Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

A Little Citizen Goes to Washington

Friday, January 27th, 2017

IMG_3647One week ago as Donald Trump took the oath of office, I boarded a plane for DC with my six-year-old daughter, Lucette.

In the days after November 8th when the first rumors of a Women’s March on Washington began to surface, I told my husband Bruce, “I’m going. And I want to take Lu with me.”

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why. Not so much why I myself would want to go, to put on a pink pussy hat, to march with sign held high down the streets of our capitol—I knew I needed to do something drastic, to get up off the couch, out of my safe San Francisco bubble and make my voice heard. But why, as my Dad asked me a few weeks ago, why would I “put a child in that sort of situation.”

Because, I said. Because she is a Little Citizen. Because she will one day be a woman, and the things that are happening in our country today will directly impact her life. Because I want her to know that her mom stood up, not only for her, but all women and girls—of all colors, creeds and concerns. Because someday I want her to be able to say, “I was there, too.” Because I want her to know that she can say No. That it is very American to resist. That protest is patriotic, too. That this is what democracy looks like. That she has power. That her voice matters, and so she should stand up and shout.

She’s only six, but she gets it—she gets the heart of why we were there. She spent hours crafting her very own march sign that on one side said, “It is not OK to be mean” and on the other, “I can teach you to be a better person, and you can be a kind person.”IMG_3750

“Will Donald Trump be there, Mom?” she asked me, “will he see my sign? Because I wrote it so he knows that he can be a kind person. He should be a kind person. It’s dumb to be mean to me just because I’m a girl.”

The metro to L’Enfant Plaza was incredibly crowded—Lu’s Auntie Kathy handed her an iphone playing My Little Pony to distract her from the absolute crush that was honestly starting to freak her out.

But when we hit the streets, when people straightened their pussy ears and lifted their poster board signs and began to chant, “Love trumps hate! Love trumps hate!” I watched Lu’s eyes get wide with wonder. “Mom,” she whispered, “there are so many people here! Are they all here to march with us?”

And when I told her “Yes, we are all marching together today,” and I saw the white dome of Capitol Hill just blocks away, surrounded by a sea of pink hats, I started crying. Not sad tears, I had to explain to her—proud tears. I was so fiercely proud to be there.

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For most of the day, our “march” was more like a shuffle. But I have never been crushed in a crowd of kinder, more polite people. There was no pushing. There was no arguing. Other women helped me lift Lucette up to my shoulders so she could see (and breathe). Other moms gave me the wink and nod as they shouldered their own kids.

I honestly don’t know how much of that day Lu will remember. It was inspiring and empowering, yes, but it was also emotionally draining and difficult—and I’m just speaking for myself as an adult! Hanging around in a crowd of half a million people wasn’t all fun and games for a 6-year-old either (although I did find her a tree to climb and an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles).

I think she’ll remember the hats, and the signs, especially the ones that she thought were hilarious. I think she’ll remember that there were more people there than she’s ever seen in her life, and they were all laughing and smiling and helping each other. She’ll probably remember the pink hair spray she asked me to color her pigtails with. But I hope somewhere, the knowledge that she can make a difference remains and sinks down into her very bones.

The day after the march was pretty special, as we spent it visiting monuments and memorials—Lincoln and FDR and Korea and Vietnam, where I had to explain the concept of war.

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Her favorite was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—she had just finished learning about him at school and I overheard her telling her Aunties, “Did you know that Martin Luther King changed the world? People thought that if you had brown skin you weren’t as important as if you had light skin? Isn’t that stupid? But then Martin Luther King told people, ‘No, we’re all the same inside.’ Just like how if you have two eggs and one is white and one is brown, it doesn’t matter because inside the yolk is still yellow in both of them and you can’t even tell them apart!”

One of the hardest things about being a parent, to me, is the ever-present and awesome responsibility to do right by this small human being. To love them unconditionally, yes, but also to equip them with the knowledge and confidence and fortitude they will need to be a good citizen of the world.

Our world today is not the one I want for my daughter. But going to the March, I think, was a way of showing her that hope is greater than fear, and that she herself is brave and strong and powerful. And she is not alone.

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Transition Lenses

Monday, November 21st, 2011

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“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” -Anatole France

Melancholy. That’s the feeling I’ve been trying to name.

I am not sad. I’m not unhappy, or disgruntled, or malcontent. I’m just, ever so occasionally, melancholy.

Several people who are further along in their parenting adventure told me that when your babe turns one year old, you begin to feel yourself again. As if the first anniversary is a magical switch that, once reached, will tilt the axis of your universe back to a more familiar (and less overwhelming) setting.

So as the fated date approched, I waited for a renewed sense of self. Some sort of assurance that I had gotten the hang of mum-hood while still retaining or regaining all the moving parts that made me the person I used to be.

And then September 2 came, and partied, and faded into September 3 and I felt no different than I had on the 1st of the month. Or on the 1st of August. Or July.

Don’t worry, I’m not sitting here all sad-sack thinking there’s something wrong with me. I believe that mothers, like babies, develop at their own pace. Just because other mothers have felt like life returned to some semblance of normality around the one year mark doesn’t mean that my sense of normal will behave the same way.

Maybe I feel this way, in part, because I waited awhile to have a child. My individual personhood (and couplehood with Bruce) was pretty well established for quite a few years. We had it down. And then, at 7am one Thursday morning, everything changed.

I changed.

And in the change, I lost myself.

It’s true that I’ve gained more in motherhood than I have lost. So much more. There are moments of wonder and joy that surpass anything I have ever known, that more than make up for the lack of sleep and the absence of time.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that the me who used to be is gone.

Sometimes I struggle with that. Sometimes I don’t know who, exactly, I am anymore.

After all, the learning curve is steep when you’re becoming someone new. You spend a lot of time admitting that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. You stumble around. You try and you fail. You get overly nostalgic about the old routine, because this new one is incredibly uncomfortable.

So it’s only natural and fitting that on the difficult days and often in the dead of night, you mourn the you who is lost. Because you knew how to be that version of yourself. You had the playbook, more or less.

Now that playbook is undergoing a complete and total revision. And in order to embrace the new world order, you have to say goodbye to the old.

But sometimes letting go takes awhile.

So while I’m cocooned in this transition phase, while I’m releasing and embracing and fumbling around, I’ve decided to let the more creative parts of myself go into hibernation. It’s the only way to survive, really.

If I tried to be as prolific as I was pre-baby, to write even as much as I did when I was pregnant, I think my skull would implode.

It’s not that I’m not writing at all. I’m here, obviously. Just not as often as I used to be. Weekly posts have been culled to monthly posts. If I’m lucky.

I’m also keeping a journal for Lucette, trying to record all the little moments that slip too easily into the ether.

But I’m not writing for myself. The poetry is dormant for now. I miss it. I miss that feeling when the words start to click and flow and fit into place. I miss the satisfaction of a well-placed line break.

And I miss charting out new ideas for cinepoems. (In fact, I have a gorgeous one percolating that involves me, Lu, and a pair of tiny hats.)

I miss the more simple, selfish things, too. Like having entire Saturday afternoons to read a novel. Or weed the flower beds. Or obsessively re-organize my closet. Or do nothing at all.

Someday the energy, the creative spark, will return. Someday I’ll pull the poems out from their hiding places and build them a home of paper and ink. But not today.

Today I am going to change a poopy diaper. And find the missing white cow for the Little People farm. And read the story about the Busy Horses. And read it again. And again.

And somewhere between the highchair and the crib, I’m going to learn something new about who this mother-me really is.

I think it’s going to be great.

-Lo, who thinks that a world without the Cheeks in it would be a truly miserable place.