Summer Camping While Black
By Julie Young
@biggirlvoice on Twitter
Any parent of a child in New York City knows, all too well, that it is ridiculously expensive to raise a child here. Have more than one child and obviously, it’s double the pain. So while planning out our son and daughter’s summer camp schedule, my husband and I chose to send our kids to a couple of nicer camps and then to a more budget friendly camp for the balance of the summer.
I was never thrilled with the choice of said budget camp but it was seemingly the best choice at budget level. After receiving the camp schedule, I was disappointed to see that the curriculum included a “career study” which had policeman, as the first topic of study. After the week long study of policemen, I was cleaning out my daughter’s backpack and was dismayed to find a colored in picture of handcuffs. If I was dismayed to find the handcuffs, I was shocked and absolutely furious to find a copy of my daughter’s fingerprints - all ten of her fingers, with her name, written by an adult, clearly across the top of the page. Cursing mad, my husband and I asked the kids some questions on how and why the fingerprints were taken. We explained to our son and daughter, that we were mad at the camp and not at them because the camp should not have taken the fingerprints without getting our permission first.
True Love is Not Sexy
by Julie Young
@biggirlvoice on twitter
The tenderness between a son and his dying father is not something one is always privileged to witness. It's not something I thought I'd see anytime soon. My father-in-law was only 60 when he died on January 21, 2013.
We found out, or rather it was confirmed, that my father-in-law was very sick with stage four liver cancer which had spread to his lungs, a few days after Christmas. Just a few days after that, my husband's grandmother, his father's mother, fell and broke her hip. I watched, helplessly, as my husband went into overdrive, an only son, tending to his father and grandmother; calling doctors and having hope. My husband was fueled by adrenaline as he visited two different hospitals, in two different boroughs, almost everyday for a couple of weeks until his father was finally transferred to Mt. Sinai, the same hospital his grandmother was in.
The hope was that my husband's grandmother, whom I call Miss Young, would get to see her dying son, one last time. Sadly, she never did. Miss Young is 81 and never thought she would have to attend the funeral of her only child.
The day before my father-in-law's funeral, Miss Young came home from the hospital. Actually, she came to our home. In the chaos that was the month of late December into most of January, the fact that Miss Young would live with us, was the silver lining to the sadness of my husband losing his father.
I Just Can’t With This
by Julie Young
Ever since my children were born, I have lost the ability to watch anything other than comedies. Before my son and daughter were here, I was a huge fan of documentaries, dramas, sometimes thrillers. I’ve always had an aversion to violence in the media but the aversion went into overdrive upon the birth of my children. I’ve spoken with other moms’ who have told me the same thing happened to them.
My mind becomes my foe sometimes at night, as I lie in bed before falling asleep and start worrying about all of the what ifs. How unbearable it would be for me if something were to ever happen to my family. Even writing that sentence freaks me out.
When one side of my brain attempts to become my foe with all of this nonsensical worry, the other side uses my personal mantra and a well-known Buddhist phrase to try and combat the foe. It usually works.
Then something like the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut occurs and my mantras and sayings fall so, so short. Because of a slightly crazy day at work last Friday, I did not learn about the shootings until much later in the day. I started reading a newspaper article on the tragedy and had to stop myself. Too upsetting. I still had to pick up my kids from school. Still had to get them safely home on the subway, still had to function as a mom for them.
After they went to bed, I started reading the tweets and the facebook postings about the tragedy. The prayers and condolences being sent out, the calls for gun control, the arguments against it. I was bewildered to the point of not being able to make a comment in less than 140 characters. I have yet to read anymore articles on the tragedy. I stopped watching “the news” many years ago. I know that my brain, and heart, can not bear this weight of sadness and anger.
In Another Time
by Julie Young
"In all of us is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are, and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning, no matter what our attainments in life, there is a most disquieting loneliness." - Alex Haley
I have a brother. Well, actually, I have many brothers. There is my Korean brother from my birth family. There are my three brothers from my Cardona family. And there are, at least, four brothers I have been blessed with just through life and its circumstances. Terry, Ameer, Andre and Joe, are most certainly my brothers. I trust each of them the way one hopes to be able to trust - utterly, completely, wholly. I know that they would give me the shirt off their backs if I asked them to. I am thankful for my brothers.
But, one brother in particular, my youngest brother, is so much like me but I don’t think he knows it. I’m not sure if he will ever read this column because I am not sure where he is living, whether, or how he is surviving. If you do read this, dear brother, I pray for your forgiveness if it makes you unhappy. I pray that you will see that this is my love letter to you.
The Sun and the Moon
by Julie Young
Five years ago today, I was given the sun and the moon. Somewhere along the way I must have done something so right to have been blessed with two exquisitely perfect souls. This is a strange way to think after believing for six years that I must have done something very, very wrong. That’s all I could think during my six year battle to have my babies. I must have done something wrong. Turns out, my son and daughter just weren’t ready yet to come to me. It is believed in some cultures that children choose their parents. I struggle with this notion a bit having been adopted. Why would I have chosen to come through my birth mother only to be given up by her? Confusing. But with my son and daughter, I have no confusion. I believe they were meant to be my son and daughter, in this life, right here, right now; that they chose us.
Having gone through In Vitro Fertilization (five times) I have some extremely early pictures of my children. The first picture, in fact, is when they were just perfect eight-celled embryos created a la the wonderlab at Cornell. Amazing. The next pictures are weekly ultrasound pictures taken from the fifth week of pregnancy almost through to the end. I was looking at this stack of priceless photos the other night. What a walk down memory lane. With the dates of the pictures and the notes taken on them, I re-lived the dramatic story of my one successful pregnancy.