Saturday, February 18, 2006

What she'll see when she looks up

February 10, 2006

Deidre – 22
Los Angeles, CA
1 daughter (3 months)

When people say, “babies change everything” they are so right. Mostly.

My mother and I have never really been close. There have been times when I really needed her and she was too busy with work or her church. At times she has even suggested that I go to other people for help, so I didn’t expect her to be interested in my pregnancy. To my surprise she was.

Reluctantly I allowed her to be a part of my life and spent some time with her. I started to think that maybe I was important to her.

On November 3rd I called my mother to let her know that my daughter, Leah Rose had arrived.

Work # - No answer.

Cell # - No answer.

I kept calling...

I Gave up.

I called my dad. He was there in fifteen minutes. A few hours later I hear from my mother. She tells me she’ll be there after her vanpool gets her to Pasadena.

But not right away.

She has to go to Bible Talk meeting before she can come see her first granddaughter. I was amazed.

Kellie always first.

Am I ever on her radar?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A word from BMD's curator-mama

Cheers! I am thrilled that you have found your way to Being Mama Daily. In finding this site you have found a unique opportunity to talk shop, say your piece, let your mama-soul blow free in the breeze.

I am here because the experience of conceiving, bearing and raising children has pushed and pulled at my body, mind and spirit so that I looked up one day and found that I was wiser, more centered, braver and more beautiful for having donned the dress and made the trip. This realization has been and continues to be a process. I am here because I imagine that there must be other mothers out there with similar growing joys and pains.

Save for a few that I will mention shortly, there are no rules at BMD. No subject is off limits and any woman who is currently, or has in the recent or distant (especially distant as you surely have something to share) past, raised a black child, we want to hear from you.

Now, some people have asked, “Why women who have raised black children and not just black mothers?” It is for the same reason that I do most things; for my children. For our children. I want black children to finally and out loud, hear the voices of their mothers; the emotion and honest intention in our effort to raise them in a world that can shuffle from promise to pain in a blink. I want them to hear us say we love them and how sometimes that heals or hurts depending on the day. How nothing is more important than their safety and everything that we would give to ensure it, even when we feel threatened or afraid. I want them hear us and I want us to speak to them so that this generation and the next and all of those that will surely follow, will know that we did our best and even then, for us, it never seemed like quite enough. I want them to hear us say that we are human, but we recognize the divine task we have been given to care for their souls, even if only for a little while.

Now for the fine print. Below are a few rules that we must observe in order to make this forum effective:

1) If you read something that moves you, say so. Comments, feedback and general encouragement are so much of what keep us moving. We are after all, here to share.

2) Speaking of sharing, send in your journal entries. They do not have to be any specific length; short is as good as long. But if we do not tell our own stories, no one will ever know.

3) And finally, tell somebody about BMD. Send a link to a friend or a mass email to a bunch of mama-friends, then come back and listen. You will be changed and amazed by what you hear.

Best to you and yours always,

Being Mama Daily

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The sound of bittersweet memories

February 20, 2002

Leslie Green - 35
Lees Summit, MO
4 Children - (19), (8), (6) and (22 months)

On this particular night emotions were high and voices were being carried over banisters, down stairs wells and seeping through the slightest cracks in the drywall. The argument we were having was suddenly blindsided by my fourteen year old daughters’ blunt request to live with her father who was still residing in Los Angeles. We’d settled in Kansas after I graduated from a small Christian college several years earlier in an effort to create a sound, structured and safe environment for both of us. The foundation I had so proudly built was being shaken to its core. Harsh and unforgettably cruel insults and accusations were being hurled back and forth between the two of us. My intentions were to remain firm and stand my ground but my feelings were hurt. Not only was my pride in jeopardy but I felt as if the endless sacrifices I’d made on our behalf were being mocked. Wounded, I began to rage fiercely, so much so that the initial reason for the argument was no longer in view. My focus was shattered as I began to drown in my own fears.

The possibility that one day our daughter would choose to leave the nest I fought hard to
create for her, and fly into the arms of the man she first knew and loved, was always present. The sense of rejection was all I could manage to hear and the struggle continued into the early morning. Before it would end, a telephone call needed to be made to my former husband who would have the last word in this battle. I was relieved when I realized that he was in support of my disciplinary actions. She was chastised for her disrespectful and defiant behavior and once the dust settled, informed that she would not come to live with him under the circumstances at present. As her feelings settled, he spoke calmly to her. She said she understood and yet the tears she shed told a different story. When the telephone call was finished I slowly (almost with hesitation) walked up to her - steam still emanating from both of us - and positioned myself in a way that offered a truce. I reached out to her, one hand at a time, situated them around her small body and squeezed tightly. Her resistance only provoked a firmer squeeze. But as a tree will flutter when the wind blows, the connection and years of love between a mother and her child are more profound than anger or disappointment. Once I felt the pitter pat of her hands on the small of my back I knew that I was falling in love with her all over again; as deeply and intensely as I had fallen for her fourteen years earlier when I was just a teenager.

Her bedroom door was left slightly ajar when she finally settled into her bed. I knew that she needed to be left alone with her thoughts. It had been an emotionally draining night. When I finally reached my own bedroom the chill in the air was reminiscent of the emptiness I felt after she was delivered. As I prepared for bed I remained unsettled, so I opened my journal and wrote this poem:

Teenage Mom.

Now it is summer…
Time & again I thought of you
& imagined your presence healing my soul
& I cried out for you
Tears of pain
& loss
& letting go of love
& flowers that bloom
& die
The decision was made
The beginning of the new

Seeds being planted too early in spring
Then I saw you,
Your face
In the reflection of myself
& I opened my arms
& my legs
& I felt your breath, for a moment, upon my inner thighs
& I knew that I had emptied the most special part of me; you
I lay in silence of creation
Of life
Of letting go the girl-child in me
Now a woman without answers
I go on though 'cause it’s a day to go on
& lessons to learn
& then years of lessons
& questions unanswered
Now me with ideas and an expression of identity
Taken some from me, but mostly you
Pushing and pulling against or towards depending on the day
The moon
The sun
Fighting the evolution of discovery
Questioning the questions I once asked in search of a life
Opposite of what is

Like the vision I did not have
The emptiness I could not foresee
The story of separation I did not know was to be told

What a lucky little girl

June 17, 2001
Jasai - 26
Los Angeles, CA
2 children – 1 son (6)
1 daughter (8 weeks)

Today my daughter met her father for the first time. Instantly it was love; as clear as a summer day. With zero fog was the way she recognized his face although she had never seen it before; the way she knew his scent, his warmth, his flow. All that and she’s only 8 weeks old. Her dad has been in Okinawa, Japan for the last six months, waiting with great anticipation for the day (father’s day ironically) that he would see his baby girl, for he had already met her. I could see it in his eyes when I handed her over.

They are napping together right here next to me. Amazing. She is good for him and he for her. And although she stirs, she is sure of this person. No doubt. I am happy for her. Ecstatic at her chances in this life, for this man is going to be there just like he is now - arm over her stretched out baby body, protecting her; her dreams, her mind, her person and wi
shing he could, when he will be unable to. I am glad she will dream in bright colors because of this love, his face – beautiful and muddy brown –full of calm and gratitude for the life he surprised himself by creating. Congratulations baby. You have done yourself and your family a good turn by wanting to be the best father your mind could conjure up. I see it in her breath, the high and low of her sleeping chest – she’s with you and she believes what you say.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Contemplating motherhood

February 9, 2006

Wanama - 31
4 Children - 3 Sons (8), (6) and (2)
and hopefully a girl (in progress)

On being a mama, I asked God this morning what is it all about. I have three boys, Isaiah 8, Jalen 6, Zachary 2 and I have one on the way - a girl for sure. As I’ve gone through this pregnancy I say to myself, “What is it all about?” God says, I have been chosen to bear the future. My job is to nurture and love them as he has nurtured and loved me.
I realize now, that my children do not belong to me; I am a steward over them. They belong to God. It is he who decides what path they will ultimately take in life. My job is to direct them in the best way that I can - in the things of God - and pray that they do not lose their way; and if they do, that they will come back. This gave me some relief and perspective on motherhood. In the day to day hustle, just stopping and thinking for a moment why I chose to be a mother. I consider it a privilege to be called mommy, no matter how many times I hear it in a day. It has become music to my ears.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My Baby: A Retrospective

February 2, 2006

Nisa - 34
Los Angeles, CA
1 child (unborn)

It was just a dream. That’s what I say as I force myself to wake up. Both the small of my back and my pillow are damp. I sit straight up in bed and repeat that it was just a dream, but why? Why did she have to ask me about my baby?

It was one of those dreams categorized as a “thug” in
Women Who Run with Wolves. A dream where some nameless, faceless man, is chasing me and I don’t know why, but I run. I run like my life is dependant on it. I run past train tracks and thru dark allies. I need help. I need someone to help me get away.

I see a familiar face; a girl I went to high school with. I run up to the window of her car and explain that I need a ride. It’s raining and she’s looking at me funny but she let’s me in. She remembers me from school.

“You used to go out with Bobby didn’t you?” she asks in the same way she used to; like she already knew the answer. “Yes” I reply, still looking over my shoulder, unsure if I’m really safe yet. This doesn’t feel like a dream. I can hear her car engine purring and the rain pouring from outside. I shiver slightly.

“Didn’t you get pregnant by Bobby right after school?” she asks. All of a sudden I cannot breathe, I cannot move. Is this some type of a sick joke, I wonder. I cannot respond, I cannot find the words. “You did, I know you did. You got pregnant right after you graduated,” and I am clawing for breath, for life, for hope. I must say something, but the words are stuck in my throat like fish bones, and I am chocking and I am dying.
“Yes I did.” I respond in an almost whisper.

She stops the car and looks at me square on. “Let me see a picture. I know you have a picture. What did you have a boy or a girl?” Her words are fast and hot like bullets. I have no armor. Slowly and deliberately I say, “I was pregnant, but we didn’t have a baby.”

I am fully awake now and crying. Remembering my maroon cable knit sweater, the one I bought to wear in college. He, driving his father’s car. Us holding hands as he took me for what he thought was a routine appointment. He didn’t notice my solemn face when he returned to get me. We were just kids, our whole lives ahead of us. Far too young to have a baby, that’s what I told myself. He was too fragile and couldn’t handle the truth. It wasn’t a lie. It was just a decision that I had to make on my own. I exercised my choice.

It would be five years before I told him the truth of that day. He broke down and cried as I’d never seem him do. Not when his mother gave him over to his father to raise; not when his father would stay in his bedroom and smoke crack all weekend; not when he had to sleep in his car to stay in college. He cried all over me in my bare New York apartment. I just held him, let him cry. My tears wouldn’t come for another ten years.

I woke up from this dream in tears because my baby would have been as old today as I was when I walked into that clinic. I cry because I’ve never cried for the girl in the cable knit sweater on her way to college, or the baby that only had four weeks of life inside her. I cry because only in a dream would anybody ever ask me about my baby.