I am voting for the families who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

I am voting for all the grandmas who risk death just to get a hug.

I am voting for all the children with two moms or two dads who may lose legal protections.

I am voting for the salt of the Earth Americans who deserve to stop being peddled lies, used as pawns for billionaire gain.

I am voting for Black people who deserve to move freely through their day without fear of deadly force by those paid with their very own tax dollars to protect and serve them. …

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: 2 Oceans Vibe News

To all of the fathers who can’t handle watching their kids, even when you are the designated stay-at-home parent, and even when your failure to do so means your wife has to quit her job, dissolve her business, and lose your only source of income during a global pandemic and looming economic depression: hell hath no pity.

We are the women who work thankless jobs, some of us for many hours, some of us doing manual labor, and often with nothing to show for it except for a meager paycheck that barely covers the basics. Our bones ache when we finally get home, when we can at long last shut down the computer, when we set foot into the space that you consider decompression, relaxation, lounge access. That is when we begin our second thankless job. …

Image for post
Image for post

We’ve had a lot of laughs poking fun of Karen across the internet these past few months, and Karens, in impeccable Karen fashion, are probably not amused.

They haven’t appreciated your blaming them when you were delayed at the drive-thru because someone was complaining that they didn’t get their honey mustard sauce, and you pinned it on Karen. They haven’t liked the daggers you threw their way because your boss piled extra work on your plate, you knew it was because Karen asked too many questions at the team meeting and now everyone was paying the price.

Karen may be the annoying woman who asks to speak to the manager. She may drive a minivan. She may even be subtly racist. …

Raising a child with a woman I call my wife was lightyears from what I imagined my fate might be at the turn of the new millennia. The landscape for me as a lesbian has changed so much in that time.

Woman looking at mother kissing baby girl while standing at home
Woman looking at mother kissing baby girl while standing at home
Photo: Maskot/Getty Images

We are just a few breaths away from stepping into the second decade of the second millennia. There’s something about rounded numbers that makes us more contemplative and reflective. I suppose it makes sense. I never thought about living to the year 2020 in any concrete way. The year on its face feels more “Space Odyssey” than the alarm clock-driven, suburban mom gig I currently inhabit.

But when I think about where I was 20 years ago at the turn of the millennium, the thought of the life I am now living is stranger than science fiction. …

I have learned that there is nothing more centering, more reality-invoking than spending time with my baby.

Mother lifting baby son
Mother lifting baby son
Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

I worked for a Buddhist magazine for six years. While I never officially considered myself a Buddhist, I jokingly referred to myself as “Buddhist by diffusion” when practitioners asked me how I identified. Working for and with the Buddhists was in many ways the most chill job I’ve ever had. At noon every day, someone would ring a gong and we’d turn the office phones off, slip out of our shoes, and gather in a circle with cushions to meditate for 20 minutes.

We preached mindfulness, non-violence, and living in the moment — all universal philosophies that self-help books have raked in billions of dollars trying to peddle. That time in my life was the closest I’ve ever gotten to stasis, to feeling like I am actually paying attention and appreciating life as it unfolds. I had little breakthrough moments — during meditation, on Buddhist retreats, and during mundane activities like washing the dishes — where I felt like I was fully present and in the moment. For the rest of my waking moments, though, I exhaustively and obsessively think about my to-dos, my aspirations, my wants and needs, everything that’s happened in the past, and all that I yearn for in the future. Without the Buddhists as my 9-to-5 guide, I found it very difficult to truly exist in the present moment and just be. …

As mothers, we are marked by our striated bellies, our leaky and then deflated breasts, the dark bags under our eyes, the unidentifiable stains on our clothes — but it’s all worth it.

Shot of a young woman bonding with her baby boy at home
Shot of a young woman bonding with her baby boy at home
Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

The time separating the fetus growing inside my abdomen and my newborn baby cradled in my arms was only a matter of seconds, but the chasm between them could fit an entire universe. The moment my baby was born, I was no longer me. My body, my mind, my priorities, my heart, my fears, my everything, shifted entirely.

“Raising a kid is really stressful,” an acquaintance said to me and my then-girlfriend at a party several years ago. “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have one.”

It was impossible to hide our astonished expressions at the punch of honesty from this person we had only met a handful of times.

We’re constantly told to practice self-care to stave off burnout, but that prescriptive time comes at a cost — even if the cost is just guilt.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Maskot/Getty Images

As my family’s breadwinner, I keep us afloat with a full-time job and several side-hustles. My most important job — and the one I feel I never get enough time to carry out successfully — is parenting our 2-year-old. I have a very short window every morning and every evening, which sometimes gets truncated by early or late work meetings, when I get to see my child.

Despite working nonstop, I feel like I’ll never get ahead on our bills and savings or on my endless list of to-dos. Forget about finding time for anything else, like a date with my wife or a sliver of me-time, no matter how beneficial they may be to my marriage or mental health. …

I rush home every night to maximize time with my toddler, but that often means putting in more hours after he goes to sleep.

Young adult woman talking on the phone whilst looking at paperwork after hours.
Young adult woman talking on the phone whilst looking at paperwork after hours.
Photo: JGalione/Getty Images

I work a 9-to-5-ish job. The “ish” part is because I rush home from work each day to spend whatever sliver of face-time I can get with my toddler.

I try to leave not a second later than 5, and often leave work even earlier, because my two-year-old starts to lose steam by 6. By 6:30 or 7 his bedtime routine in in full swing. That means I have a tiny window in which to spend quality — or really any — time with him, an hour or two at most. …

Image for post
Image for post

Even The World’s Best Athlete (HINT: Serena Williams) Can’t Escape Sexism
“She seems much less intimidating since she had a baby,” the female commentator said as the top-ranking athlete of all-time pelted the 115 mph tennis ball over the net to secure her 100th win at the ongoing U.S. Open.
I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of that net, and I imagine the commentator—who probably doesn’t realize her words were weighted with sexism—probably wouldn’t either.
Tennis gets it right more often than many other sports when it comes to equal attention and treatment paid to women (though the pay gap isn’t as gargantuan as with other sports, it remains uneven). Female tennis players have become household names and Serena Williams, in particular, has been crowned the best athlete in the world. Not the best female athlete, or the best tennis player regardless of gender, but simply the best athlete.
Still, sexism and misogyny are raising their ugly heads right before our Primetime eyes this week as the U.S. Open delivers action-packed entertainment, inspirational athleticism, with a side dish of double standards for the great females taking the courts by storm.
I’ve been watching the U.S. Open every day. There were no less than three times in the past week when commentators referenced which female tennis players were moms. There were zero mentions of male players who were dads.
“Meet the four moms in the U.S. Open mainstage,” says one article on the U.S. Open site. As if being a parent with a vagina somehow impacts your swing or your swagger, your backhand formation, more than being a parent with a penis.
It’s entirely understandable that we’re in awe of someone like Serena Williams not only for her unmatched, superhuman athleticism, but also for her incredible ability to grow another human being, birth her, and return to the court with equal or greater fury and championship than ever. She even endured some extraordinary, related health problems following the birth of her baby that were potentially life-threatening. Not only did he overcome that, she went on to win a Grand Slam a year later. That type of admiration and discourse is perfectly acceptable. We should applaud women for their bodily feats. It is truly amazing that we can grow human beings and still win national championships, or the next big business deal or teach the next generation, or heal people, or all of the other things that women do day in and day out without fanfare.
But that accreditation is not what is happening when a commentator says that Serena is somehow less of a threat, softer around the edges because she is a mom. That is called misogyny. Plain and simple. Especially when that same commentator would never give thought to how Roger Federer’s fatherhood impacts his game.
Of course, we know about the widely publicized French Open gaffe when judges banned Williams’ catsuit because the dress code required her to wear a skirt. But the U.S. Open is supposed to be different, the more enlightened, more festive, more open America. But then in the middle of intense matches between two female players, the on-screen focus pans away from the match and to a male tennis player on the sidelines being interviewed. I have not seen them do this during a men’s match. Those several seconds of the camera cut are the epitome of what women feel every day as we work twice as hard to get recognized while a man off in the periphery gets the closeup without having to break a sweat.
These recurring moments during the U.S. Open is so nuanced that they risk going unnoticed to most viewers. A reference to motherhood here, extra airtime to a man during a woman’s match—they are tiny moments that in isolation seem petty, but in add up to a grim picture where women are second class, where we’re reinforcing double standards that women don’t deserve our full attention, that motherhood somehow has to factor into the conversation about our worth, about our ability to bring our game.
Can you imagine a construction worker being forced to wear a dress while dangling from a sixth story building beam? Can you imagine Federer being asked what it feels like to be a tennis player AND a father? Can you imagine the camera peeling away from the last game in a match with Nadal to interview Maria Sharapova? It seems ridiculous, unheard of, and yet we do it the other way around with women every day.
As the recent World Cup showed women in sports have the power to dominate the discourse, entertain the masses and inspire greatness on the field and off. But the U.S. Open female commentator’s banter shows just how deeply entrenched the double standards that we impose on women are; so pernicious that even women are perpetrators. It’s a double fault that we need to correct. We ought to grant equal pay for equal play to female tennis players and indeed all athletes and workers more broadly. But we also need to check ourselves, the tropes that we reinforce, the rhetoric that we ingest and expunge. It’s not only up to every man but also to every woman, every person on the court and off, to ensure that we’re spreading ideas and language that treat people equally, no matter their gender. 
Serena twisted her ankle during the quarter-finals a couple of nights ago. It looked like it could have been her demise. But rather than withdraw off the court, she rubbed her ankle a bit and jumped back in the game and went on to win against Petra Martic. Just one day later, tennis star Novak Djokovic left mid-match after a shoulder injury acted up. Could Williams’ physical endurance be greater because she went through pregnancy and childbirth? There’s no real way to know, but some studies show that women can handle pain better than men. According to her achievements, though, some women have the advantage of winning more than men. That much is clear. We still live in a world where you can be the best athlete in the world and still be treated like a second class citizen. …

I know you may feel shame or a sense of failure.

Young mother feeding infant with bottle.
Young mother feeding infant with bottle.
Photo: Juli Williams

Congrats, you’re expecting! You’re excited about the tiny bundle of joy growing in your womb, and you’re reading through the Google search results to prepare for this new adventure. You planned out the music to play when laboring (Enya is relaxing, duh). You have your stretchy pants picked out for post-labor comfort, and are plotting out which brand of lavender aromatherapy you’ll use to ease your labor pains. You may also be planning to breastfeed.

This is where I burst your bubble. The number one rule of parenthood that you will soon learn is that you can’t plan for everything, and, most of the time, you can’t really plan for much of anything.


Allison Hope

Writer and native New Yorker who favors humor over sadness, travel over television, and coffee over sleep. @bubballie www.urbaninbreeding.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store