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Presumption is Stupid, Yet Abundant.

5 years ago

1290 words

I have written a lot about my approach to daily racial interactions that crop up in the course of my days and weeks in motherhood. Indeed, even when it comes to motherhood itself, I have tried not to be particularly aggressive or even assertive, really, about who I am and where I stand. Why? Because it’s flippin’ exhausting. I have so many other things to do with my time right now, not the least of which being everything else in the universe. As The Husband and I have been dealing with house stuff and realizing all of the work that needs to be done to this little house that we’re purchasing, I have been able to sum up the skeleton of my days: “3 meals a day, 2 loads of laundry.”

That’s my day, every day: 3 meals a day, 2 loads of laundry.

That, in and of itself, is not a little bit of work. Because we know that those three meals must be prepared, served, and cleaned up. We know that the laundry needs to be sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away (yeah, the machines help, but there is still active work to be done). And those things must be done between the other things that  must happen. Like at least 6 diaper changes that happen at predictable times, but we know that there are not so predictable poops, too! There is also the daily nap, or naps depending on Ursa Minor’s mood. There are snacks, sometimes two or three a day. Morning walks? Afternoon romps outside?

and that’s non-playgroup days, or what I like to call Tuesday and Thursday. Other days of the week, you get to add playgroups or doctor’s appointments or field trips or family visits or things that are generally extracurriculars to be done in conjunction with the 3 meals and the 2 loads.

There are also the tantrums, battles of will, fights between the boys… Lordy…

So when I was sitting at my computer Wednesday, around nap time, enjoying the quiet, imagine my displeasure when a Google chat box opens up with this:

“When are you going to teach again?”

You’d think that this is an innocuous question, one from a person who is being supportive of my career. But, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. This is a question of second guessing from a person who has no sense of propriety.

I’m a grown-ass adult who made a choice. A deep and difficult choice. One that I re-evaluate every single time Ursa Major throws himself on the floor in a fit over nothing. I reassure myself every time he identifies a letter or starts counting objects. I am a woman who doesn’t consider herself to be fool enough to try to be both a career woman and a mother. I can’t be great at both. I can only be great at one. So I chose motherhood. This individual who threw this question at me didn’t know that, he didn’t need to know that, he doesn’t have a right to know that, yet here we are.

I wonder sometimes if there are women out there who get to make this choice without any outside second guessing. I’m of the mind that the answer is “no.” Women seem to be second guessed no matter who they are, where they are, or what they are doing. For some reason, our decisions are never our own and they are never outside of the realm of critique. Though it was none of his business, I explained to my former colleague that I was very focused on setting a firm foundation for my sons and their schooling, an opportunity that not many women of color have been given (or can take advantage of), and one that I’m especially worried about in the context of the schools that I am sending them to.

He felt sheepish after my answer. I wasn’t unkind to him, but I let him know that I didn’t appreciate his question. He recognized his presumption, which I appreciated.

Which is more than can be said for the woman who I encountered yesterday on our morning walk.

I must give context for this: Ursa Minor is walking with more confidence, so yesterday I had him walk during our morning walk instead of ride. He was so flipping excited to have access to everything like his brother. Ursa Major was excited about pointing out every little thing, including puddle after muddy puddle to splash in. ….lordy….

Ursa Minor is a confident walker, but when he wants to get somewhere quickly, he still crawls. We were all wearing shorts yesterday because the weather was so nice, so every time he started crawling, I cringed. All I could think about was those perfect little knees getting scrapped up by that sidewalk. Indeed, after a few slides on that hard ground, Ursa Minor would stand himself up and start walking again. After walking past three of the buildings in our apartment complex, Ursa Minor was no less excited but certainly fatigued, so he started crawling for a long distance. I was like “Please, no, you really need to walk” but he seemed to be fine and the sidewalk wasn’t going to really dirty or anything, so I tried to be cool about it.

As we passed the front door of the nearest building, a White woman came out. She looked at Ursa Minor, chuckled and said:

“I’m sure your mommy wouldn’t appreciate you crawling on that sidewalk like that, sweetie!”

She then jumped into a waiting car.

“Good thing I’m his mother!” I said icily. I don’t know if she heard me. I hope she did. Even Ursa Major recognized the “Mommy’s not playing” voice.

I’ve written about my usual understanding about the mommy/nanny thing. I don’t get it often, and it’s usually in a context that is just innocent enough that I don’t get angry. But in this case, I was furious. This woman took it upon herself to look at me, make a judgement and say something that was not helpful in any way shape or form. Let’s say for a moment that I was their nanny–what in the world made her think that she could seemingly discipline me or say something about how I was caring for these children? Since I’m not their nanny, but their mother, basically she made a judgement about my mothering and decided to tell me about it without any other context whatsoever.

And she’s lucky she was getting into a car and driving away because otherwise I would have told her so. That’s the other thing that really bothers me–it was very cowardly of her to say because she knew she wouldn’t have to deal with consequences.

Roar.

The good news is that the weekend is upon us and I’m looking forward to some quiet time.

I also think, though I know that I shouldn’t, that I might buy a lottery ticket this weekend. I really know that I shouldn’t. I know that it is an absolute waste of money. I know that I’m going to feel totally and utterly guilty on Sunday morning when I don’t win anything.

And yet…

For all of the hopes and dreams that I have for myself, my sons, my husband….what is $2? If I could fund all of those dreams? And they aren’t selfish dreams. No grand houses, no cars…just good schools for my boys and the knowledge that they have funding for college and that we’d be financially able to enrich them in every way possible. What’s $2 for that? I feel like $2 is worth the chance to give them that.

No matter what, I’ll blog on Monday.

Int he meantime, I hope that you have a most excellent weekend!

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