African American Section

October 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Amy Wise, Family, Interracial Families

By: Amy Wise

So I have a question: Did you know that in general books written by black authors are shelved in the African American section? Did any of you out there realize that? Unless of course you are Toni Morrison or friends with Oprah, black authors are pretty much housed in their own “special” section.

A fellow writer who happens to be black recently published her first novel. A few months ago, just prior to her publication date, she sent out an interesting request. We are all on a writers’ site together and one of her posts was: “Wanted: White Ambassadors to Help Me Cross Over”. Seriously, that was her post! After I read this request she sent out, I wrote about it on my blog… http://themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com/2010/07/ill-be-your-white-friend.html.

I thought she had such guts and honesty by asking that simple “favor.” She knew that unless she got the word out to others outside her “circle,” her book would end up in the African American section and her audience would be limited. Her post caused quite the stir and received both sympathy and “are you kidding me?” responses. I get it though. You spend all this time writing and coming up with this wonderful story that has nothing to do with being black or white, and then boom, you are put into a category that many readers will never venture to. It’s so silly. A lot of people who read her request had never thought of her situation because of course, if you are a white writer there is no “white section!” Romance, mystery, memoir, self-help, religious…yes…but “white section”? No way!

Why am I on such a rant about this issue so long after her post? Well, the writer that I’m talking about is now published and I promised her when the book was pubbed that I would buy it. So off I went to Borders this past weekend and I was so happy to find her book stocked in the store. There it was on the computer…Substitute Me, by Lori Tharps. I had looked in the store on previous occasions but it was only available online. I was thrilled to see that I could finally get her book, take it home and get to reading! Imagine the look on my face when I saw that her book was located in the….drum roll please….African American section! You have to be freakin’ kidding me! Yes indeed, that’s exactly where it was. I literally laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of it and how spot-on Lori was about where her book would end up!

Off I went to the African American section, perusing the shelves for Lori’s book while noticing the obvious glances my way. I truly wanted to share my dismay and story with the other women in the section, but I was so heated I didn’t want the guys with the white coats to show up for the crazy lady in the African American section at Borders! So instead, I bought the book, went home, and emailed my experience to Lori. She was irritated, but of course not surprised. Unless we stop putting people, books, music, and everything else in categories, that’s exactly where we are going to stay. Let’s all start thinking outside the box, people. You might be surprised at all the new things you will learn and enjoy. Until then, I’ll see ya at the bookstore…you can find me in the African American section.

Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.

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A Hot One

October 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Last week, when temperatures soared into the triple digits, our electricity went out. It was seven o’clock and I was just getting dinner on the table. The kids were in the bathtub and there were leftovers being brought to life in the microwave. And suddenly, it was dark. The kids shouted for joy because they like anything weird and dramatic and vaguely apocalyptic.

“Blackout, blackout,” they shouted.

My husband and I scurried around, looking for emergency supplies. We turned up two very small flashlights and an assortment of scented candles. When we got them all lit, a slightly sickening combo of orange-vanilla-gardenia-cucumber-amber-grapefruit mingled with the aroma of twice microwaved pasta. Delightful.

“We are so screwed in an earthquake,” my husband said.
“We really should get our ducks in a row,” I said and I made a mental note (mostly because I couldn’t see to make a real one) to buy candles and whatever else we might need to keep us safe in a crisis the next day.

“Look up emergency kit on the internet,” my son shouted.

“Can’t,” I said. “No electricity means no computer.”

“What?” he said, the enormity of the situation beginning to hit.

“Yep,” I said. “No computer, no television, no radio, no i-Pod.”

“This is crazy,” my son said. “What are we going to do?”

“Eat dinner, talk about our day and go to bed,” I said. “We can read books by flashlight.”

“Boring,” my son said.

Somehow, we made it through dinner without succumbing to ennui. The candles flickered and we talked about our day. We talked about homework and heat and we wondered how long the lights would be out.

“I’m scared to sleep in the dark,” my daughter said.

“But we always sleep in the dark,” I said.

“Yes, but we know we can turn on the light.”

I assured her that we were safe, that the lights would come back on and that in the morning, electricity or no, there would be sun.

“Okay,” she said. She snuggled down into her bed and went to sleep.

Though we talked of emergency kits, this wasn’t a real emergency. We had a full refrigerator and running water. Because we could see the lights on the hill opposite ours, I knew that the Trader Joe’s was open and so we were in no danger of starvation. We have two working cars and enough room on our credit cards to check into a hotel if we had to. But we didn’t. We spent a night without lights and in the morning, there was sun.

I am grateful. (And I am going to stock my emergency kit.)

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Radical Unschooling

September 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Julie Gamberg, Single Parents

By: Julie Gamberg

I’ve recently become a fan of The Diet Soap podcast. The podcaster “unschools” his kids, as he mentioned when he had the guest Dayna Martin on his show to discuss her book “Radical Unschooling – A Revolution Has Begun.” Since hearing their talk, I have begun to fret that if I don’t unschool my baby she will grow up to be an authoritarian/obedient cog in the capitalist machine, blinded by the illusion of consumerism and never experiencing “the real” (if “the real” is not already “dead”). And that outcome would occur even if I gave up on public school and somehow managed to send her to the hippy private school that holds bake sales with quinoa-agave brownies to repaint their crumbling buildings but actually costs, literally, about as much as I make in a year. But what’s particularly great about my latest mental obsession with unschooling and all things equally obscure is that the more I talk about that, the more people might not even notice I’m a single mom!

Yes, unschooling is not the only obscure or alternative parenting idea that I obsess over, or actually do. Perhaps you read my recent article about elimination communication. I was not surprised that the first couple of comments were of the that’s crazy! ilk. Along those lines, a new friend recently wrote an article for Salon about eating her placenta. The comments she received make crazy seem like an endearment. They were plentiful and for the most part really vitriolic. Salon told her she received amongst the most irate and negative comments for any piece they had ever published. Impressive. For cooking and eating her placenta and writing, I feel, very eloquently and descriptively about the experience.

And speaking of eating, my mom just shared with me that she had been kicked out of a casual restaurant for breastfeeding when I was seven weeks old. She and I were completely covered with a shawl, neck to hips. Yet another diner complained to the manager that the sight was making him lose his appetite and the manager asked her to leave. Due to general lack of support, my mom was only able to breastfeed me for another six weeks. No wonder!

Although that was nearly forty years ago, we still seem to have a real squeamishness at the corporeal aspects of parenting, as well as any type of parenting outside of the mainstream. And at the same time, I hear over and over again that mainstream, or conservative, parents feel bullied or intimidated by alternative or crunchier parents. Yet mainstream parents are in charge. Mainstream parenting controls the agenda, the conversation. I keep hearing about the “breastfeeding Nazis,” but almost all the new moms I know have inadequate pump-at-work situations; out-of-hospital lactation consultants are still not paid for by insurance; and I can’t remember the last time I saw truly public breastfeeding.

This sense of the mainstream feeling threatened by the alternative is reminiscent of my twenty plus years’ of vegetarianism. Although I am an ethical vegetarian, I am not an animal rights activist. I’m pretty picky about what goes on my plate, but totally relaxed about what goes on yours. The majority of vegetarians I come across are similar (obviously animal rights activists are in a different category being, well, activists). Yet I can barely get vegetar— out of my mouth before someone is rolling their eyes, apologizing for ordering meat, explaining my wrongheadedness, or telling me how they’re sick of being attacked for their choices.

I don’t know how many of you who eat meat and either secretly or not so secretly think you shouldn’t. But I do know that I do loads of things, like drinking frappuccinos at Starbucks, or watching crappy sitcoms, that some imaginary better self wouldn’t do. And I know the feeling of running into someone who grows their own coffee beans on their organic patch of community garden and would never walk into a corporate chain, and who hasn’t seen TV in twenty years, and feeling instantly attacked by this sanctimonious zealot with no sense of humor and no tolerance for ambiguity, who dared to say “Hi!”

And sometimes I feel that way just hearing about this person secondhand. You know her. She works in a homeless shelter. She grows her own food. He’s reduced his garbage output to one bag a month. He gives away 90% of his income. He also meditates and exercises daily, and only reads serious literature. Any “vices” are so prettied up that they are nearly virtues. For example, she brews her own scotch using an ancient recipe which otherwise would have been lost. She eats meat from roadkill.

So here is where y’all go ewwwww! in the same way folks did for my friend’s article about eating her placenta or, to a lesser degree, to mine about EC-ing lite. Or how the customer did to a mother trying to feed her baby. And this is what I’m wondering: Is that ewwww reaction all really and truly ewwww, or does some part of us feel guilty, judged and even attacked for not being in touch with something more earthy, more authentic, more squishy, and somehow more real?

I have a friend who does not feel bad in the least about going to Starbucks, or watching crappy TV, or buying $600 boots. She would not cook, nor encapsulate, nor even probably want to hear the word placenta. And I imagine she does not think that her ewwww is anything other than a real ewwww. The same one we would all have if asked to snort raw maggots.

And I’ll give that to her about my imaginary zealot who eats roadkill. Maybe even about elimination communication. But the ewww that I am having trouble believing is the one about unschooling, or not using punishments/rewards, or nursing toddlers. I’m worried that ewwww is how we express a vague or complex relationship to guilt and confusion that we have about how we should be doing things.

As a working, single mom, it is very unlikely I will be able to unschool. My schedule is flexible enough that I could probably participate in a co-op, but one way or another, I’ll likely have to find some sort of public school situation. There is a part of me that wants to identify and fixate on all of the real or imagined things that might or must be wrong with unschooling. Yet what would it be like to come to terms with believing that there is a much better way to parent, but I am choosing not to do it? Or that my circumstances prohibit it? To appreciate those who are doing it, and to mourn its loss for me?

Every once in a while I run into a carnivore who says something along the lines of they’re pretty committed to meat, but they’re very vegetarian-friendly. Or they’re working toward becoming a vegetarian but they’re very much not there yet. I am so much not an animal activist that my heart rejoices nearly equally at both. Simply not being harassed for being something outside of the mainstream is such a pleasure.

These are extraordinarily dense times and I realize we all have trouble keeping up. We fib and fudge, and are too tired, or overworked, or not in the mood, or overwhelmed. I know how much pressure women feel, for example, when they can’t, or don’t want to breastfeed. And yes it would be good if no one were made to feel like a pariah because of it. Yet I do think when we feel most attacked or judged for our parenting choices is when we are most ambivalent about them. It seems that when we acknowledge that ambivalence, it’s a lot easier to say “I’m not there yet, or may never be, but good for you.” A hard and heavy look at the truth behind our attitudes could be just we need to feel lighter.

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Wedding Bells, Part 2

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

We got in a fight before our wedding. On the ferry ride over. I can’t remember why. Could it have been the make up? Things were tense. We had been planning a wedding for a year from another state and it was all happening on this overcast day after waiting 2 years for sun.

We parted at the wedding site to go to our separate rooms to get ready and we weren’t speaking –on our wedding day! I was fine at first, chatting with my girls, putting on the amazing gown that I had been dying to step into for months, but I kept wondering how my bride-to-be was doing. Her sister came over to pick up the infamous make up and I asked. I didn’t get the answer I had been hoping for. Susan apparently wasn’t talking much and I knew what that meant and now here I was forbidden to see her before I walked down the aisle to say I DO. I began desperately trying to manipulate seeing her and was told by everyone I asked that everything was fine and I shouldn’t see her before the wedding. The schedule was set for her to get pictures with her family first, then me. I made my way down early hoping to see her but she was done. I took my pictures with the family all the while pre-occupied. I pressed further and explained that I needed to see Susan to give her a present. It worked, somehow someone sent her my way and I pulled her into the dark hall where we later had our first dance as a married pair.

“How are you? Are you OK?”

She was quiet at first and than we grabbed hands and looked at one another and all of it disappeared. At that moment the wedding was no longer about guests or flowers or make up or rules, it was about us, my best friend, my wife to be, standing before me, more beautiful than ever before. I cried. She bowed her head and looked up with her big brown eyes as if to say “There you are.” We kissed. I later found out when reviewing pictures that the photographer was there, snapping the whole scene. We didn’t even notice her. I could have escaped to the getaway boat right then and there; it was all that I needed…that moment.

A voice came from the distance: “Susan, it’s time! You have to go to the other side; the string quartet is playing. Come on.”

We ignored it. Susan grabbed my hand and led me to a small window where we watched all of our stunning guests – from LA, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Colorado, Boston –they were all there for us.

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Picking a Donor

September 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Family

By: Heather Somaini

Picking a donor – it sounds kind of funny – like picking out a car or a toaster. In some ways, they are somewhat similar: color, size, options, sunroof, air-conditioning, bagel-toasting options.
The first time I went to the California Cryobank website, I picked out what I thought was a good candidate. In this Internet age, it’s no surprise that you can do it all online. You pick hair and eye color, skin color, hair type, height, weight, religion, level of education…the list just keeps going. Pretty much anything you can think of – it’s there. Then you hit search and voila, your “matches” show up. I decided to pay the $25 or so to see my chosen donor’s information package. He seemed great…tall, Italian, educated, cute baby picture.

I’m going to preface this next section with a disclaimer – it makes really very little sense looking back, but apparently it made sense at the time.

We wanted the donor to look like me. Since Tere was going to carry first, that sounds like it made perfect sense. But since we were going to use the same donor for Baby #2, which I was supposed to carry, that really doesn’t make much sense, does it? That meant that Baby #2 was going to look ONLY like me. Well, I guess we didn’t really think that one all the way through.

To be sure we picked a good one, we decided to pay the extra fee, which has increased considerably since then, and met with an In-House Donor Selection Consultant. Her name was Latrice and we met her on a Monday morning in June, June 27, 2005, to be exact. She was great. We explained that the donor should look like me and that he needed to be at least part Italian…I’m a quarter Italian. He needed to be tall (at least 6 feet), athletic, smart, educated and definitely good-looking. We had a couple options picked out but I was sure that we would go with “my guy” from my first initial search. Latrice listened carefully and selected about six different donors for us to consider.

We started to narrow them down when she excused herself – she wanted to check the donors’ actual hard files just to be sure she knew exactly what they looked like before we made our final decision. While she was gone, Tere and I narrowed it down some more and by the time Latrice returned, we had THE ONE. I explained that we had made a decision and pointed to our “new guy”.

She said “no.” No? What was that about? She pointed to another one and said “that’s the one.” That wasn’t going to be enough for me. I asked “why?” She said, with a slight tilt to her head, “if my 15-year old daughter were here, she would say he is FI-I-INE.” She had me at “fine”; we both immediately said “yes.”

He wasn’t exactly what we had envisioned – he was 5’11”, half-Spanish, a quarter Italian and a quarter English, and he had green eyes. Latrice couldn’t stop gushing about his gorgeous green eyes. She almost swooned. My Dad has hazel eyes so the idea of little green-eyed babies was ridiculously hard to deny. He had very high SAT scores, a Bachelor’s degree in History, and was a 4th grade teacher.

One of the things the Cryobank does is rank all of their donors’ attractiveness. I just HAD to ask how that worked. Apparently, there is an Attractiveness Committee! This committee of six has to be in complete agreement. If a donor candidate falls below a certain number on their 1 to 10 scale, they won’t even accept him into the donor program.

The key things that were super important in our donor was height (Tere’s pretty short), athletic ability (Tere thinks she’s a weeble wobble), and attractiveness. Our guy was an 8 on the Attractiveness Committee’s scale where they’ve never given anyone a ranking of higher than 8.5.

Being the competitive type she is, Tere was happy that we met her requirements.

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First Haircut

August 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Adoptive Families, Jillian Lauren

By: Jillian Lauren

As a Leo mom who is still technically a licensed cosmetologist in the state of California, I love Tariku’s hair long. But my fantasies of him looking like the newest member of the Jackson 5 have been at war with my dread of the daily battle to detangle. So we decided that we’d just take a tiny bit off the ends and hope that made it easier to comb through.

I’m not sure what traumatized me most about the experience. First, I showed up at the salon and was told by the stylist (after having cancelled on me last week) that she was running behind and I’d have to wait an hour. An hour. With my two-year-old. Needless to say I was heading out the door when the owner walked in and offered to do it. I threw caution to the wind and let her cut it. Tariku liked her and she did an okay job, though when I pick it out he looks a little bit like a lopsided bonsai. Plus it’s shorter than I would have liked.

T was a trooper and he was just happy that I brought his muppets DVD. He LOVES Miss Piggy. He doesn’t care one way or the other about his hair. I, however, have been randomly crying ever since.

I have to remind myself that it’s not the end of the world and that childhoods are chock-full of bad haircuts. But it was so hard watching her cut his hair and thinking that it had been a part of him for his whole life.

It’s also hard to explain the pressure that accompanies being a white mom dealing with black hair. It’s a loaded subject and everyone has an opinion. I have actually been stopped in the street by a barber who offered to cut it for me. I thanked him but told him that I’m kind of a hippie and my kid is going to go to hippie schools where no one is going to tease him because he has an afro.

As a mom, how can you always know that the choices you’re making are going to foster a positive self-image? I just want him to love his awesome hair. I want him to keep loving all of himself as much as he does today. I’m not exactly sure how to foster that kind of self love, but I’m committed to trying.

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Automatic

August 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Tosha Woronov

By: Tosha Woronov

Well.

Well.

Look.

Leo’s first trophy.

This is big.

At last night’s team celebration dinner, Coach G dubbed Leo “Mr. Automatic.” (The kid doesn’t miss, you see.)

And so a nickname is born.

Carrying it upstairs on the way to bed he told me, “I have been wanting this my whole life.” (all 5 and ¾ years)

We each weighed in on how he could sleep with it, this fragile and pointy thing. I felt it would be totally fine if – for just this one night – the trophy stayed wrapped in his sweaty little arms. (I wanted the blog photo, and the moment.) Pete worried the kid would hurt an eye. Finally Leo decided that, because he might roll over onto it –break it — it should spend the night on his bedside table.

He would not have chosen so wisely the day before.

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Wedding Bells, Part One

August 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

Susan and I were engaged for two years. I’d like to say it’s because I’m old-fashioned and wanted to be sure that she was “the one” but really it’s because we wanted to get married in Seattle and there are only 2 guaranteed months of sun (if that), we were on a long waitlist for our outdoor island wedding. We, well I, started planning early, about a year out, and I was time crunched. This was Susan’s first introduction to the neurotic side of Brandy Black. I think no matter how organized I am I will always think that stress is an essential ingredient to a good event.

When the weekend finally rolled around, I was beyond prepared. I had gathered my team, my lists, my vendors, my charts and we got on a plane –two beautiful, white gowns in hand –and flew to Seattle.

To this day, whenever I lie in the guestroom bed at my parents’ house and look up at the ceiling, I can still find the two nails side-by-side where our wedding dresses hung, hiding from one another. I will always remember that first night, giddy with excitement. I felt like a bride; I felt beautiful and special and loved. My father turned on Besame Mucho –a family favorite that year and one of “our songs” and we all danced in the living room. Twirling each other, we sang “Mucho Mucho Mucho”. The song became part of our soundtrack as we stuffed welcome bags in a living room floor assembly line. These little moments, with friends and family, were the sweetest parts of our wedding.

When I prepare for any party these days I always remember the infamous boat party the night before our wedding. We had a three-hour cruise around Lake Union. This was important to me, as I spent my college summers as a deckhand and bartender, watching the breathtaking sunsets from the water. I insisted on this being the welcome party for our guests. It was out of the budget –which I’ve never really cared about anyway –but Susan, on the other hand, had to chime in. After the special Susan and Brandy font our calligrapher and I had created for the invitations, to the elaborate honeymoon plan, to the getaway boat, Susan was starting to get a bit anxious. So I settled on cheese and fruit plates –simple food –prepared by us with no extra catering fees. My aunt and mom offered to help set up. But somehow when we arrived at the boat, everything went haywire and nothing was ready and we went into full-blown panic mode as the guests began to arrive. This was the start of what I feared would be a long, disastrous weekend. Susan and I raced around prepping, slicing, flowering and couldn’t handle it on our own. Guests began pitching in, which was far from the original plan. I became overwhelmed and began to feel like a failure at my own party. But then I looked around and realized that people wanted to help, they were happy, it made them feel good. I let go, I relinquished, I couldn’t fight them, and 15 minutes later, the table was filled with beautiful food prepared with great love.

Every time I go to pick up my Lancome mascara, I think of our wedding day. I recall the many conversations with Susan leading up to the big day, one of which was:

Me- Do you need me to buy you make up?
Susan- No.
Me- No? You’re going to wear make up aren’t you?
Susan- Yes
Me- But you don’t have any
Susan- I’ll get some

A couple weeks’ later:

Me- Do you need me to buy you make up?
Susan- No
Me- No? You’re going to wear make up aren’t you?
Susan- Yes
Me- But you don’t have any
Susan- I’ll get some

Day before the wedding:

Me- Did you get make up?
Susan- No
Me- What? What are you going to do?
Susan- Borrow yours
Me- I can’t see you before the wedding
Susan- I know, I’ll have someone come get it

And that’s what she did.

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My Love Child

August 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Sheana Ochoa, Single Parents

By: Sheana Ochoa

Because this month’s theme is love, and feeling guilty after writing my last blog about my unmanageable (I think I referred to him as a “wrecking ball”) toddler, this writing is a kind of balancing of the scales, a love letter to my son, Noah. By the way, I’m happy to report my sister’s discipline advice worked and we are on the road to clear boundaries and understanding consequences, i.e. no more hitting mama.

August 22, 2010

Dearest Noah,

When I told your grandpa I was going to have a baby on my own, choosing an anonymous sperm donor, he was quiet, taking it in. You’ll soon discover that grandpa is a lot of things, but quiet is not one of them. He has an opinion the size of a sermon on everything that concerns him. But this was a new concept for him, being a product of the 1950s and a first generation Mexican-American who graduated from high school, marrying grandma soon after. When they had kids, five of them, none were planned, least of all me, being the last of the clan who caught them completely by surprise (a euphemism for I was not exactly wanted). Like most families, they had kids not because the time was right, but because sex leads to conception.

Our story would be different: I planned you. So, ever since you were conceived, grandpa has referred to you as a “supernatural” child, partly because half of your genealogy is a complete mystery, but mostly because you were willed into this world on spirit wings straight from the depths of my heart.

You have enchanted the family ever since you were born. And it isn’t just family but anyone that comes into contact with you, whether it’s a babysitter or a cashier at the checkout stand. You just induce love-at-first-sight. And it isn’t because you don’t have a biological father (since most people aren’t privy to this information), but because the love we all seem to feel is in its own way “fatherly”: proud in a Willy Loman-type way that exceeds our expectations and is boundless. We would do anything for you.

Which brings me to an interesting revelation. Recently my boyfriend, Michael, and I started recording film reviews on YouTube to help people find good films to rent. Our last review was of a film where the protagonist was being executed under the death penalty. Michael asked me if someone murdered him would I want the killer to get the death penalty? Without hesitation I said I don’t believe in capital punishment and began my litany on how the United States has the proud distinction of being fifth in line in the number of people put to death under the death penalty after such exemplary countries when it comes to human rights as China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Then Michael asked me what if someone killed Noah? My mind spun a 180 and without skipping a beat I said that I would kill the bastard myself (excuse mama’s language). That’s how unconditional, all- consuming, and clear my love is for you. Okay that’s all kind of morbid but the point is this: I have never loved another human being the way I love you. I never imagined love itself could redefine my most fundamental beliefs, could reach beyond my mind’s eye and consume my very essence.

Every day I fall in love with you all over again. Right now you’re in a phase where you wake up crying for your “baba,” screaming if I don’t get it to you fast enough. And even though my first glimpse of you is a runny-nosed, tear-streaked visage, it never fails. I take one look at you, lift your warm body out of your crib, take in your sweet baby smell, and I’m struck by the fullness of my heart. I see God in you, the beautiful infinity of love and light. And this love never falters; it’s infinite.

Love,
Mom

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The Wild

August 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Still riding the high from my weekend away with The Husband, I packed another bag.  This time, it held swimsuits, goggles, sunscreen, hats, tiny plastic, pastel-colored ponies, a stack of Scooby-Doo DVDs.  We were headed to New Mexico to spend five days with my family.  Just me and the kids.

The Husband stayed at home with visions of take-out Chinese dancing in his head.

Going home to New Mexico means going home to my Mom and my Step-mom and the house my father built.  It means going home to my brother and his wife and their daughter.  It means going home to the biggest, bluest sky and the whitest, fluffiest clouds.  It means that my lips will crack from the sudden assault of dry air and my eyes will feel parched from bright sun.   Going home to New Mexico means I will eat green chili and drink Tecate and kick red dust up with the toe of my shoe.

No matter how long I stay away, New Mexico always feels like home.

To my kids, New Mexico, is “the wild.”  When we visit, they get dirty and forget about a bath.  They wade in the stream that runs behind my Step-mom’s house and follow animal tracks in the arroyo mud at my Mom’s.  On this trip, we saw bear scat and the big round paw marks of a bobcat.  My son climbed a fallen tree and got an ankle full of cactus prickles.  My daughter trailed big, black beetles and picked wild paintbrush flowers.  We saw four different kinds of hummingbirds and in the evening, bats swooped low and silent around us in the yard.

For two nights, we camped beside Navajo Lake and the kids climbed huge sandstone formations and swam in the cool water.  They leaned over the dock to see sunfish and carp darting just below the surface and learned to cut a worm into thirds to bait a hook.  My son drove a boat and my daughter and her cousin paddled through muddy water like little frogs.  I let them run wild.  I let them walk by themselves down to the beach (though I watched them carefully from above.)  We sent them on errands to the dock for ice and ten-cent bubble gum and watched as they walked farther and farther away.  They felt powerful in their little group of three. They are growing comfortable in the wild.  They are growing brave and confident and certain.  My trust in them helps them grow.  It is a wonderful thing to see.

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