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from the sidelines

September 12, 2011

from the sidelines with Marcel/All rights reserved Mama C and the Boys 2011

Sunday, while we were waiting for Sam’s soccer game to start I snapped this.

Last night before bed, I remembered I had taken some pictures, and grabbed the phone.

I was stopped in my tracks with this shot.

I see how much he takes up the frame, literally, figuratively. How I am off to the side. How this is such an apt metaphor for me today.

Sidelines as a parent. Sideline parenting, verses being on the field all the time. Sidelines are not something I’ve been very good at most of my life.(I mostly played striker, and center half for the eighteen some years I called myself a soccer player.) But today, I am finding my way over there, and think it’s probably more and more where I belong, if I did my job well for the first few years of their life.

The field of race, and how I can not be on the sidelines. How parenting in the hue is all I know.  How I feel like I have to be the ref, the coach, and want to hand pick all the players on everyone’s team all the time.  How I am always looking for better coaches.

I feel like I am on the sidelines of myself right now a little bit too. It’s not a comfortable place, but it is where I find myself in this shift back to full time everything.  In what areas do you see yourself shifting from the field to the fans? From the playing ground to the observation deck? Are you comfortable there? What does the metaphor mean to you?

+++

In case you were hoping for some real content today–I’m pleased to direct you over to Butter Street.com for a post called “Courting Africa“.  Here is the opening paragraph:

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Courting Africa

Sep 11, 2011 Questions Leave a comment

I find myself trying to “court” people. I have a new co worker and when he comes into the room other people tell me I light up. I sparkle. I try to find things of common interest to talk about. I ask leading questions that I probably know the answers to already. I just want to get him talking about himself. I give him all of my attention in a noisy room full of people talking and things happening. I’ll admit it …I tried to find him on face book.

The blogger contacted me recently to let me know that the piece had come about in part as a result of the race and ethnicity series I began this summer. That made my day right there. So, stop on by and check it out. If you have a piece that you are working on in a similar direction (or have posted)  leave us a comment, and get us over to your blog too!

And because I am getting so good at being on the sidelines of my own blog, I have another guest post coming this week, along the same very important lines–the transracial parenting lines—that I’m very excited to share with you too.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Gal permalink
    September 12, 2011 10:01 pm

    Just a side thought (and disclaimer: I’m not a Mom. I think of myself as considering adoption for some point in the distant future, so I try and learn what I can from others – hence why I’m here)…I can understand the desire to want people around your kids that look like them and have some type of cultural overlap. However, I just wonder whether artificially pursuing a relationship with people who fit a certain demographic is somewhat the wrong way to go about it?

    I value my parents’ genuine relationships with people – no matter their color. I learned a model of adult interaction from them which didn’t focus on what people were but who they were. Being in a diverse neighborhood will, of course, increase the likeliness of interracial friendships and I understand that being in a “white community” makes diverse friendship circles more difficult, but I just get a sense of commodification from this line of thinking. I look forward to your insightful response.

  2. September 13, 2011 1:06 am

    I can understand your question–and members of my own family have asked me the same thing. (I do talk a great deal about this on my series on race and ethnicity mentioned earlier on the blog, so I would encourage you to look there, and on many of the comments there for other thoughts and resources.) I am not sure what you mean by “artificially” pursuing a relationship. In Maine, to seek out friendships, babysitters, health care providers, teachers, coaches of color–is what I do. Is that being artificial? Relationship is relationship I think. I authentically seek out relationships with people who have things in common with my family. Many of those people are people who are also parenting in the hue, through biology or adoption. I also like to meet other single parents, and parents of adopted children. I have a starting point there. I find comfort there. I can learn from them. I feel the same way, about meeting people (particularly parents I’ll admit) who are people of color who are living here.

    I am going to have to sit with the word commodification. If I am seeking out someone as an expert, a guide, a coach, a connection to history, knowledge, a way of being that I do not have to offer my child in the same way– are they a commodity? I suppose all relationships are commodities to an extent. If someone doesn’t want to be invited into our lives for any reason, then they are free to not accept that that offer.

    That is an imperfect–from the heart response. I am sure many others who are much more articulate than I am tonight will have more to add. I would also encourage you in your exploration to look at Love Isn’t Enough, and Coloring Between the Lines–for starters. Two blogs/sites that I have on my blogroll.

  3. Michelle permalink
    September 13, 2011 1:58 am

    I am a transracially adoptive Mom. I adopted my son when he was 9 months old and we lived in a predominately white neighborhood. I also put him in a predominately white pre-school. They had teachers of color, but less than 10% of the student population was of color. He loved the school. But as he grew older, I wanted him to stand out for himself, not just his skin color. We moved to a racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood. Since kindergarten he has gone to a magnet school of the arts in their dual language (Spanish/English) program and also takes piano and voice lessons. The school is 80% African American. He is now in the fourth grade. Now he stands out because he is smart, outspoken and talented, not because he is black and his mom is white. While I have not specifically searched out friends who are African American, I made it easier for us to make friends of all ethicities. I was recently at a baby shower for one of the women I have met in our neighborhood. Twelve women out to celebrate the imminent birth of a beautiful baby girl and as we left the restaurant, I realized that I was the only person of color – the white color. Throughout hours of dinner and fun it had never crossed my mind nor theirs I’m sure. These are women I never would have met, had I not chosen to adopt my son. So, yes I’ve made choices to expose my child and myself to people I would not have met in another life. I think as a parent it is what we need to do, regardless of our race or our child’s race. We need to expose them to the world, so they see those like them and those unlike them and find the commonality among us all.

  4. September 13, 2011 2:04 am

    Beautifully said Mama. What a great shower story. I love the line about why your son stands out. Fantastic.

  5. Gal permalink
    September 13, 2011 4:47 pm

    Thanks for your response, Mama C. I understand your point/s. I agree with your comment that, to some extent, everyone is commodified in our lives. I have read a lot of your previous content, but will go back and check the comments. I wonder if, perhaps, when children become part of one’s life, there are some fundamental shifts in the way we interact. I don’t need to speak with teachers, instructors, care-givers, other Moms, etc. I don’t need to speak with anyone, unless it suits me.

    I think this makes a difference: I’ll also add that I’m not American, so don’t fully understand the issues surrounding race in this country. At least not from anything other than an academic view point.

    This comment is also being made at a less than ideal time for me, so I’ll leave it here for now. Thank you for replying and your great and honest blog.

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