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I am a SAHM, but the debate is a red flag for me too - the other way. When working moms post about their great lives with loads of stimulating adult contact, and how well socialised their kids are because of day care, I feel like a freak. Like I threw my degrees in the bin and am a dumb mum with nothing clever to add to a conversation. I feel that people think I only talk about nappies. I admire working moms, and SAHM. But sometimes I feel very insecure about the whole thing. The other day someone asked my 4 year old daughter for a playdate and was absolutely shocked that I said she wouldn't go without me being there. Then this person added "well, of course, you don't work so I guess she doesn't know differently".

Other red flags...hmmm...people who say they had THE WORST morning sickness when they felt nauseous for half a day in their pregnancy and I lived through hyperemesis.

Oh, and loads of discussions about body image get me because I am so insecure about mine.

T, you are a very striking woman. I looked at a glam pic of you the other day on the Flickr site and thought "damn, she's gorgeous". And those completely real photos of you with no make up? Seriously, who looks that good with no sleep and no make up?? I know though, no matter what anyone says it's your insecurity.

I think you hit the nail on the head there, the red flags are (mostly) the things that we feel bad about ourselves.

Eek... what wouldn't I want someone to say about me? Being a new parent, I think the thing I would feel worst about it my ability to provide for my family... career success (or lack of it) & all that stuff.

Oh go on... post your "judging other mothers" post in its pure, unadulterated form! We've all professed how grown up we are, surely we can manage at least one civilized discussion. Flame on! (Just kidding... but I'm sure it would be a good read, colourful language & all.)

My number one red flag is also the SAHM thing, from the opposite direction. I do SAH and constantly compare myself/my kids to others, which I KNOW I shouldn't do but it's hard not to! My sister-in-law works and she continually says things like "how do you stand being with just children all day, I would be so bored" and "my career is much more challenging than staying at home would be". I know I should ignore her (just in general too, she is a hateful witch!) but it's very hard to turn the other cheek. That's the one major thing that always gets me going.

The other is my freakishly small chest......I'm tall and gangly, nowhere near glamour model, but I'm quite comfortable with everything except my chest. Nursing 2 babies didn't exactly help things! But I guess one can't have everything.


if you look like a man(and you dont - you are the epitome of G&D!!!) then i look like the back end of a fat horse (that was my nickname in high school, duly dubbed to me by girls who thought they were cooler/nicer/cleverer etc). Since school however, its still a joke amongst close friends but yes it hurts.

Be happy though, every single one of those girls who dubbed me and stuck that namebadge on me has:

(a) gotten incredibly fat
(b) has 'fabulous' careers doing menial dumb tasks (sorry, i know im a cow - see (d))
(c) have all married ugly men and
(d) have ALL, ALL, had to serve me as waitress in a restaurant.

HAHA i say HAHA through my horsey mouth.


I usually don't comment but I decided to today (don't ask me why).
First about the red flags. I read the comments about the SAHM vs WOHM debate and that is my red flag too, only the other way around. I'm a full-time working mom and sometimes I do feel guilty about it. When my sahm friends start talking about what they taught their kids tgis week, and how often they took the kids to the park, that really gets to me and makes me feel guitly. I know this is the best for me and my family but it still makes me uncofrtable at times.

As for you looking like a man... come one, you gotta be kidding! You are gorgeous and everyone can see that!

Whenever these topics are *debated* my buttons quite often get pushed (debated being the KEY word):

Attachment Parenting (which we practice)
Co Sleeping
SAHM vs. Working Mom
Women's Equality

I am sure I could think of a few more too ;)

Oh, the unfeminine thing gets to me too. I'm a big girl, I was raised by wolves (by which I mean to say I have 5 older brothers), I'm a very successful computer sysadmin, I love my playstation like other girls love their knitting needles, I can't cook, and I'm infertile. So there are many, many days where I have to recite a litany of my feminine qualities to myself, to offset my pervasive feeling of not being a real girl.

The thing I don't usually admit - when someone acts like I'm crazy or unbalanced, it drives me up the wall. It's usually not meant seriously, but it always hurts. When I was young it was used as a way of dismissing any opinion that I was passionate about (ref: 5 older brothers, see above). "Oh, well, you think that NOW, but you'll come to your senses..." So when friends tell me an idea is cooky or say "you're so crazy," or "did you go off your meds again?" I want to squash them like little bugs, much as I love them.

The SAHM thing gets to me too. Partly the assumption that if I'd only loved my daughter enough I would have done without that second SUV in the driveway (AS IF) but mostly the assumption that she is somehow scarred for life. I resent that bitterly, on her behalf. There is nothing wrong with her.

And even people who say that it's OK for a mom to work outside the home if she has to (like does that make it not harmful, or do we just write off the kids?) disapprove if Mom makes more than minimum wage or acts like she enjoys her job too much. I would have liked the choice of staying at home (don't know if I would have liked the actual staying) but given that I had to work, I didn't see the need to wear sackcloth and ashes every day.

Tertia, I was a girl who was too smart in a small town. It was drummed into me by my peers that I was ugly. My nose was singled out - to this day I can barely speak or type the word. My parents couldn't do anything about the tanking of my self-image. They tried. Fortunately I like myself, I think I'm a cool person, otherwise I guess I would have crawled into a hole somewhere. I'm not ugly but not especially pretty either, and at age 45 it is still very easy for me to have that ugly filter in front of my face when I look in a mirror or to get my feelings hurt. It irritates my husband no end. Can't help it. So I understand what you mean.

I think you are very brave for just being who you are and putting it out here for people to like it or lump it. And I think you are very human for still feeling vulnerable.

By the way - your wedding picture is so beautiful that I thought it was a 'stock' photo at first - like the kind they put in the picture frame to sell the frame. I was finally convinced that it wasn't a picture of models because of the tattoo bit showing.

I've never posted before but wanted to thank you. Your post shows us we're all in the same boat just with different buttons that push us. we co-sleep with our son and I often feel attacked by others for it. I too internalize it and feel deeply wounded.
You are beautiful and a wonderful person. I lurve your blog. Thanks for making me laugh, cry and mostly think.

Hey Tertia--you don't look like a man. You have feminine eyes, lips, legs, tits and bits! I'm always a bit envious of tall women because they get taken more seriously. I work with very large men in a position of authority and it is always hard to establish myself in a position of power because I am small, and blonde, and curvy. My "thing" is that I get sexualized by just about everyone. People I work with or study with will say something about it almost every day. It makes me feel very insecure in my own professional abilities, though I know I am good at what I do. I also feel like I have to chose my clothes as "not too sexy" all the time, which gets in the way of wearing some nice fashions.

I also have a thing about thinness. As someone who was hospitalized with an eating disorder, I hate it when people go on and on about thinness. I know it is mostly none of my business what others do with their bodies, but whenever someone else tries to lose weight, it gets to me. I know I have to be the weight that I am and cannot try to be thinner, and sometimes all the tallk drives me crazy.

My allergy to housework. I feel so guilty about it already, so if someone said something, I think I'd die. Luckily most people around me know that it is something I struggle with - both the actual housework and the guilt - and grit their teeth and put up with the filth. Except for my mother of course, but I can handle her. This is a woman who cried for 2 hours when she spilt 3 drops of nail polish remover on her kitchen table and didn't sleep till she had the whole thing stripped and repolished. And it was your basic plantation wood cheapo table too, not exactly a Chippendale heirloom. So I can counteract her disgust at my crunchy floors with disdain for her anality. Ooooh, I think I just invented a new word!!

My nose. Teenage angst resurfacing.

Bottle feeding.

Disposable diapers.

My inability to work full time, due to my bipolar disorder. The disorder itself is not a red flag to me for some reason, but the fact that I struggle to do things most women do easily because of it is.

My complete lack of libido.

I could go on.

And Tersh? You are gorgeous. Seriously. I look like my Dad too. Ain't it great? I love the looks on people's faces when they see us together. Superior genes coming out, I say.

I understand your insecurity in that area, but believe me, I think you are lovely looking - what I would give to have your body and your smile!!! As long as I still looked like my Dad, and not yours!!

I'm very insecure, so anything personal would hurt. Especially anything about my weight. Or my teeth. Those would both sting.

My "father". This is a very sore spot. I blame him leaving us for just about every bad thing I have gone through in my life. If someone were to say something along the lines of "no wonder he left you" I would seriously come unglued. Seriously.

Oh, and like JDEGirl, I LOVE that wedding photo. You both look like professional models.

And I always meant to ask - what it the tattoo and is there any meaning behind it? I love the stories behind tattoos. Except the "I was pissed off my face and had no idea what I was doing" variety.

The only thing that REALLY gets to me is when other people get offended at debates. This probably makes me a hypocrite! But I always find myself frustrated when everyone in the blogosphere makes everything about them. It makes discussion of anything almost impossible, and it's really sad to watch (because I hate seeing people get hurt feelings, and it also depresses me that they aren't more confident in their own life decisions, or that they don't trust themselves to just do what's best for their families). Amusingly, nothing drives me crazier than that oversensitivity ... probably because I do a lot of things in my life differently, and get tired of hearing people turn my choices around as implied judgment on their own lives.

The biggest example of this is that I'd like to adopt instead of having my own children. Very few people can hear me say that without immediately sticking up for themselves and their decision to have their own kids ... as if by expressing my desire to adopt, I just implied that they're selfish for not taking in orphans, when I never said any such thing--I'm just fine with women giving birth, as it's how I got here! Or every time I got flowers from my husband, all I would hear all day at work was anxious explanations of, "Well, I don't do that for my wife because she thinks it's a waste of money" or angry exclamations of "Why doesn't my stupid husband get ME flowers?" etc. I find this exhausting and unnecessary. The whole time I'm thinking, people, they're just flowers. The flowers have nothing to do with you. Let me enjoy them and keep your neuroses to yourselves!

ah, you see, I am older - older than the bunch of you...and I don't blog about my feelings, especially as well as you do.
I'm done with the fights over stay at home vs work, through with the CIO arguments, there are very few areas where my readers have the opportunity to hurt me -
I suppose if someone questioned something I chose for one of the kids (look at what Dooce went through this past week over CIO)...

When I read about that looking like a man bit, I felt it like a knife. That was a low blow and I just knew it was the kind of comment meant to hurt.
Those are the cruelest and most base attacks. So personal. Appearance related cruelties are v nasty - and not really even acceptable in social debate -
they often point out people's true nature, don't you think?
bigots throw around comments like that.
SAHM and breastfeeding and all those discussions have a level of intellect to them - people's views might be different but there is debate.
But an attack on one's appearance is another matter and reveals the attacker as not worthy of continued discussion.

I love reading your posts - your honesty and wonderful personality shine through...I am short, with stumpy thighs, and saggy boobs - and I love you.

My things are my husband being unfaithful. Even funny little jokes set me off for weeks. I know it's my own insecurities but it's hard to see reality when my mind takes off on its' own.

The other is my weight. As a kid, I was super thin and was called "chicken legs" all the time. Now as an adult I struggle with being too heavy and so many people talking about how thin I USED to be. I'm not sure why they think it's ok to say such things but it's really hurtful and embarrassing.

I am very sensitive to the circumcision debate especially when it occurs in real life. I live in an area where the circ rate is really high and I hear all the time from moms of other boys how "clean" and "nice" and etc it is. I don't like my son hearing terms that to be honest and wrong and relative.

And second, physically my hot button is my lips. They are big and I know thats attractive but as a child everyone made fun of me (including my parents) and now I am just embarrassed by them.

my red flag- add or adhd- instantly gets my back up!
my son has been an officially diagnosed adder for ten years- i cannot understand why so many people feel it so important to tell me how i should be handling and treating it! even people without children of their own- let alone adders... best i don't get started here!

My red flag... is similar to yours but a bit different... it's about body image and weight in particular. I have a hard time typing it. If anyone were to say or comment - are you gaining weight? It would send me tumbling... I used to be bulimic... and my weight has stayed consistent the last 3-4 years and I'm a size 12, but I used to be a size 6 and I still miss that size 6, but I also remember how unhappy I was as a person. I would be incredibly hurt if someone asked me if I was gaining weight or even said that I was fat.

So from one body image issue woman to another - I understand what you're saying.

I am another one with the housework allergy. I have three kids (ages 2, 4 and 6) and a very limited amount of time in my day. I could chose to do something with them or I could clean my house. I spend time with them. But when my friends talk about cleaning their houses for four hours a night I think... eek, what does that say about me? I get very wound up when they are coming over to my house... trying to get it up to their standards. But it doesn't upset me enough to start being a "clean freak..." I'd still rather play with my kids.

Also the weight thing. My BF is about the same size as me. When she complains about how fat she is it just irks me. If she's fat, what am I?

T - you are beautiful! Enough said. What was said about you would hurt anyone's feelings. But you are a very gorgeous, striking woman. I envy you for that.

Like the other Bridgette, my hot topics would be weight and teeth. Or I should say it used to be teeth. I hated my crooked teeth. Then, at the age 24, I got braces and wore them for 4 years. They aren't perfect but they're way better than they were.

My weight, that's the real one. I've never been thin....ever. At my smallest I was an 11/12. I was called names by stupid guys in school and by my father (he thought he was teasing. I didn't think it was funny). Yes, my weight is something I can work on but most of the time I'm fine with myself. It's when someone else says something that I really think about it and pick myself apart. It doesn't help when people tell you that you have a pretty face. That's such a backhanded compliment.

Oh, one more....I really hate it when certain people (guys) assume I'm not feminine because I'm a lesbian. Being a lesbian does not make me butch (not that there's anything wrong w/ butch girls. Heck, I married one!). So, for anyone that really wants to know...I'm not butch because I don't wear skirts. I don't wear skirts because I have fat thighs and they rub together thankyouverymuch.

I love the picture of you on your wedding day posted on your website before the babes were born. And so what if we don't fit the mold of movie star/model beauty. Living well is the best revenge.

Funny you should mention it, because just last week, I dealt with an incident over at MY blog on the subject of mommy judgment.

Mine is cry-it-out (it always works whenever we attempt it for my daughter, but I always have someone criticizing me-- this last time worse than usual) and medicated births (which I LOVE, and ended up involved in Jo's discussion awhile back.)

I used to be insecure about being skinny. I think everyone has some body image issue, usually continuing on years after it ceased being an issue.

My red flag topics:

* Religion
* Religion
* Religion
* Pornography/infidelity/swinging/and the like
* Attachment and bonding in adopted children
* American politics
* breastfeeding

Often divisive and inflamatory topics about which I don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks or does:

* gays/gay marriage/gay adoption
* abortion
* selective reduction
* crunchy granola parenting

And FWIW Tertia, the first time I saw a picture of you, I thought, "Huh, she kind of looks like me." I have also inherited my father's long face. And I also have a husband who thinks I am beautiful. I say we are lucky girls!

Oh, so many hot buttons...

Being caught between SAHM & WOHM worlds--I run my own part-time business out of my home. WOHMs tend not to take what I do seriously and SAHMs think that I should have all the time in the world to do playdates and outings.

Not being able to breastfeed. My boobs produced drops of milk and with an 11lb 5oz baby, that was not going to work! But I still felt guilty, certain that I was dooming my child to a lifetime of ear infections and obesity. Well, she's 18mo old and has never had an ear infection. We'll have to see about the obesity.

Oh, yeah, obesity--my own. (What an ugly word!) I have been overweight since puberty and am only now at age 36 addressing it. I don't want to lose weight to be a model (ha!), but I do want to show Miss Pink a healthy body image and approach to food and exercise.

And, last, but definitely not least, the psoriasis I've had since about age 5. I've spent many a summer sweltering in long pants and sleeves because I didn't want anyone to ask, "What is THAT?!" The combined issues of my weight and my psoriasis kept me out of a bathing suit for at least 5-10 years. Only since having my daughter have I decided that I can't spend my life worrying about what others think about my body.

It's good to get the issues out in the open. They tend to shrivel in the light of day.

And, it goes without saying, that you are beautiful! I wish that I was tall like you.

I have a red flag (actually lots of them) about the SAHM/WOHM debate. I stay home, but it isn't where I *want* to be. I love my children to pieces and I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity to be with them and watch them grow, but I miss my career like nobody's business. My job is truly my calling in life. So is parenting, though, and I am blessed to have a husband who's job allows us to make it a little while without my paycheck. I am counting the months/days until I go back part time, though. I miss everything about my job.

However, that is only one flag I have on the debate. My other flag is my oversensitivity to others' feelings about my position in comparison with theirs. Will I hurt their feelings? Step on toes? Put my foot in my mouth? See, even typing that paragraph above took FOREVER because I don't want to say anything offensive, and I'm not even sure I got my point across the way I wanted to without offending EVERYONE on both sides!

Both of my SILs work, have incredible kids, have incredible jobs, and incredible lives. I don't measure up to them. It is hard.

Other red flags (I'm a walking flag myself), but a screaming 17 month old forbids me from telling you about it.

Wow, here was I just about gearing up to reply about the 'hypotheticals' post, and now you're on to another fantastic one! I love reading this blog because you make me think and you also have some really intelligent responders/posters too.

In my scenario, at the moment, I may be becoming a hypothetical case that will be discussed. After 3 miscarriages last year, among many tests, I had a gentic test done, and apparently I have a rare 'Chromosome 16 variant'. At the moment I am in limbo - my family are having tests done to see if this is an inherited quirk. If it is, then no problem, if it isn't, then I may be looking at the possibilities of a) never carrying a pregnancy to term, b) severely mentally and physically disabled children, c) donor eggs/adoption being the only route of having a family (husband has major ethical problems with both of these options). As you can imagine, I have been scouring the internet for ANY kind of information at all, but have come up with pretty much nothing. If I had found any discussions/blogs about this area I would very much welcome it - hell, any knowledge is better than none and I know enough to know that internet knowledge is only as good as its source and that everyone has an opinion on everything.

In my view, blogs and the option of responding to blogs are about sharing information that may help someone else - and if you are big enough to be reading these blogs, you are big enough to choose to go elsewhere if you don't like the topic. If being a 'hypothetical' gets me the information I need to know, then sign me up.

My red flags, hmm, well, I've a few new ones to choose from - genetic mutant/gene freak/abnormal. I'll post them on my beach of red flags, with the ones labelled 'too tall' and 'too English', plus a few others(in the UK a red flag on a beach means the water is too dangerous to swim).

And no, you are not in the least mannish - slim, elegant and dancer-like would be the words I would have used to describe you from your photo.

tertia - i am NOT saying i agree that you look like a man, but even if you did, there are so many stunning gorgeous women out there who do have a "masculine" look (or not typically girly look) - eg Naomi Campbell, Daryl Hannarh, Hilary Swank et al. And you are definitely attractive and in the same league, so I wouldn't worry about it anyway.... xxx


You do not look like a man! I, like you am tall and have a body. I out-weigh many men, not because I am fat, but because I am tall and work out daily. One man wouldnt date me because I was only 10lbs less than he was and couldnt get past that (dumbass). I love being tall, i wish I were even taller. I stad out in a crowd and though I can be shy I am always noticed and never fall into a crowd of people. It also helps in business as the men know before I open my mouth that i will take zero crap.

You are most certainly G&D. One tall chick to another...we rock!


You do not look like a man! I, like you am tall and have a body. I out-weigh many men, not because I am fat, but because I am tall and work out daily. One man wouldnt date me because I was only 10lbs less than he was and couldnt get past that (dumbass). I love being tall, i wish I were even taller. I stad out in a crowd and though I can be shy I am always noticed and never fall into a crowd of people. It also helps in business as the men know before I open my mouth that i will take zero crap.

You are most certainly G&D. One tall chick to another...we rock!

Any weight related issue. I simply can't hear "thin is healthier/happier/stronger....etc" without hearing "Thin is better."

I can hear one of my dearest friends talk about the wonders of George Bush and the republican party and tell myself, "Everyone's different. She's an intelligent woman, I'll hear her out."

But the same woman brings up being thin and how it's 'better than' being overweight and my claws are out and at her jugular. I hate it.

The personal attack I just can't seem to let roll off me is the one where I'm called uglier than my husband. Something about it hits a core nerve and place of insecurity about my appearance.

Thankfully I have a specific troll who's just glommed onto that information and makes him/herself feel better by using it repeatedly.

Which is also nice because the more it's hurled at me the more I realize how little it has to do with me but rather the reaction this hateful person wants out of me.

I would say my personal red flags include all of those things that I spend far too much time obsessing over inside my head: body image (from weight to "stray eyebrow hairs" to flat feet) and I will sometimes hear people talking ABOUT them and worry that the reason that they are talking about it in front of me is that they are trying to subtly hint that I need to lose weight/get a wax/dress better. Anything that I already worry that I don't do well enough - mothering, wife'ing, keeping a home, managing money.

On a more broad debate subjects - the "mommy wars" get to me. I work just 4 - 8 hour shifts a month but I feel like a SAHM. It should be the best of both worlds but instead its just like I am not keeping anyone happy (except my family so why should I care?).

I get annoyed when people get very far on one side of a debate that clearly (to me) has very good points on both side of it. I guess, though, that the push and pull are good as it keeps either extreme from winning out. Still, some extreme opinions cut through me. Like, what if what THEY want comes to be?!

Religious discussions always make me feel very on edge also. I was raised Catholic. I feel like a very spiritual person on the inside but I have made mistakes and there are some aspects of the religion that don't make sense to me anymore. When I hear fire and brimstone type of lectures, I worry. I worry that maybe none of us know exactly what God wants, we're only guessing. I worry that all of my beliefs are wrong then I worry that my faith isn't strong enough to just believe that my beliefs are right without question. I chase my tail alot.

Being petite is not all it's cracked up to be. It's hell to carry large items, have the strength to lift heavy things, the leverage to move things around, plus it's hard to reach anything due to no height and shorter arms.

On the other hand, on long airplane trips in coach, us petite folks can really feel smug! (Nyah nyah nyah!) But the rest of the time....

I have to say I LOVE your looks! And Adam's too- you guys aren't conventional Cosmo waif and Gerber baby, but you both have such fabulous, beautiful, full-of-life and distinctive faces. I noticed it right away, and wow! Not to leave out Kate and Marko, them too!

I've never posted before but look forward to reading your blog every day. I do have a few hot buttons, but here is the biggest---when my thin friends talk about how fat they are. If they are size 4-6 and think they're fat, then what am I at a size 10? I know it's my personal insecurities and I shouldn't care, because I decided long ago not to obsess over my weight (I look just like my mom, who looks just like her mom--you get the picture), but instead try to live a healthy lifestyle and set a good example for my 3 girls. But it still hurts my feelings. OH, and when these same friends talk about their "fatness" and diets in front of my young girls? Don't even get me started!!

I rarely post, but this really touched me, so I felt the need to respond in kind. My big issue is my skin - I have psoriasis (quick lesson for those who may not know what it is - it's a genetic skin disorder which causes random areas of your skin to shed faster than normal, leaving plaques of skin that are silvery and scaly). I've had it since I was 7, so usually it's no big deal. I have it over my entire body, but my face is what bothers me. Sometimes it's impossible to tell, other times it's like a big neon sign flashing "Look at me! I'm a freak!". Luckily, I have a husband who loves me and doesn't even really see it. But *I* see it. And, if you can believe it, I've had a grown man - a doctor, no less - tell me not to sit too close to him because he didn't want psoriasis on his close. Nice, huh? I cried over that for days. I can totally relate to your reaction over the hurtful post (and can I be another person to tell you how beautiful you are?). It's amazing what words can do, isn't it?

The abortion issue is my red flag "topic". People are way to opinionated about something they know little about. My hot button? There was a nickname that the mean boys in grade 9 called me. To this day if I hear it I feel bile rise in the my throat. I can't even say it here.
In the spirit of "misery loves company" I'll tell you that I quite often weight more than my skinny bugger husband and can I barely fit into his jeans. I am sorry that you were hurt by the cruel words of others. You did nothing to deserve it. I could only dream of having legs as long and lovely as yours. Tertia, you are the definition of G&D.

Firstly, I would LOVE to be tall. I am 5 feet nothing. I hate it. I would trade with you in a second! Seriously, lucky you!

I think we all have those issues. Mine is my weight, and my skin. I have difficulty keeping that extra 5-10 lbs off, and since I am so short, it shows easily (another advantage of some extra height). And I am still having terrible acne issues at the grand old age of 31. A comment about either of these things sends me right over the edge.

Just reading other's peoples comments here raises my read flag! lol

I see red when people talk about mental illness/depression in the same manner as Tom Cruise. Sorry, exercise and a better diet just won't fix some things.

People who tell me how and how long I should grieve for my daughter.

People who joke about suicide. Try having police come to your door and telling you your child is dead. That she took her own life. Then see if you can joke about it.

Bullies and the people who excuse them. Words that may bounce off one child may deeply scar another.

There's more, but my twinkies are finished with brekie. (breakfast) Must go.

I am short. And very muscular. I have had a weight problem my whole life. Not hugely overweight, but chubbiness. And then add my boobs and I can look quite portly. I have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for 5 years, but I am not where the height weight charts say I should be. If anyone comments about what I eat, it makes me see red. Then I think I"m a big fat tub of lard. Or that I should quit my job (I work in the health and nutrition industry and my job is helping people learn to eat properly and be healthy, how ironic is that!.... (Someone in my nutrition class said they were happy that I wasn't "super skinny"....that the way I look and how I look at eating makes them feel really good because it's something they can really imagine themselves doing....but to me, all I heard was you are fat, what are you doing teaching me to eat healthy....it's horrible what can go on in my head. That's happened more than once. !!!!!! At least they didn't ask me if I was pregnant! :)

So my red flag would be comments about what I"m eating. Second place would be comments about my weight.

I usually handle it like you, Teria. Internalize, feel horrible, think they are right. (My husband might say I take it out on him...but I would have to disagree! haha)

My hot button is weight, but in the opposite way of most people. I have been very thin my whole life, with no boobs or butt or waist--straight up and down. I don't diet or anything--this is just the way I'm made. Because I'm also very tall and square-shouldered, I was constantly mistaken for a boy when I was younger. Then, every single magazine article about body image would say things like "Real women have curves!" and "Guys don't like stick figures, they like a girl with meat on her bones!" And in real life women would say things like that in front of me, too. I know that the point is to make curvier/heavier women feel good about themselves, but it always made ME feel terrible about myself--like, well, I guess I'm not a real woman, and I'll never be sexy or feminine.

(And like you, Tertia, I found the experience of infertility has been SO helpful in the feeling-unfeminine department.)

I couldn't read any of the "false advertising" posts or comments, because I knew that someone would eventually say something like, "Well, my husband appreciates that I have curves like a real woman" and it would just make my insides clench up and make me feel like a gangly, insecure 13-year-old again. Same goes for when people criticize celebrities for being too thin--yes, some of them are genuinely sick. But as a teenager, when I'd hear people say that Kate Moss's body was disgusting, and my body looked like hers? All I could hear was that my body was disgusting, too.

Wow! This is scary! I have the same two red flags. I also went back to work when DD was 12 weeks old and never had any issues with it. She's going into Kindergarten in September and she seems to be an extremely well adjusted child, so I try not to take it personally, but at the same time, I never question or demean those that choose to stay at home. I don't think there is anything wrong with their situtation. It's just a choice that is different from mine.

I also fear looking mannish. I don't think most people know that as I usually don't let many people see me without some makeup and earrings. I don't pile on the makeup, but just some gloss and blush to make sure people know I'm a girl. I also don't cut my hair too short for that reason either. I had a short haircut once in high school and some old lady told me, "I was such a nice young man." and then she realized I had eye liner on! Ouch that hurt! No short hair cuts for me anymore.

My other red flag is when people think I'm ditzy that know me just slightly outside of work. I am truly not ditzy, I just get my free-spirited side out when I'm not in the office. Also, just because you are blonde and somewhat attractive does not mean you are stupid. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering and really hate it when people are surprised to realize I'm really a huge brain.

It's really interesting the whole red flag thing. There is really no way to know what's going to make one person go a little nuts or not. It's so directly linked to our own personnal insecurities, you know, the ones we are really good at hiding from the world!

My personal red flag is centered on the whole breast feeding thing. I tried really hard to exclusively breastfeed, but people who see me pulling out formula don't know that and judge me instantly. (I've talked about my breastfeeding issues ad nauseum on my blog.)
Everytime I'm on a message board and I see one of those darn "blinkie" things that flash something like "momma's milk bar open 24/7" it just kills me.
It doesn't help that a friend of mine wears the fact that she exclusively breast fed her son like a badge of honor. Her favorite thing? When a new baby goes in for a weight check and had gained well, she congratulates the mom for making such good milk. It makes me want to SCREAM.
ok then. getting off my red flag box... sorry for getting carried away! lol

CIO, breastfeeding, SAHM (I am and I get told all the time I'm wasting my degrees)...

Anytime someone outright says that something I did to my kids was harmful. It's fighting words. Because I didn't do anything to my child that is harmful. Period. Anything I did with intention I did out of love and out of making a parenting decision that WAS/IS best for my child. Period.

I just hate these debates because everyone can google up twenty sites that support their opinions.

My red flags have always been the following:
family wealth
curly hair

I have never liked my weight even when I was thinner than I am now. People are always telling me I "look good" but heaven help my self esteem if some stranger says, "she could lose a few pounds".

I grew up in a family without much money. I had to work to put myself through college, I had to work to buy my clothes when I reached high school. In short I worked my ass off to get things that my friends took for granted. If I hear anyone say anything about so-and-so living in a crappy house/bad neighborhood/etc....I get heated. Chances are they might be working hard and trying to get themselves OUT of that situation.

I have curly hair. I keep it under control. I hate it when I hear others talk about curly, frizzy hair. If you don't have it, don't suggest to those of us who do how to take care of it. I actually had one woman tell me to straighten it, it will look better!

Great post as always by the way.

My general hot topic is gay marriage. I am unable to process why it would bother a straight person if two people of the same sex got married. I cannot figure out why it makes them feel like their marriage would mean any less.

My personal one has to do with body image and clothing sizes. I am 5'9" and slighly overweight. I have also always (except when breastfeeding) been small chested. Because of my height and lack of boobs, I didn't really ever have a boyfriend until high school. That still bothers me. But what is worse is that huge chains like Victoria's Secret and The Limited only carry up to a size 12 or a Large. I know I am not articulating this particulalry well, but being sized out of a store is very painful.

And just so you know (someone earlier said this too), your wedding photos look like the ones in magazines. You and your husband are both stunning. You should be proud of your height. It took me a long time to be okay with being 5'9". Now I wish I was taller.

I'm a SAHM, but luckily I haven't had any personal attacks from anyone else yet, working or not. If I do, I probably won't keep my mouth shut about it.

So what pushes my button?

1)breast-feeding vs bottle feeding
2)body image, aka small boobs

I used to feel very self-concious about my height. I'm fairly tall. All through elementary school, I was always the tallest in the class, only one boy was taller than I am. I always hutched my shoulders. I finally got over that in my 20s.

I can't think of any specific hot buttons that cause me to feel hurt or badly about myself. But as a general issue, it makes me crazy when, regardless of the topic, people spout off in an utterly intolerant way. The gay marriage comment above is a perfect example. Somebody PLEASE explain how this "threatens" heterosexual marriage - is somebody going to make YOU marry another woman against your will? I don't think so. Religious intolerance is a BIG one also. Nearly all religions have at their basis that we should all love one another - so, um, why do so many people use their religion as an excuse to hate and kill other people???

OK, one more: political correctness to a ridiculous degree. While there are some terms or phrases that are clearly offensive (typically those that were MEANT to be offensive when they were coined!), I think that for the most part people need to lighten up and think twice before deciding that they are "offended" by whatever - and if you are offended, then fine, that's life, just live with it, don't make it someone else's issue. Wow - I could go on and on here - luckily for you I won't!!

My red flag. Weight. I have a lot of it. I hate it, and I judge myself by it. I love it when someone else is fat with me. And I can feel quite lonely when I feel like the only fat girl in the world. You couldn't possible know what I speak of unless you've been there with me. Mom's who have tons of kids and still wear a size 3 make me want to barf.

Hey T.,

I'm another tall and fairly straight one, who spent middle school and most of high school slouching and got mistaken for a boy. I was somewhat of an ugly duckling, and got called ugly a lot on the schoolbus. I finally grew into myself - but boy, did I go through a lot of sexual insecurity. I went through a period whem I ended up dating quite a string of the boys I had secret crushes on back when I was "ugly", and I think my motivation was almost entirely rooted in trying to prove that I really *was* attractive.

The last time my button really got pushed was in a bar, where a drunken jerk sat down next to me uninvited and put his hand all up my thigh. I told him to back off, and he looked me in the eye and said, "what are you going to do, hit me?"

So I rebuffed him in pretty strong terms, and he got up and called me ugly, loudly, in front of the whole bar. It didn't help that my best friend was sitting right there and missed the whole exchange (she was tipsy, and hot in the midst of flirting with the drunken jerk's friend), so I felt abandoned AND humiliated. I dealt with it by getting his sorry ass thrown out of the place, but I was shaking inside.

It surprised me how deeply I internalized his insult, even though he had just been trying to feel me up and was obviously striking out at me for rejecting him.

So I guess I'm another who internalizes.

My Red Flag:

Women who say their hubands are useless and don't do anything to help with the the children or around the house....

Well, i would cut off a "bit" to have a useless husband in the room laying on the couch watching a football game so i could leave my twins and take a shower, buy diapers when i have none, buy milk when i am out and the babies are hungry, etc...
And, of course, ladies, i would LOVE to have your useless husband to bring home his useless paycheck.

***BTW... Tertia, even though i know you think you look like a man and it doesn't really matter what anyone else says to you unless it is reinforcing that for you... i think you are STUNNING!!!! Tall, thin, muscular, beautiful angled features, high cheekbones... just gorgeous, REALLY!

My red flags are these two:
1) People who talk about sexual abuse or rape (if it happened to them) and wear it like a sick badge of honor. As if that makes them immune to any responsibility for their actions. "Oh, I don't deserve to be punished as severely as a 'normal' person because my father abused me as a child!" It is disgusting. Now, don't get me wrong, I know how horrible abuse and rape is. I know that it is probably the most difficult thing that will ever happen to you in your life, and I know that you will never get over it. That, however, does not give you the excuse to behave like nothing's your fault and your father's the one to blame.

2) My other red flag goes to the person who thinks their way is the best. I think this may pertain to any and all situation since it is so vague, but I mean in particular the religion point of view. Please don't preach on me and tell me your way is the ONLY RIGHT way, and I'll go to hell if I don't listen. Because all that makes me want to do is be farther away from you than before. Friends don't let friends preach!

T-you do a good job of making people think!

My biggest red flag: my body image. I am 5'3" and have always felt short and dumpy. It is kind of ironic that my body image bothers me so much because photography is my favorite hobby. Espcially photographing people. I can see how beautiful other people are, but I hate it when people want to turn the camera on me.

Another red flag: how quickly some people judge other people's choices. I had a few people after my second miscarriage tell me I should stop trying and only consider adoption. These are people who haven't had infertility issues.

1. I think you're an incredibly beautiful woman, outside, and in. Next time someone says otherwise, email me and I'll tell you again.
2. The SAHM/WOHM subject... since I'm still knocked up, I haven't gotten the full brunt of it, but it is something that makes me cringe. I am a chiropractor, and I run my own business. going back to work isn't a question of if, it's a question of WHEN, and HOW SOON. If I'mlucky, I'll take 6 -8 weeks off, and then go back minimally. The bills at the office won't get paid if I don't work. I only work part time, and will work less than that when I go back, but still, I feel like a crappy chiropractor, and llike I 'll be a crappy mother. Either way, I suck. so... sensitive here too.
3. Other red flag issues... when people call me 'skinny'. Skinny is a thin girls 'fatty'. I dont' try to be thin, it just happens. I eat a lot, and i never exercise. But when people call me skinny i hear "ugly" and "flat chested", and "boyish".

I'm sure there are more, but I'm hungry.
Much love to you, you beautiful goddess.

i have another red flag apart from adhd- and that is single parenting.
i am a single mom to a teenage boy, and i cannot tell you how many people have told me how a boy has to have a father, how a boy has to have a role model, how boys without fathers are too feminine. one woman even tried to tell me my being a single mom is why damien has adhd!
i have had specialists & friends tell me more than once that he is well adjusted, amiable, likeable, nice to be around, pleasant company (and in the shrink's words" intellectually mature") so don't tell me i can't bloody do this!

My red flags.....top of the list is when people who have children insist on taunting me by saying,"You wouldn't understand, you are not a mother"
Next along is people who push babies out one after the other and assume that they know more than me about infertility.
And last but not least, my teeth, they are terribly crooked but I chose to use my money on trying to conceive instead of an orthodontist who just overcharges anyway!

Silly, I know, but I get offended when people comment on my scrubby style. I've only had comments (ie. "sweatpants again?", "why don't you try dressing more feminine") from my neighbors (who are good friends) and my family so far, but it bothers me a lot! If my sweatpants and t-shirt are clean and free of rips and stains, then who cares how I dress? I dress up when I need to, but I am NOT going to be constantly on display, and it does NOT mean I don't care about my appearance.

It's so interesting to read about all these secret buttons -- especially the ones that people can hardly bear to TYPE. Enlightening, and I hope heartening to all. I like seeing that there are so many things that don't bug me one little bit.

I get hot and bothered when I think people believe that my child is a handful because I spoil him. I'm waaaay too sensitive about that, though I struggle to camouflage it.

In terms of things that I would shrivel up and DIE if I overheard them said about me, they are:
1. Her house smells of cat
2. She's bad in bed

I'm not sure why these would bother me so. Well, the first one because when I was little our house DID smell of cat, and that coupled with how little money we had made me ashamed. Not sure where the other one comes from, but anyway I'm going to try to ditch ALL of my buttons.

Are there ANY women who are not afraid of being called ugly behind their backs? The exact flavor of ugliness may be different, but does anyone not have that button? (By the way, I think you are much less manly-looking than Keira Knightley, and she's considered the ideal of beauty these days.)

Oh, I am always really stung by the SAHM issue. I know there are some SAHM's online who I would really connect with, the SAHM's that I come into contact with in RL are really smug and judgemental. Like working mothers are second class citizens who can't make the "ultimate sacrifice." I don't think it is a sacrifice to quit your job, first of all. I think it is a gift if your husband's income allows you to do that. If mine doesn't don't judge me. Sigh.

My red flag (not a mother yet, so those are more hypothetical for me) is my intelligence. I have a masters degree but work in an agency with all PhD's and sometimes one of them will say something snide about 'master's level people' and I get very uppity. I know I am capable of getting a PhD, but after two other private degrees, I couldn't afford another long stint of education. But I struggled so in elementary school through high school that the discovery of my intellegence still seems precarious to me.
On being seen as a man:
11 years old, wearing a dress, called sonny. I just about melted into the street.
Thanks for this forum,

The breastfeeding thing is my red flag. I wasn't able to breastfeed, and people always make me feel like the worst possible mother around... One of the people who said things about how much better she was, because she breastfed, ended up leaving her hubby and both her kids, and barely looked back...

I've been criticized for my choice to be a SAHM. Like when my Dad said..."Well it's not like you really WORK or anything." Didn't know raising two children wasn't "work" but thanks for the insight Dad.

Another 'red flag topic' would be my weight - as in, I'm overweight and I know it. Hearing comments about my weight I think I would just dig a little hole and want to crawl in it and die.

Umm..I kinda forgot my point when I posted earlier. Anyway, when I get those comments I feel like it is a judgement about staying home. I secretly think they're wondering "Maybe if she had something to do all day..."

I'm sure the working moms who commented don't have bad intentions, and it may not even be a judgement about staying home, but it sure feels that way.

I do get a little irritated by the SAHM thing too. I am a SAHM but its not completely by choice. What I dislike is people assuming that because you are a SAHM you also think you are doing better for your kids than a WOHM. I don't think like that and get annoyed when it is assumed that I think like that. My babe is 13 mths old and I have had about 3 hours break from him for that whole time - but that is not choice, it is something to do with living in a foreign country with no family here and a dh who has a job requiring him to work long hours.It annoys me that other people assume they know how I think - when they don't know me at all.

Other red flags are people that think are never to blame for anything - their perspective is that you are always in the wrong, no matter what. You can hardly ever reason with them.

I have a red flag with my dh - probably because I still have a little anti-authoritarian in me. He is a programmer and always seems to be sorting out bugs well, he seems to be able to spot faults all over the place including here. He spots the clumsy little things I do, doors left open, things not where they should be etc etc. It irritates me every time he points something out - like he is being controlling or something and I don't want to be controlled - even if what he says is perfectly reasonable I still get irritated.

As The OBOTB (The Old Bag on The Block) I'd like to say that the SAHM thing used to get under my skin really badly, too. I got all defensive and angry and hurt. Now my kids are grown and they are lovely people and I just don't get sucked in.

I offer that as a beacon of light shining in the distant future.

My issue is discussions of Mom jeans or middle aged women with big butts. I have serious butt issues and age and wisdom and being a marathon runner with a reasonably sized butt have done nothing to ease that pain.

You are totally speaking my language. I'm almost 5'10" and when I was growing up was always very very skinny, had no boobs, etc and was taller than almost all the boys in my high school. Now I've gained like 20 lbs and though I am normal for my height, I feel like a giant. My boyfriend is very thin and actually DOES weigh less than me. His waist and thighs are smaller than mine. And most women (and half of the men out there) are shorter than me so I too have a very hard time feeling "feminine." I've always secretly wished that I could be called "cute" since no one looks at a tall woman and thinks "Oh, she's so cute." Maybe "striking" but not "cute."

I have a couple other red flags. One is when people diss on immigrants here in the US since my boyfriend (and many other people who are close to me) is the son of Mexican immigrants. I can't possibly keep my cool if people say even mildly ignorant statements.

Another thing that bothers me is when my friends accuse me of being "boring" and "domestic" b/c I don't go out to the bars w/them the way I used to and I love to stay home and watch movies and cook. Makes me think that THEY think I'm a loser when I'm actually perfectly happy w/my life. I can't keep my cool when they make jokes about that.

T, had to laugh (not at you, but with you) about the man thing, a problem with me as well. When I was 14, I was at an air cadet summer camp in Alberta. The females were housed on the third floor of the barracks, the officers on the second floor and offices on the first. The guys had two full three-storey barracks to themselves (obviously not alot of females in cadets yet in the '70's). Anyways, I was about to enter the female barracks to go up to my room, a male officer yells out the window "What do you think your doing?". There were other cadets around so I had no idea he was telling at me. I went in, he met me on the second floor landing and proceeded to ream me out about going into the female barracks (blah blah blah). In a timid voice I said, "But sir, I am a female!" His response, "Bloody haircuts, can't tell anyone apart anymore" My hair was short but not as short as the guys...

My red flag is the insensitive comments people make after your child has died. "He's gone to a better place" (are you insinuating our home wasn't good enough)or "I don't know what I would do if this ever happened to me" (I hope you never have to find out). "God doesn't give you more then you can handle" (this one I particularily dislike). A grieving parent just wants to talk about their child, be a friend, listen....

My DH and I have worked out our schedules so that mostly, one of us is with the kids (we have childcare for 4 hours a week, after school). I work 2 jobs, he is self employed. Our days usually involve a combination of working a full day and ratting the kids around to and from school, soccer, basketball, piano lessons, paper routes, etc.,and my dh and I are involved in several community groups.

My pet peeve? When my best friend, a SAHM, complains about being busy. I mean, I know it is all relative, but, holy crap...I don't want to hear it. Busy is dinner at 9:30 at night because the 2 jobs you have which you have carefully planned not to ever intersect WHOOPS intersect and you go from one job to the next without stopping. Busy is having to make all of your appointments from your car because there isn't time during the day to call the doctor, the vet, the gas company, the bank.
I don't begrudge her having the life she has, she is so very lucky; I even totally get complaining that the kids are driving her nuts. But, man oh man, don't talk to me about being busy!

My red flag is the attachment parenting debate, and in my case like so many commenters it is self-inflicted. I read The Baby Book by William Sears before my son was born, and I agreed so wholeheartedly with everything he wrote before my son arrived. Actually, I still agree with it except that our son was a problem sleeper. My husband and I dealt with it for ten months (some nights getting up six times and not going back to sleep until he nursed) - we had been cosleeping and we tried everything in the No Cry Sleep Solution book. We just reached the point where we couldn't cope with life anymore because of it. We ended up doing CIO and though it "worked," I still feel guilty about it and whenever I read something about AP I get this sort of sick feeling. The thing is that in a vacuum, I still think we did the right thing, for him even (his sleeping was awful and it was just so clear that he was sleep deprived) but when I am faced with someone who managed without resorting to CIO I just feel like a pile of crap. I hate that I react to it that way.

1. The SAHM/WOHM thing. I'm a SAHM through a combination of accident and personal choice, but I hate it when people think I'm making some kind of statement or recommending my current lifestyle to everyone else.

2. When people ask what I do all day (See item #1)

3. When people suggest I should get over the whole infertility thing since I managed to have a kid.

4. Any conversations about money

Non-personal red hot flag: politics. Die-hard Republicans make me foam at the mouth. *g* Although I try to control it, I do.

Personal: similar to yours, Tertia. Being tall and gangly teenager, with insecurities that carried into adulthood. Although YOU are simply G&D, and I'm a gawky chick.

Tertia, finally delurking. I love your blog and I think you are absolutely amazing! So strong!!! I am only a baby (20 years old) but I think that you need to remind yourself that 1) its not about what you look like, but who you are and 2) most people will only say nasty things to hide or overcome their own insecurities. Its horrible but its human nature. None of this should matter though, because you are absolutely gorgeous! I love looking through photos of you with the babes (I'm not a stalker, I swear!!! hah) and pictures of you and Marco on your special day. V v beautiful! And if you dont see this yourself, just have a look at your gorgeous husband. If you were so hideous how did you snag him!
Just had to comment. I am so suprised that you are insecure. At all. I totally look up to you and, to be honest, for me it is really reassuring to know that grown ups (he he) and someone like you have insecurities and all. Thankyou so much for sharing.

Personal red flag: My skin and hair. I have psoriasis, like Tricia and Pink above, as well as eczema and a whole host of other skin allergies. I used to wear longsleeved sweaters and pants all year round, as a kid, and would get teased mercilessly. It's on my scalp as well, I'm always washing my hair so it doesn't look like I have dandruff. If anyone makes any comments about either my skin or my hair, I just shrink inside down to a tiny little thing.

Another one: "You don't have a relationship because you are not married, completely discount the person you equally share a home and a life and a car with, you're obviously single, and you should act like it." Why should it matter to anyone else what my taxpayer status is? I hate when people try to insinuate that my life is a sham. (not married for: financial reasons. mine, not his. none of anyone's business, but people feel so propriatory about relationships, it's terrible. eg: US gov. and gay marriage.)

My red flag is people who think fat people are lazy & lack self-respect. I exercised myself into early-onset arthritis because I feared that people would think I was lazy or lacking in self-respect if I gained weight. Now I am so, so, so angry about that ignorant, dangerous attitude, and I can't understand how people who say "Oh, come on, some folks DO choose to be fat" don't see how incredibly harmful and yes, even potentially lethal, those statements are. If you've nearly killed yourself to lose weight (and I nearly died of hyponeutremia from over-exertion), you don't have a sense of humor about judgments on fat people.

Sheesh. There I go again. I can't seem to stay clam & detached on this issue.

Still, I'm glad you opened your blog up to that debate.

First of all, I would love you Tertia,--even if you looked like a frog (which you DO NOT...nor do you resemble a man, imo)

Secondly, I have a blog, too. And usually I leave my address in hopes that some will wander over and check out the ramblings of a mother of 4...but this time I did not. Because I am scared that I will be smashed and bashed for Number Three...

Thirdly, My pet peeve is anyone who jumps on a "she should be shot" soap box when any mother has harmed her children while in a mentally ill state. *I* have recently been diagnosed with Major Depression, Recurrent, Severe. I was hopitalized for a week and went to 5 hour long group sessions, daily, once I was released from "lock down" status--all of this was after I (luckily) went to my doctor and admitted that I had a suicide plan that involved not only myself but my youngest child--who was 6 months old at the time. I was planning to park my car in my grandmothers garage--to take as many vicodin as I could steal from my husbands RX...and to breastfeed my youngest to sleep...forever.

Didn't mean I didn't love him. Or the other 3. Or that I didn't want the very best for them...just meant that in my mind, taking the baby with me was best (who else would bf him? Who else could comfort him like I could?). And the other three deserved a Mother who was calm. Competent. Able to love them as they deserve to be loved. I felt I was a horrible Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter/Sister. I was VERY sick. I am now on medication that I will be on, for probably, all of my life. I go to therapy now. I journal both on paper and on the www. My Aunt and Sister call me DAILY.

Please don't rush to judgement that all mothers who are "crazy" should be shot. Or made to be sterile. We need help. We even WANT help--just some of us are too sick to even know how to ask for help. And we need support. From people who honestly care about us. Who don't just say "how are you?" because it is a habit--but because they REALLY want to know--and they REALLY care.

TY. (Now I will go throw up--that made me soooo nerovous!)

You know, I thought hard of whether I had any hot button issues, and I don't think I do, at least not of the sort that you describe here. That might be interepreted to mean that I'm terribly secure in my choices, but really, it's that I'm oblivious. I realized in reading your article, that it's probably one of the reasons why I so frequently obliviously push other people's hot buttons, without even knowing that I'm going to. And, even when I'm trying not to. For example, I have a couple of male colleagues who have dumped their first wives (who I knew and respected) for younger models. These folks are not people I can actually tease about it. But, I find myself saying things like "Can't you see that my husband will be loyal to your company? He's stuck with me all these years after all." And I'm way more likely to say this to them than I am to say it to someone else. It's weird. I think it's some kind of weird touretts syndrome analog. But, I post this to ask for clemency for others like me, who say the wrong thing, practically every time, but don't mean to push your buttons.


Thought of one of my red flag issues while running errands today in 70 degree weather, in long sleeves and long pants - my skin. I am pale beyond pale. I look blue. Have been made fun of my entire life, and am very sensitive about it. I don't tan - no matter what, I only burn. My only consolation is that I won't have skin cancer or leathery skin when I'm old (hopefully).

I have a twitchy eye. Ohhh, I almost want to post anonymously because I'm afraid if I ever post again, you'll all know me as that woman who can't even control her own facial muscles. Yes, I've seen many specialists (not so much in the last few years, I've just come been trying to ignore & accept),and I take medication that helps some, but it still happens and more so when I'm overtired and/or stressed. Sometimes when it's acting up, I have to talk myself into not calling in sick - haven't yet, but sometimes I'm sorely tempted. I have to keep telling myself that it's far more obvious to me than to anyone else.

[When I opened up and told one of my best friends how much it bothers me, she squinted hard at my face and kept asking, "Is it doing it now? Now? Wait, I don't see it yet..." and my husband will only ask "Is your eye bothering you today?" if he catches me rubbing it. My mom, go figure, is the only one who really notices. And from her I always get the accusatory tone telling me that if I only saw the right doctor, it could be fixed.]

So it drives me nuts when people make comments about twitchiness or facial tics as code for saying someone is superneurotic or mentally unbalanced. Yes, I know that it gets worse with stress, but sometimes stress if part of my life. That's kind of like telling someone to relax and they'll get pregnant!

I get annoyed when people make ignorant or dumbass remarks about my son wearing glasses and an eye patch. I even had a cashier as if he was "retarded or somethin' or did he have that Down's whatever." No you fucking idiot, he wears glasses. Glasses do not equal mentally retarded.

I won't even go in to the breast vs bottle debate, because it makes me livid. Feeding my son formula is not tantamount to child abuse. You don't know my reasons for not bf'ing, so don't judge me.

My MAJOR issue is people's misunderstanding of mental illness, like the poster a few posts above me. Unless you've been there, you can't possibly understand the things that post-partum depression and/or post-partum psychosis will make you think/do/say.

mj - I have essential tremor, have had since I was a teenager. I inherited it from my dad and my daughter, from me. I medicate for it but sometimes it breaks through and I look like I have the d.t.'s. I just laugh it off and tell people it's an old friend.

Momo - I've never dealt with mental illness personally but that "she should be shot" crap really gets my blood pressure up. I'm glad your meds and therapy are helping. I read somewhere about what Yates went through before she drowned her children. Nothing, absolutely nothing worked for her, and her supposedly not-mentally-ill family apparently could not see what was right in front of them. I don't see how anybody could really hear her story and not feel compassion for her. People say "get help" but as you know, if your help is working for you, you're really pretty lucky in the scheme of things.

Well, you asked for it!

Number One: "I'd NEVER have an abortion".

I never thought I'd find myself in a situation where I would EVER consider it. But then it was there. And though I did eventually choose to become a mother, those weeks of decision making were pure agony. I know I made the best decision. But now I would NEVER judge anyone who had to choose.

- Religion
- Politics
- That "working mom" thing gets me, too.
- Breastfeeding

Momo, I'm so very glad, that (1) you didn't go thru with your plan and (2) you posted about your experience here. Lots of women have been where you were. If there weren't so much shame around suicidal ideation, folks who are suffering from it would be quicker to get help. I'm glad you did.

And remember when this blog was just about infertility?

I wish that none of you felt bad about your looks, and that every one of you could see yourself through the eyes of the person who finds you most attractive, even for just one day.

My red flags.... 1) people who have to go out of their way to steal your thunder (I've had friends buy things we'd saved for for ages just after us, and buy a more expensive version, just to be better.... also my SIL found out about our fertility trouble and then started inventing all these pregnancy symptoms to upset us, and pretended to have miscarried). Why can't these people just be happy in their own lives rather than having to score points off other people.
Also (I'm very much afraid of the negative feedback I'll get for this) people who tell me that I shouldn't be trying to have kids because we're on welfare. This is due to DH's disability, but people always assume it's just that we 'can't be bothered' to work. Even typing this has set me on the defensive, so I'll leave it now.

Breast vs. bottle...makes me want to stick pins in my eyes, and mostly because of my own issues with it, I tried, tried, tried to breast feed but never produced enough milk to sustain a grumpy little life so formula fed and supplemented with breast until 4 1/2 months when he went to all formula (I blame evil ex-husband whom I left when baby was 5 days old because they issued an arrest warrant for the bastard, but that's a long story). Even when someone says to me "oh, but it's okay because you tried or because of your circumstances or whatever" I still feel like they're saying they could have done better.

SAHM vs. work outside the home mom also punches my buttons, not really because of insecurities on this one, more because I think they're both good and viable options in the right circumstances and it seems to frivolous to be rehashing it over and over, and someone ALWAYS ends up with hurt feelings over it.

And you are so G&D it's not even funny, you should never feel anything but proud of your body and looks.

I laughed a bit at the "SAHM can't be so busy" comment above, because that must be one of my hot buttons and I didn't even know it! I'm on maternity leave but freelance a bit out of my home (very part time) and have a 7 mo old, and I don't see to have a lot of time - partly because everyone thinks I do, and gets really huffy if I don't help out/show up/provide home baking.

I have a hot button about caesarians vs. vaginal deliveries which ties into your "worst case scenario" post a while back - I know that "real women" don't have c-sections but labour naturally and are suspicious of all interventions, but I lost my daughter due to not having had one. So I get a little freaky about it at times and am just now learning to stay out of the debates.

Tied into that are people who are upset about their birth experience but had healthy children at the end of it - stupid, stupid me, because of course that is hard for them but I just tend to glower darkly regardless.

I have a few others but those came to mind. :)

Apparently Sally and I are the same person. I too had hyperemesis so I get very touchy when people talk about how sick they were because they threw up 3 times a day. I have had people think that there was no way I could be as sick as I was. Sure, I was faking it, I enjoy getting IVs until my veins collapse and rupturing blood vessels in my throat because I vomited so much. The crippling constipation and worry I had from taking Zofran because it was the only thing that would help me keep food down was so much fun!!

I LOATHE the SAHM/Working Mom and Breast/Formula debates. Hate them.

Body issues are huge for me. HUGE.

My number one hot topic is breastfeeding. While I was pregnant I thought I was mother earth and that my baby would only have breastmilk. Anyone who didn't breastfeed was obviously nuts. Then, I couldn't breastfeed and was on the other side of the fence. I met a lot of criticism and comments that stated that I did have enough milk, that I wasn't trying hard enough or doing it correctly. The truth is that I really didn't have enough milk. I don't care what people with enough milk think. So, yeah, that's one.

Strippers is my other big one. And that's all I have to say about that. Freakin' strippers.

Funny, one of my red flags came up yesterday in a v. intellectual conversation that my partner and I were having about shredded Mexican spiced Kraft cheese. I mentioned that I didn't like it very much and he responded jokingly that I didn't like the cheese because I was a stuck up snob.

It was a simple joke and I almost burst into tears! Luckily I wasn't too shattered to say "oh, my god, is that really what you think? That is one of my worst fears" in a horrified tone. I have always been terrified that people would see me as a terrible snob. And there he was, confirming my worst fears. Lucky for me he teases me a lot. I actually love it that he makes fun of my insecurities. It helps take the sting out of the silly thing that isn't true anyway and helps me laugh at myself.

I have never posted before, but i love reading your blog. I admire your sincerity and your honesty so much. And your energy; I wish I had half!
My red flag topics are:
Infertility (last week a complete stranger I met in a cooking class said out of the blue, I have 5 kids. I am SO fertile. I almost said..Really? well, if all of mine had lived I'd have that too... hello? where are you going???? did i say something wrong??)

And i hate being tall. I always wanted to be cute!

I think you are beautiful, Tertia.

Try being a SAHW with no kids and just see how the critics come out of the woodwork! "You don't have children so why won't you get a job?" "You're so lucky that you get to just laze about the house all day!"

Okay, see, my husband has been very, very sick. He's better managed now, medically speaking, but some days he still needs me. I'm not going back to work to satisfy some sort of societal requirement only to come home and find him dead.

That's one of my biggest red flag issues.

The other is when people assume that schizophrenia is multiple personality disorder and ask me how many people Sarge thinks he is. Then, after I educate them a little, they come back a week later and ask me the same thing again, or I find that they've been talkign behind my back and spreading the misinformation I took such pains to correct.

I am almost 30, and I have acne. It's not really, really, really bad...but my skin does NOT look good, period. I have scars, blotches, tons of blackheads, and usually several bright red flare ups to match on any given day.

It drives me up the f-ing wall when people tell me:

Drink more water!
Don't eat chocolate/cheese/greasy food!
Use this makeup/moisturizer/voodoo!

Of course, I have tried all of these things to no avail. Unfotunately, some people's zits and spots are a product of sheer genetics and damn rotten luck.

So that's my hot-button issue. It's something that depresses me for a least a few minutes every single day of my life.

BTW, you SO do not look like a man. You are very striking, as a matter of fact.

I don't have a great sense of humour about feeling excluded - stemming back to childhood as well.

I'm equally touchy about lack of acknowledgment. I need to hear that I'm a good mother, doing a good job at work, being a good friend, etc. It's not enough for silence to be endorsement. I need to hear the words or else I take everything as a slight. Paranoia in the worst way.

Another check in the body-image column. I'm a competitive university athlete (swimmer) and spend 18 hours a week training, yet I'm a 36DDD and have a flabby tummy (that folds and rolls and hangs over my pants when I sit down and won't flatten out no matter what I do!) The rest of the girls on my team are A and B cups and have perfectly defined abs. I hate my boobs and double-hate my tummy.

Also, another red flag: politics (abortion, gay marriage, all the issues upon which left and right are divided). I'm American, but have spent considerable time living in Europe, and am very liberal in my opinions. When someone says they support Bush, I immediately become furious and ashamed of my country, and want to jump down their throat.

Red Flags.. The SAHM thing used to get to me as I was a SAHM. I loved the years (for the most part) when I stayed home FT with my kids. Now a little older and all in school for 6.5 hours a day I LOVE working again, love the interaction with other adults interested in the same things as I, the paychecks, and the regularity it provides my somewhat anal 'what am I doing today' soul. Wondering if I would have been happier going back to work sooner, and the kids always pined to be able to go to day care. (You can never win with kids, understand that now my dear.)

Religion. I hate having others try to ply their religion on me. If I wanted to investigate a meaningful church/doctrine I would have done it by now. I am an educated woman and frankly none of the religions out there appeal. So my family has it's own religion if you will, being friendly, understanding, caring and never cruel individuals. Works for us.

Another beef? Parents who volunteer a lot at the school and do nothing but make you feel guilty as you do not live there too! I do my one hour a week gig there and figure that should be sufficient. Get upset by the hours other parents put in and crab about. Choices women, we are talking about choices! Don't knock us that have jobs! Our kids are every bit as important to us as yours. We just happen to work days.

Where to start...?

Yeah, the SAHM stuff (on both sides -- career moms with "I am Superwoman!" attitudes who lord it over at-home moms, as well as at-home moms who lay guilt trips a mile thick); the religion stuff; the WEIGHT stuff (which recently made me a pathetic poster child in the blog world!) and the SPANKING stuff.

I rarely spanked my kids, but did so unapologetically, and I`ve had people say shit to me like, "If you really understood what it was like to be an abused child, you would NEVER spank your kids." The people who said this DID NOT EVEN KNOW ME, or know anything about my childhood.

Damn -- I`m using caps. I`d better stop!

These are my personal red flags.

1) Other people's reactions to/assumptions based on my weight/build/manner of dress.
At my 'skinniest' my calves measured about 16"(40.64cm) or just over half the size of my waist. The reason for my (for lack of a better word) bulk is partly genetic (my grandfather looks like a small walking oak tree and my father & I both gain muscle mass in a matter of *HOURS*) and partly because of the fact that I am utterly unable to pay attention to *anything* unless I am in some kind of motion. My shoulders measure 22"(55.88cm) tip-to-tip not counting any meat or skin, just from bone to bone. The lightest I have ever been as an adult was 12 stone(168lb) and doctors have been after me to lose weight for years, but *only* after they get me on the scale. Not one person has ever been overly concerned about my weight until they find out my numbers. Clothing that actually fits me is a hard thing to come by without going to a tailor for Every Single Thing and I have all but given up hope of finding a dress shirt in my size (14-36-50 try finding one of those off the rack, I dare ya!) and pants are just as hard to track down. I usually end up wearing men's shirts and whatever clean item of clothing is on hand at the time which will fit over my tree-trunk thighs and breeder hips. As a result of this I rarely ever attain that nice 'polished' look I love and many people seem to think that I don't care about my appearance. Which I do, I'm just unable to spend USD50 for a fucking shirt!

2) Being mistaken for a "pretty gay boy."
I am not, nor will I ever be a 'cute' or 'pretty' woman because of my build. I can't recall anyone ever using either word to describe me after age six or so. The two most common ways to describe how I look are Beautiful (when I wear my makeup) and Very Handsome (when I am not wearing makeup.) Now, unfortunately because of the width of my shoulders coupled with the fact that I do not sway my hips when I walk (fencing lessons from my mom starting in second grade and two years of marching drills at the church youth group mean that I walk like an officer) people see me walking towards them and think 'man.' Then they focus on my eyes and think 'beautiful' but these two thoughts do not seem to go together easily except when they are expressed as 'pretty gay boy' so that is what their minds latch on to. Being called a 'fucking faggot' and dodging half empty beer cans thrown by drunk homophobes is not my idea of a fun time. And while the whole mistaken gay bashing thing only happened that one time, being mistaken for a man tends to get under my skin in a not-good way.

3) People who seem to think that I am lazy because I am on disability.
3b) People who don't really know me (and only ever see me on my 'good days') who think that I should 'just get over it' and get a job.
I have PTSD and can not function in large groups of people I do not trust completely due to something called hyper-vigilance. Basically I have a deep and abiding Need to keep track of anything capable of movement within a 40-80'(12-24 meter) radius of my head. When I am unable to do so I start to get a surge of adrenalin because part of me is still convinced that I Must *ALWAYS* be ready to fight to the death OR run like the Devil himself was chasing me. Not such a good thing in any confined space when the option to run away is either limited or nonexistent. The possibility that frightens me the most is seriously hurting someone at work if there was no place to run and I panicked because I didn't notice them behind me. I am not 'lazy' what I am is a keyed-up, nervous person who is constantly afraid that I might unintentionally injure a non-child in that split second before I am able to clearly identify a situation as not being a threat. (I have never injured a child during one of my frights but I have confused the hell out of a few because I will always try to take them with me when I retreat)

There you have it. My personal red flags in all their glory.

Adi V.

Oh, yeah. And republicans.

Oh, Tertia! How I WISH I could sit cross-legged on your livingroom floor with you so we could guzzle wine and chat! Because you must be my sister.
I was a SAHM for 7 years and you know what? I was so poor I had to wash cloth nappies for my twins, I had to walk everywhere, I couldn't even scratch up the $2.50 for playgroup most weeks so we stayed home. I loved my babies (I had a 3 year old as well) but I couldn't provide the stuff they needed. I remember one winter we were almost financially destroyed because all the kids caught a cold and then chicken pox! All our money had gone on making these babies and we were critisised for not having the means to support them. The decision to go back to work was hard, but..well, you know how it is. It hurt.
And, my love, if I looked HALF as beautiful as you do, I would be happy. You are a goddess, check with Marko if you don't believe me.
My red flag is 'dumb blonde jokes.'

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