Breathe Easy, You've Found Me ((HUGS))

People will wonder why this blog is needed, why minority midwifery student? It's very simple actually; I was looking for this blog...but I couldn't find I created it. We all have unique experiences, and every experience, every story, can help someone else. I am a black girl from the hood at an ivy league professional school. That, alone, is reason enough to write. Somebody was looking for this blog. Someone wanted proof that what I'm doing can be done - even when you come from where we come from.

To that person especially, WELCOME.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Just Say What You Need to Say

darkdaughta posted this video for me:

It made me shed a few tears.

I turned off the comments for the last post (and these next ones) because I'm getting somewhere in my head (and on paper) and I want to stay with it...

I was thinking about how one of the things that most people say about me is that I say things bluntly...plainly. I appreciated that in myself. I'm trying to get back to that place (most people will say I never left - but I know differently) I've been talking in circles...beating around bushes...swallowing tongue blood. I've been whining about my anonymity. If I were me I would say "Put your big girl panties on and deal with it."

In the spirit of big girl panties...Lane Bryant sized 16 the purple-trimmed in pink-with REBEL in sparkly letters across the butt-that I wore yesterday, I continue to deal:

I left off talking about love. How to separate how we learned to love from ways of loving that would work better for us. I have some experience with this in the marriage arena. I believe that I was taught to love my (future) husband in a way that is detrimental to my own existence. It starts early...he is the head of the household, even if you're the one doing all the work. He is the provider and protector of the family...even if he doesn't have the skills to do it. He is the one who makes the final decision...even if it is your life that will be most affected. He is the one who manages the money...even if you make it all...and in the event that he doesn't do all of these things, he still gets the credit because he is the man. This is what it is to love a man...a patriarch...with christian ideals. In addition to this, there were rules that pertained to loving black can't be too hard on him, he's fragile, the world has beaten him have to be patient with him, his opportunities have been few, and it's a steep learning curve...he's just being a man, that's how they long as he isn't physically abusive, you can make it work (but of course when they are abusive, most times few people know it) you gotta make it work because we need eachother in this world. This is just what it is to love a black man in this country. There are all the messages...did you cook? Are his children clean? Remind him to send his mama a birthday card? You pack his belt? The cake for his office pot luck? Is he hungry? This is just what it is to be a take care of your husband. This is love.

These are the things I learned. Sometimes people told them to me directly, other times social norms of the community dictated that this is how it's done. Me and the man have bucked a lot of expectations. I try to figure out what works for me, then we try to figure out what works for us. If there has to be a 'head' of household, I am it. This was the topic of a conversation I had while on my conference with classmates. Their pity was palpable. Uncomfortable. Irritating. They both have male heads of household agreements. "What does he say about that?" they ask. So, still, it's about him...I can only lead if he lets me. I talked about how I feel like I have final say when it comes to our children. About how I don't think I leave that to anyone else. They said "but he's the one that will be with them during the day." I know that. But my stance remains. My approach to childrearing is more constructed, more considerate of raising whole, healthy, thinking people...the man is more of a free spirited, we'll-deal-with-it-as-it-comes kinda guy. I don't care to leave this aspect to chance...proactive childrearing is my preference. So yes, he'll be home, but I'll be present, too. And in the event that we disagree, I decide. That was a hard concept for them to grasp. And ultimately it ended our conversation because eventually his manhood came into question (as in "how does he feel about that" and how they're partners "wouldn't have that"...therefore meaning that the man is somehow less a man because he has no problem with it....ugh) The conversation was over before it started especially when I said that I thought my womanhood was just as important as his manhood, and why should what he wants/needs be more important than what I want/need. It all came down to 50/50. Yes I agree with 50/50 in theory, but in reality, when two people disagree, someone has to give. I simply mean that I refuse to be automatically designated as that person. To me, love is figuring out who does what and why. Love shouldn't be a stranglehold, but I know that at times it is. We try hard in our house to be two individuals who are committed to the growth of each person. We try to remind ourselves that this is our marriage, no one else's. That we get to decide how it should work. It takes a lot of digging to figure out how and why we came to automatically love the way we gotta dissect relationships that happened around gotta figure out your relationships to your parents...a bunch of stuff that we have only begun to do, but the point is we try not to take anything for granted when it comes to how it 'should' be.

I remember one day when I thought I was leaving the man. I was leaving because I felt like he wasn't upholding his end of the bargain...until I remembered that we hadn't struck a bargain about what the hell I was leaving for. He wasn't working. And I was pissed. We had an agreement in the beginning that said "Lovingpecola will work and have the career that she wants which will provide for the family, the man will stay home and take care of the four babies we want to have." That was the agreement - see already it's bucking tradition- but then the children didn't come, and we had to adjust the plan. Now, in my mind, without children in the house, you need to go to work. In his mind, he had already established that he despised the kind of work that his high school education allowed him lacking any real work experience (we were very young). So we spent a bunch of time arguing over the new plan...but the one thing remained the same...I was the one expected to make the bulk of the money and make sure we had what we needed...aka head of household. We fought and fought and fought. I got to the moment where I thought I was leaving. Then I realized that the only reason I was leaving was because I knew what everyone else thought about me being married to a man who didn't work outside the house. I, for the most part - as long as I made enough, didn't really care if he worked outside the house or not. In fact, I rather liked coming home to a clean house, my clothes washed and ready for the day, and someone who was happy and ready to play. So...why am I leaving again? Oh yeah, that's right, because they will look at me funny. Yeah, that's not good enough. Time for a new plan. The new plan is he works outside when he absolutely has to...including for the three years it takes me to get this degree. He's held up his end of the bargain like I never knew he could. This is what love looks like to me today...he hates it, and I know it, but he knows that I wanted, with all my heart and soul, to be a midwife, and he wants me to have he'll suck it up and take it for as long as he can - then I will be expected to uphold my end of the agreement - even when I'm under fire about the decision.

BUT. That means that he's in favor with everyone right now. Everyone will love him because he is "being a man." To be fair, my family loves the man regardless...I would kick him out when I was pissed and they would take his azz in and feed him. He's a member of our family now and nothing will change that (we have a lot of these kinds of people in our family...the ex(es) who never left...and their partners, too.) But it will be different when school is out and I'm done. When he goes back to being home, trying to find his passion. It will be different. I will love him the same. I will have to remind myself of the difference between what I want vs what they think I should want. This is what love looks like to me negotiation...commitment without choking...reminders that it's ok if what we want is different that what anyone else wants...

But what about familial love? Familial love is trickier than love between me and the man...familial love includes generational issues. Me and the man are the same age. But in my family there are definitely four, maybe even five, generations living at the present moment. This is the love that I was talking about that can hold you so tight that it suffocates you.