Sunday, November 01, 2009

Update

Thanks to both of the Sarahs for the gentle push to get me writing again :)


Where to begin?

Around the time I wrote my last post, my family went through a major life change. Since then I have been unsure of what to say on here. It's dangerous to write things publicly when your emotions are raw, so as tempted as I was to write a long, frustrated vent (my roommates refer to this as word-vomiting) I held back because I didn't want to hurt anyone. Now that a couple of months have passed, I hope I will be able to word this in a way that is honest, yet respectful of the people I love most.

Back in August, Lacy and I had an amazing week at the camp we go to every summer. I had gone as a counselor with the DinoMights and Lacy went as a camper.


While we were on the bus coming back from camp, I got a panicked call from my brother telling me that my parents were moving. To the country. In another state. The following Thursday.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I knew my parents had been looking at houses, but last I had heard they were looking in our old neighborhood. My worst fear was that they would find a place in the suburbs, but it never even occurred to me that they would move to the country--let alone the country in another state!

First I cried. Then I got angry. I think the first thing I asked my mom was "Have you forgotten that you have black children?!" (harsh, I know, give me some grace). Diversity has always been a top priority for our family. It was a deciding factor in which schools and churches we attended, which programs we were involved in, and up until recently where we lived. My parents have always made sure that we were surrounded by a diverse group of people and to the best of my knowledge, my siblings have never been in a situation where they were the "token" child of color. My mom had spoken on transracial adoption forums about the dangers of raising kids of color in an all white environment, and emphasized how important it was to give them the opportunity to be involved in their culture. We had lived in the city all of our life. I was so incredibly confused! And scared.

Even after I acknowledged that the terrifying images running through my head of klan members attacking my siblings were probably not very realistic, I had other worries. What about dating? An AA friend of mine going to college in the same area my parents moved to had recently told me about all of the challenges she was facing in the dating world related to being an AA girl surrounded by white guys who had little to no experience in regards to diversity. That topic could be a post in itself so I won't go into detail, but it made me want to wrap my arms around my sisters and tell them to stay far away from boys out there! I've heard multiple white girls from rural communities tell me that they would be nervous to introduce a black boyfriend to their dad. Is that going to be a problem when Tekle and Aaron start to date? How will they feel being one of the only kids of color in their schools? Will Zeni know her hair is beautiful even though it's very different than the rest of the girls who will go to school with her? Will the kids lose their ability to navigate cross-culturally?

Now I know that there are tons of very nice people who live in the country.People who are doing incredible things and making the world a better place. People who would never do anything to hurt my siblings and would welcome them into the community with open arms. I know that not everyone who lives in the country is ignorant and that there is plenty of racism in the city as well. I just think that they are more likely to run into problems in a place that is so homogeneous that there isn't a pressing need for dialogue and education on issues of race. Yes, I know that my brothers and sisters will have an opportunity to educate and break-down stereotypes. Heck, just by moving there my siblings brought the diversity level of the town up by .06% It's just that they never really volunteered for that, you know?

On a more selfish level, I was having a really hard time with the thought of them being so far away. I was used to spending time with them daily. I feared that I would become more like an aunt that visits once in awhile than a sister. I knew that I would miss them like CRAZY.

Fast forward to today: The kids are adjusting. They are in school and making friends. They often talk longingly about how they miss the way things were before, but they are making the most out of the situation. To be honest, they are handling this much better than the way my older brothers and I reacted the last time my parents decided to move. Lacy is taking horse-back riding lessons and loving it. My mom is able to stay home full time with Aaron and Zeni. Isaac is still going to the same performing arts school, and is enjoying his senior year (even though it is another state, it's just 45 minutes from the city so he is able to commute).

I try to make it out there to see them once a week, but because of school sometimes I can't. My role as a sister has definitely changed. It hurts to see the kids getting used to not having me around, but the alternative to that would be them being sad and missing me which I certainly don't want either. I miss family dinners. Janaya's facebook status on her birthday said that her day would have been better if she could have eaten dinner with all of her brothers and sisters like usual, and I couldn't have agreed with her more. There have been days where I wanted to rush over to my parent's house and share an exciting piece of news or "word-vomit" (haha I'm really enjoying that term)about one thing or another, but phone calls have had to suffice. I miss having them close-by.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that even though I don't like the situation, it is what it is. I can continue to fight it, but what's the point? I don't want to be mad anymore. I know my parents are trying to make this easier on us. For now my Mom and Janaya come back to the city for church on Sundays. They are willing to spend lots of time driving so that the kids can continue see their friends here. They even had Lacy's old hockey team over for a bonfire and fireworks the other day.


People are dealing with circumstances much harder than this all over the world (like the food shortage in Ethiopia for example) so I try and keep things in perspective. My siblings are clothed, fed, and loved. Things are different, but we will figure it out. That's what you do in a family.You face the hard stuff together and you find ways to make it work. I don't need to love their decision but I need to love them in the midst of it. I still have the coolest family in the universe and I know we are going to be okay.

I had considered continuing to post without ever bringing up the subject of my parents moving, but something felt dishonest about that. It was basically quit the blog or tell the truth. Initially I had decided on the first option which explains the lack of posts over the last few months, but then I started to really miss blogging. This blog has been sort of a family journal and it would be sad to just abruptly end it like that. So there you have it! The truth. It's nice to be back :)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelsey, I enjoy your blog very much. I live in the same Metro area as you, also in a very diverse neighborhood. Would you be willing to share some of your parents' reasons for moving to the country? You shared your reactions, and honestly I would have had the same reaction, but I'm not sure I get why they made that decision in the first place. I'm sure they thought it out thoroughly. If you are willing to share that, it would be appreciated. Thanks again for the great blog. Kathy

Signe said...

Welcome back we have missed you.

I just have to make a small pitch for the rural life. We spent the day running through stubble fields today, and playing with all kinds of farm animals, and it was glorious. I have enjoyed your posts, and your families commitments to having diversity in your lives, but to say that that can't happen in rural areas is not entirely true. There will be diversity in your family wherever they are, and we have found people to be very accepting of our mixed race families. There is racism everywhere, but there is also love everywhere. Don't dispair for your siblings rural life can be very rewarding in a different way than city life was. Keep us posted, we miss the updates on Zeni.

Blessings,
Signe

Leslie said...

I'm glad you're back. I know it is hard to write when there are big things going on that are hard to talk about. Good for you for talking about what is going on honestly and respectfully. I can see that it's a hard transition, but you will get through this, as a family. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I missed you on here! I hope to see you soon =)

~Bobbi

Mark and Sarah said...

Oh, I feel your loss so acutely in your post. I'm so sorry for the situation you've found yourself in. I hope you find ways to connect with your siblings even though they are farther away. I also wonder about the reasons for your parents' move. I'm glad you're back and hoping that through blogging you might find encouragement.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are back to blogging--how else am I going to remember things when my memory goes completely. I know how hard this must have been for you to write.

The reasons we moved....there are many but the main one was financial. We carefully considered all our options and did what we felt we needed to do. We had/have lots of the same concerns as Kelsey but as we both grew up rural we know the bad but we also know the good. We are adjusting...some things are wonderful, some not so great and others yucky. The first invitation to dinner we had was to an AA family's house. The Mom is getting her MBA at a local college. Of course we joked that because there were so few of us we had to stick together. There is some diversity out here--not alot--but some. And we are only 25 minutes to downtown St Paul.--35-40 to all our old friends and family. Life is very different and sometimes we are terribly lonely but there are more good days then bad and hopefully in time this will feel like home and home will be a good place to be.

Kelsey's mom

Kathy said...

Glad your back & glad to see such an honest thoughtful post. It's hard to be away from your family, especially as everyone is growing & changing daily. I know my older too have a hard time with it since they're away at school now. They miss being in the mix of all the chaos. Anyhoo, glad you're back!
Also glad to see Kelsey's mom too :) Hi Cindy! We miss you guys!

Annie said...

I am glad to hear that things are okay, even if they were so rough for a while!

I know I rarely comment but I do have your blog on my blog reader and I like hearing about your lovely family :)

Jennifer said...

Glad to see you back. Sorry to hear your family is farther away and you don't get to see them as often as all of you would like. That's hard. I'm glad they are settling in and that you have come to terms with it.

Andrea H. said...

Its so funny you mentioned that of how you felt because I know from reading your blog that it is important for you to have the kiddos exposed in the city. So many concerns and rightfully so. But you know your parents are level headed and when your mom emailed me to say that they were all moving I was so happy for them. I guess most and formost I was thinking of being in the country and how protected everyone would be. I think your sibs will bring a lot of spice to the country. So glad for you that it is not sooo far away and that you have come to gribs with it. I bet it wasn't easy. Much love, Andrea

sarah bess said...

A lot of times I tend to get my identity from what our family does, like "We're a _____ family that ______". In our case it would be a homeschooling family that would never send our children to boarding school. I think the Lord shakes that up sometimes to help us remember that we have to look to Him for our direction and not to (even good) philosophies, and also to help us see things from many different perspectives. Now that I've done everything school-wise, I am not as rigid in my opinion on what a missionary family should do with their kids. There was a time when, if God had called us off the mission field, I would have felt like it was a blow to my very identity. I don't believe I feel that way as strongly now, but of course when the time comes, i may find a lot of residual emotion there.

Wish I knew your last name to add you as a facebook friend. Mine is Rebbavarapu if you're on and wanna friend me.

Lauren Taylor said...

Kels, let me know if you need a ride to the "country"

HiPo said...

Kelsey,
I just wanted to say that, as a white guy who grew up in the country-ish suburbs in the South, I appreciate the opportunity to see a perspective on growing up in the country that is different from my own.