Friday, November 18, 2016

Unsettled. (Also, Some Thoughts on Hair Cuts and Underwear.)

We are moving forward in the World Without Bangs. I still look at Before photos and sigh...

But she's got no regrets, folks. This girl is confident that her hair looks good. And I just can't help but love that about her.

When she got home from school on Tuesday, I asked her if her teachers said anything about her hair.

"They asked me if I got a hair cut."

"And what did you say?"

"I said I cut it myself."

"And what did your teachers say about that?"

"Nothing. They didn't cry."

David assumed we would cancel Christmas photos, but no such luck. However, they are just my portrait studio pictures of the girls in their dresses. I'll be using photos from our summer photo session on our Christmas cards. The girls haven't changed that much. (Except for Zuzu's hair... sigh.)

* * *

I still feel worried about the aftermath of the election. I'm in disbelief that the Alt Right or people who support the Alt Right by providing a platform or by NOT denouncing what they do/say have an actual seat at the table. I'm terrified about what it means that someone who denies that humans are causing climate change will be in charge of protecting our environment. I may save money on my taxes, but it will be at someone else's expense, and I'm sad about that. I'm worried for friends who have pre-existing health conditions and fear losing insurance coverage.

And here's the thing about hate speech and hate crimes--these things would have happened no matter who won the election. But they are happening now with what feels like an endorsement from the president-elect. It's not retaliation--it's celebratory. And it's so ugly. And it's happening here.

I hope so hard that people who supported Trump for non-racist, non-sexist, non-asshole reasons will demand that he act like a non-racist, non-sexist, non-asshole. I really, really hope so.

I heard yesterday that Hillary got over 1,000,000 more votes. I know a lot of people don't like her, for various valid and invalid reasons, but damn. I hope that the popular vote at least indicates that love trumps hate even if it doesn't mean that Hillary trumps Trump.

I remember when the whole voting kurfluffle happened when Bush ran against Gore and I was pissed off about how the whole thing shook out (although I voted for Ralph Nadar in that election, so whatevs...). This feels different.

* * *

In the wake of all this fear/anxiety, I'm making my therapist proud by remembering all the times she talked to me about self-care. I'm still exercising with my student personal trainer. I'm trying to make time to do yoga before bed.

(Last night, I replaced "yoga before bed" with "evening walk to Ted Drewes for custard" and that also seemed to relieve some stress.)

I made a donation to Planned Parenthood and to Stray Rescue.

I'm also doing a letter writing project. It started with a thank you note to Hillary Clinton, but now I'm making a list of people whom I see fighting the good fight and trying to make a difference so I can send them a note. Most of them aren't public figures, but are people who make a difference in my life. I want to acknowledge their efforts. And, because I'm a huge nerd, I'm trying to enclose a poem that seems to fit with the situation. So I'm reading more poetry, which also seems to help relieve stress.

My impulse when I'm sad/stressed is to turn inward. I want to stay home. I want to avoid phone calls. I want to shut out the world. I'm working hard to resist that impulse. To send messages, to attend events, to be part of the conversation.

We had signed up to be involved in We Stories long before the election, but I'm finding new urgency and a helpful sense of common goals in that group. Plus, we got some fantastic books after attending their launch on Sunday. Coco is really into Please, Baby, Please, which is so much fun to read out loud. While she's obviously too little to have an in-depth discussion about racial injustice, I just make it a point to emphasize how much the characters in these books who don't necessarily look like her are actually just like her--the act the same way, like the same things, are loved by their mamas. It's a small thing, but it feels like something.

We got a copy of Shades of People, which we already owned, so we donated our extra to Zuzu's school. She was very proud to share her book, and it's evidently prompting some discussion there. She came home and announced, "I have one friend at school who has dark skin."

(Ummm.... okay... this is why talking about race with kids feels awkward...)

So I said something about how all of us have skin in different shades (basically quoting the book) and then asked her if she has some friends at school whose skin has freckles.

"I have a freckle!" she said proudly, "It's next to my ba-gina."

(Ummm... okay... she does have a freckle kind of on her underwear line, so... great?)

* * *

Speaking of underwear, the potty-training situation with Coco has been... hit and miss (ha ha see what I did there?). She'll have a day of no accidents, then she'll pee her pants four times in one day. She does much better at home than she does at school. She hits the potty for about every other poop, but I think we can all agree that batting .500 when it comes to poop in your pants is NOT ideal.

Still, she's just the sweetest little peanut. Her goodbye routine at school has finally, finally shifted from sad face and teary eyes to hugs and hugs and kisses and kisses and she walks in the door confidently and is greeted enthusiastically by her friends... it just melts my heart every morning. She is still a mama's girl, and takes a while to adjust to new situations, but once she is in, she is ALL in. And I love that about her. Every day when I ask her what her favorite part of the day was, she just recites the names of her teachers and her friends. It's ridiculously cute.

* * *

My grief season is creeping up. Weirdly, I think the post-election-sadness has kind of distracted me, but I never forget that Eliza's birthday is coming up. And what do I do with six years of missing?

As Zuzu and Coco get older and demonstrate more and more of their personalities, I can't help but wonder how much like or unlike Eliza they are, and how her presence might have shaped them in different ways. Zuzu asks a lot more questions about Eliza ("Did she come out of your belly and float right up to heaven?"), which never fail to leave me fumbling for answers. ("Ummm... yes? No. Sort of? I don't know, honey.") We'll plan to attend the vigil on December 6, but I'm not sure if we'll bring the girls or get a babysitter. (Probably a babysitter...)

We've also been thinking back to a year ago at this time, when David was spending so much time with his grandma and we were coping with the news of her cancer coming back. A season of grief that overlaps with a holiday all about gratitude and the start of a nation that now feels angry and divided... It's an unsettling place to be.


  1. I might need to get that "Shades of People" book. Also, any recs from your group for slightly older kids? We try to keep up a dialogue about race with E, but I do fear that I'm doing it wrong, if it's even possible to do it right.

    One of the things I'm wrestling with about Trump is the knowledge that several family members voted for him. All of them have very comfortable lives (not the underemployed we have heard about). They are single-issue voters, and they voted based solely on taxes or abortion. I cannot wrap my head around how one issue could outweigh the epithets and abuse hurled at nearly every minority group in this country (Not to mention women, who are a majority!).

    1. The Shades of People book is great. The other books that were in Zuzu's pile were All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color, Last Stop on Market Street (my favorite), Juna's Jar, and Amazing Grace. My mom gave Zuzu The Story of Ruby Bridges, and it's aimed at ages 5-9.

      And my family is the same, Sarah. I don't know how it's "Christian" to vote for a man who mocked a disabled reporter, and I'm struggling to reconcile this with their notion of the "greater good" or "ends justify the means" or whatever. Because, nope. I'm raising two daughters in a country where the president-elect is a man who degrades women, and it's personally offensive to me that I have family members who voted for him (and are proud of it). Ugh.

  2. I am going to add shades of color to Mary's wishlist. She's getting an African American baby doll for Christmas that I put on her wish list like a year ago and forgot about SO was happy to see it was ordered for her (my SIL is crazy on top of things already ordering gifts!) I love the diversity at finns school (and here in Oxford - I never realized how diverse it was!) and when I see all the hate and anger coming from this election I just wish we could have kids run things because they have all the answers to the questions we don't ask each other ya know?

    Side note - never would have guessed you voted for Ralph Nadar!

    1. I just re read my comment and realized this may make me come off like a privileged white girl who thinks giving their kid an African American doll takes care of the problem. More so I felt the timing was good to help promote diversity by starting small. With my family.

    2. I don't think your comment comes off that way! We live in a diverse but segregated city, so I make similar efforts to expand the difference and diversity our kids see on a regular basis. We can't fix everything, but we can at least start talking about it.

  3. Beatrice has consistently been asking for a sibling - a sister. Rob and I look at each other and smile/laugh/groan at the hilarity and awkwardness. Even worse is her "I want Andy to come back" comments. Me too kiddo, me too.