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Saturday, April 21, 2012

How I Became The Mother Of 4 Kids

"Wow!  YOU have FOUR kids??!  How'd THAT happen?"

FYI -- don't ever say that to anyone.  It's kinda rude.  It implies that having four kids is somehow weird, or that ME having four kids is somehow weird.  Both of which may hold some truth, but it's still rude.  But, since I have never shared just how these minions invaded my life, I will share it now.  (Not the actual HOW -- I mean, eeeewwww.  But, you know, the how.)

In 1997, I met my husband.  We knew almost immediately that we were meant to be together, and in less than 7 months we were engaged and 6 months after that, we tied the knot.  We had grand plans -- be married for 5 years, have a child.  When that child was 3 years old and potty trained, we'd have another.  When child number 2 was potty trained, we'd decide whether or not we wanted a third.  We knew that the kids were in our future, we planned on them.  Very specific, detailed plans.  We planned, God laughed.

In early 2001, my sister called to tell me that she was pregnant.  I believe my exact words were "Better you than me, but congratulations."  Less than 3 weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant too.  My sister was a little miffed -- I had butted in on her special time.  It was completely unintentional.  I was a little shocked.  Not at her reaction, but at being pregnant at all.   THIS was not my plan.  I had only been married a little over 2 years, Baby #1 wasn't supposed to come for another 3 years.  I was on birth control.  I wasn't sure how this had happened (I mean, I KNOW how it happened, but I had not planned on this).  Plan or not, there was a baby coming, and regardless of WHEN we had planned on it, it was happening now.  We embraced it.  Gladly.

I was one of THOSE people -- the ones who said that I was going to work until the baby was born and that I would go back after the baby was born.  I was convinced that I was not going to let this change my plans anymore than it already had.  Other than reeducating myself in the creative napping techniques that I had learned in high school to make it through my work day, making time for doctor's appointments, and eating and sleeping like a teenager again, no major changes.  But at 7 months, I started almost passing out -- kind of a bad thing when you are in outside sales and spend half of your day in a car.  So the doctor's put me on home bound.  This was the beginning of the end of my career.

When my water broke, it was not a big river like I was expecting, but I knew.  Unfortunately, when I called the doctor's office, the doctor on call believed that I had "just peed a little."  So, since it was the weekend, and since this was my first pregnancy and I was not quite the snark filled creature that I am now, I hung up the phone and went to bed.  Monday, I didn't feel right.  I was really thirsty and really tired, and I slept a lot.  Tuesday, I went to the doctor and the same idiot who was on call over the weekend was there that day and he sent me home without a thorough exam.  My husband was working nights, and when he came home early Wednesday morning, he found the cat and dog pressed up against the cool glass of the sliding door.  The heat was cranked up to 78 degrees, I had the gas fireplace going and I was curled up on the hearth -- as close to the flames as I could possibly get without actually catching fire.  He put me into the car and took me to the hospital.  Problem was, the hospital was IN Atlanta.  And it was rush hour.  It took more than 2 hours to get to the hospital.  I was having contractions.  By the time we got to the hospital, they were about 2-3 minutes apart.  I was certain that I was going to die. 

After being rushed back into the maternity ward, a very sweet, older nurse, came to the room and sat down on the bed beside me.  She took my hand in hers and said very gently "Sweetie, you are NOT in labor."  I began to protest, thinking that if this wasn't labor then they were going to have to just knock me out until it was over.  She said "You are having contractions, but they are not progressing.  You are contracting because you have an infection.  Your fever is over 104 and you are dehydrated."  They determined that I was dilated 2 cm, and then put me on a fetal monitor, an IV with medicine for the infection, medicine to help my labor progress, and gave me my epidural because I was in pain. 

Now, insane with fever, pumped full of drugs, and worn out from fighting infection is the best way to be in labor.  I remember very little of the next 8 hours or so.  By the time I was coming around, I could feel my legs.  I wasn't supposed to be able to feel my legs with the epidural.  So I called the nurse.  My sweet old nurse was gone and in her place was a shrew.  She told me that I couldn't really feel my legs.  She said that it was an illusion.  Although I could feel my legs, I didn't think I could walk on them, or I would have marched down to the nurses station and told her off.  The doctor on call was awesome.  He came in about 7:30 and said he thought things should be ready to go within the next hour.  When I told him I felt ready now, he snapped on some gloves and said "Well, then let's do this!"  35 minutes later, I was a mother.  He was 7 pounds and 11 ounces.  (Oh, and after the baby was taken away, I swung my legs over the side of the bed and walked to the bathroom -- much to the horror of the shrewish nurse who said "Well, I guess your epidural DID wear off."  Idiot.)

Unfortunately, my new son had been the source of my fever and he took it with him when he left me.  They let me see him briefly before whisking him off to the NICU.  No one was telling me anything.  Nearly 3 hours had passed before I knew that he was in trouble.  My husband and I went to the NICU to see our son elevated on a crib, full of wires and IV lines, fighting the infection that had brought us to the hospital that morning.  The next few days were torture.  He was a fighter though -- and he began improving.  A little over a week later, we were able to take him home. 

My husband and I had been surprised by this baby, but we had decided that we would continue with our plan -- 3 years later we would have another kid.  Well, when Baby #1 was 15 month old, I was pregnant again.  Again, I had been on birth control and wasn't sure how this had happened.  My OB started calling me "Fertile Myrtle."  I admit that the news of my pregnancy, at first, made me cry.  I felt that I would be depriving my oldest child of something by having another child so soon.  My mother calmed me down, and soon I was embracing the idea of having 2 children so close in age.  We found out that this child would be a girl, and we were happy to have one of each. 

I was scheduled to be induced on a Monday.  I was supposed to leave for the hospital around 7:30 in the morning.  My new daughter, however, had other plans.  I woke up in labor around 2 am the morning of my scheduled induction, and by 9 am I was the proud mother of an 8 pound, 15 ounce baby girl.  Three days later, we brought her home.  By 7 months old, the little dynamo was pulling up on furniture, and beginning to cruise.  By 9 months old, she was running through the house.  She had her own health scare -- at a year old, her doctor was concerned with how small she was and we had to have her tested for cystic fibrosis.  Luckily, she was fine.  Somehow she had thumbed her nose at her gene pool and was the one thing I never was or ever will be -- petite. 

A few months after her 2nd birthday, my husband and I briefly discussed whether or not we wanted to have another child.  We decided to think about it and discuss it again in a few months.  I found out I was pregnant less than 2 weeks later.  Again, this was a birth control baby.  My OB amended her nickname to include my husband -- we were now "Fertile Myrtle and Potent Pete."  Baby number 3, another girl, arrived at 7 pounds and 12 ounces the day before Thanksgiving 2006.  I was now outnumbered.  Three kids, under 5.  We were busy all the time, but our kids loved each other and we loved them.

The Summer after Baby #3 arrived, my husband began interviewing for another job.  His interviews took him to Texas where he was offered a job and accepted.  My mom came and stayed with my 2 oldest while he and I took Baby #3 out to Texas to look for a house to rent.  We found one with 4 bedrooms -- each child could have their own room and a room for us.  It was perfect.  Two weeks later, the husband left with a U-Haul full of stuff and I stayed in Georgia to try and sell the house, with the plan that we would follow at Christmas a few months later.

Three weeks before Thanksgiving, I got very sick.  I was certain that it was the flu.  I went to the doctor to confirm and he said that he was pretty sure that it was the flu, but wanted to run a blood test to check the white count.  The next day, he called and this was the conversation:

"Your white count looks good, but you are pregnant."
"Ummmm.....NO.  That isn't possible.  I am on birth control, I am still nursing, and I have only seen my husband once in the past 6 weeks."
"Well, (chuckle), I'd go buy a lottery ticket with odds like that!"
"Really??  'Cause I'm not feeling very lucky!"

When I called the husband, he laughed.

So, now sick, pregnant, with 3 kids 5 and younger and a husband working out of state, and trying to sell a house and pack up everything and move halfway across the country, I began to come to terms with the fact that I was to be the mother of 4.  My OB declared that I was one of the 0.02%  of the female population that is unaffected by birth control, and I thanked the Lord that I had never been a slut in high school because this whole process could have started a long time ago and I could have been the old woman in the shoe by now.

Somehow, we got moved to Texas and into our now too small house and I found a new OB and life kept happening.  When baby #3 was 20 months old, I gave birth to a TEN POUND, three ounce, red headed, baby boy.  I now had a 6 1/2 year old, a 4 1/2 year old, a 20 month old, and an infant -- 2 boys bookending 2 girls.  30 minutes after Baby #4 was born I had my tubes tied. 

And THAT is how I became the mother of 4 kids. 

I love my kids. All 4 of them. The beauty of being a mother is that no matter how many times your love is divided, it is still whole.  I had not planned on 4, but God knew that I needed all of them.  Of course I vent about how they drive me crazy, I complain about the unforgivable things that carrying them has done to my body, and I sometimes wonder what my career might have been.  But I LOVE my kids and I wouldn't trade any of them for anything.  It isn't weird.  It's my family.  And it's perfect.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Dear Husband: You Are Not Allowed To Leave -- EVER

My husband is out of town.  He is in Puerto Rico for his grandmother's funeral.  He left Thursday morning and will be back on Tuesday afternoon.  I have decided in his absence that he is never allowed to leave me -- as in permanently -- because I cannot hack this whole single parent thing with 4 kids. 

A lot of my life is like a single parent -- my husband is usually asleep or at work, so much of the mundane parent work is mine to handle.  I do mornings by myself because he is not home from work yet.  I do homework, dinner, bath time, and bedtime by myself because he is asleep.  But he is here.  If I need to go to the store for anything, I tell the kids that I will be back in 20 minutes and to not answer the door and to only wake dad up if it is an emergency.  On the weekends, although he sometimes works, he is often home to help with all of the chaos that permeates our  lives with four kids.  I have really missed him these last few days that were a little more chaotic than normal.

Friday, my oldest daughter brought home a party invitation.  For a slumber party.  THAT NIGHT.  My first thought was that I wanted to tell this kid's mom "Wow, thanks for the warning."  I called one of the other moms and asked if she had gotten this invitation, and she said that it had actually gone out 2 days ago.  Still not a lot of time, but had my daughter taken it out of her backpack to give it to me I would have known about it a little earlier.  Then the other mom tells me that this is a birthday party.  WHAT??  It is now 4:00 on Friday afternoon, the party starts at 5:30.  I had no gift.  Crap.  Luckily, this other mom I was talking to just happened to be at Target and offered to grab something for my kid to give.  She also offered to give her a ride to the party.  Whew.  Thank God for friends.

I already had plans for Saturday.  It was the Kindergarten Roundup for the school district that we live in -- sort of an early registration thing so that your kid is already set to go for next Fall and I had planned to take my younger daughter to it by ourselves.  My oldest son was going to spend the night with his best friend and hang out the next morning until we got done at the Roundup.  The other 2 were going to go to another friend's house Saturday morning so I could focus on my daughter.  So I called the mom of the little party girl to see if maybe my older daughter could just hang out there until we got done.  When I got her on the phone, I apologized for not RSVPing sooner, but explained that I had not even seen the invitation until that afternoon.  Then I told her of the issue of my husband being out of town, and the Roundup the next day, and asked her what time she was asking parents to pick up their kids the next morning.  "Oh," she said, "we have a lot of family things planned for tomorrow, so I was thinking 8 or 8:30."  WHAT??  You have a lot of family plans tomorrow?  Why then would you even think of having 12 or so 8 year old girls over for a slumber party the night before??  I get ONE day to sleep in during a normal week -- Saturday.  I was already going to have to get up and go to the Roundup thing, but since hubby was out of town, I would have had to get up, get the other kids up and ready, and go pick up my daughter from this slumber party.  So my friend steps up and offers to bring my daughter home too.

Now, the oldest boy went home from school with his best friend.  But the dad had asked if he could bring both boys over to my house around 6:00 because he had to go play softball and the mom would not be off work until after 7:00.  After I handled the party crisis, I texted him to verify what time he was coming to drop them off and he said a little bit after 6:00.  I told him that was good because I needed to get a shower.  I then called my friend who was picking up my daughter and bringing the gift and I told her that I was in such dire need of a shower that I was starting to offend myself, and that I needed to get a shower before the boys got there.  I told her that my daughter was ready, and that I had fixed a small gift bag to put the gift in for the party (she had told me that she was going to grab a DVD), so she should not freak out if she didn't see me when she came to get her.  It was 5:00.  I got in the shower, thinking that everything was under control and sort of congratulating myself on having good friends and making it all work out. 

As soon as I shut off the water, my 3 year old bursts into the bathroom saying that someone is banging on the door and wants to know if he can answer it.  Annoyed and wondering who the heck is at the door, I quickly wrap myself in my towel and go look through the peephole to see my son and his best friend standing on the porch.  I am confused.  It is only 5:15, not 6:15.  I am still naked (except for the towel), so I crack the door and the dad, who is in his car at the curb, yells up "Sorry!  I tried to call!  My game starts at 6:00, I thought it was at 7:00."  REALLY??  Well, you couldn't get me on the phone because I was in the freaking shower that you told me I had time to take.  I told the boys to wait a minute and the dad drives off.  I had the 3 year old let them in after I had taken my naked self back to my bedroom.

The rest of the night is a fairly typical Friday night.  I get up the next morning and get myself ready to go to the Roundup before going into wake up the 2 little ones.  Oldest girl comes home and I can tell that she is going to be a grump today because she obviously didn't sleep much at the party.  I go in to get the little ones up and the 3 year old has a fever and green crusty, slimy, crud coming out of his nose.  Great.  So I text my other friend who had agreed to keep the kids and let her know that he is sick.  I tell her the truth -- 3 year old is sick and I don't know what to do.  She offers to come over to my house to watch them.  Again -- I have amazing friends.

Saturday proceeded as usual -- me trying to get the kids to clean up and them avoiding any and all of their chores, me getting annoyed and angry but with no "enforcer" to back me up.  They finally got busy when after hours of goofing off, I walked in with a trash bag and began throwing EVERYTHING away.  They were stunned and frightened.  I had warned them, but they had not believed me.  My kids love me and their dad, but for some reason, their dad will always carry more authority than me.  Probably because they are so used to me -- I am ALWAYS telling them to do things.   Then, the 5 year old and her devious little 3 year old brother took a green dinosaur stamp that she had gotten at the Roundup and stamped all over the walls, the doors, and the furniture in his bedroom.  They did this while I was cleaning the kitchen and while they were supposed to be cleaning the room.    I tried everything I could think of to clean it off the walls, before finally discovering the solution -- Soft Scrub with Bleach, a scrub brush, and a LOT of elbow grease.  After a little more than 2 hours, almost all of the green stamps were gone and I had ruined a T-shirt and a pair of Yoga pants (luckily I still have about 9 more pair).  But I lost it after that.  I became a screaming lunatic.  Then I was a blubbering idiot feeling guilty about losing my temper at everything my kids were (and were not) doing to try my patience.  Then Sunday I was practically bedridden with cramps (partially explaining the extreme emotions from the previous day).

Throughout all of this, I realized that most of this would have never happened or would have been nothing but a series of minor annoyances (if that) if my husband were here.  All of Friday's inconveniences would have been tempered by my ability to leave the house even though he would have been asleep.  Saturday he could have stayed with the sick kid or he could have taken the 5 year old to the Roundup.  On Saturday, the kids would have been more focused on their chores instead of how to get out of doing them, the 2 little ones would have never been out of an adult's line of site long enough to redecorate the walls, and when I was about to lose it, he would have been here so that I could go hide in my room for a while and calm down. 

So, yeah.  I am very thankful for him.  And I am ready for him to come home.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

All In A Day's Work

I've had quite a day.  It is the most productive I have been in months and I am worn out.  It was nice to get a lot done, but it struck me that this is how my mother operates all of the time -- 90 miles an hour from morning until night -- and I don't think I could do it everyday.  I am certain that I wouldn't want to.  I got up and got the 2 oldest off to school, loaded and started the dishwasher, took out the trash, took the 2 youngest to pre-school, took the husband to the airport, and then came home to grab the stuff that I needed to run my errands.

First, I went to this children's consignment store where I practically donated about $400 worth of stuff.  I mean, I know that they have to make a profit, but they gave me $20 for an infant car seat with the base that I paid over $150 for and my kid used it for a few weeks before he was too big for it and $15 for a plastic bin of clothes that were in excellent condition.  I took it though, because the other option was to actually donate it to Goodwill and I think that they are tired of me (I have been there once a week or so since January).  Also, the people that work at this store could not possibly HAVE children since by all appearances they were all 12 years old.

Frustrated by my consignment experience, I went to Kohl's where I quickly exchanged the pants that I had bought for my son for the correct size.  Smooth as silk -- no receipt, no problem. 

After that, I went to Big Lots.  I wanted to check the prices on some of their garden stuff and get some stuff to send to a buddy overseas.  He is the supply clerk (I have no idea if that is the right name, but that is one of his duties over there) and the guys in his unit do not have access to a commissary or a PX and they are constantly running out of shampoos, soaps, deodorant, etc.  I gathered the toiletries pretty quickly, and then went to check out the garden stuff.

You should know something about me (if you don't know already), I am chock full of grand plans.  I began looking at Organic Gardening Soil and calculating in my head how much I would need.  I looked at garden fencing, landscaping fabric, non-toxic weed killers and plant food, seed packets, gardening tools, solar pathway lights, wind chimes, bird feeders and birdbaths, all kinds of wonderful stuff that would turn my backyard into an enchanted garden, invite fairies to make their home there, and provide my family with home-grown, organic produce.  I was certain that it would be wonderful.  Then I remembered that I have 4 children that I would have to keep out of my little Eden.  And then it occurred to me that I HATE working outside in the Texas heat.  I'm not even here for a good portion of the Summer because I go home to Alabama.  And so I walked away from my garden plans and proceeded to grab a few more things that I needed -- specifically, boric acid.

Why do I need boric acid, you ask?  Well, we had a pretty mild winter.  It has already topped 90 degrees here in March.  So, last week, I saw the first demon roach of the season outside in my yard.  If you aren't familiar with my posts, then you should really go back and read a few from late Spring/early Summer.  Any year will do.  Here in Texas we have flying, 2-3 inch long roaches.  I have nightmares about them.  They literally give me anxiety attacks.  Boric acid kills them.  I still employ the more toxic, flammable, dead in an instant Raid (which doesn't kill them instantly enough), but the boric acid makes it much harder for them to ever enter my house because once they walk on the deadly white powder, it sticks to their legs and starts killing them.  So I bought A LOT of it. 

After stocking up on bug killer, toiletries, and realizing that I am not going to be Martha Stewart in my backyard this Summer, I went to get gas, grabbed a bite from Chik-fil-A, and went to the best place of the day so far -- Target.  I had a quick return, then I wandered up and down the aisles wanting everything, but not really needing anything.  I did grab some cereal, a t-shirt off of a clearance rack, some Febreeze, and a sample size of a mask that I had been wanting to try.  It was almost time to go get the little ones from pre-school, so I went to check out.  The person in the line that I chose had just been given her total, so I thought it would be the quickest.  I was wrong.  She pulled out a bunch of Target gift cards.  The kind that they give away with special promotions -- $5 and $10 gift cards.  The cashier was scanning them quickly, and when she was done, she had knocked more than $100 off of her total.  I thought it was impressive, but now I was pushing it getting out in time to get to the kids' school on time.  Then this hoarder of little plastic rectangles pulled out a STACK of Visa and MasterCard gift cards.  These ranged from $15-25 dollars each, and the balance was still over $300.  I gathered my few purchases and found another line. 

After Target, I went to get the 2 youngest.  Kids in tow, we all headed to Aldi where I got some eggs, produce and fruit snacks.  I also decided to treat myself to some flowers.  No one ever send me flowers.  If I were to die tomorrow, there would most likely be a sea of flowers at my funeral.  Here's a hint -- dead people don't give a crap about flowers.  Send them to people you love while they're alive.  It will mean more to them.  After Aldi, we had just enough time to run by the house and put the perishables up before we had to leave to get the other kids.  We picked them up and made a run to Sonic (something we had not done in almost 2 months) for half-priced drinks and cheese sticks. 

Once we got home, the kids were munching on their cheese sticks and I got to work unloading the car.  After everything was inside, I arranged the flowers and then set off to do a few little chores that I had been avoiding.  I FINALLY took the Christmas decorations that were stacked neatly in the garage and put them in the shed so that they would be out of my way.  (Yes, I am fully aware that it is mid-April and that Christmas was nearly 5 months ago, don't judge.  At least they were down and in the garage.)  Then I took my newly acquired boric acid and got to work.  If you have ever seen the TV show "Supernatural," or any movie that deals with demons and ghosts, then you know about salt-lines.  Demons (and ghosts) cannot cross them.  People would often make circles of salt to stand in, or they place a line of salt on door thresholds and windowsills.  From a distance, my house looks like I am deathly afraid of ghosts.  But it is not salt that encircles my house, it's boric acid, and the only demons that I fear have 6 legs and wings.

Now, I have also written this blog which I can always refer to when I feel the need to justify my sitting on the couch, drinking coffee, and wasting time on the Internet all day.  I think I will end my day with a shower, maybe a soak in the tub, a frozen dinner (no cooking), and then I will cuddle up with my remote after the kids are in bed and I will work on clearing my DVR.  All in a days work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I'm Sorry That I'm White

I have written at least 36 versions of this post, and I am not exaggerating.  Every time that I got started on it, I tried to do what I usually do and try to make what I was attempting to say personal.  When I would do that, I would go way off topic, and what I was writing began to sound like complaining and whining about my plight as a white woman and that was so not what I was trying to say.  I had valid reasons for sharing those stories – I thought that they were relevant.  And they are, but everyone (and I DO mean everyone) has similar or worse stories.  And then it hit me – this post is about us as a nation -- where we stand and where we are headed.  It isn't about one incident in Florida or California, but about all of the incidents in every state.  And although I learned a great deal about myself in all of those attempts at writing it, it is not about me.

When I started this post, I thought I knew what my message was:  Racism is wrong and we should stop it.  I still believe that, but as I wrote, I found myself becoming angry, defensive, and hurt as I examined the ways racism is prevalent in our society and how it is a multifaceted beast that is perpetuated by our media, by our politicians and leaders, and by each and every one of us.  I fought to separate race, from culture, from class, and from something as basic as personality and I learned that these things are all intertwined in our definitions of people.  I realized that I resent the fact that my opinions, my voice, my feelings about racism are somewhat invalidated because as a white woman, I am assumed to have never been the object of prejudice and therefore can only speak in generalities about racial injustice or from the side of the oppressors.  That concept is in and of itself prejudicial.  This was a post of self-discovery for me.  I learned a lot about myself.  Some of it I am proud of, and some of it I am ashamed to admit.  Writing these 2,000 or so words will not change the world, but I hope that they might cause each of you to examine your own views and maybe force you to ask some difficult questions, face some things about yourself that you’ve been afraid to admit, and begin to change.

In case you weren’t aware, I am white.  I am a white, Southern, middle-aged woman, who lives in Texas – probably one of the most politically conservative states in the country.  I do not consider myself a racist, but because of where I was born, the color of my skin, and where I live, many would say that I am.  However, as I closely examine myself and my reactions to things I see in the media as well as real life, I shamefully admit that I am an elitist.  Not to be condescending, but in case you didn’t know, an elitist is someone who feels that they are somehow better than others because of their education, their attitude, their circumstances, or whatever.  Basically, I find myself feeling more educated or more intelligent than others and therefore somehow superior.  Race has nothing to do with it.  It does not matter what color, race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, or whatever you are – if you present as an idiot, I feel better than you somehow.   I am not proud of it, and once I recognized it in myself, I am working to change. 

We live in a racially charged nation.  The scars from the civil rights movement are still felt by those old enough to remember firsthand the injustices of the time before and during the first steps we took toward change as a nation and without meaning to, they are passing along that pain and hate to the next generation.  White parents tell their children to avoid certain areas of town, to be more careful around this race or that race, and to adopt a stay out of the way attitude.  Parents of black children, Hispanics, Asian, Arab, and others tell their kids to be careful how they conduct themselves – that they will be treated differently because of their skin color (a fact reinforced by the white parents who tell their kids to act differently around them).   We should learn from our past mistakes so that we don’t repeat them, but as a nation we seem to perpetuate the feelings of mistrust, fear, and hate. 

It is insulting to think of anything as being exclusively “white” – to do so would be to projecting a racial prejudice.  Yet we allow other races to have their own exclusive organizations and events without question.  There are pageants that are exclusively “black” or “Hispanic.”  There are clubs and organizations that are exclusively one race or another.  The only exclusively white organization that I know of is the Ku Klux Klan – and as offended as I am by their bigotry and hate, I question what the difference is?  Why is it okay for other races to have racial exclusiveness under the guise of racial pride without anyone raising the question of hate?  The double standards are astounding – Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Black businessmen’s associations, Asian community centers, etc.  There is nothing wrong with any of these organizations, and I am NOT comparing them to the KKK, but I am pointing out that they exist without question.    But I am asking it.  While I fully support separate religious organizations (for example, I should not have the right to infiltrate a Muslim organization since I am not Muslim) because there are Catholics, protestants, Muslims, etc. of all races.  Why is ANY racial exclusion okay?  

I am not much on conspiracy theories, so I am not sure that this divide is intentionally perpetuated by Hollywood, but as I flip through my television channels, the separation is blatant.  There are sitcoms where every character is white, sitcoms where every character is black, sitcoms where every character is Hispanic.  The ones that have various races play up the stereotypes.  There is the funny Asian guy who speaks poor English, the Hispanic guy who speaks with a heavy accent, and the black guy who is a gang member or a hip-hop artist.  The Asian women are depicted as uneducated, meek, quiet, and submissive, the black women as full of attitude, and the Hispanic women as defiant, and abrasive.  These are generalizations, of course, but there is no denying that these stereotypes are being blasted on the airways and we and our kids see them over and over.  Racially mixed families are common in real life – I know of at least 5 on my street and my family is one of them, but they are not being portrayed in our entertainment.  No, the general message on television is that the races are separate and distinct and have little in common with each other.  As long as that is the message that we send out, that is the message that we as a nation will continue to believe, and it will be forever ingrained in our kids, who will in turn pass it along to their own children.

Then there is the media.  The media brings race into everything.  If a black cop shoots a black man while a crime is in progress, it is simply a cop doing his job.  But if the same guy is shot in the same circumstances by a white cop, then race obviously played a role.  They freely discuss “black leaders” and “black communities” or “Hispanic leaders” and “Hispanic communities” and it is not questioned.  However, there are no “white leaders” or “white communities” because those phrases would imply a prejudice toward every other race.  If you are white, in America, then you exist as a non-race.  At one time, there was bias and prejudice towards the Irish-Americans, the Russian-Americans, the Greek-Americans, and other “white” immigrant cultures.  But over time, those prejudices all but disappeared and we became the non-race of “white.”  I look forward to when the same is true for all races and cultures, but we are not, as a nation, moving in that direction.   

Then there are the Jesse Jackson’s and Al Sharpton’s of the world, and the white politicians who are too numerous to count, and I am certain that there are counterparts for every racial and ethnic group that I am not as familiar with.  I know that these people who love the spotlight do not represent the majority of the races that they claim to represent, yet they are allowed to speak in the media as if they do.  People who do not live in racially diverse areas can only assume that these are the attitudes of every black, or white, or Hispanic, or Arab, or Asian.  The reason is, they are the ones who reach for the microphones.  They are the ones who preen for the cameras.  They are the ones that, I believe started with good intentions of rallying change, but have devolved into a campaign of self-promotion.  The white politicians have to choose their words carefully – they will be labeled by what they say as racist, or homophobic, or biased. The result is that their messages are benign – neither good nor bad, but ineffective in their banal attempt to remain PC.   But those from other races, speak with fire behind their words.  Their words rarely call for peace, rather they incite anger.  They perpetuate the feelings of anger by bringing up crimes against their races that go back hundreds if not thousands of years.  Crimes that happened before you and I were born by people we’ve never met and that cannot be changed.  The racial oppression of the past is brought to the forefront of every speech that they make.  Things that cannot be changed or ever justified, yet they call for justice.  How could that ever happen?  It can’t.  And there are plenty of injustices today that require attention and can be changed. 

I have read about “White Privilege” and I thought that it was an odd concept in today’s world.  However, there are things that I cannot deny – the band-aids in the store are colored to closely match my skin, when I get a job no one questions if my race had anything to do with it, and when I get pulled over by the cops the only thing I have to worry about is a ticket.  Things I take for granted.  Things that other races resent my whole race for but that I had nothing to do with.  I don’t make band-aids.  I am not a cop.  And I am not a politician.  My family, although “Southern” never owned anyone, and endured their own prejudices as a mixture of Scottish-Irish-American Indians, some of whom moved to the South from the North after the Civil War, but none of that matters because my skin is white and that means that I am privileged.   It makes me want to apologize for being born white.  Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? 

Here is the thing:  You and I cannot change the past.  We cannot help the actions of others.  We can only change ourselves and try to change the world through our own choices, the official we elect, the lessons we teach our kids, and the way that we deal with people of other races, cultures, and backgrounds.  We need to try and recognize and accept our differences and be proud of them and try to learn from each other. 

But for that to work, we have to stop with the exclusion and hate. It's long overdue.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

I HATE Not Knowing

Uncertainty sucks.  I am dealing with a lot of uncertainty at the moment.  If you have been following my blog, then you know that I do not like my husband's company -- mainly because they treat their employees horribly and the management SUCKS.  I see proof of this everyday, but about 18 months ago, they told everyone of the supervisors (which is what my husband is) that over the next year and a half, they were going to be eliminating positions.  They told them to think of the next 18 months as one big job interview where they could prove their worth to the company.  I thought that it sounded an awful lot like psychological warfare.  It has had little effect on my husband who has a very "Zen" approach of "Whatever will be, will be -- worrying about it won't change it."  However, for me, with my lists and budgets and contingency plans, the last 18 months have been torturous. 

I like stability and security.  I have had the knowledge of April 2012 looming in the back of my mind, gnawing at my subconscious every time I try to make plans.  Can we go on vacation?  I don't know because I don't know what our situation will be.  Should I replace this or that for the house?  I am not sure that it would be wise since we might need that money in a few weeks.  It is ever present in my thoughts as I try to plan things. 

Then, this week, I discovered that my husband's unit is the only one that has not settled on their final staff.  All of the other units have already told their employees who will and who won't have a job.  AND -- those who have been notified that their positions are being eliminated have been allowed to apply for the positions in my husband's unit.  Which means that if there are 20 guys in his unit vying for the 15 open positions, now they are not just competing against each other, but also all of the other people in his plant that have been told that their positions will no longer exist.  What a horrible way to deal with people -- these guys all have their own situations with homes and families and some of them are about to have their worlds turned upside down.  It almost makes me hope that he won't get one of those positions and we could just go back to Alabama and start over.  Almost.

Then yesterday, I stupidly went online and started looking at the school that my oldest will transfer to next year for the 5th grade.  I found out that it is only ranked 5 out of 10 on  They have a history of overcrowding, disciplinary problems, and bullying issues.  And their academics are below the state average (which isn't saying much).  So now, I am worried about him getting beat up and picked on in his new school, as well as still being concerned about the elementary school where my 2nd oldest goes.  The 3rd child (who we think might be on the spectrum) will start there next year.  She does well in her little preschool where she is one of 8 kids in her class, but I am worried about how she will do in a much larger classroom where she could very well be one of 25.  So I started looking for the better schools in our general area.  I found out that we wouldn't have to move far, and since we rent, moving was (in theory) a feasible possibility.  But then I realized that the houses for rent in those better school districts are $800 or more a month higher rent than where we are now.  There goes that solution.  So I am gearing up to go all "Mama Bear" next year to keep my kids safe.  That is, if we are still here, of course.

How sad is it that I am now sort of hoping that my husband gets fired so that we can go "home" to Alabama, get in a better job situation and a better school district?  Finances be damned -- we would make it work and probably be happier.  I'd have such a big support system that I could work if I had to as well, thus helping with the financial strain.  In the meantime, I will keep trolling the job boards and looking for something better, closer to home.

I know that this isn't a funny fact, as I re-read it, I realize that it is sort of depressing.  Sorry about that.  But I started writing other posts and couldn't stay focused because THIS -- all of this crap -- was too much on my mind.  So hopefully now that I have it all out, I can (sort of) let it go.  Yeah, probably not really.