Photo1Confession: There are people that I purposefully hold at arms length. Okay- maybe more like football fields’ length.  Ummm…. Marathon’s length? Continents’ length? Let’s just say I steer as far away physically (or, at least as far away emotionally) as I can. They are quite literally Marginalized in my life. I push them as far from the center of my life as I can. I’m not proud of it. I’m working hard to overcome this tendency- but I have a long way to go.

It’s easy to point out and find the marginalized in our culture and the world…….The orphan, the single or single parent (especially in the church), the leper,(Yes, they still exist and are evidence that the marginalization of people is not new,) the AIDS patient (and orphan) the enslaved, the sex-trade worker, the addict, the homeless, the mentally ill, the impoverished.… the list could go on infinitum. (Links are to organizations or information on these marginalized groups.)

If you looked through my repertoire of helping…. you’d probably never guess what a marginalizing jerk I can be. I support most of the causes above in one way or another. I’ve walked besides friends with AIDS, am currently helping with the Stuck Tour locally, I help those in the throes of adopting in any way I can, we’ve  helped support a child in Tanzania through a great organization for years. I do what I can to help the homeless, we love to help the impoverished through Kiva, I worked for years as a pastoral counselor helping those struggling emotionally, and do what I can politically to help end poverty. I’ve spent over 20 years working with and for a non-profit that helps build families and the world by supporting mothers….

Still.. I marginalize. I’m guilty.

The list of the marginalized in my life is a little different from the culture’s marginalized.  Lately- I’ve been wondering…..and feeling convicted about- those I personally marginalize. Those I steer away from. Those that cause me to be less Good Samaritan and more Pharisee like.

Who are they if not limited to those listed above? (Cause- let’s face it-the things I listed above are still pretty minimal when it comes to helping the culturally marginalized…they don’t exactly take spot in the center of my life’s pages.)

They are- (pretty much) those I assume won’t like me, be open to knowing me or who intimidate me because of our differences. 

  • Physical differences….. Honestly? Really incredibly beautiful people intimidate me. I tend to protect myself from the insecurity I feel when I’m around them by isolating myself from them. (Dear friends- you are beautiful-  yes- intimidatingly, so. But, I love you anyway. I’ve learned to.)
  • Emotional and personality differences….I just don’t “get” certain emotional and personality types…. they are hard to connect with- I tend to isolate from them rather than have to do the work of connecting…
  • Spiritual belief differences… The truth: I love my Muslim neighbors (I live in a very culturally diverse neighborhood) from afar and with minimal but friendly contact. Because, I’m pretty much afraid they already hate me—-1) Because our last name is Jewish. (There has been neighborhood kid “stuff” that backs that fear a bit.) and we’re Christian… We’re kind of the almost hat-trick of what the media says they dislike. I also kind of feel like I must look like a prostitute to them with my blazing burgundy hair uncovered, and my body-too-conscious clothes. After our mailbox was mutilated by the mail truck- we considered requesting that they deliver to our neighbor for us… but my husband once quipped that our mail from “Jews for Jesus” might not go over so well….just keepin it real- people.) I also feel WAY under dressed when my beautifully- Sari- wrapped neighbors walk by….justsayin. Diverse.
  • Stylistic differences….In a world of extreme rocky- road styles.. I’m pretty much vanilla ice cream. I pretty much assume people with extreme piercings etc will find e too bland to bother with. (Okay and they kind of scare  me a bit… alright? )
  • Preference Differences….These may be lame- but I’ll confess them anyway- I don’t “get” gaming. I don’t “get” Crossfit people.(I had to google what it was thought it was a church ting… not so much.) I don’t “get” roller coaster lovers (I refuse to pay money to be scared to death or made to vomit.) I don’t “get” rabid sports fans. I don’t “get” extreme political activists or the politically obsessed.
  • Financial differences….Okay- so honestly? The poor? I get. Kind of. The rich? Not so much. Which is weird- because in the big scope of things- there are people who could look at our income and in comparison to theirs- see us as BOTH of those. Rich. Poor. Yay- we’re both! Hint: that’s probably true of you as well. Unless you’re Oprah. Then, everyone’s poor. Oprah- honey- if you’re reading this? Call me. You will want to have me on a show. You will (someday -hopefully soon-when it’s published) want to choose my book “A Mile in Her Shoes”  as a book club choice. It could bring the world of women together. Justsayin-  I have issues with the rich. (and a lot of other people and things- we know this.) Basically? I judge them. I judge their cars. (Such a waste of money.) I judge their clothes. (Again, a waste- and so stink in beautiful that I’m jealous.) I judge their in-home help. (Because again- I’m jealous and could really use some help with housework cause -duh I’m in a neck brace, for like… ever.) Pretty much I judge them because I’m jealous and or because I think “I’d use that money so much better.” With all the judgy-judgy and jealous temptations? I pretty much avoid “the rich.”  Whom ever they are. (And that clinches the fact that Oprah won’t call. oopsy.) Okay- another confession- I actually do know some “rich” people… not Oprah rich- but rich. And they also intimidate me because I feel like they judge me…I’m just a SAHM after all…

Weird list of marginalized people, I know. Trust me- this is just the beginning…. I also marginalize academics, (I never finished college….hello insecurity.) those with dementia, senility (kind of related by their polar opposition.) and pageant/ dance/soccer/extreme hippy crunchy/ or rabidly controlling or rabidly permissive parent type people.

Told you before. I can be a real- jerk.

Here’s the thing… (Now that I’ve offended or alienated pretty much everyone….) When I look around? I notice that people in general tend to kind of run in packs….. packs of people like them. Like sticks with like. SAHM’s with SAHM’s. Inked with inked. Academic with academic… with rich… etc…We live millions of kinds of intricately segregated lives. Some forms of segregation are just more obvious than others.

So- I’ve decided to desegregate. No- I’m not starting a busing campaign- I wouldn’t even know where to start- and I have a hard enough time parking my car- I’d be deadly with a bus. Instead- I’m inviting the marginalized of all kinds into my life. The culturally marginalized. The socially marginalized and those I personally marginalize. I started this journey a few years ago- and I’ll tell you something-  I’ve met and grown to love some of the most incredible people since.

People who challenge me. People who change me for the better. People who accept me when I thought they’d judge. People who are so much more than I ever would have thought.

People I want to be in right smack dab in the middle of my story… inked into the pages of my life and heart- no longer relegated to the margins where they are tolerated from afar.

I’m looking forward to using some of my margins and the marginalized and turning  the tie and relationships into art…. join me?

  • What about you? Who are the marginalized in your life? Why?
  • What do you think would happen if you changed that? How could you?
  • What do you think would happen if we all did?

Dear Lord- You know my heart from the inside out. You know how I isolate myself from people….you know who I marginalize. Please help me to Love YOU and love the people you’ve created- just as they are- the similar to me and the vastly different. Help me to set aside my prejudices, fears, intimidations, jealousies insecurities and all the things that make me want to push some people as far  into the margins of my life as I can. Write a new story  on the pages of my life. One filled with love and diversity and respect. One that looks more like yours and less like mine. I love you lord, amen. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:36-40

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

PS: Yes- I’m also intimidated by the artistically gifted- which, from the pic- you can see- I am not:P

To sum up this series….

Let’s make some margin time in our lives- so we can be flexible and connect when opportunities arise.

Let’s make the marginally important- marginal- let’s keep main thing the main thing and let the lesser things go.

Finally- Let’s not marginalize people…. let’s love them. That’s what Jesus did.  From hookers, to tax collectors, fishermen to doctors…..all of them. All of us.

I woke up before the alarm this morning.   I snuggled deeper under the covers.  Fridays are my “fun day.”  (Fun, here,  is a relative term. It means I run errands, maybe grab lunch by myself or get a coffee at the bookstore and browse. But, I get out of the house- so it’s fun, to me!) I thought I had a few extra minutes before I had to get up.

That is, I thought it was “fun day,” until the alarm clock, rudely reminded me, that I had to get up. I had to go to work today. Ugh. Before I could hit the alarm button, I also remembered that this was: data entry day. On an excel spreadsheet. that was important.

My stomach felt queasy, before my feet hit the floor. Nerves. I was afraid  the universe would implode if I screwed up. I tried to remember what Kathy, my friend and boss-du jour had told me to do.

I blanked.  “Oh well, she wrote it down, I’ll figure it out when I get there.”

Fortunately, getting ready this morning was much smoother than yesterday.

  1. No one missed the bus.
  2. I didn’t run anything over. (However,  I disappointed Noah, by not taking out any garbage cans.  I assured him, I’d likely hit something, sometime soon.)
  3. I actually had time to fold a load of laundry and do the dishes before I left.
  4. The beagle  peed on demand!

I was running early. An excellent (and rare) start to the day.

The drive to work was un-eventful.If you don’t count seeing a red bra (inexplicably) lying on the ground at my freeway exit. (Someone’s lookin’ like a fool with her bra on the ground, is all I can say about that.)

I actually was *gasp* a few minutes early! (I took a picture of the clock, as evidence for the doubters, I can hear you mocking me.)

It only took me a few minutes to settle in to my data entry job.  Once I got my bearings, looked at the notes Kathy had left for me, and took a deep breath. I started.

You know what?  I did it! It took me a few hours to enter all the data for four different sites, but I did it! (I think I did it, anyway.  I obsessively double checked each entry and saved the file, so it should still be there on Monday.)  I may have set a new record for world’s slowest data entry, but it’s done.

Data entry, surprised me. I actually kind of liked it. (It was infinitely better than dark-room uniform organizing.) I worked downstairs, in the main office. it was nice to hear office chatter.  And I even got a chance to talk to a few people. (Nice since as a SAHM, I can go for days without interacting face to face, with another adult. But I digress, today I’m a working mom!)

However, I was concentrating and trying (not to wreck the database and thus stop the universe) to do my best- so I didn’t take time to chat. (FYI- it’s a very good thing they’ve gently moved me into tasks. Today?  I’m not sure if I could have answered the phone and done the data entry at the same time. I was thankful every time the phone rang, and I didn’t have to answer it!)

I think I may have committed my first office faux pas. They were ordering pizza.. and I passed. Honestly… I felt shy and a bit intimidated, for lunch with the crew. (Weird, I know. But apparently shyness can strike even me.) And, I was hoping to get home in time to pick up Noah at the bus, so I worked straight through.  I hope I get a chance to go back and hang out at lunch, sometime.

Once finished with the data, I did some filing. Where I was reminded, once again that: HANDWRITING MATTERS. Especially on Driver’s Manifests. Hello, if I can’t read your driver number or the date, it’s kind of hard to: FILE IT, BY THAT. (sorry, a little messy handwriting rant.) As an aside: Driver’s Manifest’s are not the subversive documents that could result in governmental or cultural change, that they sound like. They are (basically) driver’s logs. Where they went and when.  They are important. But still. Not revolutionary.

Filing went well, until I dropped a pile of papers. I panicked, slightly, like a second grader who knocks over a chair.   For a moment, I wondered if I broke them. (Umm yeah. I’m keeping it real here… I seriously wondered if I wrecked the pile by dropping it.)

I picked them up and put them back in order. Duh. They are paper. They weren’t broken or wrecked.  It took me a few extra minutes to fix my mistake, but, that was it.

And then. I finished! Early!  I was glad to meet the bus today. I had no idea how hard that time between 4 and quitting time is for working mom’s. I call it the 4:00 pm effect. Worry distracted me. I worried a lot. I worried whether his big brother met him at the bus. (He didn’t, he forgot. Noah walked home just fine. He sometimes does if I don’t make it to the stop.) I worried whether he had a good day at school. I worried whether needed me and I worried if he had a snack. Yeah. A lot. Also-very quickly. I finished work around 4:45, yesterday!

I learned some things that surprised me this week:

  1. If I had to work, I could. (I’ve been a little a lot, afraid that maybe I couldn’t cut it, even if I desperately had to.) This week has not been easy. We’d have to make a lot of changes at home if I worked. But, I did it. And I could. Just like the millions of moms who do it every week. Each one with her unique set of challenges. (I have 3 kids, 3 schedules and a traveling husband.)
  2. I’ve always thought I had a problem with being told what to do. I discovered this week, that it’s more that I hate, not knowing what to do and needing to be told. I’d rather anticipate needs a need and meet it. I could not do that this week. I had no idea what needed to be done. I needed direction. It was uncomfortable.  But over time, I think that would improve as I caught on. (And didn’t have to be led around like a trained pony.)
  3. I appreciate more and understand better, how my husband feels about work. (It didn’t cross my mind that this experiment would lead here.) Even doing things as simple and benign as I did this week, it’s hard to “turn it off” at quitting time.  (Something I get mad at him for all the time.) Also: if I worked outside the home, and he continued to travel as he does (He’s gone about 3-5 days a week and is usually in a different time zone.) it would be hard to talk on the phone, let alone see each other. I missed him. (If my tubes weren’t tied, I’d say it would, however, save us a fortune in birth control… but that’s TMI, Funny, but still: TMI.)
  4. My house is still standing, even though I went to work.  True, I didn’t do everything. But I got done what needed to get done. Working helped me prioritize my tasks.
  5. I could see both pluses and minuses for my kids if I worked.  They would need to be more independent. I believe they would rise to the occasion, as they did (for the most part) this week.
  6. A few posts back- I used the word “day dreaming” about what working would be like. I realized this week, that more than day-dreaming, I’ve  been missing things from when I used to work. (Before kids.) Maybe I’ve romanticized the memory a bit, but it’s there, and some part of me, misses it.
  7. Bonus Round: If you work straight through, without stopping for a potty break and text and drive on the way home, you could have an accident (of the soggy type) if a police car speeds up behind you with it’s lights flashing.  You might also throw your very expensive iPhone in the backseat to try and hide the fact that you were texting. You will be very relieved if they drive right past you once you’ve pulled over.

The drive home was slightly more dramatic than the drive in. oopsy.

Now- I have some questions for you! There is no way, I can really understand what it’s like for you, by working for a few days.  You’d really help me, and mom’s everywhere- if you’d answer!

please: email, comment, facebook message, or tweet me to tell me your answers!

Working moms:

1) Does the schedule thing smooth out at all once you’ve established a routine?  (Well, as routine as life ever gets with kids.) I had a hard time this week, and I’m wondering if it would get (somewhat) easier as you (and your people, big and small) adjust.

2) Tell me what you enjoy about working! I like the: interaction, challenge and the occasional pat on the back. If I were being paid, I’d have liked that, too.

3) Tell me what you hate about working! (I hated : not being there when my kids got home, being on someone else’s time schedule and working in a dark closet sorting uniforms…)

4) One of the things I think would help our mothering community is if respected each other more. I think we’d do that, if we understood each other’s sacrifices.

5) What sacrifices do you make as a working mom, and why? (for example-I sacrificed: time to myself, time to write, energy, time with my kids/my husband, some order in my house, being there for the bus stop :(and vulnerability- i’ve been pretty honest here, that’s a risk- risk is a sacrifice.)

Why?  Right now? For this project. Because I believe that we are better together.  I believe that by understanding and connecting with mom’s who are different from me, (and similar) my perspective changes and I learn.  You can make me a better mother, and I just might help you, too.

Working Mom Myths are just some of the Mommy Myths I want to bust!

If I were to continue working, I’d do so to provide my family with things that they need, (hello- next year, I’ll have 2 in college, ca-ching! This is a pertinent conversation, for us! ) Or to fulfill a calling that God has on my life. (The truth is, as I’m writing and speaking more and more, I’m am becoming less SAHM and more Work From Home Mom.)

Now- it’s your turn–working moms of the world…

TELL ME what you want me to understand!

One rule-  My blog is a place for all mom’s. I won’t allow a war to break out and mommy-bashing to begin. This rule holds for the duration… just sayin. The goal is to understand, not to argue who’s right or wrong.  Or, what’s harder or easier. Those arguments divide us. They weaken (I posit they could destroy) the mothering community.

In 20 years of mothering, and working with hundreds of moms through MOPS International- I can assure you of this: Being a mom (of any kind) is hard.  We each have a unique set of challenges, different, but equally difficult. And we cannot mother alone. We need each other.

It’s not just the fairy tales we read to our children that are full of myth.  It’s our perceptions of each other.  Not so much a problem in fairy tales, but a big problem in Mom-life.  he myths we believe about ourselves and each other build walls between us.  The walls are made of the assumption that we don’t need to get to know someone different, because we think we already DO know them., based on what we assume from the tiny bit we see.

Here’s the thing: In my 20 years of mothering and working with mothers as a pastoral counselor and MOPS leader,  I’ve learned this… I don’t always recognize the myths I believe, until I meet a mom who blows them away.

My goal: To use humor and truth to create a project that can BUST the Mommy Myths we believe.

My Premise:

These myths cause us to judge and criticize each other without bothering to find out the truth about each other. They divide us into false categories and make us hurt each other with words and actions. These myths hurt us individually and corporately as a mothering community.

What would happen if moms could get past the assumptions, prejudices and myths we believe about each other and learn to respect and appreciate each other?  I have a feeling we could change the world. The hand that rocks the cradle truly DOES rule the world. I am on a mission to help moms rock the world TOGETHER.

Will you help?

I am looking for the top ten (maybe 20) myths we believe about each other as moms. I also need to define them and confront them.  This isn’t about hating on each other for holding these myths.. it’s about smacking down the myths with a foundational truth- we are mothers, regardless of our style, background and choices.

Below is a list to start you thinking. I’ll be adding to it as we go. Please either post your thoughts about other archetypes we hold as mothers and the myths we believe about them… ie SAHM’s sit around in their jammies and eat bon-bns all day) in the comments- or email them to me- at soltrcy at aol DoT CoM (you’ll need to format the addy correctly but you get the jist) You can also Tweet your ideas to me- follow @traceysolomon or you can add to the conversation on my facebook page. All emailed and twittered myths will be kept confidential unless you state otherwise. (Some of these myths are more volatile than others)

I appreciate your input,  authenticity and prayers as I work on this project! Let’s bust some Mommy Myths!

PLEASE be sure to click the MORE button at the bottom of this post- the rest of the list we’ve started is there. :)

SAHM-  Stay at home moms- moms who don’t work outside the home for a paycheck.

Working Moms- Moms who work outside (or inside the home) for a paycheck.

Welfare Moms- Moms struggling financially and on assistance of some sort.

Well off Moms- Moms for whom budget issues are less intrusive to daily life. (hard to define)

Home School Mom- A mom who educates her child at home.

Public School Moms-


Woman #1- Was barely old enough to vote- dresses in sweats with “princess” across her backside and wearing flip-flops.  She was pushing a big red cart through Target loaded with a toddler- diaperbag, baby seat and probably …children in all the mess.  She was a mother.

Woman #2- Was ummm..lets just say- plenty old enough to vote-  wearing sensible heels-dark suit jacket- matching black bag,  a cell phone held like a lifeline- pushing a big red cart loaded with a todder, diaperbag, baby seat and probably children somewhere in all that mess.  She was  mother.

Woman #3- Was probably old enough to vote- but her customary clothing made it hard to tell.  The long robe and headscarf flowed prettily around her.  She pushed a red bulls-eyed cart loaded with a toddler, a diaperbag, a babyseat and most-likely children in all that mess.  She too- was a mother.

Woman #4- Probably had voted in the very first election- (ok maybe not) she had grayed hair- wore comfy pants and a colorful top.  Walking next to her was an older teen- in her cart was a toddler, a diaperbag, a babyseat and the standard children that come with the package.  She was a mother.

Woman #5- Was of un-determinable age.  I couldn’t see her face.  She wore jeans, and heels and carried a black bag.  She pushed a cart- not loaded with children- but with the evidence that they were part of her life.  There were baby-wipes- teen- sized jeans, yet MORE school supplies for a kindergartner…Itunes cards and 3 boxes of various cereal. She was a mother.

The market-research took place in the 15 minutes it took for me to down my salad and iced tea in the Targhzey Cafe. (one of my favorite- guilt free spots for a mom’s lunch out:P) I watched cart after cart loaded and pushed in and out of the store– by so many and such varied woman.  Women of every color and every age- yet sharing something sacred in common- each one- was a mother.

Our culture tends to demographisize (new word, I just made it up) us into boxes of color- shape- age and life-style.  Over time- we start to believe the marketing… 10,000 commercials showing 24 year old moms mopping brand new kitchen floors- a toddler wandering in the background, ( oblivious to it’s possible doom by bacteria laden clean floor…) can make us believe this is what mothering looks like.  (BTW- the floors are usually already clean- I hate that- I wish once they should show a dirty floor- yanno? But, I digress)

According to marketing- mothering looks very white, very middle class and very 24 years old.  Not in my world.  A quick trip to Target (the mecca of mothers and fact- based marketing research everywhere)- proves this is not the truth.

The truth is- there are no demographics for mothering.  There is no “typical mother”.  She could be any color, shape, size, age, class or profession.  The biological clock has been stretched.  The window for mothering has grown into store-front plate glass.   Adoption, re-marriage and second families- blended families, caring for and adoption of the children of our children…children later in life, children early in life… have all grown the demographic of mothering into something that can no longer be “defined”.  In many ways, the world has shrunk to a miniscule size.  Multi-cultural is not a tag line-  it’s a way of life.  Mothers have broken the molds and demographics.  We are individual.  We are unique. But we are all- Mothers.

I just wish the marketers would catch up with us.  (or maybe not:P)