Just Mama- revisiting and remaking Black motherhood

I actually had another post already to roll out but for some reason being a Mama is deep on my heart today. I also suspect I am missing my own Moms a bit today more than usual. Perhaps its because despite the plethora of blogs on motherhood that exist in the blogosphere the vast majority are not written nor geared towards women of color. (Look at the recent issue of Bitch Magazine for more on this)

Anyway I have made what will be a life-changing decision today, I am taking mini-me out of daycare and instead she will go to preschool. Now to the childless who read this, you are probably laughing because I probably would be too. However at present I compress my work life into 27-30 hours a week of daycare and for some strange reason preschool is only 5 hours a week. That means Mama is about to spend a whole lot of time with baby girl. No, I have not given up work either, its just that there is an ebb and flow to my work and I know in a few months I am going to hit a slow time and frankly in a family where both spouses are self-employed its time to get serious about saving money and having her home with me will indeed save a block of money.

On the other hand I have grappled since last year when I stopped teaching with wanting to spend more meaningful time with her and 3 is a good age to start the Mama and baby girl time. I am often intrigued with how white women take motherhood so seriously, I have read enough blogs and had enough real life discussions about Moms who feel bad if they turn on the TV or if they are not fully engaged with their offspring every moment of every day. Now when I first started rolling the idea around to take her out of daycare, I was fretting over what classes to sign her up for, nervous about how I would fill up our days. Then it hit me, my Moms never took me on a single play-date or extracurricular until I was old enough to have a say and I turned out fine.

No, my Mom by the standards of today’s parenting especially the parenting that is prominent by the educated classes would have looked like a slacker, yet looking back the best times and best lessons were learned by observing my own Mama. How she carried herself, how she went about the day to day of just living. Its not the big stuff I look back on when I reminisce about Moms, no its the small shit, its Sunday dinner, how she took forever to cook a feast. How she could make miracles out of nothing in hard times. Its how when I was 14 back in the 1980’s she convinced me that thrift shop clothes were cool when all my friends were rocking the Guess and Girbaud that was so popular at that time.

Looking back I am reminded that while raising kids is serious business since if you fuck it up, that’s a human who is fucked up but if you do it well, it lasts a lifetime.

Black motherhood has always looked different, after all we didn’t need to fight for the right to work, shit we were working from day one when we landed in this country. Yet we raised kids who were good even when we had no time to spend and no money to give.

So, I think mini-me and I will be ok, yes she may end up watching too much tv when I am on a deadline but as elder boy tells me too much TV didn’t rot his brain back when I was a single parent and had to rush home to make dinner so he had to entertain himself with Rugrats and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back in the mid-1990’s. This is a kid whose summer reading included Kurt Vonnegut and that was just for fun.

No, motherhood takes many forms and we can’t allow others to define it for us.

Sexual Freedom Part Two

Today’s post was inspired by a comment made on my previous post about sex, Sweet Teach said:

“I don’t think ALL sex needs to or actually should happen in the context of a committed relationship . Every experience we have is an opportunity to learn about ourselves, other people, our beliefs and the world, and that includes sexual experiences.

Bottom line is all of us (men and women) need to get a better understanding of what constitutes healthy sexuality and exploration and we need to learn to be comfortable with our own bodies before and while we explore others within and outside of relationships”

Now I was actually going to respond via the comment section, but as I sat on this for the past day or so, I agreed that she was right about the initial contradiction in that post since while I saying we as women should be free to make decisions about our bodies and whom we share them with and at the same time I made the statement that in an ideal world sex should happen within the context of a committed relationship. I will be honest and say, that double-sided way of thinking is most likely rooted in my faith and is something I am grappling with. That would be another post though for another day.

 Its interesting because looking back, I was talking a bit out of both sides of my mouth, yet in hoping  to have a deep discussion and in just my brief time blogging I have been fortunate to meet some folks here who truly are about more than just doing a fly by, I think its time to get bare. That is time for me to get bare and truly open up and explore some of my own thoughts and I invite you to join me.  

In looking back at my own sexual behavior and experiences, I can honestly say that while the best sex was borne from deep relationships( that which happens with the spousal unit for instance) the truth is there have been experiences that occurred not within either of my marriages that I would not trade for anything because they helped shaped me.

Looking back, I must ask myself honestly would I have wanted to arrive at either of my marriages a virgin? The answer is a resounding Hell Naw. Yet the reality is the first time I married at 18, much of it was about guilt over engaging in premarital sex, guilt over enjoying it and I suspect for many women, its guilt over those good feelings that leads us to quickly wanting to partner with a man when deep in our soul, we know maybe we should hold off. This is not to say that we women don’t want partners, but how many of us have been quick to say a man is the one after we knocked boots? Back when I was single, I often confused the sexual afterglow for love and that is a dangerous thing to do. Yet had I had the knowledge I have now, I could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak and accepted a good feeling for just that, a good feeling.

As someone who was raised with Christian leanings even when Christianity was not the official religion of the house in our family, the truth is I still picked up on the messages that seeped in about sex, even the language used in my family, fast girls, hussy… all language designed to shame a young woman coming into herself sexually and this is what I want to avoid in raising my own daughter. The societal messages that good girls, don’t do XYZ because its those messages that I feel create a schizophrenic existence when it comes to sexuality even more-so as women of color. Already we have the larger society that in the past and still today as represented by the imagery of Black video vixen that says Black women are loose. On some level I think the societal messages places a larger burden on Black women when it comes to our sexuality, it makes us harder for us to be upfront about our needs. I can only imagine this pain and confusion is even greater for my lesbian sisters since while I don’t want to generalize I will say that female sexuality that is female centered in my experiences deals with even a greater amount of shaming and negativity from others.

This is a post today with no defined end but I welcome your thoughts and comments. Perhaps I will revist this subject again soon.

Girl power, do you have it?

My intent today was to write a piece about Obama, but after an impromptu family outing, I decided to scrap that plan at least for today since there are more than enough folks out in the blogosphere commenting on Barry and his changing tide.

Today’s title comes from an incident with my girl aka mini-me today. On the way back from the beach today, mini-me wanted some ice cream, so we pulled into the parking lot of a local place, now the plan had been to get the ice cream and roll but mini-me wanted to sit out in the grass and eat her ice cream. However the menfolk, spousal unit and elder child aka the boy, didn’t initially want to go with the plan; so Mama being the goofball she is said well girls rule so we are eating outside because we have girl power… I know this is corny as hell but mini-me immediately liked that phrase and decided to run around screaming girl power.

Now, some of y’all might be groaning, day-um you are pretty corny up there in Maine, sista. True, I won’t lie but as I was thinking about it just a moment ago, it dawned on me that when I was growing up I never quite got the message that girls had power and I suspect I am not the only woman of a certain age whose folks talked about girls being able to do anything but truth is they didn’t walk the walk. Don’t get me wrong my folks did not explicitly say that I was limited by my gender but honestly, actions speak louder than words and while my little brother who I love dearly, was always supported in his endeavors by my folks, truth is that I was not. I suspect some of the choices I made earlier in life were a direct result of not quite believing that as a girl I had any power.

I have often heard how in Black families girls and boys are raised in different ways and I do believe there is some truth in that, I also think the ways we are are raised or perhaps conditioned by gender also plays a role in the angst that exists today between brothas and sistas.

For me in raising my daughter, my hopes for her are that hopefully she won’t make any of the silly ass mistakes I made like seeking love instead of seeking herself nor confusing lust for love. Instead I want her rooted and grounded in knowing who she is (I also hope she comes to know the Lord to) and having the faith to know she can accomplish anything and that she is not limited by her gender but that inherent in being a woman comes with power.

So, I say to all the ladies that read this, take a moment and look for your own inner girl power, if you are raising a girl, make sure she knows she has girl power. For the men, don’t be afraid to let the ladies in your life know that they have girl power and don’t feel threatned by that power.