My family has dinner together every night. Most days, I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to deal with arguing at the table. I don’t want to work on table manners or conversation skills. Yet, I try to do it every night. The experts, say it matters.
We sit at a round table and there is never an assigned seat. The five of us have created an order of sorts, though. Two don’t sit next to one another ever, and someone has to manage the oldest so that she will actually stay in her chair and eat food. It is loud, messy, and more often than not, a very simple meal. Connecting with one another and maintaining a relationship is worth it though.
I write this because it is a true picture of our life.
It isn’t the Facebook story or the public view people get when they see us out in the world. We are an interracial family. I am positive that when we leave the house together, regular dinner time is not the story people are creating in their minds.
I too thought our story would be about race before the adoption even happened. It was the one thing I was prepared to deal with– the thing I thought would matter most. However, it is the one family subject that is at the bottom of our list because we find it’s a non issue most of the time. This isn’t an act of denial or me saying that race doesn’t matter. I promise you it does. In our family, race is an aside because there are too many other things standing before it.
My eldest daughter has a hidden disability, organic brain damage. At thirteen she often behaves as if she is four. I know strangers probably think I am a terrible parent when they see her acting up in the grocery store or see me at the school for yet another conference. My son is dyslexic, a challenging learning disability that has complicated his life.
I have three children who all have three different birth mothers and fathers. We are a non-theist, vegetarian, adoptive family, trying to live lightly on the earth in suburbia. So, yes, we stand out in many ways.
One hundred years ago, I wrote a poem entitled “I Am.” You know the one, where you start listing all the things that make up you in a list to create personal poetry. It’s a great exercise to get people out of their preconceived poetry notions, but it is also a great exercise in perspective.
My “I Am” poem from long ago is so irrelevant now that it makes me laugh.
Today, I am Mom to three children with lots of issues. I am also a wife to an amazing husband, an advocate for special needs children, and a writer struggling to live in the present. I am a friend gathering community in every corner of the world. I am not that Facebook photo someone posted yesterday. I am a messy dinner table, trying to keep balance in our lives so that I don’t lose these beautiful children to disconnection. I am a mama craving mindfulness even through a mouthful of food.
What does your “I Am” poem look like today? How is it different from something you would have written before becoming a parent?