But now I also ask myself, "What kind of kids do I want to raise?" And then I ponder how exactly I make that happen.
And I will be honest: It has absolutely nothing to do with how long I breastfed them. Or didn’t. How I got them to go to sleep.
Or didn’t. It’s hard to hear that if you’re in the weeds. I’ve been there four times. I know. And the sleep and boobs (or lack thereof) seem so monumental.
And for you, for now, they might be. That’s okay. But then it becomes about more. And thank goodness for that.
It is absolutely impossible to read even a small section of The Talk: NonBlack Version, without declaring it racist. Socially there is very rarely difficulty calling out the extreme overt examples of racism, in large part because racism has come to mean to many: A noose, a burning cross, brilliant White sheets and in some cases the N word [note: I say some cases, as there are plenty of White people who actively believe that they are oppressed, because of an inability to use that word without facing some form of social censure]. What gets ignored is the systemic ways in which racism works and the everyday acts of covert racism that negatively impact the lives of people of color.
I am the mom who got no more creative than opening the cheap, dollar-store version of the PAAS egg coloring kit, mixing the colors and letting the kids go at it.
I am the mom whose kid is still wearing those same arm tattoos five days after the above photo was taken, because I haven’t bothered to scrub them off.
But when I look at photos of my kids involved in my not-so-creative, not-so-crafty, not-so-prompt, not-so-Pinterest-worthy versions of holiday activities…I see faces full of determination and creativity and excitement and focus and joy.
I have no concrete idea how Christianity will wrestle free of its current crisis, of its distractions and temptations, and above all its enmeshment with the things of this world. But I do know it won’t happen by even more furious denunciations of others, by focusing on politics rather than prayer, by concerning ourselves with the sex lives and heretical thoughts of others rather than with the constant struggle to liberate ourselves from what keeps us from God. What Jefferson saw in Jesus of Nazareth was utterly compatible with reason and with the future; what Saint Francis trusted in was the simple, terrifying love of God for Creation itself. That never ends.
Many of us know the stigma against going home early all too well, especially in competitive work environments in which many judge work ethic by the number of hours spent in the office. There should never be any shame associated with heading home before 6 p.m. to eat dinner with one’s children and spouse, and Sandberg is sending a much-needed message to parents everywhere that it’s OK to leave work before dark for family time, especially since research has shown that children are healthier, happier and better performing students when they eat with their families.
I tried, as they say, to pray the gay away. I thought surely that a loving God would remove this horrible affliction from my heart. I was a Mennonite kid, but I slunk around the parking lots and grounds of Catholic churches, attempting to screw up the courage to enter a confession box. I had sins I could speak to no one, and I felt bereft of God’s presence. I needed an intermediary. I wanted redemption. I needed to know that I was not condemned.
Adoption has given us love. A new person to be loved by. A new person to love. But sometimes – some weeks, a lot of times – we love only because Jesus tells us to. We tolerate, hold our tongue, going through the motions of love that missing feelings once moved us through effortlessly. We feel disrespected, detached, unappreciated, frustrated, sad, disjointed, helpless, inadequate, angry, lonely, impatient…and so guilty for feeling any of this at all.
That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.
I, like Katherine, was also on “mood fluctuation patrol” when my kids were little. A whiff of a dip and I swooped in, suggesting alternatives. Granted, my kid had some serious mood issues at the time. But it’s worth asking why I’m surprised that, until recently, he expected me to provide the answer to his frequent cries of “I’m bored”?
The anxiety about Obama’s success has led to many reactions, most of them not physical but still emotionally violent. I sense a widespread anger with the continued discussion of race, as if Obama’s election should have ended the conversation forever, so why are you still talking about it? I see anger toward those who bring it up in media, as if talking about racism is the problem as opposed to racism being the problem. I hear people attempt to silence those of us who discuss these issues by flinging meaningless neologisms like “race pimp,” “race baiter,” and “raceaholic,” phrases that are meant to intimidate and shame and kill necessary conversation. But a horrifying series of hate crime killings requires us to talk, as does the linguistic violence.
There’s something deeper going on in family life than can ever be expressed on a social network. Whatever it is we feel we are lacking, can we collectively decide–as deliberate mothers–that we are not going to sit around feeling discouraged about all the things we’re not?