Saturday, May 7, 2011

Feeling small....thinking small

Disclaimer:  If you're looking for a nice Mother's Day post, this isn't it.  Save this post for another time and stop reading here.

I'm finding this Mother's Day week difficult - the first time in my memory that it has been so difficult (I don't recollect the Mother's Days in the years immediately following my mom's death, but I imagine they may have been equally or even more awkward than they were painful).  There is a lot going on in the world, mothering my firstborn is challenging at the moment, and there have been a few things over the past month that have thrown in my face the absence of my mother and the layers of trauma that came with her death.  

So here goes.

It has been an intense week in my brain.  Allow me to take a moment to list much of what has been on my mind.

A little over a week ago, I wrote two entries thinking about whether I am a feminist mother and what that even means.  So my introspection switch was definitely in the "on" position.

Then I had some discussions on Facebook and via email with a few different friends about obesity (and subsequently bullying, shape diversity, and a little about what this word "obesity" has come to mean), the American food industry, healthcare, and welfare - all of which were intelligent discussions trying to get at what bothers us about aspects of each, and what changes we'd like to see.  It all had me thinking deeply about politics, and how in the world I have any power in the political and/or legislative processes.  I feel I have little to none, and no energy to devote either.

Sunday I attended a panel discussion entitled "Straight Talk:  Talking with Your Child About Difference."  It was a wonderful (in an awkward way) and eye-opening panel.  So eye-opening, and the discourse so new to me in many ways, that I am not ready to talk about it or even attempt to summarize it yet.  I think it has brought about a bit of a paradigm shift for me - an ultimately positive one, but also a difficult one (I think I'm unpacking my invisible knapsack - and it's not just full of my white privilege - and I'm very bothered by what I see). And my brain has gone so global that I am having a lot of trouble placing it in any context.

And then, of course, the Big News of the week:  Osama bin Laden's death (and the subsequent sometimes-changing of the spelling to Usama bin Laden?  I am confused on this point).  Monday I found myself chained to my nursing chair by a (teething?  frustrated? simply 7-month-old? milestone-ing?) fussy baby while The Beast took Bean on some all-day adventures, so I gave in and kept up with the developing news and read some background while I was at it.  And I watched attitudes and reactions develop on Facebook and in the news.  And I started to feel a little bit sad about some reactions, but mostly relieved and maybe even heart-warmed at the compassion qua ambivalence that I saw in my Facebook newsfeed; my little corner of the world (and virtual world) seems full of peace- and fellow-man-loving people.

And today I read this post about discourse in the world of online feminism and many of the links within it and reactions to it (a handful linked here), which got me thinking about the conversations people (including me) are having about everything I've mentioned in this post (you know, every dang thing going on in the world...).  And one particular article (which I tried to re-visit, but I failed to find it...) was talking about "what's wrong with _____ (I think the feminist discourse) and what we can do about it."  In the end I felt like the "what we can do about it" was "keep talking, but not like we are."  There was no real affirmative what to do.

Add a Facebook conversation about the justness of the bin Laden raid, and catching a bit of a news report about the reaction of Pakistan and I'm about to hyperventilate.

Oh, and there's also this bit of news in Tennessee that nauseates me.

What's a mom to do?!?

I hear myself uttering or thinking in clichés about "the world my kids will inherit" and "the world I've brought children into."  I go around and around about what my role is in this big world - I am so humbled by my lack of power.  How do I make the world a better place for my children?  Can I even keep them safe?

I have tried to follow various options to their various possible ends (which is, of course, impossible).

The only idea that gives me any sense of power is that I need to start as locally as it gets - with my family and children.  I have to raise my boys to be good people, and I have to hope that my neighbors (and their neighbors) do the same.  I want my children to seek out, appreciate, and cultivate the best parts of people.  I want them to seek to identify their own prejudices (and I think we all have them - I know I am constantly seeing more of my own) and work to get beyond them by getting to know people and seeking common ground.  And when they find common ground, I want them to stand firmly on it and agree to disagree on the rest.

I keep going around and around, though.  I'm certainly very uneasy about our political processes and systems.  On a global level, with so much violence and hate and misunderstanding, how do I figure in?

I'd appreciate any and all perspectives on anything I've touched on.  I would like to get out of my spinny little head.  (Stop my brain, I'd like to get off!)

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