Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Letting go of a pretty lie

I have had a hard time writing these past few month.  I have been mourning my attachment to the normatively framed good life.  But that is not our path. The Dr told us there was nothing more they could do for Runa's anxiety.  Sophie was coming home saying she felt stupid all the time.  The whole family has now been diagnosed as clinically depressed and anxious.  The normative good life and the safety of privilege are not for us.

I know that if we are not careful, we will end up each in our own room watching tv to dull the feelings and survive the days.  I don't want to live like that and I don't want to pass on that kind of dysfunction to my children.  I don't want them to see life as something we just get through and family as just another problem you have to negotiate.  I began thinking about options for us as a family.

My oldest, Sophie, now Qrow, identifies as two spirited.  At the same time people kept telling me that I should not "encourage" this behavior and that  Qrow is only identifying this way because "we were too liberal and let her know about these things."  This left me thinking about the choices we had made in raising our children and what we needed to do to support this child as they worked their way through puberty hearing these kinds of messages about the core parts of their self.

Even when it came to marriage where I thought the loyalty issue was pretty clear cut seemed to be in question.  When I asked our Dr what I could do to help my spouse who is disabled, she told me that I did not have to stay married to him and had the option of not dealing with his problems.  The final straw was when the Dr suggested that we could ask children's services to come into our home to help with Runa as there were no other solution.

That was very hard to write.  In that suggestion, all lies I told myself about the normatively framed good life were exposed.   I froze when she said that.  I felt like such a failure as a parent to get to this place and need such a "solution".   I just sat there remembering the residential schools, the 60s scoop, the modern abuses of indigenous children who are in care and I said no.  The Dr was surprised.  She is a nice white lady who would trust the state to look after her children if a Dr told her too.  I felt numb for a while. All of this added up to the certainty that we need to dramatically rethink how we live our life.

I started by pulling the children out of school so that we can homeschool based on the medicine wheel, story medicine and indigenous resources.  We are focusing on taking time for each other and listening more carefully.  We are building skills to support ourselves and each other and we are listening to our bodies.  We are reaching out to the community.  I am pulling together all the reading and research from the past few years to teach my own children about how to be healthy people.  I don't want them to be people who just know how to do math problems, sit quietly and just survive.  We started reading Richard Wagamese aloud each evening and talking about poverty, alcoholism, despair and community.  We are learning about plants that changed the world and the medicines that the creator has given us.  We are playing with rocks and thinking about racism and slavery.  We are taking it slowly.

I feel very nanaskomowin (grateful) for all the lessons that the indigenous community has shared online that I am benefiting from right now.  I am learning from things like Leah Dorian's thesis on growing Cree and Metis children, "Stories, Dreams, and Ceremonies -- Anishinaabe Ways of Learning" by Leanne Simpson (I will review shortly) and Kim Anderson's "A Recognition of Being".  These as more, are providing so much information and courage as I take this step.  While I know this is the right step for our family it is also scary.  It is a path where I can't buy into the myth of the normatively framed good life.  That myth was a comfort to me even as I knew it was a lie.  I am drawing from the strength of the ancestors and the words on the Elders that I need to be a strong mother like bear and protect my children.

So, if you have any resources your would suggest or know of any other parents homeschooling from the indigenous lens, please let me know.  I would love to keep learning.  Hai hai / Giitchi Meegwich

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