gifted dolls and sparkly things and soft fuzzy things?"

... "What if I had female superheroes to look up to instead of always feeling like I should aspire to be a sidekick or a love interest to the hero?"

... "What if I was taught that I could and should enjoy sex?"

I asked my husband (awakened and wonderful man that he is) as I wrote this to ask himself questions about re-writing the scenarios of his upbringing and he asks:

"What if I wasn't expected by my culture to lose my virginity at a whorehouse at 14?"

... "What if my mom wouldn't have been so demanding of perfection?"

... "What if I wasn't expected to be number one at everything that I did?"

... "What if there wasn't a pre-conceived, religious notion that sex was bad and that it was better kept hidden?"

... "What if I would have been encouraged to follow my dreams without any barriers?"

... "What if I wasn't expected to be macho?"

... "What if being a lothario had not been expected of me or applauded by my culture?"

You can't spend too much time on "what if's" because the time has passed and what we have is NOW. But they are worth taking some time to think about because they clue you in to your specific gaps. They can inform you where you are needing nurturing and perhaps some re-defining of your self. Take the cues and then move on. Blaming is a waste of time. Change and re-creation is the name of the game.

In this new game there are no rules except those that you declare for yourself.

Come play. All are welcome. Shoes and shirts are absolutely not required.

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Magic.

My daughter lost a tooth last week and- as she always does whenever she loses a tooth- she runs down her list of what she hopes the tooth fairy will leave her under her pillow. This time, after a very long list, she concluded with, "What I really want are magical wings that I can use whenever I want to fly!" She said it with her bright beautiful eyes shining and while bouncing. She does everything while bouncing. The last few teeth were the same... she wished for magical things: a magic wand that would grant her and her family any wishes forever; a magic rainbow; a magic potion bottle. And just like the last few times, she got pretty boring surprises compared to what she asked for. This time, she got a pair of mermaid earrings.

I picked mermaids to keep some element of magic in this funny exchange of enamel for goodies.

When she woke up, she cried and had a tantrum. "I didn't want mermaid earrings! I wanted magical wings. I don't think magic exists. I'll never get anything that's magic ever ever." And she sobbed on the sofa. I had no idea how to handle this one.

I took a moment to consider the situation. All my parenting tricks and shortcuts would be of no help because her sobs were real and she was inconsolably sad as she cried for what was possibly her first sense of loss of magic and wonder in the world.

I had recently read Dr. Shefali Tsabary's book "The Awakened Family" so my mind went there. It started scanning all the parent/child scenarios within its pages but there was really nothing of this kind. What I did recall was the overarching message of the book- that we are simply and only holding our childrens' hands on the parenting journey. We need to put down the control, the tyranny, and the megalomania.

So, I went over to the sofa and just hugged her. I acknowledged her sadness and hugged as tight as I could. I didn't try to talk it away. I just sat with her in her disappointment. I held her until she didn't need me anymore. When she was ready she got up, took a deep breath, and walked to the playroom. I felt satisfied with that moment in parenting- I don't get many good ones lately. It's summer and the kids are constantly arguing and annoyed and "bored".

Life has really tried and tossed my family these past few years. The kids are mostly unaware because- lucky for them- they are still in their world of wonder. I couldn't help but think about that moment with her on the sofa this morning. I had given something to my daughter that I had not been given. I had held her hand in a moment where in my own life no hand had been offered. Isn't that magic? I don't remember when I stopped believing and being a witness to magic but I did- for many, many years. It's only now, as an adult (or so I hear that's what I have become), that I am reclaiming its existence in my life.

But I have a confession...

I've never read Harry Potter!

Right?! You'd think that I would have torn through those books. But no. I actually had quite an aversion to them for a while. It was my knee jerk rejection to the topic of magic after it had packed its bags and moved quite far away from me. In the world of hazy alcohol and high superficiality I lived in and was poorly navigating, there was no room for tapping into my source of higher woman power. There was NONE of that. So, no time for magic, Harry. Wingardium Leviosa back atcha and good day.

When I finally watched some of the movies (just a few years ago) I LOVED them. Hooray for Hermione (and for Emma Watson who uses her practical magic as a vocal feminist)! I had at that point let magic back in so Harry Potter charmed me so much and reminded me of everything I wanted to be real in childhood.

I know these days magic is considered woowoo and fringe. Of course, I'm not suggesting that I have a pet unicorn, ride a flying broom, and will take the seven kingdoms with the help of my 3 dragons (I would love to have Khaleesi's wardrobe, though). The magic I know to be true is subtle and powerful. I am unsure where the source of men's magic is, but for women it's in our center and our center is our womb. Creation comes from our wombs and isn't creation a pure and absolute form of magic? What is there to believe in? It's fact. We can create life. Period. (And speaking of our periods...)

Because of our challenging situations, it has been hard to feel the magic. Life has felt so mundane. At times, I feel I grieve the innocence of childhood and the belief in all kinds of magic and fantastical things. In those moments, I make it a point to become more aware. In awareness, I find a ton of magic. I find it in my breath. I find high magic in nature. I find incredible layers upon layers of magic in my dreams. When I feel it, it's like I found the fountain of youth. I am suddenly ageless and time stands still.

I'll never ever tell my daughter magic doesn't exist. I will never tell her anything is make believe.  I will hold her hand whenever she feels disconnected from the magical though. I will guide her to where she can find it again and let her rediscover it in her own special places and in her own time.

 

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Raw.

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Once upon a time I heard that life carves deep ravines in you by way of pain so that one day you can be deeply filled with love. Over the years I have changed so much but never as much as I did at the 22nd year of my life. One day in said year, I decided to get breast implant surgery because I had reached the peak of unhappiness with my lack of shape. Not graced with any hip curves or big breasts or an ample backside (these had somehow been programmed to be part of "the ideal woman" in my psyche) I set out to do something about it. When I woke up from that procedure and the general anesthesia began to wear off, I looked around me and knew my life had changed forever. I even said out loud to the nurse attending me, "Something is different" and that statement had nothing to do with the two new mounds jotting out from my chest. I felt different in every way.

I got home and began a tremendous healing process. One that took a month, or a few years, or one that goes on today, depending on who you ask. My poles had shifted. I had gotten the breasts I had always longed for but I no longer really wanted them. I stayed home for a month in pajamas, with waves after relentless waves of panic attacks pounding me; I quit my job; quit some friends; I began to lose my self. Suddenly I turned the dial off on so many things that were relevant to me while perceiving enormous amounts of new things that weren't really new but new to my eyes that now could SEE. I had glimpses of discomfort such as this growing up- slight panic attacks in my bed at different times growing up while I was in bed at night with my eyes closed whiletrying to understand the meaning and the scope of the infinite. But all of this... this was a point of no return.

If memory serves me correctly (which sometimes it doesn't now approaching forty), the change was more of an internal conflict at first. I grappled with anxiety and depression for a long time, mostly in silence. I would find myself keeled over in the fetal position many nights trying to salvage whatever dignity or shred of self-esteem I could hold on to. After that initial month of major consciousness shifting post-surgery, I found meditation and yoga and they would be the life preserver that would bring me back to shore time and time again throughout the course of my life.

Then I met a man who finished the process of turning the rock into a shining crazy diamond. He was the first man I ever felt something beyond words for but he was lukewarm for me, at best. The process of loving him was one I never regret even though it stung badly at the time because it completely turned all the lights on inside the house. He was the spark that ignited a unique inner fire I had not yet acquainted myself with. Through his lack of attention, he helped me find my feminist, my intellectual, a deeper insight into my rebelliousness, my inner guru, and my self-love. After him, I spent the better part of five years alone to gather myself, recuperate, go inside and find out what was in there, and what it was that I wanted to express out there.

Then I met my husband. Who- besides being the most incredible and awakened soul on the planet- was the perfect person to receive the ME that had emerged from all the breakdowns and time up on the lift. Before him, I ended up at the door of every next man bruised and broken and desperate for repair. But when I met him, full of self-knowledge, love, and awareness, I knew taking time for myself was the right thing to do and that whatever I had done during that time to discover myself was so, soooo good because this man would not share his life, his heart, his truth with just anyone.

Then we had our children.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had no idea what labor and birth would be like. I thought it might hurt. Hahahahahaha. Then when I found myself in the final pushes before her birth, when I thought I just couldn't anymore and thought I may have to ask for drugs or a hospital, I felt the soul of Everywoman permeate the room and I was transported to a place where every single woman that ever lived, lives, and will ever live were holding hands, forming a circle around me, and swaying side to side chanting a soothing song and infusing me with a strength that beamed out from their hearts and wombs that I never knew I had. Then, one more push and our first little was born to us and to herself Earth side. That was another moment I knew I would never return to whatever was before that moment. And then my midwife put her on my chest...

And then I knew that every ravine was overflowing with love and joy and many things words could not express.

And I knew that I had always been okay. No, more than okay... I had always been good. And enough. And more than enough, actually.

My crazy life played back in my mind- all the drinking, heartbreaks, friends lost, experiments, regrets, successes, mistakes, what ifs, trips, music, laughter, tears. It was all good because I was now holding this tiny beautiful piece of the universe that had grown into a little person in my womb in my arms and she was suckling at my breast.

I felt the exact same thing when my son was born. And again when my second son was born in the same way as his brother and sister, in a warm pool of water in our home, surrounded by our loving midwives.

Now my first little one is of school age. She made me a necklace with her little thumbprint on it. I wore it all day today and I recalled the time, before life had carved all this space to carry and love these immense souls, when I would have preferred shiny, expensive jewelry over a piece of handmade clay with a thumbprint on it.

I feel so full and happy.

Happy Mother's Day to every mother on Earth.

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