Category Archives: Family

I am pro-abortion like I’m pro-knee-replacement and pro-chemotherapy and pro-cataract surgery. … Abortion is part of a set of tools that help women and men to form the families of their choosing. I believe that abortion care is a positive social good. I suspect that a lot of other people secretly believe the same thing. And I think it’s time we said so.

–Valerie Tarico, “I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice

(via because i am a woman)

The first sentence of this quote was realllllllllly powerful to me.

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It is #NationalSiblingDay and I’m unsure if I’ve spoken to any of my siblings this year.

We’re not close, my siblings and I. This is a statement I will freely make to anyone who inquires. My feelings about them range from a general lack of interest in their daily lives (alongside a vague hope that all is well) to an active worry about their future well-being based on the general unmotivated directionless paths the younger ones seem to be on (coupled with the feeling that I’ve gone above and beyond my big-sisterly duties in trying to help motivate/direct/assist them). This must sound so harsh to people like those populating my Facebook feed with “I wouldn’t be the person I am without my sister” posts, like my friends (and boyfriend) have today. If some shit went down, I would avail myself to them in whatever ways I am able, because that’s what families do.

I have cute photos of my little brother and sister (half-siblings on my mom’s side, who I lived with during all of my childhood) and probably some including my ex-stepbrother (does one stop being someone’s sibling after a divorce?) that I could take a picture of and post to Facebook #FBF #NationalSiblingDay. It would be easy. But it would also be incredibly disingenuous. The last time I posed for a photo with any of my siblings was likely about two and a half years ago, at my little brother’s high school graduation. I’ve seen him and my sister maybe a dozen times between then and now, mostly for the holidays, with a few random trips home sprinkled in. But we don’t have conversations, really. I see them when I’m home and we interact and it’s usually mostly fine, but we don’t talk about shit. My sister and I very briefly did that during the one year she went away to college and it didn’t end well. I don’t value my siblings’ opinions on matters; I don’t even ask them, to be honest. I slightly look forward to seeing them after long absences, but am usually disappointed by the reality. It never feels like a reunion. If I wasn’t related to my siblings, I would not voluntarily interact with them. (Even that didn’t stop my sister at Christmastime, as you may recall.)

I don’t want harm to befall them. I hope they figure out what it is they want from life, and I hope they get it. I hope they don’t struggle. If there is a concrete need they have and approach me about that I am able to help them with without compromising my security or values, I would do it. But all of that being said, I think my siblings and I lack this genuine closeness or sibling bond that I see people celebrating today. I endeavor to be cordial in person/on the phone (with my older sister), and never forget to acknowledge anyone’s birthday. But these things do not familial love make. If I hold my relationships with my siblings to the bell hooks standard I like to use in these here parts to talk about love, it falls faaaaaaar flat.

I don’t like admitting that. But we traffic in the ugliest of emotions and realizations around here, so here we are. It is National Siblings Day, and if I am being very honest, I don’t like any of my siblings very much. I have in fact often cited the possibility of having children like my younger brother and sister as one of the reasons the idea of having kids does not appeal to me (and those who know me well and have for a long time nod with a full understanding of why this scares me so).

Since she didn’t acknowledge my birthday in January, or during the aforementioned Christmas shitshow, and she was at work when boo and I dropped by my mom’s house in October, I am unsure that I have exchanged verbal words with my little sister since last September. We texted twice in December, when I was trying to make Christmas arrangements.

I wrote on my little brother’s wall today, saying “Apparently it’s National Siblings Day. So…hi!” He replied instantly “lmfao hey Maya.” We exchanged gifts this Christmas: I asked him what he wanted and he said a phone case or a micro SD card. These were easy gifts and I got him both. He took me to Target with him on Christmas Eve to have me pick out something for him to get me for Christmas. I got a cute stylus for my tablet computer that looks like a Number 2 pencil. Our relationship is functional for the most part, even if we tease each other a lot.

My older sister is the only sibling I may have verbally spoken to this year. I can’t remember if we actually talked on my birthday or just exchanged voicemails. We talked either on her birthday at the end of December or mine at the end of January, just for a few minutes. Her daughter is graduating from college this year, and strangely neither she nor my niece have mentioned it to me/invited me to the graduation, but my father has asked multiple times if I’m coming. This sister, my father’s first daughter from a marriage in his early twenties, is gorgeous and quite religious. She lives in California, drives a BMW convertible, and has a tiny dog named Dolce that she carries around in a purse. I just…no.

I think I last saw my ex-stepbrother at my little brother’s graduation. He was wary of coming because his father was rumored to be planning to attend, but that didn’t happen because that man is incapable of keeping his word. He is 4 months younger than me, and was lost to us for a period of about 7 years after their divorce, due largely to his mother being jealous of how close he felt to our family, but found us on Facebook during my junior year of college. He has an associate’s degree in an IT-related field and goes to the gym a lot. I got drunk with him a couple times in college because he lived nearby Princeton, but our relationship devolved into texts on holidays when I moved to DC.

…Happy siblings day to me and mine. *shrug *

Having myself a complicated Christmas

Have yourself a complicated Christmas

Let your heart feel ways…

^These lyrics would be more appropriate to my life today than the real ones. I love Christmas. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I am generally a person who likes to give of herself and her resources to those who are important to her, I think, and Christmas lets me go overboard on that in ways that are still socially acceptable, haha. It also involves lots of baking and togetherness and I’m about all of that.

Not all of my family is, though. Christmas tends to feel decidedly less Christmassy as soon as I walk in the door of my mother’s house. My siblings tend towards Grinch/Scrooge-dom; usually they participate in Christmas activities very reluctantly. They haven’t helped us decorate the tree in years. This year my little sister decided she wasn’t exchanging gifts with anyone. I was fine with that — she’s hard to shop for anyway, haha, because she always says she doesn’t want anything. After my mom picked me up from the bus station on Tuesday night, she wondered aloud in the car where I was going to sleep. I said “…In my bed?” And she revealed that my sister has confiscated my bed and turned our two twin beds into a larger bed for herself. I was not consulted or even informed. #rude

That was only the beginning of the rudeness, though. When we got to the house, my sister was in the living room listening to music. I said hi. She ignored me. My mom said, “Now why would you go and bother her?” I sighed and went on upstairs. The next day, I came downstairs to make tea in the morning and she was awake. I tried saying hi again. It was like talking to a brick wall. Later I was upstairs and she was having a coughing fit. I called downstairs to see if she was okay or if she needed some water. No response. And finally later in the afternoon when my mom, brother, and I were headed out to finish some last minute shopping, I tried to say hi one more time.

Me: “Hi, [sister’s name].”

Sister: *No acknowledgement of my presence whatsoever *

Mom: What did she say?

Me: Nothing. She’s refused to speak to me since I got home.

Mom (to sister): Why do you have to be so rude?

Sister: How am I being rude?

*giant screaming fight between my mom and my sister *

Apparently on Monday my grandmother came over to our house to bake some pound cakes, because her oven broke recently. She was there for hours, until almost 1 in the morning, and my sister was in the living room watching a movie the entire time. The living room is within sight of the kitchen (there are weird internal windows, lol), so she could see and hear my mom and grandma, but she never came down to say hi. Before she left, my grandmother asked my mom if it wasn’t time for my sister to get home from work, and my mom told her that she’d been in the living room the entire time. My grandma looked hurt. As soon as she left, my sister ran downstairs to make food and complained about how hungry she’d been.

I don’t know what her problem is. I don’t know why she couldn’t say hi to me. I didn’t try to interrupt what she was doing or get up in her face or even try to have a legitimate conversation. I just wanted her to acknowledge that I was there and say hi back. My sister and I haven’t been what I’d call close since we were kids, though we talked a little bit more regularly during the one year she went away to college and she even confided in me a little bit then. She’s not usually nice to me. My visits are peppered with statements like, “Hi [sister]!” “Bye, Maya.” or “When are you going back to DC?” But she’s never just treated me like I don’t fucking exist. It was really hurtful.

I went outside while my mom and sister were yelling at each other, but my mom asked my brother to comment on some of the things my sister said when we were in the car, and then later relayed the story to my grandmother, so I’ve pieced most of it together. Apparently my siblings are under the opinion that I’m our mother’s favorite child and that “everything is different,” “the whole vibe of the house is different” when I come home in ways that they don’t appreciate, though my brother can’t provide any detail or specific examples of what the differences are. He said it feels like my mom is more excited when I come home, which she defended by saying that a) she doesn’t get to see me very often, and b) we like a lot of the same things. My grandma (in the later retelling of this story) said that if my brother and sister ever went anywhere, people would be excited when they came home too.

My sister told my mom she “just doesn’t like me.” I think my mom forgot I was there when she gave my grandma that detail. Apparently they both still feel a level of resentment around them feeling like I am the stick against which they are measured in terms of academics and “success.” This is a rabbit hole of a conversation that has been had before, and my mom always gets into how they had the same opportunities that I had and didn’t make the right choices, and that feels like a false equivalence to me because while my brother and sister certainly weren’t as academically focused as me, my chances of ending up where I am right now having started where I started were infinitesimal.

I was quiet during all of these conversations that happened around me about the fight and their feelings. I don’t know what I can say. I’ve never felt like I fit in in my family — always been off to the side, doing my own thing, and that’s hard at times, but I don’t know how to deal with my sister “just not liking” me. I don’t want to feel like I’m tearing the family apart by coming home.

My sister was being nasty to my mom during the fight and my mom told her that she’s not holding her hostage, that she is free to leave if she doesn’t like being in this house, but that she will not stay in this house and speak to her the way she’s been speaking to her. When we came home from the store, duffle bags were out in my sister’s room and she was gone. She hasn’t been home since. Last night my mom kept saying she wasn’t going to stress herself out or feel bad, but this morning she cried while we were saying grace over Christmas breakfast.

It’s Christmas Day and we don’t know where my sister is.

I don’t want to feel like I’m tearing my family apart by being home.

I hate feeling like I’m the problem in my relationships.

I needed to talk to boo when these conversations were happening. I was trying to keep a straight face and just falling apart inside. But his long distance partner who goes to grad school on the other side of the country is in town for a couple of weeks and he was hanging out with her and I really don’t like needing him when I know he’s with someone else. It feels so selfish and intrusive, like I’m asking him to prioritize me and my feelings over his quality time with someone else. I like to make myself scarce when I know he’s spending time with one of his other significant others. I like to give space. But he’s the top of my support network and I’m glad I reached out to him because he responded right away and was supportive. I just feel bad for being needy. Neediness is the opposite of the scarcity I strive towards…not that that’s ever been asked for. The need for me to be as absent as possible is, like, almost entirely in my head. So sometimes I fight through it.

Boo thought about coming to NJ with me for Christmas. We both enjoyed me spending time with his extended family at Thanksgiving, and want him to meet the rest of my people. My mother was less about this idea, though — I think largely because my sister has been on this type of bullshit recently. I called my dad earlier and he echoed that sentiment, saying “Yeah you definitely didn’t want to bring JJ home to that mess.” But last night when my mom said that she hopes I don’t feel bad, because I didn’t do anything to either of my siblings, and I told her that I do feel bad, and later got into her bed after she was asleep (where I am sleeping because I am now bedless), all I wanted was to be snuggling up in my sadness with boo.

Which I’m sure is a large factor into why I felt a twinge of jealousy when he gchatted me to say Merry Christmas this morning and told me that he wasn’t going to his aunt’s house (like originally planned, which had been a big part of why he was hesitant about coming up to NJ, because he wanted to be with his family/didn’t want to disappoint his little cousin on Christmas morning, but some things have happened with his family since this discussion to complicate that plan) and was still hanging out with his visiting partner. I found myself saying that I hope they have a great day, which I sincerely do, while simultaneously really wishing he was here with me while I’m not having a very good one.

It was just a twinge. Nothing is wrong. We’re having our own Christmas celebration on Sunday when I’m back. I’m cooking a big dinner and spoiling him with Christmas presents — I can’t wait to see his face. I’m spending New Year’s with him, which I’m really excited about because I’ve never had a midnight kiss before. I know him having other relationships of varying degrees of seriousness doesn’t detract from how he feels about me. I love him and he loves me and we work well as a couple the overwhelming majority of the time (and even when we’re upset with one another, I think we express our upsetness well) and sometimes there are just going to be things that be hard when it comes to sharing and I’ve accepted that. Figuring out how to not feel sad when he’s with another partner on Christmas and my grandma asks when I’m bringing him home to meet everybody is one of them.

This is what the poly community calls a wubble. Wubbles pass. Wubbles pass especially fast when you have an awesome boo that reaches out to you every day even when he’s spending time with another partner and checks in to see how you’re feeling despite you constantly pulling back and saying “Get back to hanging out with [redacted], I’ll talk to you later.” I so appreciate him and how present he is in my life even when I’m away and he is spending time with other people he loves. I feel so cared for, even in moments when I wish I didn’t need so much caring for.

I’m deeply convinced that if we lived in a world where people had much greater freedom to share physical affection and intimacy in nonsexual and nonromantic contexts, with friends and family members, there would be a dramatically higher rate of overall happiness, sense of security, emotional well-being, etc. I believe that it would create more meaningful, more emotional, and more loving friendships and family relationships. I believe it would bond people more closely and intensely. I believe that it would take a lot of the desperation for sex and romance away from romantic/sexual people who are single. If we, as a society, saw touch as caring, loving, and nurturing–not sexual or romantic–we would be free to experience it a lot more often, with a wider variety of people, regardless of sexual orientation or romantic status or whether we were monogamous vs. polyamorous. The benefits would be amazing, and I frankly can’t see any downsides.

The Thinking Asexual | “The Shifting Meanings of Physical Intimacy and Touch

Day 20: Impress Me #30Layers30Days

When you write, talk or present yourself in any way — are you more focused on being authentic at all costs or are you more focused on impressing people and being accepted?  How much do you rely on feedback and compliments to feel good about yourself?

It really depends on the space in which I’m presenting myself, and to whom. I would like to live in a world and have only relationships where I can be completely authentic with everyone that I interact with, but that’s not the way my life or the world I live in looks. So, like everything else in my life, there are levels to that shit, haha. I have a handful of relationships in which I can be my full, authentic self without fear of sustained judgment or repercussions. Then I have a larger number of people who get fully authentic representations of parts of me, and more constructed accounts of other parts for any number of reasons. And then I have people with whom I never really delve down past the surface level stuff.

For example, I talk to my parents all the time, but usually about things that are happening rather than about my feelings about the things or what they mean in the larger narrative of my life — we check in, sometimes almost daily, rather than have legitimate conversations. We communicate, but are not “in conversation” with one another on any significant level. And for the most part, I’m okay with that. I do not think that our relationship would be bettered by complete authenticity on either of our parts. My parents each have this idea of the person that I am, and being authentic would destroy parts of it, I think. I am not under the impression that we would like one another if we were really open.

But among the members of my chosen family? My closest friends and my partner? Authenticity is a challenge I strive to meet every day with them. I’ve committed myself to being vulnerable and saying things that are hard to say and asking questions whose answers I don’t know even if I’m scared of some of the possibilities. There are people I want to really know and really see me.

And then there are, like, the people who follow this blog who probably have a pretty accurate understanding of who I am as a person, but with whom my real life relationships (if they exist), wouldn’t suggest that deep a level of knowledge. I don’t really know what group to put those people into, but I like being open here and I like the idea that it makes more people in my life get me and what I’m about. I don’t try to impress people here.

I looooove compliments. Remember the highness of “words of affirmation” on my love language quiz results? But I don’t think I rely on them for self-esteem. I like me. I liked me before I had a boo telling me how awesome I am all the time, and before I had a paying job I was good at that brought a lot of positive performance-related feedback into my life. I have been working on liking me for years and years and years. It is an ongoing project. Other people deeply liking or even loving me helps, probably — at the very least, my relationships bring me spaces in which to develop myself in ways I like — but I don’t need them to say nice things about me to feel good about myself. I appreciate them for reminding me about my likeable things when I have forgotten them in moments of sadness, though. They’re really good at that. When boo tells me how he feels about me, I feel a rush of amazing feelings, but I don’t think it contributes to me feeling good about myself, so I’m not going to include that here. Feeling good about us isn’t the same as feeling good about me.

I want to talk about the relationship between black men and women and our fathers, as I understand it. This means I want to discuss growing up black/brown/yellow/gold-in American and not knowing your own father or being afraid of him or forcing naivete in order understand him or taking him for granted because you landed in a fairy tale and didn’t know he was the author like in Those Winter Sundays or him being one form or another of gone: Iron Mask or Cosby Sweater or Nowhere Man, I want to talk about that. And I want to talk about how that moody, pageanting oracle affects and defects the main arteries running through the whole nation: how when black men are both revered and feared from the inside out by their children as much as by their nation as much as by themselves, how the country becomes a playground for the triptych so-trite fantasy, at once folk hero and folk villain and the rituals and ceremonies therein.

Harmony Holiday, “Alternate Ending/Why We Are A Destiny/ Why Are We A Destiny”

(via Square Dancing with Giants)

the dopest ethiopienne:

how do you bring a black child into a world that plots their destruction before they leave the womb? how do you explain to a black child that their life is a crime, that they will be hated for existing? how do you weight your own love heavily enough to stand up to every force that tells a black child they are unlovable by definition? how do you bring a black child into this world?

I can’t really be suggesting that heterosexuality is somehow taught, can I? That it is somehow part of the curriculum?
I would argue that it is very much part of what schools aim to teach. Why else would educational institutions so enthusiastically promote social norms which exclude queers? My own teaching colleagues have criticised my decision to tell my students my partner’s name, Emily, as it’s too much information about my sexuality; straight colleagues wear wedding rings or take the title ‘Mrs.’ Facebook memes celebrate ‘mums and dads’ kissing in front of the kids to show them what loving relationships are like; television programmes depicting same-sex kisses are firmly placed in later timeslots to ‘protect children’. Kissing my partner in the supermarket attracts disgusted glances from people who steer their children quickly away; a family wedding with children present can include more than one gently ribald reference to the wedding night or the honeymoon. In short, heterosexuality is relentlessly advertised by those who practice it; queer sexualities are always taboo in ‘family friendly’ spaces.

Queer mothering in a straight world: AMIRCI Conference Paper | Spilt Milk

(via because i am a woman)