How I discovered I am white

by renegademama

When I was 14 or so, I asked my grandmother why we didn’t have a “white club” at school. I don’t recall her response, but I do remember feeling particularly smug and vaguely angry that there was a “Latino” club and a “Chinese” club but not a “white” club.

Oh the unfairness! Oh the disparity! Why do we celebrate their heritage but not ours?

And I didn’t think about race again, at least not much, until I dated an African American man in college and a stranger whispered “nigger lover” in my ear one night as he walked by us in a grocery store. I was shocked. My boyfriend was less shocked.

I concluded the stranger was some strange exception of horrible racist creature. He was, after all, approximately 97 years old. (Well, 70, but he appeared 97 to my fresh young eyes.)

And then, a few months later, when my boyfriend’s roommate took me aside and asked why I have to “take a good black man who was in college,” when so many black men were incarcerated. I concluded she was crazy. And mean.

She hurt my feelings. Poor Janelle.

Beyond these few moments, and a couple others, I didn’t really think about race. Well, I thought about how people made arguments “about race” when clearly they were not. I mean why do they make race an issue? It’s not an issue. I never see it.

 

Oh yeah, I had America all figured out: If ya work hard, you get ahead. And if you don’t get ahead, it’s because you made bad decisions. And if you get arrested it’s because you’re breaking the law, and people who break the law are more likely to be black. Obviously. That’s why they’re always getting arrested. (How’s that for some cyclic logic?)

I knew this to be true because:

  1. America was awful to black people but that was fixed during the Civil Rights movement;
  2. Therefore, we are all on equal footing now and if you don’t succeed it’s because you aren’t trying.

I learned it in school. It was fact. School teaches the truth.

And then, graduate school, and Professor Lee.

Oh, shit.

“Not all white people are white supremacists, but all white people benefit from white supremacy.”

WHAT THE WHAT?

She made us repeat it like a mantra. At least 3 times. I read Tim Wise’s White Like Me (I have mixed feelings about him now, but I digress) and bell hooks and David Roediger’s Wages of Whiteness and learned how our economic systems benefit from racism and we read about the history of American immigration laws (have you ever read them?) and colonialism in the Philippines and elsewhere (yes, America has colonies but we call them “territories”), and we read about redlining and white flight (ever wonder how black people ended up in urban centers?), and we read some DuBois and Omi & Winant and literature by people of color and all of the sudden I realized I had been fucking lied to.

 

I understood America through white eyes. I understood the world through the mainstream, polished glasses of a nice clean history of “we used to be bad now we’re not the end.”

Go team.

I discovered I was white.

“Not all white people are white supremacists, but all white people benefit from white supremacy.”

She wanted us to see that as individuals, not all white people are bigoted. But she also wanted us to see that every white person – whether they are bigoted or not – benefits from the racially structured hierarchies in America. They benefit from racism.

Yes. Even me. Even though I am not “racist.”

How? And she explained whiteness. She explained that “white” is the standard. White is the background against which difference is measured.

In other words, it’s “white” until further notice. It’s “white” until proven otherwise. It’s “white” or it’s the “other,” and it has nothing to do with actual numbers, percentages of “minority” population. It has to do with power. It has to do with the culture of power. What do I mean? If a comedy film features a white family, it’s a comedy. If it features a black family, it’s a black comedy.

Think about it.

White is the standard. And I’m white. Therefore, I am standard, and that benefits me.

When I walk into a room, I don’t fear that I’m representing my whole race. I have never acted badly then thought to myself “Oh shit, I sure hope they don’t hate all white people now.”

Or, in other words, even though pretty much every Columbine-type-school-kid-murderer is white, I’ve never developed a distrust for white, socially awkward high school kids.

A few do not represent the whole.

 

“Privilege is passed on through history.”

Whatever. I grew up POOR!

But then I thought about how, in the late 1940s, my grandmother was the first woman editor of the University of Washington’s newspaper. After she graduated, she and my grandpa bought and ran small newspapers in northern California. The family business they built employed my family members for 40+ years.

In the late 1940s, black people were not allowed to sit in the front of the bus.

How can I deny that my grandparents’ access to education and economic success did not materially affect me in a positive way, directly, through my father? I thought about the loans my parents were able to take with financial backing from my grandparents, and how that benefitted me. My life. My quality of life. The neighborhoods we lived in. The schools we attended. My cultural knowledge.

 

“Why don’t we have ‘White History Month?’”

Because White History Month is every month other than February, asshole.

Oh, shit indeed.

 

“The culture of power determines which version of history is told and retold.”  

Prior to the Women’s Rights Movement, women were stuck in the home while men went to work and supported them. But then women were liberated and able to get jobs working outside the home.

Right?

WRONG.

White, middle to upper class women were “stuck in the home.” Women of color have ALWAYS “worked out of the home.” In fact, women of color were probably working in the homes of the white women about which our history is written.

So one of the most oft-repeated, trusted narratives about American history erases the history of women of color. It is dead fucking wrong. It isn’t even kind of right. They are erased. Non-existent. Unseen.

They are Chapter 10. They are a chapter that ends with “but then Martin Luther King, Jr., and all is well.”

They are Chapter 10. I am chapters 1 through forever, and every day I cash in on that fact, whether or not I support the systems making that happen for me.

 

I realized the reason I had never thought about race was because I was of the privileged one, because I didn’t have to, NOT BECAUSE RACIAL DISPARITY DIDN’T EXIST. I didn’t have to think about race because I was having a fundamentally different life experience than people of color. But I could ignore them, because of my privilege.

I was able to hang out in meltin-pot, “post-racial” land because the structures of this society allow (and encourage) me to “not see race” while continually feeding me narratives about “equality,” “multiculturalism,” “color-blindness” and “ghetto urban lifestyles.”

I spent a lot of time in graduate school in the library, writing at a computer. Like, hours. Whole days. When I had to pee, I would ask the person sitting next to me to watch my stuff so I didn’t have to pack it all up and carry it down the hall to the bathroom. I did it a 100 times.

Once I looked over at the person next to me and my first thought was “Oh you can’t ask him. He’ll steal your stuff.

He was a young black man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.

I was sickened at myself. I was horrified at my response. There was absolutely nothing different about him from the 100 other people I didn’t hesitate to ask, except he was black.

I realized that not only do I benefit historically and presently, every day, from the color of my skin, I have also internalized cultural narratives regarding blacks and whites that manifest whether or not I support them.

“Hey, would you mind watching my stuff for a minute?”

 

But what now?

Does it mean my grandmother’s accomplishments are less badass? Nope. Does it mean I do not “deserve” success? Nope. Does it mean that I am a bad person? Nope.

It means that we live in a highly racialized society rooted in a history of discrimination and that we have a long way to go. It means that watching “The Help” and feeling bad is not enough. Sentimentality is not action. It means that I have had an advantage over people of color. Yes, always. Yes, no matter what. Because even if you’re poor and white you can join the culture of power by learning the walk and talk. But you can’t change your skin color.

From the day I was first introduced to this “other story,” I couldn’t get enough. Not because I’m some sort of saint or conspiracy theorist, but because I was curious. I was interested out of a sense of shared humanity. And I was fucking angry that I had been swindled. I wanted the truth. Or, I wanted a fuller picture. I wanted more sides.

That, my friends, is pathetic in its privilege.

I learned in graduate school what every person of color knows through life experience. I learned in graduate school that we weren’t “fixed” during the Civil Rights movement.

But when this information was presented to me I felt a sense of relief, because I think deep down I always knew something was terribly wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

 

I don’t understand the white rage I keep reading on the internet.

Just another dead thug.

He got what he deserved.

Run over the protestors. They’re making me late for work.

STOP PLAYING THE “RACE CARD.”  

I don’t understand it. What’s at stake, people? What’s at stake in accepting that racism exists? Or even entertaining the thought? Are people really so stupid they can’t fathom that other people might be having a different experience than they are? Is it really that hard to comprehend that something can exist EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T PERSONALLY SEE IT?

(Although you’ll see your privilege if you’re willing to examine your life honestly.)

Why the hell are people so unwilling to listen?

 

Let’s think about this for a moment. A whole community of people are saying this exists. Data shows racial disparities in economic, education, justice, and healthcare systems. Basically, ALL OVER THE PLACE. Unarmed black boys and men are killed without recourse. Repeatedly. The comment sections of these crimes are riddled with assholes shouting “Good. One less loser.”

Still people claim “Racism doesn’t exist.” But here’s the thing: The only way you can discount the words, lives, efforts and voices of hundreds of thousands of people is THROUGH THE RACISM YOU CLAIM DOESN’T EXIST.

You can only ignore them if they’re aren’t worth hearing.

You can only ignore them if they’re liars. If they’re just looking for a handout.

If they’re not human like you.

You can only ignore them by using the very narratives you claim aren’t happening.

And let’s be honest, we can only ignore them because it’s easy, because we’ll never have to walk a day in their shoes, and it’s just so much more pleasant to turn away, look away, focus back on our lives.

But the sand is getting skimpy and our heads are showing. At this point, if we’re not part of the solution we’re part of the problem.

I’m using my voice to talk to you. I’m using my voice to talk to my kids. But it isn’t enough. We’re looking for places to volunteer. I’m looking for actions I can take.

We’re at a crossroads. This cannot go on. We’re crushed under the weight of hatred, history, silence, violence, bullshit media and the insidious defense of systematic unequal distribution of resources, and at some point, none of us will be able to breathe.

 

It feels small and pathetic to be one person in this mess. I feel stupid and vulnerable and slightly insane to be writing this here, now. But fuck my feelings. Fuck feeling uncomfortable. Fuck the nonsense that keeps us quiet and content and cozy in our little post-racial dreamland.

They can’t breathe, and I’m breathing just fine.

And that is precisely the problem.

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To my displaced toddler, who I failed for a minute

by renegademama

Before the baby came, I was sure I would be okay in making sure you stayed feeling special and important, and I was sure you would be okay, because you’ve always been okay. You’re just kind of an “okay” type of kid. Independent. Doin’ alright.

When you were 3 months old it became clear to me that you didn’t want to be touched while you slept. I bought a cosleeper for the first time, and then a crib, just when I was sure I would never need a crib with any kid of mine (since the first two were used as toy holders). You stretched your arms out and settled in and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. I like to sleep without being touched, too, kid. I get it.

And then Arlo came and you were almost 4. You seemed okay. You seemed to like him alright, though occasionally you bopped him on the head or gave him a healthy nibble, like any toddler questioning the newcomer. When people asked how you were doing with the baby we said you “loved him aggressively.” Ava said “She hugs with great fervor.” That kid’s funny.

I knew it would pass. It always does. But it didn’t, and things got weird.

 

When he was 3 and 4 or 5 months old I realized I could barely handle your presence anymore. Everything I said, “No!” Everything, defiance. Everything, rage. Everything, tears, tantrums.

“Get dressed, Georgia, for school.”

No.

I had to ask once, twice, three times. I try all the tactics in the books. You simply do not move. You ignore my voice completely. When you finally go, you’re dragging your feet, literally. You’re walking sideways. You’re walking backwards and glaring at me, as slowly as you can possibly move. I realize Arlo is going to grow up to become a 4-year-old and I consider sailing myself off the Golden Gate.

I’m trying to shower, nurse the baby, get ready for the day. Make lunches. I’m so tired. I need you to just get dressed. When I get into your room 10 minutes later you are not dressed. You’re playing with your toys. 15 minutes of nonsense and you are STILL NOT DRESSED. 30 minutes. 45. One hour.

Endless. Relentless. Every thing I say to you, you argue. You fight. You refuse.

I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to be near you. Sometimes I yell at you and then I wonder what kind of fucking parent yells at a 4-year-old. I tell people you are so difficult. I tell people I don’t know what’s gotten into you.

I’m not an idiot. I know you’ve been displaced, but I cuddle you when I can and work at your school and I try, kid, I try. I’m so tired. I have nothing else. And Jesus fucking Christ you make yourself so difficult.

My ego butts up against yours. I’m in a power struggle with a damn toddler. I want to win. When did I become this pathetic? I feel like a zombie. I get up and do it again.

I look at you one day and realize I haven’t felt much affection for you in at least a week. You have become a chore. You have become a kid that bothers me, makes my life difficult. The feeling repulses me.

 

And I miss you terribly. I see your face and hear your little voice and I miss my little pal. I realize it’s me. I realize you missIMG_7354 me. I realize you are my little toddling friend and every time we’re together there’s a baby now, and one day when Ava came home from school you asked “Will you play with me, Ava?” and she said “Yes” and you were overjoyed and I heard you playing and being happy and central to your big sister’s life. But then I put the baby in there with you two so I could get some things done, and I heard Ava immediately ignoring you to play with the baby, dote on the baby.

I saw. I saw it all. I felt your pain right then. I felt your little crushed eyes and heart as each celebrated coo fell out of his mouth. And every word of attention and praise to him, from the sister who used to pour it onto you.

I saw, and I knew. I decided you would be the center of it for me, now, for as long as it took. The baby gets what he needs. He’s in damn near constant physical contact. Plus we have 2am.

I looked at you one day and for some reason called you “Cricket.” I called you Cricket and it was my special name for you. You laughed and laughed. You said “Am I your cricket?”

You’re my cricket.

I call you to me now 5, 6 8 times a day. Fuck the laundry, the dishes. I pass off the baby to others to hold you. “Come here, Cricket. Give me cuddles. Sit on my lap.” We play games we’ve always played. I hold your head against my chest. I stroke your face and kiss your forehead over and over. I tell you stories from when you were a baby, a toddler. We talk and laugh and I say “I love you so big.” Because that’s what you used to say. “You are my best.” You said that too.

As soon as the affection pours I can’t stop. I want to inhale you the way I inhale my baby. It feels good to find you again. I don’t care if this “works,” I only want you to know, know what you are to me.

I read you a pile or two of books. I never miss our “morning snuggles.” For the first couple months I did it for a minute out of obligation, because I felt guilty, because the exhaustion pounded my head and face and eyes and I just could not. Well I thought I could not. It turns out that the only thing I “can not” is lose you. I will not cut it short. I hold you there as long as you want to stay.

I hold you here as long as you want to stay.

I wanted to blame you. I wanted to blame you for being just wild or “bad” and I played that for awhile but when it didn’t work (at all) I had to look elsewhere. I had to look within. I was tired and miserable and saw you as just one more thing to do, to deal with, and you knew it, because kids know these things. I didn’t want it to be on me. I didn’t want to see that I was fucking up.

 

They say it isn’t your mistakes that will kill you. It’s justifying them.

I failed you for a minute there. A couple months. I imagine I’ll do it again. I look for ways to stop failing my kids. Get up, fail again. Get up.

I won’t apologize. Fuck apologies. Change.

Get up. Morning snuggles. First.

Fail again.

Change.

Yesterday I realized you’re usually pretty happy now to do the things I ask. You drew a picture of me, presented it proudly. You said “It’s not done,” and went back to the table. You added Arlo. Neither of us had necks.

“This is you and Arlo!” You said it with a grin. A big red human-like figure with a small red one.

You say “please” again rather than demands things at random. You don’t throw tantrums after making insane requests nobody can fill (“I want a DONUT FOR BREAKFAST!!!”). You listen again, mostly. You do what needs to be done, pretty much. You want to help. You’re still pretty crazy, but you’re Georgie, and you’re 4. But you aren’t out of control and we aren’t lost anymore.

You said “Arlo can be your cricket too.”

I said no way. You said yes. Insisted. I said I’d think about it.

 

It wasn’t what you said. It wasn’t the way you rested your head against my chest. It was the way you ran away, looked back, and grinned. It was the way you knew I was there. It was the way you were unconcerned. Your lack of worry. The abandon and joy in your eyes.

It was the way you ran away that I knew you were back.

I yelled “I love you Georgia!” Just in case.

You told me to call you cricket.

I said okay, and smiled down at the nursing baby.

 

 

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You know what else I don’t do? Listen to podcasts that suck.

Thankfully, some don’t. Like Laurel and Jenny’s “F this Playdate,” which is based on their love of humor and wit and wicked smart banter on topics like “sex, frustrations with being married so young and not sleeping around, existential dread and euphoria, post-partum depression, deep crazy love for children, menstruation cycle ups and downs, post birth vaginas, domestic boredom, being defined by your man, the drudgery of child rearing, the work of marriage, the coziness of marriage, not doing what we don’t wanna do, and any damn thing we want to talk about.”

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Listen. Love. Now.

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54 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | December 1, 2014

Twelve Easy Steps to Doing Creative Work while Parenting

by renegademama

So I’m doing the National Novel Writing Month thing, only I’m not writing a novel. I’m writing creative non-fiction, what I would call sort of a fusion between Ann Lamott and David Sedaris, only less good than that sounds. Since November 1 I’ve written 27,887 words, which is about 110 pages. And I have written a few blog posts. Basically I’ve been a writin’ fool. Emphasis on the fool.

On October 1 and 6 months ago and last year I would have told you there was no way I could possibly write 1,700 words a day on a book. There was simply not time. There was absolutely not one single spare moment in my day. And that was true.

I have 4 kids from tween to 5 months. My husband works 7 days a week these days. I already maintain a blog. I’m trying to build an online writing/blogging class (for you guys. what? Yes.).

No time. No sleep. No fucking way.

But then I read a quote by somebody that basically said that the writer will write when the fear of doing nothing outweighs the fear of writing complete crap. And suddenly, on October 30, I realized I was there. Fueled in part by the reality that teaching community college next semester would require me to work really freaking hard for below minimum wage (when you factor in childcare costs), and we can’t go on like this, with my husband working 7 days a week, I suddenly saw through my own bullshit.

It’s not that I didn’t have enough hours in the day to write. It’s that I chose to use my time in ways that negated the possibility of writing a book.

All I had to do is lower my fucking standards, A LOT. Like to the ground. I basically had to just chop them off at the knees and move on.

No biggee.

So for those of you “creative” moms who have a hobby or talent you’re just not using because there’s no time, I’ve created a list of Twelve Easy Steps to Doing Creative Work while Parenting. (I’ve written it about writing but I imagine it applies to most art.)

  1. Yeah, you know that nap time that lasts 1.5 hours (maximum), during wthich time you’re expected to accomplish Every Fucking Thing Since the Beginnning of Man? Yeah, you just get to write now during that time. That’s all. Just write.
  2. Forget the laundry. The hallway. The toys in the living room and the piles on the couch. Forget it all. Step over it. Step on it. Sit on it, near it, in it to get to your computer to write. Neglect everything and do the thing.
  3. Put the toddler in front of TV. Feel guily. Feel super fucking guilty but do it anyway becaue only the tenacity of A RABID IRRATIONAL BULLDOG WILL GET YOU THROUGH THIS.
  4. Learn to write absolute drivel. Silence the voices telling you it’s absolute drivel by writing anyway. Always write anyway. Do not read what you’ve written already because you’ll realize not only should you stop writing because you suck and shouldn’t bother, you might want to just off yourself too, because you’re that bad. LEARN TO LOVE THE DRIVEL. Do not off yourself.
  5. Cry on days when the toddler is in preschool for 2.5 hours and the baby decides not to take his only reliable morning nap that day because you realize you’ll probably have to do your writing at 10pm after everybody’s asleep, turning you into a miserable zombie yet another day.
  6. On that happy note, learn to write even though your eyes keep getting blurry. Learn to write when you’re so tired your cheekbones hurt (yeah, it’s a thing apparently. Who knew?).
  7. Fuck homecooked meals.
  8. Consider bathing optional.
  9. Accept help always.
  10. Drink so much coffee you wonder how your blood hasn’t bubbled out of your veins. Crash around 2pm but go pick up your kids anyway because you can’t just leave them there.
  11. Get okay with not brushing your toddlers hair and letting her wear pajamas all day, in and out of the house. While eating mac & cheese. And yogurt, for the 2nd meal in a row. (I said lower your motherfucking standards and I MEAN IT.)
  12. Write anyway write instead write because of write when you can’t write. Write when you have nothing to say when you can’t form a sentence when it’s pretty much all adjectives and adverbs and shit.

Write the shit, because it’s better than writing nothing, and if nothing else, you’ll learn that you can do it. You just have to make it insansely important and get crazy and not complain about it because you’re the one who chose to have the kids, dumbass. Now deal with it.

Or don’t deal with it, but write paint sew garden sing compose sculpt anyway.

We may not have a room of our own, but we’ve got a tiny spot on the motherfucking couch, and it’s calling our name.

my office. it's super excellent feng shui.

my office. it’s super excellent feng shui.

 

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The amazing Brene Brown says about Marianne Elliott:

“…She’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever experienced. If you want to do something extraordinary for yourself, I can’t think of a better teacher!”

Now THAT is a freaking endorsement.

Marianne Elliott is offering “Zen Peacekeepers Guide to the Holidays,” 30 Daily Lessons to help you keep peace with yourself and your loved ones. In her words:

You want to enjoy your families over the holidays, but you end up feeling ‘not quite at home’ with the people who you are supposed to be closest to.

You want to lay the table beautifully, buy the fancy wine, give your children ethical, sustainable gifts, and do it all with your hairZen Holidays brushed and your lipstick on straight. But you end up giving into pleas for the new Barbie, don’t even know which is the fancy wine, and never seem to leave enough time to brush your hair before the guests arrive.

You want to feel generous, maybe even a little bit indulgent, but you end up feeling financially squeezed, maybe even a little bit scared.

This mix of high expectations, financial pressure and family tension puts even the easiest of our relationships under strain. We start wishing the holidays would just be over and done with. And they haven’t even begun yet.

We don’t do much for ourselves sometimes, particularly during times when we really, really should.

Like now. When we’re trying to get through the damn holidays, and maybe even enjoy ourselves. Make memories that hopefully aren’t just all “What the hell is all this so stressful and why are my kids so annoying and why can’t I relax and when is Uncle Bobby going to stop drinking?”

Let Marianne help. She knows what she’s doing (somebody better!). Begin next week.

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To my daughter, who’s almost 13

by renegademama

You won’t believe me. You can’t. You show up to junior high and see two sets of humans: Those in and those out. Damn what’s up with those girls, right? How do they just know how to dress and do their hair and flip it just right and smile and talk and giggle? You look at them and are simultaneously star-struck and disgusted. You see through it. You know there’s more. But it’s alluring, fascinating. It seems real and fun. When nobody’s around you wonder if there’s something wrong with you, how come you can’t be one of them.

When I was in 7th grade I had acne. It started in 6th grade. The kids were horrible. They stood around and called me “pizza face” and asked what was wrong with my skin. When I got home I didn’t tell my mom or anybody else because I was ashamed. I thought there was something wrong with me.

I used to lie there and wonder what it would be like to be a CHEERLEADER. Ooooooooo.

I was too out of touch to even know I could sit in a classroom at lunch instead of around them. The boys terrified me. The girls intimidated me. If my one best friend wasn’t at school I would walk around while I ate so people would think I had somewhere to go and not notice I was terrified and lonely and desperately uncomfortable. I scribbled it all in my journal day after day, read Steinbeck and listened to the Grateful Dead and wondered how the hell to wear my mom’s blue eye shadow. (You’re way better off than me, love.)

Things got better in high school, sort of, but junior high? Junior high is bullshit.

I’m still saying the wrong thing and I have a messed-up sense of humor and see normal stuff in odd ways, and I still have no idea how to dress, and YEP I’m a misfit and weirdo and wonder sometimes if I’m alone in all this and you know what? This is precisely what makes me a writer (well, that and that I write).

I’ve always seen the world a little differently. It made me a freak then. It makes me a freak now, BUT IT GIVES ME SOMETHING TO SAY.

And it will give you something to say, too.

It’s all been done. It’s all been said. It’s all been painted and drawn and formed. So be delighted, be freaking overjoyed, that you’re a little off, for godddmanit you might paint or draw or write or form in a tiny new way.

Life is about that, my friend. My daughter. My beautiful child. That’s it. Hit the world a little new. Hit it a little fresh.

Watch the wonder unfold.

You got this.

 

Right now it’s all about fitting in. For the rest of your life it will be about setting yourself apart.

You see, as soon as you get out of junior high and high school it’s the misfits doing cool things, the brains running the show, the jacked-up dorks in the Museum of Modern Art, writing the music and the books, the nerds making the money and the movies and the plans for the new NASA project. Or cooking food people pay bazillions for. Or planting gardens in the middle of town. It’s the people with heart and enthusiasm, the ones ridiculed for caring, for seeing more deeply, for emailing the autistic child and being her friend.

Because it’s creativity. It’s individuality. It’s finding yourself unwilling to act like a fool, to violate who and what you are, to “fit in” with a bunch of kids you don’t actually like. It’s the ability to see through all that, to seek real friendships and real humor and conversations. It’s an interest in life, in the teachers and what they have to offer, in learning. It’s curiosity. It’s talent. It’s reading and ideas and imagination (maybe even a little too long. I played with dolls until 7th grade. DON’T TELL ANYONE.)

I’m not saying you’re better than them. You’re not. Well you’re probably better than some of them. I’m not saying you’ll be rich or go further than them. Some will grow up and realize they were fools in junior high and high school. Others will become Uncle Rico.

All I’m saying is this: The things that will make you an excellent human are not necessarily supported, appreciated or developed in junior high and high school, so don’t let this nonsense suck your soul. Your body image. Your heart. Your strength and sense of humor and love for Greek and Roman mythology that already has your dad and I lost.

Stay weird. Keep reading.

Know it’s bullshit and feel my love.

Say something new.

We’re listening.

 

You, at five years old.

You, at five years old.

 

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36 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | November 12, 2014

I don’t want more kids, but I’ll never be done

by renegademama

There’s something wrong with me. I’ve suspected it before but now I know, fully.

I’m okay with it. I think. I mean there’s not much I can do, really, is there?

My husband, right now, as we speak, is getting a vasectomy. I cleared it with him before announcing this on the internet.

If you’re new here, we have 4 kids. Ava, 12. Rocket (Charles), 9. Georgia, 4 and Arlo, 5 months.

We quite clearly don’t need any more children.

We aren’t like rollin in the dinero wondering which private school we should send our kids to (because none of them quite live up to our expectations).

There is a 5 x 4 foot pile of laundry in the “laundry room” (garage). I haven’t seen the floor of our car in approximately 4 months. It smells vaguely of apples and mold.

But most importantly, every day, at least once, I throw my hands up toward the heavens and cry out “MY GOD WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF THEM?”

More often, I whisper under my breath “God damnit I’m never having any more kids.” And I mean it, man. I MEAN IT.

Occasionally this sentiment takes new and exciting forms such as “What the fuck were we thinking?” or “Is this really as good as it gets?”

My 4-year-old actually literally frightens me. All of us, really. She comes barreling at us from across the room with this wild look in her eye and every single time I’m sure she’s going to headbutt my groin. I sort of bend over and cover the area and hope for the best. Sometimes, on the way to school, when she sees the donut shop, she demands a donut and when I say “no,” she whines for 10 solid minutes. Then she gets mad and takes the toy from the baby in the carseat as a form of displaced retaliation, so now the baby who was finally not crying is now doing that hold-the-breath-then-squeal thing. Chances are he won’t stop. While he cries and she whines about motherfucking pastries, my 9-year-old makes strange popping sounds and asks about something I can’t follow while my 12-year-old wants to tell me about the new project in history class, which I totally want to hear about, but can’t, because I haven’t slept more than 4 hours/night in the past week and I just realized I forgot Rocket’s IEP paperwork AGAINNNNNNNNNN and the noise the noise the NOISE.

In other words, I have my fucking hands full.

That’s clear, folks. Logically, there should never ever be another baby added to this mix and every single fucking day I am reminded of this fact in seemingly endless forms.

And yet, right now, my husband is getting a vasectomy and all I can think is “Wait. It’s over?”

It can’t be over. I’m not ready for it to be over. I’m 35! I have 5 more years in me! WHAT IF I WANT FIVE????

 

“Janelle, we barely want 4.”

Mac is right.

On every cognitive level of my brain I know 100% that we are done. But the problem is I just can’t seem to GET DONE. To FEEL DONE. To really deeply in my bones BE DONE.

I realize there are people out there who “just know” when a baby is their last and others who say “one and done” and they’re all stable and secure and confident in that decision, or at least they pretend to be. They seem so grown-up and decided, you know, like “This is right and I am unwavering and there is no gray area for me.”

There is always, always, a gray area for me. I am never sure of any damn thing. It all feels a little right and a little wrong. I kind of do things and see what happens. Not because I’m trying to live on the edge. Rather, I can’t seem to do it differently. I make decisions because they seem vaguely better than the other ones.

IMG_1825Look, I’m not recommending this as a life philosophy. I’m merely telling you what’s up.

I don’t want any more children. I can’t stand the thought of not having any more children.

I told you. Something’s wrong with me.

Please don’t give me family planning advice. I think we can all agree (based on my past experience) that I won’t use it. I just want to talk about the side of me that will never, ever be done. The side that will never be done with the moment your baby is placed in your arms and you feel that warm body and lock eyes with this tiny being you’ve known forever but just met. The smell, the tiny suits and sleeping gowns and tufts of hair. The anticipation. The moment of birth.

And then, a little bigger,  the fists.

The smiles and coos and laughter.

I will never be done with that.

I still have it with Arlo. I won’t have it for long.

I know this because I watched it leave me in the dust with three other children.

The Last Baby.

 

The end of him as a newborn is the end of me with newborns. He’s through that now. He rolls onto his belly, pulls his legs up, pushes up with his arms. Soon he’ll crawl. I don’t need to go through this list, you know it already.

And I’ll never be “okay” with it. I’ll never be done.

It’s the end. But I’ll never be done having kids.

I don’t need to convince myself otherwise. It’s alright I guess to hover in this nonsense, wanting it to end but never, ever wanting it to end, dying for the day I get my “life back” and wondering if I may die the day I get my life back, encouraging the little fella to do whatever new thing he’s trying, then turning around and feeling a sting that he succeeded.

I’ll never be done with you, kids. You’ll go, and I’ll let go, but I’ll never be done. These are the days I wish would end but beg never to end. The clock is ticking through my series of “lasts.” It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t need to.

He sat up the other day on his own, as they do.

It felt to me like he did it too soon, but I cheered him on anyway and laughed with the other kids, feeling the firsts and the lasts roll on beneath me, carrying us relentlessly right on through, toward the only end that will never quite come, the finish that will never find me.

 

IMG_6838

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