On #InternationalWomensDay – Be You, Because You ARE Strong

Happy International Women’s Day!

You might be surprised to know that history records the first International Women’s Day as far back as 1911! Women have been fighting a loooooonnnnnnnggggg time for equality, and will continue to do so. I hate this fact, but to avoid dwelling on the negative, I will take pleasure in seeing how far we’ve come! Keep up the fantastic work, my sisters!

I’m seeing so many quotes and memes on social media today about women, and I’ve observed many of these quotes and memes focus on the word STRONG. Why is that?

Even my personal favorite: “Strong women: May we know them, may we raise them, may we be them.” urges us that being strong is the ultimate goal. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if this battle-cry is being interpreted the same way across the board.

Naturally, the physical sense of the word is a positive goal. Being physically strong isn’t just about how many pounds you can bench-press, but about being healthy. Everyone wants health for themselves and those they care about, right?

But what about being strong in other ways? How do we define that? And what about the women who don’t exude the “traditional” traits of “strength”? I use quotation marks simply because these words are so open to interpretation.

I worry that International Women’s Day is moving towards a different meaning – a celebration of society’s perceived “best of the best” so to speak. That’s not what it’s about.

The woman who doesn’t run marathons for herself or charity can still be strong simply running after her toddler at the park. Or watching Netflix marathons on TV.

The woman who doesn’t own a financially successful business or have a high-powered career can still be strong owning the responsibility to feed her children by working hard at her minimum-wage job.

That woman who doesn’t prepare kale-qinoa-chia seed-avocado crust-less pie to feed her family can still be strong asking her kids to set the table and put the ketchup and plum sauce out for the frozen chicken fingers with tater-tots her family will devour with enthusiasm.

That woman who never declares loudly “Fuck that shit!” can still be strong when she sobs into her pillow because someone hurt her feelings.

That woman who can’t be Ms. Independent-I-Can-Do-It-All-Myself can still be strong when she asks friends or family for physical or emotional support.

That woman who doesn’t kick that asshole partner’s ass to the curb can still be strong when she stays in a seemingly unsatisfying relationship for complex reasons that nobody but her really understands.

That woman who doesn’t proudly don her swimsuit while ignoring her obesity can still be strong when she avoids pools and the beach.

Nobody defines “STRONG” for everybody.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who opens their eyes and confronts the challenges of life each day is strong, and even those who open their eyes but then decides to close them, stay in bed and avoid the world are still strong in making the decision to do just that.

If you are human and trying to live your life as best you can – you are strong.

Should women be equal with men? Youbetcha.

Should women stop being human to try to fit into someone else’s definition of “strong”?

I think you know my answer to that question.

Be you. That’s strong enough.

 

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Because the Name “Mad Cow Disease” was Already Taken

PMS.  How many other acronyms create such havoc?  How many other letters are avoided in discussion so carefully?

Not sure about anyone else, but I have a couple of issues with these letters.   First of all, NOBODY talks about them, unless you’re having a 3rd glass of wine with your closest girlfriends or seeing a marriage counselor.   Second, they are a bit misleading in meaning.  I mean, c’mon – what’s with the “pre” ?  Nice try.  We all know it ain’t always just “pre”.   Third, I just should NOT be getting PMS at my age with a more ferocious intensity than I did in my twenties.  So not fair.

Why doesn’t anyone talk openly about PMS?  We all make jokes about it, except when we’re in the middle of it, of course.  (Don’t DARE make a PMS joke when the launch sequence has already started.) Yet somehow it doesn’t seem to be a topic that comes up very often at dinner parties or on blogs.   We all pat each other on the back and tell one another we are all great mommies (we are) and doing a great job (we are) and life is tough when you’re a mom (it is) but I have not seen many blogs about this monthly phenomenon that virtually cripples some women.   Are we scared it’s too personal a topic?  Embarrassed by it?  Pretending if we don’t acknowledge it, those letters might go away?  When I thought about writing a blog about this topic, even I had a few reservations.  What if my dad reads it?  What if the guys I went to high school with and am friends with on Facebook read it?  What if a possible employer reads it?  Why do I care?  It’s human, it’s natural and everyone already knows it exists, yet somehow it’s only something we are comfortable making jokes about.

In the interest of opening the door of conversation on PMS and hopefully providing some women (and men) assurance that they are NOT the ONLY ones, here’s a little rundown of what my PMS cycle of terror looks like:

Day 15 of my cycle – Fear of the next 12 days sets in.  I have ovulated.  I know this to be true for a number of reasons, the main one being that I got that little pinch in the side of my abdomen just above my hip bone.  What?  You don’t know your body that well?  Trust me – 4 failed IVF cycles teaches you to read every little hand signal your body chucks at you and I know EXACTLY when I ovulate.

Day 17 – My boobs begin to harden into what I jokingly (until you touch them) refer to as “rock tits”.  Yes, they harden inside.  I don’t know the scientific reasons why and at this point of my cycle, I don’t really care, but they do and it hurts.   Come Day 27, I will want to rip them off and will strongly consider not showering or changing clothes in order to avoid the slightest breeze making contact with them.

Day 19 – I wake up feeling like I loathe everyone  and everything.  I am annoyed that huzbo has left for work (to support our family – how DARE he!) and I am annoyed that Baby Girl is still asleep.   Then I am annoyed when she actually does wake up.  I am annoyed that coffee makes me thirsty –I did DRINK it, for God’s sake!  I am annoyed when huzbo calls to say good morning to Baby Girl (this dude is seriously annoying!).   When he comes home, I am annoyed that he wants to cook dinner (What?  MY dinners aren’t good enough? Even the non-existent one I didn’t cook yet?) and I am annoyed that he wants to clean up afterwards (just trying to make me look bad that I let him clean up when I cook, no doubt).

Day 21 – The emotional nutjob arrives.  I have a walk-in closet full of nothing to wear and nothing that fits, a husband who is obviously cheating on me when he doesn’t return a text or phone call in 10 seconds or less and any commercial with kids or animals creates teary convulsions.   All of my friends are out to get me and talking about me behind my back, and my parents never really loved me, only my brother.   TV dramas are no longer required – I am a DIY broad in that department for the next week or so.

Day 23 – My favorite part – the bottomless pit of hunger – comes calling.  Not hunger for vegetables, either.  Every junk food known to mankind must enter my mouth as fast as I can pull it from the treat pantry and God help huzbo if he ate my reserve bag of chips!  Not only at-home junk food is required, but visits to every fast-food joint that doesn’t rhyme with “Paco Hell” is also mandatory.  Nothing can satiate the black hole of PMS appetite.

Day 25 – The zits begin to sprout.  But the really cool part is that while zits are popping up in some spots, I am also getting dry flaky skin on other parts on my face, like my eyebrows.  Nothing like eyebrow dandruff, lemme tell ya.  Cleaning and treating my skin becomes a 20 minute process with all the different kinds of lotions required for each square centimeter of my skin.

Day 27 –The exhaustion bomb explodes.  I crawl into bed as soon as Baby Girl’s door is closed for the night and can’t manage to drag my ass out of it after 10 solid hours.   I get out of bed and want to weep I miss it so much.  Sometimes I even do weep (did I mention the high-strung emotions???).   Irritation with mankind in general, but particularly the ones having the misfortune of sharing my home, is at MAXIMUM CAPACITY.  Contemplation of PMS as an insanity defense has been Googled once or twice.  They all even BREATHE incorrectly, for crying out loud (no doubt on purpose).  Who in their right minds would tolerate this motley crew of savages that DARE to speak, laugh, eat and breathe in front of me?  The only cure is complete isolation with a jumbo bag of chips.

Day 28 – Oh blessed abdominal cramps and bloating!  Yes, I celebrate your arrival as I stuff Midol into my gob, as you signify the imminent end of my torment.   Within 24 hours, my misery (some of it, anyway) will come to an abrupt end and my husband will happily be able to come home after work and be in the same room as me, without fear of physical injury or verbal mutilation.  My children peek out from under their beds, wondering if it’s safe to look at mommy again…

And It is.  For another two weeks, anyway.