“You shouldn’t hold him so much” said the nail tech as she started my pedicure. The one I had hesitated getting because I had the baby with me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to really relax. If you saw my feet you would know this was a matter of life or death . “Excuse me?” I said. I clearly heard her but that ‘excuse me’ was a warning for her to correct her words and not for my benefit at all. Every black grandma that I know says ‘If you can ‘huh’ you can hear’ so this was my way of subtle saying ‘Hey I don’t think that’s what you meant to say… Here is your opportunity to rephrase that.
“You shouldn’t hold him so much”
So you just gon repeat the $%#! again huh? Ok. I politely smile and continue to hold my son, this is about to be the longest pedicure ever. I lean my head back and hope it goes by quickly.
“You must stay at home with him.” My eyes roll so hard that I know I look like I have fallen asleep. I debate whether or not I should answer because I know this is about to go down a judgemental path that I do not have the patience for.
I haven’t even acknowledge the previous statement before the next one comes. “I can tell because he’s so comfortable in your lap.”
Well shouldn’t he be? Shouldn’t the child that I grew in my uterus, fed from my breast and take care of 24 hours a day be comfortable sitting in my lap?
“You’ll never get anything done if you’re always holding him.”
Lord I’m saved but you know I’m not quite delivered from all my sins and I’m about to let her have it. How does she know what I have to do and whether or not I can actually get anything done? She looks up because I haven’t responded to anything and I guess she can tell that I am not amused.
The conversation ends without me having to end it. But its one I find myself being involved in on a regular basis, whether I want to or not. I’m sure you’ve had it yourself.
“Stop _______ or you’re going to spoil them.”
I have to be honest and say that I thought this way as well so I can’t be too defensive. The narrative of black mothers has never really been nurturing, unless they are in the role of caretaker…
The world doesn’t see us this way with our own children. I recently read Gabrielle Union’s Book “We’re going to need more wine” and she touches on this point when it comes to raising little black boys. “Society does not provide great models of black women as nurtures of black children… never loving, kind or sensitive to black children. The positive vision of motherhood is white.” I can understand her words because people find it weird how much affection I give my son. Or maybe not weird but definitely something to talk about. I used to think that you shouldn’t coddle black boys because they won’t be prepared for the world they’ll eventually be thrust into.
I now understand how faulty this thinking is. Don’t show a child love so they get used to not being loved as adults… sounds crazy. Raising this child has humbled me in so many ways that I cannot count. I now think that you should love them.. and love them hard so when they go out into the world they are full and overflowing with it. Enough love to even give some to the people that hate them.
I joke about my son being a giant but its really a defense mechanism. A way to shrug off the fears that are growing inside me. He’s 4 months now but almost as big as a one year old. When he’s 10 will he look like a grown man? I worry… I worry that my sweet little boy will be intimidating because he is just.. tall. I hug him as much as I can because I won’t always be able to. I nap with him and hold him tight. It brings me so much joy to know that my embrace calms him. I don’t want to take that feeling for granted, the feeling of my arms being the safest place. I kiss him as much I can without breaking him out because he isn’t promised to me forever, nor am I to him. Life… is fleeting and unpredictable. It might be a somber way of thinking but it keeps me intentional and so very grateful.
Finding the balance can be difficult and the scales change every damn day. I know it’s not something that I will ever ‘master’ but I wake up everyday to give it my all.
These are just my thoughts over my morning coffee. I tried my hand at coffee cake because I have been spending a small fortune at Starbucks for theirs. I began looking at recipes and I basically already had everything that I needed so why not give it a try. Lets just say… no more Starbucks! I can save those coins! I just cut it in little squares and pull a piece, reheat and we are ready to go! It’s a super simple recipe and you probably have all the things that you need to make it too! I’ll probably take the recipe and make it my own but this was just a test to see how things came out. There are def a few things I would change but overall it came out pretty good. You can get that recipe here.
I feel like we just had the deepest convo ever and now my coffee is cold…
Until next time.
Keisha L. Lewis says
GREAT READ!!! My kids are so far apart that people treated me like a new mom both times. I share your sentiments…from showing love to uneasiness of him being a little giant. I had to check the seasoned ladies at the day care about “me coddling DJ too much bc he wasn’t a baby.” I never understood why we (mothers) needed to be in a rush for our kids to grow up. Hats off to you for creating this great read!
Love the flow of your writing! I about spit my drink out of my nose on the “if you can huh, you can hear”. I do believe that will be my latest quip for my preteen!
You raise that baby how you see fit as a mother. Everyone and their mother will always give you their opinion like it matters when it comes to your children. Don’t let it make you question your intuition!
And yes you’ve got a big boy who will continue to be a big boy. I have three of them. You better get ready for a grocery bill 🙂
Durga Warrier says
I’m a mother of two boys. And now they are grown up and can’t really hug them the way I used to. Your words really touched me.
Keep it coming straight from your heart!