Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Strength in Numbers...Only Children adding people to their lives

I am a singleton according to multiple studies.  That means I am an only child for those that were not sure or should have read that quickly and thought I wrote simpleton.

That means that my siblings are those I make by choice and basically are friends with a blood relation or two thrown in.   It has shaped who I am in many ways, and speaking of which I will continue to advocate for us single children.  One poorly designed study, A LLLLOOONNNNGGGG time ago, with a small population looked at only children and though pretty much valid, large sample size, peer reviewed studies have since debunked this it seems that one flawed study still prevails about only child traits.  We are spoiled, self-centered, can't share ... blah blah blah.  

I am sure there are only children just like that but in my many years I have found plenty of folks with siblings who are like that too.   I don't know also if the majority of only children parents read about these traits but every only child I know is pushed to share much more than those with siblings.   Only children that I know, myself included, are very conscious of the fact that you need to play nice because unlike a sibling, who is bound to you by some familial obligation, friends can leave you and that is your support system.  

As I had children I also have realized to appreciate the sisterhood of motherhood.   In the town I live in the Mom network is vast, fast and ascribes to the notion of it takes a village.   Our FaceBook page is full of requests for advice, recommendations, just venting and lots of differing opinions.   I bow to the page admins who make sure that in our passion for our children we do not forget to be respectful to each other. They will take a post down if it takes the group down a rabbit hole.   If we are to teach our kids these behaviors we should live and model them.

I tend to keep friends for long periods of time once they are part of my inner sanctum.  Larger groups make up my social circle because I actually really enjoy talking to and meeting lots and lots of people.  Another trait I have seen a lot in only children is we learn to quickly adapt to any social situation, generalization yes but this is my observation of many years.  Maybe it is because we have to make our friendships rather than have the gift of a sibling one.  

There are questions that always take a lot of facial muscle to keep me from looking sarcastically back at the person asking them and among favorites are ;
"Aren't you sad you do not have siblings?" == no actually.  I am fortunate to have siblings of choice.  I do not know what it would be like to have anything else so I cannot really miss something I never had.

"Why didn't your parents have any more children?" == the real answer is by choice due to an examination of what they had to offer and what each of them wanted.  Yet if you ask me in the way that comes off as if you are looking for a juicy bit I so want to say "they did not enjoy sex" and move on.

"You must be selfish"== that's not a question even if you ask it as such.  It makes me want to say "you must be an insensitive idiot and I am glad you are not my sibling"

"Wasn't it great growing up and not having to share anything?" == yes actually it was and yes actually it wasn't.  I did not have anyone to give me anything to wear that they loved, my parents gave me total attention which means that they had no one to divert said attention from me to.   I learned to deal with adults very early since they were my roomies and I learned to play very well with me, myself and I.  

I could not imagine my life without the few friends who have been there forever, to my chosen sisters and without the sisterhood of mothers that I have come to rely on for so much both in laughter, confusion and tears.   They are not my siblings but I am singleton not a lonely person.  For those of you with only children keep teaching them to share but trust me the sibling part well just is a fact of life.  Kind of like I don't care that I did not grow up without a yard (blog in itself) it was not part of my reality.  There will be people who read this and think "well of course she wrote about being an only child it is all about her" the funny part is I bet many of those same judgmental people would have applauded a piece on what it was like to grow up with siblings.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2 4 6 8 and beyond

By fashion standards anyone above a 10, or at best a 12, is considered "plus size".  It may not be something many of us agree with but that is the definition that the industry goes for.

Originally runway models were not supposed to represent women - they were supposed to represent hangers.  They were intended to be thin enough for the clothes to drape on them and for the attention to be focused on the design not the model.  People understood that but then media changed and the "supermodels" came about.  This should have been somewhat positive as they were not just "hangers" they had bodies.  They were the "ideal" in some ways.  They had bouncy hair, great skin and let's face it they looked good in and in not so many clothes.  Somehow though they morphed from the ideal (and even then diversity was lacking), forgetting that this was their job, that to maintain this look to they worked at it (through good and bad habits) and most of all that they were not the average person. It is like admiring the Ferrari driving by - not necessarily the car you will end up with but still stop and enjoy the view.

Somehow their looks and those of others became what young women, and some young men, decided they needed to be but in extremes.   It was no longer about copying the look but about copying the body, the hair and  of not seeing yourself as beautiful unless you were them.

It is good to look at and take from fashion images things that can highlight things that you already have. It is great to want to be in good shape and be a healthy weight and exercise.   You do not have to be crossfit muscular unless you want to be in order to learn to like what you see in the mirror.  The uber thin or conversely the over fit (yes you can do that in extremes too) is not sustainable and has serious negative impact on the physical and psychological.

It does not help that clothes are really geared at keeping this myth going.   The sizes mean nothing - one brand size 2 is another brand's 4 or even 6.   Who cares what size a tag on the inside of your clothes says??? I mean besides you!!  You are not defined by that number and what I think is a pity is that designers (at all ends of the spectrum) haven't see the financial windfall that is being missed by creating clothes for more than the 2-8 or even 10 crowd.   I look at sales racks all the time, can't help it I am a New Yorker which means a bargain is a must have part of the shopping experience, and the majority of what is left are not the 10 and up but rather the 6 and under.

We need clothes to not be shamed with the "plus size" mantra ... I mean seriously even if you are plus size do you need the store to remind you in their name ?  Those clothes choices should come with good cut, good fabric and yes those folks in the double digits like trends too.  There was a controversy recently about Glamour designating a plus size edition.  They had a good idea - remind people that women look different, that some have more back and some have bellies and that we are not perfect but putting them in a different issue does not do that - it singles you out in a negative way. If they wanted to showcase this concept just have models of different sizes in their regular issue.

I look at the beauty of those women in magazines and I admire it.  I have friends who look like that and I am always thrilled to see how awesome they look in the latest and greatest.   I just want to know that all women, and men, understand that we are more the Jeep than the Ferrari and that doesn't make us less valuable.   We should strive to look good, put together and not like we gave up by wearing clothes that look like our pjs.  If you can feel good about looking for a dress, a blouse and then you put it on and do not have to do joint displacement moves to get it on you get more confident, you get to feel that you are not hiding behind those clothes but shining for what you bring to the table when you wear them.

We need not to be shaming each other but embracing our different goals for beauty and for that we need to not be categorized by a number on a tag on the inside of our clothes.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Raising children in a secular house

It took me a long time to understand why I did not buy into religion.  I understand the need for it and I know that for some people it provides either a structure or a comfort.   I do not see those two things being necessary for me.  

I read and learned as much as I could not only about the christian orthodox religion I was brought up in, how it was a part of my cultural heritage even when for the most part my family was not a supporter of the church per se but believers in god.  I studied all of the major religions and in them I found some really impressive things - a rich sense of history, a host of rituals and most of all a general sense of be good to your fellow person, worry about yourself and try and live a life that has meaning and leaves behind more than you got out of it.   I also found that every one of these religions has way too much of "mine is better than yours", a vengeful deity(ies) and if taken not as metaphorical stories but rather literal interpretations they are pretty much in direct conflict with the previous be kind, be good and leave a positive legacy messages.

As a mother I have to decide how to teach my sons about religion.  It is not easy when I do not believe in any organized doctrine, when I have no need for some great post death beyond and I do not believe in any deity.   I do not need that belief for comfort nor to blame it for my or the world's ills.  I try and be a thoughtful parent so along with my lack of beliefs I have to raise children who will respect that others will have strong beliefs and emotional reactions to whatever religion they are practicing.  I teach them of the rituals of religions that my husband and I grew up with, I expose them to their friends' religious practices, I tell them what is truly amazing about parts of religions and I also have explained why I do not need to define myself by a religion and why I do not need to have a deity.

I get the following questions a lot - what if they join a cult later on?  From everything that I have read and seen people who join cults often come from pretty strict religious backgrounds already and just trade one in for another and two this has to do with validation and self esteem.  This is just a projection of some fears and makes me think that person must have and pretty darn judgmental, all stuff that turned me off religion already.  Aren't you afraid they will do bad things? once again I am pretty sure that has to do with morals and teaching them to respect people, to be kind, to not break the law, to understand that they live in a shared world and need to be good to their fellow human beings as well as the planet ... so it is not fear that will make them not to do major bad things, they will make bad choices and hopefully they will understand how to learn from them, it is the parenting that I hope I am doing and that I see in them which already has proven to date that they are kind, accepting and overall conscientious kids.

I get the whole "hell argument" which come on folks really if I do not believe in heaven it means I do not believe in hell so yeah bit of a non threat for this family.

If my children at some point want to go to different religions and want me to explore their meaning I will gladly do it.  I do not need it but if they should need god in some form I will support that as long as they learn not to use it as a tool that discriminates in any way against anyone else, and if turns into that we will talk about it.

I am raising children who have the same understanding of their cultural history and know that your nationality is accident of birth or background but does not define in good or bad ways - it just gives you some things to know about people who came from a region that you came from as well.  I am showing my children that all people are right to be able to want to worship what they want as long as they do not impose their beliefs on others and that there is no singular entity defined as god who says worshiping him makes them better people.  Rather they should be better people because it is the best way to live with their fellow beings.

I know that it makes people uncomfortable, hoping that is why at times they are sometimes rather unpleasant to put it mildly when I tell them we have no religion in our house, to think of this method of parenting.  It is different not wrong or right.  It is something I know other parents are also following.  My boys will not be harmed by this, though I know some people believe they will because to think they will not questions their own practices, because it is done not as anti anything but rather as pro raising people who already are displaying that they will add much to the world with their actions.