An ordinary (transracial parent) rant

Round and round/Mama C and the Boys

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!

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toot tooooot toot

My kids are rocking their worlds. I am feeling damn near accomplished these days as a result of their success and mine. I have a piece (that previously appeared here) over at the redesigned Single Mothers by Choice website today.  I’m tickled about that. Continue reading “toot tooooot toot”

Hot Stones and Big bonks

Hot stones/ Mama C and the Boys

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.

When did his feet get this big?/Mama C and the Boys

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.

Mama C and the Girls! Meet Barbara

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

Barbara and her daughter

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?

I’ll let her answer that.

(Questions borrowed from Mama C’s original reflections from Sam)

1. What is something I always say to you?
I love you too.

2. What makes me happy?
I have a good day.

3. What makes me sad?
I have a bad day.

4. What was I like as a child?
You were beautiful and kind to other kids.

5. How old am I?
26.

6. How tall am I?
11 inches.

7. What is my favorite thing to do?
Write about things that inspire you.

8. What do I do when you’re not around?
Read books and magazines or take a nap etc.

9. If I were to become famous, what will it be for?
Writing a poem to the president and he/she loved it and you got to live in the white house.

10. What am I really good at?
Loving me and writing.

11. What am I not very good at?
Your good at everything.

12. What do I do for my job?
I don’t have a clue.

13. What is my favorite food?
Cucumbers.

14. What makes you proud of me?
That you’re doing a good job at work.

15. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?
Dora.

16. What do you and I do together?
Watch movies.

17. How are you and I the same?
We have the same eyes, hair color, etc.

18. How are you and I different?
We are not different from each other.

19. How do you know I love you?
Because you do.

20. Where is my favorite place to go?
Home Town Buffet.

If this is the impression that I’ve made on my child in just seven years, I think we’re gonna make it.

Would you believe?

Adoptive Families Magazine Award

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 the first poem I wrote as an adult was called “This is where you’ll find me” about waiting for a placement.

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.

Cliff and shifts

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.

Marcel Monday: Love is smoke Or Is this how Buddha’s mother felt?

Me: Marcel can you tell me what love is?

Marcel: Love is peace.

Me: Wow. What is peace then?

Marcel: Peace is a smoke that goes on your heart.

Me: How does the peace smoke get there?

Marcel: You can smudge, or you can just ask the smoke to go on someone’s heart. Like on a hunter’s heart. You send them peace smoke and then they don’t want to kill animals anymore.*

Me: Does love come from anywhere else?

Marcel: Love is wherever people are who make good choices about peace. And love is in a hug. And I would love a shake and fries now please.

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For those of you not familiar with the practice of smudging, it is something Marcel has seen on numerous occasions at the peace camp he attends.

*Ever since a weekend away during hunting season visiting a friend’s cabin, and having to wear orange to not be mistook for a fawn, Marcel has been obsessed with hunters and why they kill animals.

Thankful Thursday: This Maine Dad

Mama C and the Boys/ Grampy

It’s not Father’s Day, or his birthday. It’s just so clear to me, as a mama, as a single mama, as an only daughter, and the child not of a certain politician from Maine, that my dad continues to be someone who shows up for me in subtle, and loud ways.

This week he sent me at least twenty emails encouraging me to post/submit my Lepage letter (which has garnered over 800 views to the blog in four days) as well as several line edits and suggestions. He rewrote a new version of it for the newspaper, which I didn’t send, but that I learned from. (I did send a shorter version of my own, but to no avail, yet.) He also responded to a poem I wrote, in a self reflective manner that rendered me all little inside. The “Oh he completely got it,” feeling the poet and the daughter craves.

He marched with Dr. King, as a young family man from Maine, who was now a Harvard Law graduate.  A moment I grew up hearing about, with awe, and admiration. In his own words;

I took part in MLK’s “March on Washington” and listened as he made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. A group of us from the law firm marched along the mall to the reflecting pool. I carried a sign that I made with the words “To Live in Dignity.”  I think the sign I carried  that day sums up what I believe, that every one of us is entitled to live in dignity, to be treated with respect and love, and that we are all obligated to do our part to bring that about. To that end I took part in the efforts in the 1950’s and 1960’s to gain home rule for the District of Columbia. I am not sure when I first came to realize what a huge debt white Americans owed to black Americans, but certainly [I have had several] important mentors. Love, lots, Dad

Later he screamed his lungs out at my soccer games calling me by a nick name I abhorred: Put. Yes. He called me Put. From the song, “Katie put pie, high in the sky.” Only from the sidelines it was; “Go Put! Put it in the goal!’

He instilled in me a love of using my words for something good. If a thank you post to you doesn’t meet that bill Dad, what does?

Thankful on Thursday (slideshow)

In my postaday2011 challenge, Thursday is all about the gratitude.  The theme today being folks that we are grateful for in our lives, who may not always get the acknowledgment they deserve!

Oh and speaking of gratitude, please stop on over to Mixed and Happy to see the little home they have made for Mama C including my two newest pieces. Sammy is even featured on a slideshow with Madonna. I know, he is meant for bigger things then this little blog!

What are some ways you have used your blog, or technology to share your gratitude?  Do you have a poem, link, or idea about gratitude you’d like to share here, or even spend a day talking about on this blog? Let me know!

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Choices 2010: the good, the bad and the huh-gly?

The all encompassing end of year post boils down to this: what were the good, not so good, or well informed, hasty choices I made this year.  I spend so much time saying these words; “is that a good choice, or a not so good choice…” that I’ve come to see my entire world through this lens.

Mama C age 7

Best choice I made around my children: to reveal as much truth as I was able to around Marcel’s story. Where I held fear, tension, and constant guard around “the story” is now a cleaned out room in my conscience. Marcel shows a picture of his donor, Tree, to everyone he thinks of. His story is back where it belongs, in the world. Ease.

Most conflicted choice I finally had to stop making: To date. I managed it, or we managed it for about three months. Then my ability to balance the good and hard work of being in relationship became too much for me to manage well. The joy was tremendous. The amount of time I spent torn between being present enough for me, the kids, and the relationship simultaneously became the deal breaker. That I never wrote about it here, should tell you just how hard it was for me to integrate the “dating me” into the larger picture. Do I believe it is important to pursue that part of me? Absolutely. Do I believe I am ready to do that now? Um. Can’t say. Continue reading “Choices 2010: the good, the bad and the huh-gly?”