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Saturday, February 27, 2016

I am trying to stand up but I need some extra hands to lift me.

Last week as I was pulling into our driveway after picking Atticus up from school, 4 helicopters flew over our house in a perfect square formation.
Atticus was very impressed and so was I. 
I am impressed when people can parallel park on the first try so piloting an aircraft is pretty amazing to me.

We live right under the flight path for Davis Monthan Air Force base and quite often their aircraft fly over my house while I meditate, clean the kitchen, sit on my couch or eat dinner.
Yet, my home feels safe.
I've never worried that the planes above me would intentionally harm me.
I've never worried that anyone might want to hurt me or my family because of our beliefs but my son asked "why are they flying like that? Where are they going?"
I told him "They are practicing for various conflicts and operations around the world. We are always fighting someone, it seems".
He was surprised " Why?"

Now, we have discussed the world's conflicts before. 
Last year his school district had all the kids dress in red, white and blue in support of one of the local schools whose parents were being deployed to Afghanistan. I don't shelter him from the dark side of the world but I don't see the benefit of raising him with fear. He knows there is a lot of suffering around the world and within our own community but unlike my childhood in which, I was told the Russians and Iranians could arrive at anytime to destroy my family...I try to empower him with an understanding that as a child his job is to learn to be generous and patient. I want him to understand that not everyone will agree with one another and some people will lash out in anger when they feel small and threatened but that's no reason for him to do the same.


However, he had asked a question so I answered him " We are at war because we are trying to protect our resources but also trying to protect others from suffering but it's all very complicated...someone always wants to be right which means they tend to make someone else wrong. Instead of just allowing us to live in disagreement...we are too insecure and try to eradicate the people who don't agree with us instead of just being present with our own uncomfortableness."

It was a bit of a long winded and benign explanation,.
I didn't go into the politics and finances of the weapon industry, environmental insecurity or the history of colonialism that has influenced resentment.
I just wanted him to understand the basic human ego because it is the driving factor behind everything else.

But even with that fairly tidy and somewhat naive explanation, he said "That's just messed up."

And it is. 
I don't have any big answers, either.
Considering the amount of tension and bitterness that can quickly swell into a fairly dramatic situation at the kitchen table...I can't expect that any us will ever get over ourselves at the same time.

I minored in Anthropology in college and what I learned was that civilizations keep repeating the same cycles of overconsumption, greed and self righteousness over and over even though every time it turns into an epic fail. 

But we keep doing it, anyway.
Again and again.
We stick our heads in the ever warming sand with a belief that we won't suffer the same consequences as those who followed the same footsteps before us.

We are somehow better equipped THIS time.

OUR God wants US to succeed.
OUR land will never let US down.
OUR way is the right way....we won't starve, become ugly, mean or become what we despise.
Not us.

Not us.
I recognize that the wars we face are linked to so much more than I can explain. 
Poverty, ignorance, prejudice, beliefs, resources...they all are parts of the chaos that we continue to struggle with as a planet and I can't fix this madness for him on my own.

But when I was younger, I thought my generation would be the one that dId.

I participated in a High School walk out during the 1st Gulf War and royally pissed off my dad but I thought it was worth it. 
I believed that my voice mattered. 
I handed out condoms and pamphlets regarding HIV and AIDS to strangers as part of an education program through Tucson AIDS Project because I thought that if people just had the facts then they would stop demonizing a whole group of people.
I volunteered for our school environmental group and tried over many family dinners to explain to my father that caring for our planet wasn't a communist conspiracy.

Information can be powerful.
It can wake people up from being ambivalent but it doesn't seem like it's enough, anymore.

I know that there has been progress.
Quite a bit.

However, I have a mental block to policies that are irresponsible or hateful.

I don't get religion.

I don't understand our attachments to oppressive beliefs systems...I have yogi friends who think questioning old practices and origin stories is arrogant so I do understand the blinding power of devotion and belief fanatics but I am finding myself feeling very hopeless.

Maybe, hope is just another blinding belief because after thousands and thousands of years there doesn't seem to be an awakening of consciousness globally.

At least that's how I'm feeling.
Lately, I've been drowning in the sorrow and rottenness of the world: mass shootings, racist rants, violence and ignorance seem to be the daily headline and it's so heavy that my body almost can't move anymore.
I'm tired and heartbroken with the world that I brought my son into, despite the goodness of my own life.
I'm finding myself falling into the same sort of defensive fear that creates the problems that have left me feeling so very sad.
Will change come?
I've spent my life with those planes and helicopters flying over my head and am fortunate that I still do not fear for my own safety. 
My child is the same but do the children across the border have that same sense of protection from violence like mine does?
Hell, even the color of his skin gives him more of a sense of ease in our neighborhood then it does for kids not born 'white' or living on a reservation just miles from my home.
I'm not going to just 'Thank God' for my blessings because that's bullshit and it means I am complacent to the violence, the ignorance and poverty that permeates our planet but...
I want to help the world.
I really do.
I just do not know how to and I have to remember that I can't do it all by myself.




Monday, February 8, 2016

Running is prohibited.

There have been many times over the past year, in which I wondered if my son would be better off without me in the picture.
I understand that is a terrible thing to say but I never thought I was fit enough to be a good mother. I worried I would be much like my own: anxious, unstable and unrealistic.

But 7 plus years ago and after years of my partner wanting to have kids...I decided to throw my hands and legs to the sky and say "let's see what happens" and what happened?
A gorgeous little boy came into this crazy scene.
And like so many other moments of naive hopefulness, I believed that if I just wanted it enough, I could become a wonderful mother AND I would never explode like my mother did, 
I would never pressure my kid to be perfect, 
I would never yell or say shitty things and he? 
He would be awesome.
Easy.
He wouldn't be a mess like me.
He'd be so much better than me.
But he still is a lot like me.
And it turns out...I'm a lot like my mother.

When Atticus was born, I was told that the 1st year would be the hardest part of but then came my divorce, toddler insanity, my manic dive into beer, men, tears and poor judgement.
All of this, in addition to continued sleepless nights while trying to smile with food stuck in my hair and grossness dribbled on my clothing meant that year 2 and 3 were not easier. 
They were a shit show of how truly functionally dysfunctional life could be.
 
Time moved forward and things got harder.

When he turned 4, I thought I had finally figured this parenthood, relationship and career business out.
I met a wonderful guy who loved us both and really wanted to create a family.
I was becoming a grown up BUT then we stepped into the world of Pre-school, Kindergarten and Elementary school!
(Cue the dramatic music, it's needed)
I had no idea what we were in for. 
Not a clue.

I grew up in Sahuarita, Arizona.
I had one school option.
It was full of the children of migrant workers, copper miners and Mormons.
There was no bullshit to be had.
If I misbehaved, Dr. Holtzmiller gave me the paddle. 
If my mom found out about it...then the belt and wooden spoons came out.
I got a lot of firm reminders throughout my childhood but they never stopped me from being a stubborn and defiant child so I promised myself that I would never be that kind of parent.
Which was great except I didn't have a Plan B.

So when Atticus acted like an ass?
I didn't do anything but plead, cry or lock myself in the bathroom because his misbehaving was infuriated me to a point of rage. 
I didn't know how to talk to him which meant that he didn't know how to function, either.
He wouldn't sit still, he said crazy things, he inspired revolts.
Literally.
When preschool mutiny happened, it was epic.

He was kicked out of his 1st 'real' preschool because he led the kids out of the building to the playground and locked the teachers inside of the building. Upon his expulsion, I was told to drug him or be prepared to visit him in prison during my grey years. 
After that, I found him a very liberal preschool that he loved.
So, for a time he had the perfect situation until we could no longer afford it.

Kindergarten was a challenge but ended okay. 
We were encouraged to remove him from his designated school at the beginning of the year by that school's counselor and transferred him to a Montessori school. I figured he'd thrive with more creativity but his teacher had to create a whole new set of rules for him so that meltdowns and full on tantrums weren't a daily experience.

Again, once we got through Kindergarten, I thought things were going to get easier but after the 2nd week of 1st grade, it was clear that the Montessori atmosphere wasn't a good fit for him. 
He was back to finding ways to runaway from school, master his use of profanity and alienate most of his classmates.
Suspensions happened. 
Principals calling me with my son begging to come home in the background became regular occurrences.
It sucked.
I was truly losing my mind. 

So, for the past several months, I've been holding my breath and waiting for phone calls, leaving work early, scheduling meetings with teachers and psychologists, emailing his father, his teachers and trying to keep my breakdowns fairly secret.
I've texted friends at all hours of the day for advice and stayed up way too late reading every recommended book on parenting a child who is now officially labeled as 'gifted' and 'emotionally disabled'.

I've been almost entirely focused on taking care of and advocating for my son. 
Each day, still showing up for work, walking into rooms and lecturing strangers about how to keep their shit together while they've pressed me for my faults so that they can feel better about themselves.
Random folks giving me unsolicited advice that they copied from someone's Facebook page.
They mean well, I know... but it hasn't stopped my own feelings of wanting to runaway.

I have not been all that confident that I was the right person for the job to be raising Mr. Atticus Ronin Brindamour.
This kid who hugs everyone, who asks questions that I can't answer...
This kid became lost in 18 pages of documentation that said he was a problem.
And it's been unbearably shitty at times.
It has been full of a lot of misguided moments of frustration towards the people I love the most...
My boyfriend, my teacher, my friends and my co-workers who are my family and deal with my everyday ramblings.

It's been a year of having to get up and feel my feet on the ground, each day.
I've been a mess but I've still shown up and I've learned that running away doesn't get you any further away from the parts of life that you don't like.
My son needs me.
Our school system is fucked but our teachers our good.
They are exhausted.
They are underfunded, underpaid and our kids are being dragged through a system that often lacks insight.
It's really nuts. 
Truly. 

Thankfully, the bigger picture has found heroes in the corners who spend their days listening to both Atticus and me.

We are at a new school,again.
Atticus is still awkward and defiant but he is given so much more patience and guidance then he was.
He is doing much better.
My phone isn't something I gaze at with trepidation and wonder 'is that the school's phone number'?
No.
It's been much better... 
We are much better and I am not going anywhere.
I'm staying right here and I still believe I can be the mother he needs but I'm not crossing my fingers, anymore.
I'm taking some deep breaths and staying put.