Parenting: My View From Up Here

12 Mar

I was an unhappy child growing up. Always wanting more time and attention than my single mom could spare to give me. I was one out of four kids and she hardly had time to sleep much less devote to my childlike whims. My birthdays were always lack luster because for some reason money was always slow in the summer time. My mother, like me, was an entrepreneur. I can remember only a few happy birthdays. One where we spent the night at the Embassy Suites and another where a friend of hers with a boat took us out on Lake Michigan on a warm summer afternoon. I also remember birthday cards with food stamps and I.O.U’s.

I became pregnant at 20 and I brought my son into the world shortly after my 21st birthday. My mother passed away less than a year later. My father was never involved in my life and it wasn’t until connecting with my half brother a few years ago that I learned that my father had died from a liver or kidney disease. He was an alcoholic. (I guess karma really is a bitch). Dylan didn’t even know his birth father until he was 8 and even still his father has contributed no more than $100 in child support and has done the ticker tape parade in and out of his life.

Part of me didn’t want to become a parent because I never wanted to subject my child to the same experience. The other part of me wanted to be a parent just so I could do better than my parents did. I confronted my mother about my childhood hurts before she died. Even as her body was taken over by cancer and dropped down to 90 pounds becoming a shell of her former self I still couldn’t manage to let go of the anger and pain. The feeling of not being heard or loved enough. The feeling of abandonment from both parents that she alone paid the price for. The forced abortion at 17 that made me feel as if she hated me when in hindsight she was just trying to save me from being her. A mother that just couldn’t be mother enough.

I confronted her one day. Sitting in her room over the hum of her oxygen tank. I sat on her medical grade bed provided by hospice and she sat in a rocking chair. We faced each other. Her hand holding her mask to her face. Mine gripping each other in my lap. We cried. I asked her why? Was she sorry? I wanted her to be sorry. And ashamed. It hurt so bad mama. I was so angry. I’m so angry. Her response, “I did the best that I could”. And forever and ever those words would be like a curse created by an evil wizard used to paralyze and destroy.

I never wanted to look at my son and say “but I did the best that I could”. It wasn’t good enough for me and it wasn’t good enough for him either. And for years I fought like hell so that I wouldn’t. On birthdays and Christmas he always had so many toys that we’d have to wade through the living room to make it to the kitchen on the other side. He had the best of everything that I could provide. I kept him in the best neighborhoods, in the best schools and provided him with the best of me. And we did it on our own. No parents, no grandparents. No father. At best we had people with good intentions and poor follow through. Our lives were like a game of me and my shadow. “Where ever I go, whatever I do, we’re going to go through it together.”

And that’s what we did. We went through it together. Sometimes as co-conspirators, sometimes as partners in crime but always as mother and son. Until of course, my infant turned into little boy and that little boy turned into a young man. A young man who was a person with his own thoughts, feelings, and desires. He metamorphed into this little man with hormones and personality traits that were unfamiliar to me. Gone were the days of soft scolding and light discipline. Gone were the days of time outs and “promise mommy you won’t do it again”. He changed. And so I had to as well. And I hated it.

Truth be told, I still hate it.

I couldn’t be the loving, affectionate mommy that gave kisses at night and whispered conspiratorially. I couldn’t be the bruise kisser or the monster in the closet figher. I couldn’t be the you can sleep in my bed if you’re scared. I couldn’t be that mommy anymore. Because black boys that have those kind of mommies and no daddy become the men who live in their mamas basements at 35 and live off of women and don’t contribute to society. They become the kind of men who don’t finish high school, have no chances at college and are lucky if that don’t end up in jail. I didn’t know how to be a man. HELL, I had never really known any men. So I did the only thing that I knew.

I taught him how to be decent. I taught him to have morals. I taught him that a man is only as good as his word and if he doesn’t have his word he doesn’t have anything. I taught him to be slow to anger but easy to forgive. I taught him to respect himself and respect women. I taught him that no one in the world gets anything for nothing. I taught him that every action has a reaction and everything he does both in my house and in life will have consequences. I taught him to stand up for himself and the only option EVER is doing the right thing which is often the hardest thing to do. Most importantly I taught him that no matter what, at the end of the day..after the punishments…after the discipline..after the yelling. I love you more than anything and I will always put you first.

He doesn’t always understand that. He doesn’t always get it. He probably understands it as well as I understood my own mother. But at the end of the day, I truly am “doing the best that I can”.

How’s that for irony,

The Mistress of All Things Fabulous

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6 Responses to “Parenting: My View From Up Here”

  1. Yvonne Hinkle March 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Wow….very touching and real. I can identify with a lot of your thoughts. The key to going above and beyond for my girls was “breaking the cycle”. My God it is so hard when we as children and growing adults mimic what we see by nature. Nothing but God helped me break that cycle.

    I will always keep you in prayer Love….MUAH!!!

  2. Renita March 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Doing the best you can means do all that you know to do, not just what’s easiest to do. Parenting is real serious business, whether you’re a single parent, a two parent family, or a 3 or more parent family. Kids are people, too. And people can be challenging. When youre in the trenches, and you know their teachers and friends and whereabouts and even their thoughts, good and bad, you are raising them up the way that they SHOULD go, and that is what matters most and for that, kudos.

  3. Chacolit1 March 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    WOW!!! NICE!!! I can see this so clearly almost as though you’re writing for me. I promised myself to do the direct opposite of what my mommy did and it’s worked out for me….. I appreciate and adore your honesty…. **Growth and Prosperity!!!!!

  4. mersaydes March 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    I loved this write up, it is touching and very true. I have recently let go of the pain my childhood caused and it really was like a weight lifted because the average person wouldn’t look at me or my mother and believe our past but it is just that our past, and I KNOW everything she did or will do was always “the best she could”. In my house the two major life teachings were “have good credit” and “don’t be fat, because ppl take advantage of the fat girl”; it seems crazy now but I know then it was what she really thought was best for me and it was her way of protecting me. My mother did a lot right and wrong but as an adult and a mother when I feel hurt or pain from it I always go to her intentions and usually she was just trying to help, or is doing what she thinks is best for me. Kudos to you, your parenting story is a lot similar to mine but I had and still have lots of family help but I too over compensated with material things which hurt me and my kid but I am on a path of self reflection and teaching things must be earned. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual so when we parent with the intention of making our children, honest, moral, intelligent, and compassionate leaders then we are starting off on the right foot! Great work!

  5. Keith Townsend March 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on Growing up in Chicago and commented:
    This is an awesome testimony of raising a man as a Single mom in Chicago. Great job Kimmah and thanks for sharing!

  6. nualapthatsme March 13, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Oh dear sweet Kimmah….I’m so proud of you for always speaking the truth in love and being transparent!!!!!!!!!!!! You are doing the best you can, but you also seek the guidance and wisdom of God…..so you are doing better than the best you can. I pray that Dylan becomes a man like David and daily seeks the heart of God in all matters. I just want to hug and wrap you in love right now and let you know that it is truly a blessing to know you. Keep fighting the good fight my dear sweet Kimmah.

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