I’m always being given what I need and always being led in the direction I need to be going.
When my oldest was a little over a year, he got the flu. My husband and I were typical first time parents: clueless. We read our childcare books, called the elders of our family, and worried. I didn’t know if I was going to kill my son with the blue aspirator thing-a-majiggy trying to suck mucus out but actually pushing too much air in; if I should “give him just a little taste of bourbon” as one great aunt suggested; of if I should feed him or not feed him (feed a cold or starve a fever or something like that). Eventually, I had to give-in to my new-momma hysteria and make the 2-minute drive to the hospital.
The first thing the nurse did when we were seen at the hospital was to take off the layers of blankets and clothes that we wrapped our son in. Sweat the cold out—right? Wrong—so very wrong. It seems logical now, but of course if your child is hot, you should have them in fewer clothes– not more. Boy, they must have had a chuckle when we left the emergency room that night.
While they were chuckling, I was crying. I had a full-on movie worthy dramatic meltdown in the middle of my son’s jungle themed nursery. “I can’t do this,” I wailed on my knees on the cream-color carpeted floor. My husband, a reserved man, who comes from a family who does not show emotion was probably thinking: “What in the hell is going on? I’ve got a sick baby, and now this fool is on the floor losing her damn mind.” But, as he also is a smart man, he simply put his arms around me and questioned, “Do what, baby? What can’t you do?”
“I can’t do this motherhood thing. I love him too much. It hurts too much. Seeing him sick like that almost made me want to vomit. How will I live my entire life loving a person this much?” I understood at that moment what it meant when people say that having a child means that your heart is now worn on the outside of your chest.
Fourteen years later and my heart hasn’t found it’s way back into my chest cavity; I still have moments where I feel as if I can’t do this anymore; it hurts too much. I care too much about even the littlest of everything. And I am definitely still fumbling my way through this parenting thing. Now I am just the first time mother of an almost 15 year old, instead of a 15-month old.
This almost 15 year old announced that he wanted to stay at home and chill this Halloween. Kids his age are too old to trick or treat; but they find ways to celebrate such as going to parties and amusement parks. So when he announced that he didn’t want to do anything, I heard, “I have no friends and I am not adjusting well at my new school.” Listen, I am not by nature a worrier, but when it comes to my babies, I trend.
My sons don’t come home eager to share their day-to-day happenings with me, so I am like the CSI forensic team—picking up clues to try to figure out what’s really going on.
As part of my investigations, I learned that there was a party that a couple of my son’s friends were going to that he wasn’t invited to. He seemed un-phased; I was heartbroken and concerned. I went in to problem-solving mode: let’s invite some folks over; wanna go to the haunted house with some friends; wanna invite someone over to watch movies? He stayed where he started. He wanted to stay home and chill; and he seemed as he always seemed—100% content with his choice.
Whatever the opposite of contentment is—that’s what I was feeling. Does my baby have friends? Is his transition to the new school going well? Will he be okay? Is he really as happy has he is portraying? Is he sad that he wasn’t invited to the party? Should I call one of the parents to secure an invitation for him?
Instead, I hid my concerns and begged him to watch one movie with me– which for a teenage boy is torture—at least my teenage boy — but he indulged me. I popped a huge bowl of popcorn, propped up my posterpedic adjustable bed and put on “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (his choice . . . not mine).
We lay in bed—at first at opposite edges—but as the night progressed we ended up almost curled up together. The movies were grisly, but the time spent together was beautiful. We ended up watching three horror movies while eating popcorn and Halloween candy, until 1:30 in the morning. My husband came home with my other son and knew that he had been temporarily evicted from his space. Me and my baby slept in my bed that night –I getting up every now and then to look at him to ensure that he was okay—just like I did when he had the flu. I can’t remember the last time we spent that kind of time together.
The next morning a mom told me about all of the underage drinking that occurred at the party my son wasn’t invited to. I was immediately relieved that he wasn’t invited and didn’t go. His rejection kept us going in the right direction. I just didn’t recognize it then. I really need to apply the same principles in parenting as I do in life, generally.
I’m always being led in the direction I need to be going. I need to trust that more.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more