Saturday, May 30, 2020

Being Black in America

I don't know what it's like to be black in America.

I know what it’s like to watch your child thrown into a police car and detained unfairly as spectators duck their heads and refuse to refute the police.

But I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

I know what it’s like to tell the police the truth—and have them not believe you.

But I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

I know what it’s like to read police reports and watch body cam footage and hear the police fudge the truth to fit their narrative for arrest.

But I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

I know what it’s like to reach out to the press to get the truth of your story to the public, have the public rally for a day or two in support—and then have it all disappear when daily life becomes much more pressing because “it’s really none of my business.”

But I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

I know what it’s like to have police officers sent to your house to interrogate your child for an alleged comment made by someone with no substantiated evidence and wonder if your child would be arrested again for an unsubstantiated claim—while you were across the ocean and powerless to help.

But I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

I know what it feels like to be helpless, not having the law or common sense or power behind you when the law and common sense and those in power should be behind you.

But I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

Maybe this is why I feel so outraged by Aubery, Cooper, and Floyd. I, too, have lost my idealized vision of police officers always having the public good and justice as their primary mission.

But the bottom line is

I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.

I don’t know what it’s like to face this discrimination and violence and injustice every day because of the color of my skin. In my own home. Walking down my own street. Shopping at my local market. 

And I certainly don’t know what it’s like to lose your life over a counterfeit $20. Or over taking a jog in your neighborhood.

I want to lend my voice and my support and my outrage to this cause, but I don’t know how. Tears. Rage. Social media.

It is too little.

But I will not stand silently by.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Quarantine Snapshots

It's funny how everything seemed novel and exciting at the beginning of quarantine, and now it's all become routine and less photo- and blog-worthy.

Social distance swimming
I know that life will return to normal and I'll forget these moments one day. Now they all seem too real and I'm frankly sick of most of it.
These little ones love to check the eggs and visit the chickens.
Caroline isn't even two, and she will pick up that white chicken (Gladys) like she owns the place!
Annie's favorite part is collecting eggs. Look at that girl! She's growing up fast!

There is nothing cuter than a little toddler girl with her first pigtails! These lasted approximately 2.5 seconds after the picture was taken.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

My Love/Hate Relationship with Quarantine

Is it possible to both love and hate quarantine?

I miss being alone. I crave alone time as a flower craves sunlight and water. I need time to refuel and think and plan and recuperate. But . . .

. . . I love being with my family all the time. I love uninterrupted family dinners and family movie nights and family bike rides and family work projects.

I miss schedule. I miss being accountable to obligations that relieve some of the pressure on me to get things done. But . . . 

. . . I love having less to do—less kid homework, fewer kid activities, no church obligations, school-year weekdays that can be movie nights.

I miss the kids’ school. I miss teachers that direct their learning and grade their work and know where they should be in each subject. But . . . 

. . . I love less accountability. I like watching John Green’s “Crash Course” for history class or Mark Rober for physics or TED talks for English. I like “forcing” my kids to read books I think they should read then talking about them.

And I love morning scriptures in pjs and with no stress to "get moving."

Someone said recently, “Quarantine isn’t hard. Quarantine is inconvenient.” If what they meant was that I don’t have anyone dying or losing their job or suffering too badly from the closed economy, then yes—that’s inconvenient. If what they meant was that I can’t find powdered sugar for the four birthdays I have this month or find the right brand of toilet paper or sit down at a restaurant and movie for date night, then yes—that’s inconvenient.

But if what they meant was that this isn’t hard on families being together 24 hours a day EVERY DAY for weeks on end, then no—that’s hard. If they meant that it isn’t hard for kids to miss milestones, weddings, graduations, summer sports camps, even daily interaction with their friends, then no—that’s hard. If they meant that it isn’t hard to be solely responsible for your kids’ education without any firm direction from the school or curriculum to follow but they still have to log on daily and “learn,” then no—that’s hard.

If they meant that the government and health officials can say, “Humanity will survive this, but we don’t know how long it will take for us to flatten the curve, so hang on and we’ll let you when you’ve sacrificed enough income and enough social interaction and enough funerals and births and graduations and weddings,” then no—that’s hard.

Forgive me if I think that this is inconvenient. And that it’s a blessing. And that this is hard. And that it’s good.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Uncle Micah

Micah always makes time for his nieces and nephews. I wanted to always remember this exchange one Sunday evening during the golden hour between Micah and Eli.

Micah invited the little guy into the hammock with him so they could swing and talk about the deep things of the world.
Eli's mind is very unusual for a three-year-old, and that deep thinking leads to many funny conversations. This time, Micah was explaining to him what it's like to live on Venus and that you'd burn up on the surface. Eli didn't quite believe Micah until he'd received corroborating evidence from other adults.

I love this part of Micah's personality. He's really got a soft spot for the little one, just like his two older brothers, my brother, and my dad.

It will make him a great dad one day.

Just like it has his older brothers.

Eli didn't want to leave the provocative conversation with Micah, so Tucker threw him over his shoulders, teasing that Eli was his prisoner, and forcing the screaming kid into his carseat to go home to bed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Quarantine Navel Gazing

I miss who I used to be.
Quarantine killed her.

Maybe “kill” is a strong word. Quarantine forced her into hiding. That’s closer to what I hope is true. I hope she comes back. I miss her.

I miss jumping out of bed before 5:30 every day, ready to exercise and set goals and plan the day. My planner that I love has empty days and blank pages. My graphs and charts so painstakingly created in January are not updated . . . and April 2020 Jenny can’t care. I feel more fragile and merely a shadow of what I was before. 

Before quarantine.

I miss wanting to eat the best food for my body and mind. I can’t find that motivation anywhere. When I turned 50, I was in the best shape (mentally and physically) I’ve been in in years. Now quarantine sags over my pants, tightens my bra, and softens my features and self-discipline. All the great habits I created in 2019 dissolved one by one . . . and I did nothing to stop it from happening.

I miss direction. I knew exactly where to take my thesis and had a plan prepared for life when I finished writing it in November. Now it all seems unimportant and peripheral.

I miss control. Knowing what was happening and when and where and managing my family’s task list centered me and gave me purpose. Now that I am solely responsible for school, exercise, chores, screen time, and mental health—I’m exhausted, and I want to stop being the manager. I want to quit but know that that is not the right choice for my (or my family’s) sanity and growth during this weird period in our lives.

Funny enough, I know what I’ve been doing to get through this period of self-isolation (eating all. the. things—and I mean ALL—sleeping late, postponing exercise and journaling until it’s too late in the day) does not make me happy, even temporarily. But there’s something in the quarantined air that fights against my goals and convinces me that none of that other stuff really matters.

I made a decision tonight. I’m going to find 2019 me—the me who plans and wakes up early and takes care of body and mind and revels in making and achieving even small goals. She’s somewhere under the murky sediment dumped from the great pandemic of 2020, a deep layer already solidifying and attempting to make itself permanently comfortable in my psyche. But guess what? I’m in control of where this goes and how. I control how I feel and how I react and how I move and how I fuel my mind and body. I control what I read and what I believe and how I react to the uncontrollable, ever-changing crazy that surrounds me.

I’m a fighter. I haven’t been for the last five weeks, but she’s making a comeback.

I know, Mufasa.
It’s time.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Tending the Vineyard

Are you appreciating one small benefit from the quarantine--and that's the captive labor force?

Not only have my kids helped with more projects, but they have also done so with less complaining.

Last year, Brad didn't have time to thin the peach tree, and it split, losing a sizable branch. This year we enlisted all the troops to help.
It didn't take that long and they had pretty good attitudes most of the time.

It's been so beautiful around here lately, but 100-degree temperatures are headed our way probably by Monday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Whistle While You Work

We've had a cleaning crew every Tuesday for longer than Hyrum has been alive.

I know. I'm spoiled.

Every Monday night we pick up the house, and every Tuesday afternoon when the kids come home from school, the house is magically clean.

Four weeks ago was our last cleaning service. As they walked to their cars, the boss said this would be their last time until the pandemic/social isolating is over.

My kids were less than thrilled when I told them they were my new Tuesday morning cleaning crew.
Don't get me wrong. They know how to clean (as well as most intransigent kids are) and they did all the chores on Saturday. Cecy and her crew mostly did my work for me--beds, blinds, baseboards, etc., plus a middle-of-the-week cleaning that got us through to Saturday each week when the kids half-baked it. In the back of my mind I'd often thought that I was doing their future spouses a disservice by having a cleaning crew, but they inherited their laziness and job avoidance from somewhere, and I never got around to teaching them the fine art of cleaning a house top to bottom in one day.

I told them they could split the money I pay Cecy and her crew, and they begrudgingly agreed that Tuesday mornings would be a break from school and an introduction to paid jobs.
The first week was a little rough. It took much longer than they thought and it wasn't as thorough as I thought. But the second week we got into a little better rhythm.

They did a great job the second time--the key is music they all like, I discovered.

Yesterday was not the sing-song rosy experience of last week. One anonymous member of my crew lamented, "WE DON'T WANT TO DO THIS! YOU ARE MAKING US DO THIS!" Yep. It was a little bit rough. Blame it on quarantine emotions, right?

I don't know how many weeks it will take for them to figure out that stuffing wrappers and dirty dishes under the couch just creates MORE work later. Maybe this will be the week. Lucky for them (and for ME--sarcasm font required here) we have at least a few more weeks to figure it all out. 

Thank you, COVID-19 and your quarantine, for giving me the opportunity to further teach/torture my children.