Saturday, December 7, 2013

"Mixed" but not Confused

I don't know what book this is from, but I thought it a lovely piece of artwork that shows our lovely diversity :)

I just started hearing/learning more about parents who have adopted multi-ethnic/cultural children.  I am struck by the bigotry I'm seeing and the bondage there seems to be, things that will affect a mama's ability to bond completely with her precious adopted child.  And for that reason I will be addressing this issue here since I consider it to be important for the asceticism of mothers who have opened their hearts and homes to the little ones God has blessed them with through adoption.

I'm half black and half white but I do not make grey.  That was one thing I had to figure out as a little girl when I found that my white and black crayons did not make the color I am.  I wasn't really half black and half white, I was half brown and half manila :)  When the Twix candy bar came out it fully explained my family.  My dad was the chocolate, my mom the white cookie crunch and I was the caramel:)  When I was 5 years old we had a cross burned into our lawn.  We didn't live in the south.  We lived in the Bay Area in California, Cupertino, the birth place of Apple Computers.  What I learned that day was there were people full of hate in our world.  The focus wasn't the color of their skin, but the hatred in the hearts of people who would do such a thing.  My life experience showed me that racial hatred came in all shapes, sizes and colors.   My mom did a good job teaching me about others and myself. I know my brother, has had a somewhat different experience as a darker skinned mixed ethnicity man.

There seems to be a lot of guilt being place on these "mixed" families, families willing to accept little ones in the name of Christ.  Guilt doesn't promote the connection a mother should be able to make with her child, it produces an "us and them" mentality which shouldn't be present within a family. Accepting guilt as a parent because you are white, makes your non-white child a "victim" which does not promote joy or freedom and does not strengthen a family, it breaks it down. When we adopt we are not simply "hosting" a child from their country of origin or from their family of origin. We are to embrace them the same way God embraces us as adopted sons and daughters.  It is wonderful to explore the cultures of the children we adopt and to share our own cultural traditions with them.  When we have children, birth or adopted, we lay down our lives to become mothers. We embrace our children as our children, just as Christ embraces us, we don't separate them by color or cultural background. I don't think my mom spent too much time trying to help me "embrace" my blackness or my whiteness but to look to Christ, embrace HIM and appreciate the me He created. She taught me about me and also that it is not all about me.

If you are a mama with precious children who do not look like you, God bless you for mama-ing without bondage to a system that suggests parents and children should look alike.  Thank you for seeing your child as an icon of God.  Thank you for laying down your life, society's expectations and opinions, and sometimes even losing friends and family, for the sake of your children.

I am half black and half white but I am not grey.  I am the mixed, but not confused, mother of 8 children (black, white and brown).  I go forward as a mama with confidence, not because of  the color of my skin or the color of my children but because of the confidence I have found in Christ. 

May the peace of Christ be with you today!!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Blessings of a Mediocre Family

                                           What we wish we were like all the time                                           REAL LIFE!

I admit it, I'm not a perfect wife, mother or friend.  I get discouraged by this fact, but I consider it the Lord's built in mechanism to keep me humble.  We read about these amazing mothers who encouraged their struggling child in a direction of interest and that child bloomed into an amazing concert pianist or architect or chef age 9.  We see the mother in the store who, when faced with a child throwing a monumental tantrum, peacefully addresses her distressed little bundle, calming her toddler, and all those around her, with her soothing words.  I am not that mom. 

Of course I try and calm my children, but I also throw threats at them like snow balls hoping one will hit the target so the madness can be over.  I reflect AFTER a meltdown (mine or the child's) on what I should have done differently.  I have been known to respond in a less than grown up way when my child complains about how I made him mad.  When one of my son's says, "I'm just not going to talk to you anymore", I don't think I'm supposed to say, "thank goodness!", but sometimes I do.  Does being a mediocre family mean we're failing?  I don't think so.

This Thanksgiving one of my sons got angry, which isn't an unusual occurrence.  He threw a little tantrum because I was having everyone do one extra chore that day so the house would be clean and welcoming for our one extra guest.  I offered to pay him because his job was a little bigger.  I went downstairs to check on his progress and there he was, in bed, with a book, willfully ignoring what had been asked of him.  Instead of looking for a "teachable moment" I thanked him for volunteering to do the extra chore for free!  I reminded him the focus of the day was thankfulness and that even though there was one extra job there were plenty of positives to enjoy that day.  His response..."what do I have to be thankful for?"

Yep, I lost it a little.  I've been thinking a lot about the many "first world" complaints we have in our country.  We complain about the water not getting hot quickly enough or the internet being soooo slllooowww.  We get frustrated when the microwave doesn't work and we have to (gasp) use the stove to reheat a meal.  And right there in front of me was my sweet young first world problem king!  He wanted to know what he had to be thankful for? Fine. 

1. You have two arms and two legs and they work, without pain!  You can run and jump and hold things and feed yourself.

2.  Your eyes work and you don't have a disease.

3. You have a house and food and transportation and clothes.

I went on like this for a bit but nothing seemed to be getting through to him and he actually TURNED HIS BACK ON ME!  I believe that in every mama there is a black mama (stereotypical or not...) who waits for these moments.  I think even the most reserved women, regardless of their ethnicity, feel a neck move and "oh no he di'int" coming on.  At that moment I must admit I got in his face.  I decided to ask him some questions.

Q: Has anyone ever put a cigarette out on your body in your life?
A: No.

Q: Has anyone ever whipped you?
A: No.

Q: Have you ever been made to sleep naked out in the cold not allowed to eat for several days?
A: No.

"Then I think you have A LOT to be thankful for.  We're not perfect, but you have a family who loves you even though you make it clear often that you resent US because life didn't turn out differently for you.  But we LOVE YOU ANYWAY (which I don't think is as convincing with a raised voice...).  WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOU ANYWAY!  You have a biological family who loves you!  You have a home where you are wanted not just tolerated.  If you are going to be in a mood keep it here we don't want it at the Thanksgiving meal and I will be sad if you are not there.  It is your choice.  Now, you finish your chores and you decide what you want to do. Oh, and don't ever turn your back on me it's disrespectful."

I turned and went upstairs.  See.  Not superwoman.  Not a halo in sight.  But guess what?  My son turned his attitude around and did come upstairs and really did enjoy the festivities.  He helped pour the sparkling cider and was full of compliments over the food and how nicely his brother decorated the table.  I acted as if nothing had happened (even though deep down inside I wanted to revisit the whole mess so he could tell me how right I'd been...Lord have mercy on me a sinner!)  My son came to me a bit later, put his arms around me for a big mama bear hug and apologized and even listed several things he was thankful for, which for him was a big peace offering.

I'm not saying we shouldn't aspire to be those inspiring parents, but sometimes just holding it all together...being "mediocre"...can accomplish great things because of the One who holds us all together. Take courage and keep walking forward :)

May the peace of Christ be with you dear mamas!