On Parenting and Privilege
Occasionally, I just need to acknowledge my privilege. Today, the fact of it struck me as Garth and I readied our kids for school. I shifted a client, and Garth went in to work later, so that we could walk with Luken to school, and then bike with Kami to her new school. After getting our kids settled, Garth and I said a lingering good-bye to each other, and then biked off in opposite directions to work.
Meanwhile, other parents of other school-aged Portland kids punched a time clock at the usual time, first dropping their kids at school early, leaving them to mill around the playground and hallways until school started, sans parents. I’m not even sure this milling around is a bad thing for kids. What I want to notice about it is that there is a new-ish standard, and this standard has some of us – a minority of us, I believe – marking various transitions in our children’s lives with our presence. Being able to do so is a matter of privilege. I want to never be unconscious of this fact.
I was aware of this with my youngest. I guess the best way to say it is, I was aware of it when I lost the privilege of being present when she started kindergarten. Life had changed, I was working a crap job with no flexibility, and she got on the bus at daycare. It really, really upset me. All around me at that awful office were people who had done this as a matter of course. I couldn’t even open my mouth to complain, aware as I was how lucky I’d been.
As the years spooled along, it was my ex-husband who had the job with the flexibility to take them to doctor’s appointments, go to school conferences, get them at school when they were sick, and so on. I could do all those things now, of course…I caught up on the privilege scale. But they’re grown.
You’re making me all teary, woman. This is precisely it. I want for anyone who wants to be present for their kids to be able to. Can anything really not wait so a parent can attend to the once-in-a-lifetime moments with our children?
It makes me feel warm and cozy to know that our grand kids had your presence to mark their transitions this year. I could picture it. I noticed when I was taking my walk yesterday.morning that other parents were finding ways to mark the beginning of school as well: parents standing with their children at the school bus stops; yelling “hooray” and waving as they headed for their car pool ride; and my favorite, a Father taking photos of two girls (both sporting brilliant sequined berets) as they came out of the house.
Thanks for the reminder that it doesn’t all have to look the same way, either. There are lots of ways to mark an occasion. I remember myself getting our pictures taken all dressed up for the first day – and walking or busing to wherever we were going.