Flamin’ Hot orange + Ultrasheen blue

The museum is the backdrop of some of my most cherished moments. Saturday, my 30th birthday, E and I met up with the kids at the Museum of Contemporary Art for family day. Museums with a toddler, anything with a toddler really, isn't easy. I  appreciate how often the library and the museum provide the backdrop of the stories she recounts about her daughter.

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Pointing your maternal bravery in the direction of libraries and museums, dance performances and theater shows is something I didn't do consciously until the recent past. In so many ways I marvel at the vision and intention E puts into mothering. The things she knows and considers.

We came specifically to take part in the awesomeness that is the creative mind of Amanda Williams. We had seen her exhibit before so it was wonderful for us to meet her in the flesh with a tag reading "ARTIST" slug around her neck. To hear him say, "Wait, so that's the artist with the exhibit downstairs?". To say "Yup." An artist as a human, a woman, melaninated. The type to speak to you, to smile at you. To help you peel the back of a sticker. To accomplish things that feel out of reach while staying within it.

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On the logistics for parents, they had a break room with free snacks and water/juice for kids and I saw adults eating too. The room was designated specifically for family day participants. This really stretches the amount of time you can be there, especially if you pack sandwich.  All of the activities took place in open areas were kids could focus fully on the task at hand.

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Missed Connections

"What do we want from our mothers when we are children? Complete submission. Oh, it's very nice and rational and respectable to say that a woman has every right to her life, to her ambitions, to her needs and so on. That's what I've always demanded myself, but as a child, no. The truth is it's a war of attrition. Rationality doesn't come into it, not one bit. What you want from your mother is that she once and for all admit that she is your mother and only your mother and that battle with the rest of life is over."      Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Thelma Golden came to Chicago, and I missed it because I was deep in mothering. Deep in the fatigue of thinking about somebody else hard because you are not them and you are trying to decide what is best for them. I have missed several events this week because of the juggle, the mental acrobatics. It's not always like this, but sometimes it is. simple and clumsy. You can have it all but not at the same time. I long for the days when in ways I couldn't see clearly that my days were my own. When a child's protest was loud cries, not a silent disappointment. Toddlers scream, but tweens don't forget. Days when his developmental needs didn't rub against my social/professional needs like sandpaper.

I did not always feel like I was missing out. The spaces I feel are professional. Creative. Motherhood rubs at you like sandpaper, brushing of layers of dead skin in places and leaving you raw and exposed in others. Better than you started. More tender. Eroded. Rounded. Smooth but uneven.

I missed this opportunity and others because of motherhood and it does frustrate me. In an alternate universe, I may have missed them for another reason, and that would have frustrated me too. In this universe it was motherhood. I know there can be more synergy but doing it all takes all of me so who will enjoy the spoils. Alright, so that is a little dramatic. There are some weeks where I do manage to do everything we both wanted and need; they are always followed by one full day in bed. Sometimes this trade is worth is and sometimes it's not. The trade off sometimes reduces me to tears, momentarily.

As I approach 30, my concerns are not about aging or relationship status but these missed opportunities to grow myself as an individual.  The quote from Swing Time is accurate, so I missed the event, laying in bed for "read together" time, listening, being still and together. Surrendering to the demands of motherhood at least for the moment.