Someone asked me recently, “Since when did you become so passionate about the LGBT community?” Ever since I decided to open my mouth and speak my mind.
In college my husband was a theater major. Now there are a lot of stereotypes about the LGBT community that are completely false, but the one about an amazing number of actors and dancers are LGBT I must say is fairly true…. We were surrounded by some pretty open minded people and the community was overwhelmingly accepting. I never had to defend anyone in college for their sexuality.
Right after college we were both working in theater and again… we were surrounded by our LGBT friends and there was never a moment I had to defend them.
It wasn’t until my working career that I ever experience discrimination. I was in an elevator and another group of coworkers were spouting off about others on staff that are lesbians. These coworkers were educators- my thought was how could one say such things… how could someone make fun of them, treat them as less or act as if they were any different? I must have been in my own little naive world or maybe my “gaydar” is broken…. or maybe I simply never gave a crap long enough to try to decipher people like that.
A few weeks later, in the same elevator, one of my coworkers informed me that their roommate was pregnant. At that moment… I realized her “roommate” was not really a roommate… Again naivety at its best. I decided from that moment instead of like the previous conversation I had in the same elevator.. that I would in fact take the high road. I decided in that moment to become knowledgable about the LGBT community and embrace instead of berate them.
My friendship with my elevator mate grew into a wonderful friendship and my relationship with her led me in many different directions. It led me on a closer walk with God. It led me to wonderful friendships and bonds. It took me on a parenting journey teaching my children diversity and acceptance for all. It brought me closer to my husband, because we realized we are far more similar in our ideals than we had ever realized. It caused me to stand my ground against those that didn’t agree with my friendship, church, marriage, and parenting. It caused distance from those that didn’t agree with me and ultimately I am the better for it. I am healthier because I stood my ground instead of keeping my mouth shut while the doors were shut in elevators.
Maybe that was my first step in ‘growing in gumption’. I walked out of that elevator a changed person. I walked out an ally.
I have never been a one best friend kind of person. I admire those people that are so devoted to each other and I used to wish I had that, but I think I got a pretty good package myself. I was told once that your husband cannot be your best friend. John ultimately is my best friend- I share my home- my bed- my secrets- my offspring- my finances- my everything with him. I don’t see how it can be seen the other way truthfully. I mostly have other girl friends. I only have one other guy friend to speak of really that I am closer to him than I am his partner. My most devoted friend for the last decade is Crystal, but my goodness my life is filled with second place best friends. I am so so blessed.
I get a little emotional.
I am in a position where there is so much reshaping that I have to give myself a second to regroup and take a deep breath. I have formed these amazing relationships over the last few years. My mentor in this process of me owning a daycare said to me, “Under no circumstances are you to become friends with your clients.” My response was, “Well then I’m screwed because I’m starting this business on the premise of an already solid friendship with Crystal.” My goal in this daycare was to be a trustworthy and faithful childcare provider when I lost my faith in humanity when a sitter we had made some very poor decisions. I needed to be home with my own children to insure that my children were safe. It was by far the best decision. I surrounded myself with some amazing families raising amazing children. My mentor warned that people would just not pay me some day and with friends I would be in a position to feel bad if they couldn’t pay. She warned of parents picking up late and not caring about my time and my home. The pay hasn’t been an issue- All of the parents of the children I watch are college graduates with professional jobs- nurse/lactation consultant, teacher, social worker, engineer, and IT specialist. They get paid and I get paid. Money is a non issue and they would never consider not paying me as an option. I charge a reasonable fee and they pay me that and a load of gratitude for the care that I give their precious ones.
It’s a spark.
As I have been working through the emotions of this process in realizing that in less than six full months my daycare will close I get a little scared. I know friends who have children and they have friends with children, but I’m not sure that I can compare this to anything other than being an aunt. My nieces and nephews do this same thing to me so maybe other aunts and uncles out there can understand this comparison. On June 11, 2010, I closed my classroom door for the last time and road in the car to hold my new “job” in my hands. I arrived at the hospital to see my friend Crystal and her husband Rob. Lauren was placed in my hands for the first time. The spark I felt when Lauren was placed in my arms is the same thing I feel now when I hold her. It is a reminder of when God closed a window and opened a door into my future and guided me on a path to where I am now. Not too many people in your life give you that… it is simply untouchable. Then I held Allison, then I found Isabelle by responding to a craigslist ad and Charlotte through Isabelle. I would never have these children call me mom, but truth be told I am like a sistermom to them. I am much like an aunt to them. I’m not just a babysitter to them. I love them.
I crossed the line.
So I must apologize for not listening to my mentor. I crossed the line and I am so glad that I did. In crossing that line I created this amazing village of friends. I’ve had one parent arrive late for pick up. They felt horrible and paid me back by watching my kids overnight. Now we just keep trading back and forth. I watch hers and she watches mine and we get some time to ourselves without kids. What these women wouldn’t do for me… I’m not sure I can answer that. I’m sure they just thought of something totally inappropriate that they wouldn’t do and they are laughing amongst themselves. For my surgery they were the most amazingly supportive friends. They came to my room to check on me to see if I was okay. They cared for my family and my home while I recovered. They are my village people. It’s not just me standing in as the chief. They talk alone too. They watch each others children so the other one can go for a run or share clothes and household gadgets. They help each other in taking care of themselves from signing up for weight watchers together to training for a half marathon side by side. Sure sometimes we get on each others nerves like siblings would and that’s okay because it’s not a “perfect thing”. Just like anything natural sometimes it gets to be too much and you reel it in and regroup.
They are root friends
Take a little advice from Madea.
I’ve had some friends come and go over time and some fade in and out like the leaves. I’ve even had a few branches fall down, but this is root work here. Realizing that in the next six months our lives will change drastically is becoming a bigger pill to swallow, but we don’t really have a choice anymore. We’ve grown connected in the village of root friends and we will go from seeing each other daily and having the bond that we have be changed forever. We can’t take this back nor recreate it.
I think we’re like monkey grass though- you separate us at the roots and we will grow on our own. Separating us wont kill us, but the transplant will give us distance from each other that is unavoidable.
“You don’t just say and do these things with just anybody”~ Jenna.
Originally, I was going to blog on making a village of friends, but I can’t tell you how to create a village. I can only tell you how much I have been blessed by it. It all started with me loving their children as much as my own even when they screamed in my face and bit their friends I still loved them. They knew it and could feel it. Who doesn’t want to drop off their children every day with someone who loves their children unconditionally and fully and will gripe about their day over a glass of wine on ladies craft night. More so the children love each other. The look on Charlotte’s face as she reaches for Allison in the mornings is a bond that melts my heart. When Lauren and Isabelle make each other giggle and they lean into each other and snuggle I’m still melting. The twins have that weird twin bond that is an entity of beauty all by itself. When Charlotte and Alden see each other and they embrace they both light up. If Maggie and Isabelle aren’t insulting each other about who can color better they are surely snuggled up sharing a blanket and talking about how they like like each others new earrings. It’s not to say there are never issues. We aren’t unrealistic… in fact we are quite real with each other. And truth be told we all just simply love each other and our families.
But it’s good enough for granddad and it’s good enough for me.
There has been a blog about doing the hard things making its way around my facebook newsfeed. This entire list is good for me and embodies so many things that I have to do every day to get beyond some barrier that I face. We all have things we find hard and everyone’s list is different.
The first one on the list is to make those phone calls you’re afraid to make…. well I’m afraid to order a pizza so everything else that you can imagine just falls on its face after that. I have had to play phone tag with principals for the last few weeks and to me those are hard things. I can write myself in and out of every situation you can imagine, but when it comes to phone conversations well — it’s just not my thing. It’s more than that though. It’s not about ‘just a phone call’ it’s about having hard conversations. So much anxiety sits and rides on the shoulders of your to do list of hard conversations. They are so much better when they are just over. Sometimes for me there are conversations and space that is needed to be given before these hard conversations turn into irrational rambling and bantering mistakes when tackled too soon. So I am patient, but sometimes it is best to just get them over with already. Some people I am just simply done having hard conversations with and I’m at peace having said my part and closing their chapter.
The one on the list of hard things that I’ve been thinking about recently is ‘being nice to people who have been cruel to you’. Um. No. I’m done with that. It’s okay if I skip one of these rules right? I say this somewhat in jest. I’m always polite and friendly- If I’m rude or even sharp in tongue it was probably unintentional. – I find it nearly impossible to be rude to someone even when they probably deserve it. I show hospitality not because I feel the desire to do so with certain folks, but extending it is simply the right thing to do.
The challenge I have faced recently is having been strong enough to rid myself of negative people- there are people around me that still have a relationship with the outcasts than I have stopped associating with and this brings it too close for my comfort. I’m not an ultimatum kind of person that says- If you associate with the person then I am out. I think that is wrong. They are allowed to have their own relationships, but I don’t want to feel it, know it or see it. It took me so long to stand up for myself and to have the strength to do what was right for me and I find it hard to have them around. I am safe from the storm in this shelter I have built up around myself. Showing hospitality to the storm seems a tad ridiculous- this isn’t the last supper and I’m hardly Jesus. I’m beyond a hard conversation in this instance. I’m good with just being safe with my self worth. I try to blow as hard as I can to make it turn its direction away from me, but even at the sight of their darkness in the distance makes me begin to question myself- my decisions- my strength- my thoughts. I have to keep saying that I am strong enough to weather the storm when it passes by and be prepared internally enough to withstand it when I know it’s going to be a close call.
I followed the rule of “be nice to people who have been cruel to you” until I hurt my own self worth and I draw the line here. I have been strong enough after years of mistreatment to finally say enough is enough already and it is not easy to watch my near and dear brave the storm with what I know to be a dangerous level of uncertainty. They have to figure this out on their own though… I can’t convince them of the dangers. They might simply have to feel the pelts of the ice cold storm hit their back before they understand why I opened my umbrella and shielded myself.
You have to do the hard things sometimes in saying enough is enough. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is finally say no to a bad relationship and admit that you can’t make it work. I’ve thrown in my cards but I’m still somehow at the poker table watching everyone else gamble with their time in the storm of negative relationships.