Friday, December 30, 2011

Ocuppied With Children

I have been completely amazed and inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Occupy Protests that have gone down in solidarity in other cities and countries.  The fact that people in this country are finally fed up with the ridiculously unequal distribution of wealth and resources and are realizing that if we are united the power can truly be with the people, is something I was almost convinced I would not get to witness in my lifetime.  I am humbled by those folks who have given up the comforts of their daily lives because they are so passionate about the need for change in our country.
Being socially responsible and standing up for justice and equality for all people are virtues that were installed in me by my own parents and are definitely some of the most important qualities I hope to pass on to my own girls.  The Occupy protests have stirred up intense emotions and internal conflict for me as I am torn between my desire to be an active participant in this movement and my responsibilities to my family.
How can I join in the protests when I have to pick up the girls from school?  How can I march in the streets when I have to take them to dance class, trumpet lessons and band practice?  As vital as these daily actions are, lately I have had to fight back feelings of guilt for conducting business as usual during these intense and volatile times.  But I have to ask myself if leaving my kids to join the protests is truly going to make the world a better place?  On one hand I want to set a good example for them, I want them to see their mama taking a stand against injustice so that they will grow up believing that they should always do something when there is a wrong being committed.  But on the other hand, I want to provide my girls with opportunities, support, caring and attention each day of their lives so that they grow up feeling safe, secure and loved.  Will more positive change come to the world from me joining the protesters to help intensify the strength of the 99% or from raising 3 confident, educated, happy girls?
I remember reading the biography of Ernesto "Che' Guevara, and learning that he left his kids when they were very young to continue to fight for revolutions in other countries.  He felt so strongly about changing the world that he was willing to give up being a father and raising his children (which seems to be a choice the majority of history's successful revolutionaries have had to make).  Did the impact he had on changing international laws, policies & social structures actually provide more for his children than anything he could have given them by staying at home with them?  Is it the seemingly small daily actions that truly have more profound impact than the large scale ones?  Can being there to tuck your kids into bed every night be a revolutionary act?  Is it even possible for someone to be both a parent and a revolutionary or does one have to give up one for the other?
Deep down I do believe that being present everyday of my kids' lives will have a profound impact on their healthy development but even if we are "Super Parents" our girls will never be able to lead truly successful and joyful lives if there continues to be such immense injustices and inequalities outside of our front door.  How bad does it have to get for other people's children before I am willing to sacrifice my relationship with my own children?  Maybe the key to ending all of this disparity and conflict is for the world to learn to love and care for everybody elses' children as deeply and unconditionally as we feel for our own.
At least then I would know someone was tucking my girls into bed while I was out Occupying...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Daycare Blues: The Most Horrible Day of Rio's Life

Tomorrow at around 9:30am, my heart will be broken.  I am taking Rio to spend the morning at her new daycare where, starting in January when I return to working full time, she will be spending all day Monday-Friday.  The first day of daycare drop-off is a special kind of torture of an especially brutal kind.  I have gone through this exact scenario twice before but contrary to popular belief: IT DOES NOT GET ANY EASIER!  In fact, this time feels the worst of all...
Maybe it's because I know exactly what's coming to me.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will cry hysterically when I try to walk out of the room and I will physically have to unattach her from my body.  She has spent everyday of her entire life with me and she loves her Mama something fierce.  The first couple of months of her life she didn't even like being with her own Papa and it is only recently that she will calmly go to and stay with her Grandmas who live upstairs.  Now I am going to leave her alone with a complete stranger in a brand new place.  She is going to be miserable.
I am fully aware of what a blessing I received to be able to stay home with her for an entire year, which is the longest I stayed with any of the girls.  Maybe being with Rio for so long is why this round of daycare drop-off feels like the most painful ever.  We have had a blast.  I have deeply loved every minute of getting to play with her, cuddle her and care for her and honestly I am going to miss her even more than she will miss me.
It's only for 3 hours and she won't be able to remember it when she is older, but tomorrow will be one of the most monumental experiences of her life.  It is the moment when I send her out into the big, bad, beautiful world.  It will be her first bond and relationship that she forms with a person completely on her own.  She will learn all kinds of social norms and lessons and start to develop solid pieces of her identity.  I know in my hearts of hearts that me going to back to work and Rio going to daycare is truly what is best for her, for myself and for our entire family.  At 1 year old, her attachment to me is heartwarming and adorable but later in her life, that same attachment can very easily turn annoying and impeding.  Even though turning my back and walking away from the love of my life when she is in extreme distress goes against every fiber of my being, I know that having to do hard and painful things for the sake of my family is what earns me the coveted title of "Mama".  Hey, both Justice and Chuli flipped out on me the first day (or week, or month!) I left them at daycare, and now I am lucky if I can get a hurried good-bye from them as they leave me in the dust when they run into school.
Tomorrow morning will be rough.  I won't be able to cry and scream hysterically and I won't have someone to hold me and try everything they can to make me feel better but I can guarantee I will shed some serious tears and spend some time feeling like the most horrible Mama on the planet.  I can only hope that the incredible amount of work I am able to accomplish when I have no little ones demanding my attention will help cushion the blow a little.  That, and that these 3 hours past by quicker that any 3 hours in the history of time!