Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finding my Way out of the Mud and Muck

I'm a forty-four year old single mother to a five-year old, and I have been having some difficult times as of late! Nothing I feel I should really be complaining about because my son is healthy, my two aging dogs are still with us, and we live in the most serenely stunning place!

One would think, with my years of experience and wisdom, and the life I have been blessed with, I would be coasting, floating even; and yet, I'm still my worst critic, my harshest teacher, the person behind the loudest voice of doubt in my head.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Morning Spent in Rumination

This morning, as I tried to pull away from the dream in which I found myself embroiled, I was reminded of something that had made an impression on me weeks ago. The memory of my son and I watching the Battle rounds on The Voice seeped into my consciousness as I waged my own battle to wake up. Finally freed from the dream-like tendrils, I knew I had to write about this memory, and it seemed fitting for today's Slice of Life.

The battle we were watching was between two young men. As the first performance began, I asked my son who he was rooting for. He thought for a moment and then replied, "The guy with the glasses".

What struck me about his response was that the young man was black, but rather than identify him as such, my son first took notice that he was wearing glasses. The reason this struck me was because, in his shoes, my first descriptor would have been his skin color.

I certainly do not want to come off as racist, because I truly am not. I was raised by a Mexican step-father; I had a black uncle growing up (whom I adored); and my matron of honor from my wedding is Japanese.

What my son's response helped me realize is that, even though I don't intend it, the first thing I see is a person's skin color. As an educator, and an overall good human being, I don't want skin color to be the first thing I calculate when I see someone.

I certainly don't want to dismiss someone's racial identity, but I also don't want to define them by what I visually perceive.

While lying in bed ruminating these thoughts, I couldn't help but wonder if children truly are born color-blind? Not in the sense that they do not see the beautiful array of colors that give life contrast, but with regards to skin color. Are children born with prejudicial thoughts towards skin hues, or does growing up in a society that promotes the labeling and categorizing of people based on the color of their skin change their perspective?

This might be a sensitive, maybe even controversial topic to share in a blog post, and some of you might find yourselves offended; though I hope not!

Instead, I hope that society can engage in conversations about cultural perspectives in an effort to recognize our own underlying biases. Much as the dream-like tendrils kept me from waking up this morning, I believe my underlying biases hold me down, preventing me from being fully present and aware of those around me.

Helping me uncover this realization, my son has, once again, been my greatest teacher!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Soft Glow of Lamplight

Two Writing Teachers sponsors a Slice of Life every Tuesday. Here's my slice for today...

I have always loved the soft glow lamp light gives off!

So much so that, I often had lamps sprinkled throughout my classrooms. When students returned from recess or lunch, I would turn the harsh overhead fluorescent lights off, giving my students time to wind down while quietly reading in the soft circles of lamplight.

Today, I use this same soothing technique for myself and my young son. When we have had a particularly long day, we will snuggle up on my bed before dinner and wrap ourselves in a story under the same calming lamplight I used to soothe my students all those years ago!

Oftentimes, I will retreat to this spot when I am feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with the daily responsibilities of being a single mom. It is where I seek solace when I feel exasperated, where I lose myself when I want to escape, and where I put myself on a much needed "mommy timeout" when I need to reconnect with the patient, loving mom I sometimes lose touch with...okay, whom I often lose touch with :-)

I can walk into my bedroom at any given moment, see the soft glow of my bedside lamp as it illuminates a book and my reading glasses, and all the day's stresses will soften. Maybe they won't disappear completely, but they do become less pointed at the thought of escaping, even if it's only for a few stolen moments.

"Better to light a small candle than to curse the darkness" ~ Chinese Proverb