Monday, April 24, 2017

The Rest of My Days

I'm not sure why 5 feels like such a milestone, but it does. Five years you've been earth-side. I look at you and see, suddenly, not a little child, but a kid. A five-year-old. You are strong of will and spirit, which challenges me daily, but makes me oh so proud of you. You are sweetness and sharpness all mingled together. Your sense of humor and gift for the nuance of language astound me. You, as your Grandmama would say, miss nothing. I am still learning all the wonder that is you. I get tripped up often. I misread your subtleties, misstep while guiding, and mistake your lack of years for lack of understanding (despite my best efforts). But I am grateful to be your Mama. My gratitude begins and ends with you and your brother. And so it will for all the rest of my days. Happy birthday, Sprout.

Love,
~Mama

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Worry

I wanted to get the boys Easter baskets this year that would be ones we'd reuse year after year, like my Mama did for me and my brothers. The past 4 years I've just used whatever I could find: a wooden box, a plain "regular" basket, one year a sand bucket. But this year I was determined to find their "every year" basket for their Easter morning treasures. Then last week I saw online that a shop in-town was selling handmade fabric bins for Easter baskets. Proceeds from the sale would go to support a local mother who was battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Sold. I packed the boys into the car and we headed out.

As we were driving to buy the bins/baskets, I told BC where we were going.

"I need to go get your Easter baskets."
"Mama, you don't need to, you want to."

(Had he been paying attention, or what?)

"You're right. It is a want, not a need."
"Can't we just use our Halloween buckets?"
"We could. But the baskets I'm buying today have a special purpose."
"What special purpose?"
"Well, the money the shop raises from selling these baskets is going to help a woman, a mom, who is really sick. Because she's so sick, she can't work a job to make money. Also, she has a lot of medical expenses because she has to go to the doctor a lot."
"Oh."
"So I don't need to buy these particular Easter baskets, but doing so will help this mom."
"Mama, is my bank still in the car? Because I want to give my money to help that mom and her medical expenses."

While choking back tears I asked him if he was sure. "Really sure?" He was. He wanted to carry his bank in himself. He told the woman at the counter why he was there (I expanded/clarified). We got our baskets, she got a bowl. He dumped the contents of his bank into the bowl. I looked at him and could see his mixed emotions.

"Are you okay, buddy?"
"Yeah. It's just a a little hard seeing all my hard-earned money going away."

I waited.

"But I've decided. I'm doing it."

And that was that. My not-even-5-year-old donated his "hard-earned" money to a stranger, because he felt empathetically compelled.

So much of parenting is worry. Worrying about how best to bring up these small humans we are helping to shape. Worrying about whether or not someone like me should even be entrusted to shape a dog, let alone a human. Worrying about the thousands of little decisions that must be made on a daily basis. Worrying about the big decisions. Worrying about worrying too much, and worrying about not worrying enough. But in that moment I felt all that worry melt away. I knew that I must be doing something right. Not that the moment was about me. It wasn't. At all. It was about my wonderful, sweet, caring, big-hearted son, who in that moment worried about a woman he'd never even met.



Friday, January 20, 2017

Not While I'm Around

Nothing's gonna harm you
Not while I'm around
Nothing's gonna harm you
No sir, not while I'm around
Demons are prowling everywhere nowadays
I'll send them howling, I don't care, I've got ways
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not to worry, whistle I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile for a while
But in time
Nothing can harm you, not while I'm around
Being close and being clever
Ain't like being true
I don't need to, I would never 
Hide a thing from you
Like some
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not a worry, whistle I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile for awhile
But in time
Nothing can harm you
Not while I'm around
-S. Sondheim

It is next to impossible for me to fully understand, let alone explain, the depth of my sadness for this country right now. In what will surely go down as the strangest inauguration day in U.S. history, I am gut-wrenched at the thought of the term that is to follow. And the unsettling juxtaposition of the same week ending with this day that started on the day we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. cannot, for me, be understated. 

My oldest son and I had talked a lot about Dr. King and the importance of the third Monday in January recently. During those conversations I tried, deliberately, to keep the discussion relevant to today, instead of making it a "back in the day" topic. I was not always successful in doing so, however. Once, when I was attempting to explain again why some people don't believe in equality for all, my son asked me, "Mama, do we still have people like that?" I paused. "Yes," I said. "We just elected one of them president." Now, I didn't elect him president. A majority of voters didn't even elect him president. But I thought the electoral college was too off-topic and a bit much for my son at that moment. He is, after all, only four-and-a-half. 

I did not cast my vote for that man. Never. But I do have acquaintances and even family members who did. They cast a vote for a man who is an adversary to anyone who isn't a rich, white, male (I was going to make a list of those to whom he has shown to be an adversary to, but it's a long list). And that is over-stating it, because even if you are rich, white, and male, you still cannot be someone who disagrees with him. Anyone who disagrees with him is wrong, or stupid, or worse. And I know people who voted for him! And, yes, "your vote, your choice" and all of that. Except now I have to explain to my children why, in 2017 in The United States of America, we have a Commander in Chief who has been an outright asshole to, not just the marginalized, but anyone who doesn't agree with him. Like a toddler. Or a spoiled brat. Or a dictator.

I am at a loss. A loss for words, a loss for joy, a loss for hope. I so badly want to be one of those people who is rolling up her metaphorical sleeves to #nevernormalize and to fight like hell for the next two and four years (please, god, let's not even think of eight...). But I am at a loss. The only thing I can do is hold onto my children extra tight and fill them with all the love and security and hope and joy I am struggling to find for myself right now. I need them to know they are safe with me. They are my Reason. They are why I must, once my voice returns, speak of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Stonewall, and the NWSA, and the ADA, and BLM, and on and on. Because one day, when my son asks me if we still have people here in the Land of the Free who do not believe that all people are free, I want to be able to say, "Yes, but not for long."