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No momma dreamed this . . .

June 6, 2020

The whole world seems to be turning upside down and inside out. I really wanted my return to blogging to be similar to the reveal of a debutante at a ball to announce that the author and tagline of this blog have changed.  I wanted my “I’m Back” message to be celebratory, announcing the chase for the jaunty chapeau came to a conclusion.  Oh it did.  I am officially a Doctor of Education now, but the entire ending was rather anticlimactic. Dissertation defense on Zoom, no commencement, and the factory which makes said chapeau was shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions.  For every other person experiencing a milestone let down, I get it.

Two things, however, remain steadfast: my love of learning and my passion for sharing that love, especially in all things related to STEM education.  From the moment I announced my intention and set off on one terrific ride and, at times, incredibly arduous journey, one of my dearest friends has honored my dream by calling me Dr. Momma K.  To know that I earned that title is rewarding, but knowing that, the way I look at the world has changed.  Not because my education makes me better than anyone else, but rather I now hold sacred how much I truly do not know and have a fervent desire to learn more.  While some might see earning a terminal degree as an ending, I see it as a beginning; hence, the tagline change for this blog from Faith, Family, Football to learning life’s lessons.

Coming back to writing has been a challenge in that I, like everyone else in America, have lived with the uncertainty of our times with the pandemic. Now with the racial, political, and ideological divides in our country stronger than ever, I am disheartened over the stress we feel.  Even more than that, every fiber of my being aches for the meanness spewed about on social media of the general malaise of society and the resistance to pick up burdens for our neighbors.  Rather than being beacons of hope and unity in troubled times, what I am seeing reminds me of those gathered with the stones at the ready much like those in the gospel of John in chapter 8 – the story where everyone was ready to stone to death the woman caught in adultery.

After 23 years of formal education, I have learned there exists so much more that I do not know that I do not know.

There is no typo in the previous statement.

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I laid in bed the other night after reading all the vile things that friends and family were saying to each other in the name of Jesus and I broke.  I’ve been generally sad since my educational journey ended, but this was an absolute breaking of my spirit and I wept.  My prayers were translated by divine intervention because all I had to utter were moans.

Desirous of change, yet I felt so small and powerless.

In high school, I remember reading Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. That short story so profoundly touched me that even all these years later, I remember it and trust me, I’ve read much since those Florida high school days.  If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so, but the ritual portrayed continued because of ancestral roots.

Slinging stones.

I didn’t sleep for days in high school after reading that story, ruminating over the concept of there has to be a better way.

In my tear-filled talk with God, I started thinking about my friends and really examining my eclectic mix and wondering why it is that I have absolute no desire to sling stones.

I have friends  . . .

Who are White, Black, Asian, Latinx, Hispanic, and Indigenous/Native peoples.

Who come from every faith community and those who are atheists or agnostics.

Who are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, and those who do not vote.

Who are in every age group.

Who love the arts and those who think the arts are a waste of time.

Who believe in science and those who think scientists are lying.

Who love sports and those who could care less.

Who are educated and those who are not book smart but know an awful lot about life.

Who are straight and those who belong to the LGBTQIA family.

Who are moms who breastfed and those who bottle fed.

Who love dogs and hate cats and those who love cats and hate dogs.

Who live in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

Who work white collared jobs and those who work blue collared jobs.

Who exist on SNAP programs and other assistance and those who make millions annually.

Whose families emigrated here generations ago, those who just arrived, those who are here undocumented, and those for whom their lands were taken away.

Who vaccinate their children and those who do not.

Whose children are drug-addicted and those whose children have never seen a drug outside the pharmacy.

Who are married, divorced, separated, living together, widowed, and single.

Who care about the environment and those who think climate change is a hoax.

Who homeschool, who send their children to public school, and who love their private school.

Who love meat and those who are vegan.

Who believe in value of news media and who believe that media outlets are prone to lying.

Who value the ability to accumulate material things and those who are minimalists.

Who fought for the flag and those who kneel before it.

Who know trauma and who have never experienced the depth of that pain.

And finally

Who have experienced racism, sexism, agism, homophobia, disability discrimination and those who have never experienced injustice in a minority status ever.

And here is the crazy thing . . . they are, as a lot, beautiful human beings. I choose to believe that we are all just doing the best we can and that we don’t know all the details of someone’s story.

But even I have my breaking point. Spewing hate.  It just has to stop.

Why are we slinging metaphoric stones?

While I do not agree with my friends on every single aspect of life or to be honest in some cases on many aspects (I mean really. To choose a less hot-button example, I am a chemist and science educator. Why someone I love would not trust science makes absolutely zero sense to me.) Even though I am left shaking my head in disagreement, I have never once wanted to sling a stone because I have learned that if I listen closely to their story, I may find that I have more in common than might be noticed on the surface.

Through the sharing of stories, I have learned that some atheist vegans love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly more like Jesus in their community than some other devout pew sitters and for me that was profound discovery.

There is so much more that I don’t know that I don’t know.

I know the sting of being told I couldn’t achieve in my beloved science because I am girl.  I know uncomfortable glances and grabs. I know the lunacy of trying to make a major purchase and some man erroneously thinking I didn’t understand how to calculate interest. I know the struggle that families who have children with disabilities experience, even if my time in that valley had an expiration date. I know being shunned because I chose to pursue education and my choice doesn’t fit someone else’s ideals of womanhood and motherhood. I have felt the sting of the Mommy Wars.  I know grief intimately and I know the pain of having your child’s death become a politicized sound bite.

But what I do not know is someone clutching their purse because I got on the elevator.  While shopping with some of my black friends, I witnessed the pain of not being waited on in a store even in the community I love, but it isn’t an everyday experience for me personally. No one casts a side glance when I enter a store.  Even though I come from a law enforcement family, I have never once had a conversation with my sons about how to act if pulled over.  There are things I simply do not know and a million others that I don’t know that I don’t know.

Maybe that girl horrified by The Lottery was onto something. Maybe we are the generation who lays down the stones and finds out the stories that lie behind the clenched fists holding tightly to the baggage of mistrust, falsehoods, discrimination, and devaluing others those stones represent.  Better we stub our toes than continue to diminish dreams and break bones and hearts.

My dream is that through the sharing of stories we will learn why someone believes, acts, or values the way they do. We must listen. Simply listen, without expectation of countering. Maybe we ask God to show us the way he sees those different from ourselves, lest we forget he is the one who created them, and in that seeing, we seek forgiveness for all the ways we have failed to recognize the beauty and the brutal parts of their narrative in the fabric of the world’s tapestry. Around those dropped stones, perhaps we spread pesticide on the pestilence and roots of hatred and fear of difference.

In doing so may we realize that no momma’s pain should ever be someone else’s agenda.

If we listen closely, I am betting we will find that behind every single thing that divides us is a painful story that belongs to some momma who never dreamed this America for her child.

 

2 Comments
  1. Sheran permalink

    Well written Dr. Noles-Stevens

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