My stilettos, my choice. Your Hijab? You’ve been brainwashed!

c1492d1b9a40d95336eb738d895c9ae2Ever hear anything like this? “It’s shocking that Muslim women have so little say over what they wear. They say it’s their choice to wear the Hijab. They’ve been brainwashed! Their free will has been corrupted and they have no idea what real choice and real freedom is. Not like me. I know real freedom.”

You stand there in your size 9, 4 inch stilettos crammed with your size 9.5 feet, toenails painted and cuticles trimmed, leg hair ripped out by the roots with hot wax applied regularly. The shoes hurt but they make your legs look great.  You know you could wear flats… you choose to wear heels.

Your $12 ultra sheer super control top pantyhose do their best to contain that tiny tummy bulge but what it can’t hold in is managed by your Spanx. Your dress is exactly the right mix of professional and sexy so that your meeting today will go well; if your ideas don’t dazzle them, they’ll be hoping for a peek to determine of the colour of your $65 underwire push up bra and wondering if it matches your thong and whether you’re landing strip or clean. You choose to wax because it makes you feel sexier…

Your skin glows… it should, after being religiously scrubbed, buffed and exfoliated. You moisturize twice daily of course, to stay smooth and silky. Your makeup only takes a half-hour now, and you’ve narrowed the routine down to about 15 steps and products. The cost is alarming, but that’s how it goes. You choose to use good skin care and cosmetics; they are much more expensive, but they make you feel prettier…

Your hair… well, it continues to be a struggle. You are going grey and would like very much to let it go, let it happen. In your profession though, grey hair is an invitation to the younger, bolder, hipper folks to step in. You’re not quite ready to let that happen so it’s cut, trim, dye, streak, highlight, foils… you name it. You choose to colour your hair because you know it makes you look younger and sexier…

You pull on your exercise gear and go for a run a few times a week. You hate it hate it hate it and it hurts your knees but you only have a little time to exercise and you seriously don’t want to gain any weight over the winter. Your body needs to be bikini ready when you head to Mexico for a winter break. You may be getting older but you sure don’t want to seem like you’ve given up! And your man, well he likes you looking slim and hot and you want to keep him looking…

Women in the west are the most brainwashed in the history of the world, I would wager. I’m one of them. I have bought into the Virginia Slims, Coca- Cola-Calvin Klein-Betty Crocker-Cosmopolitan femininity construct as much as the next woman. I have no place, no right and no authority on which to judge the choices of any woman anywhere. My choices are the result of the brainwashing I’ve undergone my entire life. Here in the West, that’s celebrated as personal freedom.

There are lots of reasons to be angry about the treatment of women in other countries, under other regimes and political or religious systems. Squawking over women’s lack of choices is hypocritical at best so long as we continue to be pummelled with messages about how to be prettier, fitter, sexier so long as we keep making dolls for our daughters that look like little anorexic prostitutes. We can’t keep offering our own women the choice between being being blow-up doll bitches or perfect Pinterest moms while condemning the choices of others. We need to think about this…

Moral authority? We don’t have it.

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My baby girls are 20 & 16?!

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What a crazy emotional week for me. My eldest turned 20 years old today and my youngest will be 16 on Thursday. How? How can this be? I swear to you that only a few weeks ago they were little and snuggly and damp, all sweet breath and need and warm cheeks and lullabies.

My first born is preparing to launch… this nest has grown too small for her. She’s off to a real city, a bigger city, a new fresh start…school, friends, the BEGINNING of it all. My youngest is still half mine, half belonging to the world. So hard for me to separate, she is so much more ready than I am. 16 is nowhere near as old as it was when her big sister turned 16.

When your first child reaches a milestone, a threshold, it’s HUGE. 10 is so mature. 16 is SO incredible, so grown up. Since you’ve never been there before, it’s all enormous, especially because the younger siblings seem so… young, in comparison. Now, as my “baby” turns 16, I look at her with shocked eyes and wonder how on earth this young girl can be so near to being grown. How can I imagine letting her do the things I let her older sister do, especially now that I KNOW better!

When I grew up as the eldest of 6, I was the trail breaker. I had to fight all the fights, win all the  battles, break down the door for my younger siblings. Once my parents got through battling with me over every living detail they had lost the will to fight… at least that’s what I assumed. Maybe they just decided they’d best pick their battles and trust in the universe a bit. Either way my younger sisters had it WAAAAY easier than I did.

In my house, it’s the opposite. I was so innocent, so naiive as a mother I let my eldest do things I will NOT allow my younger daughter to do. I know… now I KNOOW so much more than I did then. Poor kid 😉 Her big sister was supposed to clear the way, not alert me to the risks!

Either way I have these wonderful 3 kids, all of them growing up in their own way and following their own rocky paths. I want everything fabulous, magnificent, exciting, scary and exciting for them. I want them to be explorers, adventurers, life long learners, readers, do-ers, sharing kindness and their gifts along the way. Thankfully too, my son’s birthday isn’t ’til Fall, so I have some time to recover before getting all emotional again.

Can they possibly do that without growing up? Without growing away? Without leaving me? Please?  This is a week of joy, of remembering, of story telling… and of being a big soppy sobby emotional puddle. Happens to me this time every year. Hard to avoid; two birthdays in a week… Happy Birthday Emily, Happy Birthday Chloe.  Love you both bigger than sunshine.

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Cheering for the Good Guys

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I have daughters; two of them. Beauties both…stunners in fact, and that’s a blessing and a curse. Or maybe that’s two blessings and two curses? (I’ll research the mathematical grammar or grammatical mathematics on that and get back to you).

Either way, my two daughters are as smart, funny, clever, witty, bright, sharp and amazing as they are gorgeous (yeah, I’m that mama…modest, humble, blah blah).  That means they attract a fair bit of attention from the opposite sex. Weird thing though; they’ve both had some pretty bad luck with guys.

But something unimaginable seems to have happened lately…they have BOTH begun tentative relationships with (shhhhh) NICE boys. I know! Can it be true? Can they really both have found boys who understand how to be kind, respectful, gentle, NICE, at the same time?! Are there actually TWO nice boys in this little town? Amazing!

Young boys don’t always seem to know a girlfriend is kind of a privilege; not just standard issue with your first job and your learner’s license! I’m sure there are plenty of nice young gentlemen out there, but recent experience suggests a generation of x-box cussing, rap video influenced, “homo” bashing gangstas have contributed to the low expectations of my daughters and their friends. What a shame.

It’s so beautiful to see them start to shimmer now. What a cool thing to see them honored. How wonderful to see them with young men who would rather talk than text, who take them on dates… dinner, a movie (even paying sometimes), and who aren’t looking to hear the punch line before the joke… As a mom, it’s so nice to know that someone besides me and their Dad is telling them they are beautiful, funny, smart…amazing.

These relationships might or might not last. You can be sure their impact will be lasting though. These “good guys” are going to raise the bar; they’re going to set new, higher standards for my daughters. It won’t be easy accepting crap treatment after being treated like a prize… and I’ll always be grateful to these young men (and their families who raised them well) for raising my girls’ expectations.

Cheers to the good guys!

Friends, Wine, and Beautiful Daughters

ImageIt’s hard to know where to begin. The last week has been a whirlwind of laughing, drinking, talking, crying, travelling, shopping and a bit more drinking. Probably more drinking than I ought to ‘fess up to… so never mind. Forget you read that part.

My youngest was sick in hospital over the Christmas break, and we were off to see a specialist in the Big City. Our eldest daughter joined us on the trip, meaning it was three of us ladies away for the weekend.

There are lots of components to a medical trip for us. There is the medical, obviously…doctor visit, tests, plans, treatment, new meds, probably some pain and discomfort for wee girl and always worry for Mom, but we just get through that part as quickly as we can.

We visit and we eat…oh my, there’s all that fabulous food! Coming from a small center, the food options in a real city are dizzying! So much CHOICE!! And of course, there is the SHOPPING. I’m not talking about a prolonged trip to the mall. I’m not talking about a day in the shops. Nope. I am talking marathon, non-stop, strategic, day after all-day Olympic medal shopping. These girls are ridiculous. Because they are employed and because we live far from good shopping, they save their money…they plan….they plot.

They damn near killed me. I am glad to report the money spent was NOT MINE. That is, in and of itself, worthy of note. I absolutely LOVE that the money wasn’t mine, actually. So, I let them blow their money while I visited, hiked, and drank wine with friends.

Let’s take a moment and reflect on the value of drinking good wine (or even crap wine!) with friends. It’s the best kind of therapy. After what feels like months of anxiety, worry and stress, a good belly laugh in a friend’s kitchen over a glass of wine felt like medicine. I left home Thursday morning holding my shoulders tight, frowning slightly and filled with worry. The doctor’s appointment didn’t alleviate the worry, not a bit. The friends… the friends and the wine, the friends, the wine and the walking…? That did it. That eased me like nothing else really could.

So I’ll think about that as I go forward this month; I want to be that friend with wine. I want to be ready with my door open, arms open and (you better believe it), bottle open for my friends. ‘Cause we all know we don’t need our friends to give us answers…we just need them to keep our secrets, hold our hands and keep our glasses filled. Cheers, and thank you to my friends. I’ve got the corkscrew in hand… come on over!