Six? Six? Sigh.Six.

At play, 2013
At play, 2013

Six years ago I was approaching a place that was something like discomfort laced with pure terror. Having gained nearly EIGHTY POUNDS during my pregnancy and facing the reality of becoming a single mother for the second time was nothing short of paralyzing at times.

But thanks entirely to the continuous support of my amazing village, here we are six years later about as steady as the canoe can be-packed full on for her daily journey up river.

I have been struck with a crazy wave of nostalgia as this birthday approaches. Saying goodbye to five seems to really be rocking my little heart.  I feel desperate this week to recall milestone moments, which are nothing but bubbles that burst just as I reach them.

apple picking 2008
apple picking 2008
Visiting Nana 2008
Visiting Nana 2008

OK, I have to stop subjecting all of us to this parade of crazy haired shots that get me every time. I just don’t remember soaking in how incredibly amazing this child was at this moment. Yes, I was massively sleep deprived, working full time, and dealing with parenting 101, 201, 301, 401, simultaneously. So much of it I feel I just survived. Survived well enough, as this blog testifies to for the most part, but now on the other side, I wonder how much of it I missed?

Well instead of fighting it, I am just going to let myself feel the grief and land in it. Then like him, perhaps I’ll be able to launch into this new year with all of the joy, magic, and adventure it holds.

Just as I was about to push “publish” Marcel came in the kitchen to ask me what rhetorical means.

And, we’re off.

Rainy day leaps
Rainy day leaps

We interrupt this dance party to…

dock dancing Mama C and the boys style
dock dancing Mama C and the boys style

We interrupt this dance party (aka late summer hurrah) to remind you to “shake it shake it,” says Marcel. In Maine we do not return to school for another week, so we are out and about slurping up each precious lick of sunshine, lake water, and ease we can.

Such a full summer on so many layers. Not all of them happy-happy-joy-joy of course, but a heck of a lot of learning all around. Exciting changes and developments for the fall for me that I look forward to sharing soon too.

One last photo included to send a special loving boost to my father who is back home from a phenomenal rehabilitation and recovery after a minor stroke last month. His wife and my older brother, aka Uncle were incredible through out all of this.  Here Marcel is doing his part to keep Grampy on task with his horseshoe physical therapy regimen!

Your turn Grampy
Your turn Grampy

Putting those “here is what you need to have for the first day of school” letters back in their envelopes for another few days, and squeezing that last blob of sunscreen out of the tube for the bike ride to the skate park and soccer field instead.

Let’s shake it shake it boys!

At her happy place…

self -lake

We are up at “the lake” for the week.

There is no place where I feel more at peace somehow.

That the boys have this experience each year, is something I trust they will always remember. It is a relatively secluded lake, with no one but our family this year.

By our family, I mean the boys, Shrek, and several of his kids. Can you say blending? Blending beautifully? Could we have picked a more magical place to expand into this larger version of ourselves with this much ease? It has been almost two years since Shrek and I met. My wisdom for those of you wondering is only this: it takes time, humor, and younger sibling adoration doesn’t hurt.  Love is what happens when you create the opportunity for it to rise sweetly to the surface, like a loon when and where you might least expect it.

My hour at the internet cafe in town with two boys sort of reading next to me, and sort of having a burping contest is almost over. To be continued…

dock

Promise is theirs. Let’s try and promise that.

My kids are not white.

I am.  So, I will never know what it feels like to be them. I will never be Trayvon Martin.  But, my sons are.  They are going to be young Black men full of promise, walking down the street.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My kids are not white, but I am, and I benefit from this in a gazillion ways that I could not begin to list, or comprehend.

When I was pulled over for speeding when I was 16, I told the cop, and later the judge that I was racing to get to school to take an exam. This was the truth, and the white judge tossed out the ticket the white cop had written. (It was only for going five miles over the speed limit if you must know.) I was screeching with joy when I left the courtroom. My mom told me to lower my voice, I had got off lucky and I should be more contained about it.

Today, if I imagine Sammy being pulled over at 9:00 in the morning in my car racing to school five minutes late how might the outcome be different? *

I have to work actively all the time to not be the oppressor, not the oppressed. When I keep my mouth closed when someone makes a racially tinged  joke, I am that oppressor. When I stay quite in a room full of white when I am aching to talk about who is not there, I am colluding. When I shy away from my own voice and power to make change, I am resigning.

When I stand up and read a poem about what it feels like to hold your son in your lap while he sleeps, and ache for the mamas who no longer can, I am joining.

When I read every uncomfortable line I can about the pandemic of racism worldwide I am opening.

My education, my rearing, my curiosity, my world travel, and the many wise women and men I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from in the first forty-five years of my journey have allowed me to say this-I am resisting.

Resisting the allure of racial and class privilege some of the time.

I was given the opportunity to parent my sons by a force of incomprehensible generosity. My sons have given me a mandate that I must continue to evolve as a person, as a mother, an educator. A mandate to try to be a slightly less racist person at the end of the each day then when I woke up. So I  work at it. I also get lazy and I forget. I have the option to forget.  Therein lies the difference.

My sons are  full of promise, just like so many sons and daughters are and were. My job more than ever is to make whatever part of the world I can- a little more able to see as much of their promise as I do. Period.

Join me?

Push your edges, get uncomfortable, unpack your story of white privilege, and help everyone make some room for them to be all they were meant to be-without fear or trepidation- too.

Not sure how to get started? Here are a few links that have been helpful to me:  What I want you to know about being a young black man in America and also from Rage Against the Mini Van this post on 7 action steps towards becoming an anti racist ally. I also found this tumblr very encouraging as people begin to unpack their own acknowledgement of their privilege.  It has taken me two days to put this post together. It will take me the next twenty to live up to it.

*Although I do not have the actual statistics in front of me I read a report last year on the increased number of incidences where young men of color end up in detention, or worse, for the exact same type of non aggressive police involved encounters as their white counterparts in Maine and nationally.

Homage to the beginning

Summer has finally begun In our district. School ended last week. Camps, books, beaches, lakes, skate parks, camping, kayaking, music, family, friends, and hopefully lots of ease are all possible in the next two months. The end of the school year was bumpy and uneasy for many of us.. I have, at least for the next year, stepped out of my role as a classroom teacher and am transitioning in the fall to a part time position that is being designed. I will still work with students, but in a different capacity. The big hope here is more time to volunteer in the boys’ classrooms, and a little more intention towards the writing and the race work. Big goals with substantially less income. This is a recipe for something… For now anyway, it’s time for all of us to regroup and reconnect in this gentle familiar of summer. I’d love to hear from all of you, what is one way summer allows you to restore and reconnect? With yourself? With family? With your body? With your library? Your creativity? Inspire us!

Superman is having a very busy day

“Superman is having a very busy day,” Marcel observed with empathy while watching Superman last night. There were bad guys being foiled and heroic feats of Lois Lane savings going on about the time he matter of factly declared this. I might conclude the kid can relate. With a few weeks left of kindergarten, a newly developed penchant for gymnastics class, a very fast big brother to keep up with, several good friends to connect with, and all the father’s day cards he’s working on, the kid is busy. (Yes, I said all these Father’s Day cards.  We have about sixteen in a large brown envelope waiting to be delivered. But this may require a post of it’s own.) There are also Nana’s to play with, new walls to scale, flowers to water, lettuce to pick, and lots of things to build. Superman is having a very busy day indeed.

The poet makes her way home

Poet Cat Maryse Anderson Day 7
Poet Cat Maryse Anderson
Day 7, Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency
Mother Writer and her plant, Vineyard Ferry Day 8. Heading home
Mother Writer and her plant, Vineyard Ferry Day 8. Heading home

Today, simply a moment to hold space for the tremendous gift of my final day of writing on day seven, the residency reading that night, and the mystery and grace in the leaving.

On the forty five minute ferry back from Martha’s Vineyard,  I pictured a whale, hundreds of cool dark feet below me, getting ready to birth her first calf. I can sense the two of them in the emerging light of this Monday morning calm before it all begins again. The bold, exhausted exhilaration of the mother, knowing what she has accomplished. The semi altered state of the young calf, in her completely new environs, water rushing over her, milk flowing in her.  Her mother’s heartbeat familiar but slightly and always just out of reach.

______

Residency Day Seven, Less than 24 to go and..

Self Portrait Day 7, Chappaquiddick Beach
Self Portrait Day 7
beach framed
Noticing that there is a frame work emerging…
all work...
All work and no play makes…

It is raining. Thank God. I am ensconced at the dining room table, sipping my way too strong coffee from the ACME mug. I have an ambitious goal to accomplish in the next ten hours, before my final meal in community and our group reading.

The thought of leaving here is  (just a blinking cursor on the page after the word is).

Catherine, you can bring this framework, this poise that radiates from a center of possibility from here to home, from one place to the next, as long as you believe it is indeed waiting for you there.  Catherine you are bringing all of these magnificent connections home with you, because they have already altered your course. You may not have any idea how, but that you trust that it is so, is enough. Hold that in your heart through the wobbly good-byes.

Little bunny rabbit on the lawn just outside-you are the sweetest reminder, that my children are nearer than I think. Shrek I can not wait to have this hovering longing for your embrace quenched. It is so exciting to know that you are waiting to welcome all of me back, and eager to remind me that all of you is there too. You have given me this week without a momentary worry about the one of you. OK, there was that one moment, but it was all part of the journey…Really, how do I begin to thank you?

“Time to hit the decks,” as the novelist next to me would say.  The world needs your voice, your art, your pictures, your songs, your smile, your belief in what you have to say is uniquely yours and wildly worthy of all the space it takes.