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June 21, 2007

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On My Soapbox

June 21, 2007

Hmmm.  I’m starting to realize why I tend not to write deep or controversial topics on the blog.  It’s awfully hard to concentrate when you are forced to write in spurts, distracted by toddler needs every few minutes.  I also hate controversy, so I don’t know why I’m even going to do this to myself.

When I was about two and a half years old, my dad changed jobs and we moved from the suburbs of a nice normal midwest city to a small town about as far south as you can get and still be in the United States.  Needless to say, the racial make-up of the town we moved to was radically different from what we moved from (not that I can remember).  By the time I hit junior high, I was nerdy and one of the few white girls in school.  I faced discrimination of a sort that is rarely mentioned.  I was bullied relentlessly, primarily because of my race, although my nerdiness certainly didn’t help matters.  The situation had grown so torturous that when my dad dropped the bomb that we were moving, I couldn’t find one thing I would miss about the old place.  I’ve been back once since then, about a year after we moved, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing by staying away.

Unfortunately the city we moved to wasn’t much better.  The suburb we lived in through my high school years was nice, definitely upper middle class, where the predominant races in the area and the schools were whites and Asians.  My nerdiness blended in naturally and eventually grew less nerdy as time progressed.  But the majority of the city was the same race I had learned to hate during my elementary and junior high years.  Fortunately I was protected from having to face any discrimination against them or from them because of the bubble of the suburb where we lived.  The same was true of both areas where I taught school after returning to the city after college.

Then M and I got married and moved to yet another new suburb of town.  We didn’t realize it at the time, but it has turned into a haven for this one particular race.  The new commercial areas going up are already built with bars on the windows; the names of the stores are in Spanish.  We cannot walk into our local Wal-Mart without being stared at and pushed around because we don’t look like anybody else in the store.  I won’t pretend I don’t have my own biases against people of that race because of what I went through in junior high, but it’s really hard for a group of people to gain my friendship when all they’ll do is glare at me, push me around, and mutter, “Gringo,” as they pass by me.

The reason this is heavy on my mind right now is because this week has been particularly hard for M and me iin the area of people being unfairly rude to us.  It started Monday when M got chewed out and insulted at work for no real reason.  This is unrelated to the point of the post, but it set into motion a week that continues to get worse.  Monday night on our way home from grocery shopping (also an interesting experience since we’re apparently one of their few customers who does not buy at least milk on WIC), we were honked at twice within a minute or two.  The first was because we dared turn right–from the right turn lane at a green light and using our turn signal.  How dare we!  Then the guy in front of us at a light didn’t floor it the second the light turned green, so we were honked at for going too slowly.  That second driver continued to drive aggressively around us the rest of the way home.  Both drivers were, you guessed it, of that particular race.

We have also had neighbor issues this week.  Our neighbors on both sides of us are of that race.  It hasn’t been an issue at all with the neighbors on our left.  M works with the mom, and they’re very respectful, even friends of a sort.  But their sons are both being brainwashed at school and are hanging out with friends who look down on white people.  Tuesday night their son rang our doorbell late at night, waking up PJ, and then ran.  M caught him and asked him not to do that again (okay, so it was more like he scared him not to do that again).  Then yesterday one of the son’s friends was peeing on a buxh in our front yard.  Why?  Because he could.  M didn’t catch up with him in time to chew him out, but clearly the situation is getting ridiculous.  For some reason, he thought it was best not to catch the kid with his you-know hanging out since they would probably press charges of him being a pedophile or something.  We think the mother would put a stop to it if she knew what was going on, but neither of us knows quite how to bring that subject up with the neighbors.

The other neighbors looked like they were going to fit the stereotype perfectly from the get-go.  They could barely afford the house; when they moved their five boys into the three bedroom house, we understood why.  Their lawn is unkempt all the time, bringing down the look of the whole neighborhood.  It only lacks flamingoes and a car on blocks to perfect the look.  We know they’ve said things to each other about us that are derogatory, but they treat us like normal people.  As long as that lasts, we’ll be satisfied with that.  Honestly, that’s pretty much how we act about them, so I’d feel bad expecting more from them.

All of this has come to a head this morning as I listened to the sounds of lawn mowers circling the house.  You’ve all heard the stereotype of most lawn crews being this race.  M and I have even made off-color jokes about how all their relatives probably do lawns, yet they can’t seem to keep their yards looking decent.  On the other hand, our lawn looks like a dream.  M takes really good care of it.  That’s right, with the abundance of cheap lawn care around here M still cares for ours on his own.  Somehow our neighbors can’t believe that.  When he mowed on Tuesday evening, he made the neighbors on both side look really bad.  That’s why they both got out this morning to take care of their lawns.  The funniest part?  Ours still looks better.

Could it be that maybe our neighbors use our race as an excuse to hate us when really they’re jealous of us?  Could that even be widespread through members of that group?

I’ll be honest that typically I’m tolerant of other people and accepting of people of all races.  My problems with discrimination and racial issues come in where other people are not tolerant of me.  How can people push for racial equality when they continue to discriminate against certain races themselves?  I guess it’s the hypocrisy that bothers me.  Why should M and I, as white people, be held to higher standards as everyone else?  If we reach those standards, then aren’t we technically better than the other races holding us to those standards anyway?  How can they push for equality and inequality at the same time?

I could go on and on about this topic.  It bothers me to no end that there are such obvious double standards in place, yet everyone is so afraid of offending the races pushing the double standards that they will never point them out.  For a country that claims to offer equality to all people, it sure seems to support inequality in so many forms.

Third Trimester, Baby!

June 20, 2007

Technically I’m not sure whether I’ve officially hit the third trimester.  I’m 27 weeks, if you go by the more accurate sonogram date, not the doctor’s record of the due date.  Even then, that falls right at the line between trimesters.  I think it’s safe to say that if I haven’t quite reached the third trimester, I’m on the verge.  It’s certainly farther along than I thought I would make it when I was in the first trimester.  Now if I can just make it another five weeks so that I can say this one stayed in longer than PJ.

Each day is getting a bit more difficult to cope with, though.  I am huge, for my height, and the huge belly continues to make me uncomfortable.  I’m still struggling with sore hips and occasionally other joints.  The leg swelling from sitting in the wrong position is more annoying than ever.  And in the last few days, BabyN has grown to the point that I’m constantly out of breath.  He’s crowding my lungs for sure.  I can walk from one room to the next and feel like I’ve just run a mile.  If I have to lug a twenty-pound toddler with me, it feels more like a marathon.  (Boy am I glad he can walk now!)  I wake up in the morning feeling like I haven’t slept; apparently the sleep I get is restless.  If this is just the beginning of the third trimester, I’m scared to see what it’s like at the end!

Tomorrow night I get my second progesterone shot at home.  I don’t recall ever telling you how that went last week.  Let’s just say that if M wasn’t so squeamish about needles, I’d get him to do all my shots.  It hurt way less than it had at the doctor’s office the week before.  Passing out was never something to worry about this time.  I hope things go as easily with it tomorrow night.

I’ve discovered that despite the progesterone shots, M and I are both still worried about premature labor.  He would never tell me that was a worry of his, but little things he says have told me as much.  We’re talking about the need for a mini-van, at least for travel, but he’s more inclined to wait until after BabyN is born to start seriously looking.  His reason?  He wants to make sure we don’t have to spend more money than expected on medical expenses…like last time.  He means we should be able to afford a mini-van as long as we’re not having to pay a huge deductible to cover what insurance won’t pay for NICU bills.  It’s kind of cute how he hides his worry about BabyN in his worries about finances.  I like knowing I’m not alone in my worries.

By the way, I’m still strongly considering the new blog with the ground rules set from the start.  I tend to avoid confrontation whenever possible, and this seems the least confrontational way to get what I want.  My mom is home from vacation, and we have plans to chat when she’s done getting her nails done (priorities…sigh).  I will hopefully make a decision after that.  I’ll link you to the new blog (probably in a password-protected post) when I have the initial post written.  I really need feedback before letting everyone (read: my MIL) take a look.

And oh, yeah.  Thanks Heather for the inspiration to redo the look of the blog altogether.  I love the new template on yours, so I stole it.  The picture in the header is PJ yesterday evening.  M needed to do the lawn since we’ll be out of town this weekend (the redo of the 3D ultrasound) and he can’t do it then.  PJ missed his daddy so much that he watched every move he made in the backyard.  Cute, huh?

Is There a Conundrum Compromise?

June 19, 2007

I still haven’t made any decisions about the blog issue.  It boils down to this: If I make any major changes that suddenly keep my MIL from reading the blog or commenting on it, I will wind up hurting her feelings.  My only choice is to either stop blogging publicly altogether (using the time devoted to the coming baby as an excuse, not anything specific about my MIL), or keep blogging basically as is.

I had actually considered all of your other possible solutions and just forgot to list them.  Well, except for Chas’s.  I so wish I could do what you suggested.  (Go back and read her comment on last night’s post if you haven’t already.)  Because of M’s relationship with his mom, having him broach the subject with her would only make things worse.  He would end up being guilt-tripped by her as a result, and I would be blamed for driving a wedge between them (by her, of course, not M).  Things might get better on the blog for a while, but things in real life would only be worse.  I hate that she does this to us.

My possible compromise would be to start a fresh blog, to include BabyN more in it from the start, and start off with a post that says in no uncertain terms that this is MY blog and if I start feeling pressure to write anything a certain way for a certain audience, then it’s gone (or private, whatever).  I will not address any specific people in said post, and no one will get the blame for the downfall of the last blog.  I think it’s possible to write something that will set guidelines without offending any person in particular.

I set something up already in my blogger account.  I’ve already found the perfect title and address, so I thought I better snag them while I could.  At the moment, it’s virtually undiscoverable.  Before I say anything on the current blog about the new one, I might send you guys there to read my initial post and give me feedback.  That is, if I decide to go that way after all.

My first move will be to talk to my mother tomorrow.  She gets back from her vacation out of cell service today, so if I can sneak in a word edgewise tomorrow when we chat, I’ll bring up the subject.  She has uncommon wisdom about situations like this because she’s met my MIL and she can think about how she would respond if she was in my MIL’s place.  I’m hoping she might have some good advice for me and maybe a different point of view.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as to what I end up deciding.  In the meantime, I’m kind of abandoning that blog for everything but the blogroll.  I can claim a busy week or something when she calls (or leaves a nasty comment) to complain.  We all know it’s bound to happen.

Oh, and tomorrow I plan to blog about something other than in-law issues.  Maybe it’s time for another pregnancy update or one of those sappy motherhood posts that’s been nagging me to get into words.

A Conundrum

June 18, 2007

I’m feeling better now, so as promised, here’s a post with actual substance.  I’m hoping some of you who have more wisdom than I do, or at least experience with meddling in-laws, can help me find a solution to a problem.

It has to do with my other blog.  I started my other blog in my first few months post-partum when I was still suffering from PPD.  It was to be an outlet for me as well as a place to ramble on and on about my kid without feeling guilty about boring anyone who didn’t want to hear.  Quickly, the blog became a way to tell PJ stories and pass on PJ pictures for the grandparents and greats and other relatives without sending out tons of e-mails or making tons of phone calls.

I hate what the blog has become now.  I’ve stopped trying to let it be an outlet or a place for profound thoughts.  I edit everything I say to the point that all substance is gone.  Still I get comments from certain people that come across sounding very critical.  I can’t do everything right on the blog to the satisfaction of my MIL.  It has become a stressor for me, trying to please her–or at least not tick her off–with every single blog post.  When the comments aren’t written, we hear them in person (well, over the phone).  You’d think if she relies on it as much as she says she does, she’d let me have a little more freedom with it.

To show you how bad it’s gotten, here are a few of the things she has done with her comments.  She has griped when I had too many pictures of PJ with my family and not enough with her or my FIL.  She has “suggested” that I post about the time spent with someone in her family soon, even if I just wrote that it would be the next post and when I anticipated getting to it.  She has put jabs in the comments about how she wishes she could see him more often (side note: She’s always saying that, like it’s our fault we live so far away.  They wouldn’t move here if given the perfect opportunity because having us move close to them is totally a controlling thing–like she’s doing with the blog.).  Maybe I’m reading more into what she says than she means, but somehow I doubt it.  It’s gotten to where nearly every comment contains thinly veiled criticism.  I don’t know that I can handle it much longer.

The blog is no longer my own, but controlled by my MIL and to some extent M’s grandmother.

But it’s still a good place for me to record the PJ stories (and soon, BabyN stories) that I want to remember.  I’m not ready to let those stories fade into the recesses of my memory and not have a record of all the cute things he does.  Nor do I want to change this blog into a place to simply brag about my kid.  I like this blog the way it is, and combining the two purposes doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

So here are the options I see:

  • leave everything the same and put up with the critical comments from my MIL
  • go back to writing whatever I want on the other blog and tell her to go to hell when she complains more
  • stop blogging there altogether
  • retire that blog and start a new one, a private one on blogger where only people I invite can read
  • quit blogging and start journaling instead

I’m most tempted to start a new blog that only MY family and friends can read, but I’m afraid somebody would let something slip around them and they’d discover I was keeping something from them.  I don’t like any of the solutions I have come up with because they all have major flaws.  Do I just surrender now and admit I can’t have everything in this situation?  I don’t know.  What advice do you guys have for me?

Blogging Malaise

June 18, 2007

Last week I had about three posts I was dying to write, but something else kept coming up at the last second that took precedence.  Now even though I have time to write about them, I just can’t get the motivation to start.  So you’re getting this poor excuse of a post today instead.

I have a headache, and my medicine isn’t working on it, at least not yet.  I need to shower.  I need to finish laundry.  I need to wash the endless number of towels the grandparents went through this weekend (what’s up with that anyway?).  There are toddler toys strewn all over the floor, making a dangerous obstacle course.  Am I doing anything about any of these things I need to do?  Nope.  I’m trying to type while keeping my eyes closed and the light out of my eyes.

And that’s it.  You’ll have to check back later for anything at all intelligent.  Maybe I’ll even be showered at that point.  Then again, maybe not.


June 17, 2007

Should it really take this long to recover from having visitors for two nights?  The house is an absolute mess, and the couple of toddler toys on the floor aren’t helping matters.  It’s a little scary to think that even with a toddler around, we haven’t had to mop our kitchen floor in ages–until this weekend.  The bathroom they used looks like a tornado hit, and don’t even get me started on the guest room.  The grandparents were so inconsiderate of our house, our stuff, and our routines.  I expect some of that to happen, but I guess my views on being someone’s guest are completely different than theirs.

It’s taking time to recover mentally and emotionally, too.  I’m still revelling in the relative quiet in the house–yes, even with an active toddler.  Two hard-of-hearing grandparents who can’t quit talking create quite the cacophany.  There were always at least two conversations happening at all times, and at maximum volume levels.  No wonder PJ didn’t sleep as well or as long when they were around.  I felt awful that every so often I’d have to invent excuses to leave their presence for a few minutes just to decompress.  Just remembering conversations with them is giving me a headache.  I was planning to give you sample snippets of conversation from the weekend, but that will only make me more frustrated right now.  It’s too bad, though, because I feel like I came across kind of harsh in my attitude towards them in the last few posts and I’d love the opportunity to redeem myself and show you exactly what life around them is like.  Maybe tomorrow when I have my humor back about the whole thing.

Anyway, happy Father’s Day to any fathers out there who actually stop by here.