So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I know. I’m a thirty-something white-privileged woman who grew up in the rural Midwest culture of hunting and fishing, drinking, and football. The most common threats I face are wild animals, snowstorms, and drunk drivers.

I’m not here to tell you I get it – the complex layers of race issues in America, the history and the causes and all of the intense hurt surrounding injustice.

But please don’t think, because of my status, that I’m unaffected. Few people are unaffected these days by such sad times in our country.

Yes, racism exists. I knew it long before the formation of Black Lives Matter. I knew it before it was on the news every single day — before we knew the names Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

I knew it when I was twenty and I exited the interstate in downtown Chicago rush hour traffic in desperation for a public bathroom. I found a fast food restaurant and walked in, quickly noticing that I was the only white person there. All eyes, and I mean all of them, followed me to the restroom. All eyes stared at me through the restaurant and back out the door as I exited.

Before that day, I’d heard what racism was; after it, I knew how racism felt. I gained an acute awareness that how I’d been made to feel for five minutes – suspicious, shunned, unwelcome – was a mild version of how many individuals have been made to feel for the better part of their lives.

***

Years passed, and I became a wife and mother.

On a trip through the Midwest, my family stayed overnight in an Indiana hotel. At the pool that evening, two families were present: ours, made up of two white parents and three white boys; and theirs, two black parents and four black children, including a newborn baby.

The mother sat near her infant child on the opposite side of the pool from us as the father entered the hot tub with his other children. After a few minutes, a girl of about four years old noticed a game I was playing with my kids, and walked over to the pool, interested. I smiled and said hello as she came down the stairs. She proudly told me she had a new swimsuit, and I said it was lovely. She sat down on the stairs.

After a few minutes of playing with my boys, I turned and saw that she had entered the pool. She was in over her head, flailing to get to the surface but finding herself in deeper water with each step. I rushed to her, lifting her by the arms back to the top stair where she choked and gasped, coughing up water between sobs.

Her parents, both engaged with their other children, hadn’t seen her go under. The whole incident took thirty seconds. With my hand on her back, I ushered the scared girl back to her daddy (who was closest to us) and calmly explained what had happened.

He and the girl’s mother, a few feet beyond, stared coldly at me, saying nothing.

Nothing.

Seconds passed before I turned away, feeling suddenly ashamed for crossing a boundary I hadn’t been aware of moments earlier – the boundary between black families and white families.

That evening and in the days to come, each time I felt the shame, I had to remind myself the little girl had been in serious trouble. It was my human responsibility to help.

***

Yes. Yes. Racism exists.

There are hundreds of years of offenses to prove it. The wound is deep.

I may not feel I contribute to it, but I also don’t feel justified in throwing my hands up about it.

I hate that some white people have behaved so cruelly towards black people (and other minorities too, of course) that entire groups of people have developed fear of, and hatred for, people with white skin.

I hate that having white skin makes me, in some people’s eyes, guilty by default.

I hate being afraid that I could be, or my kids could be, victims of all this madness — that in some ways, we all are already.

I hate living with fear in my awareness — fear that we are losing, or have perhaps already lost, the right to live peacefully. I think we all agree by now that hatred doesn’t just affect one or two people who have beef with each other — hatred breeds hatred and acts of violence that harm the masses.

Violence seems close to home for all of us these days. Two police officers were shot in my state last week. The news report delivers information on racially-charged violence or terrorism each morning. More innocent people will die today.

Meanwhile, American children are more aware of and more exposed to hatred and violence than ever before, learning the language and conduct for creating another generation of chaos and pain.

And really, isn’t all crime and violence just a symptom of that – chaos and pain? A symptom of a heart problem? A soul problem? A nation of people existing in survival mode? We exist so much in the mode of meeting physical needs, either out of necessity or obsession for more things, that we have forgotten to tend to the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions of our selves. We have forgotten how to nurture our own souls and the souls of fellow humans.

We’ve forgotten how to love and forgive and even how to grieve.

***

America, I’m grieving.

I’m grieving for the people of Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa, the five Dallas police offers shot because of all this madness.

I’m grieving for the people of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and Delrawn Small and so many other names I wonder if I even have the right to speak.

I’m grieving because these lives cannot be reconciled, and the wounds cannot be healed by a band-aid or a hug or some trite words.

I grieve because I live here and love here, too. I’m a daughter and a sister and a wife and a mother — an American girl who grew up singing words like “sweet land of liberty” and “crown thy good with brotherhood” and dammit, I believed those words.

I grieve because the Midwest is my home, yet I feel the eyes on me in that restaurant – and I know there’s a reason for it. Because I feel the Everything wrapped up in the Nothing from those parents at the pool – and I know there’s a reason for that too.

***

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know how to be a voice. An ally. I don’t know which hashtag to use or which t-shirt to wear.

I don’t know if I can change anything or if I’ll make it worse by trying. I’m not sure if black people want me alongside them or want me to go away.

I don’t know if my words matter, or if they will be stifled as others’ words have been stifled.

I know how to tell stories. I can start there, in my own home with my own children. I can tell them all the stories I know, put faces and families and lives to the names on the news.

I know how to teach. I can teach my children and the children in our communities that there is more to a person than what you see, but there’s significance, too, in what you do see.

I know how to love and how to forgive — to cling to what is good. I try each day to show my boys that compassion trumps hatred. Good feels better than bad. Screaming the loudest doesn’t change anyone or anything – it only tires your voice. And hurting others never speeds the healing of our own wounds.

I may not know the perfect thing to do or say, but I can’t let that stop me from doing something, because of this I am certain:

Every last one of us is in the pool.

We’re in over our heads. We’re flailing. We’re sinking. And we’d better hope the guy next to us isn’t too scared or small, too this color or that, too privileged or victimized or angry or removed to help us back to the surface. Because if we don’t stop pointing fingers and start extending hands, we’re all going to drown together.


Visit Stacy’s blog, Revisions of Grandeur, or see what she’s up to on Facebook,  Twitter, or Instagram

*Featured image via Canva

 

 

 

 

Stacy Harrison

Stacy Harrison lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, three sons and a Goldendoodle who wasn’t supposed to shed. When she’s isn’t moonlighting as a wrestling referee (Living Room Floor Federation), Stacy enjoys writing non-fiction, primarily to-do lists and grocery lists. Visit Stacy’s blog, https://revisionsofgrandeur.com/

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

To the Mother of My Son’s Future Wife

In: Grown Children, Inspiration, Kids, Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
marriage, wife, husband, grown children, www.herviewfromhome.com

To the mother of my son’s future wife, I’m in the midst of dirty diapers and temper tantrums, but I do have days where I think about the future and what it will look like for my son. I wonder who he will be, what he will do and probably most of all, who he will love. I wonder about the type of woman he will bring home to meet us one day. I have my own thoughts on the type of person I wish my son would fall in love with, but we all know that the heart wants...

Keep Reading

Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith

In: Faith, Inspiration, Relationships
Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith www.herviewfromhome.com

The string quartet began playing Pachelbel, as my dad and I took our first steps down the aisle. I began to lose my composure as we proceeded to the altar. Hundreds of guests had their eyes on me as tears streamed down my face. Struggling to look my future in the eyes, I looked to the ground for reprieve. God, everything around me looks perfect, so why doesn’t this feel right? I’m not sure how I got here. The flame once dancing inside of me, has extinguished. Lord, I need you. Dad squeezed my hand gently, “Are you OK sweetie?”...

Keep Reading

Children Don’t Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger

In: Inspiration, Mental Health, Motherhood
Children Don't Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger www.herviewfromhome.com

“This too shall pass.” As mothers, we cling to these words as we desperately hope to make it past whichever parenting stage currently holds us in its clutches. In the thick of newborn motherhood, through night wakings, constant nursing and finding our place in an unfamiliar world, we long for a future filled with more sleep and less crying. We can’t imagine any child or time being more difficult than right now. Then, a toddler bursts forth, a tornado of energy destroying everything in his wake. We hold our breath as he tests every possible limit and every inch of...

Keep Reading

This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere

In: Inspiration, Kids, School, Teen
This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere www.herviewfromhome.com

When Paula and Kevin Burckard’s third child was born, she arrived with a little something extra the North Dakota couple never saw coming.  Newborn Grace had Down syndrome, and the diagnosis initially left the young parents devastated. “When Grace was born, I thought all my dreams for my daughter had basically been dashed,” Paula said.  But it didn’t take long for those fears to subside.  As Grace grew, not only did she meet and surpass milestones, her infectious joy, inspirational grit, and deep love of all things Michael Jackson transformed the family—and countless hearts. The Burckhards went on to adopt...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, When I Forget What It’s Like To Be Little

In: Child, Inspiration, Kids, Motherhood
Hey Mom, Don't Forget—You Were a Kid Once, Too www.herviewfromhome.com

The kids were squealing in the backseat. For the five minutes prior they were begging me to spill the beans on where we were going as I had only told them to get their shoes, get in the car and buckle up. It’s one of the ways I’ve learned to make a simple trip out of the house one that is a mysterious adventure to them. As we took left and right turns away from our house, they were trying to guess where we were going . . . and when we finally pulled up to a brand new playground...

Keep Reading

My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me

In: Inspiration, Journal, Motherhood
My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me www.herviewfromhome.com

Before I was a mother, I was a human being. A human being with life experiences, passions, fears, talents, hobbies, goals, friends and aspirations that I cherished and tried to honor. Even though I went through a variety of seasons of life . . . from school-age days, to working adult, to wife . . . those things always stayed with me. I stayed open to evolving, but never let go of who I inherently was. Then came motherhood. And suddenly I found myself abandoning my commitment to remain true to me, and leaving any semblance of myself in the...

Keep Reading

My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy: Simplicity

In: Inspiration, Journal
My Mother-in-Law's Legacy: Simplicity www.herviewfromhome.com

The memories of my mother-in-law spilled to the forefront of my mind, just as the contents of his jacket pocket fell onto our dresser. It was Proverbs 31, written on hotel stationery, in my neatest block print. Holding the small papers in my hand brought me right back to her graveside, on a hot summer morning, seven years ago. “Her children arise and call her blessed.” (verse 28) As my second daughter gave a mighty kick from the womb, visible to every mourner present that day, I couldn’t help but to allow my mind to wander. Were my values apparent...

Keep Reading

A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce

In: Inspiration, Journal
A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce www.herviewfromhome.com

I drove back from my son’s college concert near midnight. Exhausted, I glanced at my 14-year-old daughter, Beth, asleep in the passenger seat. We were only 10 minutes from home. I thought I could make it until I heard a road sign flatten on concrete. As the car flipped three times across a bare Ohio field, we left behind an ordinary life. I escaped with cuts, bruises, and blood-matted hair. Beth was another story. The car was cut open and a helicopter rushed her to Toledo. A doctor told my husband John that she was paralyzed. When John broke the news...

Keep Reading

Dear Mama, You’re Allowed To Not Be There

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Dear Mama, You're Allowed To Not Be There www.herviewfromhome.com

Friday afternoon was not much crazier than most afternoons. My husband was mowing the lawn, my daughter was hangry and my youngest son was due to be in a talent show in twenty minutes. I stood in the kitchen—where it seemed like I’d been for an hour—trying to motivate my family to eat dinner and get ready to go. “Get dressed, Jude. Make sure you eat something.” “Dean, do you want a slice of pizza before we leave?” I screamed over the lawn mower. “Maeve, are you going to the optional soccer practice or the talent show? You need to...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime