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China Martens
P.O. Box 4803 Baltimore MD 21211

The Future Generation #59

Happy Birthday!

    This third month (March) of the year 1999 on the 3rd, my daughter will be 11 years old ... and on the 31st, I will be 33! Three is my lucky number - so the numerology of this is interesting to me. My birthday is going to fall on a blue moon (which is a 2nd full moon in the same month).The first full moon fell on the day before my daughters birthday.
    I went out in the night to look at the moon and thought about the night before my daughter was born ... it was a full moon that night too. I spend that night getting rest between contractions with Mama Kitty as my (that night only - she was not my cat) faithful feline companion. The cat came to me, as if she felt my need, and spend all night with me as the others slept.
    This full moon night is quite different. My daughter’s in a separate room than me, with her friend, and wants no contact with me. Lately, my presence irks her. She gets snippy when I ask her a question about school (or just walk by her!). She wants privacy and space away from me. She is bumming tonight, but doesn't need me to (and I don't need to) comfort her. She's taking on more responsibility for her own existence (She did an excellent science fair project with absolutely no help from me - this is a first) - but she still needs me (I showed her how to use spell-check, gave her money, drove her to school) - and I still have to be the responsible one .. thus dreary domestic scenes over necessary tasks. I tell the time, time to clean up. She tells of life, what she needs.
    I fully recognize her needs for space. I have the same needs which have often conflicted with her need of me, in the past. So this is a new turn of events. But I don't like her rudeness to me (treating me like a dog) and said so. Is this about the teen years to come? I’ve got to look into this stuff. Is this about rejecting me so she can more fully form her own identity? Perhaps, she is rejecting the embarrassing (to her) dependent childish kid she was - and my part in that. She is also embarrassed of the rust on my old Chevy (wait till I paint a Buddha on it) and tells me to shut up when I sing. Pleasant, eh? She isn't interested in my photography, music, writing, or commentary ... when the other kids I know are. That, I think, is pretty typical. I'm old hat, weird but not cool, “mom", saying the same old things that she expects and is tired of me saying - "Clean up after yourself, eat your vegetables, be proud of yourself, here's my social analyses of our oppressive society ... yada, yada, yada".
    I'm just taking stock of the situation tonight. Thinking about the balance of our relationship, her growing, and how I can handle situations fairly (to stick up for my rights too!) Thinking, I don't want a whole bunch of fighting all the time. Thinking about how to back off as a parent - but not be negligent. Thinking about the next ten years to come.
    One thing I'm well aware of - is that my daughter needs me to be strong and healthy and happy and being true to myself. I need myself like that too, and at this point in the mothering game, I've gotten back to myself ... as my own self and not always a mother ... but an individual. The days of us as an symbiotic unit are way over. As a matter of fact, I don't like to think about motherhood stuff so much anymore, so this is a special little examination I'm doing now, of what are my feelings as me as a mother.
    I guess I like to be a woman. I've had enough of motherhood - it's overwhelming. Yeah it flavors me (for the better I think) but I ain’t no mommy all the time, no more. You need to stick up for yourself, even against the people you love, and now is the time it’s natural for me to do this more - it’s a time of growing independence for me too. I think about issues when I need to, I feel about my daughters feelings when I need to .... but I guess I realized last year, how damn scary this all is. I was touching it for a while - the raw nerve of emotion and worry.
    But, I came to this conclusion; I can't feel for all the pain and growing my daughter is going to go through my god it would be agony. And I can't fix all the problems she's gonna have - that would be unhealthy. I've learned to detach a bit more.
    This is my philosophy. Its about being a little more calm. Not going crazy. The way I see it, we are all gonna die so lets live while we can. However it is - well that's just the way it is. You do what you can. You might even do your very best. But then you let go. Not let it drive you crazy - cuz if you think, really think, my god it will. I'm not into being guilty anymore, I just refuse to be guilty. See, you start off trying to be the perfect parent and somewhere along the line ...things happen that you get guilty about. Yeah guilt, I know about it. Things I've done that weren't perfect child-raising. Things that have happened to us, depramental things. But damn it - I'm tired of being guilty. Mostly I do good, I think I do a lot of good things. So I stick up for myself. And its kind of a calmer state, admit when you fuck up and go on.
    At some point, I guess, I realized that growing up is painful - maybe it can't be avoided. Sure my kid had a pretty ideal, I think, upbringing when she was young - she was this beaming toddler who ate organic vegetarian food in California and was being raised without all these complexes etc. etc. But, even then, life was not without problems and pain. I've watched the forces that shaped the active bold un-self-conscious toddler turn into a somewhat shy, sometimes down on her self, somewhat out of shape kid ... but isn't some of that - that which comes with consciousness .... with becoming more complex?
    I was feeling bad, about things not being ideal. But I don't want to feel bad no more, I want to be someone who can make the best of things and who is a fighter. Things go wrong, but we can laugh (when we can) and be hard living people. Yes there is tears ... and they cleanse the earth like rain. Yes there is emptiness ...and it is the emptiness that clears a place for surprises, for new things to come to being, just as loss clears a place for gain and exhaling makes room for inhaling. Yes there is pain ... don't fear the pain, all growing hurts and sometimes the pain of your life falling apart is really the pain of you being born, for what was cracking and you were holding onto it and trying to keep it together , was not your life but a shell, and when it breaks you shall be born into a bigger world, the real world and it will be beautiful. I've learned to get used to the taste of bitter, for life is bitter as well as sweet and this is how you can transcend the pain somewhat, feel deeply but also have some healthy detachment. A couple problems aren't going to kill a kid. (Of course I don't try to make problems to build character) Problems are part of life. Its how you handle them. kind its never over, till its over.
    You see , I am 33. I got this philosophy from other people, mostly books I read. I didn't think up this stuff alone, I'm quoting other people. I am 33. My daughter is 11. She is gonna go through stuff in the next 10 years that I would never want to re-live ... those were not my favorite years. Its scary to think about. I feel that I have finally gotten free of the complexes that she is taking on. I am happy with my body and except myself ...while she has to deal with growing pains and all the body image crap our society puts on a young female. I am tired, perhaps jaded and demystified of the love and lust and crushes I spent a lot of my life focused on and feel happy to return to having joy in just living (much like a young young girl) without dwelling too much on the guys.... while my daughter is boy crazy and yearning and hurting.... you could see how this can be tedious. I have conquered my shit and I don't want to hear any life overwhelmed with love-sickness, vulnerability, or negativity towards ones own self ... and my daughter is tired of hearing all my philosophy applied to her problems. Tedious as shit. She has to feel!!! I went through it and I want to spare her but she has to learn and grow and feel for herself! Probably she's gonna get her heart broken and have near death experiences and be in deep shit and have bad frames of mind. I realized that. It's gonna feel like she’s dying at times and I can't help her. We are worlds apart. She's gaining more and more of what I gain less of. What strange times in our lives.
    I can even see it! I look at the young teenage girls I know, I watch them change before my eyes, back and forth... one minute you see a child, the next a woman: and you see it so clear .. you see a kid whining over ice-cream, romping around, and then you see a woman with a developing body and the issues they are dealing with are heavy drugs , sex. And I'm like this was my 10 year old and now she's 11, its getting closer to 12 and 13 - (and I'm around some 13 - 14 yr. olds to see what that is. ...eek. I just don't want her to jump in situations too fast, or to risk what she feels is right in an attempt to gain love or acceptance. Seems like there’s a real void in meaning for kids coming of age. Not many ways to show their bravery - or be allowed to have more input and power in society - without doing it in a "delinquent" way. And it is a dangerous world.)
    It is so strange , I see child, I see woman , visually in girls of the 11 to 15 range. Then I look at woman in their 30's , when they laugh they look like little girls, I have often been mistaken for 23, 19 - seriously, when I was 30. And then you look at them the next minute, especially when they are tired, and you see the crone, the old lady they are going to be. Its really wild. We are all going through changes. But, there’s a part in you that is ageless, I do believe. Both old and young at the same time.
    I have learned that "a healed heart is stronger then innocence". O.K, so who wants to watch innocence be hurt - not me ... that’s why I’ve got to detach a little from my daughter’s pain. She wants me to. It’s the way of the world. But I’ve also got to protect her and take care of her and be her mom even if she screams. It’s a balance, like everything. See these are things I've already come to terms with. I felt so scared about her life and thinking what could I do to make things better and I'm always gonna be thinking like that, struggling for better is the name of the game .. but I’ve also got some peace with the way things are. I would like to put her in a better environment - but I've always searched for that - cuz what forms a child is not just her mother but the wider environment around her. (I've never believed in sheltering her, we talk about everything, but I believe she needs to have positive examples and options around her, in the world at large which she is entering.)  I’m not gonna loose sleep over it, things are good enough, that’s the key , good enough. You have to let go, let go of your own life to gain it. I have to let go of ... whatever will be. I live with my daughter in the present, as I always has. As she grows, she forgets the life we once had .... as I grow I forget my childhood that I so vividly remembered and refused to betray, when I became a grown up, I wouldn't forget, I didn't, I remembered it all as I raised my child ... but now I forget it, I'm farther away from childhood then ever, and the lessons have been internalized, the wounds have been healed and I'm loving being in my 30's so much, feeling like all of me, all alive. I'm going to enjoy the whole ride to grey hair and beyond.
    The profound realization that I have come to recently; is that just because I lived through all kinds of adolescent hell - and learned greatly from the experience ... I can't help my daughter avoid all the same problems when they come her way - through sharing my knowledge. That's crazy but true.
    Often when I talk, she tunes me out. I try to tell her that their is a universality of feelings, she is not all alone - but she feels all alone. I try to tell her that "normal" people are a myth, every young person feels like something in particular is wrong with them. Kids pick on other kids to make themselves feel better. If you could feel good about yourself, you wouldn't need to project your inner fears on others and persecute them. I tell her to tell the stupid mentalities to Fuck off, not to except them - and that true beauty is being comfortable with yourself enough to express your own unique essence. I guess I try to arm the child with logic, reasoning abilities, and the power to own her own will (and fight off those who would colonize her soul, by first off making her feel inferior).She would prefer, I think, if I could give her more money than advice.
    I feel no one prepared me for growing up - I was given no advice about independent thought, or about what it was going to be like to be different, (we all have our own differences) a really tall woman-child. I heard no critique of society. I came of age in the suburbs with no subculture known to me.
    My mother often regrets our move there, says my life would have been better if we never moved to that place. She feels some guilt. I feel that my mother is a little overprotective. She thinks she can fix everything; that if your a good mom, in a good place, you'll have a healthy happy child - never mind politics. She's a farm girl, she doesn't understand my brand of insanity. I say, "Mom, I grew up to a society that was corrupt, exploitative, hierarchical, sexist, racist, in the shadow of the atom bomb ... where everything was about money, money, money, and doing what your told, in your place in the pecking order, nothing real...very repressive. And I was different." I rejected the system, or was I rejected? Perhaps I went crazy, perhaps I was self-destructive, perhaps I was unhappy - but I think that was a valid reaction to the circumstance.
    What I rejected by my own feelings and in confusion, (for example; the school system, everyone hated it but we had to do it. It did not look like learning to me anymore, we weren't learning much. But we would be punished if we didn't do what they said. They said it was an education and our future depended on it.) I grew to learn the intellectual reasoning behind my gut reactions. And that helped a lot. What I could relate to in 8th grade was Pink Floyd - The Wall. But later, after I had already dropped out of school, I read Paul Goodman's Compulsory Miss-education. I saw then, that when I tried to hook school and go into the city - I was merely following my natural inclement to learn more about life - that it was healthy. I feel that knowledge is a great deal of power - and understanding can clear a path through the fog of confusion and pain.
    So, I said to my mom, “What could you do, change the whole world for me - so I could grow up well adjusted? What I needed at that age - is what I eventually found - other people like me, and the subculture. With my "peer" group: we could talk and figure ourselves out and share info. and explore the outer limits. Fuck the system, eat out of dumpsters, travel around, fix up squats, make our own culture, find some freedom. That’s what made me happier. A pill or psychiatrist couldn't fix the problems with me. Those experiences made me what I am, so I can't regret it!" And damn, my mom spent a lot of energy and love on me, she did her best and believed in me - not a lot of people get that - so I'm way beyond criticizing what was wrong with my upbringing.
    But you see, as I found intellectual answers to be so liberating to myself - why I would think sharing my findings would benefit my daughter to avoid some of the same old crap, to evade similar pitfalls of self-hatred, doubt, and fear - to forward the revolution, ya know! Our culture is such that we can build from the experiences of those who come before us. I have always felt it was a shame that youth was robbed from the school-aged, that liberty only came at 18 ...after the robbery. I thought so much time was wasted on being held back, so many true learning experiences denied, so much warping of the individuals autonomy and ability to co-operate with others under the time spent in submission to authority...that an 18 yr old is spit out with little true skills for managing life. My pregnant thoughts on my infants future as an adolescent was full of the belief that my daughter would be different; with less of her life being oppressed, she would spend more of her time on fully living life. She would not have to waste so much time trying to get back her sense of herself, for the self-esteem that every baby is born with would not be robbed from her in the first place. I thought she would have more of a supportive community around her, so I would be able to raise her out of some of the ills of society - like school. And I thought that she would never find the need to rebel from me, for I would be nothing to rebel from - I'd stay out of the way of her choices.
    The thing is - those are pregnant thoughts for you - so ideal and not messy like life. And that’s what is cool about being a malcontent kid and dreamer and growing up and taking on responsibilities - to see how it all comes out. To learn. Things are a lot like how I thought it would be. Just harder work and more full of human, drama, though. Definitely, there’s a lack of the supportive community I imagined I’d have.
    It’s strange you can live with someone from day one - and still not really, really know them. I don't got ownership over the life that came from me, and I never did. Both Clover and I are trying to find our own ways. If she thinks shopping at the Mall is cool or likes rap or whatever - she knows my point a view, I get my two cents, she got hers. I can learn something new from listening to hers.
    I been airing all my concerns, but the truth be told, I can trust my daughter as basically sensible. The thing is, like George Carlin said, "Preachin' and teachin' don't do nothing. You have to get your own shit together and how you live your own life, that is the best example/influence/effect you can have on other people's lives".
    I am passing on things to my daughter, but she doesn't need to swallow everything I say! Some of the things she's picked up from me, are some of my beliefs, but also some artistic creative ability that goes back to my great grandmother on down. I find it funny the little things she's picked up from me; like wearing fall leaves in her hair, the way I told her Collette did, and enjoying my white trash spaghetti that I learned how to make from a month I spent drinking in Gainesville. Odd things she picks up. I think she is less ashamed of herself than I was, and more aware that there are alternatives to the mainstream. She makes me so proud sometimes, with the odd anarchist thing she will come up with to say , at school. Mention that the black panthers started the breakfast program for children, or that fascism isn't a thing of the past - fascists burned our friends bus in Europe. But you know I am not God - I don't got a right to form this child in my image - and I am not going to. She's a real life person not some kind of theory. Its not like kids are always right and pure or adults are always right and know best. No ones perfect. But it is my responsibility to parent!
    I was scared, suddenly Clover got so old and seemed to be on the edge of big changes. I was feeling everything that she felt, too strongly like mothers do. And I was tired and annoyed and yelled a lot, about school busses missed and a burnt plastic spoon in the ashtray (?!) I was feeling like somebody who cooks for birthday party sleepover kids, and only gets to eat the leftovers. So I got away, ran away for the weekend.  Had a good time. Got my head cleared. One thing I realized, was all the things I am proud of my daughter for! Before I was numb to her company - I noticed all the annoyances and weaknesses. But, there was a great many important things to be proud of my daughter for in the last week, that discounted stuff like spilled rice or how she watches t.v. like an addict at the neighbors house. (Get a way, get a break, and you too will see the positive!) I suddenly remembered all the good stuff - once I was away from my daughter. How she took out the trash, stood up to a bully without violence but without fear, firmly and from her own initiative - rejected her 13 yr old friend who was taking too much drugs, till her friend came back and apologized and said she would stop doing drugs, and how she stood up for letting her belly stick out when she was swinging from a tree, when someone commented on it. That’s pretty impressive. I also realized my daughter does have a good deal of self-respect and spunk - I think she'll be alright, ya know. She's got a sensitive streak - but that ain’t bad. She's also real funny, she loves to laugh. She has a good heart. She's interested in science, music, art, and parties. And I think she's a success of my anti-morality upbringing beliefs - for she's neither good nor bad but free, in a Taoist sense. That’s one area that she's never rebelled from. Its hard to explain, she mostly looks like a "good" kid cuz she doesn't have the same kind of domestic problems, neglect, abuse, disrespect- that some other kids have. But sometimes she expressed negative stuff, on a smaller scale, that most kids would get punished for doing. I don't think she has that thing in her, or the background, that makes kids go hog wild in risk taking behavior in adolescence.
    On my run-around-town adventures I bumped into a woman I know whose daughter is now 17! She raised her daughter similar to how I did - she was the perfect person for me to talk to! Said, yeah, it’s hard for them to rebel against us, what’s to rebel from? ..but it’s good for them to rebel. They’ll say Oh Mom to your face, but brag about you to their friends. They go through stuff, but eventually come to good decisions. All that care you gave them - is in them - they can't really get away from that. And yes China, it’s good to realize, you got to separate, its so hard not to feel their pain worse than they do. We had been raising our children since small, with experiences of them making their own decisions and being respected - so they are more prepared for autonomy. She left me with a good feeling - to trust in my daughter - and her sweet happy face, that all was well with her and hers. I got to talk out all my little concerns. I told her how I was worried because Clover said she couldn't babysit cuz little kids made her feel like hitting them. She said it was really good Clover was in touch with her feelings and could say that. That her daughter too had got annoyed with little kids. (Funny thing, you accept someone's emotions - and it makes it better. Clover did a wonderful job of entertaining two little kids, the other day. And I know not to leave her too responsible for their care.) I advise you to find people similar to yourself and compare notes, have a chat ... its so good.
    I came home in a good mood and my kid wasn't sick of the sight of me anymore and vice a versa. We told each other about our weekend experiences - open and close. I told myself then reminded myself, again, as I always, do ... to remember to give this child of mine the gift, the year long way to show her my love, the daily gift of just treating her with Worth - better than any little trinket on a birthday, ... just remember - get some patience, take a breath, don't use the abusive words when you are mad, just yell how you feel if you have to- cuz your giving the priceless gift of respect - if I don't treat my child like she is worth something - in so many little daily ways, because I am numb and overwhelmed of her company (cuz I don't get the needed time to myself) I Ill have a lifetime later to regret it.
    Feel, Experience, Experiment, Adventure, Grow, Survive. Happy, Happy Fucking Birthday to you and me, Clover.
    Ya know I luv ya                    
— China