Tariku and I hit the beach Sunday morning, hoping that the weather would be a bit cooler by the water. He’s been asking to see the ferris wheel, so we went to the Santa Monica Pier. There was an arresting art installation there called “Arlington West,” designed by Veterans for Peace. I didn’t have much time to read about it when we were there, so I looked it up when we got home. Here’s what I found on their website:
Each Sunday from sunrise to sunset, a temporary memorial appears next to the world-famous pier at Santa Monica, California. This memorial, known as Arlington West, a project of Veterans For Peace, offers visitors a graceful, visually and emotionally powerful, place for reflection.
In accordance with the Veterans For Peace Statement of Purpose, the Arlington West Mission Statement is to honor the fallen and wounded, to provide a place to grieve, to acknowledge the human cost of war, to encourage dialogue among people with varied points of view, and to educate the public about the needs of those returning from war.
We were there early, so we watched as a brick wall of a vet worked in the hot sun, setting a small pot of flowers and a pair of combat boots at the foot of each blue cross. The blue crosses represent the soldiers who were killed this week. I found it to be a powerful visual representation of loss. Go check it out if you have a chance.
T and I spent the rest of the morning locked in a battle of a different sort. I’m not sure what’s going on right now between us, but we’re either unbearable sweet and snuggly or it’s an all out war. Tariku insists on repeatedly doing every dangerous thing I tell him not to do, including dashing out into the middle of bike paths and parking lots. He responded to my entreaty not to touch anything in the public bathrooms by licking the wall.
As a parent of a child who was adopted at 11 months of age, it’s difficult to know if T’s struggle for control is a result of his age and fiery personality or if it signifies some attachment issues that might warrant attention. Either way, I don’t always have the patience to employ my parenting tools. I switch to exhausted, survival mode and find that I’m the grim mom with the set jaw, toting her screaming kid through the parking lot in a fireman’s carry.
I feel doubly terrible about my poor public parenting moments because we’re so visible. Not only are we a trans-racial family, but two out of three of us are tattooed to the gills. I feel a responsibility to contradict the negative expectations many people have of our illustrated tribe. And I want to be a positive representation of adoption in the world.
But that’s a pretty grandiose self-concept. I’m not a representation of anything. I’m just another tired mom with a two-year old and right now, I’m struggling. I gain compassion for other parents by the day. And compassion is the whole point, right? If I could give Tariku one thing, it would be that. I guess this is a chance for us to learn about it together.