weekly moment

After I quit my graduate program toward the end of last October, it felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. Although I knew on a deeper level that it was the right choice for me and our family,  I had so many unanswered questions within me by the end of it all. I had worked so hard for something that came to define who I was. I was also trying to do everything I did when I was at-home fully while in school, because we had no other choice with Benjamin's residency schedule. Although I had so many exciting moments where I would experience a breakthrough in my understanding of a concept and was thriving in school, everything else began to fall apart. I was no longer able to divide my time between home and school, and my family was at the receiving end of my stress levels. It is true that academia upholds oppressive systems. Right before I decided to quit, I was organizing a follow-up meeting with the director of our program and other faculty members to lay out ground rules of how the school would keep BIPOC safe during the intense discussions we had about race, but that was not fully it either. We struggled with childcare with our erratic schedules. I could not trust our children over to a place or person I did not know fully well, and it would also mean that we would have to take actions that went against our values of living within our means and budget. And that was the last straw that broke all hope for me to continue in my program.

Do I think it's unfair that I basically had an ultimatum to choose to stay at home with our children over school? The question is not that cut and dried. Neither will be my answer--just like most things. Our society does not value children, and especially Black, Indigenous and children of color or those in roles of taking care of them. Our society pretends to care about them, but as we are daily witnesses, the moment the infant leaves the womb both the parent and the infant lose all safeguards that might help guide them throughout their lives in a society that was not set up to support them. We have proof of this because support for caregivers and children is a Bi-Partisan issue that must be voted on rather than the default of being born. Further, there have been policies and actions taken against BIPOC to prevent us from having children. In Puerto Rico, it was the pill clinical trials, which should have only been a liberation aid for women on the Island but rather forced sterilization as a method of "population control." Taking all of these things together, I am on the very privileged end of the spectrum to even have a choice. These are facts that must be stated.

I would wonder often, as I read feminist theory after feminist theory what our society would look like if everyone's needs were met. Everyone's needs being met as a default doesn't mean that we would not have any problems, because we are humans full of emotions after all. It would mean that the majority of problems that stem from the lack of support for basic needs would be eradicated. That is not a utopian society; rather, it is a society that cares. The struggle with getting folks to care is that most folks operate on the basis of fear and scarcity. They believe that there aren't enough resources to help everyone. They believe that there couldn't possibly be enough space for everyone to exist equally and fully. And when fear rules our center, there is no room for growth. Why is childcare for children under a certain age something that we have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for just to contribute to society outside of the home? I refused to keep pushing against the grain while my mental health and the well-being of my family was at risk. This situation was not something that I felt was flowing, and I listened to that still quiet voice within me and chose my well-being and that of my family instead.

I told y'all it wouldn't be so cut and dried--ha! And so, in our family my partner makes a better income than me to support our family, and I can stay home to be with them while they are young. That's both a choice of mine and a forced outcome. It took a long while for me to get back into the swing of things here at home, and it felt like my muscle memory of being home was no longer there.  I lost my temper more than I would like to admit in those first weeks, and there were days that I relied heavily on the tv, while I cried and sorted through a huge sense of loss of identity. But slowly, I did some deep work and sought therapy. I began to set aside more devotion time for myself and my thoughts. Although I felt like I lost so much of my own creativity, I began to read more resources and make an effort to provide a harmonious experience for my three while I stayed home. One thing that really helped me was looking back at all of the memories that I shared here and on my Instagram--no joke! I began to read my own journals, and it began to rekindle that creativity within me; it reminded me of all I knew to be capable of, and it meant that I didn't have to compartmentalize who I was either.

I've gotten back to taking family hikes and adventures with the kids, which if you've been following along for a while now, is something that they've always loved and brought me so much joy. Our weekly rhythm is now full of those things that we all enjoy doing, and I am no longer blaming myself for not being able to do both school and home. I have allowed myself to grieve when I have to and heal my own root chakra, which is the center of my fears, ego and self-worth. A few weeks ago I shared the story of monarch butterflies and I'll share it again here:
I’ve been reading about the monarch butterfly lately; it goes through five different stages before they fully transform and only the fourth generation migrates all the way to Mexico for the warmer climate to then complete the return migration. Each stage and generation completes a specific purpose for the greater good of their species. All of it is quite moving. I haven’t had the answers to my own questions, but what I have found is an understanding that in this stage I am able to give back what I so wanted to give while in school. That has been enough confirmation that I made the right choice. Although I don’t know what the future looks like in this area of my life, right now, I feel whole in a greater sense. I’m letting myself cry, as I see so many smiling and celebratory faces scroll through my timeline and prepare for my partners own graduation soon. I tell myself, it’s okay to be happy and be so incredibly disappointed that I did not finish too. There are stages in life and each stage serves a purpose, and I’m leaning into that.
Benjamin did finish residency with a couple awards under his belt too. It was an intimate ceremony with the entire program, and I felt so much joy that he did it. We did it. This fellowsip year has already started with twenty-four-hour call every other day, but being home has made it that much easier for me to hold our family together. This past week we met up with friends to play at one of our favorite parks  that has a gorgeous walk around a lake and plenty of natural life to find. It's been so refreshing to do these things at a more frequent pace and watch their personalities flourish. I used to write about our weekly moments, and I think I'll get back to that too.

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