The Purple Fig http://thepurplefig.com Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:35:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 At Age 25, I Discovered That I Was Adopted http://thepurplefig.com/at-age-25-i-discovered-that-i-was-adopted/ http://thepurplefig.com/at-age-25-i-discovered-that-i-was-adopted/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:05:48 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7775
“Thank you for requesting a copy of your birth certificate, unfortunately a birth certificate cannot be found for you. However we have found an adoption record pertaining to yourself….”

This was the sentence that changed my life…

I was twenty-five, living on my own and as arrogant as I was skinny. I had just moved from the suburb’s into the city and in my head I had mapped out this amazing adventure with me as the leading star… after all; if you know where you’re from you know where you’re going right?

Wrong…

It all started to change when I received a confused phone call from my manager one day. Margaret had called to tell me that there was a problem with the birth certificate I had given them as proof of nationality, “you see” Margaret’s tone had the lilt of church bells on Sunday, “the thing is, this isn’t an original birth certificate, it should be the size of a normal sheet of paper and dated within a month or so of the date of your birth. I’m sorry sweetie but yours is neither, we’re going to have to order you another one”.

The new letter took about a week to arrive, I remember the date exactly, it was the 10th of March 2010. It took reading the one line, “a birth record could not be found for you, however an adoption record pertaining to yourself was located…” about seventeen times before I decided that it was a mistake. I simply did not have the ability to comprehend the truth to the words that were staring right back at me. I remember saying to myself on the commute to work that morning, letter in tow, “can the government not do anything right look at how they’d f*cked up my records”. It took a full three hours and dear old Margaret speaking to me ever so slowly for the realisation to set in.

You see, I had moved to the suburbs as my relationship with my family was virtually non-existent. I was seventeen when I left the family home, put myself through college and university and become quite comforted in the knowledge that I was the only person I could truly rely on. It was the life I knew and understood. I was rebellious, loud mouthed and thought I knew everything. Probably because I was an overachiever, but certainly because I needed a good kick up the backside.

The following two weeks were truly the most awful I have ever experienced. After countless arguments with my family about the lies that had surrounded my existence, I finally resigned myself to a state of true ambivalence – nothing mattered because nothing made sense. I would spend hours in the bathroom looking at myself and trying to understand what it was that I saw; I felt more lost and alone than I had ever felt in my life. It was literally like someone had took the rug up from underneath myself and never put it back, if it had not been for the love of my fat head headed canine friend, forcing me back into the routine of the living, I don’t think that I would have made it back from the edge.

The turning point came from the most unlikely fashion and way. I had reached the epitome of rock bottom when I received the adoption records from the children from which I was placed. As a mixed race child, I did not appreciate being referred to as a negroid child amongst other things. It angered me greatly to see the blatant prejudices that were considered the norm in those days, and the references towards my biological mother were disgraceful (regardless of whether I knew the woman or not).

I decided in my own true style to not only get mad, but to prove these disdainful writings wrong – I embarked on a journey of self-discovery; and this time I truly was the star.

The experience was akin to the penultimate scene in “The Colour Purple” where Celie finds the letters from her sister Nettie with a little help from Shug Avery. I had found a site called Adoption.com where birth mothers who had given up their children for adoption posted messages in order to find them and visa versa. Armed with my birth name and date of birth I ran a search expecting to find very little if anything. You can imagine the emotions I felt when not just one post but hundreds of messages from my birth mother were brought up, at least four for every year. Every message I wrote was reaffirmation that I did matter, that somebody had cared enough for me to continue thinking of me, and that most importantly I was not the negroid offspring of a white women experimenting with the culturally exotic.

A few years have passed since then, and I can honestly say that I am exactly the same completely different person I have always been. Rebuilding networks with myself and family members and revisiting myself with a fine tooth comb has allowed me to understand that life is not one straight line from one place to another, and that there are many forms of love and family. What I’m trying to say is that it was an unfortunate way to learn that not everything is as clear or black and white as it first may seem and that to truly understand, one must be given the information in order to make decisions for themselves.

However one irrevocable lesson that all can take from this story would be that truth, will not disappear and will not be masked. It is to be embraced loved and learned from. As Santayana said, those who do not learn from truth, are simply doomed to repeat it…

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Print Recipe Card: Kid Friendly Black Bean Brownies http://thepurplefig.com/print-recipe-card-kid-friendly-black-bean-brownies/ http://thepurplefig.com/print-recipe-card-kid-friendly-black-bean-brownies/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:05:45 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7782
Recipe Card: Kid-Friendly Black Bean Brownies
Getting kids to eat brownies typically isn’t a problem, but convincing them to eat healthier snacks can be trickier. These black bean brownies taste just as amazing as those that are loaded with butter and sugar, but they’re so much more nutritious. The beans, applesauce, cocoa powder and dried cherries all contribute fiber to every square, and there’s just 1/2 cup of unrefined sugar in the whole recipe.
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Ingredients
  1. Ingredients
  2. 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
  3. 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed well and drained
  4. 2 large eggs OR 3 Tbsp ground flaxseeds mixed with 1/3 c water
  5. 2 Tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
  6. 1/2 c sucanat (unrefined cane sugar)
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 3/4 c cocoa powder
  9. 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  10. 1 tsp baking powder
  11. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  12. 1/2 tsp salt
  13. 1/4 c dried cherries
  14. 1/2 c boiling water
  15. 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
  16. Sea salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Directions
  2. 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 9” square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. 2. Put the dried cherries in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them, using just enough water to cover them completely. Set aside.
  4. 3. In a high-speed blender or powerful food processor, puree all of the wet ingredients, from the applesauce to the vanilla, until the mixture is completely smooth, about two minutes.
  5. 4. Scrape down the sides of the blender or food processor. Add all of the dry ingredients, from the cocoa powder to the salt (leaving out the cherries and chocolate chips).
  6. 5. Blend or process the batter for an additional minute until all of the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. The batter should be thick but smooth.
  7. 6. Drain the soaked, softened dried cherries.
  8. 7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, mixing in most of the dried cherries at the same time. Reserve 1 Tbsp of the cherries.
  9. 8. Smooth the top of the batter and sprinkle the dark chocolate chips and the remaining dried cherries evenly over the top. If desired, sprinkle with sea salt as well.
  10. 9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are cracked and firm on top. Let the brownies cool for at least 1 hour before cutting them into squares and serving.
The Purple Fig http://thepurplefig.com/
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Why Losing My Hair To Brain Cancer Taught Me To Feel Beautiful http://thepurplefig.com/why-losing-my-hair-to-brain-cancer-taught-me-to-feel-beautiful/ http://thepurplefig.com/why-losing-my-hair-to-brain-cancer-taught-me-to-feel-beautiful/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:00:44 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7513 As I walk into the wine tasting lounge, the handsome man smiles. I can tell he is happy I haven’t misled him with my online pictures. Luckily for me, he’s also been completely honest. He stands up like a true gentleman, gives me a friendly hug, and invites me to take a seat.

Soon, he orders me a Pinot Grigio, recalling my drink-of-choice, and we begin to talk. “I’m so happy you posted recent pics of yourself,” he says. “Actually, you look even better in person.”

Do I or he is just saying that? I can only answer with a faint smile and a sip of wine. Yes, I did post recent pictures on my online dating profile, but the image of my reflection this morning, shaving my head once again with an electric razor, would probably twist his charmed expression into a gasp of utter shock.

As a grade-3 brain tumor survivor, my hair is gone; it will never grow back due to the six weeks of intense radiation I received at Johns Hopkins in 2011, combined with a harsh regiment of a chemo agent called Temodar.

Grade3Tumor

When I was diagnosed with brain cancer, I believed my dating life to be completely over. I was a smart, bubbly 31-year old graduate student working on my Ph.D. in Physics. Up until then, dating had been more of a flirtatious hobby exercised in heels and fueled by champagne rather than a quest for marriage. Every man at one point in his life supposedly wishes to experience a threesome, but that usually doesn’t involve a bald cancer patient interlocked in the arms of the Grim Reaper haunting the bedroom curtains.

Fortunately for me, the tumor was in a “good” location and after two brain surgeries, intense radiation, and a one-year course of Temodar, my MRI scans became stable and I was declared cancer-free.

Alas, becoming hair-free in the process was part of the package deal. Unlike cancer patients who only undergo chemo, radiation to the right side of my head had zapped a large portion of my hair follicles. Today they are dead. They are not growing back. Learning to wear wigs quickly became a necessity.

I don’t believe in the saying “you are beautiful no matter what”. All of the men I sub- sequentially dated during my course of Temodar (and afterwards) admitted they wouldn’t have approached me in a bar or messaged me online if it weren’t for the luscious locks covering my parse hair and ugly surgical scar. I call it ugly because it is. It represents cancer, and cancer is one of the ugliest words on the planet.

My wigs look natural with the right color, styling, and my own well-developed techniques that mimic the appearance of a human scalp. I never pondered my fake hair when meeting men, either online or being out and about. The problems arose when intimacy was the next natural step; whether it was a hug, a kiss, a playful caress on the head, my instincts always urged me to pull back. My dating demographic slowly moved to more mature men whom I thought wouldn’t get too scared by the big C word.

Their responses varied. I heard it all during physical contact: all the way from the blunt “are you wearing a wig?” to “why didn’t you write this on your profile?” and even “you have great hair, I can tell you don’t have extensions” (which to this day still makes me chuckle). A pattern emerged. At the end of a good date, I would position my head in such a way that a kiss would be welcomed, but not much else. Then I would go home, contemplate, feel it out, and see how the next rendezvous would unravel. If a suitor showed real boyfriend potential, then I would play out a scenario in my (bald) head in which telling him the truth would be brought out on the table.

This usually involved a lot of wine, sensing a peculiar dream-like dilation of time as I prepared to blurt out the unconceivable, some tears and a lot of amazement. “You defended your Ph.D. and you beat brain cancer at the same time?” is a particular response that I still recall today.

Today the days of flirtatious and careless fizz are more or less over. Contrarily to what I originally thought, my medical history wasn’t a problem from a romantic perspective. Overall, the types of men I dated were supportive and extremely impressed. Like all other women out there, I encountered problems, lifestyle differences and had to go through my share of typical break-ups and rebounds. Ironically though, not having hair actually helped my dating life in a way I never thought possible. It reminded me not to settle; for one, in the early stages of my diagnosis, I hung on to a couple of unhealthy relationships because “I wasn’t allowed to be picky anymore”. Losing my hair also forced me to prioritize the qualities I’m looking for in a solid, dependable life partner who shares my interests, sense-of-humor and positive outlook on life. Finally, it reminded me of something important: as cliché as it sounds, our time here is short so I no longer waste my time on drama or on analyzing a man’s actions, responses, (or lack there of). Just like Occam’s Razor states, the simplest explanation is usually correct.

I won’t lie. I still hate my reflection in the mirror when I step out of the shower, but I also know that I can still look exactly how I feel when I step outside: beautiful, happy, healthy and alive.

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Why I Nursed My Baby With Both Breast Milk and Formula http://thepurplefig.com/why-i-nursed-my-baby-with-both-breast-milk-and-formula/ http://thepurplefig.com/why-i-nursed-my-baby-with-both-breast-milk-and-formula/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:00:50 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7411 Everyone knows things do not always go according to plan. As strong women, we come up with several plans in case the first one or two do not pan out as desired. I am the type of woman who always finds the positive in the negative, yet when my dream of being able to exclusively breastfeed my baby boy came to a screeching halt, I could not find the positive.

From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, she is bombarded with information and advice from some well-meaning people on how to have a healthy pregnancy, to have the right kind of birth, whether to breastfeed or not, and other things like vaccinations. I remember from the moment I saw that second line appear on the pregnancy test, I was sure I would breastfeed my baby. Women do it all the time, I was told. It’s natural, and I have seen all of the women in my family breastfeed with ease.

After fighting hard to have the birth experience I wanted, I made sure that when I was finally able to hold my baby in my arms, I would let him breastfeed right away. As I suspected, he latched on like a champ. I nearly burst with the warmth and love inside of me for my baby, knowing that my body was able to feed him and allow him to grow strong.

A few days after my son was born, my milk had not come in. My baby was starting to show signs of hunger even after nursing just twenty minutes beforehand. So many people were urging me to give my baby formula by saying, “Some women just cannot breastfeed.” I began to lose the confidence in my body that I had finally attained after 25 years of self-criticism. I did not want to see my baby go hungry, and I was so heartbroken that my body was failing me.

Many sleepless nights and tears followed, I would nurse my baby when my milk finally came in, but he remained hungry. I made lactation cookies and smoothies, took fenugreek, drank mother’s milk tea, and even tried pumping to increase supply. Pumping was the most difficult thing I encountered, and I would barely get an ounce, sometimes two if I were lucky, from both breasts during one pumping session. However, when I would give my baby a bottle of formula, he would be completely satisfied. I realized before long that I felt incredibly pressured by society to not formula feed. Going to the store to pick out an organic formula was embarrassing to me because I felt like other mothers in the store would judge me, without knowing my problem with low supply.

In public at places like the park or library, I would receive the same disapproving glances from women, whether I was struggling to keep my baby covered while he nursed, or giving him a bottle of formula. I realized no matter how I fed my baby; someone would always have an opinion on each method. I had an epiphany at that moment, and realized instead of being hard on myself about my supply, I should be celebrating that I can breastfeed at all. I needed to take a step back and look at how much my baby was growing and how strong he was getting, from both breast milk and formula. His smiles and laughs everyday prove to me that I am his hero, I am enough for him, he sees me as his comfort, his food, and his happiness. I felt empowered as a woman after reaching that epiphany, more so than after giving birth to him.

Things usually do not go according to plan, especially when it comes to motherhood. I finally have my positive outlook again and feel ready to face any adversity that comes my way in the journey of motherhood. I feel so compelled to reach out to other women who are going through the same thing and let them know it will be alright. Now, more than ever, women need to bring each other up, instead of tearing each other down for going about a different path and method that will bring us to the end result we all want as mothers, happy children who become happy adults. I can finally say that I love my body, and all of the amazing things it does and is capable of doing. That is true empowerment in my eyes.

 

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I Won’t Let The Trauma of A Violent Past Ruin My Identity In A Relationship http://thepurplefig.com/i-wont-let-the-trauma-of-a-violent-past-ruin-my-identity-in-a-relationship/ http://thepurplefig.com/i-wont-let-the-trauma-of-a-violent-past-ruin-my-identity-in-a-relationship/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7545 Trauma is a crystallized moment held in suspension indefinitely. All of the tension, smells, images, touch and sounds from those moments are captured and locked into place. The victim can’t remember the moment, but lives it over and over again. Being triggered means losing control and feeling as if I’m underwater.

Instead of everything being blurry, the lens is that crystal moment. When someone touches my hand, it’s him touching my hand; when someone says my name, it’s that voice. Two knocks is always the police. I can’t think, because my head is a whirlwind of fear and anger.

    In high school, I would bite down on my cotton hood, shake, and try to be quiet. I made it appear like a panic attack or basic adolescent anxiety, until someone tried to engage me. All I could bring myself to do was walk out of class before I started shrieking or sobbing. Later, I could usually get to a bathroom and hold myself through it. When people would ask if I was alright, I would say ‘I’m just really anxious’, or, ‘it’s a hard time for me right now’.

Neither answer was true. I’m laidback and not anxious often, even after a fit. I treated it like an illness, a headache I could heal with an illicit aspirin.

Divorcing myself from my emotions allowed me to feign normality. I didn’t have to identify with the terrified basket case cowering in a corner. These methods worked well, until I tried to hold onto longer relationships.

I couldn’t hide it from whomever I was dating seriously. Early in the mornings, they took my silences personally. When I couldn’t speak, when there weren’t words in my head, when I couldn’t hear a word said, when I’d recoil from their touch, they always took offense.

I blamed all of them, and never myself, and still do. The kind of emotional devotion young people expect in relationships is ridiculous. I was young, and had the same expectation of devotion.

I wanted a partner who would do exactly as I said, so I could avoid being triggered. I was blunt, and had partners who found it attractive when I’d take the lead. Later, resentment replaced the infatuation. They seemed like caged, castrated animals I kept in my room because I could.

For a year and a half, I held onto a boyfriend who said the L word and talked about our life together, In bed, I would always decide where we went next. Early on, I had to shove him off of me often, and then tell him not to take it personally. I was comfortable, but my relationship with him became indifferent. That catastrophic dream of revolutionary, life-changing love had been broken.

After breaking him in and making him my pet, I left him. Being alone was better until I learned how to be with an independent person.

Around two years ago, I noticed a new shift in expectation. It was the era of men trying to fix me. How do I deal with the disappointment in their eyes when I tell them I feel awful and it has nothing to do with them? Two respectful, attractive, and intelligent men later, my condition has held me back from finding paradise with either one of them.

They resented me because their love couldn’t rewrite my memory. I felt like a pet project they kept working at, until it turned into a real person they could love. I believed their talk of healing, but it made me feel objectified. I let them take the lead, and felt sexually used. They were both ‘sensitive men’, but I’m confident that such men use sensitivity as a veil and justification for their insane expectations in bed.  

I guess I have ‘daddy issues’, so they expected me to be a whirlwind in the sack. Yet, I felt divorced from my own body whenever they pushed for something extreme. They both backed off, but I couldn’t bear the idea that my condition was a turn on.

The man who I’m with now is different. I can’t tell if it’s because he really loves me, or if it’s just a different phase of men. Maybe three years from now I’ll call it, ‘the era of men who didn’t expect anything of me’.

I’m done with the expectations of happiness or being cured of my past. I’m starting to identify with the basket case cowering in the corner. That was once a battered child in the corner. I don’t think it’s my responsibility, or anyone else’s, to fix that. ‘Fix’ implies that there is some fixed version of myself where I don’t throw fits, but fits are inseparable from my lived experience.

I live in a society where I’ve never felt comfortable being wounded. I identify as either a victim of violence, or a young person who can’t figure out her emotions. I’ve never been able to bridge the gap between the two. One is serious, the other naive, but they live with each other in me. It’s a false dilemma and has forced me to choose between shallow romanticism and a petrified neurosis. My identity can’t be found in my past, youth, gender, or boyfriends.

In today’s progressive society, I’m finding it harder to be a survivor, than it was to survive.

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23-Year-Old Tugce Albayrak’s Death Is A Personal Loss For Young Women Everywhere http://thepurplefig.com/23-year-old-tugce-albayraks-death-is-a-personal-loss-for-young-women-everywhere/ http://thepurplefig.com/23-year-old-tugce-albayraks-death-is-a-personal-loss-for-young-women-everywhere/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 22:40:19 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7764 Like any shocking crime, the violent physical assault and death of German university student Tugce Albayrak outside of a McDonald’s restaurant near Frankfurt has quickly made its way into headlines.

If you have been following the extensive news coverage, you are now familiar with the case.

On November 15, Albayrak stepped up to defend two unknown teenage girls, who were being sexually harassed by a group of men inside the fast food joint. The attackers were asked to leave the restaurant. Shortly after, they confronted Albayrak in the parking lot, striking the young woman in the head.

Sadly, this ill-fated heroine suffered horrific injuries after the attack. After never regaining consciousness and slipping into a coma as a result of the attack, BBC reports that she died in hospital on November 28.

Despite the fact that an entire culture and language would have separated us, it frightens me to think that Tugce Albayrak and I could have been friends.

At 23 years old, we were the same age, peers separately by merely an ocean in today’s digital universe. Sadly, Albayrak’s 23rd and final birthday was on the day that she was taken off life support by her family.

Looking at photos of the slim, dark-eyed young woman, I find myself wondering who Albayrak was as a person. Like anyone who passes away tragically young, her story exists in her sudden death and not in her short lifetime. The video of her attack has been published, discussed, re-published and discussed again.

CBC.ca reports that she had an eventual goal of becoming a high-school teacher. She was a student at Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. I am sure she knew the long hours, ups and downs and hard work of education. She clearly knew bravery, as few women would have stepped up for the frightened teens she noticed that night.

Perhaps, we would have met, if we happened to share the same space at the same time, as international friendships sometimes do. Would the haunting dark eyes from her photos have snapped at me across a room in lively competition? On the other hand, would she have fit into my vibrant, quirky circle of female friends?

Had Albayrak and I lived in the same city, I may have encountered her at some point randomly. Perhaps we would have exchanged faint smiles on the subway, accidentally stepped on each other’s toes on a dance floor, smiled at each other after an introduction from mutual friends. 

Other than her untimely end, she could have been just another girl. Her death is a personal loss for young women everywhere, the loss of a fellow feminist, a potential friend and possible colleague. The world is tiny, after all. Who knows who she could have met? 

 Sadly, Tugce Albayrak and I can never be friends now. While an ocean can’t separate anyone in the age of social media, life and death certainly can. One of us is here penning this tale. The other one is the story herself, a victim of violence, 23 years old forever.

Photo Credits: Scientists Say on Twitter 

 

 

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Family Dinners Don’t Have To Be Homemade http://thepurplefig.com/family-dinners-dont-have-to-be-homemade/ http://thepurplefig.com/family-dinners-dont-have-to-be-homemade/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 16:05:23 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7453 A few days ago I came home, flipped on my computer, and found a maelstrom of controversy in my twitter timeline. Author Amanda Marcotte, who writes for several blogs regarding politics and feminism, had written a piece for Slate entitled, “Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner.” Slate tweeted her article as “The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner. “

Because I am a fiscal conservative, and follow many conservatives, my Twitter feed was densely populated with criticism for Ms. Marcotte’s post. I felt some of it was just mean. Although I work full-time in an office, I feel my true calling is in domesticity. I love most things domestic: Sewing, cooking, canning, parenting, gardening, etc.

I didn’t know anything about Ms. Marcotte, so I did some reading about her and read her twitter timeline. I realized we probably didn’t have much in common. However, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I read her post – anticipating I would want to jump on the “home-cooked dinner is best for the family” bandwagon.

And then, I surprised myself. I agreed with her.

I probably do not agree with Ms. Marcotte on very many things, but I respect her opinion and completely support her right to state it. My own mother was a 60’s and 70’s career woman, and I wished for a June Cleaver or Carol Brady-type mom. This isn’t to say I didn’t love her to pieces ; I just wished I didn’t go home to an empty house after school. While my mother loved to bake, and was brilliant at it, the home-cooked family dinner was a daily struggle. Undercooking food was her specialty, and I am a little surprised that we didn’t fall ill from bloody chicken or pink pork chops.

My father and I didn’t help the situation. We were critical, picky, and often unappreciative. To me, the grass was always greener at my friends’ homes, where the stay-at-home moms served up after-school snacks, milkshakes, and spaghetti for dinner with home-made sauce.

My mother-in-law also would have gladly given up cooking dinner. An aspiring writer, she came home from her office job each day, reheated a pot of coffee, and sat at her typewriter. With a sigh, she would stand up around 5 p.m. and make the prescribed dinner: Meat, a starch, a green vegetable, a yellow vegetable, and a salad. She burned food frequently; the family used to joke that the smoke alarm doubled as the dinner bell.

Ms. Marcotte, in her post, cited a study from North Carolina State University, which concluded that

“Time pressures, tradeoffs to save money, and the burden of pleasing others make it difficult for mothers to enact the idealized vision of home-cooked meals advocated by foodies and public health officials . . . The social message was that “home-cooked meals have become the hallmark of good mothering, stable families, and the ideal of the healthy, productive citizen,” but found that as much as they wanted to achieve that ideal, they didn’t have the time or money to get there . . . Even for middle-class working mothers who are able to be home by 6 p.m., trying to cook a meal while children are demanding attention and other chores need doing becomes overwhelming. “

When I googled “Is eating together as a family best for families?” I found an overwhelming 23,800 items. I read several of the articles and have to agree that while eating together as a family is for the best, that does not equate to actually cooking the damn dinner, yourself.

For me, cooking is relaxing and creative. For others, I recognize that it’s a dreaded chore. Personally, I despise ironing, and look forward to the day I can pitch my iron out the window. If you told me that ironing was the key to bringing my family closer, I would be depressed, angry, and resentful if they didn’t appreciate my efforts at starched collars or perfect pleats. Using that analogy, why would people who don’t enjoy cooking be frowned upon?

But, alas, they are scolded – and from high places. First Lady Michelle Obama reminded us last March that “Plenty of meals can be pulled together in less than 30 minutes for cheaper than takeout.”

I sincerely wish my mother, and mother-in-law, had lived to experience the advent of bagged salads, seasoned meats, pre-chopped vegetables and aisles of celebrity sauces. How grateful they would have been to have had the extra time for preparing lesson plans, writing magazine articles, or relaxation with a good book.

Having worked with a great many women over the years, I have repeatedly seen how hard they strive to be good people, wives, and mothers. They work hard, then run to after-school activities, and help with homework. Picking up McDonald’s, or ripping open a bag of Birds-Eye for family dinner, does not diminish them in my eyes.

I am grateful that my daughter has a boyfriend who loves to cook. I am fortunate to be married to a man who knows how to “deal with dinner” when I don’t feel like cooking.

If you love to cook, and have the time, great. Family mealtime is a bonding experience. I just hope no one minimizes enjoyment of your family meal by insinuating it cannot be had without chopping, boiling, or stirring. 

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Why My Daughter’s Deafness Hasn’t Stopped Her From Being Successful http://thepurplefig.com/why-my-daughters-deafness-hasnt-stopped-her-from-being-successful/ http://thepurplefig.com/why-my-daughters-deafness-hasnt-stopped-her-from-being-successful/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 16:01:10 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7556 I remember the day well. It was a noisy, family reunion teeming with cousins, aunts and uncles whom you only see every few years. My daughter, a month away from her third birthday, was the main attraction, with her curly hair and angelic smile. It was a happy time, with laughs and stories, and a feeling of security and comfort that comes from being with family.
All was right in the world until my aunt’s words went through me like a lightning bolt. Six words were all it took for my husband and I to look at each other and know. We didn’t have to speak. The answers we were searching for, but somehow dreaded, were there.

“She talks like Maureen did. Slushy.”

It all made sense then. Maureen, a cousin in her 50s, was born hard of hearing and wore a hearing aid.

As a parent, it’s not easy coming to terms with something you know isn’t quite right. It’s a gnawing feeling that always whispers what you don’t want to hear.
Erin was behind in her language development. A clap by the doctor behind her head almost a year earlier didn’t diagnose her severe hearing loss. A trip to the audiologist did.

I was relieved her language struggles weren’t due to a developmental challenge. That gnawing feeling that had slowly eaten away at us turned into a new fear of the unknown.
She got her hearing aids the day after her third birthday. She spent that day whispering, since she had never heard the sound of her own voice before. She heard buzzers in the car, a clock ticking, and birds singing.

“Waz zat?” she would ask as she tried to identify the rush of sounds.
It was a new world for her and for us.

Being a parent can often suck the life right out of you at the best of times. Being a parent of a “special needs” child, as she was classified, can mean facing some seemingly insurmountable challenges.

And then there was the guilt. Oh God, the guilt that I should have known, that I should have heeded the warning signs that were revealed all at once when her diagnosis was confirmed. The doctor’s reassurance that some kids don’t talk at all until they are even four years old was cold comfort.
To this day, I find it so difficult to watch videos of her before she got her hearing aids. Seeing her play, and knowing that she was in a world of almost complete silence, still hurts.
Yes, there were children worse off than her. But that doesn’t matter when it happens to you. We were determined she would have every opportunity to succeed and live a “normal” life (if anyone ever does).

We told her she was special. We celebrated her milestones, and we were there to comfort her when the world showed its ugly side.

The pack mentality of an elementary playground can have profound effects on self-esteem. She wasn’t special as she played on the grassy field behind her school. She was often a target and the sting of being different meant the investment of never-ending emotional support. The FM system she used, throughout her school years, became a symbol of her impairment.
A parent once told me she was glad her young daughter wasn’t “like that.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Deaf.”

“We never know what our children are going to be like. How do you know yours won’t get into drugs or get pregnant when she is 14?” I smugly asked.

A mother at dance class seemed pleased that my child learned how to skip. She suggested I should be quite proud, since, well, you know, it was an accomplishment for a girl like her.
There was a preconceived idea that wearing hearing aids automatically meant she was developmentally delayed.

There were meetings with teachers, right up to high school, who had to be educated about hearing loss. There were battles with the school board for support services. There were always tears to dry, hers and ours, as she often struggled to fit in and not feel different from the others.

She will always have to face ignorance and deal with comments about her speech or ‘accent’, and deal with stares when her hearing aids show. Yet, we wouldn’t want her to be any other way, nor would she.

This fall, she started her master’s studies in nursing part time, while holding down a full-time job with a public health unit.

Did I mention she was special?

  • deafgirl
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How To Have Sex As a Thirty-One-Year-Old Woman While Living At Home http://thepurplefig.com/how-to-have-sex-as-a-thirty-one-year-old-woman-while-living-at-home/ http://thepurplefig.com/how-to-have-sex-as-a-thirty-one-year-old-woman-while-living-at-home/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7723 When you’re 31 and single and living at home with your parents, one is instantly relegated back to her adolescence: sneaking, lying, exaggerating, blaring music so loud over your vibrator’s whiny battery, all in the hopes that she won’t be founded out by her parents that she is, indeed, a sexual human being.

 

I know my mom knows I’ve had sex at least once; she was the first person I called after I lost my virginity to which she immediately replied: “Finally.”

My dad, on the other hand, sees me as sexless, and I’m fine with that; I’d like to think he’s sexless, too, and not the person whose orgasm created me.

 

I didn’t always used to live with my parents. Before, resentfully, returning to my home city of Toronto, I once lived in Florence, next was Manhattan, and then Vancouver. I met guys, went out on dates, and sometimes fell in love. There were also late nights and early mornings of crazy (mostly good) sex whenever and wherever I wanted it – floor, couch, glass-top kitchen table, Central Park.

 

Then I moved home. I wasn’t supposed to come back. New York was supposed to be my one-stop destination. As an artsy teen, like so many starry-eyed teens before me, I was convinced New York was where I belonged; that it would solve my problems of fitting in, that New York would be the place that “got” me. New York did get me, but, like so many other starving artists before me, it also broke my heart. And just like the bad boyfriend that you don’t want to leave, but you know you have to in order to become whole again, I left New York (as well as a bad boyfriend).

 

And now I’m having sex at 31 next door to my parents. Well, actually, I’m not because that’s gross. Let me clarify. I don’t do it while my parents are home. I think that’s just common courtesy and respect. Actually, I don’t do it at all at my parents’ house (at least not yet).

 

What I mean is, I don’t have sex with another person at my parents’ house, but I sure as hell masturbate. As soon as my mom hits the garage door opener and zooms away to her horseback riding lesson, I grab my MacBook, click on over to YouTube, search through “sex scenes” (is it weird I find Drew Barrymore’s “Poison Ivy” titillating?) and then I grab myself. I’ve never masturbated so much in my life since I’ve moved back home with my parents (and that includes whether I’m single or attached). Could my “me time” suggest I’m a bit more stressed than usual (since masturbation is a natural stress-reliever)? Probably. But I also think that at 31, I am way more in tune with my body than I ever have been, and now that I know what I want – and like – I’m having better sex when I’m having sex with a man – which, by the way, now always goes down at “his” place.

 

Having sex at a location other than my parents’ home has been the key for me in getting some while living at home. I’ve done it on a crummy mattress in some frat house-like apartment lived. I’ve done it in a park. I’ve done it in LA, New York, and Europe. For someone who loves her down-filled duvet and her side of the bed, doing it anywhere but what’s familiar to me has been an adjustment. But my having sex away from home has shown me — besides proving exotic locals can be hot and exciting and reveal a new side of my “inner goddess” – that compromise and sharing is important for both sex and relationships. When I’m not on my home turf, I am more vulnerable and less assured, and it’s scary. As I’ve grown to own my sexuality, I’ve also had to own my shit. Since I’ve moved home, I’ve struggled with insecurity. I’ve wondered where I belong, where I will end up and who will want to date me. Now I’ve learned it’s not where I live, but who I am. Men have wanted to spend time with because they care and like me, period. A good connection is a good connection, regardless of what my address is, and that includes the connection I have with myself.

 

One day I won’t sleep next door to my parents’ bedroom, and it will be sad and I’ll probably cry.

 

But, really, a grownup, whilst in the midst of cunnilingus, should never have to send a “Hey, won’t be home tonight — don’t wait up!” text to her mother. Ever.

 

  • Having-Sex
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Can Mr. Nice Guy Put You into a Sexual Coma? http://thepurplefig.com/do-your-beliefs-suppress-your-desires/ http://thepurplefig.com/do-your-beliefs-suppress-your-desires/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:20:32 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7708 In her He for She campaign speech at the U.N, Emma Watson (video at the bottom) told the world it’s time for us all to perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals.
 
She argued that “men are imprisoned by gender stereotypes. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”
 
Several sentences later, standing ovations ensued, social media storms erupted and those of us watching stopped for a fleeting second to imagine a world where Emma’s vision was reality.
 
It all sounded so possible. So believable. So real. Until we realised something was missing. A piece of the jigsaw puzzle that somehow didn’t “fit”.
 
Because if there’s anything history and biology has taught us, there are some things you can never change.
 
Now I’m not talking about gender equality here. That can be changed and it is thankfully already changing for the better.
 
No. What I’m talking about is basic sexual desire. What makes men attracted to women and women attracted to men. Evolution, biology, whatever you like to call it, you cannot ignore it. 
 
So although the idea of the world being a place where women can accept a man who’s delicate, tentative and politely thinks about you and asks if this is ok or that is ok sounds great on paper, does anyone genuinely, hand on heart believe that history can write a new chapter for this emasculate man to become the type of man women will one day become uncontrollably filled with desire for?
 
Marta Meena, an established researcher at the University of Nevada has argued that this type of man who may meet the expectations of your gender politics (treats you as an equal, is respectful to you, communicates with you and meets your parents’ preferences), may also put you into a sexual coma – not despite these qualities, but because of them.
 
And if History and the fictional characters like Christian Grey and Don Draper women fantasise about are anything to go by then we know that the type of man most women truly desire might actually be the complete opposite of what they believe they want. It’s paradoxical.
 
Georgia Knapp, a self-proclaimed, shouting from the rooftops feminist, who writes for The Purple Fig, experienced this paradox when she found herself turned on by “bondage” and “submission” porn – which being a proud feminist – fiercely contradicts her everyday morals.
 
She felt sinful and immoral for getting aroused by it, yet continued to set her browser history to private and accept the shame that came with watching, even though it meant the possibility of her feminist card being revoked.
 
A friend of Georgia said that for someone who lives their life being strong and independent, perhaps the thrill for her was shedding that self and becoming the exact opposite in bed. It didn’t mean she was any less of a feminist or that she was spitting in the face of all womanhood. It just meant that she was human, she had urges, and to put it simply – what turns you on, turns you on.
 
Perhaps this explains the unrivalled success of 50 Shades of Grey? And why feminists around the world simply cannot deny the male protagonist, Christian Grey, is a total turn on. Even though he’s a manipulative, controlling bad boy whom Anastasia falls for despite taking the submissive role in a violent sexual relationship. 
 
Are Christian Grey and Don Draper anomalies? Or are there countless other fictional characters just like them who women shouldn’t find sexy but secretly lust over? And how do these ultimate bad boys stack up against your typical nice guy?
 
What makes the ideal boyfriend?
 
To answer this question once and for all, I went on a mission to uncover the truth.
 
Since women love expressing their infatuation for fictional TV boyfriends in lengthy articles online, I trawled through dozens of “most dateable TV character” lists and looked for patterns…
 
53 lists and 444 votes later I made this controversial discovery:

TV Vampires, Psychopaths & Serial Killers: Perfect Boyfriend Material? Via Dating Metrics

 
 
 

Sure, these guys are fantasy boyfriends, but when it comes down to desire it’s pretty clear that alpha male bad boys are still women’s first choice.

 
Perhaps the excitement, mystery, surprise and drama a bad boy offers is too good to pass up?
 
Whatever you take away from this, one thing is clear – no matter how much we try to deny it, evolutionary sexual desire will always find a way to trump rational thinking.

  • christiangrey
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