Don’t mind us. We’ll be glued to the television for the next two weeks.
I don’t feel even a little bit bad about it.
GO TEAM USA!!!
This feels like such a silly problem to have but here’s where I’m at: going out on weekdays feels overly complicated.
My little ones are bored if we stay home all day every day. So am I. That’s partly mitigated by Margot’s preschool schedule; she has afternoon class three days a week and morning class the other days. If nothing else, that gets Ryan and me out for drop-off and pick-up. Often we’ll run errands after we drop her off, since we’re already in the car and it’s always easier when it’s just the two of us.
However, when I factor in Mila’s school schedule, it feels more challenging. Not that it’s weird—she’s gone from about 8 to almost 3—but it does limit us. If I want to take the little kids somewhere after preschool, we have to be back before Mila gets home. That gives us 3 hours to work with, either in the morning or the afternoon depending on the day. It’s plenty of time to go to the park, but kinda pushing it if we want to, say, go to the zoo.
And then there’s the fact that Mila gets jealous when we go on adventures without her. I could do smaller things with Margot and Ryan while she’s at school, and save bigger outings for after school. But then, again, it feels like we’re in a time crunch because we have to be home to make dinner, do homework, get chores done, and do the bedtime routine.
After so many years of fairly unrestricted time to do whatever we want all day, I’m still struggling to adapt.
What the heck am I going to do when I’ve got one child each in high school, middle school, and elementary school, PLUS all the extracurricular activities that come with that? How do people balance the responsibilities of an older child while still making time for going out to explore and have fun, without resorting to homeschooling? I mean, props to the homeschooling families, but I know it’s not for us.
Why is this so hard for me??? Aside from the fact that I’m a natural homebody and not at all Type A, of course. I’m sure neither of those have anything to do with it. *eye roll here*
Reading what I’ve written, I feel beyond foolish. I guess I just need some validation.
Has anyone else struggled to find a good balance of going out enough without neglecting obligations? What are your best tips for making it work? How do you give your children enough unstructured play time, take care of household responsibilities, stick to a schedule, and still make room for adventures?
Is it even possible? Or is this going to be my ongoing struggle in motherhood?
Help a sister out!
(347 + 249 + 116 weeks)
Last week I read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I went in knowing nothing about the story except it was highly recommended. And as I read it, I had some Strong Feelings.
On one hand, stories about racism—both extreme and subtle, personal and systemic—are soooo important. The characters were complex and at least partially sympathetic, and I 100% believe something like this could happen in real life. It’s sobering.
But on the other hand, I’m not sure it was this author’s story to tell. How could a white woman possibly understand what it’s like to be a black woman living + working + raising a child in a predominantly white city? Not that there’s anything wrong with white authors writing black characters, but this story was ABOUT RACE. It raised my eyebrows for sure.
I was bothered by too many stereotypes: the model minority, the domestic worker, the angry black woman, her thug children. Even the moderate white character had to be taught to see things correctly by her newfound black friend…which is a play on the Magical Negro trope.
And the White Supremacist character? He scared the crud out of me up until the end when he suddenly wasn’t as believable anymore. No spoilers, but things wrapped up way too nicely for me.
It was an eye-opening and moving book. I honestly enjoyed it. But it also left me feeling kind of icky.
Icky because it forced me to examine some of my own soft racism. Because I should listen to and believe people of color rather than waiting for a white author to tell me a story that is “palatable” enough for me to learn these lessons.
I’m aware that black parents think about + talk to their children about Existing While Black every single day, while I am rarely confronted with my own whiteness. When Ryan grows up to be tall + strong, I’m not worried that he’ll be considered violent + threatening because of his skin color. I don’t worry that my girls will be overly sexualized the same way non-white girls are at such young ages. And it’s a little thing, but I know they’ll easily be able to find cosmetics + hair products for their fair complexions.
Little things like that add up.
My children will see a wide range of people who look like them in advertisements, movies, and government roles. Their teachers won’t make negative assumptions about them because of their skin color. It’s unlikely that they’ll face job or housing discrimination because of their names.
They are privileged.
That doesn’t mean they won’t have to work hard, or that they’ll never experience poverty or illness or even discrimination of some kind. But their lives won’t be made more difficult simply because of what they look like.
If we were playing a game, the cards would definitely be stacked in their favor, you know? But it’s not just a game.
I’m grateful. But I also feel icky about it. Because as much as I hate that we live in a world where our genetics have given our children an unfair advantage, I can’t help being glad that it’s not a mental burden I have to bear. Thank goodness we aren’t fill-in-the-blank.
There’s that soft racism.
I have never shied away from discussing race with my children. They’re still young, so our conversations are usually short + simple. “Some people think people with certain skin colors are better than others. Do you think that’s right? Your hair is straight and smooth; your friend’s hair is coarse and curly, because all bodies are different.” Things like that.
As they learn more about the Civil Rights Movement and slavery and things in school, we’ll have deeper conversations. How lucky we are, though, that we can wait till those moments to talk about it. How lucky David + I are that we don’t have to preemptively prepare our children to face racist slurs and attitudes.
But maybe we should be. Should we? Should we wait to react to their questions? Or should we be more proactive in teaching them racial equity? I go out of my way to find children’s books with characters + stories from all over the world. I encourage them to be a good friend to everyone, no matter what they look like. Is that enough to keep that dialogue open? To ensure that they treat everyone with dignity + respect + fairness?
I don’t know. Obviously I’m still learning. But I will make a point of continuing to learn, to talk about it with my kids, to root out any prejudice I’m hanging onto, and do better. Because, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, and as the Picoult book’s title reminds me, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
And if you’ve got any suggestions on how to do that, I’m all ears.
(346 + 248 + 115 weeks)