Will I ever learn?

High fiving with Nana on the beach with Weezie and Bruce

It’s been a wild four weeks.

My mystery illness is now being called anxietus-summerus, or honey you got too much going on, and you’re stomach is the one telling you so. Makes it hard to over eat to check out, when you can’t eat. I stopped drinking coffee too. Water, and toast, and applesauce for a good four weeks.

I had fantasies of a nineteenth century version of me, with a giant parasol waving a tearful adieu to my family with my embroidered hankie, on my way to the solarium by way of the train.

[Ah to be a wealthy, over anxious white woman a hundred years ago. Talk about white mind-that is a perfect example. Meaning, solarium’s weren’t even available to women of color who needed to recuperate for physical or mental health reasons. For more on white mind, and what that means allow me to link you here again, or another great one I just reread again is Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Which we’re reading for the workshop, and is linked at Annie O’Brien’s White Mind II post above,.]

So, yes. Too much on my plate, again. Organizing a two-day adoption workshop with a speaker across the country, having the kids home five days a week, several small trips to islands, and lakes, various writing deadlines, working with the city on three separate occasions to get rather mountainous heaps of garbage removed from neglected properties on my street, and navigating my own feelings of grief around two treasured families leaving town within days of each other…and I found myself bordering on the belly up. As in, nauseous for a month.  In this time, my mom came with the intention of her own vacation from the oppressive Washington DC heat to see the grandbabies, and her daughter for a sweet Maine getaway. Instead she got me moaning in one room with a headache, and the boys asking if she brought any more presents. She changed course and took over as Nana Banana Super Bo Banna, allowing me some much needed rest. But that nice dinner out, just the two of us? We had to take a rain check for when I had my stomach back.

Am I better? Yes.

Can I eat? Yes  (And how. So much for that impressive temporary weight loss.)

The secret: talking about it with folks, acupuncture and saying no, I can’t do that right now, or maybe ever, for that matter. I am doing enough at the moment. Medicinal bridges were built temporarily, until it became apparent, they weren’t necessary. Allowing myself to see what was going on, and on and on seemed to be the answer. I say seemed, because there is still a hint of this and that, and I want to be sure.

I enjoyed a powerful exchange over at Moms of Hue, as a result of a post I wrote about a weekend away with the boys. The words I used to describe Sam’s behavior was in question. I talk about him being “mad” over and over. The words and the expectation I have of his behavior were questioned. Specifically, I was asked to examine my own set of beliefs around Black boys and Black men and anger.  I felt defensive as hell, until I looked at the words, and the assumptions in my thinking. Then I started to question all of it–even my own predisposition to worry and concern.

I am still learning from the exchange, and feel wildly open to the process, which is in itself a gift, and a shift. Please check out the piece, and stay there awhile! It has been nominated for a 2010 Black Family Weblog Award, which you can vote for too!

OK time to wash and cut Marcel’s hair (do I dare?) and get more flyers together, and wake #1, and get to the swim lesson, and the noon time concert that the Godmother is performing at, and then to the library to sign the contract for the workshop space, and then….

Will I ever learn?

What are you doing to relax this weekend?


  1. This weekend I will be packing boxes but will take time to take the kids to the lake for a little bit. I may pack a picnic.

  2. Catherine,
    I was so impressed by how that conversation unfolded and how you handled your part in it.

    You’re listening to your kids, you’re listening to what your body tells you, you’re listening to people who want you to question some assumptions you may hold–really, how can a person do any better than that?


    • Julia,

      I really appreciated how and when you chimed in over there–and your clarifying questions. I felt very invested and present in the discussion, and felt a lot of care and trust being articulated in every one’s responses. That was so key.

      Thank you for your words here too–for all of your reaching out. It is deeply felt.

  3. Oh yea, know it well. Hang in there. Remember we do live in the modern age and a day on the couch with some good movies for the kids is an ok thing to do once and awhile.

    • Oh and I do. But that just gives me more time to do more! 🙂 I did say no last night to a big offer/request for help. I even said; “I promised my family I would not take anything else on right now…” felt great! Thank you.

  4. Glad to read that you’re feeling much better Mama! Our bodies always let us know when we are doing too much for our own good… ironically, it has everything to do with the fact that we aren’t doing enough for our own good. Not much relaxation for me this weekend. I will probably never turn the computer off, lol.

  5. I took three weeks off blogging, tweeting and facebooking. It was remarkable easy to do!

    BTW- I love how you’ve connected with the black community and put your feelings and questions out there and really listen to the feedback. It must be hard sometimes but gratifying as well. We’re all just learning really!

    Me especially.

  6. So, I went over and read the dialog over at Moms of Hue. I knew immediately that the “mad” part was just written for the poetry. (And it worked. I liked the way it read. Just like a child would talk.) I have read enough of your writing to know that. So that didn’t phase me in the least.

    I did wonder about your thinking about how strong he might become and if he could hurt you. I had a six year old white boy eight years ago. (He’s now 14 and just taller than me and just stronger than me.) I never worried or thought that he might hurt me in the future. So I didn’t understand that. But it may just be that I am not a worrier. (He has Type 1 diabetes and all friends tell me they worry about their children with diabetes having a low blood sugar and going into a coma. I somehow trust that won’t happen and don’t worry about it.) Only you know if that worry was a result of some ingrained stereotype or just Mama worrying. My guess? A little of both.

    I have a different, but similar, issue with my daughter and stereotypes. Her mother had a baby at 16 and my daughter at 19 years old. My daughter’s senses seem very keen to me. She smells her food before eating it. She loves to smell deodorant, shampoo, vanilla, soap, perfume. She loves to slather lotions on herself and lip gloss and soaps. She loves to be tickled. Sometimes I wonder if I am going to have a problem with her getting pregnant too young as a result of her liking the sensuality of things that my other two kids never noticed. (I never worry about my other daughter having a baby too young.) And then I have to ask myself if I just worry about that because her mother had babies young.

    Thankfully (or as unluck would have it) all of my children have my temperament. We are stubborn and defiant and loud. And test limits. And appreciate the irony and injustice in situations. My husband is equally as defiant and stubborn, but in a very quiet way. (Mennonite versus Italian.) So I understand my kids’ temperament well. When Maya’s (bio) grandmother says she is as stubborn as her mother was and stomps her feet just like her mother did, I tell her that Maya gets it from both of her mothers evenly.

    My husband tells me not to read too much into Maya’s almost four year old behavior. (I’m lucky to have him.) So I just take it as it comes these days. And try to enjoy. Because my first born is all too soon in high school and I know how fast it goes.

  7. Oh, and the white woman with the parasol? When we went into the Roosevelt mansion on Campobello Island, I reminded my children that their father’s family (Mayflower descended and Mennonite) would have been in the dining room with the fancy plates, but that their Italian ancestors on my side would have been washing the clothes on the washing boards in the back kitchen.

    Maya’s family is a little more complex. One Japanese great grandmother from Okinawa. One Native American Lenni Lenape. One African American great grandfather and one European. All on her mother’s side. And her father’s side is African/Cuban. Hard to know where to go with that.

    Always good to point out all sides for perspective. . . . .

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