The Real Mom Meme

Jenty did this meme today inviting those inspired to join in.  No, she didn’t tag me, but something my step-daughter said a few days ago, inspired me to write and to jump on the band-wagon.

Apparently it’s about mutation?!

“Proponents of memes suggest that memes evolve via natural selection – in a way very similar to Charles Darwin’s ideas concerning biological evolution – on the premise that variation, mutation, competition, and “inheritance” influence their replicative success. For example, while one idea may become extinct, other ideas will survive, spread and mutate – for better or for worse – through modification.”

So we’re all about mutation and propagation here, people. As we’ve all already subdivided and had kids, let’s mutate! Add yours to the list.

1. Real Moms don’t flinch when they talk about boobs. They do make you laugh your brains out.

2. Real moms go on vacation. Real moms go on vacation and learn to play traffic cop.

3. Real moms brag about their kids

3. Real moms do not mince words when they present the truth.

4. Real moms juggle

5. Real moms “resist the guilt and embrace the journey”

6. Real moms don’t give a damn to media generated Mommy Wars

7. Real moms have kids with potty mouths

8.  Real moms sometimes forget about toddler-proofing

And mine….

9. Real moms can be step-moms

The rules:

  • Copy the above text to your blog, leaving all links in tact and add in who tagged you.
  • Add your ‘real mom’ contribution to the list.
  • Tag as many moms as you can.
  • And meme-ify!

I hate tagging!  So here is my mutation (along with any grammer errors I might have found)…if you feel inspired, join in.

Step-Moms are real too!

With all the innocence of a 7 year old, my step-daughter said recently “One day soon you will be a real mom!”, excitedly referring to her Dad’s upcoming vasectomy reversal.  She soooooo badly wants a baby in the family, preferably a sister, sharing her room.

I looked at her and said “Honey, I’m a REAL MOM already!  Being a step-mom to you and your brother is as real to me and you as your real mom is”.

Of course I understood what she was saying…one day soon, god(s) willing…I will be a biological mom.

But I wanted her to know that the mothering I do for them is just as important as what their “real” mom does.  When the kids are with us, if I am not mothering with all my heart and soul (mistakes and all)  I am doing them and myself a disservice.  How much more “real” can you get than that?  I mean, really!

The words coming out of my mouth surprised me as much as her.

Wow.  I’m impressed with where we are now in this complicated “blended family” business, compared to where we were 18 months ago.

Welcome President Obama!

Wow!  I kinda can’t think of anything else other than WOW! to say, really!  Words are failing me…

The emotion around this US election from people everywhere around me, is just huge.  From immense fear, felt deep in the core — to elation and tears of joy.

Well done Mr. President!  You have achieved something beyond what anyone thought would ever happen here in the US.

May you rule as wise and as blessed as Mr. Mandela.  May you bring the strength and beauty of the essence of the Rainbow Nation to the US.

Today is a day that will go down in history across the world. In case you missed it (as if!), today is the US Election Day, a culmination of an historic electoral process, and possibly the day the US gets their first black president.

Wow! I feel truly privileged to be alive in these times and even more privileged to be witnessing this process first hand, here in Maryland, USA.

And yet, it is strange for me. I am resident here, married to a wonderful American man, step-mother to 2 American kids, had property on US soil, hopefully soon-to-be mom to an American baby – and yet I cannot vote. Massive decisions are being made about my life today – and I do not have a voice.

Oh, please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t expect to have a voice – yet. I understand why foreigners should not have a voice. It’s just disconcerting. Wanting to have a say in what will affect my life and yet not being allowed to. Shades of how it might have felt for woman all those years ago? And black people, not too long ago? Obviously it’s not quite the same. But still, it’s really got me thinking.

With a strange sense of disbelief, I’ve been reading the pleading blog posts, begging people to vote. Apparently there are some who think it is cool not to vote. Huh? How is it cool not to have a voice? It is only through the privilege of knowing you can vote if you want to, that you have the luxury of not voting in the first place. How do people not see this? How do people not see that could be ripped away at ANY MOMENT?

As my husband went off to vote this morning and I stayed behind, I couldn’t help but think about the last time I voted.

It was 1994 in South Africa and I was 23 years old.  It was to be my first vote (I was old enough to vote in the previous elections, but I really had not become involved and it all seemed pretty  meaningless to me, and eventually I didn’t bother voting). Apartheid had been abolished, Nelson Mandela had been released from prision and was then the head of one of the major running parties, the ANC. It was also the first time blacks were able to vote. As whites, we knew that we would probably go from our all white, mainly Afrikaans government to a black government. The non-white population outnumbered the white population by 10 to 1 and of course the blacks would vote ANC (and who would not vote for Mandela, the hero and legend?). So we knew our lives were going to change dramatically. We just didn’t know how. And we were very, very scared.

The whole country had voting day off work, school etc as it was declared a national holiday. The powers that be were making damn sure there would be no reason people couldn’t vote if they wanted to. Logistically speaking they were managing a process the magnitude of which had never before been seen in South Africa. They were expecting people to have to queue all day long to vote. They were expecting violence and intimidation. It was a dramatic and energy-filled time and place to be alive in (as today in the US is).

The day dawned and it was a beautiful sun-filled April day, unlike today which is grey and overcast (in MD anyway). I knew what I was voting. For me, wrapped up in fear, there was only one choice really. I would vote for the National Party, the traditionalist white party. I was so scared of the unknown; I just could not vote ANC. I was aware that my vote, in the vast sea of expected ANC votes, would not matter, would not tip the scales. But I wanted to have that tiny voice anyway, even if it was to be drowned out. There was also a tiny flicker of hope that a miracle would happen and we would stay the same and not head into unknown oceans.

I remember being so scared that day. What would happen at the polls? Would we be attacked? Would the police and army be able to keep any unrest at bay?

So my friend, her husband and I queued at the local primary (elementary) school to vote. It wasn’t too bad. If memory serves correctly, I think we only queued for about 2 or 3 hours, which was great considering the predictions. We debated amongst ourselves…would we bother voting if the queue was really long…would we bother standing the whole day? I was so grateful to not have to make that choice, because I really wanted to vote, but couldn’t fathom standing a whole day to do so. There was no violence or intimidation (where we were anyway) and everyone was quite jovial. I don’t recall seeing many blacks though, but assumed they would be queuing nearer their homes (we still had segregated living then). I don’t recall the actual vote itself, but I remember feeling awesome after the fact. I had voiced my opinion in government matters, first time ever!

In retrospect, I am ashamed that my vote was governed by fear and color, not the actual issues at hand. My only excuse is that I was young, and brainwashed, and very, very afraid.

When we returned home we spent the rest of the day watching the television coverage of the elections. That day I gained a new respect for my fellow black country men and woman. They stood for hours and hours and hours to vote. They stood during violence and intimidation. They stood on dirt roads with children on their backs, with little or no water, under the baking African sun. They stood till the sun went down. And they stood some more. And still it wasn’t enough time.

They were a determined people. They would be heard. No matter what it took.

The powers that be decided that the next day would be a national holiday as well, to allow those that had stood the whole day, another opportunity to cast their vote.

So they stood again, after standing the entire previous day. And as they cast their votes, we watched on TV. It was a humbling experience. Voting had to be extended to a third day, but that day was not declared a national holiday.

I will never forget the lessons I learned on those historic days. How very important it is to have a voice and then to voice it, even if you think it won’t make a difference.

Of course the ANC won the election, as we knew it would. And we had our first black president, the great man Nelson Mandela. It was not an out-and-out win though (2/3 majority). A tripartite government was formed, of which the National Party was one. So my vote DID count. And in a good way. We now had a more balanced government.

Nelson Mandela will always hold a special place in my heart, but not for the usual folk legend activist reasons. But because he took our country in his hands and held it gently. He could have massacred us whites, us who had imprisoned him and terrorized and murdered his people for so many years. He could have taken away our voice. But he didn’t. Instead, he fostered the Rainbow Nation. For that he will always be the greatest hero our generation has ever seen, in my eyes anyway.

So today, sitting here in the US, as I ponder on how yet again I may witness a first black president, think about what it might be like to not be heard. And know that as much as it might not seem possible in this day and age, that right could be ripped from you at ANY TIME. So use it, damnit! And be grateful.

As an aside, it is gratifying for me to see that out of all the many blogs I follow, the people (that I know of) who are monitoring the voting locations, ensuring safety and fairness for all and not just talking about it or blogging about it, are my pagan friends. Yay for pagans!

For the record, if I could vote, I would vote for Obama. The reasons are long and convoluted and not really interesting reading. But I just thought I’d mention it, because it’s just so interesting for me to see where I came from and where I’m at now.

I might also add that because of this election I have decided to become a US citizen as soon as I am able to. I want a voice where I live.

Happy voting, my US friends!

(If you’re up for it, here is some further reading: 1994 SA Elections, SA Voting System and History, Mandela )

Sign Language

One last thing for the evening…

There have been *at least* two people doing sign language interpretation at the conference.

I think this is SO AWESOME!  This is the first event I have been at where I have seen something like this.  And it just makes my heart so warm.

Yay for Accessibility!

Learning to Touch Type

I decided I need to teach myself to touch type.

Yes, after all these years in Information Technology (> 11 years) I still look at my keyboard and type with only a few of my fingers and make a lot of errors.

It was so fascinating watching some of my colleagues at the conference today, taking notes on their laptops.  In my university days we used pen and paper.  These folk were typing faster than I ever could write and not making any mistakes to boot.  I’ve also watched my hubby doing the same thing.  I think I could work much faster and far more efficiently if I could only touch type.

So, I went online and found an online tutorial and am slowly going to work my way through the lessons.  I am committing to an hour a day on work days to practice.  Think that will be enough?

At this point I am only on lesson one.  And after only 3 tries, I  am getting worse, not better and my left fingers are aching.  Oh dear.  Lots of work to do.

Web Conf Guitar Hero

What do you get when you have a conference full of geeks and plenty of free-flowing alcohol?  Well, a Guitar Hero Tournament of course!  All evidence here

Yep, that’s right folks.  That was the entertainment last night here at the HighedWeb 2008 conference.

And may I say, what a blast?  (Mmmm…maybe that makes me a geek too 😉 )  Well of course I must have some geek in me, because I had a smashing time last night and am very much enjoying the conference as a whole.  And no, I didn’t participate in the tournament, but I did give it a good go cheering all the other good sports on.

What a treat to be in the company of so many like-minded individuals who get the concept and application of social media!  And how enlightening to speak to (the many) folk who are in the same boat I am -> one man/woman web bands for colleges.  And just to listen to some of the amazing technology being used.  And…and…and…well, you get the picture.  So much good information here!

Having a quiet evening to myself tonight though.  Feeling a bit overloaded with information and people.  And still nursing my cold which wasn’t helped by cabin pressure changes from the 2 flights getting to the conference.