I received an invitation to review Adam Pertman’s updated Adoption Nation last month. They wanted a transracial adoptive single mother’s point of view added to the mix. In exchange for my promise to participate in the blog tour of the book (a new concept for me-where have I been?) on a given date (today) I received my own copy, and two to give away.
The amount of work that went into this book, is rather mind blowing to me. I am sure you can scour the net for countless reviews lauding it’s comprehensive scope and broad historical focus. I felt a rather ominous pressure while reading the book as “reviewer” and not just as consumer. (My previous reviews here of books have always been after the fact of books I read and was charmed by. Now I realize that is just a sales pitch, not a review!) I wanted to make sure that I was reading the book through the lens that my audience have come to expect of me (even if I am not sure what exactly that means). I wrote down moments in the book that caused me pause for one reason or another, and asked Mr. Pertman to address them directly.
Ordinary is one of the words of the week. We play with words at our house. A list is a challenge. A game in the making.
Mary Baba was not an ordinary girl.
Gummy bears for breakfast is not an ordinary request.
Correct, it is not ordinary for you to wear matching socks.
A merry-go-round in the mall, is beyond the ordinary indeed!
Below is an excerpt from the letter that I sent the owner of the Portland Pirates hockey team , Brian Petrovek, after chaperoning my son’s kindergarten class to a “Kids Hockey Game Day” provided to Maine’s school children by his franchise. After assuring the administrators of many schools that “violence would not be part of this kids day event” permission slips were sent home, arrangements made. Continue reading “Don’t “just hockey” me… Mama C speaks out”→
For my birthday, I wanted a massage. Sam decided he wanted that for both of us too. One of my nearest and dearest who I’ve known for some twenty years or so, and who is adopted herself happens to be a massage maestro with a studio up the street from me. She has worked on Sam at my house informally before, but never “on the table”. He was particularly fond of the hot stones, and everything feet. For me laying down in the middle of the day, let alone with hot stones, and all sorts of healing intention on my body is about as close to nirvana as it gets.
Today, after teaching a full day and training a student teacher, I co-led a weekly student writer’s group. Then I raced to Sam’s school to get him to his swim lesson. Timing worked well today, because it wasn’t jump rope club, something another teacher does for pure joy with sixty elementary school kids after school twice a week. We met Marcel at home with another friend, who picked him up and took him to his dance class, and then made us all dinner. This was followed by a 45 minute screaming fest at the local Boys and Girls Club to cheer on several students in the 8th during their championship basketball game.
Most of the teachers that I know clock in many more hours than I do, outside of their “work day”, because that’s just what teachers do. Or that’s what teachers are. We are programmed that way. Programmed to means to support, and encourage your students in all kids of facets of their lives, in addition to the fantastic work we do during the day. Writers groups, basketball games, debate teams, Model UN, home visits, shopping for graduation dresses that you just “happened to find,” so, “if it’s of any use to you feel free…” is how teachers model to kids what being a caring member of a community is. Teachers also are very humble, in most cases. However, in this climate (here and across the country) of reducing teachers to less than, the teachers I work with, continue to be more than. It’s not a choice, it’s in your core.
I ran into the door of the bathroom at school, head on, and am sporting a smashing looking goose egg. It’s not too different from the stone on Sam’s head above. Apparently I am moving a little too fast these days? Nahhhhh.
Would love to hear from some of the teachers out there, or the folks who recognize them. We know you are working hard, and deserving of your health care and retirement benefits. We know that you deserve competitive pay, and that you are highly qualified professionals. Continue to do the good work. We notice.
I “met” Barbara when we were both writers at Moms of Hue, now We of Hue. Our connection came from many directions. I suppose it would be easy to say that our mutual status as single moms was a strong reason we supported each other and connected with ease. But beyond that we share an entrepreneurial spirit (please check her etsy space Baby Squares-where I just received two gorgeous hand crocheted Berets, and butterfly hair clips), a love of blogging at Chasing Metamorphosis, and a passion for speaking our minds.
But while I was writing from the comfort of my own home, with a secure job, Barbara was doing all of that and more without a stable home for her and her daughter, or a steady job. Sometimes staying in a shelter, or living with her grandmother while working a temp job when her car wasn’t broken or broken into were just a few of the obstacles she surmounted with grace and determination over the last eleven months. All the while keeping her daughter’s stability and joy at the top of her priority list.
In my initial vision for “Freedom Fridays” in my post a day layout, I was going to devote this space to allowing others to be free to speak their mind, and tell their stories. Even though she is a prolific blogger in her own right, it is always powerful to write for a new audience.
In her own words Barbara said of this piece that it was; definitely about being on the “other side”, maybe a testament to being winners in our children’s eyes during the times that we think we may be failing. Having to uproot my child without a clear destination definitely made me feel like I was failing, and it had a LOT to do with the fact that I was a college grad. I just wasn’t supposed to be “there”, yet I was, we were.
Through the looking glass
I am still decompressing.
I wanted very much to come here a champion – the winner of a very humbling experience. I wanted to speak of how we’ve (my daughter and I) emerged, survivors of 11 months without a permanent address. Truth is, I’m still transitioning from the transition. Although I am now nestled in my comfy bed, alongside my sleeping baby, under a roof that is ours alone, I still feel a sense of instability. I’m here testing the waters from my side of the bed, not yet able to fully jump right in for fear that the waters are 8 feet deep instead of three.
So, I stop, take a breather and take Mama’s advice. Words do not escape me, but they most certainly escape she who is a part of me. How does she really see me? Does she see what I see in my darkest hours? Does she see what I strive to do for her and because of her?
It was one of those perfect moments where Sam felt like a star, and I got to bask in his sweet joy.
An auction win that was worth five times the cost: a snow plow ride to school. It couldn’t have worked out with greater ease. Sam walked into school wearing his reflective vest, and a beam the size of one of the snow drifts he got to move in the parking lot according to Eddie, his driver. If you look closely in the “take off “shot you’ll see a school bus waiting behind them to go.
I asked Sam if he wanted to write about it this morning, and he said; just tell everyone I got to use the radio, and move the levers that make the plows crash into the snow.
That three years ago I started blogging, after a piece I wrote for Single Mother’s by Choice Quarterly published my first big piece, and after Sam hit me in the head with a slipper. He was almost three.
That this week the generous folks over at Adoptive Families Magazine deemed this blog one of the top twenty blogs on the topic of adoption? (Of the ones they were hip to, and of course we all have our own agenda.) I am as you can imagine in great company on that list-so please take time to read it. Then add your own ideas for the blogs they missed for next time!
I have everyone of you who takes the time to stop by and wonder, and laugh, and react, and share Mama C in whatever way you see fit, to thank for what this blog has become. And yes Universe I understand it is time to get the proposal done, the book could not be more ready to be birthed, so to speak.
And would you believe that #1 son is being picked up in one of those GIGANTIC city snow plows and toured around the city for half an hour, and then dropped off at school? Of course the news crew is coming to capture this. How come? Because Sam just draws this kind of magic to him. That and I won a raffle for a snow plow ride last spring, and just remembered it last week. The news crew was not my idea. I’d better go email his teacher, and let her know he might be a little wound up, and that the snow plow ride is no tall tale.
If you want to jump off a cliff with a hang glider and skis and report out to the audience that the ensuing avalanche almost killed you, be my guest. Actually, in this case I was the guest at the Branff film festival on Monday. Beautifully filmed, thrilling tales of personal challenges of the extreme mountain and sea variety.
Yes, I cried my eyes out when two young men were finally back in their mama’s arms after 60 days at on the Tasman sea in a kayak built for two. If Sam or Marcel ever has a cockamamie idea like that… I was thinking while wiping my eyes with my arm.
If you take the films selected as representational of the people who are most like to LAUNCH into the thrill seeking category, my kids have nothing to attempt to fear in the great outdoors. There was not one person of color, (or a woman) in the seven films presented that night. Many well off, and well sponsored white men bungy jumping, “skurfing”, mad road biking, and paddling through sharks and high seas. There was the occasional indigenous person with an ice pick in the Himalayas but at that point in the night, I had lost interest. Not seeing my children, or myself represented in over two hours of “award-winning” films was disengaging.
I seethed over economics and lack of exposure and modeling in the world of outdoor adventuring. I wanted to know where the videos from people like Outdoor Afro were being shown, because that is the festival I want to go to next time.
My great ah-has from all this discomfort: a) thankfully I will never be a white man in “need of extreme gravity” and b) that doesn’t mean others aren’t and c)it took six years but my personal entertainment consciousness has shifted dramatically as the result of my parenting transracially.
Out here in the blogosphere we talk a lot about our parenting shifts, our curriculum needs, the resources we seek. But what about how you, as transracial parents choose to entertain yourselves? Have you noticed yourself becoming in practice more of an adult consumer of color- someone who wants to support businesses, musicians, films, books, and the like that represent, engage, educate and speak to your parenting in the hue too? When do you notice your shifts? Where is your balance?
Speaking of entertainment for my Cumberland County Maine readers there is a show at Bowdoin College tonight, featuring this virtuoso alumni, and mentor and good friend Hassan Muhammad from 7:00-8:00, doing solo piano to raise money for Haiti. We’ll be there in pajamas for the first half at least. His myspace is here, but thought you’d like this too.