August 31, 2008 § Leave a comment
at the black midwives conference 2007
August 29, 2008 § 1 Comment
so we have begun a new phase in the revolutionary motherhood project…
check us out. bookmark us. keep coming back. tell your friends…
looking at the intersections of motherhood and reproductive justice, nationalism, race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, socio-economic class, health care, ability and other structures of violence and communities of resistance…
August 20, 2008 § 2 Comments
i am starting to have a soft spot in my heart for fundamentalist christian mamas. i have hung with two in the past month and frankly, they are on point with some of the basic values i associate with being a rev’y mama. like compassion for other mamas and the do what works for you/stay sane attitude. honesty about the difficulties and pleasures of having a kid. anti-materialist/anti-capitalist analysis. respect and curiosity for other cultures. de-centering the western/us. etc. funny, huh? maybe if you are required to pay attention to the actual words that jesus says then, i dont know…ya start to sound a lot more radical than people who think of themselves as ‘progressive’.
i was brought up in a fundamentalist christian church…and so i have a deep appreciation for the values that i took from that tradition. textual analysis, poetry, redemption, radical compassion.
now where i theologically disagree my fundamentalist upbringing is: i believe that you can disagree with god and the bible. the bible is a record of communities relationship with god. and sometimes god is wrong. and sometimes the communities are wrong. and sometimes the accuracy of the record is wrong.
anyways, no one can be perfect all the time. not even god.
but some mamas who try to live the truth of jesus’s message are pretty revolutionary and it is not just a lifestyle choice for them…
right on. as for fundamentalist christianity and gender issues…that is another post
August 19, 2008 § Leave a comment
i breast fed my kid for the first 14 months of her life. we also supplemented with soy formula. this is because the pumping machines did not work for me. often when i would tell this to other breastfeeding mamas they would say algo asi: oh yeah i had to pump alot at first…then they would tell me about pumping for 15 minutes to get 8 oz of milk…this never happened to me. i had three pumping machines (a handheld, a single breast, and a double breast) never happened. i cried. i felt inadequate.
my midwife had said giving my baby formula was giving her poison. ok she didnt say this, she screeched it. when i asked her what was in the formula that made it poison, she said: just read the ingredient list. me: yes, but what exactly are the poisonous ingredients. she shrugs me off. she rarely had good specific knowledge about her midwifery craft. she usually got annoyed when i asked her for details. she regarded it as a strange quirk that i expected her to know facts, figures, cogent analysis. this was not a good sign.
anyways, i got over the fact that i couldnt pump, breastfed as much as i could, and my daughter drank soy formula. i figured that she was probably going to get poisoned a million different ways by the urban air, various cleaning products, chemical and dyes in clothing, etc. so purity was out of the window. and i was not going to dedicate my life to creating the pure child.
furthermore, she broke her leg when she was 2 months old, and was in a cast and body sling for a month, thus ending my baby moon. all i could do was breastfeed her and give her pain killers and cry and pray.
the poisons let her sleep at night.
when we were in mexico a friend asked how did i feel about letting someone else breast feed my kid. and i stumbled in my response. breastfeeding is a private/public intimate act. i breastfeed in public. she and i had breastfed side by side, my lil one squirmy and playful, hers, quiet and sleepy, and yet it felt strange to think of her breastfeeding my child. i had read about disease being passed through the breast milk. i felt undecided about the matter. and undecided about the idea of breastfeeding some one else’s kid. was it a violation of space? a violation of food?
i think, i would want someone to ask permission (if they could) first. but in an emergency do what you have to do.
cuz actually not alot (other than breastmilk) passes through breastmilk. and tandem breastfeeding (in trust) could make some mamas lives easier. after she asked me that, and i did some research, read some stories, i felt like i could let go of ‘possessing’ my babe a bit more.
i loved breastfeeding in mexico. sitting a cafe, drinking coffee, watching youtube, and nursing. other than people giving me little smiles and nods as they passed by, no one seemed to give me more attention when i was feeding her. other than the internationals. ah, the gringos. who thought it was so ‘unusual’ what i was doing. god, i could have slapped them. and their non-baby-having, i am a traveler-look-at-my-dirty-clothes, stop-and stare-at-the-breeder, asswipe-like attitudes.
i started to wean her…well, she started to wean herself…well, it was a back and forth process, when she started walking. her love of moving walking running crawling exploring the world, meant she would rather have a cup in her hand than a breast. and the breast was still good for going to sleep, but other than that she would try to pull the breast off my body so that she could go exploring with it….ummm…it doesnt work like that.
but all in all it took a couple of months to wean. i didnt really have a schedule or a plan. i just put the idea: wean, into my head and figured it would happen. her papa took over more of the feeding and i got to spend more time writing and typing. (she would never, not even as an infant, let me type and breastfeed at the same time…all those images of writer or office working mamas typing as they breastfeed, did not happen for me…fuck!)
and then one day i looked up and realized i hadnt fed her in 2 or 3 days. and she hadnt asked for breast milk. and we were weaned.
or so i thought.
because the next couple of weeks, i felt weepy for no apparent reason. over little things. and tired. and depressed. and silly. and then as i was writing a letter to a friend, mid-sentence, i realized, this was the emotional/hormonal side of weaning.
she has been weaned for less than two months, and i dont think she remembers it at all. i am kinda amazed how quickly she just got over it.
but the entire process from conception to weaning has been amazing. when i have gotten pregnant the first thing to start umm…blossoming…are the tetas…and they dont stop.
i remember looking in the mirror one night, and thinking: these arent my breasts…and then…oh fuck!…im pregnant!
now i watch my toddler galloping over her world and think…oh fuck!…how the fuck did i become a parent?
August 15, 2008 § Leave a comment
the majority of the wealth that exist in black and latino communities is the equity of the home.
being middle class and black is really different from being middle class and white. welcome to intersectional analysis folks! so even white and black families have similar income levels, the amount of wealth (which is property owned, stocks and bonds, inheritance, etc.) is astoundingly different. black america owns 1/10 of the wealth that white america does.
the study talked about here defined the middle class not simply by income, but by educational achievements, assets, home ownership, health costs and budgets. in other words, they saw the designation of middleclass as a designation of lifestyle and not simply how much one gets in a paycheck.
you know its funny. i grew up with my mother moving into the black middle class. she may even have moved into the black uppermiddle class. but, it wasnt until my mid-twenties that i began to understand how different being black middle class was from being white middle class. and i began to understand that being black upper-middle-middle class to whites meant being lower-middle class or upper-working class.
the audio and visual of the video is not segued…so it can be a bit jarring.
August 15, 2008 § Leave a comment
alas, a blog congratulates universities who have stopped requiring the sat scores and shows what she teaches in sat tutoring…how to take the test.
August 11, 2008 § 2 Comments
my daughter is around 15 months. and once i find that cable that goes with my camera, i promise to post pictures. well, once i find that cable, and figure out windows vista…but that is a different story.
the thing about being a mother is that most of my life feels relatively unremarkable. there are amazing things that happen, but honestly, do i really want to record the first time that she wore a cubs shirt and overalls (thanks dan and rose!)? and how cute she looked? do i really want to write about how she peeks in the bedroom when i am taking a cat nap, and then she scampers away…or how she chases fireflies in the backyard?
i mean these are the endearing moments that i love. and that make all of this (as wanda sykes mocks) worth it. but how interesting is that to anyone who is not on our little pirate ship family?
our friends came by this weekend and spent a couple of hours before they headed to the bar. it was funny. part of me felt jealous that they were going to a bar and i can remember how much fun it is to go to a bar with them. but part of me felt sad for them, because alcohol is so expensive at a bar (ah well, they can afford it) and we could have invited their friends and my friends to a house or apartment and had a great party (for much less money and much more conversation) and i thought how silly that they planned their evening around a place where we couldnt go with a babe (thats american culture for you…no babies allowed) because aza is so much fun at a party.
weekend before last we went to a bar three nights in a row without aza and i felt guilty (she loves a good time) but it was great to go out with my partner without the babe. we got to dance to bad music and hang out and throw darts and not worry about the third person in our little triangle (her grandma was taking care of her and there is almost no one i would trust more) we got to have adult conversation that did not include talk about diapers or teething and we got to miss her. and missing her reminds me how lucky i am to have such a great babe.
the past few days she has been cranky teething and anything that alleviates the crankiness for a few minutes doesnt seem to work the next day. hopefully she is working through it and past it and will return to her happy self soon (knock on wood).
the sad part about our friends as well is that they both spoke of having a child as a huge responsibilty. and it is a huge responsibility. but i got the feeling when they said: yeah we need to be stable before we think about starting a family that they had these white middle class ideals of familyhood dancing in their heads. and i tried to dispel the myths. but i didnt know how to do so without insulting them.
what i wanted to say was: it is a huge responsibility. but unlike most responsibilities it pays you back much more than you can ever give. alot of people concentrate on what they lose. sleep. (ah beautiful sleep), the free open time to fritter away doing nothing, that feeling of autonomy, etc. and these are the things that i miss the most. i miss killing a book in a day just because i have the day off. and i miss the feeling that if i am ‘okay’ well that is all i have to think about. a certain carefreeness toward life.
but look what i didnt lose and look at what i gained. i can act like a complete fool. and i have gained the confidence at saying: fuck the world. i can feel good about myself even though i havent had a pedicure or manicure in months.
i can know that something as abstract as politics matters not because it is my arcane interest but because politics is about who has the power to achieve what they want in the world, and i want aza to achieve everything her heart desires. so what happens in georgia or russia or china or the middle east matters in a way that didnt before.
i have the motivation to become who i want to be in the world because if i dont then she will grow up thinking that she cannot become who she wants to be in the world. i can no longer afford regrets. all of a sudden my audience has changed. rather than what some potential lover or friend or parent or professor thinks of what i do, it is much more important what will she think of what i do. i no longer have a choice about whether or not i express my anger or disagreement or set my boundaries, i have to, or else she will not learn how to. and in a strange way this frees me.
yes i resent american culture. especially american urban culture that thinks that because i am a mom 930 pm is past my bedtime. or my babe’s. (frankly i wish that 930pm was past her bedtime some nights, but she is a night owl like me. and like her grandfather-my father- whom she may never meet) but i will not live in the us forever. and she doesnt care how many people are hanging out, she still insists on dance party time at night.
but honestly i think that people put alot of expectations on themselves to be these perfect lil liberal parents so that they can give their kids the perfect lil childhood. everywoman i have met who doesnt have kids (and a few who do…oh those super-attachement parenting moms!) imagines how difficult it would be to have a kid, a babe, a lil one in their lives. and imagines themselves going to bed at 930 pm everynight. but i think that says alot more about the potential parents than it does the baby.
our kid is adaptable. most kids i know are adaptable. she thrives around people. most kids i know thrive around people. she hasnt had the stable white middle class ideal family life. she has hitchhiked in mexico. she has lived in a van. she has slept in more different beds and rooms than i care to count. she has partied till the early morn. she has gotten bitten by fleas. at two months old she broke her leg and was in a cast for 4 weeks. she has eaten dog shit (ok that part i was not happy about…and my partner and i promptly washed us all up) she has seen a homeopath and a midwife more times than doctor. she thinks an empty beer can is an everyday toy. she has eaten whateva we eat and recently that include sausage, eggs, burritos, seafood, blueberries (man she loved those blueberries) rose petals and hopefully nothing poisonous.
and she has been loved. incredible undeniable love. love that pours out of every crevice of this mama’s body. the kind of love that every mama knows. the kind of love that says: im not the perfect mama, but you are still alive so i cant be doing too bad.
i remember my mother saying something like that. how the fact that i was still alive atested to her love for me. and i remember thinking. crazy selfish lady…keeping me alive is the least of your obligations to me.
i used to think really snotty things. (ok i still think really snotty things, but if you cant be snotty towards your mother what will do you with that necessary attitude?)
now i get what she was saying. she was saying that everyday she lived for me. that she could have been vacationing in the bahamas on her vacations but instead she took me to montreal because she believed in my genius and my desire to learn french. she was saying that she worked at a racist sexist government agency that didnt promote her for nearly a decade so that i could go to the private school that i wanted and i could buy all the books i wanted and i could take the dance classes that i wanted and i could hold my head up high.
but of course learning to hold my head up high…i learned that from her.
and it is what i hope my daughter learns from me.
sometimes i feel guilty that i have it so easy. that i am not a working single mother like my mother. but then i remember that she did all that backbreaking sitting in an office bored out of her mind she is so much more intelligent than her superiors but she has kowtow a little, so that i dont have to kowtow at all.
and i owe her. she could have been a different woman. but she decided to be the kinda woman that took care of her kids.
so yeah…aza…huge responsibility. but its not like you think. its not because i am trying to make sure she gets into the right day care. its because i have to be the person that models (not even teaches…teaching is easy…but i have to live all the visions i want her to consider embracing) the person i am. so that she has freedom to become the person she is.
that is what my mom did for me. showed me how to mix strength and honesty and love. it is a potent mixture. more so than any mixed drink i could get at a bar.