My Grandpa Loved Me

I just got a letter in the mail saying that the insurance policy that my grandfather purchased for me needed to have the contact information updated. What?

It turns out that he purchased the policy when I was 4 years old. My grandparents and great grandparents bought me savings bonds and tried to make sure that I would have a good start in life. They loved me.

I’m not saying this to say that if you don’t do those things, you don’t love your kids. I’m saying it to say that  …  they loved me and showed it by doing things that would make my life easier.

I am doing the same for my kids by purchasing them stock and contributing to their college savings plans. I hope my kids feel loved when they realize that we have been plotting on giving them a good life since before they were born.

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My Mom Didn’t Pass Her Crap Down to Me

“The more spacious and loving a woman is towards herself, the more she can offer that to her daughter. A mother cannot give her daughter the support, love, guidance, and empowerment that she herself does not have. If a woman does not have that healthy model of self-love in her mother, she has to seek those models elsewhere.”

I just read The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Pass Through the Mother and reminded me of how awesome my mom is. To recap:

My mom was molested. When she told her mother, the story goes, my grandma basically told her that it wasn’t important because most women suffer sexual assault. I don’t think my grandmother said this to be mean. I think it was her reality. When my mom realized I had been molested (I didn’t tell her because we had already left), she sprung into action. She called the police and encouraged me to tell them what happened. When I said that I didn’t want to testify at trial (I was a kid), she supported my decision. She made me feel like none of this was my fault and she supported whatever decisions I wanted to make.

My mom graduated from high school, met my dad, and ended up pregnant with me. She used to tell me that she loved me before she even knew she was pregnant. I was wanted. I was loved. She raised two kids by herself, for the most part, and I knew she regretted not being able to provide for us financially. She went to college when I was in elementary school. I went to undergrad and grad school. I started a business that I’ve run successfully for the last nine years. She always encouraged me to build my skills, increase my education, and build the kind of life that I wanted to live. There was no competition and no pressure. She genuinely wanted me to have a happy life.

My mom would have loved to travel internationally, but she never did. She died when I was twenty so we never got the chance to take any wild trips (I did with my grandma though) that I’m SURE would have happened if I was a little older. She wanted me to know that the world was mine though. She’s drive around nice neighborhoods to show me the possibilities. She made sure that I went to school with affluent kids. She would get us dressed up and we’d head out to museums, and musicals, and plays. Now, I’ve been to 18 countries on 5 continents. My son has been to 7 countries on 3 continents. My mom would be so proud.

My mom was married four times, I think. I like to say that if there were 99 AMAZING men in a room and 1 bum, my mom was gonna find that bum! Lol I think she really had some stuff that she hadn’t healed from. My mom would love my partner. They would talk shit during sporting events and giggle at random silliness. I know them both, so I know this is true. We’ve been married 8 years, this year, and I hope that this will be my only marriage.

My mom knew that she didn’t have all the tools I’d need to flourish. Instead of pretending she did or acting like it wasn’t important, she got me what I needed: 3 big sisters from the Big Sister program. My first Big Sister, Martha, was a Black woman in the military. I don’t remember every moment with her but I remember feeling loved. When she was shipped out, she gave me a little wooden house money bank with a little mouse on the porch and little rocks glued to the front. I kept it for years. My second Big Sister was a white woman that owned a beauty salon. I think she was only doing community service for a ticket or something. Her idea of us spending time together was taking me to her business and letting folks give me manicures and pedicures. It wasn’t that exciting, but it was her business. My last Big Sister was a young woman in college at the time. She was married to a man that used to call me a Crumb Snatcher. Lol This is the one that stuck. I’m almost forty years old and we’re still in touch. She’s seen me through everything from first loves to grad school applications. When I considered getting a doctorate, I called her. When I got married, she was invited. We try to visit often and her kids adore my son. My mom was unselfish in her love for me. She made sure that I got what she didn’t have: wonderful women role models.

Most days I get to do what I want to do. I have a great life and I like to think that it honors my mother. She’d be very proud of the life I’ve created. I hope my kids can say the same about me.

 

Letter to My Son #1

Dory, Marlin and Nemo from the movie Finding Nemo.

Dory, Marlin and Nemo from the movie Finding Nemo.

Right now your favorite movie is Finding Nemo. Without fail, you watch the whole thing through whenever we put it on. Yesterday, you watched it twice. By the time you read this, Nemo probably won’t be a thing, so let me summarize the film: dad Marlin is overprotective of son Nemo. Nemo tries to prove that he can do things on his own and gets captured by a dentist on a dive. Marlin sets out to find his son and is helped by a cast of characters including a fish with little short-term memory, Dory. While imprisoned at the dentist’s office Nemo’s confidence grows. The whole ocean pulls together to support the mission. When he hears that his dad is looking for him, it motivates him to do something he didn’t think the had the courage to do in hope of reuniting. At the end of the movie, dad and son are reunited.

Each time it comes on, it reminds me of how many people are working to make sure that you have everything you need. I never met your mother, but I believe that she did the best she could with you in mind. She could have relinquished you at birth, but she didn’t. My guess is that she wanted to make sure that you were matched with decent people. Your original social worker told her about us and she seemed to approve. The people in the NICU made sure that you were okay and hated to see you go. Your nurse walked us out to the car and then stood and watched as we buckled you in the car seat. The hospital’s social worker said that he would have tried to adopt you if they didn’t find a good match. At this point you’ve had three different social workers that have made sure that you had what you needed and were happy. We’ve watched you grow since you were two weeks old have tried to provide you with tools and resources to help you develop into a fully-actualized person. It’s like the universe is conspiring to bring you good things.

I don’t know how you’ll feel about your journey when you read this, but I hope you know that you deserve everything that’s good in life and I hope that you have the confidence to go after what you want.

Black Love is Revolutionary

young_black_love_by_manassehart-d4xe3ep10Sometimes you read something that helps you think through your thoughts in a different way. I just read something that did just that.

Being that I’m Black and Mexican I tend to lump all people of color into one category. My mind doesn’t usually think specifically about Black people or Latino people because I’m a mish-mash and I see things as such, but everyone once in a while I’m reminded of how important it is for groups to stand alone and recognize that loving each other is important.

Those unfamiliar with Blacks in America might not the familiar with the term “Black love”. It usually means that two people with Black ancestry (I don’t use term “African” because there are white people in Africa) are in healthy, stable relationship. As in, “Barack and Michelle represent Black love’. While two Black people being in love might not seem like a big deal, to those in the community that are constantly bombarded by the idea of whiteness as the pinnacle of attractiveness and power choosing to love another Black person is downright revolutionary!

Too many times we’ve heard that Black men are lazy and shiftless. Too many times we’ve heard that Black women are gold-digging jezebels. Black skin is too dark. Black hair is too kinky. Black attitudes are too angry. Black income is too low. Whether it’s been stated out right to hinted to with articles, movies, magazines anc conversation … Black people have received the message. If we want good things it’s best to date a white person. They can open doors. They have access. They are attractive. Father - Love their mother

Making the conscious choice, as a Black person, to love a Black person and engage in a healthy relationship and raise a family that knows that Black history didn’t start with Blacks being enslaved in America (pyramids in Sudan, kingdom of Mali, rock-hewn churches in Ethiopia, etc.) and is able to love and appreciate Black people all over the world (because we are all over the world) is revolutionary.

We’d Love a Little Black Boy

In a world where the mother of a young man had to write a book named The Little Black Book: Survival Commandments for Black Men, we’d love to have a little boy. When we first started thinking about having a family I assumed we’d adopt a cute little Black boy. We’d teach him to wrestle and cook. He’d grow up traveling the world with us. He’d read about Queen Nzinga and always know about his heritage as a Black person on this ball of swirling gases and oceans. There was never any thought to having a girl.

When we began the formal adoption process we had to designate which genders we’d be open to. I never considered having a girl before. My heart began to think that having a little girl in the house, and family, might be nice. There are seven kids in our extended family and only one of them is a girl.

Then I read articles like this one and I start feeling like we need to have as many boys in our family as possible.

From the article:

Black men, especially those who look physically imposing, often have a tough time.

“Someone who is tall and muscular will learn to come into a meeting and sit down quickly,” she said. “They’re trying to lower the big barrier of resistance, one that’s fear-based and born of stereotypes.”

Having darker brown skin can erect another barrier. Mark Ferguson has worked on Wall Street for 20 years. He has an easy smile and firm, confident handshake.

“I think I clean up pretty well _ I dress well, I speak well _ but all that goes out the window when I show up at a meeting full of white men,” says Ferguson of New Jersey, who is 6-foot-4 and dark-skinned. “It’s because they’re afraid of me.”

He is one of these tall Black men. He’s about six foot three on a bad day (he tends to slouch so he appears shorter) and is relatively dark-skinned. We have been in hotels around the world and had non-Black people respond very negatively to him.

I am not a crier.

I generally feel like everyone can control their own destiny, to varying degrees, and that we should stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get up, get out and make it happen, but reading this article and thinking about the difficulties of being a Black person and a Black man specifically make me feel like crying.