February 25, 2015 § 4 Comments
With four weeks (!!!) left to go in this pregnancy, I decided to do a little DIY maternity photoshoot, inspired by one I found on Delia Creates, before McBaby Boy arrives. Here are some of my favorite pictures. I’m hoping to get a few pics with Steve and Evy in the next couple weeks, as well.
November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
I am a feminist.
Recently this phrase has been a point of major contention in U.S. society. One of the biggest reasons for this has been TIME‘s poll asking which word should be banned in 2015, which included the word “feminist.” (This article by TIME now includes an apology for including the term in the list, due to much outrage over the suggestion.) As someone who considers myself as a feminist, I, of course, was frustrated by the suggestion that “feminist” even made the list in the first place.
I came to calling myself a feminist my junior year of undergraduate studies at a private Christian liberal arts institution, when I took a class, Media Criticism, and decided to use feminist criticism as my theory because I thought, “This will be easy. Pick a movie and analyze it by bashing men.” However, the more I learned about feminism, the more I realized I was a feminist myself. I grew up with parents who encouraged me to achieve, who told me I could be anything I wanted to be, even president of the United States. I never doubted that I could excel, whether it was athletics or academics. My sister and I played in a summer rec baseball league as nine- and ten-year-olds with mostly boys. I raced boys in elementary school and routinely beat them, proving that “run like a girl” might be something to be desired, not mocked.
The problem is that feminism has and continues to be considered the second “f-word.” It continues to develop negative connotations that have people believing that it means that feminists hate and blame men for every ill in their lives. Yet, that is not what feminism is. For example, a well-respected scholar, bell hooks, explains that,
“Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” (Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics Pluto Press, 2000)
Furthermore, Kimberly Tan, in her article in the Huffington Post delineates the definition of feminism and the problems with how people currently understand it, stating,
“By definition, feminism is simply the idea of guaranteed equality between men and women—the belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. Yet somehow, the term has evolved to take on a radical and pejorative connotation, leading those who support the ideals of feminism to not actually identify as feminists.” (para. 4)
If feminism is the movement to end sexism and fight for equality of the sexes, it is a good thing. Because of feminism, women can vote, women have better access to all levels of education, women can achieve higher positions at jobs and higher ranks in the military, and much more.
Yet, feminism is being interpreted as monolithic, as if one version of feminism represents all feminists. Saying that feminism’s one definition is hating men is like saying that Ted Haggard or other televangelists represent all Christians, or that Todd Akin represents all Republicans. In a society that feeds off of sensationalism, making feminism out to be something bad is what gains traction, yet this should be questioned. What it actually leads to is a population making uninformed decisions about words, phrases, or ideas. And, I would argue, many people who proclaim they are not feminists likely are. As Tan explains,
“In reality, feminism cuts much deeper than just shallow proclamations that men and women are equal. Calling ourselves feminists establishes recognition of the inequalities that still remain and reaffirms our commitment to eliminate these underlying issues so entrenched in the fabric of our society. Dismissing feminism only creates the incentive to dismiss the ideas of gender equality altogether—to overlook the fundamental, structural changes that our culture so desperately needs.” (para 12)
To circle back to where this post started, I am a feminist. I am a woman married to a man and we have an almost-two-year-old and another child on the way and a very egalitarian relationship when it comes to chores, childcare, work, financial decisions, and the everyday realities of life. So if someone were to ask me if we need feminism, my answer is a resounding yes. Is feminism bad? To ask a question like that is to oversimplify a concept that has multiple interpretations. Some forms of feminism may not be productive, but at its very foundation, feminism is good and is necessary if we want to see positive structural changes.
March 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Exciting news! My article on an image of U.S. servicewomen breastfeeding in uniform has recently been published online! It will be available in hard copy in June of 2015, but until then, I have been allotted 50 free eprints to share with colleagues, friends, and family. Simply click on this link, and it will direct you to my article. Enjoy :)
March 20, 2014 § 7 Comments
This past year it has been so fun watching Evy grow and become a little person of her own. It’s amazing to think that a year ago she would stay put in one place, and now she’s crawling everywhere, climbing on things, eating real food, drinking out of a sippy cup, saying many words, and walking with our support or along furniture. “Wait,” you’re thinking, “did I read that right? She’s still not walking on her own?” Maybe you didn’t think that, but I have definitely thought it a time or two. And this thought is one of the reasons I’ve considered getting rid of my Facebook account. It’s called the Mommy Wars.
I’ve especially noticed that people who have their first children tend to post many of these things on Facebook as a way to brag. And what does this bragging do? It makes others whose children may not have reached those milestones quite yet feel as if their children are somehow inferior. None of this really bothered me until recently, when Evy was still mainly crawling despite many babies a few weeks younger than her who were already walking. Because Evy had been on the earlier end when it came to rolling, teeth, and crawling, I just assumed she’d also be walking early (and my naturally competitive personality definitely hoped so!). But she is not interested in it. Not at all. No, she is cautious. So cautious that she will practically run while holding on with both hands to our hands, but if we let go, she stubbornly decides to sit on the ground.
Mommy wars can include a range of subjects—from why it is “better” for moms to work or stay at home, to whose children are smarter and/or cuter. And they don’t just include moms. Dads and grandparents are not exempt, lest we try to give them a pass. For me, I have noticed that people tend to brag about things that they cannot control. For example, someone’s child gets a tooth early or has more hair or rolls early and that child is suddenly “advanced.” (Because we all have friends who are super smart and have attributed it to their advanced dental, follicle, or rolling abilities.)
Curious if this meant anything, I decided to use my job as a researcher and look into it . . . by Googling it :) And, of course, using the search terms “early crawler, late walker” I found many articles that explained that babies who crawl early and walk later are actually smarter, because they have to use both sides of their brains when crawling, which is much more cognitive labor than just walking. Of course, as one of Steve’s coworkers told me, the internet is like the lamppost for the drunk: often used for support instead of illumination. This explains why changing one’s search terms can also bring up other results that explain that there is actually no real significance between children who crawl longer than others.
What it all comes down to is the normal range. Although parents are often told what is average, we have to keep in mind that average is just that, the average. In fact most kids fall on either side of the average, in the “normal” range. So, for example, the normal range for walking is nine to sixteen months old, yet the average is one year. Evy is almost 14 months old, and she’s doing just fine. She’s walking faster when she holds our hands, balancing on her own at times, and also developing in other ways, such as language and social skills. As one article stated, when children decide to walk is a combination of three main factors: strength, balance, and temperament. It seems as if Evy inherited my temperament to play it safe. She is not a risk taker when it comes to walking, and until she is absolutely sure she can do it, I think she’s going to hold on to our hands for dear life. However, I have a feeling when she decides to let go, she may be running, or at least speed walking :)
Although it drives me crazy to see post after post of people bragging about why their kid is more advanced or cuter than others (we all think that about our own kids, don’t we?), I will likely stay on Facebook because it is the quickest way for me to share photos of Evy with family. But, when it comes to her development, I won’t compare her to other babies, because each baby is unique and, “No matter which baby in the neighborhood walks first or wins the speed race, the age of walking has nothing to do with eventual intelligence or motor skills. When and how your baby walks is as unique as his [or her] personality.” And I absolutely love Evy’s personality.
July 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’ve been hinting in the past couple posts about some exciting news I have, and I can finally share it: I have co-authored a book! I did not want to write about it until I had a copy of the book in my hands, ensuring that I was not imagining things and that my hard work was not in vain. Although I do not yet have a copy in my hands, it is listed on Amazon.com, which makes it feel quite official. Click here to check out the listing.
The bin Laden raid occurred the spring before I started the doctorate program at the University of Utah. I was quite interested in it (as were many Americans and people around the world), and it became the focus of much of my scholarship. Last fall, as school was starting, my advisor, Marouf Hasian, asked me if I’d be interested in co-authoring a book with him about the different stories emerging about the bin Laden raid. Specifically, the book, No Easy Day, had just come out, and it was yet another story about the raid, this time from a SEAL’s perspective. Initially, I declined his offer, since I was pregnant, trying to take classes, teach, and just a little overwhelmed. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized what an amazing opportunity it would be, so I agreed.
We worked hard the fall semester, and submitted it to Peter Lang Publishing, who picked it up. I couldn’t believe it was happening (I don’t think I still believe it. I need my copy to arrive so I can hold it in my hands). The goal was to work quickly and have the book ready to go to the press before I had my baby. Unfortunately, the timeline was stretched a bit, so a couple weeks after Evelyn was born, I was still working on the book, but we were able to get it all sent off by the end of March, and now it’s on the market!
The book is aimed at more academic audiences, and discusses the multiple stories of American exceptionalism that emerged after the bin Laden raid. We discuss the perspectives of the SEALs, the Obama administration, the Romney campaign, Zero Dark Thirty, and bin Laden’s family. I wrote two and a half of the seven chapters, and helped with much of the editing, proofing and organizing of the rest of the chapters.
It was a great experience to learn about the book publishing process. I cannot thank Marouf Hasian enough for taking me on in this project. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many more exciting things to come!
June 2, 2013 § 2 Comments
Ok, so this post is overdue. The spring semester ended a month ago. However, I’ve spent the last month trying to catch up (and work on exciting projects—more later. Love that teaser?). Now that I’m (mostly) caught up, I figured I write a bit about my experience having a baby four weeks into the spring semester of my second year in a doctorate program.
I was very fortunate to have so much amazing support and assistance when Evelyn was born. In fact, I only had to bring her to class ONCE all semester because we didn’t have childcare. Throughout the semester, we had parents, siblings, and friends either visit or watch Evelyn so that I could go to class. Additionally, I was co-teaching interpersonal communication with a professor, who made me take a maternity leave for six weeks (he emailed me and told me to stop responding to student emails the week after Evelyn was born!), and I had five amazing classmates who substituted for me. Although I went back to class the third week after Evy was born, I did not have to teach until she was six weeks old, which was so wonderful. My professors were very understanding, and despite a very difficult semester, I was able to finish all my work on time.
Last semester consisted of the most difficult and the most rewarding few months of my life. Not only did we get to welcome an amazing and fun baby into the world, but I also saw how much I am capable of accomplishing in school, as well. I knew we were ready to have a baby, but I had absolutely no idea how much I would enjoy being a mommy. I had to learn to prioritize once again, and had to deal with the guilt I would feel if I wasn’t with Evy, or if I was with Evy and wasn’t doing homework. I would remind myself that part of the reason I was in school was for Evelyn, and that if I put all my time toward her and didn’t finish school, we’d all be in trouble. My goal was to finish the semester without incomplete, and I did it. It was so, so, so difficult to make it happen (to which many of the visitors can attest). There were times when Evelyn would decide that she did not want to sleep three hours like she normally did, or that she did not want to sleep at all between 4-10pm. At times I would put her in the Baby Bjorn and do homework, or vacuum, or something just to make sure that she was happy and I was productive. Sometimes I had to read with her in my lap. But in any case, I was always willing to put her before work.
Being a graduate student mom has its downfalls, since my work is always with me and I can’t leave it at the office, which might mean the whole day feels like it’s been dedicated to homework. Although I don’t necessarily go into an office for 40 hours/week, I definitely put in at least that many hours in a much more sporadic way. And, I never really had a maternity leave (I’m taking a summer class right now, and working on other odds and ends). Yet, I think I have been extremely fortunate to have a baby while in graduate school. Steve has a flexible schedule and has been so supportive and involved—waking up with me in the middle of the night in the beginning to help with diaper changes and feedings, and helping with Evy when he would get home from school so I could work on homework—which made everything easier and more fun. As a result, I have (for the most part) been able to do homework while Evelyn’s sleeping (or when we have had visitors to take care of her), and still play with her while she’s awake. I wouldn’t trade this (crazy, stressful, exciting) time for anything.
In the end, it’s come down to perspective and priorities for me. As long as I keep a realistic perspective on things and remember what is most important, the rest will fall into place. There will be compromises, but it does not necessarily mean I have to give anything up completely. I just need to keep reminding myself of this :)
March 9, 2013 § 2 Comments
Ok. It’s been a while since my last post. A long while. Over 5 months, to be exact. Oops! I had a pretty busy semester, filled with preparing for a baby as well as doing coursework, and a few other exiting things, that hopefully I’ll be sharing with you soon. In the meantime, I figure my first post of 2013 should relate to the most exciting and recent development in my life: our new baby girl, Evelyn. Here are some take-aways I have from being pregnant. Some musings, if you will…
1. Maternity pants are actually comfortable. Amazingly comfortable. I was resistant to maternity pants because they just looked uncomfortable, like I’d have to be constantly pulling them up. However, once my regular jeans and a belly band were just too uncomfortable, I decided to try preggo jeans and I was pleasantly surprised—to the point of actually considering never wearing regular jeans again :)
2. Women will insist you cut ahead of them in public restroom lines, but they don’t let you cut if you have children. I was really surprised by this. When I was traveling in the fall, women in airports consistently insisted I go ahead of them in line because I was pregnant. It was awesome. However, I also noticed that many women had disdain for women with small children, which I found ironic. What do they think happens after pregnancy?
3. You stop shedding hair. This one really surprised me. My hairdresser had warned me about this, explaining that the pregnancy hormones might cause me to not shed hair like we all do on a regular basis. My hair got super thick and took forever to blow dry as my pregnancy went on. And now I’ll be interested (and probably somewhat terrified!) to now deal with the massive hair loss.
4. Months are not four weeks. In the beginning, I started counting months in four-week increments. However, with the help of the book What to Expect, and a little common sense, I soon realized that months are about four weeks and three days. Therefore, 12 weeks is not 3 months, 20 weeks is not 5 months, 32 weeks is not 8 months. I think the most discouraging thing would be to think I was 8 months pregnant and still had 8 weeks to go! Think of it this way: if a month was four weeks long, there would be 13 months in a year.
5. Even if you don’t feel sick or uncomfortable, take advantage of being pregnant when it comes to your spouse, because after the baby’s born, you’ll both be tired. Reeeeeeeally tired. I had a great pregnancy: no morning sickness, exercised the whole time (running regularly until 37 weeks), no real discomfort. As a result, I was very independent, and never took advantage of the whole “I’m pregnant, so could you…” This was not smart. Now that Evelyn’s here, both Steve and I are tired. Next time around, I will milk it for all it’s worth :)
6. Everyone has an opinion. And they don’t stop sharing them with you once you’ve delivered. When I was pregnant, opinions ranged across a variety of topics: from what I should or should not be eating to anger that I wouldn’t tell strangers the name we had chosen. (You wouldn’t believe how many people would say, “But I don’t really know you. Who am I going to tell?” Ummm. Exactly. You don’t know me.) But my FAVORITE one, the one that doesn’t stop after the baby is born, goes like this, “Well, when I was pregnant (had a newborn, etc.), I didn’t do that, and my kids turned out fine.” Ugh.
7. Plan on going all the way to your due date…and possibly longer. In our childbirth class, they told us that due dates should be viewed as “due estimates,” since it’s possible that a woman could go into labor within weeks of her due date—on both sides of the due date. I took this advice, and told myself I’d be pregnant until at least February 3 (my due date). However, when I had a “false alarm” two weeks early, all bets were off, and I became super impatient. I’d lost my mental strength and just wanted Evelyn NOW. She still did come early…by 3 hours and 29 minutes :)
Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll be better about posting, especially fun pics of our new adventures with Evelyn.