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*People cared about toxic LEAD exposure to children the way they care about how some dudes tackle each other in tight pants with an oblonged shaped ball.
* People got “up in arms” when a family like mine could not hold those accountable for our daughter’s high lead exposure, the way they do over whether BeyoncĂ© is a true feminist icon or if Macklemore deserves to be in the rap game.
* Sherman Willams, lead producers, and other paint companies were held LIABLE EVERYWHERE for their creation, development, marketing (to children), and disgusting lobbying of the lead paint industry; like how a judge in California ruled late last year and continues to uphold his ruling against said companies.
* The laws were set up to actually protect children and families in Chicago instead of just allowing for some arbitrary space to exist where landlords and property owners don’t have to test for lead and provide a safe space, so long as they pass out some stupid photocopied “lead safety pamphlet” and make renters sign a waiver.
*Lead Remediation was a phrase that didn’t instill the fear of too many dollar signs in property owners/homeowners/renters so that everyone could do The Right Thing to properly remove, ahem remediate, lead hazards from ALL homes. All the them. Every single last solitary home where a child is residing.
* Lead paint wasn’t still being used today on childrens’s products…I get at least one monthly recall notice regarding some child’s clothing or toy or furniture that high higher than allowed levels of lead paint. What. The…..???
* The film MisLEAD by Tamara Rubin would get the same kind of traction, attention as some of these other “very important” documentaries.
* Most people didn’t roll their eyes when they start to hear me talk about “our experience” this past year, or try to brush me along by quickly saying “S is fine, she doesn’t seem affected by the exposure at all.”
* I had a good space and place, besides this blog, to talk about all this and get it out and away from my every day.
* We knew exactly how our daughter was affected (or not) by her high lead exposure so that we could plan for the rest of our lives.
* Submissions I entered regarding lead poisoning and awareness, were taken as seriously as some stupid posts about traveling with a toddler or how I made some cardboard tube Halloween Village for my daughter.
* I could write about something other than this experience, my feelings, the uneasiness with which acclimating back to Chicago has
dumped on me- more than the 50 plus inches of snowfall thus far.

If anyone is tired of hearing me talk about LEAD, trust me…it’s ME. I didn’t want to know everything I know now. I also didn’t want my daughter to be the one who suffered for her parent’s ignorance, so of course as soon as we got the call that our girl had a BLL of 15 back in Dec 2012, I began to educate OUR ENTIRE FAMILY….. And anyone else who wanted to listen/read.

Most of my thoughtful planned out writing pieces have not been delivered (to you readers) on the wings of cartoon blue birds flying alongside adorable deers prancing through the woods to magikal education/awareness land. I’ve written completely in-the-moment, raw, real, and honest accounts of what we have gone through as a family since December 3, 2012; and what I have been working through as a caring, loving, wanting-better-than-the-best-for-my-child mama. Is that all I am made up of? I am only the sum of these past 14 months of differing parts? Obviously not. Otherwise I don’t think I would even be writing what I’m writing right now….right? But you see, it’s hard not to feel like now I am only ever going to be the mama of a lead poisoned child who at the scariest moments when everything was transpiring was treated like absolute shite by those she thought she loved and trusted. I suppose that is my still very hurt heart speaking, but it is makes it no less the truth, my truth.

The truth is, a part of me always hopes or believes that something good has to come out of our trials & tribulations – which I’ve seen with my own eyes how other families I know have taken the necessary steps to protect their own families because of us, yay. So when I’ve doubted pressing that “Publish” button because “Nobody reads my blog anyway, I’m not famous, I’m not selling or hawking anything, I’m not giving lifestyle techniques, I’m just another mom with a lead poisoned child that can sometimes put words together nicely,” I ALWAYS hit that Publish button. In fact, when I would doubt myself the most is when I would hit that button faster, because I believed somewhere inside me, that someone would appreciate what I was writing….

I would love nothing more than to refocus back in on my creative self, on my creative life with my daughter. That in fact was my original plan with starting up this blog, linking up on social networking sites, trying to join up with other creative mamas… I would love the time and head/heart space to devote back to how I express myself creatively. All those half embroideries over there in that unpacked box in the corner? Yeah, I’d like to finish them. That (really cute vintage B&W samsonite) suitcase with journals and journals and journals and journals and journals filled with writing? Yeah, I’d still like to get those going too. That additional suitcase of sketchbooks filled with children’s book ideas that I only started a couple years ago when I found out I was preggo? Yeah I’d like to do something with those. All my metal working tools and metal stock sitting atop my jewelry making cabinet that was passed down to me from Columbia? Yeah, I’d LOVE to make more awesome rings and necklaces. All those awesome tattoo sketches I’ve been carrying around for years? It’d be great if I could afford those. Wanting to spruce up my hair color and cut? That’d be nice. And lastly, that huge file folder of all my research on lead poisoning (the history, lobbying industry, current remediating conditions, other articles like the big Mother Jones one from last year) that I wanted to write some kind of piece de Fuck Off Lead!?? Yeah, that’s something I still have my mind on pretty much every time I read another new story of another family experiencing what we have.

If Only I had the time…..

Look, I get it. When I signed up for this parenting gig, they told me at the audition that there was a distinct possibility that my creative self as I knew it then would have to be put on hold for a while… Or that perhaps the creative self would be changed in some way by my motherhood experience. I knew what I was getting into with becoming a parent and so I in NO WAY harbor resentment towards my child for taking some precious time away from me. If anything, I only continue to be inspired and motivated more with every day and moment I spend raising our beautiful little girl. Although it is nice to have a break every now and then and I relish any moment of mom reprieve that I can have when my AuntMom or UnclePapa come to visit and spend time with our girl. So me writing about wanting more time for my creative self has nothing to do with my parenting of the past two years.

However it does have EVERYTHING to do with this lead poisoning business…. This “must move out and be without a home with all our belonging in storage to protect our child business.” This finding out how the world really works, or doesn’t in most cases, business… This overcoming crippling anxiety and depression business…..This losing of multiple friendships/close relationships business….This acclimation back to a city I still love, but no longer trust business…… This 1,000 weight of relationship instability put on my 130 lb frame is as my little girl would say! “Too much.” They did not talk to me about this in the audition. So this as “they” would say is LIFE. It’s unpredictable and messy and gross and lovelybeautifulwonderful, and scary, and challenging and I wouldn’t change any of it. Okay, except for the stupid lead exposure bs, that I would totally change. But everything else, we cool.

Now, if only I had the time, monetary, and family-watch-the-kiddo resources to finally get our home unpacked, organized, and together enough so that my brain could be clear again to either finish up some of these creations just sitting around in old suitcases and boxes OR start up new ones. If only, not everyone we knew was busy hustling to make there own way in this world so that we could see people again. If only this stupidgross winter would kindly pack it up and head to a place that’s a bit more welcoming to its ways, like Antarctica. No really, that would be nice. If only I didn’t have to now go wake up my daughter out of her deep slumber, that she really needs to stay in, so that I can take 20 mins just trying to get our winter gear on and the car started, so that we can spend the day taking good care of another’s kiddo…. But I’m loving the work and the family, so there you go. If only there were magikal elves who came out at night to unpack and organize the rest of our unpacked house…That would be nice.

If you read my previous pieces from the past month or so, I’m happy to report and share that through some regular at home yoga practice, good hard work, and just taking moments to be and breathe, I have totally kicked all those panic attacks of late last year. I knew I would have to for my own sake and my family’s, but I’ve been able to really work through the processing of all these changes on my own terms and in my own way. I’m still really interested in going back to doing some talk therapy again, because therapy why not? But this will be more as a proactive measure vs a must find a helpful solution because this is all just too much right now solution. So there’s that.

To finish out my earlier thoughts from above….

Look I “get it” okay? There’s a whole big crazy, complex, annoying, frighteningly beautiful, complex, totally simple, frustrating, quite lovely, intense, strange, challenging, graceful, clumsy, bewitching world out there. Everyone has a struggle story. Everyone has their goals, dreams, desires, wants, needs that they get to address and play out (if they’re lucky). So I understand the eye rolls, lack of seriousness with which our situation has been perceived by SOME, and general disinterest in something like Lead Poisoning. I actually really don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to be interested in removing lead hazards for ALL CHILDREN, but most people don’t want to do anything about anything until it affects them personally My concern is that I see my space for activism on behalf of my family becoming smaller and smaller now that we’re in a new home and trying to “settle.” But let me reiterate that just because we are in a new home and (thankfully) our girl’s lead levels are at a 4 -which is just under the “level of concern.” That does NOT mean that this is all over. This will never be all over because I am a loving, involved, caring, active parent and I am my child’s advocate. She needs me to help her learn this world she’s been brought into and protect her as best I can. I take this job very seriously; because I know in just a few short years, I will have to let her go out there on her own to live out her own goals, dreams, and desires in this beautiful, crazy, challenging, bewitching world. After the past 14 months I fully understand that I will not be able to control everything for my child….

What I will never understand is how anyone could have been a close part of our lives, cared about this amazing little girl in any possible way, or maybe they didn’t like me that much anymore but heard of our story…. And for some reason couldn’t be human enough to at least reach out. Or at the very least NOT be completely, totally, and utterly absent. I try to find peace every day with “this part” of the past 14 months, and it is a challenge. It is MY BIG FRUSTRATION CHALLENGE right now as I nest comfortably in our beautiful new home and continue processing everything. I know that I cannot make others care about our family or even take a moment to educate themselves on the dangers of toxic lead exposure in their homes. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing, talking, nor advocating for my child. If anything it will only make my fingers weak from typing so much, my voice hoarse from projecting loudly & proudly, and my awaken my inner activist again. strong>IF ONLY I could get others to jump on board with us…..

Thanks for taking the time to read my mom/me musings.

Hellos from Our Most Lovely (still unpacking) Chicago Homestead,
Jess