Category Archives: Other Stuff

Coaching on Coercion

I read that essay on Aziz Ansari and “Grace.” I related to Grace since I have experienced a similar situation a few times in my day. I never thought I had been assaulted, but I definitely felt like I had experienced something incredibly unpleasant and really wrong. I’ll say this, none of the situations I found my way out of featured a dude who apologized after the fact.

Yeah, been there, done that.

And then I developed some skills. I learned how to avoid those situations whenever possible. I paid attention to my spidey sense. I learned to gracefully and ungracefully extricate myself from situations that made me uncomfortable. I learned to find my own voice about consent.

Sadly, I didn’t get to this place until I was probably in my early 30s.

I have tried to normalize conversations about sex and relationships with Hope. I’m certainly not encouraging her to go out and get her swerve on, but I want her to feel confident about herself, her body and her ability to make good decisions about all of this.

Since last summer we’ve spent more time talking about sexual misconduct and the #MeToo movement. We talk about assault. We talk about catcalling. We talk about harassment. I try to be frank and direct with Hope, but I’m also sensitive about what kinds of things might be triggering. I bring it up in the car since that seems to be the super safe space for us. A lot of what we’ve discussed are pretty clear cut cases of sexual misconduct. After mulling over the messy case of “Grace” and Ansari, I realized that even though I’ve spent a lot of time talking about consent with Hope, I hadn’t coached my daughter about something more subtle and insidious in sexual relationships—persistent coercion.

You like the guy/gal. You’re hanging out. Things get a little hot and heavy. You don’t feel as comfortable as you did 3 minutes ago. You kind of put your hands up and push back, but things get a little more insistent. You break away, but your partner tries to soothe your fears; maybe says they just dig you so much; they are really, really into you and don’t you dig them too? You do, and you might even say that you want things to slow down a bit. You might even say no verbally. Your partner goes back to the pursuit, a little stronger, a little bolder; whispering how into you they are and how this feels so right. You don’t think it feels totally right, but you dig the person and don’t want to wreck the flow. You might even feel like you still have control of this situation, but maybe losing that control kinda quickly.

You consent to do a few things; they do a few things and everything continues to escalate. Both of you are breathless. But it doesn’t feel so right so you try to slow things down again, but the pursuit, gentle as it may be, continues. You also still really dig this person and you begin to wonder what will happen if you really stopped everything right now. Will the budding relationship end? Will it get violent? You don’t think they will *really* hurt you will they? Will you seem like a tease after what you’ve done already? What will happen now? Can you even stop this right now after you did what you did? Was that consent for *everything?* And how do you stop or slow down things again without a making this a big deal? The cycle goes on and on until you are just worn down and you just give in and ‘consent’ to activities that you really don’t want to do. Afterwards you feel like crap, but your partner might not even notice, not because they are a rapist but because their twisted concept of consent means y’all are both cool with what just went down.

Yeah, that scenario. Is it assault? Not really. Did you consent? Worn down is a better characterization. Do you have regrets? Forever yes. Do you continue seeing that person? Maybe, maybe not.

I recently asked Hope had she heard about the Ansari/Grace story. She’s heard a little, so we did a recap and I asked her what she thought about it. We batted that around a bit, and then I got a bit more specific—“What if you were Grace? What would you have done and when?” And because it can’t just be a gendered lesson, “What if you were Ansari? What would you have done and when?” Everyone should learn about giving and getting consent. We talked about how to extricate ourselves from situations that don’t make us feel good. We talked about more than just regular safety concerns; we discussed the need to feel good emotionally about our decisions and choices. We talked about that middle ground that seems to exist between enthusiastic consent and reluctant consent.

This was probably one of our more delicate conversations about sex. I shared about some of my experiences and how old I was when they happened so that Hope would understand that I was older and still not as sure of myself as I thought at the time. I shared about how I felt after a particular situation, and noted that that relationship didn’t go far after that. I never demonized my partners, but I also didn’t portray them as the knights in shining armor that a 16 year old girl probably would either. We were and are just regular folks making some not great decisions at a point in our lives. I talked about what I wished I had done differently.

For her part, Hope shared the goings on of a date she had last year and how she handled herself. I was glad she felt comfortable enough to share with me. #thrilled I was so proud of her, and coached her on how to identify coercion and things to say and do in the future to be clear about her expectations and her ability to give or withhold consent.

Sure, we’ll still talk about just good decision making regarding sex, but I’m realizing that it’s this grayish area that I will continue to talk to my daughter about. When she becomes active, I want her to feel confident in her choices and to have skills to react to unwanted pressure. I want Hope to be in control of her whole life, including the sexual life that she eventually chooses.

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Battle with a Teacher

I’m an educator. My sister is an educator. I work for educators. My friends are educators.

Educators are my homies, and you can usually find me defending educators—especially K-12 teachers—hard!

My engagements with Hope’s school regarding her academic challenges have been far more positive than not. Of late, it’s been more challenging to get Hope to avail herself of the accommodations designed to help her be successful. Pride is one of the 7 deadly sins for good reason.

In any case, midway through this quarter I continued to monitor Hope’s grades. I didn’t put pressure on her, I just wanted to keep an eye on things. I reached out to several of her teachers; she seemed to be especially struggling in those courses and I wanted to know a bit about how she behaved in class, had she been to visit them about her work and whether she was regularly engaged.

One teacher was outright dismissive. I told her that her response was problematic and what I needed to know moving forward.

Hope managed to pull her grades up, but I knew it would be a long year with this teacher.

Fast forward to this morning when the teacher sends me a lengthy email about Hope’s lackluster performance, the fact that she has given her additional assignments and the fact that I was not holding up my end of the educational social contract.

Oh really?

I quickly wrote her back noting that this might’ve been avoided if she hadn’t been dismissive weeks ago, that Hope would absolutely NOT be doing additional assignments under any circumstances, and that she really had no clue what the details of my social contract were so she might want to get back in her lane.

We scheduled a call for after I arrived at the airport and things didn’t just go left. I was so damn furious after this call that we will be meeting with some administrators in the future.

I no longer disclose that Hope is an adoptee or that she has emotional struggles unless it’s necessary. She is entitled to some privacy; she is entitled to some normalcy. I disclosed a few weeks ago that my daughter struggles with ADHD.

Today, the instructor indicated she knew all about that because her son has it and he even had to go on anti-depressants briefly because he was down and really at his tween age, what could he possibly have to worry about? And what could Hope have to worry about?

I had to close my eyes and take a breath not to verbally stomp this woman.

Now, sometime this quarter the teacher disclosed that she was an adoptee, specifically a Korean adoptee. Hope was drawn to her because of both the adoptee identification and she still loves all things/people Korean. What I didn’t realize was that Hope had chosen not to disclose that she too was an adoptee.

Well, I began to explain that Hope’s struggles with ADHD are not organic; they are trauma based. She is struggling with many adoption-related issues and she is being monitored closely. She’s not “down” and only requiring a brief stint on drugs; medication is a part of her life and helps keeps her functional. And yes, she is an adoptee, an older adoptee who is struggling and who is exceptionally good at masking her struggle outside of our home.

I thought a brief moment of compassion and some level of shared experience might wash over us, but nah. Teacher lady proceeded to tell me that Hope needed to learn responsibility with this ‘punishment’ assignment, and I needed to learn how to properly offer positive reinforcement and incentives.

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Say what now? Whoooosaaaaahhhhh….

Lady, I done took and told you she’s 👏🏾not 👏🏾doing👏🏾 your👏🏾 effing👏🏾 punishment 👏🏾assignment; you know nothing about Hope’s intrinsic or extrinsic motivation triggers so mind your beeswax and your adoption narrative is not the same as Hope’s so again, get in your lane.

She came again with how she would send me some incentive charts, and I just said, well, look at that, I’m at my airport gate, got to go. *Click*

Making me sing church spirituals, trying to get my mind right dealing with this teacher lady. Imma need the Holy Homeboy to show up and show out…cause for real…I am not the one.

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At home, I told Hope she didn’t need to do any other assignments for this class this week; the grown folks have some stuff we need to work out and I need to to focus on getting her feeling safe, attached and functional.

The ONLY good thing is that I really do not have any more damns to give about Hope’s academic performance right now. My daughter’s well-being is everything. Sure, I want her to do her best, but not at the risk of her mental health.

Meanwhile, I feel like this teacher and I are going to butt heads for a while. She was downright offensive today. I’m hoping that with time she will have a better understanding of Hope’s struggle, but if she keeps pushing and academically punishing I’m going to have to be *that* mom.

She really, really doesn’t want to meet that chick.


Thoughts on Baldwin

American writer, James Baldwin would have been 93 years old today. He is one of my favorite writers, and especially so in this season in my life and in the current political climate.

Baldwin was unapologetically black, gay, not conventionally handsome and critical of his country. He was the embodiment of resistance. I remember when i first read him; I thought I had found a part of myself that was missing. I also felt permission to criticize the systemically oppressive country that is  my home. Baldwin was a genius, and so much of what I do has threads of inspiration that lead back to him.

How I teach Hope about politics, social engagement and critique is strongly rooted in this black man’s work. I see him quoted often during the last 18 months or so; as his writings and critique of America’s treatment of people of color remains painfully current.

If you’ve never read any of James Baldwin’s work–you should. You should watch his interviews on YouTube and you should enjoy his snippets of sage, wondrous quips from his observations.

The quotes below are some of my favorites and that I come back to repeatedly. I challenge my readers to read them and push them through an adoption lens as well as the lenses of race and sexuality. I promise you, they still ring true.

Thank you, Mr. Baldwin.

 

 

 

 

 


ABM & DAI

A few months ago, a good pal named Tao from The Adopted Ones, reached out to me with news that The Donaldson Adoption Institute was accepting blog pitches. I enjoy writing, and I feel strongly that voices of people of color in the adoption community are woefully underrepresented.

So, I decided to submit some ideas.

I’m delighted that the organization thought my voice was important and valuable. I’m also totally jazzed that the good folks there have decided to feature my story in honor of Black History Month.

Gosh, I feel special.

I’m happy to post a link to the first of a two-part series from me over on the Donaldson Adoption Institute blog.  Be sure to stop by their Facebook page and hit them up on Twitter too!

HOW I GOT HERE

dai

And yes, I am using my IRL name in addition to my pen name. 🙂

 


What the Election Means – Real Talk

Well, I’ve managed to endure 4 of the 5 stages of grief post-election.  I skipped ‘bargaining’ because well, there isn’t really a reason to go through that one with a national election. I’ve landed in this place of acceptance about the presidential election.

I’m disgusted by it, but it is what it is. #resignation

It is an interesting dilemma when a candidate can win the popular vote, but not the electoral vote, but you know the way representative democracies are set up…

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So here we are, a nation that elected a candidate with no political experience, who has maligned bunches of folks and declared numerous enemies, puckered up to Putin, who is ensnared in multiple law suits, and after retweeting and reverbing countless racist tweets, memes and theory was openly endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.

Yeah, we did that. #Murrica

I worked on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress early in my career. Many of my colleagues are Hill or federal government employees or alums. It is noble and can be difficult work. These folks are educated, hard workers, have a non-partisan depth of knowledge and expertise that is essential to keep things running—right down to the cafeteria workers and janitors found in many a hallowed hall.

They endure partisan changes with every election.

While I do worry about the governance implications of a Trump presidency; I am a student of government. I know that even when one party controls all of the points, our system is designed to resist a cliff fall. Oh, there will be change and there will be pork barrelling like a mug; I fear some of it will be very bad, very bad for regular common folk like me, but at a national, global, macro level, I’m not sure what that will look like. I do know that we’ve seen a trend in higher ed for years of bringing in corporate executives to run colleges and universities with the goal of making them leaner and meaner. The results have been mixed at best.

It is and will remain a mystery what will unfold here as we watch Trump’s post-inaugural 100 days of policy making beginning in January.

I’m more concerned about things at the local level.

All politics are local.

It’s not just the Trump presidency, it’s not just the down ballot races, it’s the local school boards, city councils and board of supervisors. It’s the judges, state and district attorneys, the sheriffs and the aldermen. It’s the appointments that they make over agencies like Children and Family Services.

It’s the ripple effect in my community that deeply worries me.

Do these folks embrace that rhetoric? Do they think it’s ok to “grab ‘em by the p*ssy?” After exonerating innocent defendants will they still, 20 years later, go to the media and claim they are guilty?  #centralpark5 Or do they think all that stuff is just a bunch of hogwash and that “he really didn’t mean it!”

Will they stop me? Will they treat me fairly? Will I be given the benefit of the doubt? Will I or my daughter die at their hands because, as an African American living in an urban area (though not the inner city) I was risking life and limb just going to pick up my prescription due to the all the hellish crime surrounding me in my quiet suburban neighborhood?

Did they vote for him? Will they vote with him and Pence in concept in the future? Will they infantilize people of color and women as though we are unable to make decisions for ourselves?

And that’s just within the system.

I never made a personal proclamation on social media to “unfriend” me if someone was a Trump supporter. I had one person troll me and I dealt with that in the manner that you would deal with a troll. Otherwise, I might vehemently disagree but I am willing to engage and I’m willing to try to see the world from their vantage point. #neverscared

And now, I wonder who I can trust. Did the unabashed abandon of “political correctness” or as I like to call it, home training, appeal to folks’ inner monologue about women, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, and whomever else got dragged during the campaign? Do they now feel it’s perfectly acceptable, nay, encouraged to say these things out loud to any and every one without shame of any retribution?

Was the America that they wanted to return to have me and mine using a different bathroom because my brown skin might give them cooties?

Was it a belief that black and brown people are ne’er do-wells who don’t want to work or need to be legally managed?

Do some of them think that I’m less than I really am?

These are the questions that will make me shudder during the next four years. It is the reality that we have normalized abnormal behaviors and speech. No, we didn’t normalize it, we either found it so meaningless as to outright dismiss it or we were cool with it or found it so meaningful so as to even lukewarmly embraced it.

Even with a lot of gray, we validated hate speech this week.

We made it so ok to be an asshole that we can now tell our kids, “Look, you too can grow up to be an asshole.”

And K-12 teachers are already reporting the increases in race and immigration based bullying after a year of campaigning. Oh, kids are also calling folks deplorable, but some of the rhetoric is, in fact, deplorable. My daughter talked to me yesterday about how worried some of her friends were; about their futures; about being bullied for being different.

Isms are learned. Hate is learned. This stuff isn’t innate. We bear the burden of having taught our kids that a large group of folks in this country believe that this foolish, childish behavior was ok.

It’s ok to have different view points; it’s ok to disagree.  Not every disagreement is hate speech or tone policing so we need to stop accusing folks of it when it’s not. Not every episode of poor home training related behavior is malicious. There is room for grace and the need to take advantage of teachable moments.

As mom to Hope, I try to teach her grace and how to respond to these moments appropriately, even as I quietly bemoan the need to do so. I hope that others are doing the same with their kids.

I often feel so stretched parenting Hope alone, but I know that my commitment to civic engagement is going to deepen as a result of this election. I need to start going to more community meetings, school board meetings, Board of Supervisors meetings, and the like. I need to be sure decisions concerning me and my family are not made without me.

This election is a sign for me to continue to work to create the world I want for me and my daughter. It is and always should’ve been a call to action for those of us who resist oppression in any form.

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President whomever, certainly plays a role in that, but #realtalk, that kinda change starts at home and in your hood.

 


Vote Your Conscience

It’s pretty rare for me to engage in direct political conversation on this space, and I gotta admit that this is really deliberate for me. I live in the DC metro area; we breathe politics here. I was a lobbyist for almost 10 years, with an undergrad degree in government and politics. Politics are my occupational first love. What’s happening in the US right now almost defies words. I often imagine that it is like watching the midpoint of the fall of a great republic, which is shocking given that we’ve survived a lot of other bull ish.

I know who I’m voting for next month, but I won’t publicly endorse the candidate or name them since I do think that it’s a deeply personal decision, especially this year. (Of course, if you follow me on twitter, you already know who I’m voting for.) So many of us are making voting decisions based on who we can tolerate more and hate less.

This is my first election as a parent, and things are different.  And in this election, that is an understatement. The crazy in the American election season this year is unprecedented.

Like many parents, so much of my political decision making is influenced by the future I want for my daughter. But even though this is my first political rodeo as a parent, I’m still voting in part based on who I think will eff up my daughter’s future less.

I am Black woman, raising a young Black daughter.

I’m guessing that you *should* be able to figure out who I’m not voting for in a few weeks.

Yesterday I was popping around a few adoption support groups when I came across a post by a parent who was defending her support of the GOP presidential nominee despite having children of color (though for me the argument could be made to just stop the sentence with “children.”). She posted about how she hated Clinton more. I get that.

What I couldn’t wrap my head around was the tacit acceptance of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, rapey, ablest, gutter language spouted by a candidate that has emboldened some pretty awful citizens to come out from their hiding places. I also couldn’t understand how that reality could be reconciled with the desire to raise children of color, or girls, or special needs children or just children to live in a safe country that values and embraces them.

What about our shared values?

Maybe we don’t have shared values.

Maybe we never did.

For me, ultimately, this is what a lot of the national discourse has been reduced to.

I’m not nearly as afraid of terrorists or undocumented immigrants or increased taxes or Russia as I am about my black daughter potentially being killed by American police, being sexually assaulted, being marginalized and bullied at her school, being accosted on the street by some crazy racist, sexist person who makes her feel threatened.

For me, the devil beyond the borders isn’t nearly as frightening as the one within them.

With each week, the discourse worsens and my fear escalates.

I genuinely worry for our collective futures.

I worry for our children.

I worry for my beautiful black daughter.

I worry for Hope.

I’m not naïve. I don’t expect everyone to vote the way I will. I don’t believe that we all share the same beliefs and values. I don’t believe that everyone hopes the best for me or people who look like me—both Black and a woman.

But I still hope that people will invest some critical thought into their votes.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who believes cozying up to White supremacists is ok, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who believes “locker room” talk includes descriptions of sexual assault, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who blasts his sexual assault accusers but can still fix his mouth to bring up the affairs of a candidate’s husband as though they are more legitimate and/or somehow different than his own narrative, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who openly mocks women’s looks and bodies and believes in punishing women in for having a voice, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who openly mocks those with disabilities, vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who conflates being Black with living in hellish inner cities, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who doesn’t include men and adoptive families in his family leave plan, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who practiced housing discrimination, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who has defended the killing of unarmed people of color by law enforcement, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who cloaks himself in religion when it is expedient, specifically when there is a need to be forgiven, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who lives on Twitter but doesn’t disavow a hashtag like #repealthe19th then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who embraces voters who actually wear racist and sexist paraphernalia with his name emblazoned on it, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who waxes philosophical about a time when America was great and various citizens were legally subjugated, then vote your conscience.

I could go on; there is so much more.

Vote your conscience.

Or not.

It’s hard to focus on actual policy when the mud is so thick.

I need a shower after just comprising a list.

I don’t suggest that there isn’t mud on all sides, certainly there is, and none of it makes me excited about this election. But again, my fears are more immediate, more personal.

So, this post isn’t an endorsement of anyone, but it is a call for folks to really think about what their vote means, what their conscience is really saying to them, and what they really want for the future of America.

For me, I want something different. I don’t have many options, but I definitely, definitely want something different.

I hope you do too.

 

 


Black Exceptions

I am emotionally exhaustipated.

Hope has returned home from band camp, and we I am trying to get us back on our normal routine.  At about hour 38 this morning—not even 2 full days back home—I lost my ish dealing with Hope’s morning lag time that seriously makes me late for work every MORNING! I was an episode of Snapped and it wasn’t pretty.

I’m pretty keyed up and I’m not proud of it. Just lost in the throes of mourning, sadness, grief, and anger over recent events. I returned to work this morning and set about catching up and reaching out to colleagues in locations affected by death and protests. There is just a dark cloud of messy emotions.

Over the weekend I spent a fair amount of time on social media and ended up pruning my lists of friends and acquaintances. I typically keep the security settings fairly high on my personal FB page, only those close to me really get to see me unedited and uncensored. Amazingly, a lot of people don’t seem to bother self-censoring, editing or using security settings to do it for them.

I tend not to accept friend requests from colleagues or students, and if I do, most go on a special list of folks who get to see very little of what I post. #boundaries

So, if you follow social media you know that these spaces are still rather frenzied over the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five fallen officers in Dallas. There is an enormous amount of noise.

Some of that noise included “friends” and colleagues posting all kinds of tom-foolery about the shootings. There were racist memes, pro-murder/lynching memes, articles from less than reputable “news” (I use the term so loosely here) sites about how awful those black men were. There was absence of civility for a diverse group of folks, unless of course you think you are exclusively among like-minded “friends.”

Then there were the “friends of friends” who posted all kinds of utter non-sense on their “friends’” walls, which because of their lack of privacy settings, turns up in my newsfeed too.

The trauma don’t stop, won’t stop. Ugh!

It’s ok to disagree on many things, really it is. But the willingness to spew venom and nastiness into the world is just beyond me. How angry and discontented with your life do you have to be to do that? Is that really what you want to spend time doing with your life? You’d rather post a racist meme than share a silly sloth video? #Iloveslothvideos

Hate is such a hot and bothered emotion. Meh.

As I scrolled and scrolled through newsfeeds and timelines looking at the mess, I thought to myself, “Self, what would happen if I “liked” any of these posts?”

What would their reaction be?

Would they feel any shame?

Would they think I was really that self-loathing?

Would they realize that I got a peek behind their personal curtain to see who they really were?

And what would their reaction be when we saw each other at an event or meeting?

Would they expect that we would still be cool? Did they expect me to just let it slide as a momentary lapse into episodic racism?

Or would they think that somehow I would understand that they weren’t talking about ME, because well, I’m different. I’m the exception to the rules that governed their racism.

I started slashing and burning through friend lists on Facebook and announced that I was doing so. I don’t mind divergent opinions, but I have limits on acceptable levels of foolery.

This idea that I might be different is troubling.

Do I defy their stereotypes? Do I exceed their low expectations? Is it because, well, I’m one of like 3 black folks that they know personally and so that makes me different? Is it because I can code switch? Is it because I don’t scare them? Is it because I don’t make them uncomfortable? Is it because I don’t make a big deal about their whiteness and often maleness and don’t indict them on what I see as deeply rooted, systemic racism, sexism and ageism in the community I work in? Or is it because I’m just not really black, or what they perceive as black so they can just recategorize me into the reserved space for special, super cool black folk who will take you to, and keep you safe at, the soul food restaurant when you come to town so that you can say you lived a little while you were on that business trip? #seriousprivilegeatwork

I’d like to think I’m a bad ass, that I’m exceptional. I think I’m good at what I do. I work hard; I always have. I think that I’ve benefitted from good mentoring, from good counseling, from occasionally affirmative action to just give me a much needed chance to show my work and from extensive hard work.

But the problem with being “exceptional” in this case is that it allows people to justify having a poor view of folks who look just like me. It gives folks an out when they really need to squirm on the hook.

It also puts an enormous amount of pressure on me to live up to the Magic Standard—be everything, do everything and make everyone exceptionally comfortable while doing it.

It’s impossible to do that. Black exceptionalism is not the move. #blackexcellenceistho

So no one who thought we were close enough to post something off the wall and allow it to permeate my newsfeed got a pass this weekend. Nope, not today folks, not today.

eyeroll#weaintrockingnomo

As Jesse Williams said, “The thing is though, that just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

jesse-williams


Thoughts on Infertility

I wonder if I will ever stop mourning my fertility. I imagine that there will always be a tiny part of me that will be sad and wonder what if…

What if I had done something differently?

What if I had tried to have a child earlier in life?

What if I hadn’t been selfish in loving my single, child-free life for so long?

What if I could’ve done something to prevent the surgery that closed the door on my fertility?

What if I could’ve, would’ve, should’ve…

What if.

As if, it would’ve made any difference. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference. But the thing is, I will always wonder, and I will always have feelings about it.

Someone close to me recently announced her pregnancy. Gosh, I’m so excited for her. Thrilled. Over the moon. She wondered whether this day would ever come.

I’m so glad it did.

But the news of her pregnancy…oh dear. I hate admitting the jealousy I feel. I hate feeling like I both want to hear more and hear nothing about it. I hate feeling alone in not being able to emote anything but joy around the subject as though it is the only emotion I feel.

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Joy & Sadness     Giphy.com

I both delight and loathe the gushing in our circle about the pregnancy. I can’t help but compare it to the emotion exhibited when I announced my adoption of Hope. It’s not the same. I don’t have much to compare it to, so I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the same. I feel like it should be the same, and yet, it isn’t and that brings its own set of feelings.

I also wonder if I really, really did not give myself enough time to mourn. I moved to adoption phase only 6 months after my invasive surgery and only 3 months after my specialist told me that a pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for me. I often wonder if I had it to do again, would I take more time?

I don’t know.

I know that so much of adoption can be about timing, what if I missed Hope? Or Hope missed me or we missed each other?

Right now, with all that I’m enduring with Hope, this unanticipated mourning of my fertility feels like the thing that has drawn blood. It’s the event that has pushed me right over the edge of sadness. It’s the thing that took my damaged, cracked heart and crushed it.

And, really it has little to do with the pregnancy announcement, it has everything to do with the fact that I will never make one. My body won’t do one of the things that it’s supposed to be able to do.

And I can’t fix that either. It just is. And like much going on these days, it sucks.

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It keeps raining here in the DC area. It’s doing nothing to improve my mood these days. The gloomy, overcast days…well, I can’t tell if they are reflecting me or if I’m reflecting them.

Sigh.

I’m headed for a change of scenery this weekend with work travel—cherry country. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to shake off some of these feelings while there. They are pretty heavy these days. Some work travel is probably just the thing I need to turn this frown upside down.

 


Good and Scary

I loathe doing trigger warnings on a space that I created for myself, but well, I rarely bring politics into this space and today I will. So, if you’re not down with reading this perspective, you might want to move on right about 5ish paragraphs in.

Surprisingly, Hope and I are doing well. Things are good. Things are so good that last weekend, I took Hope and a family friend (also an adoptee) roller skating, then on Saturday Hope went to a church event (alone), that was followed by lunch with the church friends (sans me), led part of the teen service at the church we attend (I was the geeky parent taking pictures proudly) and then hung out for 4—that’s FOUR—amazeballs hours at the home of a friend from school (that’s right, she finally got an invite to go hang) AND said friend even brought her home for me.

All of this meant that I got to become one with my new magic couch…alone. I snuggled on my couch with Yappy in a state of ecstatic glee.

Last weekend was nothing short of epic.

I’m hopeful again. I’m feeling better; I finally named the new car—Polished Polly. The couch…oooohh the couch, seriously, I can’t rave about the couch enough.

I’m on a business trip, which means I get a bit of time away. Hope gets a bit of time from me. Tonight when I get home, things will be all lovely for a day or two.

Things ae good.

And things are scary. Like, seriously boogey man scary. Trump? Really? Really? I west coast woke up this morning to find that this dude has now won the Nevada caucus.

As a Black woman, this dude’s misogynism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia…it sickens me and makes me very afraid. What actually scares me more is that followers pride themselves in having found a candidate who says all the awful things they haven’t the balls to say out loud in pleasant, mixed company. The fact that he has struck a chord with so many people helps me understand even more why I must be vigilant about my daughter’s safety.

I already worry about the police—who are jumping on the bandwagon by boycotting Beyonce because she has hot sauce in her bag (swag), slays and had the audacity to include a video shoot that asked cops to stop killing us.

I worry about how easily policy decisions that result in unpotable water and massive amounts childhood lead poisoning. #Flint

I was working yesterday, doing a meeting about diversity in professional schools. Someone asked me if I thought there was really more racial incidents occurring or if they just got more attention? I replied that I thought it was both.

What I really wanted to say is, “Does it really matter?” If there aren’t as many, but there is more attention, that only shows what people like me live through every day. If there are more events and less attention why the hell wouldn’t I be afraid of an uptick in hate crimes, especially with no more attention because no one cares?

Seriously, WTF? It kinda sucks all the way around, right?

So to have a candidate whose hate is being legitimized with each primary or caucus scares me and it makes me wary of my fellow citizens.

This doesn’t let many of the other GOP candidates off the hook; but few of them scare me as much as Trump. And while I am a self-avowed Democrat; I’m not really all that thrilled with my choices there either. I don’t believe in dynasties, even if it would mean breaking the gender ceiling and I love idealism, but there’s a reason it’s not practical—because it’s simply not.

Super Tuesday is next week and it could really serve to lock  down our choices for November. I am hopeful, prayerful even, that my country cares about my safety and the safety of my family as African Americans. I am hopeful that other choices are made. I am hopeful that the articulation of fears like mine don’t just echo in the darkness, but that they mean something.

My fear of a Trump presidency is real. My fear that an increasing number of people buy into his rhetoric and his “I know I am but what are you?” routines have a gut check about kindness, humanity, compassion and true American ideals and not our faux exceptionalism. I hope that we all have moments of awakening that allow us to transcend the political rubbish and allow us to make real decisions about our fellow citizens.

There’s no endorsement in this post, just a lot of questions and a lot of fears for our country’s future. Please remember people like me. Remember Hope. Think about us as we all make our decisions.

Things are good and scary these days.


New Car, New Chapter

Yesterday I bought an SUV.

Other than the exterior color, it’s really amazing. It’s fully loaded and pretty lux. But the truth is that while I am happy about the new car, and new car smell and all of that, I kinda hate my new car.

Or rather, I hate what it represents, which is another piece of pre-Hope identity kicked to the wayside.

oprah-tears-tissue

In recent months I’ve really embraced motherhood and really tried to meet Hope where she is. We both have benefited from this effort.

But there’s something about this car purchase that sits on me like a giant thud.

Yesterday morning I was the owner (free and clear by the way) of an adorable little red Mini Cooper that I called, the Chili Pepper. “Chili” was my dream car. I’d wanted a Mini for years, but really never thought I’d get one. I’d had a sports car right out of college and then I had a cute sporty wagon. So when I started my doctoral program, I took the plunge and headed to the Mini dealership, where I fell in love with Chili.

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I loved that car. Me and Chili had seen a good chunk of the east coast. Like all of my previous cars she was a stick shift. and I loved the handling and the power this little car channeled. She was distinctive with her little personalized plates. People would walk by Chili and  smile. People would ride in Chili and marvel at just how awesome she was. When Hope moved here, my ownership of Chili was definitely an indicator of my potential “coolness.” She was different.  Did I mention that I loved her?

I owned Chili for 5 years, almost to the day. Her warranties were just about up and repairs and upkeep can be pricey on Minis.  She’d just endured a repair that would’ve been about $6K but for the fact that it was covered under the warranty.

Then there was Hope’s instrument; she plays a tenor sax. The dang thing took up the whole boot trunk. If I ever offered another band kid a ride they couldn’t be from the low brass or percussion sections, that’s for sure. And Hope plans to take guitar lessons this year so there’s really a need for more room.

Finally, there’s the trip to Boston and Martha’s Vineyard of 2015. I had to get a roof bag to accommodate all of the luggage. We stayed at the sexy Boston W hotel for a few days, and when we drove up, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies traveling in a clown car. It worked, but it was clear that it wasn’t optimal and that something was going to have to change. I was simply too cute to look like a traveling vagabond on vacation. The faces of the uber hot valets when they saw up pull up invoked all kinds of shame.

Sigh.

So yesterday, I cleaned Chili out and sold her out for an SUV—a Nissan Rogue. It’s gray, which I hate, but it is what it is since the deal was just something I couldn’t walk away from.

So, what’s the rub?

Losing Chili for a much needed family car is another way my life has changed since becoming a mom. It was the end of another chapter. It was another thing I gave up for the good of my family.

Love-and-Other-Drugs

I don’t regret it, but I’m so sad, so so sad. I’m all in my feels. Cause I’m a wee bit selfish and petty.

I knew trading Chili in would be hard for me, but I teared up as I stood in CarMax, looking at her one last time, reminiscing about our good times and how I was sad to close this chapter on my pre-Hope single, footloose and fancy free life.

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Since then, I’ll admit that I’ve had two all out snot-riddled sobbing sessions since coming home with the new car.

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Grief is a beeotch and it hits you in the worst ways at the worst times.

I know it’s not about the car; it really is about what the car represents.

Now, instead of this distinctive cute car, I’ve got a great car that is just like everyone else’s great and reasonable car. . Heck I’ve already tried to break into two other cars like it while shopping ,and it’s not been quite 24 hours since I signed the papers.

I always knew where Chili was in a parking lot. <snif>

And did I mention that Hope is unimpressed?  The source of disinterest in part stems from the fact that I deviated from my intended purchase plan.  In essence, she’s salty because I didn’t buy the car I originally intended to test drive and purchase and plan changes generally don’t make her feel safe. So, there’s all that drama left to unpack too.

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The new car is new and different in a cool way, but it’s another change, it’s another accommodation required of this life, that frankly I didn’t give a lot of thought about until about 6 months ago. Another naive parenting pothole for me, I guess.

I will fall in love with the new car. It will get a name and develop a personality, and I will learn to find her in the parking lot.  In time the new car will allow me to cart Hope and some friends around, take her to summer band camp and maybe even take her away to college. This will be a great chapter. I know it will.

And in time, I will be able to remember Chili and our time together and not be sad. I’ll remember it for what it is—a chapter in this life—and I will think about when I’ll be able to get another Mini. It will happen, and we’ll all be happy.

Until then, I’m a bit sappy about this required change.


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