About the Name: Recreating Motherhood
An avant-garde view on Mothering, Barbara Katz Rothman’s book Recreating Motherhood (2000) encourages policy change centered around the rights of the primary caregiver. She argues an alternative perspective of motherhood in favor of overthrowing the rigidity of a patriarchal commercialistic agenda that enables an alienation in domestic relationships in order to enable the consequences of advancement in capitalism and technology. In protecting mothers and caretakers, Rothman argues that full parental rights be granted over prior contractual agreement, and that the value of the nurturing relationship supersedes what is currently held as “best” for children and parents.
Now I’m living a real life of motherhood. This is my record, of falling completely in love with a guy who was a full-time single-father. The girl’s mother continues to be an absent and struggling figure in her life, and he initially fulfilled the roles of both mom and dad. Coping with a brand-new circumstance of being thrown into a family life, and the trials and triumphs of parenting have all been extraordinarily rewarding and I continue to learn. On this blog I’ll do my best to record the identity-politics and processes of three years and ongoing experiences of parenting, step-parenting, being a Mom, Mothers in our culture and about other women, the other mothers that fill our lives. As of now I’m a 27 years old, and I couldn’t be more in love with this little family that we’ve built.
Being a housewife does not mean also being apolitical. The contemporary housewife is a business partner, a respected equal, head of the command center, and (in my opinion/experience) a goddess queen to whom proper high regard and time-sensitive sacrificial offerings are to be made for the continued care, prosperity, and forward growth of the entire family unit.
About Me: The Step-Momma
I graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010, my degree a Bachelor of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies, Women’s Studies. After living in Orlando for six and a half years, I attended the National Women’s Studies Association annual conference in Oakland, California in November of 2012. That January, I moved to the Bay Area, in search of discovering work and true love, neither of which, I had decided, was to blossom in Florida.
My first residence was a leaky basement shared with an old college roommate, someone who was a very close friend, but who was also a self-destructive sociopath that actively displayed the 16 key behavioral characteristics that define sociopaths/psychopaths and others with antisocial disorders. In addition he also farted constantly in bed. From where we stayed underneath the house I could hear the sex noises from each of the three roommates that lived above ground, and the dirt floor of my particular residence flooded every time it rained. I hoped to move up through life quickly.
After three days of walking around Oakland, I got a job waitressing the lunch shift at Vo’s Vietnamese Restaurant. It had been an uptown staple since the 1980’s, but with only one Vo running the entire business, coupled with the growth of popularity in upscale bars and hip sandwich places, the business lost thousands every month. I worked my way around the restaurant, promoting myself to the office of business development, and concentrated my efforts on increasing revenue and structuring the current chaotic workplace practices. With my foot now in the door of marketing, I crossed the Bay Bridge in hopes of acquiring a job position in the city of San Fransisco.
I chased for a job as an office manager, and a technical recruiter, but my lack of personal self-confidence was a hindrance in the competitive workplace and I was always directed towards the elevator doors.
I felt like I was running out of time, because in San Francisco, in addition to having the perfectly cultivated opportunity to go crazy, you can become extraordinarily acclimated to high levels of crime and drug-use on the streets, and accumulate zero savings because of the exorbitant cost of living. These were desperate circumstances.
An awesome benefit to the city, however, is that a huge amount of company headquarters will host parties and events in which you can eat free gourmet dinners and stock-up on fancy sodas. It was at the “birthday” of CouchSurfing, (a company I’ve loved in my personal life) that I had attended for aforementioned perks and also to network with others in the tech industry, letting people know that I wanted in on the recruiting gig.
Me? In a STEM field? I know that I’m smart, and socially intelligent, but when I was a kid Barbie was still saying “Math class is tough!” I didn’t have access to this profession.
So I dove right in, studying constantly, watching coding videos, going to weekly group meet-ups in the city, learning everything that I could.
My farting roommate recommended a program he had seen a web-commercial for, a company called Thinkful.
About Meeting Chase: a most serendipitous fate
I went ahead and signed up with this program that centered on an online, curation-based curriculum of learning resources on front-end web development otherwise already accessible on the internet. This company put them together for you in a certain order, attached assignments, and also roped a developer into enthusiastically spending a half hour of time with you, once a week, via a video hangout. The assigned developer also had to be generally prompt and available when contacted through e-mail for guidance, pep talks, and assistance. The Community Manager in charge of assigning mentors to mentees made the accidental error of scheduling a Chase Wilson with one Ashley Lee. This was quite the coincidence, as Chase had given his availability to be Thursday, and I had randomly decided to schedule video calls on Wednesday. This man has now come to be declared by Tegan as being, “Her second most-favorite man in the world.” That’s saying a lot, Bhaumik Patel!
I was the very first student. He did not expect to see a face like mine flood his screen. “I don’t pick my students!”He immediately thought of his defense against the person whom he had been married to, a woman who he claims would consistently and quickly lash out with accusations and a stockpile of collected “evidence.”
But his eyes flashed like the glinting edge of a sword’s blade as he observed this dark-brunette with (what he insists are) big beautiful eyes, eyes that he could swim in, eyes searching the screen in a quick diagnostic as to why she couldn’t see his face. One of the screen camera connections were broken.
I had read through his introduction e-mail, excitedly, for I loved meeting new people, especially people that were circumstantially forced to interact with me, and from the desire to explore what it was I was getting into.
I approved of his job history, his general project experience – he had started making websites because of skateboard photography, a few years later when he needed real money he dove right in, now works for a huge software company. I finished the e-mail and thought “this guy is going to ask me out, eventually.” I decided that I would not tell him which bands I was into.
Our interactions were strictly professional. He was attentive, prompt, and it was clear that he went about his responsibility with much consideration. Overall he was inexperienced in tech-mentoring, but made it of his time to keep me accountable. When he hadn’t heard from me in a week, he would check in.
“Yo. Are you having any issues or problems?” “Yea,” I said, “I haven’t done anything.”
“Baller. Don’t quit on me now Ashley! You’re the most ahead of any of my students!”
He would also spend an hour or two on a solution with me, his attention and effort undivided, an occasional little knock on the door, to which he would patiently command in a low-tone, “not right now.” Was he addressing a child? At the time I still hadn’t answered his “what’s your favorite music” question, so I knew nothing of his personal life. But it turned out that a week after we had met, his wife demanded a divorce and told him that he had to leave, believing fervently that it was him keeping her from the life she wanted. She had thrown this demand on the table before, and now that Tegan wasn’t so little anymore, and because she gave him no choice, they broke up and he moved out.
After our first date, he transformed. I knew that the lock for which I hold the key was covered under just the lightest layer of dust, that the soft sweetness of my breath could be enough to clear the surface.
One morning a few years later he said, “Now I know the type of person that I fall in love with. It’s the very weird, very beautiful girl.”
His sister took his portrait, I accepted it as a gift, for me to show this photo to my friends and inquiring cohorts. I was met with oh’s and ah’s. “He’s handsome!” “He looks dreamy.” “He looks great.” An 8 year old said, “He looks ‘popular’…” Insinuating that he was out of my league. “I’m a lucky girl!” I winked to her.
We were extraordinarily cautious, both in places in out lives in which “rushing into a relationship” was actively avoided by all parties. But we fell very much for each other, and the relationship between us continues to grow, to become stronger, ever more interesting, accepting, banding together in challenging times, rejoicing even in challenging times, always happy to spend our time together.
And six months after our first date, I met Tegan and moved in!