Needless to say, hair ish is exhausting for the entire family. I’ve been seriously considering creating a set of business cards for her to hand out to the overly inquisitive. On one side of the card would be several images of the amazing versatility of Black girl’s hair. On the other, there would be these simple sentences: To paraphrase Prince, “my hair is something you will never comprehend.” Just let it go.
Archive for the ‘fatherhood’ Category
I love this answer from Anne Lamott:
Q. I wish you’d say something about how children can thrive in all kinds of environments, not just the typical, traditional “happily married couple” kind we put on a pedestal. What is a successful family?
A. That “ideal” is very rare. Most marriages are a mess, and the children get caught between two bitter, antagonistic parents. My parents stayed married for 27 unhappy years, till their kids were grown, and this was a catastrophe for us. I had to be my father’s wife, my mother’s mother — my brothers had to be her husband. We all had way too much responsibility, trying to keep the family afloat. I felt like I had a caseload by the time I was 6 or so. All I needed was a clipboard. All three of us kids could make blender drinks by the time we were 8 years old. My parents’ bad marriage pretzelized us, and stole our true selves away from us — luckily we all ended up drinking and using (we all have 20+ years clean and sober now). This is the far more common outcome of marriage.
Stacia L. Brown is really worth following on twitter (@slb79) and by the way, here’s her blog post on an incredible exchange that happened last week between Tanya Fields, Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks about the shaming of black single mothers. Go read it. And there’s a photo of the hug over at Colorlines.
Very thought-provoking article on cultural capital, parenting, high and low art, racism and representation from David Osa Amadasun – “Black people don’t go to art galleries: the reproduction of taste and cultural values”:
Here’s the scenario: two children, one white and one black, walk into an exhibition filled with portraits of white people. Both children enjoy it. After the exhibition they make self-portraits out of food. The black child asks for brown ingredients – cocoa pops, hot chocolate powder – to represent his skin in the portrait. The white child does not bother with colour in the same way. Her whiteness is not a colour that needs to be marked or thought about, it is naturalized as normal, a seamless part of the wall-to-wall whiteness of the surrounding exhibition. On closer inspection the portraits show further nuances of colouring and also commonality. Other features such as nose, lips, eyes and hair were not represented mimetically. As the brown skin colour of the portrait on the left stands out because of its purposeful colouring, it creates a link between the child and their artwork, making visible what is taken for granted in this space – whiteness.
There has been progress in the diversity of representations within exhibitions, for example the Meshac Gaba and Ibrahim El-Salahi exhibitions at the Tate – which the kids and parents loved. But adequate progress has not been made in how these institutions, funded by public money, encourage those from underrepresented groups. As Dr Eleonora Belfiore from Warwick University has pointed out, there are fundamental and ‘awkward’ questions that need to be asked about the social and institutional structures that support and maintain hierarchies of taste, ‘if the debate on cultural value is to go beyond an empty rhetoric of self-celebration’ Belfiore writes ‘then it needs to be an occasion in which awkward questions are asked of the sector as a whole. Questions such as ‘For whom does the sector generate value?’, ‘What do organisations big and small do to live up to their status as public cultural organisations?’
And I love the questions he closes with in this article. “Do we want to encourage cultural omnivores by diversifying taste and/or do we want a radical overhaul of the very values that make distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture?”
Thanks to Shawn Taylor for the link.
My latest article is “Staying at home for the love of it” over at Essential Baby:
Whether you find yourself to be career or family focused may end up being dictated more by circumstances than by your whim, and to pretend otherwise ignores a whole bunch of barriers and unrealised potential. Returning to work within a year of the birth of each of my children shows ambition, but more accurately it also shows financial need and part-time work opportunities. Had either or both of those been missing from my life I may have made different choices. And from that you might have deduced I wasn’t ambitious; I may have even told myself the same thing.
You simply must read “The Prison System Welcomes My Newborn Niece to This World” by Maya Schenwar in Truthout.
Here’s how it went: At 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, my sister was called out of bed in the state prison where she’s incarcerated with the news that she’d be heading to the hospital. Her water hadn’t broken, and she hadn’t started contractions. But this was the time slot in which she was scheduled to give birth. The labor would be induced.
During and after the birth, my sister was allowed no family or friends at her bedside, or even in the hospital. She endured labor alone, except for medical personnel and two prison guards, who rotated shifts, watching her at all times.
After 26 hours, my niece finally pushed her way out – 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and crying like crazy. (Wouldn’t you?)
Following the birth, a guard immediately shackled my sister’s ankles to the bedpost. “It made it hard to pick up the baby from the basket next to the bed,” she told us afterward. “I was afraid I was going to drop her.”
Our state has anti-shackling laws in place, preventing women from being chained to their hospital beds during labor. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be chained afterward.
The ritual my sister underwent Tuesday and Wednesday wasn’t an unusual occurrence. In prison, 4 percent to 7 percent of women are pregnant on arrival.
Something very important will happen in the global motherhood movement when we realise that prisons are as much a motherhood issue as ‘push presents’ are. (I’m quoted in the article on ‘push presents’, because yes, I have so many opinions).
Posted in bill, co-sleeping, cormac, fatherhood, feminism, feminist motherhood, lauca, motherhood, motherhood bliss, motherhood sux, preschoolers, school kids, single parenthood on September 18, 2013 | 48 Comments »
Comments received on an article I write for The Guardian in which I mention briefly that I am no longer with Bill, the father of my children:
“You might also consider giving the father custody or putting the children up for adoption with a home that is able to be more child oriented. Just a suggestion”.
“I wonder, for what whimsical and self-indulgent reason you chose ( these days it’s always the women who chose ), to split up with your children’s father”.
The grief is long and deep. A good part of the grief involves worrying about one another’s grief. One evening my eight year old daughter, Lauca, is worn out and sad.. and I am too. We lie down on my bed together in tears. Cormac comes in, and while only four years old he none the less performs some kind of quintessential male ritual of discomfort with emotion for us.
Cheer up, cheer up you two, cheer up, he says.
Oh for godsake, I say, cuddling him up to me, it is ok to cry.
I am amused that I have to reassure him so. This is Cormac, he has a crying jag virtually every day of his life and he is quite happy to use them for something as routine as being required to take his plate back to the kitchen or to find his shoes.
When we are all quiet again together on my bed I tell them the fun of crying is over and everyone into the shower with me so I can supervise hair-washing.
Me: Please don’t feed the kids chocolate at your house for breakfast. That’s real divorced not-even-trying dad behaviour.
Bill: Worried you can’t compete?
(We both laugh).
A friend tells me that she lies in bed awake at night frightened for my future. I know she means it kindly but I am hurt by her sense of hopelessness for me. I am alright, I say, I really am. I decide I shouldn’t tell her about the nights when the children are staying with their father and I sometimes sigh with pleasure in my empty house. And then there are the nights when I do not even stay home in my empty house.
Everything becomes adventurous and untested. I have a strange energy. One day I see a government policy announcement in the paper and I have mixed feelings about it. As I am leaving work that evening I write a quick pitch to the editor at The Guardian. On the way home I stop at the supermarket for dinner ingredients and then I go to a friend’s house to pick up my two children. As well as collecting my children from school and kindergarten she has bathed them with her own children. I am grateful to her for trimming half an hour from my evening’s tasks for me. At home I check my emails and see that the editor has accepted the pitch but that they want the piece tomorrow by start of business.
I decide I can do this. So, I cook dinner, exchange accounts with the kids about the day, read bedtime stories, cuddle them to sleep, clean up the kitchen and then, begin writing. I give myself until midnight to finish it. In the morning I proofread my piece while we are all cleaning our teeth. I email it to the editor and then hurry up hurry up hurry up us out the front door to our various places – kindergarten, school and the train station for the commute to work. The article is published by the time I reach the office.
The piece happens to mention briefly that I am no longer with Bill, the father of my children. I receive some of the most hostile comments I have seen on an article of mine.
“Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents” at The Matt Walsh Blog.
See, I figure there are two types of people who mock and criticize parents whose children throw tantrums in public. The first is — from what I gathered based on your age (you looked about 19? 20, perhaps?) and what you said in your follow up email — your type: the non-parent who thinks, if they ever have kids, they’ll discover the secret formula that will prevent their hypothetical son or daughter from ever crying in front of other people. Then they promptly scrutinize and chastise real parents for not having this fake, imaginary, impossible, non existent formula. This sort of non-parent doesn’t realize that, unless they plan on using a muzzle and a straightjacket, there is nothing they can do to tantrum-proof their toddler.
Fine. Ignorant non-parents, who don’t know what they’re talking about, imposing ridiculous standards on actual parents because it makes them feel superior. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. As bad as you people are, you’re not nearly as horrible as the second type: actual parents with grown children who judge other parents, as if they haven’t been in the exact same situation many times. I had an older guy complain to me recently about babies that cry during church. He said: “Back when our children were babies, you didn’t have this problem.” Interesting. Apparently babies didn’t cry in the 50′s. The whole “crying baby” thing is a new fad, it would seem. These folks who had kids a long time ago seem to have a rather selective memory when it comes to their own days of parenting young kids. They also tend to dismiss the fact that modern parenting presents unique challenges, some of which didn’t apply several decades ago. I always love the older folks who lecture about how THEIR kids weren’t as “attached to electronics” as kids are nowadays. That’s probably true, but mainly because, well, YOU DIDN’T HAVE ELECTRONICS. You had a toaster and a black and white TV with 2 channels, both of which were pretty easy to regulate. But, sure, congratulations for not letting your kids use things that didn’t exist. On that note, I have a strict “no time machines or hover-boards” policy in my home. It is stringently enforced. I’m thinking of writing a parenting book: “How to Stop Your Child From Becoming Dependent Upon Technology That Isn’t Invented Yet”
I see that as long as any kind of social transfer is involved rich women are as capable of “getting themselves pregnant” as teenage girls are claimed to be. Because conception is something that women and girls do to themselves, presumably by deliberately and irresponsibly walking through a cloud of anonymous, minding-its-own-business sperm somewhere. Apparently, these same women then gestate, sitting back and waiting for the spoils to come their way. How unfortunate that men can not avail themselves of the incredible opportunities presented by motherhood, like lower earnings capacity, increased job insecurity, drive-by judgementalism and diminished status.
Note that in the election debate “the pretty little lady lawyer on the northshore is having a kid” (a sentiment I have seen expressed multiple times elsewhere during the campaign), and that the rich women in the meme, above, are “breeding”.. telling expressions.. because exactly where are the fathers in this condemnation? And why are children not part of our community, why are they not somebody whose interests we deem worthy of consideration in an election?
I’m not a huge fan of Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme, (although I appreciate the progressiveness of treating maternity leave like other forms of workplace leave, I don’t believe the scheme is there to address a genuine policy problem and its funding is likely coming at the expense of funding opportunities for other big policy problems).. but I could do without the sexist claptrap in the discussion.
Lovely thoughtful piece from my friend, Shawn Taylor in Ebony on what his life-long love of hip-hop brings to his parenting.
From a young age, we were insistent that she knew her artistic lineage—broadly cultural and familial. She is the heir to hip-hop, jazz, blues, reggae, ska, and her grandfather’s guitar, harmonica and drums. We inculcated in her that art was important, and that her life was a continuous work of art. When she was old enough, and I began to really introduce her to hip-hop, some of my parenting became easier. By using the four original elements of hip-hop culture, I’ve been able to paint her world with a much wider brush.