16 June 2013

Where Do I Get My Ideas?

I am wrestling with an unscheduled post on race, body acceptance, and clothing. My younger child also caught an unscheduled virus, which means I won't be able to write tomorrow because he will be staying home from school, and I blew through my babysitting budget last week trying to Get Things Done and fulfill my activist duties.

But I promised myself to only take last week as a hiatus, so here's a quickie.

One of my biggest challenges as a parent is to not beat myself up all the time over not being a perfect parent. Yes, I've read plenty of articles on being "a good enough parent," and I am working on embracing my imperfections. I know, intellectually, that being a "perfect parent" is not possible, nor even desirable if it were possible, but perfectionism runs deep in my family.

For me, parenting is a daily struggle to rewrite old patterns of behavior and attitudes that stem not only from my own childhood, but that have been reinscribed over generations. I am learning about epigenetics, and it helps me to understand how we carry our ancestral histories with us, within our bodies. (I will write more, much more, on this topic.) It can make me feel overwhelmed, that I am trying to swim against the tide of depression, fear, and anger from two separate lineages that meet in me. But it can also help me forgive myself when I fail.

At her preschool, my daughter decorated a small journal for me for Mother's Day. It's exactly like the composition books they use at school to record their thoughts (either dictated to a teacher, or "written" themselves), except in miniature, the perfect size for me to carry around in my purse.

This is where I jot down my thoughts and ideas to explore and flesh out later. I glance at the inscription to give me courage and to inspire me to be the mother my daughter deserves. It is a gift that she gave me, and it represents what a gift she is to me. Parenting has given me focus and purpose that I was seeking before her birth. Not to say that I feel like I was born to be a mother, because mothering does not come "naturally" to me at all, but—to quote Talib Kweli—if life is a beautiful struggle, then creating and guiding the lives of my children is my beautiful struggle, in all its messiness, heartbreak, silliness, absurdity, complexity, and grace.

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