Wasn’t worth it

Today Clover was using a chair to get flowers from a glass vase. When I told em to get down e started frantically trying to put the flower back in. I got scared, and reacted in a way that I knew would paralyze Clover, because it works on most humans: I yelled in a specific, scary way.

Clover cried and ran to Susan.

It is the most violent act I committed against em, and perhaps the most violent in all, aside from gravity or sharp corners. Nobody felt good about it, we were all left less happy.

I am observing this here for reference. Humans are fragile, wired for adversity, and ultimately lead meaningless lives with the exception of the connection we make with each other. As morbid as it sounds, I think it would have been better for Clover to cut eir hand on the vase.

The importance of photos

I can look at photos of Clover all day long. But not other photos. I’ve never been able to look at photo galleries for very long, and even when I go to a museum I tend to go through really fast. I pick up a lot of detail, and I remember it, so looking at visual art becomes boring.

I think the reason I like see pictures of Clover is because it is the strongest validation that I have of em having a fun childhood. And non-violent. A bummer, I know, but it is something I scan for when I look at photos of children.

There are very few surviving photos of me as a child, because at multiple times in my childhood my mother would either be forced to leave behind a lot of possessions, or her husband would destroy the photos in a drunken rage. The aggregate effect on my life is that it taught me to not care about my personal culture, but to have strong opinions about others’ personal culture. It is why I stay up some nights wondering when Susan‘s laptop was last backed up. And it is why I go to great lengths to both preserve and share the photos of Clover’s experiences.

I can’t imagine what Clover will do with a high-definition and hyper-preserved collection of artifacts, but I know that I have these moments to look back and know that our smiles were genuine.

Mothers and careers

Trigger: I talk about abuse and violence in this post.

I had wanted to articulate something that was bothering me about the narrative forming around the women who are executives of large companies. fortunately, Carolyn Edgar did it for me.

This is close to me, and not because I am concerned by wealth distribution (I am) or because I harbor a secret socialist agenda (I do). It is because I was old enough to see how my mother was affected by inequality and gender roles.

When I was in second grade, one day my mother’s husband went to work, and she packed our Plymouth station wagon with a bunch of stuff and her three kids, and we left the state. It was the bravest, scariest and craziest thing I think my mother ever did that involved me. Her husband habitually beat her, in that same year having sent her to the emergency room after throwing her down a flight of stairs. My mother didn’t graduate high school, was pushed into being a homemaker by a variety of factors, and had no real way to escape an abusive partner that also supported her and her children.

I have a complex and just plain not great relationship with my mother, but I consider her actions that day we left to be one of the best gifts of my life. So when I hear about people who made more money in the last year than I may in my life, it seems offensive to categorize it as an issue for women. And it is a disservice to actually help people who are suffering from poverty, malnutrition, lack of education and the various symptomatic abuses that follow those environments.

Having become a parent now, my goal is to generate enough income to allow our small family to have healthy and engaging lives. We live in this world, which means that my life is only engaging if I am helping better the world for everyone, not just the women running Fortune 500 companies.

Genderqueer parenting

Oakland Local has an article about Mothership Hackermoms. I love reading about them! Since I wrote about it I’ve had a lot of interesting discussions, and there is an emerging pattern that I wanted to talk about.

When I explain why I think Mothership is a great idea, and how I have feelings of not belonging, many people immediately tell me, “There are networks for dads, too!” I am sure there are, even though I’ve never sought them out. I didn’t articulate it when I was criticizing Father’s Day, but the reason I don’t embrace being a father is because I am not a father. That is an identity that is tied to a cocktail of gender and expectations, and I don’t subscribe to it. I am also not a mother. And while we are on the subject, I have all kinds of privileges because of how I look, and despite not wanting to participate in this system, I have a responsibility to consider those who are marginalized by it.

It is difficult for me to explain why I am genderqueer, because how I feel and how I am perceived are far apart to the casual observer. I will expand on that in a future post, complete with charts (no joke!). In my daily life, I cringe when people call me dad, and I feel alienated when groups of parents split into binary gaggles of gendered roles.

I am a parent. I care for a child.