A Few Monday Morning Thoughts

I woke up this morning to the news of another shooting in the United States: 50 dead and over 200 injured.  Then a friend on Facebook posted something about how the U.S. really IS helping Puerto Rico, and how you shouldn’t watch CNN.  When I arrived to school, it was to received the news of a fellow teacher who passed away last night after the most gallant fight with cancer.  He has a little girl Ale’s age, and another in fourth grade.

I can’t imagine.  I can’t imagine losing my husband.  I can’t imagine my children being without their papi.

I was thinking about Rafa last night.  I had heard last week that they had news of the cancer spreading.  He was also dealing with a lot of depression.  And last night, as I drifted to sleep, snuggled between my two perfect little bundles, I made a plan to send him some books.  Not books for him to read for his own pleasure, but books to read with his girls.  Because those little girls deserve sweet memories of being with their dad at the end of his life.

The biggest difference I can see between having kids and when I didn’t have kids is the way I look at disaster.  I look at events happening and think, what if that were my daughter.  It makes me more empathetic and way more scared to judge others.

What if it were my daughters who lost their homes in a storm?

What if it were my daughters who didn’t have clean water to drink or enough to eat?

What if it were my daughters couldn’t go back to school for weeks?

What if it were my daughters adjusting to life without electricity?

What if my daughters went to a concert and never came home?

What if my daughters were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

More than anything, I see events like those I read today (mass shootings), and I think, “Why are we moving back to that?!”  I know that Mexico is in the U.S. News often, and in an ugly light.  But (usually) when there are events of mass killings here, they are connected to drug cartels.  You don’t often read about innocent people being plowed down by home-grown terrorists.

I read about the drug issues that are rampant in East Tennessee, and I get scared.  I get scared when I hear that schools are putting “over-dose kits” in each location within Knox County.  I get scared when I hear that cops are carrying over-dose medicine in Jeff County.  I get scared when I think of the number of people who carry guns.  I get scared when I think of my little girls growing up in that environment.

I know living in fear isn’t the way to go about life either.  Fear robs us of our peace–and the Lord knows that we need peace during these crazy times!!

I don’t even know how to end this post.  Perhaps with a plea that you pray for everyone suffering today.  Because the problems that you and I deal with on an everyday basis are small and rather insignificant when you compare them to the problems all around us.

Advertisements

Hear Me Roar

Saturday millions of women all over the world took to the streets in protest.  Friday, a great (tremendous, terrific) defiler of women was sworn in as the president of my country.

I sat in the school office Friday, and watched the speech that he gave.  And I cried.  I cried as he spoke about being a president for the people.  The secretary next to me turned around in surprise at my tearful expletive, “Are you crying, Jania!?”  I explained, yes… I am crying.  I am crying for my country.  For my family.  For my daughters.

See, Mexicans don’t understand how Americans are JUST feeling this way.  Politicians have been less-than-wonderful and undeserving of respect for years here in Mexico.    They have risen to power because of the money in their pockets, and the exchange of that money from hand to hand.  Politicians  have rallied in poor communities, bribing the people with promises of good roads and clean water, while literally PAYING for their votes.  Mexicans have snickered at the poor english spoken by their leader, and joked about the connections that he has to the cartel.

My Mexican colleagues don’t understand that I have never felt like this.  But at the same time, they understand how dangerous the world just became.  They understand what people all over the world can see: America just crept into the rat’s trap.  They understand what the rat doesn’t: that no matter how tasty the cheese might be, the chance of never tasting cheese again is just as sure.

Has America been embarrassed by our leaders before?  Sure.  Have they ever been this fearful?  This disgusted?  This disillusioned?  Not in my lifetime.

(No doubt some readers of this very blog post are disagreeing with me right now–and no doubt those readers are white middle-class citizens who have probably had access to fair pay and healthcare most of their lives.)

I didn’t vote for the former (and far superior) president in his first campaign.  But I attended his inauguration with thousands of others.  The air was electric with promise of change.  The metro was so full of people, that moving was like something from a cartoon.  Everyone was pressed together as one unit, shuffling their feet, and moving as possible onto the train and through the platforms.  Every inch of the lawns were full of people, and not just white people.

Say what you want about Obama, but he was the people’s president.  He made hard decisions that were made for the good of MANY, not just a few.  And that was evident that day eight years ago.

Which brings us to the protest of women all over the world: Has there ever been such a huge protest in reaction to a president taking office?  Has there?  Not in our country.

I wrote a post the day after the election in November, and since then I have seen many posts pleading to give Trump a chance.  But he hasn’t earned a chance yet.  And if anything, he has time after time shown how unworthy he is to be our commander-in-chief.  Unable to take responsibility, full of accusations and immature finger-pointing.  Even after his speech on Friday he shook hands with many standing behind him,  but skirted around the one who secured more votes from the people and her husband.

I watched with pride as a far more worthy politician held her head high,  pasted on a smile,  and continued to stand with pride.  Isn’t that what women have done for years?  She didn’t need to speak out in the protests, because the voices of many others rang out for her.  

And so here I am: a mother of two little girls, a sister of three strong women, a daughter of two respecters of human kind, and a teacher of the future.  I may not have marched in protest, but I am ready to defend our future.

A Lesson on Mourning and Empathy Following a Trump Win  

I deleted Facebook on purpose: your posts about the election always upset me.  Rather than engage in social media arguments with you, I chose silence and distance.  But I opened Facebook the day after the election.

Big mistake.

I, not only saw the Fox News rhetoric, but saw a complete and utter lack of empathy for those of us who are hurting due to the election results.  This explanation is for you: my white friends.

I call you my white friends because that is what you are.  None of my Latino friends say the things you do.  None of my black friends are posting begging us to “give Trump a chance.”  None of my gay and lesbian friends (albeit white) have asked us to move on.  

Only you: my white friends.

I am going to tell you what the Black Lives Matter movement told you, but you didn’t hear.  Your white privilege (yes, this is a real thing) protects you in ways that you don’t understand.  I understand why you don’t understand.  I didn’t “get it” either.  And then I began to think of my Mexican children.  I began to think of my African students.  I began to think of my non-Christian friends.

See, that’s what empathy is: empathy is stepping out of your own shoes and trying on another pair.  Then empathy requires you to say, “Wow! Yeah, the world looks at me differently here. What a bummer!”  Empathy allows you to return to your zapatitos and still remember, feel for, and understand the way someone else feels.

I haven’t seen that from you.  Instead there are posts about giving Trump a chance.  Posts about respecting our commander in chief no matter who he is.  Posts about how Trump’s voting population wasn’t created from hateful people.  Posts about how we all need to move on and get over it.  Posts about how Trump wants to bring us together.

And that tells me you don’t get it.

I don’t understand: we could see with each speech how Trump belittled those who didn’t look like him.  We heard story after story about him encouraging violence against anyone who believed differently and dared to say so.  In fact, they weren’t merely stories:  we saw video evidence!   We heard his “plan” for deportation of Latinos, elimination of equal rights to marry, and registration of Muslims.

So why don’t you understand the fear those people have?

It isn’t unjust fear!  They were told, as were you and I, that life would be different for them if Trump was elected.  Of course they are afraid! and sad! and worried!

Giving Trump “a chance” is a little hard when he’s told you your time is up.  Respecting a man who has so little respect for others in near impossible if you are the others.  Believing that you, his voters, aren’t hateful or ignorant is difficult when his entire campaign was built on a solid foundation of hate: beginning with hate and ending with hate.  Moving on and getting over it isn’t an option–as the next four years we are bound to this joke of a “leader.”  And trusting him to bring us together is equally laughable (except none of this is laughable) because he has done his best to drive a wedge between us: painting a picture of what American should be from the eyes of a privileged white man.

This isn’t about Hillary Clinton and her loss.  This isn’t about Bernie Sanders and his revolution. This is about one man who has caused hurt and fear in millions of people–not just Americans, but all over the world.  This is real.  This is scary.  Try to understand that, would you?

Shock and Sadness on the Day After Elections

I feel sick.  I am literally crying as I write this a country away.

When I visited home during the summer of 2015, Trump had recently began his race.  He had gone on camera talking about Mexicans, and we all were still wondering if it was a joke.  

And that was a question even during the spring of this year:  Is this a joke?   We have all been waiting for the punchline to be delivered.

You know what?  Hate is no joke.  I cannot believe that my countrymen just voted for a man who says the things he says.  Someone who has repeatedly spoken out against Muslims, Mexicans, homosexuals, and women.  Someone who makes fun of people with disabilities.  Someone who jokes about using weapons of mass destruction on other countries.  Someone who every living president has warned us about.  Someone who opens his mouth and spews anger, ignorance, and hatred with every word.

I am reeling, thinking of my little family here in Mexico.  I am wondering  if I need to apply for Victor’s visa earlier than planned.  We were planning on applying for a visitor visa in January.  But now?  What does this mean for us?  Do you, dear readers, realize that with the exception of one brother and my mother, my own family hasn’t met my husband?  Not one family member or friend from home has met my child?  Did you think of us when you voted?  Did you think of the thousands of families like us–or families who have to live seperate in order to survive?

And what does this mean for our country?  Do we really belong to a nation that wants this man as the leader?  I am appalled.  This is the first time in my life that I can say I am embarrassed to be American.  

And I am scared for our future.  

A Plea for Your Vote

Did you see the first lady’s speech?  If not, you may want to watch it on YouTube…if you are of voting age, and you are registered you SHOULD watch it.

I did.  Laying in bed between my two perfect little girls, I watched the First Lady speak about the upcoming election and all that is at stake.  She didn’t have to utter the name of Hillary Clinton’s opposition for us to know who she was talking about. He-who-should-not-be-named lit up the press again with his lewdness.

There’s something about watching an election as an expat that allows for a certain level of clarity.  My election conversations are not with my friends I’ve grown up with, my family, or my countrymen (in many cases).  And so, I get to see what they see: humor that turned to disbelief that turned to disgust.

I get it.  

Because I am disgusted that there are people (potentially reading this now) who would consider voting for a present day Voldemort.

I am an educator–so Day of the Girl meant something to me too.  All over the world girls have to fight for their right to education, freedom to choose their future career or husband, and/or survival.  Here in Mexico there are areas that JUST registered the female native population.  In the United States women who work just as hard as men (or arguably harder) are in many cases still paid less.

And yet, here we are.

Did you know that when women received the right to vote that the final voice chiming in for ratification was a young man from Tennessee?  His mama had sent him a note imploring him to wisely stand up for what was right, and he did (much to the dismay of his constituents).

I beg of you, vote wisely.

This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a “lewd conversation”. This wasn’t just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behaviour…

The First Lady says the men in her life don’t talk like that, and I feel the same.  I’ve NEVER heard my father, uncles, brothers, or husband talk like that.  Of course, they never made fun of immigrants, people with special needs, or plus size women either.  They were raised to respect others, not lie, cheat, and abuse them.

And I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong. And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer – not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.

You know, I’ve had people in my own family say they just wouldn’t be voting this election.  The options are not options they are happy with, so they just will leave this one up to God.

In her speech, Mrs. Obama says something I want to share: One of these two people WILL be voted on next term as president of our country.  Don’t sit this out.  Don’t vote for someone who hasn’t got a chance of winning to prove a point.  Think of all that is at stake if we elect a national disaster (and embarrassment) as our leader.

And finally, think of my family.  Sometime in the next four years we will probably try to move home.  If you elect someone into office who makes ignorant, hateful statements about immigrants, what does that do for my family?  

Be responsible.  Vote responsibly.  And think of us when you bubble in, punch, or press your option for the next president of The United States of America.

Hope of Rain

Until I lived in the desert, I never understood that hope of rain.  Just a little water falling from the sky freshens the air, the ground, and my attitude.

I have the same hope tomorrow–knowing that two of God’s servants will be in our meeting.  And for weeks from now–as we prepare for Torreon convention and the visitors that come with it!  Even September holds hope in the palm of her hand with the arrival of our larger convention in the next state over.

A spiritual shower may not make my tomatoes grow, but it sure does help love to grow:  Love for my meeting, my family, my place, and love for a world struggling to find a foothold in the midst of chaos.

Rain down on me.

A Letter to My Girls 

  
Dear Darling Daughters,

Words can’t begin to express the joy that fills my heart when I watch you play.  There’s a closeness you have that I pray you will keep forever!  Once I worried about adding another baby to our family, and I find myself in that place of contentment and happiness again.  How could life ever become better, sweeter, than it is now?

This morning I snuck downstairs to start making breakfast while you snoozed happily away.  I don’t worry as much about leaving now that you have each other to keep company.  I cooked, cleaned the kitchen, mopped, and then you, my sweet big girl, appeared.  “I was sleeping,” you said, laughing, “and then Josie woke me up!”  Together we went to get our smiling happy baby ready for our day.

Tonight we sat together looking at photos as I prepared Josie’s paperwork for her American documents.  We exclaimed together over photos of our first baby learning to “read.”  We watched videos of you crawling, eating spaghetti, laughing… And, in a matter of minutes, we watched you grow all over again!  Time passed before our eyes, and while you were busy, your daddy and I talked.  We talked about life before you–how young and skinny we were. We talked about the stories behind the photos. We talked about today:  “Mama, I love you,” you said.  “I love you too, honey,” I replied.  “That’s music to my ears!” you fired back with a sweet smile.  We talked about you playing with your friends and trying out your Spanish for a while.  We talked about you being “too busy to play caballito with Josie.”  

Ahhh… My heart is so full! My cup runneth over!   

Sweet babies, I look forward to what tomorrow might bring: your sweet giggles, the cuddles and kisses, and the memories being made.  I know that tomorrow there will also be a point where my frustration will rise as my patience slowly fades.  I hope that isn’t the moment that you or I remember.  Even as I write this, I remember a moment last week. While grumpy, I managed to keep an even voice as I corrected you.  “Okay, mama,” you said, “I can do that.  Thank you for talking nice to me.” 

You, my girls, are growing before my eyes, and I want to remember every touch of your hand–holding onto mine as you nurse, grabbing my face as you kiss me goodbye…again…and again…  I want to remember the twinkle in your eye when you ask for pancakes.  I want to remember the grunt you let out as you demand attention, and the fullness of your smile when you receive it–pushing up onto your hands, ready to crawl. I want to remember the way you talk to yourself as you play.  And those moments of you together, when you ask me for the millionth time what your sister said with each coo she emits. 

You, my dear, sweet girls, are the sun in our day.  Shine on us.  Let us revolve around you a bit and collect your warmth.  You help our family grow.  You give us light and life.  Shine on, sweet girls.

Until tomorrow, sleep tight in my arms.
Love,
Mama
   

My Worries as a “Teacher Mom”

My biggest kid is starting school next year.  (Here in Mexico kids start around age three in preschool.)   I have been a little concerned about something, and tonight I decided to write about it:

What if my kid is worse than I think?  What if she isn’t always the person I see her be, and she morphs into a school monster?  (Some kids are totally different in the privacy of their own home…) What if I can’t see how she really is through my mom-blindness?

This is seriously worries me.

I think mom-blindness is a real thing.  It doesn’t matter how big your kid gets; once they engage in an altercation with someone, the mama bear emerges with claws blazing.  Sometimes we think bears only attack when provoked.  That’s where the expression comes from, right?  It’s the don’t-pick-on-my-baby response that every mom has.  

That’s all fine and dandy, but guess what?  This morning I read about a guy who was attacked in his tent while he was asleep.  When they recovered his possessions, everything was chewed to bits.  With no true cause, the bear attacked a man and all the inanimate objects in his tent.

What if I am a mama bear when I shouldn’t be?  Like, maybe MY kid is at fault and not the other person sometimes.  

I have tried to explain to daycare some of Ale’s “quirks.”  She doesn’t talk until she’s comfortable.  She is fully potty-trained, so I can’t explain why she doesn’t tell you she needs to go.  She didn’t have a sibling until three months past, so maybe that is why she doesn’t share.  But what if all of these are just excuses, and my kid is just that kid with a crazy teacher mom.

What if I make too many excuses for my child’s behavior because of mom-blindness?

I am making it my purpose to be less subjective.  I will try to take a step back and consider my kid’s potential for misbehavior when analyzing what other people say.  I will try to see the situation through their eyes.  I will try to see past my innate love for my child, to see the real her (faults and all).  Then, I will love her anyway.

An ex’s mom told me that once: “We don’t always like what our kids do, but we still love them.”  I understand that better now than ever before.

So, I will love her.  But I don’t want my love to ever enable her misbehavior to continue.  I want to be able to correct my child and love her at the same time.  And I want eyes that see clearly through it all.

  

Sleepless South of the Border

My thoughts are full of my baby girl who will join us in 8 short weeks… She wakes me up in the night, and I lie awake thinking of what I need to do, questions I need to ask, and money I need to save.

My big girl is sleeping beside me, her feet occasionally digging into my sides.  While she’s excited about her sister, I lie here wondering what she will do when another baby joins our bed.  How will we sleep?  Where will the baby go?  How can I make sure Ale still gets to snuggle too?  How will I breastfeed and read at the same time? 

Then my thoughts take me to our impending appointment with a midwife.  I didn’t know she existed before Ale was born, but I’m interested in her services now.  Will we like her?  How will she react to my wishes?  What happens if I tear? Can she repair that? (quick Google search for perineal massages…) Will she let me delay cord clamping?  When will she want to set up the birthing pool? Why did her family come to Mexico? I wish I could snoop more on Facebook…

Googling prepping my down-there region reminds me to look at hypnobirthing again.  Quickly I open my iTunes and start listening to a variety of options.  I find that I prefer a British or Austrailian accent over an American.  When should I start meditating? How do I choose the right track for the right time?  Is this just a study course, or will someone talk me through my birth?  Will it make me fall asleep?  Will I be wasting money?  

Oh! Money! I have to budget for the next two weeks before we get paid again.  That reminds me to look into what essential oils will relax me or help stimulate contractions.  While navigating the Young Living page, I get frustrated over the lack of prices.  Is it worth it?  Do I need to get a diffuser?  Should I just bite the bullet and sign up for a starting kit?  Did my friend already order one as we discussed today on the bus?  Will I get it in time?

What else do I need for her?  I ordered some clothes and socks.  What did Ale wear?  Will her cloth diapers be too big?  I begin to think of my cloth diapers folded neatly in the closet, and then of the new diapers I ordered. That reminds me that I need to get gift cards for my baby supply mules who went home over Thanskgiving break.  Then my stomach growls.

Really?  I’m hungry in the middle of the night?  While I’ve only gained three pounds, I start thinking of the next eight weeks of baby growth.  She already feels so tight–how much bigger will I get? How long will the doctor let me work.  I need to remember to print a copy of the “new” law to take with me to my appointment on Friday.  What if he doesn’t let me work during January?  What if the baby comes early?  Will I be able to get a passport in time?

Without a moment to spare (haha), I just have to check the requirements for Mexican passports.  There is no way the baby could get her birth certificate and passport (from the U.S.) in time to travel in March. 

Oh! March! Graduation! Eek!  Class work that is due soon!

And then I begin building a list of what I need to do at work in the next 14 school days prior to Christmas break…

This, my friends, is why I am lying in bed awake at 3:05 a.m.

Our Hound Dog



This little guy was the sweetest pup you’ve ever met.  He was so excited to see Ale, and she was so excited to see him!  She would wake up and ask about him.  When he would jump on her or try to eat her babies, she scolded him.  He became sick two days ago, but then he seem to be better yesterday.  Today he died.

I loved our little Rocky.  He loved us too, and I am sad that we can’t see our “babies” grow up together.  

He ain’t nothing but a hound dog–but I’m the one crying…