Sometimes Self Care is Really Just Adulting

I used to think that my environment did not affect me. I thought I was easy-going; a roll with punches type of person. You know, “low-maintenance.”

By now, any person who knows me in real life is dying of laughter because it is so obvious to anyone who spends more than five minutes with me that I am not remotely any of these things.

Talk about a disconnect from reality.

In true fact, I am a very particular sort of person. Particular being a euphemism for anal retentive in the extreme. Also, I have very low noise and mess tolerances.

Of course, having four children and a husband (and being in relationship with people in general) makes it super impossible to have my life run exactly the way I would like it, when I would like it.

As a result, I want to bomb my entire house, scream at my children for not being obedient automatons, and war with my twin desires of FOMO Hoarder and Strict Minimalist Where Everything has Its Place.

Guess which side “wins”?

Then, because I am constantly behind on doing stuff (like purging, putting things away, finally USING things I’ve put away, or all the projects I have in my queue), I procrastinate because FFS there is no way I will ever get to anything or make a dent so I might as well read a romance novel or watch Project Runway or let’s be real, FRITTER AWAY MY LIMITED FREE TIME ON FACEBOOK.

This all builds up and annoys me and soon, I am swearing at my kids for being a smidge too loud or for doing whatever squirrelly thing they’re doing. And then I go on a brief and short-lived Angry Cleaning Purge and I am placated for about half a day before we rinse and repeat.

The thing is, sometimes, I think the only way I can get a bead on all this shit in my mental queue is to send my entire family away for at least a year so I can finally get something done.

Even then, I’m sure I’ll procrastinate and save it all for the last week before they’re due back.

I realize that this is the curse of human existence and being temporal beings. But this seems far more like a bug than a feature in my unasked for opinion.

Now, I know I have mentioned before that I am so mediocre that it took paying my therapist $150 (now $160) a week for her to tell me to just do 15 minutes of stuff a day and see how that helps.

It did.

I have improved drastically at paying medical bills on time (because those are the only bastards that are not on auto-pay). My kitchen table takes an extra week to look like an utter disaster area. And I am making more of an effort to do the shitty stuff first.

And STILL, it does not move. Or at best, it gets shifted from room to room.

For the longest time, my therapist, Dr. T, would ask me about self-care and I would be annoyed because I have lots of free time and Hapa Papa has no problem with me having weekly MNOs or going out for massages and pedicures and the like.

But those things always left me MORE stressed out because after doing these activities, I would come home to an even MESSIER house and even LESS time to do the things I needed to do.

Like seriously, when I see my entire house’s contents dumped onto the floor, the sink stacked with dishes, along with the normal REGULAR piles of shit all over my house, I go apoplectic. (And this is not to say that these are Hapa Papa’s fault. I just notice it more when I leave my house for a longer period of time and then return. Kinda like you don’t notice how your house smells until you leave for a few days.)

Anyhow, after years of debate with my therapist, we finally struck on something that has resonated with me. For me, self-care looks like adulting.

For me, self-care is removing the things that stress me out – and unfortunately, that requires me being a grown up and doing the grown up things that I should have been doing all along.

Now, this is not to deny that for many people, self-care is legitimately getting pampered, resting, or taking breaks from Facebook or the internet or whatever. That’s likely because these lovely people are actual productive members of society (unlike myself). And because they are actual productive members of society, they NEED these things because they adult all day and every day and what they need is a break.

Me, however. I have an easy life.

I’m serious.

This is not to discount the real difficulties of being a parent of four small children (as well as homeschooling them) or invalidating my role as a mother. Those are absolutely true and real.

But in general, I have a very privileged life.

We are financially secure, financially stable, healthy, highly educated, and short of us being not-white (and me being a woman), we have no other areas in which we are oppressed or othered.

Again, this is not to deny that my difficulties and struggles are worthless or whatever. After all, this is still the life I have and my difficulties are still mine to deal with. I just acknowledge and understand that other people may see self-care differently.

So, now that I have improved at the low-hanging fruits of self-care (eg: getting enough sleep, eating regular meals, paying bills, etc.), it’s time to step it up a bit.

Not sure how yet since I am now realizing that self-care requires a lot of mindfulness, too.

Can I just insert how much I hate that stupid word? But it’s all true. My life would be markedly improved if I were only more mindful of my mental and physical state.

SO. Because I’m an extrovert and assume everyone wants to know the nitty gritty of my life and thoughts, NO MATTER HOW BANAL, I will now list a bunch of things that would be self-care for me. (I mean, I think it might help some of you to have real life examples of someone like you.)

1) Take care of my physical health by:

a) Going to sleep with the kids.

b) Taking vitamins/supplements.

c) Eating nutritious and healthy food.

2) Write consistently.

3) Pay bills/sort mail/daily adulting tasks.

4) WEEKLY PURGING.

5) Do at least 15 minutes daily on my PROJECT QUEUE (eg: sorting clothes, rearranging rooms, finish photobooks, etc.).

I’m sure there is more – but the more I add, the more stressed I become. I mean really, self-care is just taking care of the shit on my SUPER LONG To-Do List.

Gah. Is self-care supposed to stress me out? I think that means I’m doing it wrong.

And really, a lot of the self-care items are from my Suck It Up 2017 resolutions for this year. (I have a feeling next year will also be the same theme. I need lots of help.)

So I am already doing most of this. I just want to add the purging and the project queuing. Sigh. I like how I have to give myself a pep talk before I have even started.

ADULTING IS HARD.

But I am really sick and tired of yelling at my kids and feeling like an abject failure every day. Who’s with me?

Escaping My Life


I have been feeling really scattered lately.

I mean, I know I have four small children. I get that.

But I was really rocking it a few weeks ago. Almost whelmed, even.

And now?

Now, I am decidedly tipping over whelmed.

I can always tell when I’m about to lose it. I escape into TV shows. Read books. Play Two Dots obsessively on my phone.

Anything to avoid dealing with my life, making meals, work (self-imposed or not), and my children.

I am even crankier and crabbier than usual.

Gamera calls me mean. She curses me under her breath. Like, ACTUAL cursing.

She’s 5.5.

And even though I know that my 2017 Theme this year is to Suck It Up and act like a grown up, truthfully, I just want this year to suck it.

Which is weird because this year has actually been going really well.

I have been reaching out to do more writing in different capacities, pitching the occasional collaboration or sponsor, finishing my ebook, and generally doing more than I have ever done in regards to writing.

So of course, I feel all my writing juices drying up. Leaving me withered. A husk.

I feel all out of words. Or at least, all the good ones. You know, the coherent ones.

Coherent words are good.

(See? I have been reduced to caveman speak. Words good. No words bad.)

Now that I think of it, it makes TOTAL sense why all of a sudden, I want to dive under the covers and disappear until 2018 or perhaps forever.

I am afraid.

I am afraid that because I have had some marginal success that more will be expected of me. Or required of me. And that I won’t be able to duplicate that success.

(And seriously, who do I think is expecting or requiring this of me?)

That everything up until now has been a fluke.

A complete accident. And soon, real soon, someone is going to realize that I am full of shit and that all my bluster is just that: bluster.

Unsubstantiated.

And for crying out loud. I am almost 40.

I SHOULD NO LONGER BE UNSUBSTANTIATED.

When I look back on my life thus far, there are two things that stand out in my mind that encapsulate how I deal with my fear of failure. Coincidentally, they both deal with musicals.

In my last year of high school, our choir and drama program was putting on the musical, Bye, Bye, Birdie.

I really wanted to be in it.

But I was afraid.

So I told myself there was no way I would get a part because I was Chinese – and there were no Chinese parts in the musical. Instead, I convinced myself I would be fine being in the orchestra and told my choir director that I wanted to be one of the pianists.

I didn’t try out at all.

I took myself out of the running entirely.

Four years later, in my last year at UCLA, I tried out for a musical written by Weiko Lin (music by Christopher Wong).

This one, I had a good shot of getting into – not only because I was good friends with Chris. This musical was about the Tienanmen Square massacre – so there were definitely roles for Chinese people.

So, I sucked it up and auditioned and lo and behold. I got one of the four lead parts.

I was ecstatic. And terrified.

And so, I did what terrified people do. I found an out.

I called my prayer partner up and we did “listening prayer” and I somehow convinced myself that God wanted me to turn down the role and spend more time on my floor to evangelize or whatever.

So, I turned the role down.

To this day, I regret making that decision. Not because I would be some famous actress or Broadway star now, but because I let fear dictate what I could or could not do.

Also, how many other chances would I have to be a lead in a musical now? I’m not saying it’s not possible. It’s just not high on my priority list.

Anyhow, I have told these two stories to Dr. T at least several times, and each time, she suggests that I might fear failure.

And of course, each time, I say, “Noooooo. That’s not true. I’m just lazy.”

But she’s right. As usual.

My laziness is the cover story I tell myself. To hide from myself my abject terror in trying out for the things I want – and want badly.

So, of course, now that I am taking some small, tiny steps towards being a writer, I am running scared.

Self-sabotage in the form of procrastination and laziness.

I escape into realms created by other people. Consuming at a ridiculous pace so that I can perhaps satisfy the craving to create something myself without actually having to create anything.

Well, brain. I’m onto you.

You’re just gonna have to suck it up like the rest of me. We’re going full steam ahead.

Slowly, Slowly

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how I felt as if the “shine” on my “new” life had worn off already and we were back at my baseline of meh. Well, it’s gotten a bit better.

Now, I am under no illusion that this time, the shine will stay forever, but I do feel somewhat better. Mostly because I chose to do something about it versus do nothing and stay in that uncomfortable place any longer.

Of course, we do not always have the ability to get out of a funk just by doing stuff. Sometimes, our environment and life conspire against us. But generally, I have found that doing nothing keeps me stuck – whereas doing something shortens the duration of my malaise.

So, what has happened in the intervening two weeks?

I got off my ass. Proverbially speaking, of course.

Despite a bout of the barfs hitting Cookie Monster and Gamera, because our weekends finally freed up and Hapa Papa was a peach and let me disappear for most of a weekend, I kicked ass and took some names!

I finished proofing and writing my ebook – as well as the action plan I tricked Guavarama into outlining for me. (Don’t worry. She gets credited and paid!)

I even got my first gig reviewing a product – so look out for that!

I scheduled a house cleaner to come by and give an estimate. And let me just tell you. This dour Eastern European woman came to my house and judged my squalor. Judge away, lady! Just take my money and clean my bathrooms and kitchen, please! The rest of the house can go to shit.

I finally got someone in to re-grout my shower – only to be told that it didn’t need to be re-grout at all. Only needed them get rid of and then re-seal something. YAAAAAAAY! And it only cost me $60.

Plus, I found an awesome new handyman who will get started on all my honey-dos as soon as I get him my list. (I have it. Just have to send it and perhaps buy things for it.)

But the best part is that now, I do not get irrationally angry every time I take a shower.

I even managed to read a book and two graphic novels.

So, despite the barfs (OMG the BARFS), and my having a really rotten cold, things are looking up.

I feel productive.

And really, I think that is the key to me getting out most of my funks. Sometimes, being productive can just be taking care of all my miscellaneous things. But since I was on top of that already, it no longer was a new sensation so didn’t give me that pop of YAY!

Anyhow, I know I’m slow at acting like a grown up. But eventually, I’ll get there. Hopefully, before my children turn into grown ups.

Super short post today, friends. I just wanted to give a quick update on the state of Mandarin Mama and my sadz.

How do YOU get out of your BLAHs? Let me know in the comments.

Somehow, I Thought I Would Be Better


Here’s the thing. I actually feel somewhat embarrassed admitting this, but it’s where I’m at right now.

I thought it would be different.

I thought it would be better.

I thought I would be different.

I thought I would be better.

But truthfully, although things got better briefly, better eventually just became the new normal.

You see, for years, my main pains in life were the daily minutiae of which a life is made.

You know the sort.

Cooking meals. Cleaning the house. Paying bills. Sorting mail. Keeping the kitchen table clutter free. (hahahahah! Like THAT is ever going to last or happen for longer than a day or two.)

And FINALLY, these past three months, I have been making big strides. I now cook the majority of my meals and a lot of my psychic pain revolving around meal times is gone.

I’ve given up on cleaning the house, but I have vacuumed a few times, and decluttered a few times (and I could really do it a few more times), and I am finally now considering getting a housecleaner again because my house is probably filthy I’m just accustomed to its filthiness.

I sort the mail and take care of any outstanding medical bills immediately (because those are the only ones that are not on autopay – despite my best efforts to make them so). I mean, gone are the days of being 90-180 days late for no reason other than not opening mail.

But after a few months (and likely a few weeks) of my new reality, the shine has worn off and now it’s just regular old reality and I’M STILL DISSATISFIED WITH MY LIFE.

Damn you, hedonic treadmill!

And last Friday, I was talking with Dr. T about how I feel unfulfilled and like I do nothing of substance all day and how I’m still not done with my ebook despite being 95% done and how I start things but don’t finish them and how I want to try for things but I am so afraid of failure and —

And you know what? I’m terribly worried that even if I do finish that ebook that a few weeks later and it will be my new normal again and I will go about feeling BLAH about my life again. 

The irony is that during the first or second session ever with Dr. T, she mentioned that she thought some of my feelings of stress and whatever was due to my not having a clear idea of what my identity was. That it used to be tied up in work or the things I did or accomplished, and now that I am a SAHM, I felt adrift and identiy-less.

At the time, I thought she was full of crap.

Oh, the crow I eat whenever it comes to things Dr. T observes. (Seriously, the only really good decision I ever made about Dr. T and her advice was sticking with her despite me thinking her kinda woowoo at the beginning.)

And now, here I am. TOTALLY FEELING UNIDENTIFIED.

I felt somewhat comforted the other day when I saw an old post of mine pop up in Facebook Memories. I guess this is how I feel every spring.

But then, I got bummed out because it seems that no matter what I do, no matter how many successes or risks I take, it all goes back to me being terrified of failure and being immobilized by it.

I start so many things only for them to end up abandoned and collecting dust in the wayside.

I have so many ambitions and yet so little follow through.

I feel as if life is passing me by and I can’t even get my shit together enough to homeschool my children.

I feel like a huge failure. 

I don’t know if it’s my Virgo-ness, my ESFJ-ness, my Type 7 Enneagram-ness, or something else entirely (FWIW, I hold very low stock in astrological determiners of personality), but there it is.

And it’s no use telling me how I manage to keep four children alive, blah blah blah blah blah.

In my wretched mind, if I can do it, it’s not that hard, therefore it doesn’t really deserve praise.

Truthfully, I don’t know what will make me feel better. And whether if something makes me feel better, whether the feeling will be permanent or just become the new baseline.

All I know is that I feel kinda meh and blah right now.

Maybe this is how I feel every spring. Restless and desiring bigger and better things. And then life crushes it all out of me.

Anyhow, there is no neat resolution to this post. I’m still figuring it out.

Dr. T asked me what I wanted, and again, I have no idea. Except maybe to feel as if I am doing something worthwhile. (And yes, raising four small humans is eminently worthwhile – but the end result takes SO LONG.)

I want to feel as if I am productive; making something of concrete value and worth. Yet all day long, I do lots of things and am productive but it is the stuff of life. You can’t just eat once and then you’re done. (And that is DEFINITELY not possible with cleaning or laundering or the folding of the laundry.)

And so, each day, it feels as if all I did was erased and swept away by the tumult and happy clamor of my tiny and forceful humans.

It is very unsatisfactory.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m  not depressed. I’m not UNhappy. Just not SATISFIED.

I’m positive Hapa Papa is feeling the same thing (except perhaps slightly worse since he’s not very happy at his job and at least I have more free time than he does and get to stare at all my adorable babies all day).

And before people start writing in with the comments about me needing Jesus or essential oils or both, thanks. I have both. In abundance. (Seriously, I have an entire DRAWER full of oils. And I suppose I have Jesus in my heart or something. So admittedly, that might be in less abundance because I have a cold, dark heart.)

Anyhow, no neatly wrapped bow on this post because that’s not the way life works. We just keep trudging along until one day, we’re on the other side (and hopefully, feeling less blah when I actively pursue the things I think I want).

Have a good Wednesday! May you find what you’re looking for.

 

 

Life in Piecemeal

It should come as no surprise to long time readers that I am an extreme personality. There are no half-ways in my world. There is either all or nothing. Feast or famine. All in or all out.

Perfection or Abject Failure.

It shows up in all aspects of my life and makes it difficult for me to ever feel as if I am living the life that I want.

I either bang out 3-4 posts in one marathon writing binge or radio silence for weeks at a time.

I disappear down the rabbit hole of blazing through thick, doorstopper type books or I accrue $12 in library fines because I haven’t gotten to the stack of unread library books by the bed.

I either have fits of Angry Cleaning wherein I scream at the kids and throw a bunch of their toys into the donate pile, or all their toys are strewn all over the floor and we live in the filth of our own making.

The kids either only subsist on chicken nuggets, pizza, and snacks while they wander back and forth from the kitchen table, or they only eat food I make quickly and in silence.

We either homeschool hardcore all day or the kids are left to Lord of the Flies themselves and figure shit out on their own.

I am either not mad or HULK SMASH WHY YOU NOT DO WHAT I SAY WHEN I SAY IT?!?

It is a hard life with no room for softness. And children (and I, I guess) need some softness. Something with which to cushion the hardness of life that can grind us into a fine powder if we allow it.

Plus, a life bouncing in between extremes is confusing for the kids and they never get the stability children crave and need. They never feel safe.

And truthfully, life is lived in the in-between.

I need to embrace what my friend, Not Another DB MBA calls The 差不多(cha bu4 duo) Lifestyle. (Cha bu4 duo means “almost” or “close enough.”)

It is possible to write a post at a time or even a few paragraphs at a time. Harder, but possible.

 

 

It is possible to read a book a few chapters at a time versus reading 1000+ pages in one sitting. Annoying, but possible.

It is possible to go back to a time when we all put away what we take out, and the house can resemble some state of happy equilibrium of “lived in-ness.”

It is possible for me to cook 95% of the time and then eat nuggets or pizza occasionally as pinch-hitting meals when I don’t have time or energy.

It is possible to homeschool a little bit every day and just let the rest go.

And it is possible for me not to be angry all the time (this one is super hard and I will be addressing this in a later post).

All these things are possible, I just have to suck it up and get used to living my life in piecemeal.

A life of spurts.

I also have to remember that just because I mess up once or twice (or a lot), that it doesn’t mean I just throw in the towel and swing to the other extreme.

That life allows for hiccups.

And so, I live a life in the constantly interrupted trenches of parenting small children.

Slowly, but surely, I am getting more okay with writing partial posts, sneaking in reading a chapter here and there, paying bills and sorting mail immediately, watching parts of shows, folding and putting away just a few items of clothing at a time, and washing a few dishes at a time.

It is hard, but chips away slowly at the giant mountain of THINGS I NEED TO DO. Of course, the mountain gets constantly added to, but I am satisfied with a sense of treading water with the occasional leisurely swim versus feeling as if I am constantly drowning.

Ok, that was an egregiously mixed metaphor but in the spirit of The 差不多(cha bu4 duo) Lifestyle, I am just going to point it out but not fix it.

Suck It Up, February


How is February mostly over?

2017 is 1/6th of the way done and I feel like all I did was blink and stare blankly at the page.

Anyhow, here is my monthly check in to see how I’m doing with my yearly goals, aka: My Year of Sucking it Up.

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. 

Still going on strong! I now cook almost every single day and have trained my children to if not like, at least mostly eat, the food I make. I am hoping this will lead to good dividends when we head back to Taiwan this summer.

My kids currently love any and all vegetables that taste like “nothing” once I cook them in my Instant Pot. (Nothing in the sense that the veggies end up mushy and soak up the flavor of soup. We are working on them eating veggies prepared in stir fry.)

I am also now very reluctant to order out. Why? Not because of any health reasons. But mostly because it isn’t any faster than me cooking at home. In fact, it often takes even longer and then I stress out about finding foods my kids can and will eat.

b) Be active once a week.

I have improved. This month, I went a few times with the kids and friends on hikes at local regional parks.

Of course, buy “hike,” I mean walk on paved paths. I’m not wandering through the wilderness or anything. Let’s not get crazy.

Plus, on occasion, we have walked to local parks to meet up with these same homeschooling friends. Cookie Monster actually really enjoys walking and hiking so I expect this to continue.

Of course, I still haven’t redeemed my groupon to Krav Maga. I think I like the idea of being a badass more than the work it takes to become one. I have until March 10.

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Same as before. I think I will just have to adjust and say that I will brush my teeth and floss ONCE at night.

I’m sure it’s gross but TOO BAD.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

For the most part, I have been good about taking my vitamins. I hate taking so many. (Seriously, the doTerra vitamin regimen has me taking approximately 15 pills a day.)

e) Go to sleep when the kids sleep 4x a week.

Although doing slightly better, I have been staying up later and later because I just want some time to myself. In silence.

Beautiful, beautiful, blissful silence.

f) No texting while driving.

Sob.

was doing so well. Then February hit and I slid back into my naughty ways. FOMO reared its ugly head with a vengeance. I found that my need to respond right away to texts returned.

So, here’s my reminder to kick my own ass and say, “Hey! My friends don’t need to me to respond, ‘HAHAHAHAHAHA!’ right away to their comments. They can wait the 15-20 minutes it takes to get to where I’m getting to.”

Also? LIKING SOMEONE’S STATUS ON FACEBOOK CAN WAIT.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

Although I’m pretty certain I’ve still been adulting, I don’t think it stood out as much this month. Possibly because we didn’t visit the doctor much in January so I didn’t have to take care of any medical bills (and we all know that’s what ultimately kills me).

However, since we went several times in February, I guess I get a chance to apply this again in March.

Also? I think I forgot to do my receipts for homeschooling. So, um, whoops. I still have a day or so left in February.

Oh crap. Just remembered I still haven’t opened up additional accounts or changed my life insurance beneficiaries. Blargh.

I CAN DO IT.

I AM A GROWN UP FOR REALZ.

3) Write.

Due to Hapa Papa’s new job and him needing a lot of time on the weekends, as well as the craziness of our weekends this past month, I did not write much.

Truthfully, I also did not feel like it. Although, I did start a quick and easy new series, the 5 Minute Book Reviews. Those have made me happy because they’re quick and dirty to put out, I don’t feel pressure on having to have in depth and perfect reviews, and I am experimenting with posting videos of my children reading excerpts.

Why is that important?

Mostly because I have been semi-reluctant to post their reading videos up in case they’re not as good as I think they are and have people secretly judge me for their perhaps not as stellar as I think Chinese.

I worry because we all know that I am totally judging other kids’ Chinese. Which is stupid because as long as I can understand a kid, that’s the ultimate goal of learning language, right?

Also? What does another child’s success/failure with Chinese have to do with my own children’s abilities?

ABSOLUTELY  NOTHING.

Anyhow, I didn’t really have any new posts for about two weeks and I feel sucky about it.

Also also, I just realized that I set myself a goal of finally finishing my ebook by the end of Q1. Which is in a month.

What the hell, self?

However, I am proud of myself for two things I did writing-wise this month (in addition to the 5 Minute Book Reviews).

One: I submitted a speaker proposal to a conference I am attending this spring. I don’t think I will get it, but hey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Two: I started some pitches that I want to do for my blog. I have since done NOTHING (such as submitting these pitches). but whatever. I DID a tiny bit of SOMETHING.

Alright. Thus ends my monthly check in. It was not as awesome as I had hoped, but at least my cooking is hitting it out the ballpark. If 2017 only had this to show for it, I would still be reasonably happy.

How are you doing on your 2017? Let me know in the comments.

Raising an Advocate

I remember in my high school civics class, our teacher said that in general, children start off with their parents’ political beliefs, become more liberal in college, and then finally, when they make more money and become parents themselves, circle back to conservative.

After all, once you have more money, you are less sanguine about ways to spend that money and once you have children, you are less permissive in your attitudes about sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll – or thus the thinking goes.

It’s the political circle of life.

I don’t know if that is still the case from 22 years ago (OMG HOW HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG?), but for me, that has certainly NOT been my experience.

I find that for most people, they react to having children in one of two ways:

1) Double down and because of fear, circle the wagons and retreat more and more into conservative values – be it on money, religion, sex, drugs, etc.

They worry that the world is going to hell in handbasket and that there is a cultural war going on against “traditional” values and they do all they can to make sure laws stay as conservative as possible.

2) Realize that they want a better future for their children and out of fear (usually because their kids are or might be one of the disenfranchised or oppressed people groups), become more and more liberal and inclusive in their values – be it on money, religion, sex, drugs, etc.

They worry that their children will be oppressed if they don’t happen to fit in the “traditional” boxes and do all they can to make sure laws become as inclusive as possible.

It is no surprise, dear reader, that you will find that I am in the latter group.

As soon as I had Cookie Monster, I began my journey to become ever more inclusive of all peoples.

I want to take credit and say it’s because I’m just that progressive of a person, but truthfully, it was a gradual eye-opening, and a lot of it was born of fear for my child and future children and not so much out of the belief of equality for all.

Isn’t that the way most of us who are not affected by certain types of discrimination begin caring about people who are not like us? When we are all of a sudden, personally affected by a discriminatory law/system/situation? (This is akin to celebrities or people caring only about a disease after it affects them personally. Not a knock – because that is the human condition. Just an observation.)

The thought of my children being treated poorly, mocked, harassed, bullied, whatever because of their sexual identity, their preferences, their abilities or disabilities, their ethnicities, their anything – THAT ENRAGED ME.

This fear and rage at the possibility of my children being mistreated then turned into rage and fear for my friends and then for ALL people.

I evolved.

I admit. Right about the time I had Cookie Monster, I found out that one of my dear, dear college friends was bisexual (which wasn’t really that much of a surprise and I wasn’t really phased about it because hey, I’m progressive like that) as well as polyamorous.

And it’s not that I judged him for being polyamorous, but I judged.

I thought he was going through a mid-life crisis. Promiscuous. Behaving dangerously. Justifying non-commitment.

Which, hey. It’s his life. He should be able to live it however he wanted. I got that and knew that. But still. A hidden part of me (and to be honest, I’m sure it was obvious to him how I felt but he was too kind and merciful to point it out to me) was like, “This is weird and inappropriate and keep it to yourself already.”

And then, a high school acquaintance on Facebook began to share more and more about her life in a poly relationship. She is bisexual and has two husbands and several children and has been very open about her life in her blog (now no longer there for likely, family protection reasons).

She shared how she has been affected and treated and all her family’s suffering and pain as well as their love for each other and just like that – I cared about the poly community (her family in particular), and my mindset was changed.

All because of her bravery and willingness to be vulnerable.

I find her amazing. My heart aches for her. She and her family are so deserving of love and acceptance and the chance to be left alone and just be without commentary. They deserve affirmation of their love and the beautiful family they have created.

And truthfully, I know I was swayed because of their “monogamy” and family values oriented lifestyle.

But you know what?

Even if she was a promiscuous person and her family was “broken,” they deserve to live and love as they choose (or not choose, as this is the case).

And thus, through relationships with people, through reading anti-racism blogs – through reading LOTS of blogs actually – I found myself caring more and more about all types of people. (Even farmers through another friend of mine – which is weird because I never knew about the issues farmers and agricultural people encountered until I read her posts on Facebook and on her blog.)

Look at me blathering all over the place today.

I’m not sure I have a main point or lots of tiny points all pointing toward a bigger point in their pointiness, but this is just to say that all this liberalness, all this gradual awakening and anti-racism and inclusive parenting – that is a direct result out of fear.

I fear giving my children a world wherein who they are, at their very core, is not accepted and not allowed to thrive and live and be.

I fear that to this day, even though I would love my child and accept them if they happen to be LGBTQ, I secretly hope they aren’t because life will be SO HARD for them if they are and I worry that my mother, who is super conservative, may reject them or try to “convert” them to “straightness” and then I will have to cut off my mother, too.

I don’t want to live in a world where I have these fears. I don’t want to be a person who has these fears.

And I certainly do not want these things for my children.

I want my children to be be shameless – in the sense that they are nothing to be ashamed of – regardless of who they are.

And thus, I have become ever more and more liberal. More radical. More everything.

I am grateful for friends who are further along the advocacy road so I can model myself after them and join my voice with theirs.

I am grateful for these same friends (Hi, Mamademics!) creating curriculum celebrating black history as well as creating Raising an Advocate series for me to join and Facebook Stalk and over-post in. (Can you tell that I lifted the name of this post from her series? It’s because she is awesome and her series is awesome and I REALLY WANT YOU ALL TO JOIN.)

I am grateful that I am homeschooling and can thus apply these things that I am learning so that my children can be brainwashed into advocates themselves. (I bought the first twelve months of Black History is American History and am looking forward to teaching it to my kids.)

Won’t you join me in this journey of self-discovery and dismantling what we have accepted for so long (and often, obliviously)?

Let’s create the world in which ALL our children are loved and accepted no matter who they are.