Where are the leaders?

Tonight I’m grateful my living children are sleeping safely. Today in the news, I watched a child get get pepper sprayed and an elderly man attacked. 

We’ve taught our boys to know police officers as helpers. The police in our town have been there for our family when we needed them. Not just a little bit. They were at the house in a blink when I called 911, one watched over us while it was happening, made sure the boys were safe, called our pastor, they all handled the situation with respect and grace. Later, an officer hand delivered a gift to our family from the police department. We talk about race, white privilege and our responsibility to speak up and use our privilege to create change, black history, … but not this, yet. 

Knowing that the police in my country will pepper spray a child, and attack an elderly man, let alone discriminate, harass, and hurt people of color, has me thinking of a new dialogue with my boys about the people who are there to protect us. How do I explain to my little boys that those events are happening here, not some far-away place we see on TV? How do I explain that the uniform doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good? That’s not right. Police officers are there to protect the people, not attack the people. I don’t have answers to these questions. I don’t know how to tell my boys any of this.

I’ve been posting on Facebook about cops on their knees. Now I see that brutality is overwhelming the peace. I try so hard, after all of my trauma and loss, to be positive–to listen to Mr. Rogers and look for the helpers. Today, the images of what looks like war, coming from all across my country, are spreading too fast and smothering anything positive. What I’m seeing is chaos. And pain. And confusion.

Black lives matter.

No justice, no peace.

Say His Name–George Floyd.

Say their names–which one?

Arresting a few cops does not bring justice.

Now, how is the policy change going to happen? How is the cultural change going to happen? How can we guarantee accountability? Where is the justice?

Where are our LEADERS?

My babies have been through enough. They’ve lost their brother, Covid-19 and quarantine added a new layer to our grief and trauma (which they’re handling like badass rock stars), and now the entire world is in even more turmoil. Of course, it’s justified turmoil. Overdue turmoil. Necessary turmoil. Painful, gutting turmoil. Righteous turmoil. If-you-thought-the-political-climate-revealed-character-you-should-see-what’s-happening-now turmoil.
But turmoil, nonetheless.

I’m feeling disheartened. And scared. And obligated to simultaneously protect my boys and educate them on what’s happening. We have a moral responsibility to stand on the side of justice.

But after all I’ve been through, after all we’ve been through as a family, we just want peace. Trauma survivors do not wish for more trauma.

The protesters are saying “by any means necessary”, and I get that… I mean, the best I can as a white person.

But, God help those cops if they EVER try to harm my beautiful children, no matter how old they are. George Floyd, a grown man, called for his Mama. As a mother who has lost a son, I can tell you that peace does NOT exist without justice. I don’t know if I’ll ever know peace until I’m with my boy again.

I truly hope that the protests around the world will put us on the path to justice for every mother who has lost a son to police brutality. I truly hope that the protests around the world will put us on the path to justice for racial inequality. I truly hope that from the protests around the world emerge true, worthy leaders for our country. I truly hope that we find this path during our lifetime, so that I can watch my living children grow up in a world of true equity.

And there I go, defaulting to that positivity.
That won’t bring change. Marching, protesting, persevering brings change.

Where are the leaders?

I can lead by starting in my home with my family, and take responsibility for learning the right ways to be an ally. I can lead with my voice. 

Maybe some are leading by attending rallies, and this inspires their neighbor to do the same.

How can you lead? 

Let’s do this now, because I can only imagine magnifying the pain of losing my son to suicide to equal the pain and grief black and brown people collectively and historically experience in this country. I’ve heard them say they’re tired. And I can tell you, as a grieving mother, they really are.

Coming Down to the Ground

“When this is over, what changes are you going to make in your life?”
Yeah, I already wrote about this, but I wasn’t done.

The question assumes that this pandemic will end:

“When this is over…”

Will it ever be over? To be honest, I hope not. Not the virus, of course, but the reeling world. The asking of questions like this one. The conservation of products, the sudden interest in our neighbors’ well-being. I know others are talking about this, too. I’ve read the articles with similar thoughts on about how this is going to bring the world to the next level. I really pray that that’s the case.

Tonight, Squishy and I talked about landfills because he asked me what happens to something we throw away. He asked me about what happens when a landfill is full. What happens when there isn’t any more land to fill? This led to talking about the movie Wall-E, and the trash-covered Earth. Perhaps we’re all moving too fast. Perhaps we’re all consuming too much. Perhaps we’re all forgetting the imperative instinct to connect with other people.

My generation knows how to live without plugging in. I went to festivals and concerts and drum circles and road trips and…college (eesh)…all without a cell phone. You can call me old, or you can ask me how to do it. Shit, I need to ask me how to do it. My grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They instinctively reused and mended and made-do. They were young, but so are our kids. This is going to shape them in ways we can’t foresee.

Maybe this pandemic is here to shake us loose from our teetering lifestyles, like the last healthy seeds from a dying tree. It’s now our job to plant and nurture the true grit of human nature. Our children will remember the time when they couldn’t leave the house, and there weren’t any leftovers after meals. Some will skip meals. Their ears will hold our voices talking of the sick people, the need for masks and equipment, the heroes who had to leave their homes. They’ll remember decorating their front windows with homemade chin-up pictures and signs, and retain muscle memory of every dip in the backyard dirt. This generation will appreciate their food, and the importance of caring for elders. I pray that the art they create now in quarantine will preserve the sacredness of all of the arts for their children’s children.

Maybe we won’t all become homesteaders who grow our own food and can it for the winter, but this might just bring all of us back down to the Earth in one way or another. Like Peter Gabriel in the closing credits of Wall-E when he sings “We’re going down to the ground, there’s no better place to go…” “We’re gonna find new priorities. These are extraordinary qualities.”

My optimism is short–I don’t think we’ll all emerge from isolation as a reformed society. But, that doesn’t have to be “when this is over”. Maybe there will be enough of us whose habits change, and our kids will remember all of it. They hear us and see us, and I bet their resilience will carry their generation through whatever is next for the Earth. Then, maybe the lasting effects of this global pandemic will never be over.

Peter Gabriel, Down to Earth

Did you think you’d escaped from routine
By changing the script and the scene?
Despite all you made of it, you’re always afraid
Of the change

All those rules don’t apply
When you’re high in the sky

So, come on down
Come on down


We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

You’ve got a lot on your chest
Well, you can come as my guest
So, come on down
Come on down


We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze


Like the fish in the ocean
We felt at home in the sea
We learned to live off the good land
Learned to climb up a tree

Then we got up on two legs
But we wanted to fly
Oh, when we messed up our homeland
We set sail for the sky


We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze


We’re coming down
Coming down to Earth
Like babies at birth
Coming down to Earth

We’re gonna find new priorities
These are extraordinary qualities


We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze


We’re gonna find new priorities
These are extraordinary qualities
To find on Earth


(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)

Because Dog: The Cat Person’s Guide to Mentally Preparing for a Dog in 79 Easy Steps

Step 1:  There is no way to mentally prepare yourself for a dog, especially if you’re a cat person, and even if you are already a parent of humans.  The End.

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Just kidding.  Here are the steps that don’t actually work to prepare you for anything but you could read them anyway if you want: 

Step 1:  Be a cat person for 40 years.

Step 2:  Realize that life is short.  Boys and husband have begged for years, so let them have a dog.

Step 3:  Regret this decision immediately.  

Step 4:  Remember step 2.  

Step 5:  Repeat steps 2 and 3 multiple times.

Step 6:  Do not give local shelter your first born child.  WTH is that all about?  We have three healthy boys and three healthy cats!  I’m pretty sure we know how to take care of living things.  No one did a home visit before we left the hospital– “We’re sorry, your house does not yet have socket protectors or a baby gate, you cannot bring your child home.  Also, we need to call three people who know you and also have children to see if you will be fit parents, as well as a pediatrician who will release all of your other children’s medical records to us.  If these do not meet our standards, we will give your child to someone else.”  That place was MENTAL.  

Step 7:  Do not reinvent the wheel–go back to the wonderful shelter where you rescued your kitties.  

Step 8:  Visit several times over several weeks.  Become discouraged.  Repeat steps 2 and 3.

Step 9:  On the 5th visit,  decide to give a dog a trial run at home with the shelter’s “Pajama Party” program.  Watch the family fall in love over the weekend, and maybe do the same (but don’t tell anyone).  

Step 10:  Decide to keep the dog.

Step 11:   Panic.  Repeat step 2.   Panic.  And so on, indefinitely.

Step 12:  Become more broke than you already were because boys/kids.

Steps  13, 14, 15, 16 and 17:  Spend 95% of your time cleaning up pee and poop in the house, spend 95% of your time cleaning up poop outside,  spend 95% of your time washing dog-smell bedding,  spend 95% of your time saying “Good Girl!” (Freaking exhausting for this cat-person who believes in intrinsic motivation. Do you really need that much praise?  I mean, I like validation, but can’t I just remind her once in a while? And does she really need to follow me around all of the time?  Yes, I like you too, now stop needing me constantly.  Geezus, it’s like an insecure boyfriend who keeps asking if you’re mad at him), spend 95% of your time saying “Oh my God!! Drop it!  What the hell are you doing?! Where’s the dog?! Get down! NO! Leave it!! Don’t eat that!! DOG!!! And, OH MY GOD THAT IS DISGUSTING!!!!”

Step 18:  Nearly have an anxiety attack because holy crap what have you gotten yourself into and how are you supposed to function in life if this thing is causing turmoil all over the place and the poor kitties are scared to death and you have no time to even think let alone sit down.

Step 19:  Watch it get a little easier every few days.

Step 20:  Watch yourself melt when the dog shows you unconditional love and affection. (Deny it if mentioned.)  Realize that she really needed us.

Step 21:  Watch your boys smile, laugh, relax, and be comforted and understood by this difficult and adoring creature who has just thrown a giant wrench in your life. 

Step 22:  Feel completely overwhelmed and want to run away because boys AND dog.

Steps 23-76:  WINE

Step 77:  Watch your husband light up every day and brim with emotion because he has wanted a dog his entire life.  

Step 78:  Allow your ever-shifting standards to sway, step away and look at yourself standing in the center of the storm, and hang on for the ride.  

Step 79:  Remind yourself that change is the only constant–my ever-present undercurrent of consciousness.  Change is the only constant.  And man, it sure makes my heart happy to see my family smile.  Also wine.

 

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