Monday, January 24, 2011

Ladies, let's be honest

We all do it. We all talk about other women behind their backs. Whether it's just a comment on a friend's clothes or hair cut to another friend, or a full on vent about how so-and-so just drives you crazy, we all do it. We like to pretend that some of us are above it, but it's a lie. We all do it.

Mothers do it to each other: they talk about how other moms raise their kids. They talk about discipline, what another mom feeds her kids or fails to feed her kids, and milestones. They talk about other moms from just about every angle.

Single women do it to each other: they talk about promiscuity or prudishness, fashion faux pas, who drinks too much, smokes too much, talks to too much. They talk about strangers and they talk about friends.

Working women do it to each other: they talk about other women in the workplace and how they do their jobs, how they got that promotion, that raise. They talk about what female colleagues wear and what they do after hours.

Married women do it to each other: they talk about whose marriage is floundering and who is fighting with whom, who is in financial trouble, who is a terrible housekeeper and who is an obsessive neat freak. They talk about who has the nicer home, car, husband, family, anything and everything.

Women talk about each other. It's what we do. And there is not one among us who is not guilty of it. My husband likes to tell me that although women swear we don't like drama, we actually live for it. And I hate to admit it, but in many ways he is right.

Gossip, the latest news, rumours and judgement - it's what we talk about. We have an opinion on just about everything any other woman could possibly do, say, wear or believe.

And here's the kicker: it's not that we dislike these women. It's not that we want to hurt them or we want to tear them down - at least not in most cases. Often, we are talking about our friends, and we have no intention of losing those friends. We just can't seem to help ourselves.

So why do we all do it? Partially because we as women have been set up to be in competition with each other. We know that we are being judged by other women just as we are judging them. We know that other women are checking out our new handbag or shoes, our haircut or lipstick, whether we are too fat for those leggings. We know that they are watching the way we deal with our kids and judging us for it. We feel, on some level either deeply buried or close to the surface, that we have to better in some small way than another woman in order to be worthwhile.

What are we in competition for? In some cases, jobs or promotions. In some cases, men, their attention, their love. In some cases, a completely imaginary, nonexistent title as the Better Mother, Better Wife, Better Housekeeper. Most of it is just pointless competition with no real measurable winner.

So then, back to the question of why. Why on earth do we all feel we need to compete with each other? Because society has taught us that this is how we achieve some sort of status as women, wives and mothers? Maybe. Maybe it's just programmed into our genes. Nature versus nurture? I'm not sure. But I lean towards nurture on this one.

I recalled a moment to my mother a few weeks ago, from many years back. We were at a family gathering at the home of my aunt, my mother's sister. My mother and another of her sisters were standing together, and the other sister reached up and ran her finger over the top of the hostess' entertainment unit. She held up a dusty finger to show my mom and they both snickered. My aunt had failed the housekeeping test. That moment sticks in my mind as the moment that I knew I would one day be judged on how my home looks. Sadly for me, I doubt if many of the judgments are favorable. I'm a terrible housekeeper.

That's just one small example of the ways in which we as women judge each other constantly. And it's not out of spite; certainly my mom and her sisters love each other and don't want to hurt each other. And yet they are in constant competition with each other. Any new gadget one buys, the rest must have. They compete over everything; from who got the best deal at the mall to who has the most grandchildren. It's ludicrous. It should be hilariously funny; and in many ways it is. Generally, the competition is a family joke and no one gets hurt by it.

Still, it illustrates the point that we all do it. We all compete, talk about each other and judge. Even the other women who mean the most to us fall victim to it. We can't seem to stop it, even when we are aware of it. And the trouble is, sometimes people do get hurt.

I'm not saying I have any answers. I am no better than anyone else and have certainly been guilty of judgement and gossip. But at least I don't pretend to be better than all the other women doing the same thing. I doubt if we will ever see an end to the cattiness that is part of womanhood. But the first step is admitting we have a problem.

So say it with me ladies.

Hi, my name is Leslie, and I am a catty bitch.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If there is no LOVE it won't work!

No, I'm not talking about marriage. I am talking about exercise.

This morning as I was sweating my way through a series of roundhouse kicks it clicked. I LOVE kickboxing. It's fun. It gives me a sense of power. It lets out stress and it makes me sweat. When I turn on that particular DVD, I am psyched and ready to go. I can't say that for the elliptical machine, or the Jillian Michaels DVD that, while I admit is an effective workout, makes me want to lie down and die more than get up and moving.

A few months ago, a member of my mom's group arrived at a playgroup event really excited about some exercise move she had done that morning. She was so excited she wanted to demonstrate it to us. Being that most of us are not particularly enamoured of exercise, and that this particular mom is one of those people the rest of us women envy because she is in amazing shape and is totally dedicated to staying that way, we made fun of her. Partially because she is a skinny bitch. Partially because we didn't get it. We couldn't imagine being so stoked about exercise.

There are as many ways to lose weight and get in shape as there are women dying to drop 20 lbs and look great again (or look great for the first time!). There are trendy workouts that come and go. There are thousands of dollars in fitness equipment sitting in garages and basements collecting dust and there are plenty of people watching money leave their bank account every month for a gym membership they never use. There are stacks of workout DVDs each with a different purpose and different uber-fit woman on the cover. Or man, but mostly women because let's face it, much of that stuff is marketed towards us - women.

We buy it, we try it, we hate it, we forget it. We do it over and over. Because if you don't enjoy doing it, if you are forcing yourself to do it, it simply won't ever become the habit - the essential part of your life - that it HAS to be in order to work long term.

Just because a particular work out helped your friend lose weight doesn't mean it will work for you, and yet we all run out and sign up for the classes or buy the DVD. And when it doesn't work, when we give up on it a week or two later, we feel it's just us. We just aren't as motivated, don't have the will power. We will never be "that person". The thing is, you shouldn't be that person - you should be THIS person - who you are. And you have to find the method that you can love.

I have a friend who lost weight doing Zumba, is now in great shape, and teaches the classes. It's not for everyone, but it works for her. I know people who love to run and people who love to swim. Almost everyone I know who has been successful in getting in shape and making exercise part of their life successfully got there doing something they really love. None of them dread working out. Sure, all of them have days when they don't feel up to it, but because they love what they are doing, they find the motivation. They find the time. It's something they do because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to. It's the difference between success and failure.

I used to take kickboxing classes and I loved them. I had a DVD I haven't looked at in a while. I pulled it out the other day because I lost my Jillian Michaels DVD - and I remembered how much I love it. Every punch, every kick, is therapy to me. It's fun, and I was sweating like crazy but not wishing it was over. It isn't the first time it has occurred to me that kickboxing is something I really enjoy, or that I could probably stick to it better if I focused on doing what I enjoy. But for some reason I didn't connect it with that moment at playgroup. It didn't really, truly, break through to me. I kept trying all these different things because they worked for others and I thought maybe it was a better workout.

There might be workouts that burn more calories or build more muscle, but it makes no difference if I don't actually do them. No workout works better than the one you actually do.

Now I get it. And I am sorry for laughing at my playgroup friend who was trying to share her passion. Although, she is still a skinny bitch.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trying this again.

Ok. So it is time to make a decision and here it is: I will try to give more time and attention to this blog, whether or not anyone reads it (and thanks to everyone who does) because I feel like it's the only thing that I write for me. Work, well, that's words for pay and 90% of the time the topic is of no interest to me. Here I can write about what I want when I want. And there's the catch - it has to be about me, or why bother?

So, for starters I am going to commit to a weekly post and hopefully increase it to two. I am going to make a few changes though, around here. I am not going to hold back any opinions, and I am going to write whatever I feel like writing. My life mostly revolves around my kids, so you'll likely hear a fair bit about them. But I am not one-dimensional any more than anyone else, mother or not, is; so you will probably hear a fair bit about some of the other issues that are important to me as well. Sometimes, you might just hear about what I had for lunch. But I promise to make it as entertaining as I can in that case.

There will also be a new name coming soon for this blog. Since we are getting close to potty training Aaron, the name isn't going to make much sense anymore. So, I have some brainstorming to do for new ideas. Perhaps I will sing that Imagination Movers song and see what happens (if you don't know the song, you probably aren't a mom of young kids). At the very least Nolan and Aaron will be amused, maybe even sing along.

If you are ever offended, feel free to tell me so. I won't apologize for my thoughts or opinions or for expressing them, but rest assured none of it will ever be intended in a mean-spirited way or meant to hurt or offend anyone. I just have to be who I am. It's time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So I officially suck

At blogging that is. Over the past month I have been going back and forth trying to decide whether to attempt to rededicate myself to blogging here or to just delete the whole thing.

Part of the problem is that I am so busy, but that's not a good excuse. Part of it is that I feel like I have to have something important to say, or why bother? I don't want to be one of the many dull-as-dishwater bloggers out there telling everyone what I had for lunch. First of all, no one wants to know. Second of all, I don't need to admit to all of cyberspace (well, ok, the like 5 people who actually read this) that I ate the kids leftover mac and cheese right out of the pot like a famine victim who hasn't seen food in months.

And part of it is, I guess that I feel like it's a bit pointless. I mean, few people read it. I am mostly just talking to myself. I guess I could try to see it as a cathartic experience, but the trouble is that I am often not as honest in what I write here as I could be or maybe should be, and that is somewhat less than cathartic. But some of the things I think, that I feel would be a relief to get out might offend people. Which I shouldn't care about, really. Only I do.

So. To attempt to make something of this blog or let it go? It's been a year since I started it and I have barely managed a post a month on average. That's pretty sad. Can I really rededicate myself and make it happen? Or should I just admit failure and give it up? I guess I am still not sure.

So, if anyone is actually tuned, I guess stay tuned...I will make a decision soon.