Someone asked me to talk about politics in relation to Mr Loco and I have been mulling the idea over for weeks. I didn’t know where to go with it. This is another post that was started, stopped, deleted, thought about, restarted and deleted again. Mr Loco and I talked politics a lot. We talked a TON as we went through the presidential elections of 2012. I was pregnant and with so many issues relating women at the forefront of the debate, we talked and we talked a lot. When we found out we were having a little girl, we talked even more. Watching debates and local politicians, things felt a little surreal at times. I could not believe that this was 2012 and people were taking stances that made it feel like they were from generations ago. Many politicians were making me feel threatened and it was sad that we had to even discuss these topics in 2012 as our daughter was getting ready to be born. I was really torn over having a daughter. We had that “what kind of world are we bringing our daughter into” feeling. I am sure most expectant parents have this feeling over some topic or another, boy or girl. I thought about all of this and what the heck would I cover in a political post. I thought about things we talked about but I couldn’t come up with what I would blog about. I figured I would blog when it came to me. This is probably not at all what the person was looking for, but it is what I got…..so, yeah, here goes.
I watched The Lorax after Baby Loco went to bed the other night. It ends with the quote “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” –Dr Seuss. That hit the nail on the head for me. It brought up all sorts of parenting conversations that I had with Mr Loco. I have said it over and over but I am so thankful that we had so many of these conversations, that we sorted ideas out and that we were on the same page. There is confidence that comes with having a clear picture of what both parents are shooting for. Our goal was not to create an obedient child, our goal was and is to create a critical thinker. Our goal was to raise a mighty girl. We knew this would require effort on our part. If anything in life was worthy of work, working to help our child grow, think and contribute to this world in a positive way was worth it. So, we did what The Loco family does. We read. We kept current on issues. We had discussions. We figured out through that discussion where we stood on issues. We read more. We thought about things more. We talked about them again.
What did we talk about? Equal Rights, Women’s Rights, The Boy Scouts, The Separation of Church and State, Sexism, Abortion, Gender Stereotyping, Gentle Parenting, Critical Thinking, Science, Politics, Politicians, Religion, Happiness, Media Messages, Food Choices, Breastfeeding, Sleep, School Options, Summer Camp….you name it. This is just the tip of the iceberg of our conversations.
The quote from The Lorax really stuck with me. Mr Loco and I often talked about issues and then would say “What can we do?” It is easy to talk or identify problems. It is more work to not feed into those problems and to be part of the solution.
Sometimes the solution was not to support certain businesses and put our money where our mouth was. There are businesses we simply do not support due to their stance on equal rights or the rights of women and many others for not providing a livable wage. We felt it was an important lesson for Baby Loco. You can’t say you support certain things on one hand and then give money to businesses that do just the opposite. This will be a simple lesson in informed choices.
Sometimes the solution was sending a monetary contributions to organizations that were doing work that we supported and sometimes it was volunteering our time.
The solution was always voting for people who stood for ideas we believed in. We talked about what examples we would be setting for Baby Loco with our choices. We talked about being informed. We proudly took her as we dropped our ballots off for the presidential election. She was just a few weeks old. We talked about future elections and what we would teach her about local, state and national politics. We wondered aloud what it would look like as she grew up. Only time will tell if we were right.
That election made a few things crystal clear for us as a family. In our discussions, we realized there were certain issues that were nonnegotiable. There were certain things that a candidate needed to support. We could not listen to their thoughts on policies if they didn’t for example believe in equal rights for everyone. We did not care what their stance was on business taxes if they felt the urge to exercise control over my body or Baby Loco’s body. We had our list of nonnegotiables and we went from there. It seemed shocking that in 2012, we would need a list of such basics, but there we were.
In Michigan, there were always a small number of extra questions on the ballot. In Arizona, I was surprised by how many questions were on the ballot. Mr Loco and I split up the questions and went off to research. We came back and informed each other one each side of the issue in our version of a date night after Baby Loco went to bed. We found this entertaining, but I digress.
We took all of the issues that were coming up in politics and talked about how we would raise Baby Loco. How would we help her be an empowered woman? How would we incorporate strong women into her every day life? How would we raise a mighty girl when politicians are trying to have a say over the choices she will make with her body? How are you mighty when you grow up learning to yell FIRE if you are attacked because someone will be more likely to call for help? How are you mighty when you learn to carry your car keys between your fingers as self defense when walking to your car at night? How are you mighty when “guys are guys” but girls are sluts? When woman are made to feel that when bad things happen to them, that it is their fault? When victim blaming is standard practice- Why was she out at night? Why was she wearing that? She must have been asking for it. How are you mighty in spite of all of these things? You call shenanigans when people try to put you in a girly box. You live life LOUD. You live life STRONG. You live life however you want to live life. You push for change. You make the change. You surround yourself with change. You become the change.
Mr Loco and I talked about recognizing misogyny and realizing things that “have always been” may be bullshit. Once it has been recognized, you have to call it out. You have to help stop the problem by talking about it and helping change the way people think and change the words they use. Will that make me a party-pooper on occasion? Sure. Call me a party-pooper. If I get one person to think about their words, to think about equality for ALL or how they treat women, or how their words put others down, I am making a change.
How else were we going to surround Baby Loco with the good stuff in life? Having a mom who loved her job and was empowered was one way we planned to do this. Surrounding Baby Loco with friends and family that live “Be excellent to each other” is another way. We thought of little things to put in the house to use as jumping points in conversations with Baby Loco. We hung artwork up in our playroom of female scientists with the idea of adding books on these women to our library as Baby Loco got older. We are already filling our library with books with strong female characters, with characters making all sorts of life choices. The idea being that we could share stories and then TALK with Baby Loco, we could show her there are many choices in life, we could show her there are many ways to find happiness. We would buy her toys that were cool and got her thinking not just girly toys. We avoided focusing on her looks. Baby Loco is adorable, but she is so much more. That is what we wanted to focus on, not what her style is or how she does her hair or doing “girl” things or not doing “boy” things. We wanted to expose her to lots of things- sports, science, music, movement, We wanted to redefine “girly”. We wanted to help Baby Loco be the most awesome Baby Loco possible.
We thought about what little girls are made of….none of this sugar, spice and everything nice for Baby Loco. Determination, Passion, and Courage- That’s what little girls are made of. We were essentially doing what they said in The Lorax. We care an awful lot and are taking steps to make things better.
So there is my political post that turned feminist rant on parenting (but in the nicest way possible). Now we by no means have all the answers. These are just our ideas of how to push change. I bet there are more radical ideas out there. I bet there are brilliantly simple things people do to raise amazing kids. I am sure there are amazing websites and blog posts that give awesome examples of being awesome. I know people who have raised amazing boys and girls. I know people in the thick of raising amazing kids. I pick up things from them all the time. The great thing about parenting is that there is no one right way to do it. The other great thing is that it is ever evolving. You get more information and you make better choices. You continue to do this for years. That is my parenting plan- to make the best decisions with the information I have and to continue learning so I can make the best choices possible. That was our game plan from before Baby Loco was born. Do your best and never stop learning.
Be excellent to each other.