Friday, January 17, 2014

Dear Son: I Pledge To Hug You Like It's the Weekend Every Day

I would never call myself glamorous or particularly high maintenance when it comes to personal style. And while I gave up such grooming habits like eyebrow waxing and pedicures when I turned 40 (and in the process saved $500 and 30 hours a year), I do still find  comfort and confidence in a simplified beauty regimen that consists of a 60-second make-up ritual of Mac Studio Fix powder (it took this brown girl 20 years to find the perfect complexion, don't judge), some black eyeliner, and a quick application of lipstick.  So when a six-year old boy with sticky syrup face comes at me for a morning hug before I head off to a board meeting, my response has consistently been, "Let's go wash your face first, dear" (a.k.a. the "conditional hug"). Painful as it may be to admit, often times, even when there's no syrup, I only offer up the "restrained" hug.  You know the kind where you hold them back gently, adeptly controlling the embrace so that their faces land perfectly on your shoulder (but not on your neatly pressed, stain-free blouse) rather than your face, thus perfectly preserving the beautiful make-up that you just painstakingly applied.  I justify this all in my mind by telling myself, I don't want to leave lipstick marks on his precious face or get any of my Mac Studio Fix on his school clothes.

Of course on the weekends it's utterly magnificently different.  When my son, Jack awakes to hear the sounds of me typing away on my laptop, he runs to the top of the stairs, and I meet him at the bottom.  We then throw our hands out towards one another with dramatic flair and embrace in a full-fledged make-up free, "weekend special" extended hug.  The kind where he buries his (sometimes boogery and slobbery) face in the crook of my neck and I breathe in the baby scent that he still hasn't shed.  He then grabs my au natural face with both of his hands and plants the world's worst morning breath kiss on my lips, and we embrace again.  This time with me burying my face in the strands of his wild morning mop of a head.  It is indeed magnificent and one of my most soul-gratifying moments of motherhood.  One that I know I will long for deeply, when he has left our nest.

And then one day it suddenly occurred to me.  Considering that I'm usually headed out to work 240 out of 365 days of the year, by the time my son graduates high school, I will have given him 4080 conditional or restrained morning hugs, but only 2125 weekend specials.  And so my board of directors always gets a fresh-faced, not-a-hair-out-of-place, wrinkle-free, "confident" employee, and my only offspring, gets to choose between a "conditional" hug or a "restrained" hug.     

So dear boy, from this day forward - for the remaining 12 years that we will share a home, I pledge to always accept without fear, your stickiest syrup face.  Even on those days that I'm headed to important meetings.  I pledge to leave Mac Studio Fix remnants on your pristine school clothes and random faint lipstick marks on your precious face, as long as you will allow me to do so.  I pledge - for every single remaining day that we are gifted to wake up to one another - to hug you with no conditions....and with no restraints. To give you the weekend special every day.   After all, a little syrup never killed anyone, but regret and jumbled priorities, just might.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On Vaginas, Black Babies, And Redemption

Last month the news and entertainment industry successfully sucked us into a downward spiral of controversy, contention, and separation.  In case you were living under a rock and missed it all, here's what went down:
Phil Robertson's (Duck Dynasty) interview with GQ magazine...

If you're not a Christian, you are a murderer.  All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus.  Look at their record. Uh, Shintos?  They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists?  Zero.  That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups.  Just look at the records as far as murder goes among these four groups.   

Black people celebrate oppression  (with song and dance).  Oh, and they're all on welfare too.  I never, with my eyes saw the mistreatment of any black person.  Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them.  I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash.   We’re going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, "I tell you what:  These doggone white people" —not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare,  you say: Were they happy?  They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.    

Vaginas are prettier than buttholes.  It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There's more there!  She's got more to offer.  I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.

Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC panel captioning Romney family Christmas card...

Holy moly, there is a black baby on that Christmas card!  Actress Pia Glenn, started singing lines from the song popularized by Sesame Street:  "One of These Things Is Not Like the Others."
....but there aren't many black babies in the Republican party.  Another panelist, comedian Dean Obedidallah, said the picture "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party."
Bi-racial babies should stick know, keep all that cuteness in the family.  Host Melissa Harris-Perry described the baby as "gorgeous," before predicting Kiernan would one day marry North West, the daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, "Can you imagine Mitt Romny and Kanye West as in-laws?"
Both, in the name of free speech, (with or without intending to) caused pain to individuals solely because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation.

One was defended by Sarah Palin, while the other was crucified by her.  More specifically Ms. Palin said,  "Free speech is endangered species; those intolerants hatin and taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all" on one occasion, and "Media hounds are not expressing an opinion with this attack; they are expressing a prejudice" on the other.

Both elicited public outrage, and scores of people demanded apologies, boycotts, and resignations. One apologized immediately, tearfully, and publicly via social media and on-air. She also used the opportunity to further a dialog on race, privilege, and bipartisanship.  Not to mention that much of her own career has been devoted to deeper conversations about the intersections of race and poverty. The other maintained that his beliefs were "grounded in the Bible", that he is a "Godly man".  He was suspended for a few weeks before being invited back to continue contributing to the highest rated program on A&E network history. 

One shares the racial and religious background of the subject of her targeted comments (African-American father and a White Mormon mother). The other is Christian, straight, and white who has no shared experiences or personal insight to the lives of his targeted subjects (African-Americans, non-Christians, and the LGBTQ community).   

Just something for us all to ponder as we sit our judgmental selves in front of the television tonight.  Better yet, maybe we should instead try turning off the T.V. and maybe having a real conversation with someone we might be inclined to target?