I just discovered this awesome blog, and I am eating it up. She is smart and funny, and she has eased a whole whack of my mama anxiety with her writing about ambivalence and motherhood. All things I wish that I had read before I put together these clumsy and not-really-what-I-wanted-to-say posts. (This piece, at Bitch PhD, is also very honest and powerful.)
Then I read this post, about her son's first day at his "supportive, respectful, non-authoritarian, play-based, hippie co-op" preschool. (That just sounds so GOOD!) And now, after a few days of anxiety over unfair comparisons to my reality, I am wondering if a self-imposed quarantine from such folk might be better for my mama anxiety after all, given that I have chosen to move to Macondo and deprive my kids of all manner of good things.
I'll keep reading her blog, and I'll let my anxiety levels do what they must, but the thought of communities out there with this kind of parents and kids and schools and public spaces keeps me well-supplied with envy.
I have fantasies about my kids frolicking around with their friends, being lovingly co-parented in a diverse community full of sugar-free snacks, organic food, North American bedtimes, public alternative schools, gender analysis, gay friends, brown friends, friends who use car seats, and a general avoidance of Disney, Nestle, Barbie, toy guns and plastic.
This would have kind of been my world if I had stayed in Toronto. (Along with sub-human winters, crappy rental housing and smog, lest I forget.)
Some of this good stuff we can give to our kids at home. But it's not quite the same if they're still getting Transformer or Barbie crap in their lootbags, if they're taught to stand up straight in the 'boys' line' at school and sing songs to the bloody flag, and if all their schoolmates are eating cheesies and pretending to shoot each other.
In the meantime, I am trying to work my way through many of these issues, but it is such a mess. Because, obviously, there are good things here in Argentina, and Macondo, too. Lots of them. We came here, in fact, because we wanted to, because we thought that it would be best for our family.
Plus, it's not like organic sunscreen, attachment parenting and gender neutrality are the norm out there (just that they're available, which is still a lot, compared to nothing). And they don't always (or ever) go hand in hand with other good stuff, like non-consumerism, anti-capitalism, class consciousness, free university educations, short and mild winters, or living close to the kids' cousins (which are not necessarily the norm here, but they're available, which is still a lot, compared to nothing).
I know that most parents must face these kinds of issues, no matter where they live. But I do feel like it is especially challenging for immigrant and multicultural families, and I am totally new at all this (new at parenting, new at being an immigrant, and new at writing about it).
So I need to figure out where I stand on things and what I can do about it, and start writing about the good things too. Stay tuned.