Skip to main content

Then again...

There is this moment when the thing we fear becomes like an animal in a cage.  We feed it, give it treats, reach into to steal a stroke, tease it, name it, watch it pace in front of the bars.  We get comfortable with it and begin to lose the tightness in our belly.  We begin to believe our feelings were not justified, that we were just being silly.  We begin to make friends with that animal in the cage and we decide to let it out, to see if it has suddenly become civilized.  Inevitably, it has not and then comes the bloody, broken mess on the floor that we have to clean up even as we know we created the mess and we don't want to see that thing we've let loose.  And we have to put it back in the cage, the struggle ensues, and we are irrevocably scarred by the experience only to begin the process again.

Lately I seem to be reading, talking, thinking, talking, watching, talking about inclusion and diversity.  As if one of those things is somehow more valuable than the other, as if we can find the perfect balance of what it means to be a person in this skin, in this body, in this place, in these conditions.  We can define it, name it, put it in the cage and watch it rail against the boundaries we have made, knowing it cannot get out.

Sometimes I am irritated by just how much attention is paid to our differences.  It's as if we cannot recognize each other without first drawing a little mental picture of what sets us apart.  You are tall, I am short.  You are rich, I am poor.  You are black, I am white.  You are boy, I am girl.  Exploring all of these, listing them, until we've got some common ground somewhere.  As if being human in the first place was not enough, as if sharing the same space, the same air, the same moment in time is not good enough for forging a bond and putting us square.  First, let me identify you, assign you a role, and then I can acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, you defy that role.  Diversity (fists in the air to emphasize the point)!  Look how much we don't share!

And yet, I am not allowed to point out these differences at all.  They must be unspoken.  Little markers to measure each other by, but always on the down-low as if the words themselves carry some sort of power to define us.  I must include you, after all you fit the category or close enough to it.  I must include you despite how glaringly you do not fit the bill and I must not ever explain why I thought you might not want to come along.  That is wrong.  Because, inclusion!  Inclusion!

You might be reading me all wrong here.  Let me be clear: My daughter is black and it's wonderful.  I don't spend a lot of time thinking about how she is black and I am white and WOW! we are suddenly so very different.  I do want her to understand the culture that is uniquely hers, the one I cannot belong to no matter how much I might admire it. I do talk about those floating concepts like adoption.  I do at times worry that she might not know how to answer those inevitable questions, those eyebrows raised in surprise, those second glances that happen when people suddenly realize I am her mom.  And they do happen.  Often.  I do spend time noticing how beautiful her skin is in the light, or how vivid the whites of her eyes are in the dark, how markedly different the bottoms of her feet are to the rest of her foot.  So does she, for the record, without any prompting from me.  She wants to know why this is and how it changes things.  It doesn't, not really, except that maybe I have a greater appreciation for the body and how it defies convention.  How it does not notice it is different, but goes on trying to work, full steam.  I love that somehow she is quite particularly my daughter in so many ways and without any effort on either part.  Nature versus nurture forgets there is a God and His hand brought her here.

But back to that caged animal.

I feel really defensive when I read narratives about how differently we treat people based on their status as black, white, male, female, Hispanic, immigrant, on and on.  OF COURSE we do, and not always, often not, in good ways because we are people and inherently prone to making stupid choices.  We excel at being stupid about this kind of thing.  I wonder, though, how much we bang this drum because we want to hear the noise of it.  How much we create lines between us because we are afraid or ignorant or irresponsible or just plain mean.  There is the line!  See it!  Don't touch it!  It might move!  But, don't forget about it!  In fact, we better celebrate it!  I wonder why we spend so much time calling it something: racism, sexism, classism, isolationism - so many isms.  When really, all along, it is just one thing: We've forgotten who we are.  Humans.  People.  Children of God.  Or, even if you prefer, members of the same species.  We are the same, but our colors are as bright and glorious as a butterfly's wing.  And until that beauty becomes the thing we talk about most because it is beautiful, I fear it will continue to be that caged animal.  Locked up, separated, afraid and dangerous.  Something we look at and talk about and tease.  Something to fear simply because it has not been understood.


Popular posts from this blog

Dear Carly,

I assume that one day you will come to me wanting to know who you are, where you came from, where your other family is and why they gave you to us.  I offer you little bits of information already, but certainly not crumbs enough to satisfy the appetite.  Perhaps it won't matter to you.  I am assuming a lot, already, about how adoption will impact your life.

People often wonder why adoptive parents are hurt when their children seek out biological roots.  I have the answer, and it's very simple.  Adoption - at its core - makes us question the legality, authority, voracity, and validity of parenthood.  For most adoptive parents, first you must come to terms with an issue that strikes at the foundations of mortality: fertility.  From birth, most of us are driven to form families.  First we are nestlings, nurtured and weened and eventually taught to fly.  Then we are nest-builders, filling our lives with the stuff necessary to drive life forward.  Knowledge, safety, money, a sturdy …

On being away from home and turning sixteen: a letter to my son

Dear Josh,

I missed your sixteenth birthday.  I'm sure you recall - or maybe it wasn't so bad because you spent the whole day with your friend watching movies.  Godzilla and Guardians of the Galaxy, you've said.  It's no surprise to me that Godzilla was your favorite of the two.  That atomic green monster holds a special place in your heart.

It was very difficult for me to be away from you when you crossed this threshold in your life.  I remember turning sixteen, being sixteen, and wondering when I would feel like I was actually sixteen.  When I was sixteen, I went and found my first job, I started driving myself around, and I pretty much felt like I was in the wrong skin.  I'm only now, at 37, beginning to feel in the right skin.  Or at least comfortable with the skin I'm in.  But you - well, you don't seem to have a problem being you.  I can't explain how very happy that makes me feel, how very reassured.  Because it can be really hard not to like you…

Fragmented re-introduction

I dreamed a dream once of what this would be like.  Of life.  Of patterns and songs and ticking off boxes to find my way. 

Trouble was, I keep looking at the wrong list.

This year's list:

- Turn 40 (check)
- Move again (check)
- Send the boy on a mission (check)
- Finish admin license
- Get lost (check)
- Get found (check)
- Lost again (check)

Wait, that went off track. 

Adulthood is a lot of getting off track.  And back on.  It's weird.

I thought at 40, I would have it all together.

But, I'm barely keeping it from falling apart. 


So, this is me where I am now.

40, working, waiting.  My boy's on a mission in Boise.  My girl's 12 going on 20.  My husband hates his job most days, and loves it alternatively.  Same for me.  We live in a small town I don't like very much and dream of going somewhere else, but we don't know where that is. 

I want to be a writer, but I don't spend time writing.

I read something the other day that gave me hope: Guy Fieri…