There are some days where I feel like I’m counting hours until bedtime, waiting for that elusive bit of quiet I where I can snatch some time to read or write or watch a show that has nothing to do with tiny humans. I know I’m not alone in this, as pretty much everyone in the little years with their kids has days like this.
Tonight I had the baby asleep and was cuddling my four-year-old on the couch while we caught an excited episode of Dora the Explorer, when the baby woke up after right about 27 minutes of being asleep.
“Let me come with you!” my four-year-old begged, and I reluctantly agreed since I’ve got about a 50/50 shot he’ll rile the baby up and neither of them will be sleeping any time soon.
Tonight I got lucky. I lay the baby back down on his floor bed, and curled my body around his, and my four-year-old curled up at the foot of the bed, each snug under their own small blanket.
And I lay there curved like an “S” between two sleepy bundles of boy and realized this was one of the most sublime moments of my life.
The nine-month-old sleepily nursing his way back to sound slumber, the silky hair of the four-year-old pressed into my calf as he wiggled himself comfortable.
Within moments they were both asleep.
It was easy tonight, and here I am writing a blog post, but I hope that by writing it down this captured memory will serve to carry me through nights when no one sleeps and I wonder just how much my sanity can take.
A heinous act has occurred. Nine beautiful people are dead and one is injured. A community is in the spot light for racial violence. And black people all over this country are lifting up their voices and crying out.
And so are white people, but too many of us aren’t crying out with our wounded neighbors, our brothers, our sisters.
The question is, what are you crying out?
Was the first thing that popped into your head when the topic of racism and hatred and violence came center stage: “well, I’m not a racist.”
Did you feel defensive?
None of us like to be lumped in with the perpetrators of a crime.
But to push away the horror of this act, of so many similar acts, with the distancing statement, “well, I’m not a racist,” is to choose complicity with the systemic racism that still runs through the backbone of our nation like a cancer.
And don’t talk to me about a black president. Just because we’ve made some progress doesn’t mean it’s enough. Not when so much hatred is being taught in families and organizations every day all across the country.
This blog is supposed to be about the little daily graces in life, a celebration of the moments of joy and the beauty in what could otherwise be the mundane.
So let’s talk about moments of racial grace.
If you are white and you’ve ever interacted with a black person, you experienced racial grace. Grace for your unawareness, for the things you said and did that you may never remember. Every time your unthinkingness, yes your privilege, has gone un-called out by a black person, they extended you grace. Unmerited favor. Because so much wrong has been done to black people in America by white people in America that you are complicit in if you are not joining in the outcry against racism in this country.
I’ve been complicit far too often by just not wanting to speak up, or to speak loud enough. All of us have. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror.
This isn’t about guilt. Just as a black person is born into one reality by virtue of skin, so we are born into another reality. If you are white, then by virtue of the color of your skin, which you had no say in, you were born into a dominate culture where you could take many things for granted.
And yet over and over you’ve been extended grace by black people who by virtue of added melanin have dealt with everything from rudeness and slights to verbal abuse and physical violence on some scale every day.
I think the least we as white people can do is stop being defensive and examine the systemic racism in our culture and in our hearts and start to root it out. If all of us did that, it would soon be gone, for all big changes start with me.
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I was reading the book Home Grown by Ben Hewitt this morning in an attempt to get some more ideas about what learning with my four-year-old might look like since it’s become clear that school is not for him at the moment. We’re not making any broad claims about what we intend to do for the whole of his education, but at the moment, school is not for him and so we’re educating ourselves as to how to facilitate the work of learning that he is doing all the time.
But that’s not the point of this post.
The talented author was describing his family’s life on a farm in Vermont, and I could smell the dew on the grass under his feet as he walked to move the cows in the morning, hearing the shouts of his boys as they struck off for the woods on some mission, and I had the thought of, maybe this is what we need to do, we need to move to a farm, get off the grid completely.
Last week I thought maybe we should sell everything and buy a motorhome and travel full-time.
And yet Ben (may I call you Ben? I feel like we’re friends already), shot that whole idea down before it got half-way formed.
“My intent is not to show you how perfect our life is, nor how we’ve mastered the fine art of educating and parenting all in one place, all of which would be a lie anyway. Our life is imperfect in no small part because we are imperfect people inhabiting an imperfect world.” (p.7)
Later on the bottom of the same page he continues:
“What I gain from these moments–the quick bloom of warmth they bring, the quiet sense of knowing there is nothing else I need–cannot be readily measured, and because it cannot be measured, it cannot be traded. It is my own wealth. It is unique to me and therefore it is secure.”
And I realized something, something that I’ve been realizing and forgetting by cycles for probably fifteen years or so. It’s not some major shift I need to be happy, it’s finding the rhythm of my own dance right here.
It’s a complicated dance because every time I find some steps to go with the music, the music changes. There’s another diaper that needs changing, a dog that needs out, a client that needs an answer, a team member that needs coaching and somewhere in the midst of all of that I need to talk to my husband (about something other than parenting, thank you very much) and maybe exercise more than once a month (other than chasing my four-year-old, although that seems to be pretty effective for now). And there’s days where almost all of it happens and goes pretty smoothly and I think I’ve achieved that mythical state of balance.
But balance is a myth, it’s a lie that I’ve been chasing for a long time (and that’s probably another post). All there is, is the dance with it’s ever changing tempo and starts and stops and unexpected bursts of joy.