MicroBlog Monday: Money

Money has been hard to come by since having Wallace, but I’m still chugging along. I am stoically working on my Amazon used books business, I am trying to help my friend with her hemp necklace business, I am starting a local resource site for parents, and I am certain that I will start getting Poofy customers soon. What I am lacking is anything consistent pay, which is hard with almost no childcare. Now that my mom is on summer vacation, I have applied to a WIC job and have been keeping my eye on retail positions that might pay enough.

I randomly got a message on SitterCity from someone I applied to two years ago. Unfortunately, I am no longer in that city, but it reminded me to update the site and see if there was anyone locally looking for childcare and willing to pay what it’s worth. I sent two emails and have a job interview today with the potentional of 5, 3 hour shifts this next week.

Though what I really want to do is travel and tent camp with Wallace while sourcing books for Amazon! I hunted down a tent this week at a garage sale and have narrowed down what type of camp stove I want. I also discovered that Aldi has a hammock and portable stand on sale today, so that will be my birthday present to myself. Hopefully the babysitting will be compatible with a few weeks of travel camping while helping give me a financial boost to get us on the road.

*** Got the babysitting job! Have six shifts scheduled already. ***

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Almost Birthday

I turn 32 on Wednesday. That feels big but I’m not sure why. Maybe because I remember when my parents were each this age. I was 11 when my mom turned 32 (technically, I turned a 11 two weeks later).

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do to mark my birthday. Last year, I didn’t do anything that I can recall. The year before, I had a cookout at a park/splash pad with two friends, their kids, and the woman I was dating. Four days later, my stepdad died (we weren’t ever close) and gay marriage became legal.

Yesterday, we went to a friend’s Summer Solstice party, which, if they have one, marks my birthday in my mind. It was really great to just be around other people, most of whom I did not know, talk and mingle, and watch Wallace play. It also made me realize how much my extrovert nature is repressed as a single mom who works from home and has almost no social life. When I got Wallace to bed, I really just wanted to have someone to talk to still. The floodgates of my extrovertism were opened and only a trickle of my needs were met. I don’t know what to make of that, so I’m just taking it at face value. I need more social time.

I had been considering getting some people together at the same park/splash pad and then felt stressed about it. I think I will anyway and just make it low key. I will invite a handful of people with kids and ask them to bring something to share. We’ll see what happens.

Posted in background, Parenting, Single Mother by Choice - SMC | Tagged | 6 Comments

Things I Didn’t Do Today

I have been hit with a bunch of migraines and it’s getting in the way of life a lot. Today was the 6th one this month, so here’s a list of what didn’t get done.

  1. Put away laundry
  2. Cook dinner
  3. Take Wallace to the pool or outside to play
  4. List 40+ books for Amazon and get them ready to ship
  5. Empty and load dishwasher
  6. Clean the litter box
  7. Sign Wallace up for Thursday’s For Mar class
  8. Exercise
  9. Meal plan

We did make it to story time at the library and signed up for the summer reading challenge. He got to play with his friend, Isa from gymnastics, and we made it through the afternoon until Gramma got home. Then Wallace got read to and played with while I tried to rest my head. He also got to watch about 15 minutes of a Thomas movie (he got scared) and he had chips, salsa, and applesauce for dinner. Some days I just make it through however I can, frequently begging him not to pull on my neck or yell in my face. Oh well.

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Camper Update

Last August, I had to put the motorhome, aka Camper, into storage at a nearby place. There goes $35 a month, but keeping it in the parking lot at the apartment was understandably not an option. It also made it hard to get any work done on it or to have all of our things easily accessible.

Every month, I drove the 15 minutes to pay the lot rent and usually attempted to start it. I bought a small solar trickle charger to try to keep the engine and batteries going. It never wanted to start without gas being put in the carb and I had a few times where I had to jump it, which was a nerve wracking process that included two jumper cables strung together. It seemed the starter battery might be going bad and the 30 year old mechanical fuel pump was likely failing.

A couple weeks ago, Wallace and I went to pay the rent and so I could take the battery out. This was tricky and I almost gave up. The hood opening is chest height on me, so I stood on a milk crate to reach inside. This made hauling the really heavy battery up and out nearly impossible. It took a few tries and an internal pep talk, but I got it out and waddled it over to the car. I had borrowed a battery charger from a friend, used my folding dollie to bring it upstairs, and charged it on the balcony. Wheh. Then Wallace got really sick and everything was thrown off. I managed to get the battery to an auto parts store and it load tested fine.

Today, despite us both being sick, we managed to get over to the camper. I found a few things we needed, reinstalled the battery (always take pictures of how to put things back!), and attempted to start it. Nope. Didn’t want to run. I had even loosened the gas cap because I had a theory that these starting problems began after I replaced the cracked gas cap with a new one, possibly creating too high of pressure in the tank for the pump to draw from.

So I got my rubber gloves on, refilled my trusty baby food jar of gas, and it started right up! This means the issue was not the battery but has something to do with the fuel system or pump. Replacing the fuel pump might be really expensive, so it’s not something I can make happen right now, but at least it can be driven and I don’t have to drop $100 on a battery. The pump must work to some degree because it runs and drives after it gets going.

I let it run for a bit to charge the house battery. Wallace wanted to sit in his hammock and because there is no parking break, I had him help me put the chocks in place. I do not know why I hadn’t done that last summer.

I also marked the house and starting buttons on the range hood panel. I had always assumed 1 was starter and 2 was house so that would explain why none of it made sense this winter with the solar charger.

I would really love to take it camping this summer, but in order to do so I need extra cash for gas and camping fees and a full sized futon mattress. Now to make that happen and find out how much the fuel pump issue will actually cost.

Meanwhile, the storage facility is going from unmanned to full time open. I found this out when we were there paying the rent, asked if they would be hiring, and sent my resume via email. I also found a WIC peer counselor job to apply to and sent that in. We will see!

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Gender Nonconforming or Gender Oblivious?

I’ve read a few blogs and stories lately with parents stating their young children are gender nonconforming. This is great that parents are accepting their children as is and I’m hopeful that this acceptance will decrease the amount of LGBTQ people with depression. My concern is that it seems some people are confusing a child liking things that we consider belonging to the opposite gender as that child being transgender. There is a big difference between a boy who likes princesses and a boy who identifies as a girl. Children are very susceptible to influence from family, and that includes labeling them early on as gender nonconforming even if the intent is to support them in being their true selves.

Children are not born thinking of different objects, colors, and characters as for boys OR for girls. There is no inbuilt gender categorization, which is evident by various cultures and throughout history. It is something we teach to our children intentionally or as part of subconscious enculturation. The idea of something being for boys or for girls is not ingrained, but learned. They learn it from their families, their friends, and from media. It seems that this obliviousness of gender norms is sometimes being interpreted as a child being gender nonconforming.

From my observations with my own child, his friends, and all of the children I have nannied, children begin to really pick up on gender cues around age four. This might be earlier for some children if they are exposed to older children, a lot of media, or family who stress gender conformity. I think childcare and preschool also have an impact on this as many schools reinforce gender stereotypes as well as children picking up things from other children. For instance, a child might be excluded from a game because the other children say they aren’t the right gender for it. Or a teacher lines up all the kids in a boy line and a girl line, thus highlighting the differences between children and genders.

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There are also so many phrases and stereotypes ingrained in our culture in regards to children and gender. Boys play sports, are more physical, should have short hair, shouldn’t show emotions, “don’t be a sissy,” “toughen up,” “Mommy’s little monster,” shouldn’t be sensitive and caring to dolls and babies. Girls like to dress up and be pretty, should be hugged and treated carefully, should have long hair, “daddy’s little princess,” like to play quietly together. While there is some science that boys are more likely to play in more physical ways and girls are more likely to play quietly in small groups, nurture vs nature is still up for debate. These subtle and direct gender stereotypes are picked up on my children and incorporated into their sense of self and sense of place in the world.

I have been observing Wallace and his likes and dislikes as they’ve developed and have kept an open mind to what they could mean. As of yet I have no reason to believe that he is transgender or gay and feel he is too young for me to read too much into his actions and choices. He loves bright colors, sparkles and frills, orange, yellow, and pink, playing with dolls, giving hugs and kisses, really wants a baby sister, and can sit quietly and read for an hour. He also loves building things, trains, trucks, digging in his sandbox, climbing as high as he can, jumping off of things, riding his bike, and occasionally asks to watch sports on tv (and it’s hilarious trying to explain the games to him). To compare, as a kid I loved wearing dresses and pretty things, having sword fights with my brother and friends, inventing and making things, crafts, reading, animals and babies, cooking, making messes, and I did numerous sports including Tai Kwan Do. I was a bit of a tomboy but not as much as my best friend, and we ended up both being gay.

Wicecream

 

There have been a few times that Wallace has said things that make me take a step back and assess his gender. Recently he told me he wanted to be a girl. I asked why and he said because fairies are girls and they are pretty. I acknowledged that but said that boys can be fairies too. There was another time that he was talking to himself while he was on the toilet and I overheard him trying out some girl names and talking about birthing babies. I think he is just experimenting with different roles and has a vivid imagination. He also likes to listen to the Birth Hour podcast with me, so hears a bit about birth regularly.

I do not feel the need to label or declare anything about his gender as he is only four. If it turns out that he is LGBTQ, there’s no doubt I will fully support him, but I don’t want to rush anything or influence him. I believe that we as parents can allow our childen to explore gender whether it is a phase in their childhood or if they truly are gender nonconforming.

I also want to comment on the trend of raising children gender neutral. I see this as one of many ways that we can attempt to downplay cultural gender stereotypes, but not something I wanted to undertake as a parent. I believe that children can develope and identify their true selves in a supportive environment regardless of what pronouns we do or don’t use. And though it is becoming more common, especially among LGBTQ families, it isn’t something that our society is going to accept or support on a large scale anytime soon. We can only keep our children in a bubble of support for so long and that by using neutral pronouns we might inadvertantly draw more attention to and put more pressure on our children in regards to their gender.

For now, Wallace is just a colorful and fun kid who is oblivious to gender stereotypes and I hope he always marches to the beat of his own drum.

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Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day: Poem

Back when I lived in Denver, I went to a poetry night called Cafe Cultura. I had been performing in Chicago for a few years and was trying to find my space in Denver. I loved the people who performed and all of their unique experiences. But, I felt like I did not have a culture of my own to write about. I come from a small, mostly white, mostly Christian, town in the midwest. I didn’t feel like I had a heritage or ethnicity worth writing and sharing about. And then, I realized I had my queer culture. I had my identity as a member of the LGBTQ culture. Though being a lesbian had featured in in many of my poems, I had never specifically written about it. This is the poem that came from that self exploration. There is a swear word, so heads up.

once when I was 15
while waiting in the lunch line
I tapped a boy I didn’t know
on the shoulder
and told him “I like girls”
he said “okay”
and turned away
I thought that was the end of it
that it’d be that simple
that everyone would mirror
his nonchalance
but instead my mom cried
and lamented she’d
never have grandchildren
my dad sprung it on his wife
and got us both kicked out
kids at school threw
pop bottles
wrappers
and insults
but somehow
life was still good
the scenery passed
in a nauseating blur
but I had an anchor
I had an identity
with a new vocabulary
a culture to get to know
a community of people
who were now my family
with a history and a future
there were show tunes
at the lunch table
and RuPaul in cut-off jeans
I layered myself in rainbow
and plastered a smile on my face
in order to make it
out of high school alive
I had girlfriends and puppies
who came and went
I shared my bed and my heart
a little too freely
I outgrew the rainbows
because gay isn’t
my only label
my dad divorced
that bitch eventually
and my mom knows
I’m baby crazy
but I still wish
I could just tap people
on the shoulder
and tell them
point blank
that I like girls

A year after writing this, I was finally a mom and I have barely written (poetry) since. I mostly feel disconnected from my queer identity but I am okay with that for now. I am nearly invisible most days as a lesbian because people see my mom identity first and foremost. I am working to teach my son about this part of our family’s culture and he surprised me a few weeks ago by stating the goose family at the nature preserve could be two moms. This wasn’t an identity I was born knowing, but one I grew into and claimed.

Here’s the list for Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day.

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Gotta Share This

Read this post.

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