Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You're Doing It Wrong And Someone Can't Believe You're Wearing That

By Mary C. Tillotson

Some days, it’s tiring to be a woman. No matter what you do, you’re doing it wrong, and someone can’t believe you’re wearing that.

Jessica Alba
We judge each other for our career and family choices (you’re either a terrible mother or wasting your talent, or both). We judge each other for our weight on both ends of the spectrum (did you really need that second piece of cheesecake? Why aren’t you eating anything?). We judge each other for our emotions. We judge each other for the number and spacing of kids. We judge each other for our clothing – too conservative, too revealing, too businesslike, too manly, too ugly, too clashing, too good to be authentic.

Like you’re a slob who doesn’t care what she looks like and a ditz who cares too much about looks. If you’re ugly, no one should take you seriously; if you’re pretty, you probably don’t have any brains.

Like somewhere out there there’s an ideal balance of physical beauty, poise, diet, emotional finesse, and fashion sense. If we’re going to be worth anything, we need a perfect body, impeccable fashion sense, and the impossible skill of being sensitive to others’ emotions but not to our own. Anything short of that and judge! judge! judge! Even for the select few women who seem to have accomplished this, judge for making it too much of a priority, and judge if any minor thing goes wrong in your life. Because you thought you had it all together, didn’t you? Judge!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Things A Mama Doesn’t Need

By Megan Twomey
Becoming Mama Twomey

In movies about having babies, there is usually an obligatory scene exploring the worries of the future daddy. The sweating future father might pour out his soul to his best friend or maybe even to his glowing pregnant wife (who is, of course, smiling with preternatural maternal understanding), and says something like:  “What did I get myself into? I’m not ready for this.” In real life, he’s not the only one with those feelings. Having children can be a scary thing, and women are not often allowed to admit that they are worried too. 

I want to tell you, fellow women, future and current mothers, that it’s okay to be worried. I am a mother of two and, I’m not going to lie to you, I’m often terrified. Human souls weigh in the balance of this job. It’s worth a little worry. 

If you are thinking, “Gee, thanks, constant fear is a lot to look forward to,” then I ask you to hear me out. There’s going to be a lot of worries in your future if you become a parent, but there’s probably less than you think. Right now, I want to tell you what NOT to worry about. Things I worried about, but shouldn't have. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Women Speak (Calmly!) For Themselves

By Emma Smith

Standing in the East Falls Church metro station waiting for our a couple of weeks ago, a woman approached us and asked “are you going to the Women Speak for Themselves rally?” We affirmed that we were, and she replied “I thought so, when I saw your Pro-Life signs!” and gestured at our “Mothers should be respected and babies protected!!!” sign. Turns out, she and 4 of her friends were also going to the rally, so when the train arrived we climbed aboard with our 5 new friends and headed off to DC.

Holding Pro-Life signs on a DC metro is an interesting experience. We got a lot of looks, though no one engaged with us and, despite some of the glares, a surprising amount of support came from those around us. We got surreptitious thumbs up, smiles, winks, or the occasional nod. The city was alive with Pro-Lifers, going about their daily business, supportive of our work, anxious for justice, just as we are.

This energy came into the open in Lafayette Park. About 100 – 150 people – students, professors, nurses, mothers, children, corporate assistants, lawyers, and lobbyists – gathered under the trees to witness to life and freedom. The thing about this rally was that it was no different than any other Pro-Life rally. I mean that in a good way. The people there merely gathered to affirm their beliefs, to love those around them, and to peacefully petition that their rights be respected. The people there gathered to witness to the beauty of life, and in that sense, it was like any other Pro-Life rally. It affirmed life by respecting life – all of it. Even those who disagree with what Pro-Lifers believe in. While Pro-Lifers made strong arguments concerning the evil of ObamaCare and the HHS Mandate, while they cheered at sayings they liked, and applauded passionate speakers, the entire rally was part of a greater movement – a movement of love and respect.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Victory for Women in California

By Chelsea Zimmerman
Reflections of a Paralytic

Last Tuesday Governor Jerry Brown of California surprisingly vetoed a bill that would have permitted biotech companies to buy eggs from women for scientific research. The Center for Bioethics and Culture released the following statement:

We applaud California Governor Jerry Brown for his leadership in vetoing AB 926 yesterday. This bill would have allowed women in California to be paid to sell their eggs for scientific research. 
Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC), who testified in Sacramento on the bill said, “The CBC has worked tirelessly to oppose egg ‘donation’ for ten years now. As we are based in California, this veto is especially encouraging to us. We commend the Governor for his leadership on this bill.” 
The Governor’s veto letter is a strong statement about the unknown health risks to young women and the fact that financial compensation only compounds the problem. He acknowledged the unanimous prohibition of this practice six years ago by the California legislature and stated he saw no reason to change the current law. 
We encourage you to send a note of thanks to the Governor and thank him for this important victory.

Pay attention, ladies. Biotechnology is a “woman’s issue” if there ever was one.

The cloning/embryonic stem cell research industry is dependent on women putting their bodies on the line in order to obtain the “raw materials” needed for their experimentation. The same thing can also be said of the rich and politically powerful fertility industry. In fact, the Center for Bioethics and Culture recently filmed a documentary all about how this industry exploits women, treating them as banks of harvestable biological material and often not fully disclosing the risks involved with the process.

Chelsea Zimmerman editor-in-chief for Catholic Lane and a managing editor for Ignitum Today and Catholic Stand. She often writes about life issues and Catholic spirituality and has been featured on EWTN's Life on the Rock. Last year she started the pro-life video series BioTalk. Her website, where this originally appeared, is Reflections of a Paralytic.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The DIY Lie

By Amanda Allen
Guest Contributor

I suppose I was impatient, or perhaps we can blame it on nesting, but I put together most of our baby furniture by myself. The crib was wrestled into place while my husband was at work, as were the short bookshelf, both of the tall bookshelves, the china cabinet, and his desk. I really enjoy putting together flat-packed puzzles, and rejoice in the clean Scandinavian lines of the finished pieces. However, a lady well into her second trimester should really not be grappling with the upper section of a china cabinet all by her lonesome, no matter how Swedish the furniture, or how brave and strong the pregnant lady. I never did anything dangerous, just unnecessary and a bit dumb. Sure, it was empowering, but some things are meant to be done by two people; the cartoon man in the instruction booklets told me so, and he was right about everything else.

I’ve never been much of a feminist, and if my education taught me anything it was the extreme importance of the traditional family, but the one great lie I swallowed was the superiority of the Do-It-Yourself life. In high school, and in my first year of college, I assumed that I would get through school, then work and live “on my own” for a few years before getting married and starting a family. I thought I needed to prove myself, through some arbitrary series of tests or obstacles, before my opinions and experiences would be legitimate. I thought I had to brave the great unknown alone, and earn my way back to real life with stories and scars. Apparently I needed to be a pirate, but not even that, because an individual pirate is part of a ship’s crew. According to my model, I would have been alone in a rowboat.  A rowboat I built myself. Probably purchased from Ikea. I would have been one lonely Viking.

This is an unreasonable picture of single life, as my unmarried peers can attest. No one really lives on their own, or works on their own, or goes to church on their own, and our value as individuals does not depend on our ability to function in a vacuum. Had my path run otherwise, I would be living with my parents or with roommates. I would have co-workers and friends and neighbors. I would be learning different lessons, but I would not be any more or less a whole person. Trials we call down on ourselves because of pride win us no prizes, whether married or single, working outside of the home or in it. My sad little DIY fiction was based on the idea that what I really wanted to do, get married and have a family, was not enough of a challenge, simply by virtue of being what I most wanted to do. It doesn’t mean that I’m not good at other things, that I couldn’t have survived “on my own,” but why should I have to? My godmother once said that one of the nicest things about getting married young was not having to make all the tricky life decisions by yourself. You still have to make them, though, there’s no getting out of that.

My little family moved recently, back to the town where my husband and I went to college, and it feels like cheating. This town has its troubles, but it is home. We know people here, we like the smell and feel of the place. We arrived and emptied the moving truck into the living room, and then began sorting and re-assembling our life. My cousin helped me put the baby’s furniture back together, and it took less than half as long as when I did it alone. No, I didn’t get to rig up a clever system for holding up the other end of the crib pieces while I tightened bolts, but cousins are more interesting than chairs and stacks of magazines anyway. You can talk to them, and when you’re done you can go for a walk, or get a cup of coffee.

There is no “inauthentic” life experience, I’m not cheating or taking the easy way out by continuing as part of a community I joined, rather than one I founded. I’m not cheating by staying at home with my baby, writing, creating, praying, feeding my family. The work of life is hard, but it is for people I love, in a place I love, and that makes it more, not less, real. I can buy my furniture flat-packed and efficient, and I can put it together alone when I’m feeling stubborn, but I can’t approach life this way. The pieces are too big.

Amanda Allen is a wife/mother/artist/Orthodox Christian living in Hillsdale, Michigan, recently returned from exile in Ohio. She can be found at and her blog archives are here. If you visit her, she'll make you soup or knit you something, or possibly both.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Not Wasting My Talents

By Mary C. Tillotson

one of my city council clips!
I ran across two articles today, one of them emailed to me from a friend, discussing women and the professional life – one argued that pay inequality is more a result of professional choices that men and women tend tomake, not discrimination; the second about the difficulties moms have getting back into the workforce after they’ve taken time off for kids. The women/family/work issue has been on my mind lately since it’s mid-August and I’m sorting out what I’ll be doing this fall when school starts. These decisions aren’t always easy.

I graduated from college a couple years ago with a solid resume for journalism. About a month later, I began working full-time as a reporter at a small-town weekly newspaper, covering the local city politics, writing features, and previewing events. I spent the first six months hoping Luke would propose and the next six months planning our wedding. I could have put him off – I really should put in another year at the newspaper, then maybe step it up with a job in a bigger city. But he was more important to me than a journalism career, and I knew that together we could make things work.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adventure Is Out There!

By Julie Baldwin

This one's for the independent gal, wondering where her life is going - wondering what's she's doing, and if she's missing something, and where her time is truly going.

Adventure is out there! And you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are not intended to stand still, unless it is to feel the breeze or catch the rain. You are never "stuck" - and if you find yourself waiting, use the time well.

10. Read a book.

What is more precious than developing your mind? Catch up on old favorites (Ella Enchanted, anyone?) and new finds. Move away from the laptop and your phone, and just fall into the coziness of reading (or listening to books on tape, if that is better!).

9. Drink and be merry! 

Sometimes, a good beer can just hit the spot. Or chilled red wine with dinner - divine. Even better - visit a winery, or a brewery, or a distillery, if that's more your flavor. Take a friend (or family member), sign up for a tour, and enjoy yourself.

8. Find purpose in your work.

Why are you working in that job? It is one thing to make money (which is a very important); it is another thing to find joy. Yes, there are hard days, and there will be worse days, but what makes you keep at it? What makes you tick? How do you feel after doing a good job? Do you need more feedback? Are you open to criticism? Talk to your boss; be on the same page so that you can be the best member of the team possible.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pizza, abortion, slavery, and lessons learned: Seven quick takes for, well, Wednesday

By Mary C. Tillotson

I've seen the "7QT Friday" on blogs here and there. These aren’t as quick as I was hoping, but here are seven quick takes for – Wednesday!

A couple weeks ago, on a Thursday, I took our car into the shop because it was squealing, clunking, and shining a light on the dashboard. Our mechanic (who I’d highly recommend to anyone in the area) gave me three or four diagnoses, so I planned to drop off the car Monday for a marathon of fixing and replacing.

On Friday at about 4:45 p.m., I got stranded in the Staples parking lot because – what do you know? – the car didn’t start. I did not want to call my husband – it was the second day in a row he’d stayed home sick and he was gearing up for a Sunday flight to Vermont for a five-day conference, so he didn’t need one more thing on his plate. But what else was I going to do?

A couple friends picked him up, and they met us at Staples. Fortunately, our car is a stick-shift (I never thought I would say that) so we were able to bump-start it, which involves pushing it till it’s rolling at a walking speed and letting the clutch out quickly.

We thanked our friends, drove home, and parked on a hill so we could bump-start it ourselves and drop it off the mechanic on Saturday, adding “replace starter” to our already expensive litany. We walked from the mechanic to our church for Saturday evening Mass, bummed a ride home from some neighbors, and found a friend to drive my husband to the airport at about 7:30 Sunday morning.

It was stressful and frustrating, but nothing extraordinary. This sort of thing happens to everyone. As I started catching my breath after it all, I wondered: what if I had been sick, too? What if we’d had two kids under the age of three? What if we were new to the area and didn’t have local friends we were comfortable asking for help? None of that would be out of the ordinary, either. Then I thought: How on earth do other adults handle situations like this?!?

Then I found my answer: imperfectly. That’s how other adults handle situations like this. That’s how we handled ours, and how we’re likely to handle similar situations in the future.

It was an oddly freeing discovery.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Domestic by Choice

By Julie Baldwin

Yesterday, I set aside 30 minutes to write up a chore list for our townhouse. I had previously scoured Pintrest for hours, looking for one that would give me an idea of even how to go about setting up a chore list. And yet, nothing compared with my very own list that encapsulated our very own cleaning needs.

My first kitchen, on the even of destruction
When I lived with my family, my parents split up the house into sections. Between six kids, we could usually keep it tolerable. When I lived by myself, the apartment was so tiny that anything out of place would cause a cleaning frenzy to ensue. Now, I live with my husband and I waddle around at 33 weeks pregnant, cleaning sporadically because I forget what I was doing once I leave the room to put something away. Not always, but it can certainly feel that way. I needed a list, and I'm a happier lady today to have it.

Are women born domestic? Or do they have domesticity thrust upon them? I used to think I wasn't domestic, because people told me so. In a similar thread, I thought my mom wasn't domestic either. And so the quote from Albert Einstein now floats through my head: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." The same with domesticity.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Not a War on Women, but a War on Mothers

By Joy Pullmann

An extremely well-spoken coalition of women descended on the U.S. Capitol Thursday to make some incisive statements. The contraceptive mandate that forces businesses and health insurers to pay for every woman's contraception and sterilization choices was the reason they showed up, but their comments touched on other things that matter to women, as well. For one (from World Magazine's coverage of the event):
“There’s no war on women, there’s a war on mothers,” said Washington attorney Cynthia Wood in fiery remarks that sparked cheers from the crowd.
“I’m tired of our government making it very difficult to stand up for the things that are good and true,” said Mary Ellen Barringer, a consultant for non-profit groups from Maryland. “I can’t send my son on a field trip without filling out all kinds of paperwork, yet teens have access to products and services that lead to all kinds of risky behavior—with no parental consent.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Oh Shut Me Up! On Mummy Tummies

By Stacy Trasancos

When I first saw Kate’s post-partum baby bump, I barely gave it a passing thought. Yep, that’s how it looks. Yep, best not to try to hide it. Yep, she’s got one. I was actually shocked to see the media talking about it. You can read some of it here:

Is Kate Middleton’s ‘mummy tummy’ coverage disrespectful to women?

At least not everyone’s criticizing her, but some fashionistas went too far wondering about how long it will take for her to get that “bod” back. Young mothers hear this and it cements a false idea of beauty. Those early days of new motherhood are difficult enough, for any woman, royalty or not. Muscles stretched for 38-40 weeks do not just snap back into place in a few days.