Mother’s Day Confession: I don’t want kiddie crafts in my house.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I am very excited. Mostly because I get to take a nap and will be getting things off my Amazon wish list. I am SUPER picky about my gifts and this makes everyone happy (also the girls can pick out my presents without seven hours of wandering around Target and having to be reminded that mommy probably does not want the monkey-farting board game they have picked out). Look, I like what I like and I come by that honestly. My mother is super picky and I have her asethetic. My sisters and my father clear their presents through me. I know what mom likes, cause mostly we like the same things.

And y’all, very very rarely do I like what my kids have made me. Cards are great, Priscilla made me one that says “I am so glad that you can eat!” It went on the fridge. I am not saying my kids NEVER make me anything that I don’t want to hang up. I have some of those frames that open and close so I can constantly rotate their constant flow of art work coming into the dining room. But I will not paper the walls with their art work (they have decided to paper their own room with it, which works for both of us until their is a piece of art I want to display but they want it in their room).

But mostly, I don’t like the crafts that my kids bring home and I will not treasure them for a week, let alone forever. Look, maybe I am shallow, and if so fine, I am shallow, but I don’t want to wear jewelry made of food you are supposed to cook. I don’t want to wear broaches made of puzzle pieces, necklaces made of macaroni, or earrings made of salt dough. I just don’t. I am a grown ass professional woman and I get to decide what I wear, and I don’t want what I wear to yell MOMMY. I like being Juliet and Priscilla’s mommy, I have zero interest in being the mommy to the world. That job doesn’t pay anything no matter how many people you parent.

And I don’t want to put something in my living room that doesn’t match my decor. I grew up and chose my stuff on purpose and I like what I like. My kids like pink and purple respectfully. Those are not my favorite decorating colors. I will not dust something that I do not even want in my home. I mean, I don’t dust, but if I did, I would not want to have to dust something that doesn’t match my other things and is not even recognizable as the thing it is. I want all the art in my home to be PURPOSELY abstract.

I also do not want to wear anything that has my child’s handprint on it. I spent the first three years of my kids life wearing my kids handprints on accident. Peanut butter hand print on my butt, dirt hand print on my knees and hand print of some unknown sticky substance on my boob every single time I was supposed to speak in public. Y’all, we JUST got out of the accidental hand prints stage, I am not wearing a shirt with hot pink hand prints on it. I am just not. I am not even wearing it to bed. The hands I want on me in bed are not my children’s. They just aren’t.

I think there is some idea that mommy is supposed to take over my whole life, my whole identity. It is supposed to be my job to let my kids be in every single part of my life, my wardrobe, my house. But I don’t want to raise girls who think that mommy is the crowning achievement in their life, and I don’t want to raise girls who think that moms aren’t allowed to have boundaries, or opinions, or their own aesthetic tastes. If they bring me a masterpiece I probably am not going to put it in my house, but I will raise girls who can be their whole selves and be unapologetic in their wants and needs. I have to model that, and trust that will do more for their self esteem than me wearing ugly jewelry for mothers day.

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Dangerous White Women and Upholding White Supremacy

Dear Fellow White Women,

It has been a long time since I have written an open letter. A really long time but I need to talk to you and I do not know what else to do. We need to understand very clearly how we are seen, and we need to think long and hard about our actions, and our intentions before we go out in public again.

I know what the problem is, we are afraid. But I don’t know exactly why or for what reason we let ourselves scare so easily. But I know that we are afraid and that fear is actually hurting other people. If you didn’t hear about the white mom who called the police because two native boys on a college tour made her nervous then go read about it. Make sure you see their baby faces, so that you can understand just how clearly not threatening they were.

But their baby faces, the fact that they had worked really hard to even get to the tour, or any other piece of reality did not matter. The fact that they were teenagers, that she was a grown woman. Those things did not matter. What mattered was that a white lady was scared, not just a white lady but a white mother. The mother bear was frightened, and her cubs must be protected at all costs. Forget that if she is on the college tour with them then the cubs are the same age as the boys she is calling the police on. For existing. All actions are justified when a white woman is protecting her children. All actions are permisable when a white lady is protecting herself, especially against any person of color.

 

Let us not forget Emmett Till. I didn’t know who Emmett Till was when I started teaching. It wasn’t in my personal history knowledge. But as a white woman teaching in a black school it was a history I carried with me, it was one I lived out before I knew better. Did you know the woman who made up the story that caused Emmet Till to die is still alive? Did you know that she has admitted that nothing she said was true, and she has not faced charges? A child DIED because she said she felt threatened, because she LIED about a black boy. White patriarchy put her up to killing a black boy and came to her rescue. The cost of her safety was the death of a black boy, a cost society is still more than willing to make.

 

White ladies, and especially white mothers have been tasked by the patriarchy and white supremacy as protectors of our current society. And this gets weird and messy because this double edged sword cuts us both ways. We are hurt by this role because if we step even an inch outside the mother bear protector box we are punished for being too. Too smart, too ambitious, too sexy, too masculine, too angry. Just too much. That is the patriarchy part. But we are also rewarded for being in this role as well. We get protection against everyone but white men. We get believed above everyone but white men. If we cry out, someone comes most of the time. We know we can’t blame the white man. We will not be protected against the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, but we will be protected from most other people.

 

White women are told to be fearful of the world. We are taught to spread the fear over the heads of our children. We are taught to fear for our children and ask that the social structures be upheld so that our children can function in it. We understand on some level that the system works for us, and convince ourselves it benefits our children. We take the deal. And this makes us extremely dangerous to people of color.

Our fear is answered first. Our children are protected at the peril of other children. Our 911 calls get answered guns blazing even when there is nothing to be afraid of. As long as we are working to uphold white supremacy, we get what we want. White supremacy feeds off of our fears.

Here is the thing about all of these fears. They are nothing but lies. Our children BENEFIT from having native people in their colleges, minority children in our children’s friend groups, from the dismantling of toxic whiteness in our lives. But we have convinced ourselves that we are being protected by our cage. We are not. The fear that we believe protects us is only serving as our cage. But we believe in it, and we raise or children in it, and the cries of the white mother are answered quicker than almost any other, especially if they are in fear of the other.

 

We are allowed to gentrify schools, put kids at risk, harras boys who are trying to go on a college tour and women just checking out of their Airbnb because the deal is our fear is validated. We are allowed to put anyone else in danger as long as we are claiming protection of our children.

 

But we aren’t protecting our children. We are protecting the system. We are protecting the very system that is hurting us. And we can do better. We have to do better. Because we don’t need to protect our kids from white supremacy. We need to dismantle it in ourselves so we don’t pass it on.

 

Abby

 

Go read my friend Danielle’s piece about this. Don’t get defensive. Think about it.

Take her Raising an Advocate class. I don’t get $$ for this. I just get a better world.

To Juliet on her Eighth Birthday

Dear Juliet,

Today you are eight, an age I distinctly remember. With every year it feels like the stakes have been raised, and this year has been the most complicated one in your little life so far. You are eight, and this last year there were some growing pains. Growing up is hard, and for people as kind and tender hearted as you, growing up and learning how harsh this world can be is exceptionally painful. It is at times a shock to your system that anyone would not choose the good, the right, the kindest choice.

Every year I say how kind hearted, generous, and friendly you are. Every year it becomes more true. People think a three year old saying hi to them and complimenting their shoes is adorable. They don’t know quite what to make of an eight year old (who is tall enough to be a ten year old) doing the same. I suppose some people think you just haven’t grown out of it yet. My dear friendly girl, here is a truth I hope you always know: You never grow out of who God made you to be. I know the world doesn’t quite know what to do with it all the time. but it is a gift. You are a gift.

This year you had a really hard thing happen. It could have broken you, it could have made you feel less than. But by your sheer ability to cling to the good, and the God’s grace it did not. I think in some ways your hard thing was harder for your parents. In fact out of this hard thing you learned how to tell the truth. “Our job is to tell the whole truth all the time.” This is what you say and what you believe. You model this so fiercely you inspired one of your friends to do the same thing, to tell the truth. She did that because you showed her how. If you don’t remember anything else this year, please remember that it is you job to tell the whole truth.

Today, for the first time ever we let you skip school for your birthday. We pulled your sister out too (“I’ll allow it” you said) and we went to IHOP and made a cake and hosted a party with pizza at the park we celebrated your very first birthday at. I noticed today how good you are at being delighted in things. You LOVE the shoes your Gram picked out for you, they are THE BEST EVER. You LOVE the gifts your sister got for you. THEY ARE PERFECT. You LOVED the food you ordered and your hot chocolate and the cup the to go water came in. You loved the cake I made with you. You will always have a delightful life because you always choose to delight in life. I am learning to do this from you.

When you were turning one I stayed up until well past midnight the night before your party. I made the most beautiful flower cupcakes and stressed over the decorations. I bought way, WAY too much food and worked myself into a frenzy over the whole party. Today I let you and your sister decorate the cake and didn’t sweat it when I forgot to bring forks and the knife to cut and eat the cake with. If being your mother has taught me anything, it is to turn in my perfectionism for joy. Best lesson ever.

You decided about twenty-four hours before your party that you wanted one. Pizza and cake at the park, no goody bags, no games. just people you like on the play ground. How could I say no to that? So we did. I texted the moms and within 24 hours we had a party for you. So many people there to celebrate you. So many people willing to inconvenience themselves, change their plans, make an effort to show you how much they love you. You were afraid no one would show up, but they did and with gifts that showed they knew you. Please, PLEASE always remember just how loved you are.

You are so good. You are so loved. You are such a beautiful gift. These are not things you can grow out of. They just are.

Love,

Mom