June 25, 2018

Flow; Not Force

Life is a puzzle. But we are too close to the pieces of our own puzzle to know what it truly looks like to others. I sometimes sit back and imagine what people see when they see mine.

I want them to look at my life and see, a hard-working mom. A caring wife. A community activist.
I want them to see my love for others. My devotion to living a life of meaning and kindness.
I want them to see someone who loves to laugh.
I want them to look at me and see someone worthy of everything she has been handed.
Someone who tries to enjoy it but also, someone who actively tries to pass some of it along.

But I am sometimes unsure if that's what people truly see.
Because often, that's not really who I am.
I am a mom who sometimes goes to the office only because I know it will pay my mortgage and mean someone else will watch my child long enough for me to drink a cup of tea before it goes cold.
I am a wife who isn't always grateful or kind to my partner. I sometimes resent him.
I am a community activist who often finds it draining and overwhelming. I sometimes just want to give it all up and live in blissful ignorance.
I am someone who sometimes loathes. And sometimes the loathing of certain people or things overwhelms me and brings me to dark places.
I am someone who occasionally wants to cry for no good reason at all.
I am someone who isn't worthy of even a quarter of the things life has handed to me and still, I often find myself asking for more. Asking life to give me even more things I do not deserve.
I am someone who likes to receive and sadly, someone who is constantly comparing and coveting.

That puzzle isn't pretty. And I physically shutter when I think about others discovering it.
I don't want people to see it. But is that who I am?

It isn't. At least, not always. You see, these two sides of me are not constant. I ebb and flow between them. Sometimes, I remain in one longer but ultimately something snaps me back to the other.  When I feel the less desirable qualities coming through, it is like I can see my puzzle change. I see the darkness and the ugly seep into the pretty picture I've portrayed.

So I spend considerable time and energy focusing on maintaining the "good" side of myself.
I try forcing myself to be a cheerful giver when my desires are to the contrary.
I try smiling when I want to cry.
I try selling myself as a wonder-parent when the one thing I'm actually wondering is how quickly bedtime will come.
I try not to long for more than I have. I try not to indulge in things I do not need.

At first, this forcing feels good. It feels like my puzzle looks brighter -- prettier. That feedback encourages me to keeping forcing it. So I do.
But in time, the forcing starts to hurt. It creates this tangible pain inside of me. I can feel the pressure of it rise up within my chest. It boils. It threatens to bubble over.

It is not sustainable.

I think I'm starting to learn that the ebb and flow of life (even with the bad) beats a forced one.
I think I'm starting to learn that I can be both. My puzzle isn't wholly beautiful nor is it wholly ugly.
My pieces may never even fit together and I'm starting to be okay with that in ways I have never been before. I catch myself reaching for pieces only to remember they are not for me. So I decide to stop.
Someone else can have that. Someone else can be that.

Maybe your puzzle is wonderful through and through.
Mine isn't.

Mine, like me, is comprised of messy, complicated things and emotions.
Mine, like me, is beautiful to some and less desirable to others.
Just like me, my puzzle is complicated. And I'm starting to be okay if the world sees that in me.

June 15, 2018

Families Belong Together

I am a mother.

Typically, I don't lead with that statement because I am also a lot of other things. And in our society, women are sometimes pigeonholed and their identity as a mother is used to place them in a very narrowly defined category. For that reason, I usually like to let people know that I am a lawyer. A feminist. A wife. A friend. And yes, also a mother.

But this week, the "mother" part of me has been distraught. The lawyer part of me has had to go into the office and do "lawyerly" things. The feminist part of me has continued to call out sexist behavior and support the women in my life. The wife part of me arranged for a date night with my sweet husband. The friend part of me set up dinners and reunion weekends.

But the mother part of me? 
Well, she raged this week.
She wept this week.
Photo Credit: theRealNewsNetwork
She raged and wept at the cruelty that is occurring on the southern border of this once-great nation. She put herself in the shoes of those mothers. She imagined her own child. Her sweet, precious, innocent child -- full of wonder and potential. She imagined that child being ripped from her arms. She imagined that moment -- her child screaming and her arms bare. She imagined that child put in a cage. She imagined that child crying for her warmth. For her comfort. She imagined that child being scared without its mother there to provide reassurance. She imagined that child alone and afraid. She imagined scary strangers with weapons and harsh faces, instructing that child to eat or bathe. She imagined it all and the thought broke her. It broke her.

But these thoughts that tortured the "mother" in me this week, well... they didn't happen to me.
They have and are however, happening to other mothers. And that doesn't break me. It shatters me. 

Last night, I put my child in her bed. I placed warm blankets over her. I kissed her cheeks and her tiny nose. I sang her our favorite lullaby. I told her that I loved her and that she made me happy.

I wonder what that mother did last night. I wonder how she managed without her child in her arms. I wonder how that precious child fared last night. I wonder if it cried itself to sleep.
Why has that mother been destined to a different fate than I?

Is it because she is brown?
Is it because she is poor?
Is it because she is out of options?
Is it because she didn't have the fortune of being born in this country?
Is it because her native lands aren't safe for her and her child?
Is it because she did the only thing she could to help her child live a better life? 
To to live at all?

You see, to me -- those are reasons to help this mother and her children. Those are reasons to embrace her. Those are reasons to give her comfort and shelter. Those are reasons to show her love and mercy. Those are reasons to care.

But our country's leaders see those reasons as cause to persecute her. Reasons to treat her a subhuman. Reasons to punish her. Reasons to belittle her. Reasons to actively do her harm.

Honestly, I don't care about your political identification today. I don't care how you voted in 2016. I don't care if you identify as pro-life or pro-choice. I don't care what church or religious persuasion (if any) you find solace in. I don't. Not even a little.

I do however, care if you cannot find love and mercy in your heart for this woman. For these women. For these children. For these families. If you cannot? Well, I think there is a very special place in hell for you.

And if you do find love and mercy in your heart, I care that you act on it.
Call your Senators. Call your Representative.
Post about it online. Raise hell.
Demand that our government find love and mercy as well. Demand it. Demand it over and over again until this madness ends.

Silence is complicity.
Do you want to be complicit in this human rights violation?

The mother in me continues to rage and weep. But she also is taking action.
Please, for the love of God and His people, join her.