To the Class of ’89, with Love

There is no doubt that my own desire to explore the globe and expand my mind has to do with having sat next to such a diverse and enriching group of people every day for all of those years.

Last weekend was my 30th high school reunion. First of all, WTF. . how has it been thirty years already? So much life has passed by and at times it feels like it was just yesterday that I was jetting through the locker-lined halls of Morristown High School.

I actually had no intention of going. It seemed ludicrous to cross the Atlantic for a few hours of what I thought would be awkward smiles and poor name recognition in a loud bar. Morristown, New Jersey also stirs up a confusing array of feelings in me including memories of my deceased father. I wasn’t sure how I felt about stepping into that town again. But some other priorities lined up and United Airlines was practically giving away flights from Paris so I decided to bite the bullet.

Back in the 80’s, Morristown was a special yet complicated place to live. It had a unique type of diversity where the intersection of race, culture and socio-economics had the potential to broaden our minds in ways we probably didn’t appreciate at the time. There were upper middle class Black families whose mobility was anchored by corporations like AT&T. There were working class white kids whose families had been in the town for generations, running small businesses that grounded and enhanced our every day lives.

Every culture, race, and class was represented in equal measure. Even our religions spanned the spectrum. My Sundays were spent in the pews of Calvary Baptist Church, tucked away on the other side of the “hollow” with the other Black churches. I attended my fair share of bat mitzvahs while in the throes of middle school and often had to bypass afternoon plans as friends devotedly attended CCD at their Catholic churches.

In retrospect, it was pretty extraordinary the way we attempted to co-exist, representing the beautifully diverse walks of life that actually do make America great.

“The stereotypes that the world often tried to sell us were defied by our reality. So, we came together at pee wee football games and through a shared loved of smiley face cookies and Suvio’s pizza”

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. Hidden resentments and myopic views crept into our experiences from time to time. I remember seeing a swastika spray-painted on a car while riding down Hanover Avenue. Caught between charges of “acting white” and being called the n-word while at the receiving end of a fist, I sometimes felt that Morristown was not a kind place at all.

I could always sense, however, that we were trying to make the community work. The stereotypes that the world often tried to sell us were defied by our reality. So, we came together at pee wee football games and through a shared love of smiley face cookies and Suvio’s pizza. We accepted and respected that a Black man could serve as our principal or our most beloved art teacher. We relished in the fact that an all-girl student government could totally kick ass. And they did.

*****

In the hours before the reunion, I had a small existential crisis, asking myself, “Why do we do this? This reunion thing.” Especially now, as Facebook has reacquainted us, providing a window into the passing of our lives and our political differences. What is it that compels us to come back together?

It only took a few minutes after our arrival for me to get my answer. Walking into the dimly lit room which proved problematic for us 40-somethings in reading glasses, the joy with which I heard my name uttered put me at ease. No passage of time could ever make us strangers.

The ebb and flow of our relationships that ensued from the transitions between elementary, middle and high school could not erase the memories or the substance of our knowledge of each other. The hugs were tight, filled with the recognition of who we were and what we shared. The message was “I see you now, just as I saw you then when you were nine and used to play at my house.”

We bore the growing pains of childhood and adolescence together whether it was a parents’ divorce or a first crush. Now, as fully formed adults, we commiserated over the loss of a parent, the end of a marriage or the upheaval of a career. Beneath the blare of the music, there was a safe space to reveal how we may have changed and stayed the same all at once.

One of my favorite moments was with a classmate who had traveled from Alaska to be there. From what I had gathered, he hadn’t been back to Morristown in about twenty-five years. Our last conversation was probably back in middle school. Our paths seldom crossed in high school and I noted that to him, convinced that he probably didn’t even remember who I was. He debunked that notion immediately with a tender acknowledgement of our elementary school days together. There was so much warmth in his smile and his eyes and before we were interrupted, we managed a toast as I welcomed him home.

*****

When Trump was campaigning for office, I was surprised and disappointed by the support of some of my Morristown friends of his candidacy. My news feed would fill with zealous endorsements of a man who made hate and bigotry the cornerstone of his platform. I came down pretty hard on those friends because I knew where they came from and I simply could not comprehend that this is the path they had chosen given our experience together.

“It called to mind that we were part of the same tribe and that meant something.”

I saw one of those friends at the reunion and despite our heated Facebook debate from three years ago, giving him a hug was a natural reflex. And then suddenly, I remembered that in our sixth grade GATS class–this gifted student thing–he was the first boy to ever tell me that I was pretty.

At the innocence of eleven, he saw something in me that was a far cry from the messages sent to and about little Black girls during that time. It called to mind that we were part of the same tribe and that meant something. Ironically, it’s the very reason why I was so frustrated by his leanings towards Trump.

Politics aside, there was so much love in the room that night. An energy that I didn’t expect, but one that validated the fact that we are an enduring tribe of friends, acquaintances and family. We were missing many of our comrades from the class of ’89 and I’m sure others may not share the same sense of nostalgia.

Yet, it’d be hard to argue against the fact that we grew up in a pretty remarkable place at an interesting time in the world. There is no doubt that my own desire to explore the globe and expand my mind has to do with having sat next to such a diverse and enriching group of people every day for all of those years.

I carry the memories with me always and I am eternally grateful to have shared so much with all of you. Thank you for being such a special and inspiring force in the world.

Class of ’89, I see you.

Abandoning Ship?

Last week, a friend of mine tagged me on a Facebook post featuring an article by a Black woman who decided to move to Paris after Trump was elected. Her story resonated with me to some extent, although my decision to move came long before the tragedy of Donald Trump in the White House. His election was merely a symptom of a bigger, long-standing problem in the US.

I scrolled down to read the comments and was alarmed by the anger and judgment being hurled at this woman about her choice. One comment even stated that citizenship is not a free ride. I offered a broader perspective, citing that my own decision to leave the US was connected to issues far greater than Trump. That the system of white supremacy on which our nation was built affects every corner of society and that people of color are not and cannot be held responsible for dismantling it.

There is something very uncomfortable about a white woman accusing two Black women who have chosen to live in a different country and culture of getting a “free ride” on our citizenship.

My comment was met with scrutiny of my commitment to the nation and a suggestion that I was, in fact, abandoning ship. An ironic reference considering that my own ancestors endured the middle passage in order for me to even be here.

I mulled over this person’s words–abandoning ship, lack of commitment, free ride–and was struck by the author’s arrogance and unwillingness to consider the tenor of those words.

There is something very uncomfortable about a white woman accusing two Black women who have chosen to live in a different country and culture of getting a “free ride” on our citizenship. Her position was that we were obligated to fight against the Trump machine and that to not fight is to abandon ship. Beyond voting, what exactly is our obligation to a democracy whose foundation is one of persistent exclusion and injustice?

*****

The notion of white superiority is completely pathological and yet, it sits at the root of every major institution that defines the United States. It is an idea that is embedded in the country’s DNA and for those who do not benefit from it, the process of fighting against it is difficult and exhausting. We can work to get a Black man into the White House or build better schools or run for office ourselves, but it’s simply not our job to fix whiteness.

I want to be clear and say this isn’t about white people. White people are divine creations just like everyone else with tremendous gifts to offer the world. This is about the illusion of white superiority and the pathological impact it has on individuals and society as a whole. The most damaging aspect is that it refuses to admit that it’s way of being may be wrong, no matter how unjust or tragic.

Last week, the Asian-American woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner revealed her name and identity, Chanel Miller. She was not only subjected to the assault, she was later brutalized by a justice system that decided the future of the “all-American” Stanford swimmer was more valuable than fairness and her dignity.

Thankfully, the judge who chose leniency for Turner was recalled by the people. But, what has Brock Turner learned? How has he changed? Is he able to see that he earned favor without merit, even after committing a heinous crime? Or did things turn out exactly as he expected because he too is rapt by the illusion of his own superiority and entitlement? On record, Chanel was nothing more than an “unconscious intoxicated woman.”

*****

When a chamber full of white men and women in power are caught up in the self-deception of their own superiority, they can easily justify not taking action when twenty six-year old children are murdered in their classrooms. In their minds, the values of money, power and dominance supersede the lives of the citizens they serve. It makes zero sense. Yet, they continue down the same road as 50 more people die in Orlando, 58 in Las Vegas, 9 in Charleston and so on.

We rally to vote these people out and their response is to suppress our vote or to commit actual election fraud–North Carolina. As long as they believe that their way of being is better, they will always fight back or lie to re-establish their “position.” Their own hypocritical and hateful acts will neither bother nor deter them. The illusion of superiority requires it.

Watching Biden in his smug “superior white man” suit, I wanted to vomit. High five to Cory Booker for not letting that shit go without a counter.

And this isn’t just a Republican ailment. Bill Clinton, our “beloved” statesman, was quick to resort to dog whistle politics when threatened by the excellence and success of Barack Obama. Comparing him to Jesse Jackson, he deemed Obama’s primary win in South Carolina a “fairy tale.” A knee jerk reaction in the heat of an intense campaign, riddled with the undertones of the illusion as well.

In the most recent Democratic debate, when confronted with his past words regarding the enduring damage of slavery, Joe Biden pivoted to blaming parents from poor communities for their problems. They just need to learn how to parent better. Really, Joe? Tell me, who raised Brock Turner? Donald Trump? Watching Biden in his smug “superior white man” suit, I wanted to vomit. High five to Cory Booker for not letting that shit go without a counter.

One of the most compelling scenes in the movie, American Gangster, was when Russell Crowe’s character was trying to get access to the coffins of the fallen soldiers being brought home from Vietnam. As he tried to explain to the government official that Frank Lucas, a Black man from Harlem, was smuggling drugs into the United States through these service planes, the official refused to believe him, stating that “no American n****r has accomplished what the American mafia hasn’t in 100 years.” He was incredulous–again, the illusion.

*****

Throughout the years, I have protested against war, injustice and inequity. I once stood for hours in front of a movie theater protesting the film, Buffalo Soldiers, marketed as a dark comedy about a bunch of corrupt American soldiers stationed in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, selling drugs and screwing around during peace time. I was appalled by the appropriation of the name as my own grandfather served in the 9th Cavalry at West Point right before the US entered into World War II. Called Buffalo Soldiers, they were representative of the revered former slaves in the all-black cavalry and infantry regiments who served during the Westward expansion. When I was a kid, I loved looking at the little buffalo pin on my grandpa’s cap.

What brought about such a gross appropriation of African-American history by the Weinstein-owned Miramax? The illusion of superiority and the values that it represents. The blatant assumption that it is acceptable to defame the title and memory of those who served this very country in the name of entertainment. It’s pretty disgusting when you think about it. Hey Joe, what do you think of the job Harvey Weinstein’s parents did?

In pursuit of my own happiness, I have decided to live outside of the United States. I would hardly call it a “free ride.” The influence and evidence of my commitment to my citizenship is equally as potent in a classroom in Paris as it was in the hallways of a charter school in Brooklyn and in front of a movie theater in Bethesda, Maryland.

And what obligation do I have to fix the problem of the illusion of white superiority?

Only the afflicted can heal their own pathology.

Photo courtesy of Goalcast

The Return of the Funky White Boy Playlist

When all of the big things in life are undefined–job, relationships, home, finances, family–all one can do is surrender and wait.

One Christmas many years ago, Emmanuel’s father, Raliegh, gave me an iPod. This was before the smartphone era so it was the big white clunky MP3 player we all went crazy for in the early 2000’s. Not being an Apple person myself, it took me a bit to warm up to it. Raliegh helped me set up iTunes on my monstrosity of a desktop computer and I set to the task of uploading my CDs one at a time into the software.

I was content having my existing music selection portable until I learned about the playlist. Not just the playlists we could create with our own music, but the endless catalog of tunes that we could download on demand. It was like making a mix tape without all the hassle of shuffling through a bunch of cassettes and timing the record and stop buttons just right. I was in Heaven.

With all of the music I could imagine at my fingertips and some serious 80’s nostalgia, I was inspired to create the Funky White Boy playlist. While you scratch your head, let me explain. The Funky White Boy playlist is made up of songs by all those white guys you would hear on the radio who had that certain soulful sound that could not be denied. I’m talking Daryl Hall, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald–dudes who could get right into the pocket and stir up a little something inside you.

The playlist opened with Yah Mo Be There, the classic duet between Michael McDonald and James Ingram (I know, he’s Black–he gets a pass on this one). I threw in some Hall and Oates–Daryl Hall riffs like no one else, in my opinion. Journey, Peter Gabriel and Christopher Cross made the cut as well. Ride Like the Wind, people? Toto and Rick Springfield got a couple of slots and Kenny Loggins rounded things out.

This playlist got heavy rotation in my household and it evolved a bit. When Raliegh’s band starting touring with Jon Mayer, I got hip to songs like Gravity and I Don’t Trust Myself with Loving You. Four-year old Emmanuel’s favorite was Say, although he insisted Mayer was singing “Sandwich you need to say” which soon became the running joke at my office whenever we went for lunch.

No matter what life issues were swirling around me, the Funky White Boy playlist was my lift. You know the feeling. I even bought one of those car adapters that you would plug into the cigarette lighter and then tune to a radio station to play on the car speakers. It was that deep. I had other playlists but I always came back to this one. It brought me back to another time like when my mother would wake us up for school singing This Is It as it played on the radio. Memories of middle school dances, MTV videos and sleepovers were often called to mind.

Then, an unfortunate thing happened. During our family trip to Europe in 2013, my iPod was lost. It was either left in an apartment in Rome or on our flight back to the States. My attachment to the iPod had waned a bit over the years so I often let Emmanuel listen to it when he was bored. I was impressed with his choices. He was a big fan of Sade, Michael Jackson and Adele. But, I wasn’t paying close enough attention and it was somehow overlooked. While the world had transitioned to the iPhone, I became a Galaxy girl. My iTunes library was on my dinosaur Dell desktop in a box in the back of a closet. I was not dragging that thing out.

The Funky White Boy playlist was lost.

Kenny and crew disappeared into the shadows where they had resided long before iTunes was even a whisper in Steve Jobs’ mind.

Now, I’m sure there’s some techie out there who could have figured out how to get it back. At the time, I didn’t have the bandwidth to geek out over it. I was raising a nine-year old, running a school and a month later, my father died. Kenny and crew disappeared back into the shadows where they had resided long before iTunes was even a whisper in Steve Jobs’ mind.

*****

When I started my “mom”bbatical, I had this vision of how things were supposed to play out. I was going to move to Paris and land a cool job with a global organization in the social sector. I had my eye on UNESCO at the time. Then, I was going to find a professional cooking high school for Emmanuel so he could pursue his culinary dream once he joined me here. There was even the prospect of a budding romance. Everything was going to fall right into place.

Yeah, none of that happened. None.Of.It.

I was happy to be in Paris and relishing the time to rest, recover and connect with friends. I also spent many months wrestling with God about my life. Nothing was clear and I was forced to live each day one moment at a time. When all of the big things in life are undefined–job, relationships, home, finances, family–all one can do is surrender and wait.

In the waiting, I remembered the Funky White Boy playlist. It just came to mind one day and I realized that I could recreate it on Spotify. It was so simple. Why I didn’t think of it before, I’ll never know. I guess I didn’t need it until that moment when I had to rely on the simplest of things to be a source of joy as the bigger things were still working themselves out. Things like an adorably fat cat, the perfect baguette and a glorious full moon in the sky.

I got to work. It was so much fun recreating that playlist. I started by listing the artists and then their songs. The best part was trying to recall the exact order they had been in on my iPod. I would sing a song in my head and then hear which song would come next. It was like putting together a puzzle. Then, I brought in more current additions. Justin Timberlake is all over this thing now and *NSYNC–don’t judge, they have some jams.

I recall a Bible verse from the book of James 1:2-4 that states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking of anything.” Not lacking of anything. Wow.

It’s so easy to be dissatisfied with life. Life is really hard sometimes. We suffer losses and uncertainty. Our expectations are often not met. I think we have to find a way to always choose joy, though. The Funky White Boy playlist is pure joy for me and it reminds me that at this very moment, I am not lacking of anything. A year later, things are still working themselves out, however, Daryl Hall riffing on Method of Modern Love is really all I need.

Endureth All Things

“Where can we find and live heavenly love on Earth during such turbulent and hateful times?”

Today is the sixth anniversary of my father’s passing. It’s hard to believe it has been six years. There are days when it feels like it just happened. There are days when I forget that he’s no longer here. I still keep his number in my phone. I cannot bring myself to delete it.

I know there are several opinions and theories about death. I am one who believes that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience and that our souls are eternal. There have been times when I have felt my father’s spirit so prominently around me that it would be impossible to deny the everlasting nature of our souls. And I know in my heart that the veil of protection that surrounds Emmanuel in his distance from me is that of my loved ones on the other side.

I am not talking about ghosts here. I’m speaking about the energy of love. Over these past six years, I’ve sought different ways to manage my life without my father, from reading books about grief to just outright talking to him. In doing so, I have come to understand love a little bit more in my life. As difficult as it is to let our loved ones go, I imagine unencumbered by their former Earthly worries, in spirit, they are able to love us in deeper and more profound ways.

That said, I’ve been thinking a lot about love on my “mom”bbatical and what it really looks and feels like and how it endures. Where can we find and live heavenly love on Earth during such turbulent and hateful times?

*****

I recently spent a month in the United States. It was weird going back at first. I was curious as to how I would feel being on my home soil amidst all the crazy that is going on. I have been a pretty harsh critic of the state of affairs in the US. It is difficult not to be appalled and ashamed by the things that are happening in our name as citizens.

Nevertheless, I put my political frustrations aside to celebrate time and love with family and friends. Time that I expected would give me a recharge as I continued my life thousands of miles away. Theirs is a love that I try not to take for granted. A love that I count on to be there when I need it.

From the very start of my visit, however, I was blessed with the most unlikely surprise. It started off a bit ominous. The power at LAX went out right as I arrived from Paris. My connecting flight to Vegas was cancelled so I found myself sitting on a concrete floor in Terminal One stuck for the evening. I don’t have many people in Los Angeles. I’m a San Francisco Bay Area girl so I was prepared to hunker down for the night and chalk it up as an impromptu bucket list experience–“spent the night in an airport–check.”

To cover my bases, I decided to toss a Hail Mary message to an old friend on Facebook and within an hour, I was nestled on a chaise lounge in James Vincent Gaston’s living room catching up on old times. His was a face I hadn’t seen in person in over twenty-five years. Our formative moments were days spent at church and time passed on the high school musical stage. In Finian’s Rainbow, I was Henny to his Og and when I arrived at his door, the first words out of his mouth were, “Look at my Henny.” What could have been a night of pure misery ended up being an unexpected evening of enduring love between two friends.

The surprises didn’t stop there.

I am a native New Yorker and I have always marveled at how in a population of millions, on any given day depending on the block you turned down, the exit you took out of the subway, or the store window you stopped and gazed into, you could have an run-in that in no way could be classified as a coincidence. Strolling through Brooklyn during my visit, I heard my name being spoken, “Tara, is that you? Oh my goodness, what are you doing here?”

The voice was none other than my “Auntie Reggie”, one of my mother’s running buddies from when I was child in Brooklyn. Regina “Reggie” has known me since I was a swell in my mother’s belly and has watched me grow from a distance since my family left Brooklyn when I was six. Her own life had taken her to Bermuda, Florida and Georgia. Now, a proud grandmother, here she was in downtown Brooklyn with her daughter, son-in-law, mother and two grandchildren, all visiting from Georgia. We were all pretty stunned by this unlikely encounter.

We reconnected a few days later with shopping and laughs in Harlem. I was still in awe of our collision in Brooklyn. The day ended with them treating Emmanuel to dinner as I departed for another engagement. He didn’t have the same history of memories as I did, but he was family and the love that endured over the years was extended to him without question.

*****

On this journey through life, I believe the Divine or the Universe, whatever concept in which you take comfort, is constantly pushing us towards those experiences that affirm the eternal nature of love. It reminds me of that line in The Color Purple, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” So caught up in our status symbols, titles, and principles, we can forget the ever-present potential for love that is all around us.

Humbled as I was by these two beautifully fated encounters, I was equally overwhelmed by a recent comment exchange with a friend about our mutual art. My friend vulnerably laid bare his emotions through his photography and I viewed it as a act of love to those who would receive it. It was an act that also seemingly defied the narrow view with which we define masculinity. I felt honored to observe his gift and also recognized how easy it was to receive.

While this is certainly not an endorsement, I get what Marianne Williamson is trying to tell us as a collective. We are being traumatized by hate right now. Yet as my friend, Lisa, reminded me once, our nation is more than one man or his followers. Their irrational animus is no match for the enduring bonds that we can create, one to another.

So, I dedicate this post to my father whose love is always with me and who is the light that I follow as I strive to be a more loving person each day. And I thank all of you who walk this love walk with me. You give me hope.

My Life, Mind and Heart on “Mom”bbatical

“I found myself in awe of my own fortune while secretly wondering if I was doing some kind of harm to my son.”

Back in April after much deliberation, my son, his father and I decided that Emmanuel would remain in California for the remainder of his high school career as opposed to joining me in Paris. We let Emmanuel make the decision and he approached it with thoughtfulness and sensitivity. All in all, he had made great friends at a school that he loves and he just didn’t want to make another transition. He even spoke with a guidance counselor about the alternative pathways he could take to becoming a chef. I was really proud of him.

So, now that I have essentially handed over custody to Emmanuel’s father for the next three years, I am staring at a future and a life I had never expected. I have been so grateful for this year to myself. Through grace and the love of many, I have enjoyed a year of self-reflection, travel, culture and even lost passions. I have taken on a new identity as a writer and I have been blessed by support and love as I have dared to speak to the issues that face the world around us.

I recently read an article in The Guardian titled A Woman’s Greatest Enemy? A Lack of Time to Herself by Brigid Schulte. Her overall thesis is that women both now and throughout history have never been afforded the time to truly create their dreams as they are saddled by demands from which men are often freed. Her analysis is pretty bleak and supported by substantial evidence as she recounts the lives of famous men and the women by their sides, who suppressed their own dreams and creativity in support of them. Schulte cites everyone from Freud to Mahler to Bruce Springsteen.

One critical point that Schulte makes is that research has shown that not only do women not have the time, but “many women don’t feel that they deserve long stretches of time to themselves, the way men do. They feel they have to earn it. And the only way to do that is to get to the end of a To Do list that never ends.. .” I often questioned my own merit for this “mom”bbatical experience–this extraordinary time to myself. The days spent sitting on the banks of the Seine viewing some of the world’s most beautiful monuments, I found myself in awe of my own fortune while secretly wondering if I was doing some kind of harm to my son.

*****

As I contemplated and accepted that I did deserve this time for myself, I wondered if perhaps the “mom”bbatical is not just the reality of time, but also a mindset. A frame of mind that reminds us that we are not simply defined by the roles we hold. Mothers are in tact individuals deserving of exploration and growth, as are our children. When we maintain our own personal identity and boundaries, we do them a beautiful service as well. My son’s sense of independence and self was jarring to me during our recent time to together. I was in awe of his ability to maintain his personal boundaries and to ground me when I lost a grip on mine.

One night while visiting with my mother, I became annoyed by her persistent chatter about her new dishwasher. She felt it was too small and I kept trying to remind her that there were four more people in her home than usual using dishes three times a day. She kept arguing her point. I finally retreated from the conversation in frustration and found myself fussing with Emmanuel over the fact that he was laying around in bed doing nothing. Yet, he was not rattled by the abruptness of my tone or interruption. He simply looked at me and asked, “Are you okay?” He disarmed me with the skill of a Jedi.

It is in these moments that I am reminded that our children are not intended to be the targets, stewards or receptacles for our emotional needs.

“What I’m talking about is reclaiming the enduring space in our minds and hearts that holds our emotional and spiritual lives at the front and center.”

Which brings me back to the “mom”bbatical. This time to myself has given me the chance to feed my emotional, spiritual and creative self. It was so much more than self-care. The occasional spa day and mani/pedi are important, but those should be entitlements for any and every woman–not some special moment in time that is intended to make up for the daily suppression of our emotional and spiritual needs in service to our roles as wife, mother, employee, woman.

What I’m talking about is reclaiming the enduring space in our minds and hearts that holds our emotional and spiritual lives at the front and center. To journey to an enlightened place that says we are enough and that we deserve all of the beauty, peace, and love that life has to offer while co-existing as mothers, wives, leaders, daughters, and sisters. For me, this journey started with a break from the daily demands of parenting, yet I know that even if I were to resume those responsibilities, the space that I created for myself would still exist. I could no longer have it any other way.

As a Gen X woman, I am often surprised when I observe the lives of my contemporaries. Women who hold the highest of degrees, who have achieved feats beyond measure in their fields still succumbing to the archetypal roles our mothers fought against in the Women’s Liberation movement. One extraordinarily talented friend of mine recently had to forego her personal time to wash her daughter’s hair after an unexpected showdown with a mud puddle. Her husband simply “doesn’t do hair.” Really? And then she proceeded to blame herself for not planning her time better.

It’s time to change the narrative and to make the “mom”bbatical a real thing for mothers and women who are the caretakers of the world. It’s not just about time, it’s a mindset that our very lives depend on.

Schulte references Virginia Woolf’s own imagination about “a woman with genius. . .” whose “ability to blossom–and the expectation that her voice, her vision, was worthy–would depend entirely on the world we decided to create.” It’s time to create that world.

I’ll soon be launching a Facebook group titled “The Art of the “Mom”bbatical”, a place for all women who dare to embrace the space within themselves that is whole, creative and at peace. It will be a space where we lift each other up as we work to reclaim our emotional, spiritual and creative lives.

The last thing I’ll say is that earlier in this post, I mentioned that during my “mom”bbatical, I wondered whether I was doing my own child harm. During his most recent visit, we walked through the Paris metro and Emmanuel turned to me and said, “You know, it’s pretty badass what you did. You made the decision to move to Paris and you did it.”

No harm done.

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