FROM THE KITCHEN TO THE CONGRESS
It was January 2007. The television was on. I was lying in bed with my nine-year-old watching Nancy Pelosi’s acceptance speech as Speaker of the House. There she was, at the podium, wearing her muted maroon suit, her hair perfectly coiffed, her family – including a gaggle of grandchildren – behind her, supporting her, cheering her on.
….and the confidence they gave me to go from the kitchen to the congress. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal….For our daughters and granddaughters, today, we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them".
I was crying. I called out to my thirteen year old Rose to come in and watch history being made. She came, she saw, we watched. “Girls, that was Nancy Pelosi - First female Speaker of the House – two heartbeats away from the President!!!!!! What do you think?”
“That’s nice Mom, do you have a headband?”
I cried some more. The mood was broken. I looked sadly at this miniature woman who used to live inside of me. And noticed her shirt. I never saw it before and it was very short. I asked her to raise her arms and lo and behold – I saw it. Skin. Exposed naked belly skin. She knew the rule. No skin. There seems to be no end to the ongoing battle to “dress appropriately”. But what we are up against! The sexualization of young girls seems to have infiltrated every segment of society! Oh yes I blame society! And thanks to the wonders of technology which allow these innocent and terrifyingly vulnerable kids access to that giant dangerous playground known as the internet, we have less and less control over what they are exposed to and influenced by. Nothing opens your eyes more to the ASSAULT on values than motherhood. Gender In Media is Geena Davis’s fabulous organization that researches and shines the light on the media’s gender portrayal. The stats are horrifying – not that I need any. These kids know more about Kim Kardashian than Nancy Pelosi. It is shameful.
So I told my Rose that she could not wear that shirt out of the house. When she took “that tone” with me, I ask her not to, and remind her – once again – that she used to live inside me and to go change.. Surprisingly, my nine year old did NOT want to watch Pelosi’s speech again with me (courtesy of TIVO) opting to do her homework.
Phone rings – it is my friend Susan asking if I can take her daughter Topanga after school because she had a work thing. This is the girl with whom my daughter fights constantly, but I will make it work because we moms have to help each other and when I get a job, she can help me. We talk briefly about Pelosi’s speech. “From the kitchen to the congress” I quote Pelosi, tearing up and we discuss the school petition on bullying we are circulating.
I call my nine-year-old back in to tell her about Topanga’s impending visit, asking her to try hard to NOT get into a fight with her. She is spinning in circles strangely. “What are you doing”, I ask her.
“Trying to smell my neck”, she says. And yes, I can see that she is actually trying to smell her neck. She is very determined. She might be a lawyer. She would make a terrific activist. I let her try for a while and then explain that she cannot and will not be able to smell her neck. She gives up. “Can you help me with my math mom”? Ruh row. Feeling emboldened and inspired by Pelosi I said yes.
“The mass of the Great Pyramid is 557t greater than that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Stonehenge has a mass of 2695t, which is 95t less than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There once was a Greater Pyramid which had a mass twice that of the Great Pyramid, what was the mass of the Greater Pyramid.”
What the hell it t?
I hate math because I am not good at it. I took algebra in Ninth Grade and failed THREE times – once because Danny Cruz sat in front of me, and who could concentrate? There is all this talk about understanding the new math and I of course never really got the old math. So. I said let’s ask your sister – who is smart. They are both smart. But when I called her in she said she had a pressing matter to attend to. “What is so pressing if you are trying clothes on?” That’s when she told me it was her women’s history report.
“Oh, why didn’t you say so? Who are you doing it on?” “Cher” she said. “No way!” I said. “She made music not history. Think of someone else”. She countered with The Octomom. OMG. “What she did was NOT historical – it was just CRAZY!!!!!” I yell at her. Yes I yelled at her. “How about Lindsay Lohan” she asks. Oh she is just purposely goading me. “Get serious”, I say. And then she drops the bomb. “What about Snookie????
That’s it. I go for the chardonnay.
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