Friday, March 7, 2014
My son has long hair and it's okay that you mistook him to be a girl. It's okay because I don't think, his father doesn't think, he doesn't think it's insulting to be thought a girl. It's as harmless as believing him to be three or four years old when everyone knows he's three and a half. It's even okay if you think you would never let your son's hair grow long and tangly, that you would never even give people the opportunity to make the same mistake. I'm sure there are plenty of your choices that I would choose differently were they mine for the choosing. But what isn't okay- and what I'm not even sure you realize you're doing- is taking the presumption you've made so very seriously and turning it into A Thing. A Thing of shame and hurt and embarrassment, for you and for him.
You took someone to be something other than what they were. It's a mistake we all have made, and a mistake we all will continue to make. I urge you to let go of your Like a Girl mindset that frames this mistake as something harmful. When you apologize so profusely, when you frantically compliment his beautiful head of hair and make claims we both know aren't genuine ( I wouldn't cut it either! I love long hair on boys! ), that's when you inflict harm, that's when you send the message that Something Very Wrong Has Been Done. That's when- despite that fact that I don't think, his father doesn't think- he begins to think it's insulting to be thought a girl. That's when you take his hair that he loves, his hair that he wishes to grow long enough to fill the whole house, and you turn it into something dirty. You turn it into something that makes him Something Bad, makes him Like A Girl.
You've told me you feel like a jerk. You've asked me why I would keep his hair that way when it makes him look like a girl. You've said countless idiotic things, and you've said them all in front of my son, as if somehow your simple slip up has rendered him deaf. On Thursday you singled us out- you said she wasn't signed up for the class she had just taken- the class we had attended multiple times, the class I had paid for in full. And when I corrected your mistake, pointed out that she wasn't on the roster because he was- you pretended you hadn't made the mistake at all. You singled us out in front of all the other families and you wouldn't let us leave until you assured yourself that we had a right to be there. You wouldn't take my word and you certainly didn't apologize. You chose to make a stupid, silly, totally innocent, totally unoffensive mistake into a humiliating, uncomfortable experience for all involved.
You couldn't find my child on the list because you thought he was a girl and the horror of owning up to that was so great that you instead chose to single us out, to say the mistake was mine for being where we shouldn't. And when you found his name on your list you didn't even look me in the eye, you didn't even act like what you had just done was a toe over the line. You acted like it was perfectly normal to pick a child out of a class of fifteen and tell him he didn't have a right to be there. And in doing that, in not immediately letting the blame of a foolish mistake fall on you- you sent him a message. A message I work every god damn day to drown out. The really hard part of that, the hard part of being a parent, is that I can only do so much. I can only tell him how wonderful he is, how good he is, how perfectly right each perfect strand of hair on his perfect little head is, I can only say all of those things so much and it's never going to be enough so long as you think it's bad to be thought of Like a Girl.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Snow piles heavy on the roof and baby's room smells like dirt. Dirt and lavender and peppermint.
Little seeds are trying, trying in that baby's room that smells like dirt.
Mama's doing indoor things- fermenting things, reading things, sanity keeping things. Except when she's doing outdoor things. And then she's swimming to the chickens and cursing the knee-high snow.
Papa's in the barn, always. This week it's for Sunday's new arrivals. Cleaning up after those once loved; making home, or nest as it may be, for those to be loved.
This farm's trying to be biodynamic, organic. This farmer's trying to be prophetic- starting seeds and planning things around an unruly mother.
All of it feels premature, disjointed, like this thing's being blown before the season even has its pants on. Blown with overeagerness, with jump-the-gun-ed-ness.
Third significant snow in less than a week and I can't think of anything more absurd than pushing little snapdragon seeds into moistened, potted earth.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
February, a heartless lover of the cruelest degree. Short and decidedly unsweet. Whipping winds and notoriously gray skies. Melting snow that gives way to sodden shit-brown earth. So far into the season that even the lengthening days are oft overlooked for what they are- a light at the end of the bitterly cold tunnel. February. I can't say that I've ever wrung my hands over saying goodbye to her. During my third or fourth winter in Boston I learned to steel myself as the last days of January flew off the calendar and when the new month was officially underway to take any manner of desperation with a flake of snow. Save the big decisions, the airing of grievances, the impulsive behavior for later months when it's possible to come up for a breath of warm air. If it's February it's time to hunker down, hold on tight, and cross your mittened fingers for a sure-footed spring landing.
But isn't this February?
Over the past two weeks I've patted myself down in search of the usual feelings of doom and come up empty each time. I've looked up expecting the familiar dark clouds and am astounded when I have to shield my eyes from the light and crystal blue zeal of it all. Surely my personal rhythm is out of sync with the seasons or I've yet to discover that time is passing even more quickly than I had assumed. I am half expecting someone to ask But didn't you know it was April?
I could assign reason for the shift to so many different things, the light I find myself bathing in on a daily basis being the first and most obvious. The perks of inheriting a home remodeled for a sufferer of seasonal affective disorder, you know? But really, what I keep coming back to, is the buoyant power of the hope, the anticipation, the excitement that I have for this upcoming season. Year one we found ourselves heavy with expectations from years of wanting to be where we finally were. When we should have been planning we were packing. When we should have been tilling we were just finding all the soggy spots in our fields. When we should have been doing any number of things we were holding on for dear life, trying to make a home, trying to make a farm, trying to make a life.
As the months have gone by we've put our specks of dust on every surface of this house and left bootprints on each inch of the 10 acres we call home. As we've come to know what we need to thrive as a family in our new space we've done away with offending wall colors and rearranged rooms time and time again. I've never felt more settled- physically or spiritually. We lived in the places we called home before but there was always the feeling of impermanence that kept us somewhat caged. Now, today, as we live in every corner and abandon the What Next?, it feels like we're in bloom- individually and together. We feel good. I feel good. In February, no less, I feel good.
I won't go so far as to lay my battle-ax down- after all this is the first year I haven't been sick from head to heart with the winter doldrums. But let's be honest- the best version of this upcoming season exists right now in the space in back of my eyes. All the inevitable problems of our second year of farming can't be fathomed at this point, and that's something to relish- especially tonight as we welcome another foot of snow on top of the one already standing.
As the snow blows down, as the sky hangs heavy overhead, as the days get longer but still feel painfully short, I again remind myself: the garden will never look so good as it does in the mind's eye of mid-February so sit in it, woman.