Thanks To Vegas

I spent this morning praying the same thing over and over: Lord, what do I do?

In the wake of yet another confusing, terrifying, heart shattering tragedy, I’m left empty-handed and full-hearted, longing to know how to make a difference for those who are grieving, even as I grieve.

I log into Facebook to see the instant politicization of these lost lives.

Gun control! One side chants.

Anything can be a weapon! The other responds.

I am tempted to respond. Tempted to take my stance. Tempted to try and solve the problem, yet again.

I’m a student of the human mind & the human system. These attacks leave me desperate to understand. Desperate to fix it. Desperate to see us all come to a common place of sorrow & compassion.

Instead I see people tearing at each other, condemning each other. I see politicians using these events as a platform. I see justifications and racist media representations of the aggressor & exploitation of the victims. I see traumatic videos shared callously with empty, emoji ridden captions.

I want to throw up & scream & cry & hold the hand of Jesus.

So today, I prayed. & I got an answer.

I am fighting a battle that’s already been won. I’m fighting against a world that’s already so broken only One can fix it, & He already has.. the time just hasn’t come to see it fulfilled yet.

I’ve struggled with feeling like my faith is a cop-out. I fear being seen as complacent, I fear losing my sense & drive for justice. So I share information & reminders, I write about my convictions, & I hope my words don’t fall on deaf ears. But in the end, I can’t change anyone. I can’t prevent mass shootings. I can’t prevent people driving others down. I can’t prevent people being stabbed. I can’t prevent rape. I can’t prevent poverty. I can’t prevent police brutality. Yet, I have poured my energy into attempting to fix these things, so much so that I’ve had none left to pour into doing the most important thing there is: loving others.

It was seeing so many people searching for their family member or friend that made me realize I never know if I’ll be the last unfriendly face someone sees. I have no control over the last moments of someone’s life — but I have control over the moments I leave in someone’s life. What if I’m the angry person honking my horn at someone on the freeway because they didn’t merge fast enough and they are hit by a drunk driver on their way home? What if I’m the irritated customer rushing my cashier who is killed by her abusive boyfriend when she gets home late from her shift? What if I’m the sour face in the waiting room before the other patient passes away from surgery complications?

These people will never care about my social media campaigns for safe driving, for domestic violence advocacy, for better health care. But in those small moments, they’ll care that I didn’t take the same amount of time to share a meme as to make an effort to look at the bigger picture and let go of my own frustrations and give grace. Give love.

Thanks to Vegas, I’m done with politics. I’m done with spending my energy trying to convince others to change. I’m done trying to fix a world that’s out of my control.

I’m just going to love hard. Im going to smile and encourage my cashier, the stranger next to me in the produce aisle, the lady sitting next to me at the doctor’s office. I’m going to let go of my need to be everywhere doing everything at once & breathe.

We’ve been told to live like every moment is our last.

But what if we lived like every moment is the last for those around us?

Thanks to Vegas, I’m going to try.

xoxo, B

What A Netflix Movie Taught Me About My Participation In Rape Culture

Dear reader,

The following post contains triggers regarding rape and sexual abuse. The content may not be appropriate for someone who is a survivor of sexual assault. Please take care of yourself.

xoxo

The other night my husband and I did what so many couples do when they’re bored on a quiet night and selected a movie off of the thriller list on Netflix.

We chose “Return To Sender”, starring Rosamund Pike of “Gone Girl” fame. The synopsis stated that it was the story of a nurse who was raped and develops a relationship with her rapist while he is in prison. Since both my husband and I are huge fans of Gone Girl (way to bring it back, Ben Affleck) we thought it would be a well made thriller.

Unfortunately, the movie itself was terrible with mediocre acting, huge plot holes, and empty subplots. However, despite the lackluster storyline, the film did raise awareness to how I am a subconscious participant in rape culture.

The beginning plot is this: Miranda, the nurse, has plans for a blind date. She has never met or even seen a photo of this date, who is a friend of one of her coworkers. The plan is for him to come to her home to pick her up for their date.

The day of the date arrives, Miranda arrives home after picking up her dry cleaning to find a man on her porch. As is reasonable, she assumes he is her date (why else would he be on her porch?) and after a little awkwardness, she invites him into her home. As they converse, it is very obvious that Miranda is uncomfortable with the situation, and finally asks the man (William) to leave. It is revealed that he is not her date (duh, saw that one coming) and that he is actually her stalker. He subsequently locks her front door and rapes her.

As this is unfolding, I am sitting there commenting on the situation to my husband.

“Well that’s a surprise. Why on earth did she let a strange man into her home?”

“She’s a woman who lives alone, why doesn’t she have a gun or at least a dog?”

“Honestly though, what was she thinking inviting him in?”

In a way, I think that my response was initially a shield for my own emotional well-being. I was raped by someone I knew and I was in a sexually abusive relationship for over a year when I was in high school. It is easier at times to cope with our own fears by putting someone we identify with in a position of blame. If we can attribute a responsibility to that person, it means the experience we had has some kind of meaning, some kind of reason. It wasn’t some senseless, brutal act that was forced upon us.

Which is exactly what rape is.

As soon as I became aware of the thoughts I was having about the rape scene, I felt a little stunned. After all, one of the biggest components of rape culture is victim blaming. But for some reason, this kind of victim blaming felt different.

After all, when we hear someone who was raped being blamed for what they were wearing, it’s easy to say “Oh come on, women shouldn’t be expected to cover their whole bodies to escape rape.”

But we are conditioned to believe it logical to say, “Well it’s common sense to not let a strange man into your home!”

But is it common sense? Is it really something that is so obvious that it negates the fact that a man abused his power and took advantage of a woman just because she let him in her home? Or have we women just been conditioned to believe that it is always our fault. That we allow rape to happen to us. When did it become common sense to expect a man to rape you if you let him in your home? When did we stop fighting to have a voice that says RAPE IS ALWAYS WRONG.

As a mother to a daughter, this breaks my heart. I will never have to teach my son (if I have one) the same things I have to teach my daughter: how to survive in a world that insists on blaming victims for the actions of their oppressors.

How do you teach someone to be safe at the same time you teach them it is not their fault if someone hurts them?

How do we teach our daughters that it is never their fault if they are harmed, regardless of actions or inactions?

Part of rape culture is the fact that predators know their prey are taught to fear them. Men who are going to rape know that they have a chance as soon as a woman lets her guard down. Maybe it’s time that we spend more time teaching men how NOT to be predators instead of teaching women how not to be prey?

As I was made aware by watching Return To Sender, I still have a lot of reconditioning to do myself before I can have any real knowledge on how to combat the rape epidemic. 

I continue to hope that as more people become aware of the reality of living in a rape culture, that more men will learn that we are done expecting them to be animals and we are learning to respect ourselves and expecting men to do the same.

xoxo

xoxo, B

I Don’t Do The Best (& that’s okay)

Here’s the thing: there is such a thing as “the best” and, to be honest, you’re probably not doing it. But neither am I.

There have been a lot of debates lately on everything we do as parents: breastfeeding, formula feeding, introducing solids, introducing water, RIC, cosleeping, bed sharing, vaccines, etc. If you are part of any mommy groups, you probably get caught up in at least one heated debate a week. And, at the end, if you’re anything like me, you’re left wondering “why does it matter? Why can’t we all agree? Why do we as moms and women, who know firsthand how hard it is to be both, participate in discussions that end in criticizing at best and shaming at worst other mothers?” & the answer that always presents itself is this: we all want to be the best mom. We all want to be the mom who is giving her child THE BEST life so that we never have to feel any guilt for the choices we make regarding our children’s lives. But what most “discussions” turn into is a two-sided argument, where the parents who don’t wait 6 months to introduce solids are ruining their child’s health, destining them to be obese, and terrible parents – while the ones who do wait 6 months are snobby and judgy know-it-alls. The catch phrase seems to be: everyone does things differently, there’s no such thing as the “best.”

There are certain things that are scientifically proven to be the “best” for your children.

It is best to breastfeed for at least the first year of your child’s life.

It is best to keep sugar & processed food out of your child’s diet.

It is best to make your own organic baby food.

It is best to wait until 6 months to introduce solids and water.

It is best to rearface at least until 2 years.

It is best to have no screen time for your child until 2 years and limit it after.

It is best to expose your child to music, colors, shapes, letters and numbers early on and take the time to direct play in short increments.

The list goes on, but already I can guarantee that you’ve compromised – at least once! – on at least one of these items. Not to mention all the gray areas like vaccines, RIC, playgrounds, cloth diapering… Etc.

But that does not mean you are not an amazing mom. There is a big difference between doing THE best and doing YOUR best. As a mom, I know I get very heated when someone tells me what is best to do with my child. I feel guilty for all the moments I let Tiny eat ice cream when she was 6 months old. I wonder if I ruined her gut because I followed her pediatrician’s recommendation to start purees at 4 months. I go overboard with learning activities to make up for letting her watch a movie with me. But then in moments when she’s sleeping peacefully in my arms and I’m looking at her perfect little self, I feel my soul settle. and I realize something. I am the best. I don’t always do what is “the best” for her but that’s okay.

Because sometimes what’s best for Tiny is having a mommy who isn’t stressed about making and storing a bunch of food for weekend trips, or a mommy who wants to cuddle AND watch a movie and chooses not to look over her shoulder after putting one on, or a mommy who decides on a park adventure and forgets the Purell and decides it’s okay for once.

There’s a kind of empowerment when you accept that there are certain things that are “best” for your baby and simultaneously accept that they aren’t “best” for you. As moms it’s easy to feel guilty and selfish (often since that’s what we are told) for doing what is “best” for us but not necessarily for our children.

So let me repeat: you don’t have to do what is “best” and that’s okay! Yes, there are definite benefits to following the recommended policies for your child’s mental and physical health, but you can make that decision for yourself. And ITS OKAY if it’s not the recommended one.

We may disagree. I may say things to you that hurt your feelings because our opinions differ. I may make you angry because I parent my children in ways you don’t approve of.

But at the end of the day… we are both just parents who love our children and our sanity very much, and often feel caught between the two. I’ll be honest – i tend to err on the side of sanity. I have yet to meet a baby completely ruined by some ice cream but have met several who were hurt by the loss of a mother.

I hope you continue this day encouraged. I hope the next time one of those mommy-arguments comes up that you are armed with the knowledge that you’re okay! To your baby, you are the absolute best (we probably even get brownie points for sharing that brownie… *gasp*) and I hope that you remember that we are all fighting a battle to raise excellent men and women in the best way we know how.

Here’s to all of us, the world’s okayest moms.

– BC

xoxo, B