Sunday, May 07, 2006

Motherhood: an Intimate Portrait

Angel - 36
1 boy (5), 1 girl (9)

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll make it through this. I can’t help thinking about the woman I met six months ago, who said she had three children, technically four, but one—her daughter—has been missing for so long that it feels like only three. Who would have thought that when her daughter asked her to keep the children for a while because she needed a break, that “a break” would mean twenty-five years. Who would have thought that the last person who saw her would be a neighbor, peeking through the blinds, watching as she tossed three packed suitcases into the trunk of a mustard yellow Camaro in the middle of the afternoon, and drove off into forever with a man that wasn’t her husband, the house behind them in the distance full of only the things she couldn’t carry or didn’t want at all.

I don’t know which is harder: to raise my daughter in a misogynist society that sees h
er—us, women in general, black women in particular—as nothing but flesh, deserving of abuse or servitude or both, always good enough to follow but never good enough to lead; or my son in the same society that urges him to be the macho misogynist; a low achieving, low expectation, low morale society that never puts its money where its mouth is; one that wants nothing from the black man but buffoonery, always putting black men in dresses and calling it entertainment or behind bars and calling it justice.

African American parents bear a burden unlike any other. There are so many layers we must dig through, analyze, inspect before we can ever get to the heart of a matter:

Did she not make the swim team because she’s black and better than half the children on the team, all of whom are white? Or was it really too late to apply?

Did they pass him over for the job because he’s black or is the other candidate truly more qualified?

Is the school failing because it’s predominately black and the expectation is low, or is it just a bad school with a bad administration and frustrated teachers?

Does he really have ADHD or is he being targeted because he’s black, misunderstood, bored in a school system that’s stuck in a time warp—a 24 year old inexperienced teacher’s daily target?

And when racism is the issue there is the work of dealing with that even before we can even get to helping our children. Not only does the work take time and sometimes money, it depletes the invaluable resource of emotional energy that could be better spent with our children—loving them, nurturing them, teaching them.

The Black mother rarely leaves the hospital nursery—newborn baby swathed in blankets, proud papa by her side—with this reality in her head. Somehow she envisions, or at least hopes for, a world better for her child; a world made better, now, because her child is in it. She has dreams, like all others, of her child being a business owner, a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, an astronaut, a dancer, a writer—anything but another statistic. Anything but a caged bird behind wired bars; a body swinging from a pole in a dark, smoky nightclub full of salivating men waving wrinkled dollar bills. Anything but the name on a headstone, the bull’s eye target of a misguided bullet.

Never does she dream of the battle that it inevitably becomes, no matter what socioeconomic level she finds herself upon; never does she realize the switcheroo game she’ll be playing for the rest of her life—soft and nurturing one minute, battle gloves on the next.

We come from a tradition of excellence: of being better, expecting better, achieving better. We come from a tradition of community: each one, helping one. We come from a tradition of faith: we will survive. We are a people, and, as Alice Walker once wrote about her quest to find the burial place of Zora Neale Hurston, a people do not throw their geniuses away. Inside our homes, tucked in their beds, are geniuses in the making. Astronauts ready to make the next trek to th
e moon, engineers ready to design bridges and tunnels and roads, scientists ready to really cure diabetes, writers and thinkers and painters, ready to define what art truly is. That we are even here, at this moment, despite all the blows we’ve been given as a people, is a testament to the strength we have, to the champions we are; to that rod of steel placed in our backs from the very beginning, by our mothers and their mothers and their mothers too.

When I feel like I just can’t go anymore, I head to the corner, get a swish of water in my mouth through meditation, get my gloves tightened through prayer, even give myself a minute just to cry, to lighten this heavy load. Then I head back in, re-energized, re-focused and ready. Giving up is never an option. Not for me, not for my children, not for my ancestors, not for the generations to come. We are a people, and a people do not throw their geniuses away.


Blogger Robyn said...

wow. that was beautiful. I feel every syllable of every word. Though I have a young son, I have FAAAAAAR more worries than I did when he was born and I was bringing him home from the hospital. I want hinm to succeed, but there are so many obstacles (some of which I HAVEN'T even totally conqurered and am still navigating MY way through) that he will SURELY come in contact with. Though he is a boy and my husband is a great father, I still worry that he will be one of the men throwing the dolla's at the girls on stage, or that HE will be somehting less than a gentleman. I worry. And he is still under my COMPLETE reign of authority. I hope and PRAY for a better tomorrow for him.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THAT right there? SO eloquently and CLEARLY expressed. The trials and struggles due in large part to 400 years. Still we rise, even in the MIDST of it all. Your post inspires and challenges us all to be better. To be MORE...for ourselves, for our children, and their children... the time for Afrikans to HEAL... bless up!

9:36 AM  
Anonymous salina said...

the above was from me by the way. I would HIGHLY recommend a book called Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. De Gruy Leary. (she'll be speaking in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks) It's a painful but necessary read. I think every mama on this blog would find it a powerful and illuminating step in our collective healing and empowerment. peace

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Jasai said...

I would also HIGHLY recommend "Sisters of The Yam" for every black woman/mother, even for friends and spouses of black women. It has helped me to understand some of the things mentioned in this post and how who we are as a people has shaped out perceptions along with how to pull past them.

Thank you Angel,


9:44 AM  
Blogger cloudscome said...

Thank you that is so inspiring. And thanks to the others for the book recommendations. I will look for those!

6:30 AM  
Blogger Unsaid said...

why does every post on this blog have to make me cry?

"She has dreams, like all others...."....that spoke loudly to me.


8:00 AM  
Anonymous jasai said...

I just read this post again and it was as if for the first time. It sounds like a kind of mantra, a song; a true, sad, luminous, encouraging song. A fight song.

A, this is my new fight song. Thank you again mama.

Don't feel bad, I often cry in this space. It clears out all the clutter.

8:59 AM  
Blogger David E. Patton said...

I am glad that you mentioned ANCESTORS and I think that we as black folks can stand to pay more attention to them. I pray to mine every moring before I start the day. When good thing happen to me, even the smallest of things I give them thank.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Angel said...

Robyn: Thank you. I'm so with you on your comment. Having everything intact -- including that great father and husband -- isn't it amazing that we still worry as much as we do? But we'll make it. And they will too. We have no choice.

Salina: Thank you. Yes, 400 years and still counting. It is ripe and right time that we start to heal.

Jasai: your spot here is a healing balm for us all. Thank you for this place of peace.

Cloudsome and Unsaid: Your compliments are like a bouquet of flowers. Thank you so much.

David: Where would we be without our ancestors? I mean, really? Where in the world would we be? And we don't need to wait until Thanks-taking Day to celebrate ancestors. We can do it, everyday, as you suggest. Thank you.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Trula said...

This was a lovely post, and this captured so much of what I feel: soft and nurturing one minute, battle gloves on the next.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

best regards, nice info bulgaria distributed power isp telecom internet mining Internet service provider results by but no internet access georgia jewell accutane appeals court

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very interesting site... Absolute yoga + sport city + bangkok protonix bingo game line vicodin Free shipping phentermine blue 30mg 90 cap

1:33 PM  
Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

michael kors outlet
nike air force 1 white
jordan retro 13
toms wedges
coach outlet
celine handbags
coach outlet online
michael kors outlet clearance
gucci handbags
cheap air jordans
coach outlet online
cheap ray ban sunglasses
coach factory outlet
hollister clearance
adidas uk
gucci outlet
ray ban outlet
kobe 10
coach outlet
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
nike blazers uk
cheap ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
coach outlet
coach outlet store online
tory burch outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
hollister clothing store
michael kors outlet
cheap air jordans
cheap toms
ralph lauren home
nike outlet store
louis vuitton purses
ralph lauren
cheap jordans
michael kors handbags
michael kors outlet

2:01 AM  
Blogger 柯云 said...

louis vuitton purses
oakley canada
fitflop sandals
coach outlet
michael kors handbags
rolex watches
ralph lauren home
louis vuitton handbags
celine bags
ray ban sunglasses wholesale
ray ban sunglasses outlet
cheap ray ban sunglasses
air jordan 4
cheap jordans
concords 11
true religion outlet online
red bottom shoes
air force 1 trainers
louis vuitton
air max 90
coach factory outlet
replica rolex watches
michael kors bags
beats by dre outlet
kate spade outlet
hollister clearance
giuseppe zanotti outlet
toms outlet
michael kors outlet online
oakley vault
louis vuitton bags
air jordan femme
oakley sunglasses
cheap true religion jeans
coach factory outlet online
replica rolex watches
cheap oakleys
coach outlet online
louis vuitton outlet online

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Cara Mengobati Radang Usus said...

This information is very useful. thank you for sharing. and I will also share information about health through the website

Cara Mengatasi sakit pundak dan Leher kaku
Cara Menghilangkan Benjolan di Bibir
Obat Nyeri haid
Tips Menghilangkan Wajah kusam
Cara Mengobati Bisul
solusi masalah kewanitaan

1:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home