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Golden Privilege (33.10)

November 6, 2014

The more parenting that I do, the more I am aware of just how goddamned privileged I was as a child and how much that privilege has followed me into adulthood, impacting my daily and long-term decision making.

My privilege causes me to make a number of assumptions every single day.

I assume how others will act in a given situation; I assume which situations are safe and which are unsafe; I assume what and how we as parents will provide for our kids; I assume that I will be able to continue in the manner to which I have become accustomed.

I don't even recognize my assumptions until they contradict someone else's - usually Steve's. That's when we both wrinkle our eyebrows at each other and really work through it together. Which is hard.

Some recent milestones in my household have made me dig up memories of my childhood and reframe them from the perspective of a parent. A lot of this reframing has raised more than a few questions that can be summed up in one giant looming question:

How did my parents do everything they did to provide for 6 kids on a single salary?

I remember one conversation with my mom in my early teens when I made some snide offhanded comment that we were poor. She quickly and firmly set me straight: that we had everything we ever needed or wanted; we were rich.

I probably rolled my eyes in that snotty teen way, assuming she was talking in the spiritual and family-love sense of rich. Which, yes, was definitely true. But it was true in the economic sense as well.

Another aspect of my privilege is that I never even noticed.

Buzzfeed has this interesting quiz on How Privileged Are You (and I'm usually not keen on any of their quizzes), and I can check off most of those boxes that do not have to do with gender:

I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.
I feel comfortable in the gender I was born as.
I have never skipped a meal to save money.
I've never had a roommate.
I have had a car since I was 16.
I do not have any physical, learning or social disabilities.
I have never considered suicide.
I have never been shamed for my religious beliefs.
I have never lied about my ethnicity, gender, sexuality, economic standing, or religion as self-defense.

I'd like to, on a daily basis, better recognize which of my decisions are coming from a place of privilege. I'm not sure how exactly to go about doing that, but checking my assumptions is the best first step.

When September Ends (33.9)

October 1, 2014

I've been experiencing low-grade depression most (all?) of the month but wasn't able to identify it as such. Which is silly, because of course I've been depressed during September. It reminds me of death and loss and fills me with dread. I will never be a fan of September. 

This year was the 12th anniversary of Melissa's death.

When the grief was fresher, I assumed it would eventually fade into the background. Filed away into the Terrible Things That Happened in Valette's Past folder and tucked into a cabinet that is only opened when needing a really good ugly cry.

But now that I have twelve years of experience with this specific grief, it has become familiar and I've stopped expecting it to completely go away like I assumed it eventually would. There are times I anticipate it (see: the end of every September), and times it comes on unexpected but I know I will get through it.

My brother-in-law has described grief as filling a container that is neatly placed on a shelf. Most of the time it sits there out in the open, present but not an active part of daily life. Once in a while, however, something happens and it gets knocked over and grief spills everywhere.

Grief is a bitch to clean up.

I've spent the month not doing a very good job cleaning up some (completely expected) grief spillage. Which is okay. It's okay to continue to experience grief for my sister, even twelve years later. It's not fun, it's pretty terrible actually, but it's not wrong to feel lost and lonely and empty.

I made it through September, and to it I say good riddance.

Kincaid Park

September 23, 2014

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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