Forever Family: notes for my 20-something self

Lately I’ve been thinking about my younger days.

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See that sweet face?  (Yeah, BrightSide, too.)  How innocent, how naive…ready to go along to get along, keep the peace, calm the waters no matter what.

Well, lately I’ve been thinking about what I’d tell that 20-something me.

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SoCS – measure twice, cut once

Boy, my mama could sew.

I remember going with her to pick out fabric for a new jumper or dress, running my hand down the row of bolts, looking at patterns and colors for something I’d love.  We didn’t have a lot of money then so Bee and I had to be sure before we made our final picks – there was no turning back once mom began cutting and laying out the pattern.  No “eh, I don’t really like this after all, the blue would have been better.”

Mom poured her time and talent into making those clothes for us, though I doubt I was as grateful as I could have been.  There were always kids who had brand name jeans, but whatever…we’ll call that character building.  She’d take the scraps, too (waste not, want not) and sew clothes for our dolls.  That made them extra special to me.

So with a talented mom like that you’d think I could manage more than a hem or button, right?  Except not so much.  Not for mom’s lack of trying – I seem to recall her trying to teach me how to work the sewing machine, but I just didn’t have the patience for it.  Probably best in the long run, really, considering how accident prone I turned out to be.  If it’s possible to sew two fingers together, I would have managed it.

No, Bee got all the crafting talent in the family and, as far as I know, can run an actual sewing machine.  If you’ve ever worked with one you know this is an achievement.  They have moving parts my brain just can’t seem to reconcile.

I have fond memories of my mom, though…meticulously laying out the fabric, patiently pinning on the pattern, carefully cutting it out piece by piece.  She put her love into everything she made for us.


SoCS 2

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays are open to anyone who’d like to participate.  Pop over and give her blog a visit.  This week’s prompt is “so/sow/sew.”

Forever Family: tawny, russet, sepia, umber

Bear and I used to read The Colors of Us by Karen Katz together.  She’d ask to hear it almost every day.

“My name is Lena, and I am seven.
I am the color of cinnamon.
Mom says she could eat me up.”

Lena wanted to paint a picture of herself, but her mom pointed out that brown isn’t merely brown.  Bear would ooh and aah as she turned the pages, absorbing the medley of shades in Lena’s neighborhood.

The children’s picture book took a simple approach, describing each character’s skin tone as something the main character understood…french toast, honey, butterscotch, peanut butter, chocolate cupcakes, nutmeg.  Bear would point excitedly at a page and name someone she knew who looked like that.  She never tired of naming which skin tone was hers, and it was her favorite game to match people we knew to characters in the book.

The book’s message is clear: brown is not simply brown.  Brown is a palette.  Brown is beautiful in a hundred ways.

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Forever Family: beauty’s in the eye of the beholder

It’s been years since I watched Whoopi Goldberg’s “long blond hair” segment in her stand up routine, but it’s something I’ve never forgotten.  Whoopi plays a young black girl who dreams of being white.  She drapes an old white skirt over her head, smoothing it as if stroking her luxurious hair.  The character wistfully hopes to become white with long, blond hair so she can appear on The Love Boat.

The implications are clear: beauty is measured by a white world’s standards, and those standards are what you aspire to if you want the American Dream.

While we talk a good game about diversity in American culture – models of all shapes, sizes, and colors; movie roles for minorities; increased visibility for people of color on television – you can’t expect the tide to recede just like that.  It took a long time to shape our culture, and it won’t change back overnight.

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Forever Family: 25 things, adoption style

Writing a stream of consciousness birthday post was so much fun I thought we’d roll with it for Forever Family.  (I first stumbled across this concept over at The Captain’s Speech.  Paul’s sharp wit keeps me in giggles – you should check out his blog.)

So buckle up and let’s go.

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a year in the life

No one’s ever prepared to lose their mother.  Intellectually I understand nobody lives forever, but it’s one thing to know death is inevitable and another thing entirely to find myself walking the earth without the woman who’s loved me my whole life.  It’s a permanent shift in the universe.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned in 365 days without my mom.

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Forever Family: celebrations and grief

Celebrations are powerful, especially for children.  They don’t understand I’m not really up for Christmas this year or let’s just let this birthday pass quietly.  They understand the inherent joy in special days, and they’re drawn to reveling in them.  They’re children, after all, even after they’ve morphed into bigger bodies, and if we’re lucky they haven’t lost the magic in marking milestones with joy.

Which has made this past year somewhat difficult for me.

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