Why #OscarsSoWhite Is More Than Just a Hashtag In My Home

Did any Black people win last night, mommy?

This was the first question out of my daughter the morning after the Golden Globe awards. Thankfully, I could answer yes, knowing that at the age of seven, she would be content with only one actress winning a Globe, and the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement award going to a Black man.

You may be shocked that a seven year old is even thinking about such things, but representation of her race is important to my daughter, and it should be. I’ve taught her that, because I can’t give her “blackness” (forgive me for lack of a better description) so she has to search for it elsewhere – her friends, her activities, her entertainment, her neighbourhood – all of these areas of her life serve as surrogate racial models for my daughter because I can’t. I wish I could, but I knew before I adopted her the only thing I can do is teach her as best I can to watch and learn from other sources in addition to what I regurgitate for her from my own research. It matters to her to see herself, in both her race and her adoption, represented in the real world.

In the past six years, I’ve pushed through many moments of my own discomfort to try to learn about struggles that I have never experienced as a white women protected with a coat of white privilege. I’ve tried to educate myself as much as I possibly can on what white privilege is and what I, as a white person, can do to become an ally to people of colour in ways that people of colour have shared are relevant to them.

As a stay-at-home mother initially, and now a work-at-home mother, often my simplest and most readily-available form of me-time recreation has been watching movies. I love movies. Especially the season of excellent quality films following Christmas up until summer blockbuster season. For six years, I’ve obsessively watched all Oscar-quality movies, made my own predictions, attempted to see all or most of the nominated performances and then watched the award shows and live-tweeted during those shows. I’ve voiced my disappointment over the lack of diversity both in Hollywood and in the nominations and winners of the awards, but I’ve never really done much more about it; armchair slactivism at its worst. I won’t lie – I’ve loved being a part of it all and didn’t really think I could do much more than just express my disappointment.

Until now.

This year, for the second year in a row, there are no Black actor or actress nominees. Nor Supporting Actor or Actress nominees. Not a single Black actor was deemed worthy of a nomination by a mostly white, male institution. Not many people of colour in general, in any category, for that matter. Yet The Academy figured they had it all balanced by contracting Chris Rock to host the show.

I’m pissed about it all.

Yet, I’m also to blame.

And so are you.

HEAR ME OUT, before you start rolling your eyes and complaining that Will Smith and his wife are just whining that he didn’t get a nomination.

We continue to support these award shows by watching them. That’s how they make money and what indirectly continues to feed the vicious circle of racism – we support movies featuring more white actors than people of colour in more white stories than stories about people of colour, we watch award shows to reward more of the white actors and actresses so they will continue to get more white parts in more white movies. What’s worse is that we also continue to complacently accept white actors playing characters who weren’t originally white.

No more.

I am not going to actively teach my daughter about racial equity with my words and then completely confuse her by exemplifying with my actions what white privilege is all about. I refuse to let her believe that it’s ok to watch award shows that disrespect the talent and effort of people of colour.

It’s not ok.

How can I look my daughter in the eye when she asks me the morning after the Oscars if any Black actors won and tell her “No, darling. There weren’t any nominated. But mommy still watched and enjoyed the show like I always have.”

I can’t do it.

I won’t do it.

And personally, I’d like to know how Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Charlize Theron, Hugh Jackman, Madonna, and even one of the Grand Poobahs of Hollywood, Steven Spielberg, along with other Hollywood royal members are going to explain to THEIR children of colour how and why they supported an institution that doesn’t respect the efforts of their child’s race?

I can’t do that to my daughter nor can I disrespect the talented people of colour who put out high-quality work in Hollywood without the same opportunities or recognition that white people receive.

So, for the first time in my adult life, I will not be watching the Academy Awards this year.

(Those who know me or at least are friends with me on Facebook and read my frequent status movie reviews are going “WHOAAA!” right now, while the rest of you are probably going “Who gives a shit?” and that’s just fine by me.)

Going forward, I will also be choosing the films I spend money to watch with a far greater intention; I will be actively looking for movies that feature stories about people of colour, that star people of colour and are written and/or produced by people of colour.

Adopting my daughter helped open my eyes to my own white privilege and continuously forces me to confront it, own it and acknowledge it in my everyday life. I’m thankful every day for her presence in my life and I owe her and all people of colour to do what I can.

Oh sure, it may seem like no big deal to you, and in a harsh world of so many societal problems, some may be inclined to write off the importance of “a little gold statue”. Thankfully, I’ve also learned that just because something isn’t important to me, that doesn’t give me the right to invalidate its importance to others. Nor does it allow me to dismiss the greater societal issues behind that little gold statue. Everyone deserves recognition for a job well done – would we dismiss a teacher or doctor asking for equal recognition for equal work performance? Of course not. The Oscars may not matter to you, but it matters to the people who work at providing movies for entertainment. ALL of the people, not just the white ones.

My daughter knows how much I love movies and how Oscar night has been a VERY BIG DEAL for me in the past, so I’m making my stand in a way that I know is meaningful to her. I don’t expect my position to have any impact on Hollywood and their institutionalized racism, but quite frankly, I’m not doing it for them.

#OscarsSoWhite

 

Not My Problem? Not Your Problem?

privilege

I’ve just finished reading a blog post about race.

Wait! Before you roll your eyes and move along to something else you’d rather read, I have a confession to make.

I read articles and blog posts every day about race. That’s not my confession, but I just need to frame my admission so you understand the full effect.

As a white parent of a black child and a member of humanity, I take my responsibilities to her and them very seriously. I do whatever I can to learn as much as I can about racism and to understand what being black is “really” like, if there is such an explanation.

I cannot give my daughter “blackness” (I apologize if that term offends some) because I know nothing about being a person of colour and how those differences play out in my daily existence. I’ve come to feel that I don’t just owe my daughter my support and understanding; I owe it to all of the men and women who deal with racism. So I read and learn. I keep my mind and my heart open.

When this particular blog post was shared in a trans-racial adoptive families group that I belong to, I opened it with the same curiosity and interest I do with most articles about race.

Except this one was different.

Not in the content – oh no. Sadly, I’ve read many posts about micro-aggressions similar to this one, and even worse, more overt racist words and actions.

Nor was the writing or the author different than others I’ve read. Some posts are angry, outraged bursts of indignation – as they should be. Some posts are sad, quiet, introspective pleadings for change – also as they should be.

This post was different because it caused me to have an epiphany:

Twenty years ago, I would not have understood what the problem was in the situation that the man encountered at the cafe. I might not have even read the post, but if I had, I certainly would have dismissed it with a casual “that’s HIS interpretation of what happened” in the same dismissive way you invalidate your partner’s feelings during a fight by saying “Well, that’s YOUR opinion!” AND I STILL WOULD NOT HAVE CALLED MYSELF RACIST. 

That’s called white privilege, for those who don’t recognize it. It’s not something I’m proud of, yet society raises most white people with a blanket of blindness to their own privilege and ignorance. I still have so much to learn and understand.

Now, I share this confession with you not because I’m looking to pat myself on the back in a “look how far I’ve come in my racial awareness” way, but because after I finished reading the post, I realized that so many other people will read it and have the same reaction that I would have had 20 years ago. Some of them even left comments saying so.

So what is my goal here?

I guess if I can encourage even ONE person to look at their own responses and recognize their own white privilege and see past it to validate someone else’s experience, even if they have never experienced something like it themselves, I’ve accomplished something.

Go ahead and laugh. Mock me, if you want. I still won’t give up on the concept that one day, hopefully in my daughter’s lifetime, we will live in a world where people are not judged by race, gender or sexual orientation.

“I don’t want to become a hashtag.”

This line from the post slayed me.

How many white people worry about that?

Awareness is the first step towards change.

A Life Is A Life

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I’m sitting in LAX waiting for my delayed flight home from a really good two week holiday with my family, but my heart is heavy.

For the past couple of days, I’ve watched the flurry unfold on TV and social media from the shock and dismay over Robin Williams’ alleged suicide to the platform for public awareness and support of people with depression and helping them with suicide prevention.

Bravo, I say. It’s about time. I still consider my own past dealings with depression a dirty little secret I rarely discuss because of the stigma of shame that used to exist for depression sufferers.

I too loved Robin Williams as an entertainer. A love that started with the “Nanu, nanu, Mork from Ork” antics of an 80’s sitcom, all the way through his career.

Yet, my heart is hurting for a different reason.

My heart is breaking for a different man – one who didn’t go to Julliard and didn’t have the world wrapped around his waggling, slapstick finger with his talents. A man who perhaps made a mistake or two, or was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or simply was born into the wrong skin colour in the wrong state.

Michael Brown was an unarmed man, who according to some eyewitness reports, had both hands raised begging police not to shoot him when he was ignored and shot repeatedly to death anyway.

Where is the media frenzy about THAT, I ask?

Don’t misunderstand my intentions here.

BOTH of these stories warrant media focus.

BOTH of these men deserve recognition.

BOTH of the underlying causes for these tragedies are worthy of public outcry, awareness and support.

It’s just that ONE of these stories is not like the other.

ONE of these stories is about a black man who didn’t want to die but was murdered anyway, presumably because of the racist beliefs of the police officer that shot him, in a state that was once a hotbed of racism.

Am I making assumptions here that haven’t been proven by the “police investigation pending”?

Youbetcha.

Are my assumptions based on historical fact, hard evidence and my own awareness of countless other black men and women who have been discriminated against, some murdered as well?

Youbetcha.

I’m really happy that the public opinion of depression and suicide is shifting. I’m relieved to see the stigma that was once attached to mental illness dissipating and a social tenderness developing towards sufferers of these conditions.

But what I can’t understand for the life of me is why the media and society in general keeps turning a blind eye away from the blatant racism that is occurring in law enforcement and the judicial system? Why don’t these tragic episodes also receive the same media focus and empathy?

Oh sure – the networks and newspapers have all done their due diligence in cursory coverage of what happened to Michael Brown, it hasn’t been completely ignored.

But how many more innocent, unarmed black men or women will die before the world decides that their burden also deserves the same sympathy, empathy, assistance and support as celebrities suffering from addiction or mental illness?

The world at large may be content with the facade of a “police investigation” used to buy time for construction of a careful patchwork quilt of excuses and explanations, but I’m not. I know how this story ends. The same way it did for Trayvon Martin. The same way it did for Jonathan Ferrell, a young black man who was seriously injured in a car accident and managed to get to a nearby residence and ring the doorbell to ask for help but was shot and killed by police summoned by the homeowner who only saw a bloody black man at her front door. The same way it did for so many other black men and some women who have been murdered with flimsy or no excuse, whose names you wouldn’t recognize even if I did share them here.

When are we going to stand up as a group of people called humanity and voice our disagreement?

One love, people.

One love means equal treatment for ALL people. It sounds great in theory and is certainly an aspiration, but we just aren’t there yet.

Instead of being satisfied with the bullshit cover stories fed to you by law enforcement and judicial agencies, broaden your support and understanding to include people who are discriminated against.

Racism is every bit as painful and tragic as depression and mental illness – let’s stop accepting it as one of society’s remaining dirty little secrets.

 

The Oscars Are Getting With The Program!

Everyone who knows me knows that I love movies and look forward to the Oscars for months before they arrive.

This year, it was SO worth the anticipation!

Ellen DeGeneres was a superb host.  Funny, without being mean, lively, but annoyingly so, and the best part?  SO interactive with the celebrity audience.

Smart woman – she knows we don’t tune in just to watch her for 3.5 hours, as amazing as she is.

Here are my Top Ten things that I LOVED about yesterday’s Oscars:

1.  The dresses – well, DUH!  Isn’t that a huge reason why many tune in? When I see gorgeous celebrities wearing long sleeves and demure necklines, just for a few moments, I can actually pretend that I too could rock a gown like that. Last night the gowns were conservative and downright plentiful in fabric, for the most part, which gives my wobbly bits such hope for when I walk the red carpet.

2.  Anne Hathaway wearing a metallic-breastplated dress to avoid Nipplegate, Part 2.  Not sure if it was intentional, but I’m going to assume it was her classy raised middle finger to last year’s media frenzy erected by her dress and what it didn’t hide.

3.  Pharrell performing “Happy”.  Children dancing on the stage.  Pharrell gettin’ funky with Lupita, Meryl and Amy.  Pharrell getting everyone up on their feet shakin’ it.  Loved it – best performance of the night.

4.  The number of speeches that thanked MOMS.  Jared Leto AND Matthew McConaughey both did – so nice to see grown men pay such tribute to their mothers.  Also loved the tears that appeared when Matthew spoke of his wife and children – take notes, gentlemen in training!

5.  Bette Midler singing.  Love her or hate her – that woman can sing.  And that she did, superbly well.  I loved that she sang the song I danced to with my dad at BOTH of my weddings!

6.  The speeches were not long, boring, drawn-out, or containing political diatribes.  Yes, a few held political or social commentary, but it was like everyone understood that it wasn’t the time or the place for the soap box, and sometimes, just a mention is all you really need to make people think.

7.  Ellen ordered pizza, had it delivered and passed it out to the celebrity audience.  With celebrities helping serve it up!  Have you ever seen anything that cool, fun or original in recent Oscar shows?  Also, who was the last host to break Twitter by posting a selfie with her and 10 celeb peeps?  Need I say more?

8.  Joseph Gordon Levitt, whom I could love on a standalone basis, but he also reminded me of my boyfriend from senior year in high school – their resemblance is uncanny, to be honest, although I have no idea what the former flame looks like now, so I’ll stick with my memory.  Or JGL.  Refer also to Jonah Hill – that cutie-pie just makes me smile, even when he doesn’t say a word.

9.  I agreed with almost all of the award choices – I might have chosen a different Best Director and different Animated Feature, but everything else I completely agreed with – that NEVER happens!

10.  DIVERSITY.  Black nominees, in more than one category.  Black attendees – more than just a couple token uber-famous black celebrities in the crowd.  A movie about slavery won Best Picture and Best Screenplay.  An intelligent, talented black woman won Best Supporting Actress.  A black man gave the best performance of the show.  Sidney Poitier on stage to remind us all who got the ball rolling for black people in Hollywood.  The Academy is starting to realize that perhaps diversity has been lacking in their club, and it’s nice to see some signs of this changing.  Would I have liked to see more diversity? Of course, but starting somewhere is better than stagnancy.

Keep it up, Hollywood, you did it all right last night.

My creative stepson made this!

My creative stepson made this!

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Diversity Got the Deep Freeze in the movie “Frozen”

We’ve just returned from doing what probably eleventy million North American kids did this weekend – watching the latest Disney movie “Frozen”.

I’m torn about sharing my thoughts, because on one hand, I want to be cool, just chill (see what I just did there?) and take a kid’s movie at face value.

And at face value – it WAS a pretty fun movie. Good music, funny jokes, entertaining characters and a uniquely engaging storyline.

But hidden underneath all that ice was something I found a little disturbing. So, being who I am, you know I’m going to share it with you. Because who are we kidding about that cool mom who knows how to chillax? Not me and we all know it.

Now, my biggest complaint about this movie is really not just about THIS movie, but about almost ALL kids’ movies. This one just happened to have the misfortune of being the ice on the cake (sorry, couldn’t resist).

There is a gaping lack of diversity in this and many other kids’ movies.

And I’m sick of it.

Yes, the movie is set in Medieval-era Nordic lands, where presumably diversity was not ever heard of, but don’t tell me that if Disney can cook up a story about a sister who has ice flowing from her hands to freeze a village in July and create blizzards, a moving,talking snowman that has body parts that separate and regroup at will and a reindeer that communicates with eyeball language, then don’t tell me they can’t cook up some black, Asian, East or West Indian residents in the village. Or royalty visiting the castle. Or a hero or heroine. Or even a cross-race romance (GASP!) I just don’t buy it. In one ballroom scene, there is a barely-there glimpse of a brown-ish couple, but it’s so fleeting that I’m actually wondering now if my eyes were playing tricks on me because I wanted to see something, anything other than white so badly.

The same is true for many kids’ TV shows. Take the royal darling Princess Sophia. How many black princes or princesses attend the Royal Academy with Sophia? Yep – you got it. None. Oh sure – Sophia has a black girl friend, who is a peasant in the village from Sophia’s pre-royalty life, but she rarely shows up at the castle. Why is that? Are the writers and creators so confident that a non-white person could never actually become royalty via an exclusive private academy? I also watched a Barbie TV special last week with Baby Girl that disgusted me for the same reason – Barbie and all of her white friends were attending a fancy private school that offered equestrian training and competition. Well, it must have been set either in South African apartheid, or the Southern States prior to the civil rights movement, because there were nothing but WHITE girls at that school.

The same for Frozen. It would appear that diversity was frozen out of this film. Not even a non-white servant in the castle, which perhaps I should be thankful for, that at least THAT stereotype was left out.

Now what troubles me most about the movie white-out is this: my daughter is black and taking her to see these movies is sending her the subliminal, subconscious message that non-white people do not belong in princess adventure movies. Unless of course they have their own township-like side of town to live their life of hardship in menial jobs, are turned into a frog to help a sinister black voodoo man and end up owning a restaurant with a fellow “coloured” man, not living like royalty in a castle. Baby Girl is learning from these movies and shows that maybe non-whites just aren’t good enough to be at a grand party at the castle, or even skating in the castle courtyard with the other villagers.

Children’s TV and movies is not the world of equality and the desired colour-blindness that so many politically correct people are calling for today, yet we as parents continue to take our kids to these movies and allow them to believe that it’s acceptable to freeze out diversity.

Don’t get me wrong – Baby Girl did not notice the missing representation one bit. In fact, during the Barbie TV special, I asked her numerous times if she saw anything missing from Barbie’s school and circle of friends, and she didn’t. Even when I pointed out to her that there were absolutely no black girls – or any other race than white – attending the school or even in the show – her response made me want to cry.

“That’s ok mommy. It doesn’t bother me.”

Well, it bloody well should. It bothers the hell out of me, and it bothers me MORE that it DOESN’T bother her. To me, that’s simply an indication that her experience of movies and television has been so completely white-washed that she just assumes this is NORMAL. Which sadly, it is in the world of entertainment, if not the real world that some of us live in.

I’m really disappointed that a powerhouse like Disney, knowing they could do SO MUCH to instill tolerance and equality in our children’s minds, continues to white-out all of their characters, or segregate them to their own movies like The Princess Frog, Mulan or Pocahontas.

If so many of us are trying to de-segregate, inter-relate and strive for a loving society of diversity, why shouldn’t our children’s entertainment be helping us send the same message to our kids so their generation doesn’t have to work so hard to fight racism?

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Diversity Simplified

If you are a parent – do this activity with your kids NOW.

If you are a teacher -of ANY grade or age – make a reminder to do this with your new class ON YOUR 1ST DAY OF SCHOOL in September.

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Thank you to kidsactivitiesblog.com for posting this.  I hope they don’t mind me using it here, but it’s a fantastic example and bears repeating.  Over and over and over again.  Thank you also to whomever took it from that blog and posted it on Facebook for me to come across this morning when I was supposed to be editing the blog post I had written for this week.  That post can wait.

Diversity is complicated for adults, but for kids – IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THIS FOLKS!

Show your kids the white egg and the brown egg.  Ask them what the difference is.  Make sure their answer refers to the appearance of the eggs.  Then crack ’em both open and ask them what the difference is on the INSIDE.  Make sure their answer is “They’re the SAME!”.

Then say these simple words:

JUST LIKE PEOPLE.  We all look different on the outside, but we are ALL the same on the inside.

We all have unique thoughts and feelings and ideas, BUT…….we ALL have thoughts, feelings and ideas.   WE ARE ALL THE SAME.

NOBODY IS BETTER.  White eggs aren’t better.  Brown eggs aren’t better.   They are the SAME.

JUST LIKE PEOPLE.

Then go buy this book for your younger kids, because it’s AWESOME at explaining Diversity – We’re Different, We’re the Same (Bobbi Kates).

http://www.amazon.com/Were-Different-Sesame-Street-Pictureback/dp/0679832270/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372955717&sr=8-1&keywords=we%27re+different+we%27re+the+same

 

Feel free to shout all the words I’ve capitalized above (in a happy shouty voice, of course).  It’s an important message, after all.

Then live your life demonstrating this message in everything you say and everything you do.

 

 

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Guilty as Charged

Guilt.  The numero uno emotion for most mommies.   I’ve read a lot about mommy guilt lately.  How to forgive yourself.  Take care of yourself.  Go easy on yourself.  So easy to say, isn’t it?  Not so easy to do.   For me, this has been one of the most difficult aspects of motherhood.  I am not well-associated with guilt.  I really didn’t experience much of it prior to motherhood.  Not because I was perfect – oh no, far from it.  I did plenty of craptacular things as a daughter, friend, sister, girlfriend, wife.  I just never really felt guilty about them.  Don’t get me wrong – I have a conscience.  You’re probably doubting that after my last statement, but honestly, I do.  I just prefer to spend my emotional time on learning from my mistakes than feeling guilty for things that can’t be undone.  To me, guilt was, and is, a useless emotion.  Or rather, guilt without action towards improvement is a useless emotion.

Now here I find myself a mother for 3 years, stepmother for 7 and aside from overwhelming love and pride, the thing I feel most is…yep, you guessed it – guilt.  Ugh.

So, for therapeutic reasons, I’ve decided to confess all.

The list of things I feel guilty about, in no particular order:

  1.  Losing my patience.  Constantly.  Sometimes I fear I am a tyrant.  I am strict, because my parents weren’t and aren’t we supposed to learn from their mistakes?  I am also old – too old sometimes for a 4 year old.  But when she looks up at me with those beautiful dark eyes and they are without their usual sparkle, I feel a soul-suck so huge that I want to drop to my knees and beg for her forgiveness.  Sadly for my kids, bad manners, poor behavior and sassy mouths bug me far more than my guilt over losing my patience.
  2. Shouting.  When Baby Girl says to me randomly “You’re being a nice mommy today!” I want to weep.  Aren’t I a nice mommy everyday?  Somebody please tell me they shout at their kids sometimes too??  I try, I really do, to refrain from shouting, but sometimes it feels like that is the only way I get heard around here.  Even though I took both of them for hearing tests and they were both perfectly audio-enabled, according to the technician who tested them.  I think she got her signals crossed, but who am I?
  3. I’m not black enough to be a good parent to my daughter.  Ok, well, I’m not black at all, not just not black enough.  That means that I can’t provide a black perspective for my daughter.  I make her feel like she “doesn’t match” her family simply by her looking at me.  While I can’t help the fact that I’m not the same skin colour or race as my daughter, I still feel guilty that my lack of black will in some ways make her life more difficult.  I don’t know how to do her hair (not that I’m a bang-up stylist with white girl’s hair, either, mind you) so I must pay a salon to do it for me.  I have never experienced racism.  I am not Zulu, cannot speak her birth language and cannot teach her the dances or anecdotal history or foods of her ancestors.  Not only will she be embarrassed of me as a teenager simply because I am a grinning fool mother who is busting with pride and love for my daughter, but I am also white, which may subject her to teasing or bullying for “not matching” her family.   My skin colour may result in her segregation from other kids with black skin, or kids with white skin.   Do I think transracial adoption is not a good thing because of this?  Absolutely not.  I know in my soul that she was meant to be in our family and that most transracially adopted children are better off with transracial parents than as orphans in institutions or bounced-around foster kids with no permanent family.   I do everything I can to educate myself and others and to advocate for her as a child who was transracially adopted.  I try to teach my daughter everything I can about being black in our world and what that means to her, as well as how to deal with racism. But I’m not black and all the things I teach her are other people’s experiences, not my own.  I feel guilty that everything I do to make up for that still won’t be enough.   Last week, after pondering for a few weeks a “Black History Month” presentation at school, she asked me if I was ever a slave or if I had ever had a slave before I adopted her.  Aside from the fact that some of that presentation obviously didn’t sink in for her, I am fairly confident that black children with black parents do NOT ask their parents these questions, so I feel guilt for already having failed at giving her black-ness.
  4. Hypocrisy.  I am a parent of the “Do as I say, not as I do” variety, despite my guilt over the hypocrisy of that methodology.  I can only assume it is the grace of a Greater Power that has prevented my daughter or stepson from saying “But YOU do it!” every time I tell them not to shout, not to lose their patience but use their words instead and not to sulk when they don’t get their own way.  I would love to “be the person I want my children to be” but my hope for them is that they become better people than their father and I.  Less guilty, at least.
  5. Enjoying time apart from them.  Ok, so if you are one of those moms (and hats off to you, if you are) who genuinely feels sad about time apart from your child(ren), then you may want to skip ahead to Number 6 at this point.  Because I am NOT one of those moms.  I love my kids beyond measurement.  I generally enjoy a lot of time with them.  But when the time comes for mamma to have some time without them, I don’t look back.   My kids are both verbose (Jabberjaws 1 & 2 are nicknames we use when the kids aren’t around) and sometimes a little silence is music to my tired old ears.  Both kids come to me for EVERYTHING, often with their father sitting right there in front of them.  Moms are the go-to person in most families, I think (please tell me it’s not just mine).  When you are a SAHM (stay at home mom) and don’t get much chance for adult interraction outside of your home, a little time apart from your kidlets is like a pot of gold at the end of your barely hanging by a thread rainbow.  Except I feel guilty when I’m dropping Baby Girl at my folks’ for a sleepover and she’s hugging me up like crazy and saying “I’ll miss you mommy” and all I’m thinking is “WOO HOO!!!”.   Don’t judge me, I’m not all bad.
  6. Fighting with my husband in front of them.   Stop gasping.  Other couples do it, I know they do.  I just have the guts to admit it.  When we have a disagreement/argument that is civilized and we use a structured dialogue to present our respective opposing points of view, I do think we are actually helping our kids to verbalize their anger and disagreement in a method of communication that will help them later in life.  In fact, Captain Sassypants has, on two occasions, asked her father or I for a dialogue about her feelings.  Using the same formatted structure that we have used.  So, it’s not all bad news, but sadly, we don’t always have civilized arguments.  There’s no UFC going on here with a PG audience (or at all), but I hate when we can’t control ourselves enough to have civilized discussions instead of fights and feel gutted when she gets so much pleasure and glee out of seeing us hug and kiss.  That’s an indication to me that we just don’t do it enough for it to be “normal” in her world.
  7. My eating habits.  I am a junk food and restaurant junkie.  I love Wendy’s.  I love Popeye’s.  I eat McDonald’s as a form of entertainment for Captain Sassypants.  I love dinner AT the movies.  I love chips.  I love cookies.  I love chocolate.  I love a wholelottashit that is really bad for me.  And my kids.  To make it even worse, I hate exercise almost as much as I love junk food.  Last spring, I was told by 2 doctors to lose some weight to help with a chronic sore foot and to keep healthy the one kidney I do possess.  I did it – I lost 25 lbs and ate better foods and felt better and stopped setting a really bad example for my kids.  Except then I stopped doing that and fell into the bad eating habits again.  They just taste better for some reason.  I do encourage my kids to participate in exercise, despite the fact that I don’t (refer #4 above) but aside from my own piss-poor eating habits, I sometimes allow them to partake in the same junk foods as I do.  Despite the fact that we only allow “treats” (dessert that isn’t fruit or yogurt) every other day, I also sometimes let them eat crap like Alphagetti, Kraft Dinner  and other food that is pre-prepared, pre-packaged and not homemade with good, wholesome ingredients.  I feel guilty that this will negatively affect their health now or in their future.  Bad Mommy police, please be gentle.
  8. Not paying as much attention to them as I should.  Baby Girl is extremely good at entertaining herself, and my stepson is at an age where he just wants to be in his room or watching tv, but in moments of candor, I must admit that I take advantage of that.  I am a bit of an online addict – Facebook ,Twitter, HuffPost, YummyMummyClub, mommy blogs, adoption blogs, parenting sites – how do other parents do it?  How do they fit in online time with face time? And manage to squeeze in full-time paying jobs to boot?  I don’t completely ignore either of my kids all the time, but I do in my heart know that when Captain Sassypants is asking me to post a picture on Facebook for her, or asking if there are any good tweets on Twitter, it’s time for me to start spending time offline.
  9. Not finding out as much information as I could about Baby Girl’s birth family.  When we adopted her, we were given as much information as the social worker had.  There was a very, very long shot of us getting more information about her birth family from an alternate source, but we didn’t pursue it as far as we could have.   Not because we didn’t want to, not because we were afraid to.  We didn’t because we didn’t really think about it while we were there and the opportunity didn’t exist outside of the country.  We had to spend 30 days in South Africa waiting for Canadian citizenship for our darling new daughter, and we were so intently focused on her and spending time with her and falling in love with her that nothing much else entered our minds.  We asked a few questions that the social worker seemed unable or hesitant to answer or help us get answers to, but we didn’t pursue it and one day, my daughter will ask me those same questions and I will feel more guilty than ever that I didn’t try harder to get those answers.
  10. Cussing in front of the kids.  No, I don’t cuss at them.  EVER.  I am just a person that uses 4-letter words periodically (stop laughing, friends!) and has never fully stopped doing so after I had kids.  Even when my daughter was 2 years old and just getting her words and one day ate a piece of food off the floor of a restaurant and I asked her what she thought mommy was going to say about that and she responded with no hesitation “Fuckit?”.   Even that didn’t make me stop completely (although I do admit I tried to refrain for a while after that lovely public episode).  Both my kids know that some words are for adult use only.  My daughter accepts this, and my stepson is at an age (12) where he thinks my occasional expletive use is kinda cool.  Like recently when my husband and I caught him lying to us and I told him that adults sometimes called lying “shoveling shit” so for his consequences, he could shovel the shit out of our 4 kitty litter boxes for 2 weeks.  He actually laughed at the deliverance of this consequence.  No shit.

So, there you have it.  Confessions of a guilt-ridden mommy.  I console myself that there are no felonies on my list and that no parent is perfect.  When the day is done, on most nights I fall asleep feeling like I am good enough, and that’s good enough for me.  I only hope that my kids will forgive me my transgressions when they examine their own parental guilt lists one day.