So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

“She got raped.”

Those were the words I remember using when talking to a friend in a bar about 10 years ago. “Oh my god! Where was she?” she asked me while taking the first drink of her beer. “Walking to her car down town, BY HERSELF.” I answered, shaking my head and wondering how she could be so stupid. The thought never occurring to me that I was victim blaming. That I was contributing to rape culture. That I was being a part of the problem.

For most women there’s a time in our life before we realize the world treats us differently. For me that time was up until around fifth grade, which is when I swear I went to bed one night with a flat chest and woke up the next morning needing a bra. From that moment on, I’ve had what’s considered large breasts, settling in now at a 36DD. I remember being told to cover up and not wear things that were low cut. I was warned about the dangers of giving boys “the wrong idea” and how “putting them out there isn’t lady-like.” I wondered what it meant to give someone the wrong idea about the size of my breasts. Wrong idea how, exactly? Like they would think less of me because of the number sewed on to the inside of my bra? Of course, I found out incredibly fast because as it turns out fifth grade boys aren’t exactly the most subtle of creatures and I experienced everything they could come up with. Bra snapping, being at the pool and having one try to un-tie my top, lewd comments that I honestly didn’t even understand until I went home and asked my mom. She looked at me with her lips pressed into a thin line and said, “You’re developing into a woman, you have to be more careful now.”

And from the ripe age of 12, I felt dirty. Boobs are everywhere you look, used to sell everything from food to cars to alcohol and apparently that was just fine. But when it came to me, the “early bloomer,” I felt incredibly self conscious and unsure about what was OK to wear and what wasn’t. A V-neck wasn’t OK, certain round-topped collars weren’t OK, and a two-piece could only be worn if it came with a high-necked halter. I’d look in the mirror and feel like something was wrong with me. I didn’t realize I was being sexualized and it was absolutely destroying my confidence.

Since then my boob journey has been all over the place. For a while I was obsessed with them because with big breasts meant attention and even though I realize now how misplaced it was, there were quite a few years where I wanted it. When we’re told as young women to “cover ourselves up” because we can give boys the “wrong impression” we are essentially being told we’re sexual creatures, whether we like it or not, and that men will prey on us. Think about the weight of that statement. We accept men preying on women as an inevitability.

I was raised in a home with four sisters and no brothers so my experience with young men was what I encountered socially. I was always taught a zone defense. Go out in groups. Don’t walk to your car alone at night, ASK A MAN TO WALK WITH YOU. Don’t wear anything too revealing. Carry pepper spray. Hold your keys with the largest one between your first and second finger so that it can be used as a weapon if you get attacked. I can’t tell you how many times I ran to my car after getting out of work late, pulling my jacket around me and keeping my head down.

Then I had a little boy. And as the little boy has started to grow up, I have started to see our society through fresh eyes. I will not raise my son to tolerate a world where someone says the words “she got raped” instead of the words “someone raped her.” I don’t want him looking at a woman in an outfit she feels beautiful in and thinking that she’s “asking for it” because it shows off her body. I don’t want the word “slut” to ever cross his mind, let alone come out of his mouth. I will teach him that no matter how far something goes sexually she has the right to say no at any time and if that happens you have to stop immediately. I want him to know she can’t consent if she’s drunk, and the number of partners she’s had is none of your business. I want to raise a man who will not tolerate listening to other men use derogatory words when discussing women and who will intervene if he sees anyone trying to take advantage of a woman. I will raise a feminist.

And it starts now by teaching consent as soon as we can. My son doesn’t have to hug anyone, even family members, if he doesn’t want to. I knock on the bathroom and bedroom doors when it’s closed and he’s in there alone. I bring up sex occasionally and never laugh or make him feel like he’s being inappropriate when he asks a question. I try to use every teachable opportunity from seeing something on TV to walking past a lingerie store at the mall to point out how it’s OK to wear what you want, even if other people don’t like it. And it’s hard you guys. It’s hard to promote a healthy view of women when I don’t always have a healthy view of myself. But it’s a life long journey of discovering who we are as women and how we’re seen as objects in this world and doing everything in our power to change it.

Starting with our kids.

Amber Shoemaker

Amber is a full time mom, partner, daughter and sister. You can find her home with her boys or waiting for a doctor somewhere. She likes to read, write, and travel whenever she can.

As Another School Year Begins, Remember Mama: You Know Your Child Best

In: Kids, Motherhood
little girl holding a first day of kindergarten sign

Dear mom buying school supplies and feeling overwhelmed, Stop and pray. Ask God to help you envision each child as the young adult they can be. Write out your goals for that child . . . fair warning, there will likely be very little academic success in your goals. You may even have to go back and write those in. Take a deep breath. Keep this list of goals nearby. Go back and read them when the world is telling you your child doesn’t stack up somewhere. They aren’t reading as fast, they’re not “getting” math, their handwriting is wonky,...

Keep Reading

Every Time the Doctor Says, “It’s a Girl!” My Heart Grows a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sisters sitting on park bench

When I’m in the grocery store with my girls, I always get comments. My oldest girls are walking near the cart with my two-year-old running up and down the aisles. “Three little girls! Wow! God bless you, Momma!” Then they look in my cart and see the car seat holding my nine-month-old. “Is that a baby boy in there?” “No, another girl!” I reply. I get a variety of responses when people realize I have four girls under the age of seven. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” “Going to try for a boy?” “You are truly blessed—your girls are...

Keep Reading

Raising a Child with a Severe Food Allergy Affects the Whole Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy looking at ice cream cone

I saw something recently that said, “It’s National Ice Cream Day today!” and I cannot stop thinking about it. Now I know that sounds silly, but as a mom of a child with a severe dairy (and egg) allergy, I must admit at times it makes me sad (and more often jealous if I’m being completely honest) when I know my son is going to miss out on another fun or “normal” thing that other kids his age are experiencing, like actual ice cream and ice cream parties. If I continue to be honest, I get jealous when I see...

Keep Reading

So You’re Not the Fun Parent…So What?

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman reading book while two play in background

I’m not the fun parent in our household. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me but it still stung when my 8-year-old said to me rather bluntly the other night, “Daddy’s way more fun than you.” And while the rational part of my brain knows better than to take this kind of comment to heart, my super-sensitive, highly emotional primitive brain did the exact opposite and ran with it.  Daddy is the more fun parent. I’m the stricter, more rigid, and more uptight parent. I’m not the type of parent who, in the spur of the moment, will...

Keep Reading

Mine Is the Shy Kid

In: Kids
Girl sitting on side of playground

I’m the mom of one really shy child. But not your quintessential shy kid. I don’t mean she is “slow to warm up,” because my daughter might not warm up at all. And I don’t mean that she’s only shy until she gets to know you. There are friends and family members she still hides from or won’t talk to. What I mean is my almost-4-year-old struggles so much with her shyness that it’s hard for her to interact with most people. Especially her peers. I’ve Googled more than you could ever imagine about this topic: How shy is too...

Keep Reading

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Summer Goes by Too Fast

In: Kids
Boy lying on bench at park, color photo

To my oldest, As our summer vacation nears an end and we begin school supply shopping, I think about all the things we didn’t get to do together this summer. I instantly feel mom guilt. All the plans I had made? Only half of them done—if that. RELATED: Remember When Summer Lasted Forever? All the books I was going to read to you at bedtime? Only a couple short ones. All the creative art we would do? Maybe just one time. The fact is, I let time slip away from me. I was too focused and anxiety-ridden about work, my...

Keep Reading

Going on Family Vacation with Young Kids is Work That’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom with two young kids on airplane

Our routine will be a mess. Our toddler won’t sleep in a new environment. Our baby needs all of the gear. The flight could be a disaster. I went through a mental checklist of reasons why this kind of family vacation would be hard. It was a pretty convincing list if I’m being honest. I considered throwing a pity party dedicated to the concerns I shoulder as a mother. A few days later I felt a wave of conviction wash over me. I was dreading a trip that was meant to be a blessing to our family. Any kind of...

Keep Reading

I Want To Raise Good Sisters

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four girls sitting on a rock in the forest, color photo

My current dilemma: how to teach four little girls how to be good sisters when I have no idea what I’m doing? I was an only child growing up, and a tomboy at that. It was a lonely, quiet childhood. I remember wishing for a sister, but knowing that with my single mom, it wasn’t going to happen. So, the sister thing is a big mystery to me. I’ve noticed (admittedly with some envy) adult sisters together and their inside jokes, shared history, and language known only to each other. I’ve read about sisters in books. The relationships between the four...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Just Love You, I Like You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy standing at bridge, color photo

My growing child, my heart often aches when I look at how big you have gotten. You aren’t a baby anymore, you’re a whole kid. You are your own person, with your own thoughts and feelings. You have your own friendships, and interests.  Parts of me realize you don’t need me the same, but deep down I know you need me all the same. And I’m realizing, that in all of these changes, my love for you is also a like.  RELATED: Being Your Mom is the Greatest Honor of My Life Because now we can connect in a whole...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.