"Use this speech as a resource."

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In her speech 18-year-old Nadia Goldman says, "It doesn't matter if you can hear this speech because I know that I am speaking."

But I hope you will HEAR her. 

Especially this: 

"Parents, stop invalidating anger as childish, allow your children to say no, teach your sons what respect and consent means, support your children in whatever life they choose for themselves. Praise women for being women and allow your mind to expand its definition of what a woman is."

ED: She talks fast because sometimes that's the only way to get the words out. (I know because I do the same thing.)


old houses are like this.

The following is a repost from Feb, 2014. I needed to reread it today. In case you do, too... 
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"Are we falling apart?" he asks in the darkness.

I am lying with my back to him as the word "no" escapes like a reflex.

"It feels like we're falling apart."

"This is a bad time. We've been here before. We'll find a way."



***

There are rats in the house again and he's more afraid of rats than of anything. He's afraid of rats like I'm afraid of confined spaces and when he hears them in the walls he can't breathe.

But I kept rats as pets when I was little so they don't scare me.

Which sickens him and now he feels alone.

I don't want them in the house but he can't live with them here. He is wide awake and I am already sleeping.

And then there is a sound and another sound and "I CAN'T LIVE HERE ANYORE! I'VE HAD IT!"

So I turn on all the lights and check under the bed and in the closet where he swore he saw one scamper but I don't see anything.

"I don't see anything."

"But I heard one."

"We have to sleep now," I tell him.

"But I can't."

"But we have to."

I turn off the light and his eyes don't close. He's awake and he will stay that way for the rest of the night.


***

We are not the same, him and me. I am stubborn and calm and he is sensitive and combustive. I emote through my fingers and in the shower, scream into my steering wheel in an empty van. A tree falling in the forrest when no one is around doesn't make a sound. 

But my silence is a ravine against his mountainous loud. And suddenly we are standing on either side of the Grand Canyon, communicating only through letters that cannot be delivered by post.

"I feel like I'm alone," he shouts against the borders of my whispers.

"You don't understand me," I whisper into the margins of his cries.

I can hear his eyes blink as we turn our backs to each other. He is awake on his side and I am asleep and the line that separates us is made of stone.

He is angry at the things he cannot control and so am I.

But his things are different from my things. And that has become a bigger problem than the things themselves. The jagged edges of our zig zag are impossible to navigate without bruising egos and unraveling strings.

So our backs curl like question marks, dented and dinged, his feet touching mine but only on accident.

Quick, pull away. You can't touch right now, it would be impossible considering the universe that expands between you.


***

The fifth contractor we've seen this week is in our basement. He's put on a hazmat suit because he's afraid of the mold.

He's an alarmist so we won't hire him. He calls us "my friend" and shows us videos on youtube of black mold and what it does to homes and people and families.

I suddenly feel like we're all dying and this is how our story will end.

My eyes sting and I can't stop coughing. I ask the kids if they have headaches.

They do not.

We order an air quality test, anyway.


***

The rat darts across the room while we're eating. Everyone screams and I go to find a shoebox.

"You can't catch a rat in a shoebox," he says but I think I can. 

"Of course I can."

I sneak up behind the bookcase where its tail reveals itself before disappearing behind a box of toys. I pull the box back slowly and away he goes like a shot across the room. 

Everyone screams.

Hal and Archer and Fable and the twins and me screaming loudest of all. 

The rat darts around the room like a pinball until he disappears into the laundry room at the end of the hall. 

"It's okay," I say, "everyone calm down. It's just a rat."

"IT'S NOT OKAY," Hal says, "ENOUGH WITH THE RATS!"

"Everything's fine! We're all fine."

"But Mom," Archer says, "you were screaming, too." 

We skip bath time and the six of us get into Fable's bed and read Tiger Goes Wild three times in a row to change the subject. Bo and Revi know every page by heart and every time they "read" it we all laugh. 

"Tiger goes wild..!" Bo yells. "

"..Tiger goes home!" Revi says. "The end."


***

"I can't live like this," he says. 

He's on the phone with the exterminator and I can see it on his face, the look he gets when he's frustrated and furious and powerless...

On the other side of the kitchen, I whisper for him to breathe.

Please don't raise your voice. It's impossible to hear you when you're yelling. 

He flashes me a look and then, hand to temple, lets out an exhale. 

He speaks calmly to the man. He doesn't yell or accuse or tear into, and when he hangs up the phone he flashes me a look.

"Thank you," I say. 

***

"Is it falling apart?" we ask him.

The kids are dancing to Frozen in the other room, their voices belting "Let it Go" as loud as they possibly can.

"The whole house needs a new foundation. Everything is falling one way. The floors are unbalanced."

"What about the mold?"

"We test it. We make sure it isn't toxic. We take it out. Redo this beam. Demo the damaged areas..."

This particular estimate will be double what the previous four have been so we won't go with these guys either, we'll go with someone who doesn't twist our arms with fear mongering and doomsday scenarios and "if an earthquake hits, your house will be swallowed whole and everyone will die." We'll go with someone who doesn't charge us double for the same job.

We can't afford to fix the beam. Or the bathroom. Or the foundation.

We can't afford not to fix the beam. Or the bathroom. Or the foundation.

We call a new exterminator.

We buy the fancy traps.

We sleep in silence, wide awake...

...

...

...

"What's wrong?" he finally asks. "Talk to me."

"It's nothing," I say. "I don't want to fight. I don't have the energy to fight with you."

He sits up, turns on the light.

Please raise your voice. It's impossible to hear you when you're silent. I can tell you're angry. Please talk to me. 

And that's when I cry, except this time it isn't a whimper into my pillow. I am angry and I can't stop all of the words that prove it. My whispers have become screams until the house is shaking. I'm standing and I'm yelling and the twins are awake now because I woke them with all of the things I need to say out loud to his face.


All of the things he needs to hear out loud in his ears.

This is his language and now he's listening.

"I hear you," he says.

Sometimes it's impossible to meet in the middle. Sometimes we have to learn to speak in voices that are unnatural... so that we can hear each other. So that we can hear ourselves.

"I'm beginning to understand."


***

Our feet touch in our sleep but this time neither of us pull away. We're too tired.

Or maybe it's something else.

Tomorrow, in the wee hours of the morning, after weeks of failed attempts, we'll catch the (last?) of the rats.

And later that day, a new contractor will swing by. He'll bring us down to the basement without masks on. And there, we'll touch the rotten beam with dry fingers for the first time. We'll feel the deteriorated wood against our hands. We'll follow the flashlight's beam across the sinking floorboards, past the darkish mold that grows beneath the broken tile, feel confused when we're told we are lucky...

"Without the rats you might not have known about the leak until it was too late.

This can be fixed.

Old houses are like this.

Beautiful 
and broken,

They all need work," the contractor will say.

And we'll hang onto those words like a railing as we climb the basement stairs in steady silence, toward the voices that sing with all they have.

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"You've got this. Trust yourself. You'll figure it out."

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I first met Asha in 2008 -- on camera when we started shooting our web series, Momversation, with a handful of bloggers who were also mothers. Months later, Asha and I would find ourselves in the same minivan, she in the driver's seat and I shotgun with the map, navigating our way from SFO airport to The Russian River wine country to spend the weekend at Maggie Mason’s “Broad Summit” retreat.

IMG_4300 with Asha at this week's Parent Hacks book signing in LA

...Floodgates opened up for me and on that drive and something in me changed.

I've told Asha this before but it bears repeating here as I introduce some of you to a woman who has always been for me a shining light in this space -- a beacon of selfless support. Asha has had a profound effect on the woman I am today and I regularly think of her and our drive when I feel closed off... intimidated... small. That afternoon was pivotal for me as a woman relating to other women because of Asha and the power and magic of her WAY.


Anyway, Asha has a new book out called PARENT HACKS: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids based on her popular website and I was honored to ask her some questions last week for Mom.me, including the following

...Rebecca: You've been active online for over a decade. How has the space changed you as a mother? How has it shaped you as a creative?

Asha: A decade! Wow, when you say that it gives me pause, in a good way. The parenting space online has changed in SO many ways. First, and most obviously, the Internet is now mainstream. It's such a seamless part of our lives that we don't think twice about consulting the Web for information, advice, or community. But when I started, it was considered "alternative." There was a huge divide between "Internet friends" and in-person friends. (The abbreviation "IRL" didn't exist because the notion of an Internet friendship was so very new and strange.)

Social media, and then mobile, have changed the way parents use the Internet even more. It's with us constantly. Now that pretty much everyone in is online in one form or another, the line between in-person and Internet friends has disappeared. This is a wonderful thing (easier to connect) and a difficult thing (we're overloaded with information, and sometimes the misleading images people present online, and we're vulnerable to comments that can hurt).

Finally, when I started, there was no commercial side of blogging, so community was really the only reason to do it. Blogs and media outlets bore no resemblance to each other. That's not the case any more, which I don't think is a bad thing necessarily -- it's just that the space is now vast, and people join in for both business and community reasons.

Rebecca: What is the WORST unsolicited advice you've ever received and/or given?

AshaReceived: "Don't ever let your kids play outside unattended." I believe that a certain percentage of childhood needs to occur away of adult supervision. I also believe that kids respond powerfully to adult trust they've earned. They step up. It's a HUGE deal as a kid to be told "You can handle this. You're ready."

Given: When I micromanaged my husband's parenting choices. I'd give him what I thought was advice, but really, I was trying to exert control over what I felt was my "domain," and I was passive-aggressively trying to get recognition for that. Ugh, hard to admit, but it's true. I like to think I've moved beyond this -- I communicate much differently now, and he is also much better at giving me the acknowledgement I need (and I'm better at asking for it)...

You can read the interview in its entirety, here... Oh and P.S. I have one copy of Asha's book up for grabs. Comment below with your favorite PARENT HACK and I'll pick one winner at random next week! Two of my favorite personal hacks? 

- Pull-ups over underwear when potty training/sleep potty training. (So they can get the feeling of underwear but if they have an accident.... yeah.)

- When your kid DOES have an accident in public and you are TOTALLY screwed with no change of clothes, IT IS possible to use a child's shirt or sweater as a pair of pants by turning said shirt upside down. I have done this WAY more times than I would care to admit because sometimes I always forget things. 
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For Asha's favorite hacks + words of wisdom and general awesomeness, click here