Photo: My little Destruction Bears figured out that the beach chairs can function as more than just seating devices. They can be fun toys! Suddenly, little boys need to collapse the chairs on themselves or on their brother. It was madness. Hilarious madness.
I was up at 4:30 this morning baking cinnamon buns and sewing. The cinnamon buns served many purposes: satisfy a craving, get me up early, and even do something nice for someone else. While my husband and boys certainly benefited from my work this morning, I really made the buns for the preschool teachers. “It’s been a pretty busy week! I figured ya’ll earned some sugar!”
I dropped off the pyrex full of sweet goodness, then I hopped in the car and crossed the town border to leave a loaf of oatmeal bread for my pastor at church. I was supposed to host her here at the house on Wednesday, but she cancelled last minute. “And I was so looking forward to that bread. :(” So, I baked her a loaf anyway. She wasn’t expecting it. I dropped it off with a note: “With warmth and well wishes. –K”
This was one of those weeks when it would have been so much easier and more efficient for me to keep my head down, keep working on my projects and withdraw. School has been intense. Church is cold and strange and uncomfortable. I miss the hum and rhythm of familiar voices far away from here.
My Quiet Thoughts are on expressions of warmth. The things we do simply because we can and we want to, for people who we care about. I’m thinking about how, even when I don’t feel a full connection to this community, or always feel welcome or understood, I still find myself giving and feeling better for it. I am actively wondering if this is a healthy sort of action and coping mechanism, or if, eventually, I’ll hit a wall. A hard, immovable, immobilizing wall.
There is a macro and a micro to my internal conversation. The micro being just as I say–The boys love their time at preschool, and they are having the preschool experience that I really hoped they would. But I don’t feel like I have the greatest relationship with their teachers. It’s professional enough, but I know that they think I’m too hard on them and that I expect too much too soon. It has made for a few awkward and uncomfortable moments this year. As a mother, I’ve had times when I’ve wanted to assert myself more. I have wanted to express that, ultimately, my vision for what I want for my sons is what matters. But, as a former teacher, I have restrained myself, reminded myself that I respect the profession and that they are doing a great job teaching my boys. So, I got myself up this morning. Those women worked really hard this week, putting in two late nights and participating in a Saturday event tomorrow. I remember the end-of-the-year pressure days when I was teaching. So I baked them cinnamon rolls. Not because they are my favorite people, but because I respect them and what they do.
The Macro comes from an article that I happened upon yesterday. There is much conversation about replacing racist, useless Andrew Jackson with courageous, awesome Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill. The article actually argues against doing this, stating that Harriet was fighting against everything that American Capitalism is and was, that she fought for her country by fighting its oppression and exclusion of her (and women like her). To put her on the bill, the piece argues, would actually be an affront to her legacy. It would dishonor all of the work that she did.
I enjoyed the article because its points are excellent, but I thought after I read it, “if we Black women choose to divorce ourselves from all of the institutions that hurt us, we would simply stand alone in this world. Even from each other.” If we, in our rediscovery of our voices, the reclamation of our history and our assertion of our power, choose to abstain from everything in retribution for all of the past wrongs, don’t we, in essence, silence ourselves? By denying Harriet a prominent spot on the most powerful currency in the world, do we not deny her legacy, keeping it relegated to Black History Month, rushed lessons in elementary school, discussion tables at the Afro-American Studies department? I would think that Harriet would scream to be seen. See me, see what I did, see what it has done for you. Remember me, remember my time here, remember that today is your day to build on what I started for you.
Invisibility is so easy. It really is easy just to take it, to ignore and be ignored. There must be a middle road between the ostentatious and the marginalized. I am seeking it one baked good at a time. If, by extending a loaf of bread or a bun of butter and sugar, you see me and hear me, then I have done well. Sometimes the encounter is brief, but other times… I am learning that the simple extension of warmth, literal and figurative, echoes far longer than I could imagine. Even in the cold that is New England society! If, by simply seeing her likeness on a $20, a person stops and wonders, remembers, or thinks (or wikis) about Harriet Tubman and her deeds, we have done well for her legacy.
To withdraw serves no purpose.
I sent in my story to Ploughshares yesterday. Of course, as soon as I did it (and sent a copy to a few choice people), I immediately regretted every word I put on the page and all of my life choices. I doubt I’ll win, but I can say that I gave it my best shot (whatever that is. However horrible that is!). The Auction is tomorrow and I am really hoping that the sleep sack sells well. Wish me luck, dear reader!
It is a Friday in mid-May and Massachusetts is, finally, in full leaf. Yards are green, smiles are on, and the sun is consistently warm. I hope that you were seen today, dear reader. That someone looked you in the eye, perhaps gave you a smile, and saw you for a moment. I hope that you saw someone else today, too, in their fullness. If you didn’t, if you haven’t, try to do so this weekend. I hope you find yourself reading this weekend, or staring out a window in appreciation of the new visual pallet. I wish you something fresh and light on a plate, or something brilliantly grilled by a master. I wish you two good stories: one you tell, and one you listen to. And I wish you a kiss on the cheek, dear reader, to remind you that you are loved, and by virtue of being so loved, you are never invisible.
Until Monday, take care.
Oh… Mama loves her new toys…