14 March 2010

What DOESN'T Matter (a "mean" post)

In a previous post, I mention reaching out to others - even just to say "hi" - to hold the door, etc. From my perspective, I am a stay at home mom, who, for years, had limited interaction with people. I craved friendship. I was a little ashamed that I didn't have close friends nearby. I was happy in my world, but... I have to admit, I did get teary thinking about it all. So... truthfully, when someone asked how old my baby was - asked where I got my shirt - struck up a conversation at the baby pool - or talked to me at the library toddler story hour, I was eternally grateful - made me feel like I belonged in some way.

I get very tired of people judging and excluding others. I see it so often, I wonder if it is just part of insecure human nature to want to elevate yourself in this way. Before I begin my rant, let me disclaim it by saying, I'm not a grudge holder, but ... I do not forget what I've seen as part of a person's character - or lack thereof (I can already hear some people gearing up to blast me for being on my high horse - don't bother - I rarely feel "better than" someone else. Blast me, however, and you will become one of the lucky few firmly planted beneath me in terms of moral character for eternity ;-) - yeah - gasp). What I observe about someone, too, does not necessarily mean I don't like them. I realize we are all flawed (and that absolutely includes me... so... grain of salt, right?).

I have seen women viciously roll their eyes at pregnant neighbors or friends, trying to handle little kids or wrestle groceries from the car. Hand over mouth, they turn, lower their eyes and begin the gossip. "She's not that tired. Why does she act like she doesn't feel well? She looks terrible; how much weight has she gained? My husband had to help her with her laptop the other day. Are you going to her one year old's birthday party? I don't want to go - boring." Giggle. Giggle. A year later, these same women are bragging about their own big pregnant bellies, workin' that extra 50 pounds, acting so sick that they have to lay down for hours and their friends and neighbors bring them food, calling that same person about whom they snarked a bitch for not attending their kid's birthday party - More. Shocking? Not really.

I know women (and, yes, I'm picking on women today - Why? Because we should support one another - lend a hand - offer the "benefit of doubt" - NOT gossip about others or judge other females for how many kids they do or do not have - if they wear heels or Converse high tops and combat boots - whatever - my experience, given my current lot in life, is mostly women, so there - no apologies) who consider themselves artists, open-minded hipsters, liberal cool parents, music snobs, etc. YET immediately stereotype the women they meet who maybe did not choose to have their babies at the Midwife Center - or who enjoy buying expensive jeans and designer bags - who may send their kids to private or, worse, Catholic, schools (vocal self-proclaimed atheists rarely listen to other opinions OR notice other truly searching / I need an answer atheists - open your freakin' eyes, right? Reach out - use that alleged open mind of yours). Do you REALLY ask sincerely about what kind of music another person likes? Or - if he/she isn't wearing black and doesn't have any arm ink, do you just not bother.... Hmmmm... that looks like an expensive haircut, she probably doesn't know who The Pixies, Bad Brains, The Pogues, Metric or Passion Pit are? Funny - that was a random grouping of music, wasn't it? I'm expecting some snark on that as well. Why didn't you include blah blah blah (remember -that's what pontificating sounds like to me); they are true visionaries circa 2010.... WHATEVAH!!!

Here's a little something about me (and, again, don't feel sorry for me - don't be pissed - don't peg me a narcissist, I'm just talking...). I am a former vegan who has turned back to meat for health reasons (anemia, etc. - don't ask) - though I am still a HUGE animal rights person. I am also well-versed in nutrition, having had to watch my weight for years as a dancer (and, yeah - doesn't bother me - I needed to be fit - and I wanted a certain look - my decision, in part - but, it was also part of that world - you don't have to like it or approve - it is what it is). I raised my oldest vegetarian for years - though all my youngests eat meat. I disapprove of fat-laden, red meat heavy diets. I am a big raw foods, wheat germ and vegan yogurt, carrot juice and other vitamin-rich drinks that don't fizz fan to this day. I usually keep my mouth shut when other, all-knowing people tell me how they are foodies, nutrition fanatics, etc., implying that any of us within earshot are not. I am a good cook (not great) who can whip up the finest creamy casserole or sloppy joes as well... I'm not trying to be someone I'm not - I'm not trying to impress anyone.

Back to the dance thing ... I worked my ass off for years. I went to some pretty impressive auditions, studied with some fantastic teachers, performed in many capacities, taught all forms, LOVED IT with all my being for years. I was very good. I don't know why, but some people are surprised when they see photos of what I could do (can do ;-). You were on pointe? You're that flexible ( was a kick ass gymnast for years too - worked HARD on it)? Sometimes... and I'm going to shock some again - I get - "I'm better than you at yoga. Oh - I was in dance, but I quit because it wasn't cool. I can do that. You look too heavy to be a dancer (and / or your boobs are too big for a dancer's - and, yes, I do have some baby weight still on that needs to come off - totally my fault because I eat and I don't move enough, currently - soon...)." Again - these are adults!?!? And, again, I keep my mouth shut. I know they aren't dancers. I know they suck at yoga (though I would never say any of this - and wouldn't even think it until attacked, know what I mean?). I know they're angry for some reason. Maybe some of you who read me know what I'm talking about? Though... I'm SURE you're nicer - even in the private recesses of your brain - than I am. None of the people I'm pontificating on now read me (at least I don't think so... and, yeah, if pontificating sounds like "blah blah blah" to me, I can't even imagine what you guys are actually reading / hearing here :-) since I am, in fact, pontificating).

I walk barefoot all year - do yoga daily - raise my kids to respect all races, religions, etc. I also love fashion - Manolo Blahnik shoes - Seven jeans - crazy expensive tops and bags and accessories. Can't help myself. I deck my kids out too. So what. I also study Eastern religions - I am obsessed with the occult, ghosts, the afterlife, etc. - always have been (I checked a ghost story book out of the library so much as a kid, they gave it to me when it became really worn) - yet I support my daughter in all her Catholic sacraments, altar serving, etc. and even occasionally wear a little silver mini rosary in the shape of the symbol for "woman" looped on my thumb - Given to me by a nun during a difficult time in my life, it does give me some strength.

I send my kids to Catholic School because when I was a single mother and had no one in my family (except for my wonderful Dad) who I was close to (busy being judged by everyone from my youngest brother to my oldest childhood friend - some of this has changed - some hasn't), I sent my beloved Olivia to a school where I knew she would be safe and happy, knowing I would move a lot, I would work a lot, I would stress a lot. Also, my late father was Catholic, and I have fantastic memories of holidays with his family - my sweet aunts and uncles and fun cousins :-). I had a horrible public school experience (and I don't even have enough fingers and toes to count the people I currently know who are pro-public education and vocal and mean about the "fluffy" private schools I allow my daughter to explore for high school, etc., but... choose a charter school for their kids. Not entirely public, my friends - alternative a la private curriculum. Think about it - at least before you open your mouth, that is).

My Dad was raised well - ethnic, working class - fantastic work ethic, religious, kind, giving, respectful of others. He did well in life (in many ways - but I am talking specifically financially here because so many people relate to that as a discussion point) so that when my parents lived in Europe, I was driven by a private chauffeur - I ate in the finest restaurants - I traveled extensively and stayed in the finest hotels, etc. - though... my family preferred to travel like Europeans, attempt the language, etc. (I can speak French, can understand Spanish, and my family reads / understands a combination of the following: German, Spanish, Luxembourghese, Polish). My parents went to the Grand Duke's Ball in Luxembourg - they had accounts at the finest stores in town - they belonged to a private supper club - a private men's club, etc. My Dad would have kicked my butt if I acted like I was better than anyone else. I never would. I keep my mouth shut when those close to me and my kids now (for whatever reason - family, marriage, etc.) tell me HOW to live well. My perspective has changed.... I have this - I have that - the past, present, future - I have what I believe.

I am not conservative by any stretch of the imagination (politically, personally, emotionally) - though may appear so or may lean that way on occasion because I am committed to my kids and my family. I am open-minded beyond most people's expectations when it comes to personal relationships - though my husband and I are definitely welded together now by commitment to the beautiful life we have created - the amazing places our kids and our relationships with them will take us. I am swelling with pride, tears in my eyes right now, because my Enzo said today that he loves that I "make a comfy home". I do everything for my kids. I have gone to extreme measures in the past for my Olivia (again, we were alone). There are / were adults who don't understand my motives - would prefer that their needs are met. I don't care. They are adults; they can suck it up - own up to their mistakes / shortcomings. I've had to do the same, and it is NOT pretty. I mean - ouch - but you'll be better for it.

I am multi-degreed but will wear a low-cut shirt if I feel like it or put some self-tanner on my legs (does not make me any less cerebral - heck - I may even over apply the lipsticky, which, for some reason, is only acceptable "in certain circles" if you're one of two extremes - wearing a Lily Pulitzer floral or happen to be a tough rockabilly, roller derby girl). I am moral and uphold ethics in my work, my family life and in how I deal with anyone I meet yet I might swear now and then - I might not worry so much if someone has a baby before marriage or chooses a relationship that suits him or her though not me or, for example, someone's opinionated conservative mother (to illustrate my point in a really strange but universal way). I garden and buy organic - nurse my babies past a year old and do not like medications that numb or sedate me or my baby in any way (personal preference - those who need to be sedated - you do what you need to do :-), but... I will always go to a hospital over a home birth or a midwife center (though love and respect midwives - albeit in a medical setting - I have lately been harshly judged for this revelation). Too many lives lost over the years to lack of medical intervention, in my opinion. My baby would have died during my first birth without medical intervention, and I would have died during my second - and, no, I will not be elaborating now. Part of my point is this: respect what you hear - what you see - what you feel. Know that others feel differently and are entitled to without explanation.

So... really -reach out - open your mind - accept others - TRY to make a new friend each week - not just for you but for others too. This world needs to be a kinder, gentler place right now, and I just don't see it heading that way. Maybe a little nudge .... (albeit a bitchy one from me)..... Everyone you meet will be (or should be) a sincere study in extremes.... don't try to figure it all out - maybe just try to absorb and listen. That's what I'm attempting these days.... though most often we all want to discuss and disclose (also human nature - and something to really enjoy - give and take, right?).

Photo: Me - laughing it all off....(holding one of my best friends - my camera ;-). And - again, hope this makes sense... I write pretty quickly and off the cuff, preferring to spend my time with my lovelies and my own personal interests (which is something we all share, right?). To all - I REALLY do appreciate your stories, your contributions to my blog via email, Facebook or whatever. Keep it all coming!


michele james-parham said...


suzannep said...

sheer poetry. sing out and the world will sing with you!

Sherri said...

Thank you, thank you - those who agree that such truth is poetry :-)... I am, however, expecting an old-school style "beat down" from others ;-).... BUT .. will continue to sing....

Sue said...

What DOES matter is that you are happy with yourself. The vortex of mean can be really prevalent in the mommy crowd - just where is doesn't belong.

I thought Lisa's comment on FB said it all...After living in the icy Midwest for years, she made more friends in a few months in a heavily "transplant" city like New York.

Sherri said...

Yeah - Lisa said a mouthful with that (remember her - Lakewood girl?:-). I'm finding, though, that a lot of us feel the same way - it all just goes unspoken.... Hmmm..... Back to Suzanne's "sing out".... take notes, all :-).