This week: Two things for Chicagoans, a list of links, and some personal parenting stuff.
One of the first photos I took after moving to Chicago, summer 2012
Close to Home
Announcing…Envisioning Equity: Strategic Planning for Inclusive Organizations! I’m volunteering with a dynamic small group to help bring this one-day conference to life in Chicago in March. Our website isn’t live yet but you can get the very basics here. If you’d like to be notified when it launches and when registration opens, drop your email address here.
Also: Was your new year’s resolution to bust out of your comfort zone, do something physical, not succumb to winter doldrums? Did you choose a word for the year, something like brave or zesty, or set an intention like move and groove? Check out Fear Experiment. Try something new, meet fun people, stretch your body and limits. I am an alum and happy to share about my experience dancing onstage at the Park West!
Some Links for This Week
Did you see the huge news about Cyntoia Brown? It’s worth celebrating, and then there’s more work to be done. Don’t miss the tweets from Mariame Kaba aka @prisonculture about 1) continuing to support Cyntoia Brown, who isn’t free yet and who won’t really be free for a long time to come, and 2) some other campaigns you can support and things you can do to help other criminalized survivors to get free. (It’s late, but I just sent a last-ditch email in support of 17-year-old Chrystal Kizur, per the instructions here.)
We the People DC is an Instagram account run by a different DC resident every day. One of the admins is a furloughed government employee who took the handle yesterday and spent the entire day posting examples of freebies and specials for folks in the same boat. She closed the day by offering drinks in The Furlough Tavern - aka her own home.
One of my secret dreams is to be an advice columnist. (I would probably be terrible at it because I’m a P, not a J, and I have trouble setting boundaries. But a girl can dream.) I have been a devoted Carolyn Hax reader since I lived in my parents’ house and could read their paper copy of the Washington Post. I was a Dear Sugar devotee. I have written twice to Ask a Manager — once she published my letter, and another time she replied to my email directly! So I enjoyed this, even if it was too long to get through in one sitting: Here’s What It’s Really Like to Be an Internet Advice Columnist (Buzzfeed/Rachel Wilkerson Miller). Note: If you have a question about parenting, Nicole Cliffe says outright that she doesn’t get enough submitted to answer at Slate’s (generally great) Care and Feeding column!
Podcast episodes to enjoy: When a Banker Was Called to the Convent (Death, Sex, and Money)
Sometimes I am reminded that this exercise exists: The Audre Lorde Questionnaire to Oneself (via Divya Victor). If you, like most of us, are finding these first few weeks of the year hard to muddle through, maybe using the questionnaire as a journaling prompt would help?
Proof that you’re not alone, via Are the Holidays Really the Hardest Time of Year? The Stats Are Surprising (The Guardian)
Her approaching birthday feels a little like New Year’s Eve: Part of me wants to fully indulge. I want to drink champagne and burn a list of everything I’m letting go of and sing some karaoke and sleep in (to be clear, this is what NYE looked like a decade ago, not this year). I want to eat the dinner I ate the night before she was born and the breakfast from the morning after. I want to send sincere thank you gifts (maybe plants would be nice, or a donation to an org fighting family separation or one supporting incarcerated pregnant women? Ideas welcome, I’m brainstorming) to everyone who’s helped us make it through this beginning.
The other part of me keeps insisting it’s just a day. Like the switch at midnight from December to January, it’s almost arbitrary! Her milestones are gradual and daily: this week she wiggles an index finger when we say “no” firmly. And there’s so much happening. We don’t need to overdo this. We need to take her (last?) monthly photo, maybe take her to the aquarium for the first time, and listen to the first song I played for her.
Of course, this is the part of me that hasn’t printed photos for an album, has still not written down the birth story, and has been jotting notes on post-its and sticking those in her baby book instead of inking anything permanently. It’s the part of me that would seriously consider a down payment on a Time Freezer if you invented one.
But that homework assignment from last week: joy is not made to be a crumb. So I baked this cake last night and placed the layers carefully in the freezer. We’re going to wear sparkly gold crowns when she tastes it.
A Partial List of Things I’m Learning As My Child Turns One:
Plans will be cancelled all the time. You will be the canceler and the cancelee. Don’t give up on making plans altogether (even though it is more tempting than ever before). Don’t make so many plans, though. Be realistic. And remember what your friend Tanya, parent of a 10 year old, said: “The exact moment when the stars feel like they’re aligning and you start to believe you’re actually going to get to do that thing for yourself that you’ve been orchestrating so carefully? That’s when the vomiting begins.”
Teaching a child about bodily autonomy starts from the very beginning. Ditto body image. Unlearning all of the toxic things you’ve absorbed, despite your mother’s best efforts, about the importance of being liked (and thin) — already a lifelong process — hurts extra hard and has taken on a new dimension. “Give Mama a kiss!” the loving nanny insists at the end of the day, eager to show off the new skill they’ve been working on. “She doesn’t have to, it’s ok, she did it this morning, I know she loves me even if she doesn’t feel like a kiss right now” you will gently respond, not sure the message is getting through.
You need your old friends. You need friends who are older parents. You need new-parent friends.
It really is very hard to avoid pink. Even if you avoid a ton of pink, it is even more hard to avoid cutesy kittens, board books full of animals who mysteriously all use the pronoun “he,” and giraffes who wear blush.
Your productivity =/= your worth. You don’t need to calculate the number of ounces pumped or the number of night feedings. This isn’t about output.
It will feel like you have more ideas than ever - and like you’ll never ever complete a single thing. Set a timer.
Take your own pain seriously. Try to take it as seriously as you take hers.
See you next week.
Thanks for reading! This is week 19 of 35. If you’re seeing Move and Groove for the first time because someone shared it with you, you can subscribe here.