My kids love to read a classic Sesame Street book called, “I Can Do It Myself”. In it, Ernie and Bert comb their hair, get dressed, and make their beds all by themselves. It’s great encouragement for early childhood independence. However today I saw the cover and had another thought; sometimes I can do it by myself. Other times I’m really grateful for the community of support that lifts my family and me through thick and thin.
If I were to write a sequel, it would be titled, “I am Glad I Do Not Always Have to Do It Myself”
A gorgeous elder shared the elevator with me in New York. I commented on her joyful red nails. She said it was her way to brighten up the daily nightmare that is our current political reality.
Sometimes the frivolous is a necessity.
Our neighborhood is ugly. All of the houses were build in the sixties (the raised ranch genre is limited). Even though I intellectually knew it was a wise purchase because of the schools, commute, and yard, I still inwardly cringed while strolling down the street.
All of a sudden today I saw beauty for the first time. Not in the standard concrete steps or routine brown paint but rather in the soul of each house. I gave thanks for the neighbors who have brought over food and helped with kid care during my recovery. I smiled at the connection with the other two mom family with twins living on the corner and the three generations of Vietnamese neighbors we are lucky enough to live next to. My heart went from door to door, thankful for the community we call our own.
After five long years and all of a sudden, I live in the most beautiful neighborhood one could imagine.
I tap my chest to release the gases caught there by my recent surgery. It’s only now that I understand the pain of my nine-year-old friend who thrashes back and forth in his wheelchair until a burp finally erupts and he can sit back at ease.
My pain is temporary but my compassion will be long-lasting.
Instead of hurrying outside to play, one child paused to watch beautifully slow drips of water dance down the window. I couldn’t help but join in the wonder. I claim to teach children, in truth I have finally shed my blinders enough to see my teachers are in front of me.
Our three-year-old twins are the learning how to skip count by twos at local rallies and marches. At home they shout: 2,4,6,8 we will not be ruled by hate!
Three months ago they had no idea what Washington D.C. was or what was happening in our government. Now my children are no longer innocent. While the twins ask about a bully president saying mean things, our nine-year-old has asked us about what the purpose of pussy hats is and what pro-choice means. We give answers that seem to be the best in the moment. Developmentally appropriate, but not glazing over the truth of our present reality.
This is the brave new world of parenthood. We are doing our best and trying to remember to breathe.