A “Make It Work” Moment

Photo: Ursa Minor at the old place. During the better times. The not screaming through meals times.



I wish I could have written this morning, but Ursa Minor is going through the “I scream through dinner, eating basically nothing, so then I wake up at 6am hungry” phase. So when I thought I’d sneak downstairs early for a little blogging and muffin baking, Ursa Minor stood directly in the way. Muffins were made, however. I did it using yogurt instead of cream this morning, resulting in a delightfully velvety texture (that I would get with cream) coupled with a fluffy texture (like I would get with buttermilk). Now I know what to do with the leftover breakfast yogurt that I always end up with on Fridays! Also, I learned the difference between store-brand and Land O’ Lakes butter: There is much more fat content in the Land O’Lakes is muuuuch higher (you can see it when you melt it). Now i understand why it’s so damn expensive. Gonna have to go back to that for baking.

It’s raining here in MetroWest Massachusetts, anyway, so there would be no sunrise balcony writing. I’ve also seen at least three fairly large spiders out there since we moved here, and I’m absolutely not a big fan of bugs, especially spiders. I literally (yes, literally) broke my foot trying to escape a centipede in my bathroom once. I’m not joking. I have the screw in my foot to prove it.

I’m feeling a little bit better today, but not fully. I have been able to step back from the brink of feeling overwhelmed, but I’m in no better position today than I was when I wrote on Wednesday. It wasn’t until after dinner when both of the toddlers were screaming and fighting, the husband was cleaning the kitchen like a zombie and I thought I was going to throw myself off of our balcony (which would have resulted in nothing… most likely) I heard Tim Gunn’s voice in my head.

“You’d better make it work.”

Ursa Major is boycotting the nap again and Ursa Minor seems to be boycotting dinner. They are both boycotting Mama’s directives, so I’m spending most of my waking hours refereeing fights, pulling babies away from the staircase, banishing toys so they don’t start fights, or negotiating with a mercurial toddler’s wants and needs. (“Mama, I want a hug and kiss!” he demands one moment, usually when I’m in the middle of something. “NO, MAMA, I DON’T WANT A PEANUT BUTTER JELLY!” he screams the next minute after being offered a sandwich for lunch.) While I’ve managed to keep things functional, we aren’t thriving by any means. It sucks to be at the bottom again after being comfortable for so long.

I also spent a lot of time on the phone yesterday, getting estimates for work from everyone under the sun and then coming up with some new negotiation numbers. Despite what the seller’s agent is trying to tell us (which is nothing short of complete bullshit), we know that there is no other interest in the house. So  we’re being a bit aggressive and asking for them to do the septic and take $35k off of the house, money that we would then do to make the necessary repairs we know need to be done. I’m very ready to walk away from this property, despite the whining that my husband is doing (“you seem to be on a roller coaster with your emotions about this house.”) and what my realtor is promising (“I’m a great negotiator. I really think we can make this work.”). Either way, I’m in a good space: Either they will do what we need them to do, or I’ll settle into this place and wait until something better comes up.  My realtor called while I was in the middle of writing this–we won’t hear back until Monday, most likely.

I’m moving forward. I got around to writing some fiction this week, I have bread in the middle of its second rise waiting for me on the kitchen counter, and I have even found two new recipes to try out this week. When I was younger and scatterbrained, my Father used to always command me to “stop! Pay attention to where you are and what you are doing.” I’m here. I’m making a home. I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities because that is my primary directive. Everything else is secondary and can come into place over time.

I know that I was going to talk about other things this week. The Talented Tenth has been having a big conversation about “Respectability Politics” and I’ve really wanted to comment on it–though I’m very much not a member of the Talented Tenth, their conversations can be incredibly fascinating, especially because the morals and messages that they come up with end up getting murky and muddled by the time they trickle down to the 90% of the rest of us Black folk. “Respectability Politics,” or this notion that Black people need to “normalize” or even improve their appearance and behavior in order to be viewed as “respectable” and thus “acceptable” in the eyes of greater society (i.e. White people) is nothing new and this is just the newest incarnation of a conversation that our community has been having since Reconstruction. Interestingly, the idea of “Respectability” has just as much to do with middle-class Black folk, as I’m learning all over again as I walk through my very suburban new town. For a little while (perhaps as long as I live here), everything I say, do, where, and dress my children in will matter in the eyes of the very many new neighbors that I have. I doubt that there will be many moments when I’ll feel inferior intellectually, but I’ve already had a few moments of knowing that I’m going to be consistently outclassed by most of my peers here. (Are they peers if they are a class above you? Food for thought.) I’m sure that I’ll be sharing these stories as we go. I can only hope to find a place here.

If I want to, I’d better “Make it work.”

The house is quiet but my thoughts are loud. I’m mindful that all of the problems that I’ve experienced this week are very first world. I’m grateful to have a new home with central air and more space. I’m grateful to provide my children with a new home and the best possible educational opportunity that we can afford to give them. I’m grateful that my husband and I are in the position to negotiate and fight for a house of our own, and investment and possibly a legacy if we choose to live there for a long time. I’m grateful that my children will rub elbows with children who live in mansions (and I’m glad that those children will have the opportunity to rub elbows with “regular” children). I’m grateful for the falling rain and the rustling of mature summer leaves. I’m grateful for this packet of gummy snacks that I love to eat. And I’m grateful, as always, for the community that I’ve garnered in this little corner of the interwebs.

The Husband and I are looking forward to looking for a church community out here. Not this weekend, because we’re flippin’ exhausted, but next weekend, I hope. I hope that we find a community that is intellectual and thoughtful about faith and prayer. I’m looking forward to resuming a life of really thinking about God and this path that I walk every day. In the mean time, I think I’ll do a little journaling, reading, and praying, setting the soul at ease and hopefully letting that calm radiate through me and out of me into this house. A house that very well may be our “home” for longer than expected.

In these waning days of precious summer, I wish you a warm and sunny weekend. For you mothers with school-aged kids, I hope your battles over too-short skirts and over-expensive shoes are few and far between while shopping this weekend. For those of you with toddlers, I hope you have a few hours that are tantrum free. For everyone else, I wish you sleep, good food, great booze and better company. Happy Weekend, everyone!


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ah. The screaming through dinner phase. I love that one. 🙂 I was going to suggest looking for a church the other day when you were talking about being lonely and isolated. I would never survive all the moving around I’ve done over the years without my church! With the mormon church, you usually have a new congregation to attend with every move, but with that comes playgroups for moms, woman get-to-gethers, etc. I have only been living in my new place a month, and I already feel like I have 3 people I could call if I needed to!! I hope you find that too. You could always check out mormonism. 😉

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      It is going to be hard for us to find a church–we were very spoiled by our home church in Maryland: Great music, nice community, but most importantly, a reflective and intellectual pastor. You’ve got to get through the gateway of my mind before you can get to my heart and soul. Not many pastors make it through the gateway. I’m really hoping that we can find something around here that will do that for me. If the lessons don’t land for me, I stop going…

  2. Love how you reminded yourself of your current purpose in life and figured out how to do that well. I find that sometimes when my life is seeming out of sorts it is because I am spending too much time on things that I am not meant to be spending time on.
    I want to recommend shereadstruth.com to you. It is a wonderful community of women and a new devotion every day. Right now they are doing women in the Bible and I am really enjoying it. You should check it out.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Wow, thank you for this link. I’m looking forward to diving into it. When I was younger, I thought I could abandon my faith like so many of my intellectual friends have. My husband was the one who taught me that I could have both. He’s a scientist, for goodness sake, but he holds very very fast to his love of God. I’m always looking for ways to improve my understanding of Christianity (Its history, focus, tenants, and doctrines) and figuring out its relevancy to the life that I lead and my walk with God. I’m not an evangelical by any means–I think that this journey is personal and is meant to remain that way–but if I have an opportunity to be thankful for my many blessings, I take it.

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