Author: Jillian Gilchrest

Parenting Through the Bigotry

This fall, my son came home saying things–political things, that he had heard at school. The things he was saying were complicated and required conversation. A canned response that ‘people have the freedom to vote for whomever they choose’ just wouldn’t suffice. On one occasion, my son asked if a candidate was a liar, and on another, he told me that Muslims are evil. My son is seven. As the election season wore on, and post-election, my son heard me saying things as well, things that before this year I never would have imagined saying in front of my children. But, at times, my emotions were raw and it was hard to shield them from how I felt. I want to raise my children to think for themselves and to recognize the beauty in a country where one is free to think and act independently. That said, I also want to raise my children to be fair and to treat all people with respect. This election and it’s result made that challenging to balance. Our conversations have become deep, deeper than I was ready for. But, that is parenting after all, constantly being pushed outside your comfort zone to adapt to your child’s development. I try to relate what are incredibly complex topics–racism, sexism, xenophobia, to his everyday life. I speak about rules, instead of laws. I talk about his observations with friends...

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Activism at Morning Drop Off

Most mornings, I walk my son next door and stand with the other parents, awaiting the bell to ring and for our children to head into their elementary school. And, most mornings, the conversations I have with the other parents as we wait are apolitical, focused on what we did over the weekend, where we’re heading to that day, or what’s happening that week at the school. But, after the election, those conversations changed. With a simple look or a shake of the head, mothers and fathers expressed their shock at the election and who “we” elected. Just a few days post-election,...

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Mam. Who, Me?

It happened, and it keeps happening, even when I’m not with the kids. A seemingly harmless, three letter word, “mam.” But when spoken, and to me, “mam” feels like nails on a chalk board. Really, “mam,” how old do you think I am?! “Mam” immediately acknowledges that I am older than the person addressing me, old enough in fact to be referred to as “mam.” My visceral reaction to being called, “mam” strikes me odd because I actually don’t mind getting older. As I age, I gain confidence and am comfortable with who I am and how I live. I am passionate about my work and I have a family I adore. I even enjoy working out and am proud of my level of fitness. So then, why does being called “mam,” take my breath away? When I was in my early 20’s, my dad told me that he didn’t feel a day older than 23…in his mind that is. His comment made me laugh, but I have never forgotten it. And, as I age, it makes more sense to me. So, even though I drive a car pool, fold laundry on Friday nights, find a strange sense of pride in making school lunches, and wear a sensible winter coat, in my head, I’m still me. I really don’t place an age on that me, so when a young adult...

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Feminist Mom Frustrated: Think This One’s Pretty Obvious

God dammit. I was really hoping that my daughter, now 4, and son, now 7, would grow up in a culture free from sexual violence, or at least significantly different than the culture I came of age in. I’m an optimist by nature, so I recognize that this hope was fairly lofty, but “live the life you imagine,” right? Post 11/8 though, this hope is shot to hell and I am faced with the realization that my innocent children will actually take part in this culture-a rape culture, where women remain second-class citizens. For those with children older than...

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Sister Moms

Over the years, whenever I’ve had an extra mom or two around, I’ve mentioned in jest how I sort of understand where the “sister wives” are coming from, minus the sharing a husband thing. Well, this year, I’m participating in a carpool with two other families, and I am just so grateful to be sharing the load with two amazing women and our three husbands. All three of our families were fortunate to receive slots for our preschoolers in a public magnet school. The only downside (which feels awful even saying because free is free) is that the trip to and from the school adds about 45 minutes to a commute. Now though, by sharing that drive with two other families, there are days of the week when I’m able to get into work earlier or make a complete dinner for my family. By coordinating calendars and responsibilities with four additional people the chaos of practices, meals, school activities, and late meetings no longer falls solely on me, my husband or our babysitter. We have formed this little community of support and it’s been amazing. The other fabulous side effect of our carpool is the time I get to spend with the kids. Most times when I drive carpool I have my son, daughter, and two other little girls. The conversation between the children is hilarious and make the trek...

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