We all know this saying. ” ‘An eye for an eye’ makes the whole world blind.”
It’s a good reminder that violence is never the answer to a problem. Hatred and the act of hurting another doesn’t solve anything. But that’s a difficult adage to precah when entire classes of people are being marginalized, violated, and attacked simply for being who they are.
My heart has broken on so many occasions lately, for my fellow LGBTQ people, for my black friends, for the people in Baghdad and Turkey; the list goes on. As a white woman who identifies as “gay except for one notable exception”, I find myself walking a weird line. I cannot possibly fathom what my black friends go through every day. I cannot comprehend what it’s like to fear for my life, especially in the south where racism is so rampant, simply for driving in the wrong neighborhood. I can wear a hoodie with the hood pulled up and people do not run away or cross the street.If my hair is left “natural”, I am not called “unprofessional”. If I have a flat tire on the side of the road, I am perfectly capable of changing it myself. But I know damn well that the average drive is much more inclined to stop and help me than a black person. It sickens me, what our society has demonstrated toward people who are no different than anyone else except for the color of their skin, the texture of their hair. Their blood still stains the streets red when they are gunned down. Their families still weep countless tears. Their lives are just as shattered.
On the flip side, I also live in the same south that is virulently homophobic. Perhaps I am lucky that I “pass”. As someone who chooses to stay in a politically condoned marriage with a member of the opposite cis-gender, people look at me and smile and think, “What a nice, normal family!” But when it slips that the Scientist and I have an open marriage? That we have kids who identify as gay or queer? That I prefer women over men? That yes, my kids have met people that both the Scientist and I have dated? Eyebrows disappear into hairlines, lips thin out and turn down a bit at the corners, and eyes narrow. I’m not longer “safe” and “normal”. I’m now “one of THEM”.
“One of them.” “Those people.” The sneers of derision, the shudders of revulsion, the airs of disdain. How many times have you felt those emanating from you? Or how many times have you felt them coming at you?
I know that I cannot fix our society. It’s a depressing thought that I brought kids into a world where they are not safe. It’s sad to think that I almost hope my kids don’t choose to have kids because I worry so much for their safety, and they don’t even exist.
What I can do is stand up, speak out, and openly support those who have felt the sting of discrimination and violence. I stand for those who have been abused, singled out, bullied, hurt.
I will use my own eyes…not in the adage above, but to see. I will see the truth, the brutal honesty that we as humans have become, and I will do my best every second of every day to truly look for ways to fix what I can. Because without each person’s eyes, without each person’s heart, without each person’s hands reaching out, the blood will continue to spill.
We have to help. We have to hope. We have to love.
I have never been known to be fashion forward in any way. I am clueless about style, hopeless when it comes to the latest trends, and wouldn’t know what’s currently “in” or “out” if it smacked me like a swinging door.
Just one of those things. The Artist, I’m sure, will corroborate the assertion that I’m a fashion nightmare. If I get into a situation in which jeans or khakis and a solid color shirt won’t cut it, I panic and start blowing up her phone with howls for help.
However, it’s come to my attention that in one aspect, I was an Accidental Trendsetter!
Me? Trendsetter? How is this even possible? Well, the big way was that we didn’t use physical discipline and still managed to raise 3 incredible, intelligent, conscientious, creative, civic minded kids. Amazing that, eh? The other, though is something that’s hitting the news quite a bit lately. It’s called gender neutral parenting. The premise, in short, is that you don’t force predetermined stereotypes on your kid based on what’s between their legs. There are plenty of people who will recoil in horror at the idea of allowing a child to choose for themselves what colors they prefer, what toys appeal, or what clothes to wear.
Now, I’m not saying we never used pink and blue clothing, lace or trucks, or whatever. But as much as possible, we tried to remove the stereotypical gender roles and expectations from our kids’ lives in order to encourage them to explore their world without reservation, to decide for themselves what aspects of life they liked and what they didn’t. In short, we didn’t want them pigeonholed by a society that can barely manage to tie its own shoes.
Most people know from this blog (and my previous one) that by gender, I have two female children and one male child. When it comes to orientation, one is gay, one is pansexual, and one is straight; an ally. Can people tell by looking which child holds which orientation? Nope.
In a recent meeting at work that had dragged on way too long, I doodled this list of facts about my kids. Think you can tell which ones are which in the items that don’t apply to all 3?
- All 3 received Tonka dump trucks on their first birthdays – the original metal ones, not the flimsy plastic crap
- 2 have been admitted to the hospital for a serious illness
- 2 have had stitches in the Emergency room
- 1 has had broken a bone
- All 3 have photos of them wearing a dress and heels
- 2 have photos of them wearing a suit and tie
- All 3 are attracted to women, albeit very different “types”
- All 3 will receive or have received their Bachelors degrees right around their 20th birthday
- 1 is a math genius, although the other 2 are quite proficient
- All 3 have black belts in taekwondo
- 1 played on a Little League baseball team
- All 3 owned a Barbie house and Corvette
- All 3 have tattoos; 1 has multiple piercings
- 2 write poetry very well
- 1 speaks a foreign language proficiently
- 2 of them want kids
- 2 prefer monogamous relationships to open ones
- All 3 like to read
- All 3 love to travel
- 1 has learned to use a sewing machine and has sewn something independently
- 2 have been in physical altercations
- 1 loves to cook and has a well-developed palate
- All 3 are Harry Potter fans
- All 3 were invited to Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, but only 1 took the SAT at age 11
The answers might surprise you, as my kids really do not fit the traditional, stereotypical behaviors for their gender.
I may be a fashion nightmare until the day I die. I may never understand how style works. I may be clueless as to the latest technological gadgets for a while. But I will always know that in raising open minded, accepting, courageous, creative, adventurous kids, I was twenty years ahead of the game.
When two people get married, communication is almost easy. You’re still learning each others’ stories; the previous stitches in the fabric that creates your life. Each one can be inspected, discussed, perhaps glossed over, maybe regretted, but they’re all on display.
Over the years, kids are added to the mix. The fabric gains brighter colors, intricate patterns, but now you’re weaving together. Stitches are put in by both hearts, woven into the memories of each.
But the drawback to this? All of the stitches are now familiar to both of you. Years and years of fabric, all woven by both of you. No new colors or patterns, no interesting twists.
Then the kids take their fabric off the family loom and start to continue the weave on their own. What’s left is as familiar as an old hoodie – it’s soft, it’s comforting, but it’s still old.
At this point, the Bear and I are faced with each of us holding an empty needle, struggling to find threads that haven’t already been used. We both have threads we could reach for, but it’s of little interest to the other person. Neither of us is sure what to do, how to continue the conversation.
A few weeks ago, we traveled for the Ambassador’s judo tournament. Nearly 7 hours in a car over two days, and we spend maybe half an hour in conversation. Both of us have high stress jobs; leisure discussion about either of them does not appeal. We have separate hobbies, separate interests, mostly separate lives. We’re grasping at conversational straws that can’t stave off the drowning silence between us. Other than the kids, we don’t know what to say.
This has been a concern of mine for a long time, now. We can’t find anything to say to each other over a 7 hour car trip; how the hell do we fill the next several years once the kids have all moved out? We have little in common, though we get along just fine (most of the time). We’re still great friends. But at this point, the prospects for our future look more like that of roommates weaving fabric next to each other than two people continuing to weave the same piece.
People will say, “Do more stuff together! Create your own stories!” but that isn’t always possible with chaotic schedules, widely-varied interests, and vastly different points of view. It’s a lot more complicated than it looks.
The fabric of a family will always be attached unless actively severed, and ours will always connect. But as his drifts further and further away from mine, it makes me wonder how tenuous those threads will be.
Valentine’s Day is approaching.
Also known as “Singles Awareness Day”, Valentine’s Day is ostensibly a time to celebrate love and romance. Beginning with a Catholic martyr, it didn’t quite hit the radar of the insipidly mushy until Chaucer decided it should be so. Jerk.
Despite my naturally curmudgeonly eye rolls to the saccharine Hallmark expressions, I do have what I consider to be a valid point for parents.
The constant barrage of mixed messages assailing our kids is teaching them that, in order to have worth, they need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Every advertisement reinforces how to buy love with gifts. The cynic in me goes back to that eye rolling and is reminded of Ron White’s words of wisdom. “Diamonds…that’ll shut her up.”
So yet again, stereotypes are pounded into our kids’ impressionable brains. Girls are materialistic, demanding princesses and boys are lucky to be allowed to worship them and present their hopefully-acceptable gifts. Is this really what you want for your kids?
Parents, when you express loving sentiments or purchase a gift for your partner because the calendar (and every other commercial on television) tells you that it’s February 14th, you’re part of the problem. When love is measured by the number of flowers in the bouquet, or chocolates in the box, or gemstones in the jewelry, you’re part of the problem. When you encourage your kindergarteners to have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, it’s not cute, and it’s not harmless. You’re part of the problem.
You’re teaching your kids that love, and also sex, can and should be purchased and owed.
Stop the cycle. Celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day of loving expression to family and friends. Want to give sweets? Do it. But give them to friends instead of trying to buy yourself (or your kid) a romantic partner.
It’s time to grow and evolve. And time to stop sending the message to our kids that love and sex are marketable commodities.
Kids can make you cry at any age, really. Any parent knows this.
The Professor is the only of my kids who is sure she wants a child. The Artist would sooner swan dive into the fires of Mordor, and the Ambassador just kind of cringes a little. However, due to some medical concerns, we don’t think the Professor can carry a child to term. There are plenty of options open to her: if she winds up with a partner who can carry, they could decide to go that route. She could adopt. And as a true sign of the bond between sisters, The Artist has offered to carry a child for her.
First time I heard that was when the girls were around 14-15ish. Blew me away. Their bond was so close that the offer was made without hesitation, and has never wavered. It became one of those little testaments to the fact that I succeeded in raising my kids to have true, genuine closeness among the three of them. They will snark and fight, but if you mess with one, you need to be prepared for the wrath of the other two to rain down upon your hapless being.
Last night, the Professor, the Artist, and I were chatting while I baked and made some sugar scrub. We were joking about the Professor being forbidden to name a girl-child “Minerva”. The Artist laughed too, but said she wasn’t worried, as the Professor had chosen “Rhiannon” as any future daughter’s moniker. I was aware of this too, and therefore wasn’t actually concerned that a potential grandchild of mine would be saddled with McGonogall’s name, no matter how cool she was.
What I did know?
The Professor has also settled on a boy’s name. Christopher. The name of her big brother, whom I miscarried.
Damn kids knock me on my ass more times than I can count.
These sniffles? Watery eyes. Allergy season. It’s just allergy season.
I’ve got a list started, but I’d love to hear from others as to what I should add!
1. No threesomes til you’re at least 21.
2. No spearfishing while drunk.
3. Sometimes, drugs are your friend.
4. Don’t date the stupid ones. Looks change, but you cannot fix stupid.
5. Never leave your drink at a bar – if you have to go pee, get a new one.
6. When in doubt, talk to your Mom about it.
7. Learn to cook – your palate will thank you.
8. When drinking, always eat first. Then drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you had, plus 2 Tylenol. No hangover!
9. Don’t text at the table. It’s rude, and you miss out on too much stuff.
10. Always say “please” and “thank you”, even if you’re in a bad mood.
11. Fight fair. Stick to issues – don’t get personal.
12. Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
13. On a rainy afternoon, a nap is always a good option.
14. Conserve water – shower with a friend.
15. The softer the blanket, the better it is.
I cuss a lot.
Now, most people who know me will roll their eyes and say, “No shit.”
Some people will cringe and purse their lips, a disapproving scowl creeping across their pinched face. They will say that it’s “filth”, and that it’s “unnecessary”, and that “it shows a distinct lack of class”. I take issue with that last one, as I have a lot of class. It may or not be low class, but I assure you that I have a lot of it!
But here’s one of the problems with that ever-present condemnation of my character. People vary on which words are taboo and which aren’t. Now, many people will agree that the “c” word (four letters, refers to part of a woman) is way out of line at all times, with no exceptions. But there are those who prefer to “reclaim” it as part of their own lexicon. I’m personally not a fan of it, but I don’t judge people who are. To some people, the word “crap” is an “unacceptable cuss word”. People can “damn” someone to “hell”, but the minute a particular deity is brought into the picture, the television censors tweak that “damn” right the “hell” out.
So why do we swear? What drives us to use words that make some people so upset? This page actually does a really great job of explaining why people cuss. Contrary to what people think, the use of such words does not make us uneducated, classless, prurient, filthy, unhealthy, or base. It also doesn’t mean that we are without moral or ethics, that we lack spiritual structure, or that we have insufficient vocabularies.
Most of the condemnation I’ve seen does come from the stricter religious groups. I hate to tell them, but perhaps their sneering derision would serve them better if they reread Matthew; chapter 7, verse 1.
My kids also cuss like sailors. Am I a crappy mother for this? Probably; but the list of things that make me a bad mother is so long. This doesn’t even hit the Top Ten, so if you’re looking for me to show some guilt here, I wouldn’t advise holding your breath.
All of my kids know that cussing in public is inappropriate. They also know that if they ever cuss in front of their grandmothers, I will have their heads on a platter, along with their cell phones for the next 24 hours. Oh, and little kids. I do not ever tolerate them cussing in front of little kids. Ya know what? They don’t. No, I’m not with them all the time. No, I have no spies on their various college campuses. So how do I know? Because I’ve raised them to understand that, like anything else, cussing has a time and a place. I’ve also raised them to have respect for others. They do not go into the homes of their Christian friends and drop an “F” bomb. It would never occur to them to do so, because they were raised correctly.
Yes, I said it. My kids cuss. And I also said that my kids were raised correctly. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.
And if, after this, you look at me, look at my family, and purse those lips while mentally calling us names like “classless” and “immoral”?
Well, I guess I can’t change your mind, then. So fuck you very much, have a nice day, and please drive through.