It’s funny to me how you can suddenly realize you’re having the same conversation in a few different facets of your life. Here I’ve been all week mulling over how feminists might come to figure out how to resituate ourselves in ways that make us feel better, even if we can’t get the things we see as obstacles to move out of the way, and mulling over how we certainly have the right and obligation to demand better, but we don’t get to dictate the ways in which men change in order to make things better.
If you’ve been reading me a while, you know that I’ve had a long struggle with trying to figure out how to transition from some really shitty family stuff that seemed surmountable* to actually getting beyond that shitty stuff to a place where we have a good time together as a family. Even after the really shitty stuff was over, I’d still come back from family gatherings feeling like I’d been run through a ringer, still feeling like things were not how I thought they should be.
And finally the Professor said to me, “You feel like shit because you get together with your family and you want everything to be great and when it’s not great, you take it as some personal judgment against you. But you just can’t expect things to go from bad to great immediately. It doesn’t work that way. You all are going to have to get used to spending time together that is just ‘not bad’ before you can spend time together that’s good.”
This is why I hang out with her, because she says stuff like this to me that eases my soul**.
There’s going to be a while of transition, just where we get used to it not sucking every time we get together. And it’s hard to say how long that while is going to be. Or even what it will look like when it’s over because I don’t get to dictate that. I don’t get to say “Everything will be fine when the Butcher and the recalcitrant brother and Mom and Dad all do all this to make me feel secure and loved.”
So, this year it turns out that we’re going up to Mom & Dad’s for Thanksgiving***. The Butcher and the recalcitrant brother have been planning this for weeks without telling anyone**** and they seem really excited. My first impulse was, “Fuck me, that’s going to suck.”
Which is grossly unfair. I wanted things to be better and different.
Well, the two most planless people I know making plans and working out logistics? That’s different. It’s not anything I would have ever anticipated, either. But I’m going to roll with it.
We’ll see how it goes.
But I wonder that about feminism, too. Things suck much, much less than they did even fifty years ago. They aren’t perfect, by any means, but they do suck much less. I think it’s okay to step back and take some time for things to just not suck. Just to see what happens. To make room to be surprised by something we’d never considered.
*Clearly, there is some shitty family stuff that is not surmountable and lord knows, if you’re in one of those situations, please don’t read this as some guide to better times. Some things you have to turn your back on in order to survive. What I’m calling shitty is not that level of shitty.
**Even though, funny enough, I’m not sure the Professor believes in souls.
***So, Peg, drop me an email…
****Surprised Dad, I’ll say that.