What is your win in 2020? Parenting.
Posted on December 14, 2020
Parenting was hard before COVID-19. Parenting in 2020 was…. next level. There are no words can describe the…
Social and emotional distress.
BIG feelings. All the feels.
Snapping and yelling at each other.
Double and triple time of homeschooling and parenting (while still doing paid work!!)
The questions! The endless questions. Why can’t we go outside? Why can’t I see my friends? Why can’t we make masks out of vibranium?
Soothing, counseling and coaching.
Lack of any personal space.
It is all too humbling…
I’m ready for 2020 to be done but WE. MADE. IT. And to be clear for me it was about winning big and small towards a much larger vision of our collective power. I’m excited to get some time this month to reflect. This is the time of the year I do a “self retreat” to take stock of my year (or years it seems for 2020). A year ago, we were on our way back from Vietnam (!!). These years will be memorable if not formidable for Collin and all of us.
At 6 six years old, Collin (and his generation) has had to grow up fast and in leaps and bounds. He’s already developing his analysis, seeing race, class, gender and honestly bullshit at such a young age.
As we got closer to the election, Collin converted his angst against bullies and “bad guys” into aggression and hate against Trump. There were elaborate stories of how we would take down Trump, which were infused with characters from Ninjago, Wakanda, Rescue bots, to name a few. I enjoyed these moments but I also started seeing more feelings of stress, anxiety, and isolation. We talk a lot about our feelings big or small, we nurture them and talk about what do with his sensitivities and super powers. What do we do with this level of political exposure? What do we know about raising a non-black Asian boy in these times? If we adults can’t really process this right now how do we parent??
Don’t get me wrong, I’m damn proud of our parenting! I and we made massive shift and adjustments to make it work. Mychi is not just a healthcare professional but a leader. I know my role is to flank and support her leadership. At the same time, we had make pivots to take care of my needs. And, stressful as it has been, we have spent an unprecedented amount of time together as a family the last year and a half (including our 6 months in Vietnam).
This year, I leaned into my conditioned tendencies, my instincts, what got me this far in life. This became my strength. I have no shame (okay, less shame) that I parent basically like my parents. That is what I know. From parenting to loving and protecting Collin from the ugliness of this world, I embrace my inner tiger baba. No joke. And given all of what the world and the right wing threw at us, Collin did amazing.
Collin is sleeping on his own, making his own bed, making his own breakfast (sorta). He’s a very detailed and elaborate storyteller and artist. He struggles with social and emotional issues but he’s aware and not afraid of his feelings. Most importantly, he is trying his freaking hardest to do his best in these times.
We need to count all the wins, big and small.
But I’ll be honest. This was a hard and emotional year, and it is just beginning… What was hard about this year was the unique and sharp trauma inflicted on this generation of children. We won’t know the full impact until much later and we are far from done. From raising a 6 year old to pulling out of the trenches of Trumpism. How are we going to win??
After Trump lost the election, Collin asked me very excitedly, “Baba, did we win??”
I didnt have the heart to tell him but I did anyway. I said, “We got rid of Trump but there is still Trumpism…”
He asked, “Ummmm…. What is Trumpism!? And how long is that going to take!?”
I have no more good answers. None of us really know. Getting rid of Trump was just the beginning SO how are we going to orient in 2021?
Every time I hit these moments, I come back to something I wrote in 2017 that I still think is very relevant. This is from: “Are we trying to win or experiment? I want us to have it all.”
Here are some questions I think about:
Are we deepening our politics? We are at the height of alienation and fragmentation, we need to keep building that muscle to connecting our issues, our struggles and our peoples. We need to break out of our silos, specific identities, and sectors towards a collective vision.
Are we developing our capacities and for what? We need to prepare ourselves to lead and govern. Whatever Trump does next, whatever comes next in our movement and world, we are going to need to learn how to govern within institutions and systems AND in our own communities.
Are we winning material changes in people’s lives? This one is probably the hardest and where there is the most debate. We need to be winning things but without experimentation, our “wins” become too small and incremental to move the hearts and minds of people.
Truth be told, 2021 is going to be another iteration (a better one, I think) of 2020. But either way, I’m going to take it slow and take some time to unpack and unravel all the things in my mind. I’m going to remember to count all the wins, big and small, invisible and visible, and take nothing for granted. None of what we did in 2020 was guaranteed.
Whatever strategic differences there will be in 2021, there should be no doubt that there is very little room for error. Getting rid of Trump was just the beginning. Any slight mis-alignment of our strategies or mis-assessment of our personal or political capacity will indeed make that difference. So let’s keep loving up and building up the people around us. Let’s stay focused, keep our eyes on the prize and be real about what it will take to win in 2021.
Much love and gratitude to everyone and thank you for reading <3
Note: I was stuck the last couple months but this post was inspired by a CPA Activists Network Intergenerational Dialogue last month. Thank you for the shared space and asking the question!