Fall is my favorite season, and a more introspective one for me than the traditional winter / new year “taking stock” time for some reason. Looking back on this year, it’s been a whirlwind, which I feel like I’ve said so many times before about so many previous years. But many of the ways in which I’ve tried to embrace calm and intentionality in my life have been canceled out (temporarily?) once again by throwing a new baby into the mix.
We’re just in a season where it takes all the energy we two parents have put together to get through an evening’s routine. And I’m okay with that—more generally, with the fact that life has seasons and that it’s okay (preferred, actually) to not always stay rigidly in the same season forever like gosh darn Miss Havisham. Or to use less appealing examples, like Peter Pan or Laura from The Glass Menagerie. So I embrace this season, and let’s face it, is there any better sleep than the deep sleep of an exhausted parent? Provided that parent is not interrupted by an early-rising 5-year-old or silently dreading work instead of sleeping, I think not.
And yet I’m still a creature of habit who chafes against the winds of change, happy to find a patch of sunlight and curl up in it for an indeterminate amount of time. Which is why I noticed with some amazement that it’s not just the season that’s changing, but also me. I’ve changed, maybe only slightly, but it’s still perceptible and it feels long-term.
Recently in a tiny group I’m a member of, one neighborhood mom lashed out with some really nasty, entitled comments and demands against some others. It made me feel ill when I read it, and I just thought “You know what, this is not okay here. It’s not okay to tear down rather than build up, in our community” so I went against my usual internet MO and said something. The amount of “Oh my gosh I’m SO glad you said that” messages I got was eye-opening to me, because it underlines how quickly one negative person can turn the whole feeling sour in a group, while the others quietly assume everyone else is fine with it because no one’s speaking up to counter it.
By nature I’m non-confrontational, and when I see injustices I’m more likely to disengage and vote with my time / dollars elsewhere rather than to call it out. Always one to take things “by the smooth handle,” to repay rudeness with brute force politeness, and to let stuff roll off my back like a duck whenever possible. Because as I’ve learned, with most stuff in my life, suffering is optional. But I went through at least a partial (and unplanned) metamorphosis earlier this decade, and lately I’ve found myself a little bolder, a little more willing to stick up for people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still by far not the person you can expect to see leading a giant crusade, self-righteousness blazing, about most things. Life is short, and I want to focus my support and attention on where incremental but steady and significant positive change can occur rather than get distracted with the latest outrage-du-jour. And I still hate the culture of sensationalism and call-outs that monopolizes social media these days, and don’t want to contribute to it.
But I am at the point that when it’s important enough, when it’s local enough or I’m directly involved enough, when it’s blatant enough, or when I’m comfortable to speak first as an enfranchised member of most of the communities I’m in (where others might not feel empowered to do so), it would be irresponsible not to speak up. I need to be aware that if nothing else, I do have my own voice to wield.
I want to challenge myself to keep doing this, which is probably why I’m saying it “out loud” here. I’m a grown-up now, and I have no excuse not to support and protect others against hate.
Now if I can only manage to stick up for myself consistently……