I am going to do 13-23 more hours on the fence. I want to finish this week. I suppose that means that I will be painting all day today and tomorrow and maybe Wednesday. The kids will *love* that. Not. They are very very done with me doing a task that requires intense concentration and that they not walk up and touch me. But it’s coming along!
Yesterday I started the work of unwinding the blackberry bramble from the trellis it has been on for the past year and a half. Hard to believe that the bush has been in my yard for only a year and a half. That’s one massive sucker. I have probably another five hours of work before it is transferred over to the new trellis structure (which mostly consists of retired Twisted Monk rope. Ha. My yard is visually full of it. My stuff is far too old for safe suspensions and I don’t do enough floor bondage to care. Not that I suspend anyone lately. Sigh.).
Ice skating was wicked fun and I didn’t fall *once*. I feel so proud of myself. I went off and did some speed laps on my own when the rest of my family was worn out from falling. I find it strange that my thirties are the decade of physical independence and strength. I have the courage to try things now. I am not so afraid of failing that I stay home and cry instead of showing up. I have always been afraid. It is weird to not let fear run very much of my life.
“Falling is part of the learning process. If you are afraid of falling you will never be good. You can’t get real mad either. You just have to accept it and try to do better.”
I learn these things as I teach them.
I went and talked to an old acquaintance who is a Contra dance leader person last night. I am curious about bringing the home school kids to a Contra dance because I think it is potentially interesting to them. It sounds like I should wait until more kids are closer to ten. That makes sense. That’s ok, I don’t need to do everything this year. I will start trying to teach some things in the park though as pre-prep.
It is kind of weird constantly thinking about scaffolding. What do I want them to be able to do when they are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, fifty that requires preparation at this point. There are more things than anyone wants to think about.
Life is about a series of A/B choices. As you go on your list narrows. Do you want children–yes or no. Did you actually have children–yes or no. Do you want to work or stay at home–pick one. When you make choices you close a lot of doors. I get this. I don’t think that one road is morally superior than other roads. I don’t think that picking home schooling proves I love my kids more than anyone else. It is just the A/B choice I wanted.
Recently I wrote a fairly defensive six page letter to my grandmother-in-law. She has been expressing clearly that she has never seen home schooling go well and she does not approve. Ok. Well, I know a lot of people for whom it has gone well so if we are doing the anecdote thing I win. If we are looking at actual fucking data then I win and win and win and win. So fuck you. Home schooling has been around since the dawn of time so can we not act like the American public school system has a lock on education? Give me a break.
But I don’t say “fuck” in letters to the grandmother. Even I recognize some limits.
What I have been doing instead is writing long philosophical letters where I mention all the educational theorists and I talk about the strengths and advantages of different systems and I talk about schema and scaffolding and all the shit I’m doing.
I knew I wanted to home school my children when I was seventeen years old. I went to college, graduate school, and I got a teaching credential because I wanted to home school my kids and I believed it required preparation. No, I really and truly don’t believe that everyone should home school their kids. However I think I am fully fucking qualified and I’m not going to be nice to people who imply otherwise.
I prepared for this for more than ten years before having children. I did that knowing that there is the very real possibility that I will home school my kids till they are seven or so and then they will say, “Screw you mom, I’m going to school.” I did that knowing that if I had a child who was blind, deaf, autistic, fill in the blank special needs, I probably wouldn’t be able to home school. I prepared anyway and hoped for the best. My children appear to be very “normal” in terms of development. Shanna is advanced verbally but not emotionally or in terms of education. She just can talk. Calli is very on track to be average.
I can handle average kids. I really can. I understand that lots of people worry about home schooling as an educational choice–I worry too. But I have yet to meet someone who comes out of the public education without major gaps in their education… I can’t believe that home schooling would magically be worse. Not if I seriously undertake it as my profession.
I’ve tried to figure out how to use a word other than vocation. Now that I know I am using vocation wrong (it has way less emphasis than I want) I’m not even sure how to talk about it. Some children know very young they want to grow up and be a nun. It’s a calling. I knew I wanted to home school.
I want this intensity of relationship. I understand that not everyone wants it. I am not trying to claim that this intensity is the healthiest or the best or superior for everyone. Noah sure as shit couldn’t do what I am doing with the kids. He would go bananas. He gets very short with them by the end of a weekend. I would not leave Noah alone with the kids for more than a week by himself. I mean, no one would die or anything. They wouldn’t have much fun though.
I have been alone for most of my life in a way that other people can’t understand. Moving around all the time such that you literally don’t have friendships that last longer than three months is quite traumatic in and of itself without mentioning all the other shit in my life. I really am a freak. It is pretty verifiable if you go talk to medical professionals.
I want to be with people all the time. I want to be able to hug and touch people safely without them expecting me to offer blowjobs. I haven’t had a lot of that. I have spent most of my life believing that if I am not actively offering sex I should leave because no one is interested in my presence.
I don’t believe I “love my children more” because of the choices I make. I believe that I am using my children to meet my needs in some ways that could be massively unhealthy if I am not careful.
Shanna asks me why I see a therapist almost every time we go. She doesn’t want to be away from me for the hour of the appointment. She complains loudly. “You know how I cry all the time? Well, I cry because I’m thinking about things I need to talk about. No, I can’t talk to you about these things. It would be totally inappropriate. It is wrong for grown ups to bring their problems to children. I need someone to talk to. She helps me be a better mother.”
I am very careful that neither child becomes my “little mother”. That’s not what I want. I think that is very wrong. That is what my mother did to me. That is what my grandmother did to my mother. I am not passing on that generational wound. I believe that I (I’m not fucking talking about anyone else so don’t take this as a projection) would not be capable of taking care of my own shit and holding down a job. I think that if I had a job I would expect my kids to pick up a ton more slack than I do right now. I would expect them to “help me” because you have kids to help you–right? Isn’t that how the tradition goes?
I didn’t have kids to help me. I had kids because I want a life long relationship so bad it makes me shake with need. I had kids because I want a reason to not die and I don’t think I have very many good reasons. I don’t think other people are worth staying alive for. Other people don’t do much of anything to make my life a demonstrably better place to be. They can’t. It isn’t that they don’t care. It’s that they are living their lives and they can’t stop to take care of me. That’s not healthy in any way–there is even a word: codependence. I don’t expect people to do that. Hell, I don’t want anyone to stop their life to try and take care of me.
But being a parent means that I have to think about how relationships work all day every day. I have to do measurable work on myself to deserve this relationship. I have to change.
I was talking to a new person last night at a party. I don’t know how we got on this topic but we were discussing parental guidance with regard to reading. When I was eight my aunt (who was basically a foster mother) told me I wasn’t allowed to read Sweet Valley High books because they were too mature and graphic. (The kids made out in the sand at the beach or something.) I left her house and went back to my mother’s house where I read Bertrice Small books. Small is very into incest, pony play, harems, sodomy, raping, kidnapping, dildos, bestiality, LOTS of group sex.
That is, in a nutshell, the conundrum of my life. Those kind of hard-core pornography books were the only books my mom had in the house. I went between being punished for thinking about kissing a boy to being given a detailed instruction manual on how to have really graphic sex that I bloody well followed over and over.
I was eight when I started trying to memorize these books. What was I supposed to do in order to make people want me? I thought it was very important. I thought that was the only way people might let me be around. When the characters were taught how to behave in the harem I god damn took notes.
My children will not be reading Bertrice Small pre-puberty. The books are in my room up on a very high shelf. I still have them. I still wank to them. Oh man formative literature.
I no longer think I deserve to be beaten and raped. That is a fairly big step for me. That is how I found the bdsm community. I thought that was what I deserved and I went on the internet looking for men to do that to me. I was told to buy SM 101 and that was it. I found what I was supposed to be doing.
Let me tell you I have some cognitive dissonance sometimes. What am I supposed to be doing now? Well, painting a fence. Winding some blackberry bushes. Preserving tomatoes. Loving children. Teaching reading and writing and arithmetic.
I am supposed to figure out how to be stable and happy and a “good influence” whatever that means. Am I a good influence? I don’t know. I think that you, whoever you are, are someone who has unique gifts and talents and things to offer the world. I don’t know what they are so I can’t tell you what you “should” be doing. You have to figure it out for yourself.
When I was young I believed that my only talent/skill thing was being able to read fast. I didn’t see how that could possibly be a big deal later in life. I thought I was pathetic. Now I think that being able to read as fast I can has been an unbelievable gift in this lifetime. I can learn anything I want to know.
I am teaching myself gardening. It is complicated and there is a lot to understand. I’m learning it. I am teaching myself cooking. It’s fucking chemistry. I understand that these are things that humans have been teaching themselves without books for thousands, maybe a million years. But I am really progressing at these skills at a pace my forbearers could not imagine. That’s kind of cool.
It is hard believing in the pit of your stomach that you are stupid, worthless, and unworthy of breathing while also knowing that you are an unusual specimen of the species. It doesn’t fit in my brain. I am more competent at being able to learn things than average. Why do I feel so weak and pathetic? Because these things are impossible to measure in any useful way. Because the measurement of these qualities has nothing to do with feelings. Because I just think I suck. (Yes, but what do you suck? Suck is a transitive verb.)
I know a lot of people who make choices without thinking a lot about them. I’m not saying that is a terrible decision. If you are following the pattern you know and it works for you there isn’t a strong need to question the normal M.O. That’s fine. I can’t do that though.
I don’t think I am making the UNIVERSAL BEST CHOICES. I don’t think there is any such thing. I think I am making the choices that make the most sense for me given my set of issues and life circumstances.
I worry a lot about whether or not I am making the best choices for my children. I look at studies that say that children, in general, do “best” when they have a stay at home mother. I look at studies that verify that home schooled children, on average, do very well. But those things tell me literally nothing about whether or not I am meeting the needs of my children. I’m not sure if I am capable of knowing at this point.
My children are clean, well fed, and loved. That’s what I know. But that is pretty much exactly what the neighbor said about me to justify why she didn’t tell anyone I was being raped as a small child. How in the fuck do I know if what I am doing is right given that set of knowledge? Am I actually taking care of my kids? My mom thought she was and she wasn’t.
I tell my children that they don’t need to be like me even though I apparently have a desperate need to be like my mother. I am doing her job and I am doing it god damn better than she did. My children are safe in a way my mothers children were never safe. My children don’t need to grow up and do what I am doing any more than they have to grow up and do what Noah is doing. There is a whole wide world out there. There are so many people living in so many different ways. If you don’t like my approach, well let’s go study some other approaches. I can’t explain them like an insider so we will have to find people so you can ask your questions.
If I do anything right in this lifetime it will be to teach my children that being like me is not necessarily part of being an adult. I’m a special fucking snowflake. Don’t try to be like me.
It feels so sad that it always comes back to, “Don’t be like me. I am bad.” If you want people to like you, don’t be like me. If you want people to think you are a good person, don’t be like me. If you want people to let their children play with you, don’t be like me. Throughout my whole life people have been keeping their children away from me because I am a bad influence. From when I was three years old people have said to my face that they don’t want me around their children because I am a bad influence.
No, don’t be like me. There is no good to come of that road.
Am I really that bad? I don’t even know. I don’t know how these things are measured. I don’t know how they are decided. That process is invisible to me.
It’s kind of funny that I rarely decide that a person is “bad”. I frequently think that someone made a bad decision. I don’t conflate anyone else’s personhood with whether or not they make bad decisions sometimes. I do for me though. There is no redemption out of this pit.
Yesterday I worked on the fence for two hours. One of the old white guys who walks around my neighborhood chatted with me, as they all do, about the painting. He said that he recognized the Hindu Temple but “wished they would just go away.”
I went off. “Uhm, my family doesn’t share that opinion even slightly. I teach English classes there. My family has been taking Hindi classes there. We are glad it is on our street as a valuable resource to our community.” He looked gobsmacked.
I recently read a neat blog entry (I can’t find the link) about a white woman talking about her feelings of discomfort when people make racist comments to her and why she doesn’t say anything. Basically she wants to feel safe.
I don’t feel, as a white person, like it is ok for me to choose to feel “safe” rather than speak against racism. I think that is white privilege at its most insidious and disgusting. If another white person says something racist to me I do not keep my mouth shut. Silence is consent. When my neighbor told me his Hispanic gardeners trimmed his tree wrong and he threatened to kill them over it I told him that what he did was a criminal act and he should be ashamed of himself. He later told he apologized profusely to the gardner. You had god damn better. What the fuck were you thinking in the first place?
To me all of this consent-for-sex, racism, feminism stuff is all entwined. It’s not ok to have a better life at the expense of stepping on someone else’s neck.
Breathe in. Breathe out. It will be a long day of hard work. That will be ok. It will end. Tomorrow will be a long day of hard work. That will be ok too. Hopefully by the end of tomorrow I will finish the fence. *cross fingers* I want to be done in July. One month. I want to give this project one month of my life.
And my beloved husband has finished making me breakfast. This isn’t a eat-in-the-garage-alone-because-I-can’t-stop-crying morning. Time to go in and tell my children that I missed them while I was sleeping. I have hugs and kisses to give. I hear that they need them.