Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Posts Tagged ‘Family

There’s Nothing Between the World and Me

I often wonder what it is like to live in real fear for your child. A mental exercise steeped in racial and class privilege.  I don’t live in fear of much of anything. I have fear of what others think of me, but even as I face legal issues related to alcoholism, I have almost no fear of jail, or social consequences.  I certainly do not fear the loss of my child’s life at the hands of those meant to protect him. I do not fear that he will be seen as a threat.  I only ever hear that he is well-mannered and sweet, his occasional outbursts or rude behaviors seen as quirky or normal.

Color-blind racism is an academic notion with real, devastating human consequences. We discuss it as something to quantify and research, to count and run t-tests of what policy is working and which white groups are “disenchanted”.   Opposite Bizzarro World, Ta-Nehisi Coates  explains to a willfully ignorant nation that this well intentioned attempt to dismiss race and along with it the history of brutality and oppression is futile.  More than futility, though, it is strategic denial of responsibility.

Black bodies have never been autonomous. How to explain to your child that their body is not their own?  I talk about consent with my son.  I tell him he doesn’t have to hug anyone he doesn’t want to and Meme can’t demand a smooch if he isn’t feeling like it.  I explain to him that he should not touch others without asking and that no one should touch him without an invitation.  I do not have to see him watch the torture porn of black bodies on television, bodies brutalized and replayed over and over so that white audiences will understand the reality of the situation.  He does not need “The Talk” except that one about the birds and the bees (Coates 2015:12).

I drove last summer to see my niece.  She’s a graduate student in Tennessee. We had a rental car with Texas plates.  I was driving with my husband and two very tall teenaged boys.  We headed home and it was late, after midnight.  I was pulled over for speeding or not using my turn-signal, something mundane.  My husband reached into the glove box without warning as I rolled down my window…and nothing happened.  My sons were not seen as threatening even though they are pushing six feet the both of them.  My husband’s sudden movements were not viewed as dangerous or that of a person reaching for a weapon.  I was warned to slow down or be careful and with a charming smile, sent on my way.

A mile down the road a Black man was pulled off his motorcycle by that same officer.

I had a conversation with my boys about their rights and how to interact with police.  And I told them that this conversation was wildly different than the conversations their friend’s parents had with their friends.  But, I didn’t fear.

What a privilege it is to only wonder about fear and to never panic for your children for existing in the world as children.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

Real Dads Don’t Leave…Real Moms Don’t Make Them

For whatever reason, you guys seem to like it better when I talk about myself.  All this time, I’m planning to educate the world and teach Intro to Sociology via my blog and yet, all you crazy people want is to read about my personal life.

Well, fine then.

Yesterday, I was reading Single Dad Laughing’s post about dads who leave.  I have a lot of experience with that.  My own parents divorced when I was five and that was the 80’s when non-custodial parents really didn’t get much.  I’m not excusing it, I’m just sayin’.

There are a lot of reasons moms and dads don’t work things out even after the divorce happens.  I’m not sure I understand most of them because I generally think that the adult ego winds up severely limiting the best options for the kids involved.  SDL’s point yesterday was that basically dad’s need to “man up” (Lord have mercy I hate that phrase) and my point is that parents need to grow-up.

I got clean in January 2006.  In March of that year, I met my ex-husband.  I was seriously lonely, having given up all my social outlets, I was broke with hardly anything to eat and practically living in self-inflicted squalor, all while attempting to go to school for the third time. (More on the living conditions at another time.)  ExH came in and made sure I was fed, gave me an ultimatum to stay clean and helped me clean up the shit hole I’d turned my house into.  That’s the good.

The bad and the seriously ugly aren’t really all that important because I’m not too interested in bashing my son’s father on the internet.  We’ll just say that I really didn’t understand all facets of domestic abuse until I took Violence against Women shortly after our divorce.  In that class, we talked about myths surrounding violence and abuse, one of which is that men who abuse their wives or partners can be good fathers.

I do not agree that this is a myth.

It may very well be the exception, but I’m not sure “myth” is the right word.  I’m glad I did not accept that, either, or my son would have seriously missed out.

Here’s the deal.  When you decide to get divorced, no matter how justified and right that decision is, you are doing a disservice to your child in most situations. (Yes, again, there are exceptions and those include mortal danger to you and your child, sexual abuse, etc.) In most instances, each parent is fully capable of acting like an adult, but in so many instances, they choose to act like children; one child bullying the other or both act as if the world revolves around them.

I understand the wish, as a woman running from a controlling relationship, the need even, to run as far and as fast as possible.  Boy howdy, do I .  But, it isn’t, er, wasn’t all about me.  It was all about my son.

When the ExH demanded joint custody, I was furious.  It had never occurred to me that he would even want that, much less that it would even be a good idea to consider.

I’m so glad I did.

I realized how important it was that I sucked up my own discomfort through all the months of bickering and feeling out a new type of relationship called “co-parenting” when I interned at the Carroll County Mediation Center last summer.  So many divorce cases where one parent can’t or won’t pay child support and the other parent holds the child as collateral until the non-custodial parent pays up.  The kids are always stuck in the middle, fed poison by one side and neglected by the other.  As SDL said yesterday, when you’re the dad (well, the “other” parent, I think is more appropriate) you fight for your kid.  You do what you’re supposed to and you work out a way to successfully build a relationship with your kid in spite of less than satisfactory conditions.

My son sees his father at least two days a week, barring special circumstances, but our regular agreement is 3-4 days a week with each parent.

Sometimes, that really sucks.

I can’t move out of the country, hell I can’t even move to a new state.  I do lots of driving and shuffling back and forth.  I feel like the ExH will always have some say in my life, practically forever and that’s something I really don’t like.  But you know what?  I get a lot of things other single mom’s don’t get.

I get to have at least two nights a week to myself.  I can be Alana and not Mommy.  I can do school work uninterrupted.  I can have a social life with my friends and The Boyfriend…all things single parents doing it alone have to fight for.

My son gets both parents.  He deserves to have both of us 100% of the time, but the best we can do is around 50%, which really isn’t good enough, as far as I’m concerned.  He knows that both Mommy and Daddy love and adore him.  He knows that we made compromises we really didn’t want to make on a personal level in order to do the best for him.

I am so far away from being a Super Mom.  I have it so easy in comparison.  I get angry and yell and say things I shouldn’t.  I often have little patience and wonder if I should even be allowed to be a mother in the first place.  But, I do some things right.  Acting like a grown-up when it was the most important thing for my son was one of them.  I’d like to encourage others going through divorce and separation to consider maturity when weighing the options of behavior as the best choice.

I mean, I’m just sayin’.

Written by thelittlepecan

December 21, 2010 at 9:53 am

Posted in atheism

Tagged with , , ,