Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Multi-Cultural Family

We are in the middle of packing up for our Harambee Camp, which is a celebration of African culture and the highlight of our year.  In the middle of planning for our grand African Adventure, we shook off our jingle dresses, tied up our moccasins and headed out to celebrate and honor National Aboriginal Day. 

I looked at my kids, my African-Canadian-American son, with the head full of dreadlocks,  holding on to his Jingle Dress wearing First Nations sister's hand while his  French-Norwegian-Irish-Swiss-Russian-Canadian brother sat beside him eating an Indian Taco and there was a small part of me that realized that maybe my normal isn't necessarily everybody else's normal.

And I felt sorry for everybody else.

Our life is so RICH.  Rich with culture and history and color.  We are blessed beyond measure by communities that have embraced us and still challenged us to know more, do more, be more for our kids.

I cannot imagine how little I would know about the rest of the world if I had chosen to stay in my world of White Privilege.

Maybe you are reading this and you are considering adopting transracially, or you are the parent of an adult child considering adopting transracially and you worry.   You might worry about the work involved to be a transracial adoptive parent, because there is a lot of work involved in being a GOOD transracial adoptive parent.   You might be scared of the opinions of others, because nothing really hurts more than realizing that someone else either doesn't view your child as equal in value to their own, or doesn't view your parenthood as being as legitimate as their own.  And it does hurt.  You might worry about raising teenagers when you don't fully comprehend what it is like to live in their skin, and it is very hard.   You might find a thousand reasons why adopting transracially has a cost, and there is a cost and probably you can find enough reasons to justify running far away from ever expanding the color of your family.  But that would be so sad, not for the children, who would hopefully find a family willing to embrace them and celebrate them, but for you and your little, tidy world.

I am richer for my kids.  I am richer for being in awe of the Elder willing to teach my children the history of hoop dancing or the kind emcee inviting my daughters to dance at a Pow Wow.  I am richer for understanding racism and culture and the horrors of prejudice.   I am richer for putting their needs before my own discomfort.

My life, my brown, black, white, multi-colored life is good.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On Men and Fathers and having a Daddy

I watch my husband sometimes with my kids and I wonder, in awe, how it is that I knew how to pick a good husband to be and a good father to be when I was only nineteen.  Engaged at nineteen.  Married at twenty.  Parents of three by 25.  Parents of 6 by 35.

And I did pick a good one.  I knew to expect to be treated well.  I knew I was lovable and beautiful and smart and deserving.  I knew that because my daddy had always told me I was.

I was his favorite Jennifer in the WHOLE WORLD.  And I knew I deserved a good guy because my dad showed me I did every single day of my childhood.

The words we heard this week were "terminal"  "limited options"  "aggressive".  And worse, "no cure".   We have some time to try to fight, but no one can really saw how much.  It was bad news. VERY BAD NEWS.

My dad is sick.  Really, really sick. His birthday this year is on Father's Day.  Sunday.

Honestly, I don't really know what to say other than I love him.  And that we need him.  My kids need him.  My sister needs him.  My nephews need him.  My step mom needs him.  I NEED HIM.

I have a hard time right now talking TO HIM.  I can talk about him just fine, but to him?  It is so hard to pick up that phone and say hello.   Why?  Because I know how badly he needs me to be OK.  He has spent his whole life making sure I am OK.  Checking my tire pressure every time I come over.  Topping up the oil, checking my wiper fluid. A quick hug and a glance  "You OK, Jen?".  "Yes dad!" and a smile of relief.

More than anything I know my dad wants us all to be OK.  It is not himself he is worried about.  In typical amazing dad fashion, it is ME.

And honestly, I am not.  I don't feel strong enough or wise enough or brave enough to face this battle with him.  I feel like a three year old who needs to know her daddy is the strongest man in the whole world and will fix anything and everything, always.   I want to hide and shut down and forget.   And he wants me to be OK.  Not to cry or sob or be a little girl scared of losing her daddy, but to be the capable woman he raised.

He has taught me strength.  And fortitude.  And how to be brave and strong and resilient.  He has taught me how to survive this and it is a lesson I never wanted to know.   Because his strength and bravery and hard work have been my foundation.  And can you survive without your foundation?  I really don't want to find out.

Happy Father's Day Dad.  Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you.

And I hate cancer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I guess this means it is summer

Last night hockey finally ended for the season.  We were sad.  We shed tears.  We did NOT riot.

Those that did in no way represent me and my hockey loving kids. Nor my city. Nor my country. Nor my hockey team.

We have been to the beach, dodging rain drops that seem to have never abated this spring.

Two of my kids are still in school until the end of the month, two start their summer holiday today.  Two of the others are just so busy playing in the sand box to care much about school at all.

Things are have been good.  SO good.  I mean still hard and complicated and busy and crazy but good.  Stable.  I am all for stable.  Stable means kids wrestle and it's in FUN not because they are trying to kill each other.

We will travel this summer across the country.  Saskatchewan here I come.  Again. Did I mention 24 hours of driving ONE WAY. I have one more day of paid home schooling.  I think possibly it is one day too many.

Some days I feel like I have nothing left to say.   Others I wish I could share more.  But I am still here.  My kids are still amazing.  And I am beginning to see the light of a fun summer ahead.