Kids these days

A few of my friends have newborn babies. I got to see some of the babies yesterday. I try to avoid taking pictures with babies, though. Every time my parents see a picture of me holding a child, my dad asks, “Doesn’t that make you feel like you want one for yourself?” My reply is, “Well, maybe, but I don’t know if my friends are interested in making one just to give to me”.
 
That aside, kids are cute…but it’s a trap! Kids use their cuteness to trap parents and control them. Kids use their cuteness to get their parents to literally put up with their crap every day. And I guess it works!
 
I don’t have a burning desire to have kids. I know some folks who really do, who see parenthood as a core aspiration. That’s not the case for me. One draw about having kids is that the experience would help me understand the world and understand others better. Is that weird? It’s definitely not enough of an incentive to make me hurry up and have kids now.

Bikes!

Around 2009 or so, I bought my first adult bike, a Fuji Sagres. It was a great commuter bike, perfect for getting around Berkeley. I remember when I worked at Google, I would bike all the way down to the West Oakland shuttle stop, just so I could get some exercise before heading down to Mountain View.
 
When I was in Chicago, I got a Hercules cruiser bike. It wasn’t particularly fast, but it was pretty sturdy. The single speed was fine for the flat Chicago topography. I used it to get from my apartment to class. I learned that my lower temperature limit for biking was 10 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as it was above 10 degrees, I could bike to class and be fine. I would notice that at the beginning of the school year in the fall, the bike racks would be crowded with bikes, but by winter, there would be plenty of space.
 
Now that I will be starting a new job in Berkeley, I bought a new bike, a Dahon Mariner D7. I wanted a folding bike because my current apartment doesn’t have a safe place to park the bike. I also appreciated the flexibility that a folding bike would give me in multimodal transit. I can take it on the BART or put it in someone’s car.
 
What I appreciate about bikes is the sense of freedom that they convey. With my bike, I can go so much further than I can by public transit. Even with Uber and Lyft available, my bike is fun, free, and great exercise.
 
I also don’t take this freedom for granted. Some people can’t afford a bike. Some people aren’t physically able to ride a bike. And some people are deathly afraid of sharing the road with cars. I’m looking forward to a future in which there are more freedoms available for these folks too, whether it’s affordable bike shares or mobility adaptations or safer streets. Because transportation equity means that everyone is able to get to where they need to do the things they need in order to thrive.

Working Moms

One last thing regarding Mother’s Day.
 
On Sunday, I visited my brother’s church. During the sermon, the preacher referred to mothers who sacrifice for their families, for how they have “prayed and cooked and cleaned” for others.
 
To that list, I would add “how they have worked”. Not just worked in the home (which is definitely work), but also worked out in the world. My mom was a working mom. She worked as a pharmacist since I was 7 years old. Some of my friends had moms who stayed at home. I wonder if my mom ever questioned her choices and whether she was a good mom by choosing to work. But I gained a lot from her choice to work, and not just financially.
 
My parents had different attitudes to bringing up work at home. My dad almost never talked about his work as an actuary. His philosophy was to leave work at work, and not bring it home. I respect and honor him for his decision.
 
My mom did the opposite. She talked about work a lot at home. At the dinner table, she would talk about her patients, about how busy it was in the hospital, and so on. Through these conversations, I learned a lot about how to navigate difficult workplace conversations. I learned from her example about how to stand up for myself, to persevere, and to work well with others. She was my first model of the working parent, and I learned a lot from her experiences.
 
If I ever become a parent, I want to think about how my experience with work can inform my children’s experience. I want them to see that work isn’t easy, and can be really taxing, but can also be deeply rewarding.

Mother’s Day 2017

Today is Mother’s Day.
 
Mother’s Day is a good day for many people. Mother’s Day is an opportunity to express thanks for the mothers in our lives, for their strength, love, perseverance, and endurance. I made sure to call my mom today and wish her a happy Mother’s Day.
 
That said, I remember that Mother’s Day is also complicated. I sometimes fall into the trap of associating Mother’s Day with a saccharine, romantic view of motherhood, all soft linens and loving hugs and chocolate chip cookies. But motherhood is not a real-life commercial for Pampers or Tide detergent. Mother’s Day is complicated because motherhood is complicated.
 
For some, their biological mothers weren’t available, either by tragedy or by choice. For some children, they celebrate their adopted mothers or grandmothers or maternal figures, yet feel a longing for their biological mother.
 
For others, their mothers were complex or even painful people. For some children, their relationship with their mothers was toxic, or embittered, or codependent. Even as they celebrate the ideals of motherhood, they wrestle with the realities of their own mothers.
 
For some women, Mother’s Day reminds them of a relationship that they cannot have. Some women are unable to have children, because of biology or circumstance. When they see mothers around them receiving recognition, their applause is mixed with their own heartbreak. In fact, I’ve heard that for some, Mother’s Day is the most painful day of the year to go to church, and that some women avoid churches today altogether.
 
And for far too many women, their time of motherhood ended far too quickly. What do you say on Mother’s Day to a mother who has lost her child? What do you say when “Happy Mother’s Day” serves only to remind her of the one she has lost?
 
I know that on days of celebration like today, I feel tempted to avoid talking about these painful or difficult realities, to shut them out. Yet those who are living these realities don’t have that option. I want to celebrate in a way that honors everyone.
 
So I celebrate those mothers that stayed at home and raised their family. May your investment into your children’s lives produce rich rewards for yourself and your community.
 
And I celebrate those mothers that have worked hard, sometimes two or three jobs, to put food on the table. May your children and society honor you for your excellence and faithfulness.
 
And I celebrate those women who were not mothers to physical children, but mothered so many around them. May your heart be filled to overflowing with the love of generations.
 
And I celebrate those mothers whose hearts still break for the children that they have lost. May your souls be comforted, and though life cannot return to what it once was, may you find grace and hope, even in the sorrow.
 
And I celebrate with all those whose relationships with their mothers were rocky or nonexistent. May you have mothers this day to celebrate—if not the mothers that you were given, then mothers that you chose—and find your heart brimming with thankfulness.