I’m not posting much, but when I do, you can find me at my Tumblr. Asante sana!
Truth and Love always win. – Mahatma Gandhi
I love this quote…
If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. ~Audre Lorde
Multi-taksing Stats: Gosh, it’s been years since I’ve done this, but here goes…I posted this whilst grading, tweeting, lounging on the couch thinking about the red velvet waffles I’m going to make in celebration of a milestone later this month and being underwhelmed by the leftover salmon I had for dinner tonight, and helping my bonus daughter with her math homework over the phone.
ETA…A couple of friends have asked about the chicken and red velvet waffles. Read on to see what they look like (WARNING: Do not blame me when you can’t focus for the rest of the day.)
Claude McKay wrote the following poem the year my grandmother was born. It still rings true today.
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time=s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
Claude Mckay, from Harlem Shadows,
copyright, 1922, Harcourt, Brace & Co.
Over at my second cyber-home, CoParenting101.org, we’ve just announce that we’re teaming up with The Ricki Lake Show. Deets.
(I’m sick. I have deadlines. Pardon the brevity.)
It’s a blessing and a curse that I’ve married a man who is a very good dancer. My bonus kids are good dancers too. This means that FedBooHusband and I have had some memorable nights on the dance floor in various cities. He’s full of energy and makes me feel like I’m the only woman in the room, even though, as I’ve said before, this is what I’m working with:
As a kid, I was always the last one to learn a dance, if I ever learned. I remember practicing The Spank and The Smurf in my grandparents living room for over an hour one summer. But I never did get the hang of the Roger Rabbit or the Running Man, which, for an ’80s baby is akin to heresy.
I basically have one move: shaking my hips and making sure I look good doing it. Nevertheless, I’ve danced more with FBH in the 5 years we’ve been together than I did in all the previous 35 years combined. He makes me feel like dancing, what can I say?
At home, my bonus kids get in on the action, and our living room becomes The Club. The kids like to show off their moves, and fall out laughing at their dad and me (mostly me). But sometimes, they take pity on me. Like this text I received from one of them: “‘Teach Me How to Dougie’ just came on…you will learn this weekend!”
I’m so excited! She hasn’t given up on me. My previous attempt at dougie lessons ended up with her shaking her head. But she believes in me, so dougie we shall!
And maybe after that, I can learn how to Wobble (I’m always about 1.5 years behind these dances):
My heart was heavy this morning. It was definitely shaping up to be a serenity prayer kind of day. Sometimes, in this space, I’m limited as to what I can share because while my stories are mine to tell, I tread lightly on telling other people’s stories. I have written (elsewhere) about my bonus children, and how their loving me comes at an emotional cost to them, a cost I wish they didn’t have to pay, and one that I would gladly pay for them. If I could. And I never want to make that cost to them higher than it already is.
But what I can always share and celebrate and revel in is their love for me and mine for them.
This is my comfort today. Despite the many things I cannot change, no amount of eye-rolling or lies can change the fact that I enjoy a close, loving relationship with my husband’s children. They are treasures in my life. I treasure the mundane and special moments we share, our talks, silly texts, and inside jokes. I have never, ever, ever wanted to take their mother’s place. Instead, the children have created a space for me in their lives and in their hearts, and for that I’m grateful. Children have a boundless amount of love to give and they can never have too many people in their lives who love and care for them.
All children are gifts. Just showing up in a child’s life doesn’t entitle you to anything. Giving birth doesn’t either. How we love children teaches them how to love others. How we treat children teaches them what they can and should expect from others. A child’s love is a humbling thing. All we can do as adults is try and be worthy and embrace the gift when children open their hearts to us.
I’m grateful for the four girls who freely choose to open their hearts to me. I believe my children love me for the same reason my bonus children do: Not because I’m their mother and they’re obligated to love me, but rather because they choose to love me. Being a mother doesn’t entitle me to anything that I don’t prove worthy of by my actions and commitment. And obligatory love is no love at all. No one is owed a child’s love. Even, or perhaps especially, biological parents shouldn’t take this gift for granted. None of us have that kind of time.
We have a saying in our family, one that TechBooHusband and I share with each other, and that we’ve passed along to the kids: “I don’t always like you, but I always love you.” I was texting with my bonus daughters today and one of them wrote, “Okay…stepparent who loves and likes me .” She understands that love is a choice, that we’ve chosen to open our hearts to each other, and that this is a special thing. And with that reminder, I had to get out of my earlier funk: I am blessed.