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Entries in family (23)


My Surfing Will Go On and On...

Whenever I'm at my laptop and Tariq heads to bed, he looks at me very seriously, "Now, promise me you'll go to bed soon."  It reminds me of the scene in Titanic where Leo says, "You're gonna go on, Rose, and you're going to die an old lady, happy and warm in her bed, but not like this... not this night, not here.. do you understand me?"
And, then, I go all Kate on him and am like, "It's not up to you to save me, Jack...  leave me alone." I know those lines aren't in the same scene, but they should be. 
Unrelated: I didn't even have to Google those lines. Have a good weekend.


And, hey, have you liked my Facebook page? You should do that!

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Oh, but Parenting is, in fact, "a Job" @betadad

In addition to being timely, dependable, a great dad and a rakishly handsome dead ringer for Sting, my friend Betadad is an excellent writer.

All that complimenting, of course, means I'm going to disagree with him. I was going to e-mail him, but then I thought, you know, why waste five hundred words on a one person audience when I can publicly disagree with him in front of tens of people by writing a whole post.

Okay, it's hundreds. Not tens. I do have my pride. 

In a post on Dadcentric that critiques what I agree is a stupid commercial aimed at getting people to purchase soap by propagating an idea of parenting and motherhood that would seem more at home in a Greek tragedy, Betadad dismisses the idea that parenting is a job, at all:

We could have a very long and pointless discussion about what makes a job "hard" or "dirty" or "bad" or even "rewarding," but that would be beside the point.  The thing is, parenting is not a job.  It has some things in common with a job, sure, but it's a whole different animal.  We don't get paid to parent.  We can't quit if we get pissed off.  We can't look around for better parenting gigs.  We can't sue our employer.  We don't have an employer.  We don't have the option of not taking our work home with us.  We generally don't receive any training, on-the-job or otherwise. 

Well. I don't know.

If we're talking about job in the sense of being paid, then, yes, unless hugs, smiles and poopy diapers count, we are not, in fact, paid. But the word "job" doesn't just include work that is paid. While this is certainly the primary definition, my dear friend the former English teacher and Sting look alike, I believe the informal usage of "job" can refer to general tasks, paid or not.

Being the parent of small children can make you either want to tear your hair out or it can make you think you got this parenting thing in the bag. Truth is, that give or take ten years, you've got another forty or so years before you're not that child's parent any more due to the whole heart not beating any more thing.  If your kids aren't teenagers yet, you're about one thirtieth of the way through.

Saying parenting is not a job when you're three years in feels premature.

And when it's stated that one cannot be fired from this job? Having fired a parent myself, I know this to be completely false. The parent I've fired is still and always will be my biological parent, but they will never, ever hold the trust that a parent deserves. My spiritual and cultural beliefs dictate that they are treated with courtesy and respect. But my heart fired them a long time ago.

They were fired because they quit. They were fired because they tried to find a better gig. They were fired because they went to far away places and never bothered to take their work with them.

So, Betadad, it's easy to say that this isn't a job when you didn't have someone quit on you.

Furthermore, I say, yes, this is a job. I work hard every day not to be the kind of parent that will be fired. I worry every day about dropping that ball, about unconsciously quitting, about slipping into a better gig without realizing it until its too late and I'm left wondering why those damned kids never call me. We don't get paid, that's true, but we can get fired. To me, that's enough to make me want to work very hard and do a good job of it.

Furthermore, I hold the people who do this job well in high regard and esteem because I know, from experience, that they absolutely have a choice even if they think they don't.

Now, is parenting the hardest job? I don't know about that. My understanding is that dumpsters have to be cleaned and scraped on a bi-annual basis. My vote is with the dumpster cleaners.

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Needing to Know

I was once a person that needed to know what happened next. You're thinking that everyone needs that, but they don’t. Most people want to know. They would like to know. It was a need for me.
In keeping with the grand tradition of separating life into two distinct phases more for the purposes of drama and less so for the need to extract wisdom from a given situation, forgive me when I say... and then I had kids.

Look, I just never know what to expect. Today, I think I have it all figured out and the next day she looks at me and smiles at me in a way that is completely different. Where there were once two, perfect, tiny baby teeth, there is now a gap that looks something like a doorway causing my extraordinarily articulate child to lisp in a way that makes me turn my head because I don’t want her to see me giggle at her.

I’m thrust into a reality that I never expected. I will never experience that "before" smile again. I wish I had looked harder, so hard that it would be burned in my memory to the extent that I would have no need to long for its return. Is it possible to remember the past so clearly that it sears the regret from your heart? I’d like some of that, please.

Photos aren’t enough, either. In fact, photos make it worse because they remind me of the fact that my brain is incapable of holding on to this beautiful, very important memory. Unexplainably, this speaks to the darkest part of my heart whose voice though terribly sporadic is nonetheless powerful as it reminds me that I don’t love her the way I should... that I might not be enough.

Her smile will be replaced by a new smile, and I have been undergoing a subconscious preparation for the new one over the course of the past several weeks. One year ago, I was greeted every day after school by a mess of long, brown hair, too thin arms, and legs blurring with speed as they ran towards me and jumped into my arms. Now, a little girl with a bob that’s much too fashionable for a child of six glances up as I walk up the sidewalk and half of the time I can see that she hopes that I don’t see her right away so she can keep playing with her friends.

One year ago, she would tell me I was her best friend, and I would gently explain that a mother and a best friend are a little bit different and that one day she would have a best friend that was not her mother and she’d realize that it was better that way... and I don’t know, I didn’t think that would happen so fast.

I wish I would have kept my mouth shut and just been her best friend like she wanted.

I used to be a person who needed to know what happened next until I realized that there’s no way of knowing. The things you know always fall away so they may be replaced by newer, stronger and hopefully more beautiful things. Then, you’ll close your eyes and feel the happiness that only hope can bring as the very need to survive the march of time transforms desperate needs into passing wishes.

It's hip to be a Square. I just migrated to the Squarespace platform. Other than the blog looking better in your browser, this doesn't mean much to you. You will notice, however, that the reply feature is not available yet. Please check back sporadically for replies to your comments until I get that figured out.



Many insects can carry 50 times their own body weight.

This would be like an adult person lifting two heavy cars full of people.

That's all I've got.

Hope you're having a good Tuesday.

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The Dr. King & I: Intentions and Realities. # HappyMLKDay

MLK Day History: You cannot know where you are going unless you know where you have been.

I woke with the intention of making today meaningful.

When we first decided to move to Memphis, the first thought that came to me was "That's where they shot Dr. King." Yes, I called him Dr. King because in my family, you always put Dr. in front of someone's name if they're a doctor. And, yes, I thought the words exactly like that ... "they shot him." Like an army of people fired shots at the Lorraine. Aside from proving that I'm careless when I'm thinking to myself, this is illustrative of how many view race, if not life itself.

The National Civil Rights Museum rests quietly beneath a vintage green sign with red letters proclaiming the words "Lorraine Motel" on it.   It happens to be two trolley stops away from our apartment. To give you an idea of how much I wanted today to mean something, Tariq commuted 45 minutes to join us for our very own Family Civil Rights Remembrance Lunch today.

Because this is Memphis.

This is where Dr. King died, you know.

In the morning, I explained slavery to my daughter.

She was horrified, as she should be.

Then I explained segregation.

That seemed to confuse her, as it should.

I repeated the "content of his character" line like you do when you're trying to be inspirational about race. I explained non-violent resistance. I'm not sure what stuck, but it felt significant at the time.

We stepped off the trolley towards the museum, and there were so many people. I realized going into the actual museum was a bust.  I've been there once already, so that wasn't too big of a deal. There was music playing, food cooking, laughter... people, there were funnel cakes!

National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Memphians come out to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday

Funnel cakes!

At the place where "they" shot Dr. King!

This was not a place for martyrs.

This was a party. The smell of funnel cakes summarily decimated my romantic notions surrounding today and drove home an obvious reality.

Today is the birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Of course, there are funnel cakes.

I know the readership of this blog enough to know that most of the people reading right now are not exactly like me.  I write for people who want to learn about difference or diversity, so it follows that most people reading here are not "like me".  The funny thing about being "brown like me" is that you're not "black" or "white".

Bask in the brilliance of that little gem.

When you're "brown" (I'm totally doing air quotes), you don't carry a lot of American baggage.  Hold your envy, my friends, I have baggage of a different type. Slavery, separate water fountains, back of the bus and such, though?  Not so much. I own this history, but I do not live it the way someone who is "black" or "white" would.  (Again, with the air quotes).

From my position, I see shame, guilt, anger, finger pointing and even justification when it comes to these topics. Some decry this nation's racial past as shameful , others justify it as natural, many are somewhere in between. Some rant about how nothing has changed and others talk of how there's nothing left to do. Some people get angry if race is brought up at all while still others seem to make everything about race.

What I seldom see is what I saw today: celebrating.

I was not here when you were here, but I know we have come a long way. Today, my brown kid sat in a sub shop just around the corner from the Lorraine with black kids and white kids and all the kids ate the same food and nobody told them they couldn't sit wherever they wanted, and God love 'em every one, they all drank from the same soda fountain. As we walked home, we passed the site of the first schoolhouse for "colored" children and I had no idea how to even begin defining "colored" to my daughter.

That is something.

We can remember and we can be vigilant and we can be happy.  These things aren't mutually exclusive.

I woke with the intent to make today mean something by going to the place where Dr. King died.  I intended to honor his memory and legacy.  I realize now that it's not how or why he died that should be the focus, but what he did while he was alive that is most significant.

We live his dream.

Today, I woke with the intent of making this day meaningful.

So, it was.