Tuesday, May 3, 2011

parenting in the first world

we have so many things we are going to have to explain.

in the car this morning, bryan tells me that when he came to bed last night i was sound asleep and he lay down and put his hand on my belly and felt the baby kicking.
why was the baby kicking you? we hear from the back seat.
the baby was just moving. saying hi, he says. not really kicking me.
finn is fresh off a few week long stretch of time outs based solely around her hitting or kicking when she is frustrated with us. the first time she kicked me in the shin with a look of utter intensity, i actually had to suppress a laugh. because she really wanted that candy. and i said no. so she kicked my shin. it's adorable, really. the sheer justification in her eyes that says i will hurt you for making me sad. and then we remind her, yet again, that we do not use our bodies to hurt people when we are upset. that we don't ever hurt another person's body on purpose.
i understand the need for celebration, for the patriotism. and yet i don't. i respect that there are things that happen in this world that i am going to have to explain to my children and that i won't know how. that black and white is something that really only starts to scratch the surface of the layers and layers of paint underneath how we got from here to there and that even a quote from one of the greatest peaceful leaders of our time can be bastardized with the best of intentions. i am in love with and planning to marry a man who spent time in bosnia while in the army and i come from a military family, full of men who have served with pride and hope for protecting all that they love about this country. i also know that our country tends to have a somewhat myopic view of the world that lends itself to intolerance and a gluttonous revelry when celebrating victory of any kind. (do we not consider peoples of other cultures a tad barbaric and animalistic when we see them celebrating the outcome of violence against us?) i appreciate that i have the ability to sit here and type out the whirlpool of confusion swirling down my spine and i am not ungrateful.
i'm just not excited that murder is the answer.
no matter the necessity.
because, fundamentally, i am still trying to figure out how to explain to my children that sometimes it is more complicated than saying we don't use our bodies to hurt people. because sometimes we do. but that it doesn't always require celebration.
she hits me on the leg with open palms. then cries and puts herself on a time out. she is getting closer and closer to minding the gap between her need to react and her follow-through. she is starting to understand that every action she takes has consequence and we are slowly getting to the point where she is able to weigh the checks and balances herself and see if the price is really worth the cost. our goal is to have her be able to take stock with as little collateral damage as possible. you know, as a general rule.

this little one inside me is another story altogether. because, right now, i count the kicks and the jabs inside me and i pray they do not cease. the kicking means all is well. the fight to live in spite of it all. the will to survive. the weight of love resting on top of my bladder. i'll take it all. and i will look back a few years from now when i am on the other side of the pendulum, time outs for kicking and explanations of how we don't use our bodies to hurt people.

"We should never gloat in death or praise ourselves in murder. Even when it seems like the only option, we should have heavy hearts that such is the case." (thank you, mud mama, for the quote that speaks what is in my heart.)


  1. Yes, heavy hearts that death is ever the answer, and yet as a child I remember wishing my own mama were dead. Wishing I could kill her.

    I can say, with a great heavy sigh, that it is wonderful to have grown children. To be past the stage where explaining the shades of gray are necessary (although sometimes requested). But they are adults now, and it is work enough, explaining these things to myself!

    I enjoy your posts so much. You are so mindful...of others, more so than yourself.

  2. love this post. get this post. but my eyes are a little blurred from something in your previous...

    "do you ever sit sometimes in that little spot between everything you have and everything you want?"

    oh. my. god.

    favorite words of the month. i wrote them down in my own handwriting, even, to see how it would feel to write something like that.

    well done. xoxo

  3. a myopic view of the world that lends itself to intolerance and a gluttonous revelry when celebrating victory of any kind. just had to write that again too:)

    i just wrote to someone else how embarrased i was because one of our political leaders remarked that Osama bin Laden's death was a moment of victory. i wanted to slap the man. sorry. i'd have sat myself down in time out.

    how is it possible for us to be so foolish to think that our murder is better than their murder? i put me right in the boat beside you because, hey, although we're in Canada, we're out there doing the same shit in the world.

    have we not learned anything? why this whole fracture between cultures exists in the first place?

    i love this post. i'm glad people like you are hurting and confused. this is hope, right?


  4. mud mama's quote says it perfectly. I was so relieved to see your post tonight, because I feel the same way and have been wondering if I was the only one.

  5. Sometimes I feel that if you have trouble explaining something to your child then it doesn't make sense in the first place...

  6. girl, you wrote the hell out of this post! well done!

    and i relate to your daughter, even tho i am 40 years old. i still want to kick things when i am frustrated. i just resort to kicking air, but STILL. something about it feels so right. lol

  7. Sometimes I think America is a four year old that just uses its body to hurt other people. And I wish I could give it a time out and wonder why I'm more mature than it is, when it's so much older than I am. You know the frustration that comes with having a parent that's more immature than you? And feeling like you have to raise your own mother or father? That's how I feel about the US sometimes. I love you, United States...but please, grow the fuck up.

  8. Ah, so glad to read this too - and so well expressed. As you can imagine it all looks pretty bizarre from this side of the world ...
    I'm only grateful my girls are too young to pick up on any of it - what would be harder to explain, the murder or the celebration thereof? And this too has made me fear for the day when I will have to explain this stuff. So hard when it doesn't even make sense to me.


use your kind words.