I recently read Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. I had always heard people talking about Audre Lorde, but I just never got round to picking up any of her material until now. It was quite the education; I loved it and would happily recommend anyone pick up her material. It’s not as dense as reading Toni Morrison (in that I was not checking the meaning of every tenth word) but just as sharp and piercing in her arguments.
The emerging theme from the book is how do we get free / past the chains imposed because of our race, class, gender, or sexual orientation? Which remains a valid question today despite some of her writings being over 40 years old. Yes, there have been slight shifts, but I will be honest that as I read some of her arguments, it also felt like little had also changed.
Her work definitely confirms that racism is the ultimate distraction.
Having said that, some of her writing and thoughts made me very uncomfortable especially when I applied my true north, which is the Bible and so I wasn’t fully proselytised, but it was quite informative and challenged or refined some of my thinking.
From the specific essay titled Poetry is not a Luxury I loved the idea of poetry as giving language to experiences that are unique in a living way not the sterile way that forefathers previously considered. Her later work also talks of the low barriers to entry to writing poetry compared to say a novel that requires time, space and income while everyone can write a poem, perhaps not me, but certainly most people can.
The essay Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist’s Responseblew my mind and particularly this quote on page 74:
The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself. And the best way I can do this is to be who I am and hope that he will learn from this not how to be me, which is not possible, but how to be himself.
Another essay that spoke to me and I felt so deeply that I read it over days and not in one sitting was Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred and Anger. I love how she charts the anger that women feel – the source and how it plays out across various scenarios. Having done that so well, a part of me could understand why but I also struggled to understand why Black women then turn on each other, we don’t turn that anger outwards but at each other. Throughout the chapter, you certainly feel the anger, but it is so contained and well explained. She also talks of someone grieving the death of her mother and how sad she was that no one would see and love her as her mother did – her mother felt her, saw her, and loved her in her entirety. In one breath I felt my mom’s love and hoped that my daughter always the knows the same of me. Finally, from page 66, I loved this quote:
Mothering ourselves means learning how to be both kind and demanding in the teeth of failure as well as in the face of success, and not misnaming either.
I also loved the essay, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.
We are halfway through the BSF Study of Matthew and the lesson I am getting in this season of my Christian walk is just how similar I am to my toddler. And it is a very humbling lesson.
I obviously have a toddler and spend so much time with her. Now toddlers are amazing little people. Funny, impulsive, willful, have no idea of what danger is or what could happen in ever situation. They are loveable but can also be tiring and that is exactly how I have seen myself revealed through the first 13 chapters we have looked at thus far.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22 - 25)
In the James citation above, we see that when we look intently at God’s Laws, we should our true selves magnified and this should draw us to repentance and to a deeper and more mature relationship with Christ. If we look, feel drawn to a particular response and then just as quickly forget, then its pointless. So while tough, its encouraging that I can see myself as maybe God sees me and this has two results. One, that I am striving towards God in deeper obedience to His will and two: it is helping me parent my daughter differently. Even when I mess up or frustrate Him, He still loves me. There are consequences to sin and all the mess I get into and while painful, I can trust God that His love and ways are perfect. I should and will show my daughter the right way, emphasize that, discipline when she falls short but over and above that in all ways I will continue to love her and show her that she is loved. Ultimately, my heart is filled with such gratitude that this is the God I love and serve and how faithful to me He is. What a faithful and loving God.
I really enjoyed watching Amanda Gorman, the young poet who spoke at President Biden’s Inauguration. I caught myself wishing that my little girl would one day dream big and then work towards achieving her goals and desires. Go girls, go!!
I love Cup of Jo. The blog content and the community of readers that gather around it. It is a very beautiful space on the internet and what I secretly wish for this here little space.
She recently had a blog post on family rituals and I decided to steal a few to start with my child(ren) as they get older. So here goes and please also check it out.
To keep things simple at Christmas, we each get 4 gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I am planning to use this model with my children (someday)!
My MIL had three curious kids who would shake gifts put under the tree before Christmas day. She invented Christmas “code names” to write on the presents. From then on the kids didn’t know whose presents were whose and would stop peeking. On Christmas day each kid gets to guess who’s assigned to each code name and she reveals the results at the end. My husband is now 33 and the tradition is still alive! She always chooses a different theme. Sometimes they are so abstract we spend hours just trying to guess what the theme is. Last year it was types of dairy cow (Holstein, Normande, Guernsey, Belted Galloway) and the year before it was cities in Ireland (Cork, Killkenny, Limerick, Dungarvan). One year she did locations of WWII battle sites. She keeps us on our toes and I always look forward to it.
“When my (very adult now) kids were smaller, I began asking for their self-portraits as my birthday gift. Many years later, I enjoy the most incredible archive of their growing artistic skills, evolving concepts of self, and interests at the time. It’s still what I ask for, and they happily explore new media, formats and methods each year — often their portraits coordinate incredibly well with no overt communication. Can’t recommend this enough. Only wish we’d begun even earlier!”
A nice tradition I have started with my kids is giving a special book on their birthday. Instead of a greeting card, we pick a book that means something that year (a book we borrowed many times from the library, a little story about a place we travelled to, about getting a sibling, etc) and we write a note on the front page or wherever we can fit it talking about memorable things of that year and hopes for the year ahead. I plan to give my kids a book with a love note every year for as long as I live
She doesn’t know it yet, but I invest money each month for my goddaughter, in the amount of her age. $1 a month when she was 1, $2 when she turned two, ect ect. She will be 11 next month! I plan to give her the money when she graduates high school or turns 18. It is a fairly low financial commitment from me each month, but should hopefully be a very nice gift for her one day. AND it will be a great lesson in compound interest and investing in your future 😉
The night before the first day of school we eat under the dining room table instead of on top of it. My kids are little (4 and 7) so they find this exciting and a wacky way to end summer and start the year!
I have occasionally thought that of the working parents, some were better than others but today, it hit me as they say in Kiswahili kila mtu apambane na hali yake (each one to contend with their situation / bear their cross). I also read this post that chronicled how some parents are sharing their child care needs – each of us is doing what needs to be done. That is all.
So how are we sharing the responsibilities?
We discuss calendars on Sunday evening and coordinate so we do not have clashing calendars. This is necessary because one parent works in the morning as the other does child care/ house and all those demands.
We each took on more around the house based on interest and strengths. Having said that, I suspect as the mom I do more 😦
Early on, we shared with our respective bosses and teams the situation at home and the impact on overall availability and deadlines.
We regularly check in with each other because its tough for each of us, on different days and in different ways. And we need to carry each other because as I keep saying to the Mr, if we think we are hanging on by a thread now, we cannot afford to break down or get sick.
I/ we both dropped our house cleanliness / tidy standards because no one has time or energy to keep those up. Also, no one is visiting the other so whatever.
Lastly and most importantly, to be easy on myself. I had some grand plans for this year, both in terms of school, work and personally but God in His sovereignty has placed me here and now. So I occasionally say to myself, chill, be easy.
Underscoring all of this is such great privilege that we both kept our jobs and work in fields that allow us to work remotely. Coupled with this is a child who has the beginnings of being resilient and who rolls with the punches given by Mama and Papa.
In person, these feelings and reflections on the past year are mostly joyful but definitely extremely emotional. I cannot put into words what this year has been like but I would like to try.
Motherhood takes a village. You can do it alone but it is so much better when shared with people you love and trust and with whom you can point your children towards. A pal of mine shared with me that you need four or five people that you trust enough to say to your kid if you cannot talk to me about anything, you can speak to ….. I definitely have those people, both in family and friends.
Pregnancy takes a toll on you the mother and it takes a while for your body to adjust, both physically, emotionally, hormonally and just. Be patient with yourself also, don’t stress too much about your looks.
A baby’s personality develops at birth, observe and work with that.
A friend told me about a mothers’ instinct at my baby shower and I was doubtful. It is true that it does kick in and that I am the best person equipped to be her mother. No one can be a better mom than me.
The dynamics of your relationship shift significantly. Talk about it, review where you both are/ how you are feeling and to discuss. Little people can otherwise impose a lot of pressure on your relationship.
Having a baby helped me refine how much I love people. I also finally understood how much my mom loves me. If she loves me even a little of what I feel for her then I am loved. I also know what it means when I miss someone because I sometimes miss her so much my heart and body actually aches. How does my mom cope?
I learnt that I can be efficient with my time. I commit better to things immediately. I can function with little to no sleep.
A friend is waiting to have her first baby any time now and a popular blog I read often asks participants what advice they would give a first time mama and only now am I kind of ready to attempt answering that.
Over the holiday I got a bit tired of listening to the same subscribed podcast content so I challenged myself to listen to shows I wouldn’t normally do or I had heard but did not want to commit to full subscription just yet. So here are some of those fantastic episodes.
I felt my back stand up when I first listened to her views on infidelity so I wasn’t open at all but I liked it so much I listened to this other episode on sexlessness.
Radio Diaries’ Teenage Diariesrevisited. I love that kind of radio soooo much. I was hanging on the edge of my seat listening. Definitely subscribing. As a teen I would have loved to participate in such an activity, to be honest, even now I would.
This being the last week of my maternity break, I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt as a new mom. Please share your own lessons in the comments, thanks.
Newborns make interesting sounds right from the beginning. Leaving the hospital the little one giggled … we should have known she had grand plans for us later that night.
They try to turn their necks from side to side initially, at least she did.
They are your co-partner in breastfeeding. FACT.
Breastfeeding makes you feel insecure – get a good lactation consultant on standby and attend a good birthing class that included breastfeeding lessons.
It does take a village, first kids are naturally born resilient coz how do they survive with parents who don’t know what they are doing????
… but you should also control the type of visitors you get. In the early days I caught myself making lunch and teas for visitors, very very sad.
Trust your instincts always. This took me a while to get used to but it does kick in, thank God.
You fall in love with them coz they pin you with that intense penetrating gaze and then one day they just smile and you are captivated.
I will honestly admit to the fact that I did not initially fall in love, like day one. It took me a week or two but when I got there, I was fully in love …
Newborns aren’t fazed by hiccups.
They hate to bath, at least she did. It took three full months for it to become bearable.
You are initially tired, lack of sleep and childbirth, but you soon learn to cope.
The nature of the relationship with your partner will change. The most important thing is to talk about it and give each other some grace. Also, get some zzz when you can, lack of sleep exacerbates errrrthing.
Baby breath and baby farts don’t smell at all
Changing dirty diapers is actually not the worst thing.
The best part of it all though is getting to know her an experience that I would liken to a slowly opening rose bud.