Harvard's Parenting Advice, Racism & My Stepparenting Essay

For your Sunday reading pleasure, here are three of my favorite links from the past week. Harvard psychologists have been studying what it takes to raise "good kids." I love the first tip: hang out with your kids. Could "good" parenting be so simple?

These tweets about how white people sound when they disagree with people of color about racism are brilliant. She puts a humorous twist on the entitlement of people who deny a problem simply because they haven't personally experienced it. You don't have to be racist to perpetuate racism.

And finally, today, Scary Mommy published my essay about the question every stepparent dreads in which I share a story from my own life to address a rarely-discussed issue concerning the fine balance of blended families.

This is day 21 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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How Non-Racist People Perpetuate Racism

I recently entered into a discussion on Facebook with a white man who commented on a public post I made in which I shared an article about Ohio residents greeting Obama by waving confederate flags. I commented on the article with only two words: heart broken. The man responded by saying he was "tired" of the media exacerbating racial tension by pitting blacks and whites against one another. Does he count as "the media" since he posted publicly on Facebook? Aren't we, the people, the media, now? Did "the media" invent police brutality and the segregation in communities and schools that persists today?

He cites his experience as a missionary in Southern black communities as evidence of his understanding. He says he didn't experience racism in the projects. Does he think that associating with black people made him temporarily black? Does he think something doesn't exist because he has not personally experienced it?

He claims that he is not a bigot, and I might believe him, yet his denial of the discrimination faced by people of color indirectly supports it.

I do not know this man at all, but I engaged with him because I felt it important to fight against the contagions in his message. I hoped that by speaking up, I could give others the tools to speak up. I let myself become intoxicated by the freedom of speech. I knew I couldn't change his mind, but I felt empowered by disagreeing with him, openly, unapologetically.

I disagreed when he suggested that waving the confederate flag in the face of our black president was not a racist act but a political act. Then why not hold up signs with political statements as is the norm for such protests? I disagreed when he suggested the confederate flag to be a symbol of unity. The unity of whom? Certainly it was not for the unity of the human race. I disagreed when he said the treatment of blacks is not as bad as the media wants it to be. What if it's worse?

America has a long hard history with race. This country is not going to heal beneath the pretense of equality. We must demand the real thing. We can start by bearing witness to people of color. The media has largely provided us this opportunity.

The first step to change is awareness, which is why this man and so many others perpetuate racism. By pretending it's not there.

This is day 17 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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The Story Behind Skyla

"Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape."

- Rumi

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I already had the name Skyla on my list. I knew I loved it. And obviously I have a thing for the sky (hence my blog name). But the task of naming a child does not produce immediate answers, at least not for me.

When I saw this quote on Instagram from heathercooperloves, which was a re-gram from adonnrowley, I took a screenshot. Every time I came back to it, I got tingly.

We don't have to conform to standards or fit into boxes or worry about the outcome. We are here to do things that make us feel  good. We are here to enjoy the rainbows, bask in the sunshine, bathe in the ocean, gaze at the stars. We are here to cry in the rain and listen to the clouds and cling to one another in the storm.

We don't have to take this life so seriously. Failure is a myth, the prison walls are made of fear. We can fall and get up as many times as we want. We can fly without crashing. We need not hold back or be afraid or stifle our truest, wildest, happiest dreams.

I hope I can teach my beautiful biracial daughters to live like this.

I want them to push against the boundaries built by modern society. I want them to break through the glass ceilings and make their own joy. I want them to create anything and everything they want. I want them to follow their hearts and believe in themselves, because we are all as big as the sky.

Just as we chose Giovanna because "God is gracious," we chose Skyla to remember that we are limitless potential, bound by limitless love.

I Am Enough

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"He's always thinking about how to change things. He's never satisfied with the way they are." Samuel smiled at him. "They say man lived in trees one time. Somebody had to get dissatisfied with a high limb or your feet would not be touching flat ground now."

- John Steinbeck's East of Eden

I'm reading "East of Eden" because I saw it on someone's Facebook list of 10 books that changed their life. I don't remember who. Thank you whomever you are.

When I first read this passage, I thought Yeah! This is how we make the world a better place! By never being satisfied. And we can and we do. Like a certain preschool teacher mentioned on our march for Martin Luther King Jr last week, he made the world a better place for us. She said to the children, Someday your face will be up on a sign. Because you're going to make the world better, too.

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 When I saw a little girl kiss the head of her walking partner (a much smaller girl in the younger class) like a doting mother, I knew this teacher was right. These kids have hearts big enough to cradle the universe. The sky's the limit for them. For all of us.

But the more I considered this sentiment, the more it troubled me. If we are never satisfied, how can we enjoy our lives? There is no destination to reach but death. All we have is now, the journey. We are alive. Can we feel gratitude for what we have while still wanting more?

I think the answer lies in seeking balance, recognizing how far we've come while acknowledging how far we still have to go.

For example, in the context of Martin Luther King Jr's cause, schools are no longer segregated legally but they are anyways because of economic and racial privileges.

Personally, as a writer, I am more likely to start a new project rather than work on the third drafts and query letters of the novels I've already written. If I am "never" satisfied with my work then how can I share it? I believe in my stories, but do I believe in my ability to tell them?

As a wife and mother, my patience has grown though I still speak sharply and my presence has improved though I still get lost in my to do list and my iPhone and my thoughts. I am trying to be better while also celebrating my progress.

I believe I will always be a work in progress, which is both daunting and exciting. For better and for worse I expect a lot from myself and from others and from this human experience. But it's tiring, this dissatisfaction. I seek the balance of knowing that despite my yearnings to evolve, I am good enough just as I am. Not at some point in the future. But today.

I write enough, I work enough, I blog enough, I exercise enough, I smile enough, I laugh enough, I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.