Saturday, May 8, 2010

picking and choosing

I have friends in just about every realm of age, culture, sexual orientation, ethnicity and income bracket you can imagine. I have friends in Ghana who give me advice about how to style and braid Anna's hair before it becomes a giant dread lock. I have friends who teach in the ghetto in D.C., friends who are older than my parents who still party like rock stars, friends who know that I prefer french press to auto drip, who know where to find the nitro if my heart freaks out, friends who notice when my skinny jeans are baggy, friends who know how to make catfish like my grandmama, etc., etc....
With all of their tastes and backgrounds and support, you'd think that these friends could find no common ground on the playing field of my life. Not so. In my life, as with the lives of many who have travelled down the circuitous, torturous, mind-blowing road of parenthood, people eventually slide into two categories.
The ones who accept me for all that I am, including the colossal role of being a mother to two children.
The ones who don't. And they are gone as quickly as a breeze in August.
Which brings me to picking and choosing. I've learned, through years of singlehood, motherhood, marriagehood, sisterhood, teacherhood, writerhood, that you cannot pick and choose the parts of a person you like and then only be with those parts. That's like saying I have nice legs and you're going to take them to the movies and leave the rest of me at home in my other life.
I would pay money to see someone sitting next to a set of legs in the movie theater, but that's besides the point.
Trust me, I've wanted to hang out with just the legs, too, but in the end, the legs need to be with the body to survive and still be functional and vibrant and recognizable.
In many cases, the question comes down to kids, or, as they are commonly referred to, "live baggage." Trust me, I've seen the recoil when I say I have kids. As if after that announcement I'm supposed to apologize or something, like I've brought a dog with a bad case of diarrhea into the kitchen.
Screw that. Yes, I have to pack a lunch for my baggage, drive it to school, take it to the skate park, nurse it when it's sick, make sure it's happy, give it a hug everyday....
How the hell is that any different from the "invisible" baggage that other people carry around with them every day? Kids are no more or less of a presence or an obstacle than a drug addiction or a broken childhood. These things talk just as loudly and need just as much attention as children, if not more.
Point being, we all have a big set of luggage attached to us, especially now. You can't pick and choose the luggage. It stays, you just have to be patient and decide if the trip is worth all of that hefting.
And, as all of my kid-accepting friends know, it is a goddamn honor when someone invites you into their lives and trusts you with their luggage.

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