I won't pretend parenting hasn't been hard for me lately. I think it is largely due to the fact that Pumpkin has hit a difficult phase (seven is kicking our asses) right at the same time as I seem to be entering perimenopause. At a time when I most need patience and understanding, my anger is unpredictable, to say the least. I wonder why I never see this included in those silly pro-and-cons lists for having kids early vs. later in life. I think there must be definite advantages to having your kids be old enough to understand WTF is going on when Mommy's moods start swinging out of control. Although having this phase in my life overlap the time when my daughters hit puberty would be truly frightening. We would probably need to buy new doors, since all the females in this house favor stomping off to our room and slamming the door when angry.
Regardless, I'm going to have to figure out how to muddle through. Scenes like the one during Petunia's shower help a lot. Also, the kids played nicely together for a solid hour in the backyard this evening, while I sat and sipped some wine and read my book. It was a minor parenting miracle, and I am grateful for it.
In fact, I am grateful tonight for much, much more. I parent from an extraordinarily privileged position that I am painfully aware should be granted to all parents in this country, but is not. If my kids act up in public and I don't manage to handle it perfectly, I am given the benefit of the doubt. If I worry about someone calling Child Protective Services on us when one or the other of the kids is screaming about whatever horrible thing we've asked them to do (like put away their toys), it comes from the aforementioned hormonal fluctuations, and not a place of true worry. When my husband goes to the store, there is next to no chance that he will be shot by the police, no matter what merchandise he is carrying. And when my kids are old enough to be out on their own, I won't worry at all about them being shot by police.
I saw the news of the latest shooting on Twitter, of course. It is where I see most things first. I was saddened and angered. And then I saw this tweet, and I was ashamed:
“You’re supposed to protect your kids. I feel like I failed because I let something happen to my son” His mother I’m sick
— Dr. Cornel Fresh (@WyzeChef) August 10, 2014
Mike Brown's mother did not fail her son. We failed her. We have watched so many Black teenagers be killed, and we have done nothing. We have not fixed our problems. I am not sure we have even tried.
How, for instance, is it possible that no one in the Ferguson police department could recognize the truth of this:
The presence of police dogs in #Ferguson is, at the very least, culturally and historically insensitive.
— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 10, 2014
How is it possible that white people are all over Twitter asking what Mike Brown did to deserve being shot, when we all just shrugged and accepted the nonsense that went on at Cliven Bundy's compound? Whatever Mike Brown did or did not do, he did not deserve to be gunned down in the street. He posed no clear and immediate threat to anyone. How is it possible that white people are all over Twitter arguing that John Crawford should not have been carrying an air rifle that is sold in the store he was in when the Open Carry people in Texas managed to go safely in and out of store after store with actual assault rifles?
I am at a loss for words, or for suggestions for action. But I once again find I need to at least acknowledge the privilege I have, and to wish someone could show me the way to help make this better. This is not how I want my country to be. This is not something I can accept as "just how it is." Actually, this self-evidently is just how it is, but I refuse to accept that it should stay that way.
I have no answers. You should read the much more eloquent words of Stacia L. Brown and Roxane Gay and think of the fundamental things in your life you take for granted that so many people in our country cannot. I do not know how we fix this, but perhaps the first step is for more of us to see it.