Not My Baby Anymore

Last night I participated in a wonderful group where we got to share stories based on the subject “The Wild Unknown.” When I was invited to speak I had recently spoken with my youngest son. At some point in the conversation between the now very adult and I, I was reminded of when I realized he was not my baby anymore and what an oddly emotional blow it was.

I remember I was sitting on the front porch as my youngest son, then in his mid-teens, was walking up the block from school. I noticed his walk had changed. It used to be something of a bop, this bouncy gait as he used to just short of walk on his toes. This young person coming towards me now had what could only be called a swagger. This was not the walk of the carefree. This was a strong, measured stride with purpose. This was a man’s stride.

“Man! He walks hard!” My eldest son who was on the porch with me apparently noticed this change in his little brother brother as well. Though they are only eighteen months apart physically, there was a subtle, unspoken my baby brother is growing up touch of pride to his assessment. Yet, all I could think was…

What broke my baby?

Both of my sons are very much like me. It had been their chagrin most of their young lives that I was sometimes one-up on them, able to predict some of what could get them in trouble and put a stop to it. It was generally my chagrin when they did something I missed and though I knew exactly why it happened, because it was something I did or would have done as a kid, I had to disciple them regardless. Sometimes I let them make mistakes, because it really is the only way to learn some hard lessons. But this did not fall into one of those categories.

My eldest took it hard when my mother died. Very hard. I knew the loss of the woman that tried her best to spoil him rotten, had broke him and changed him. I saw it happen and did my best to guide him through it and he was much better by this point, but I was cognizant of that change. I felt I had dropped the ball with my youngest as I watched him approach.

How did I fail to protect him? Where the fuck was I, who saw him every single day, while whatever this was was going on that it hurt him, broke him, and changed him without my noticing? What the hell had happened in his young life that ripped his spirit, his innocence to the point it had changed his very walk? What else have I missed? Could I find out? Should I find out?

I found myself once again into the wild unknowns of parenthood. Yes, there are guides and plenty of people who can give advice, whether you asked for it or not. There are some givens we all go through as children and as adults raising them. In the end, each child is unique and wild unknown and how one raises that child will be unique to that child.

I realized, they both were of the ages where the shift in dynamics of how we relate to each other changes. They will always be my children, and though they were not yet men, they were not in fact children. It felt like just last year I was teaching them to tie their shoes and only last month we had the condom talk, not a few years ago. I was losing them into the men they were going to be, another wild unknown…

When he saw his brother and I sitting on the front porch, he broke into this beatific smile (both of my sons really do have great smiles), and greeted us. More perceptive to my moods, than I had been to his, he looks at me at questioningly for a moment.

“What?”
“You okay, Mommie?”
“I’m fine baby boy, you okay?”
“I’m GREAT! I’m having a great day!”

He then proceeds to regale us on just how great his day was. Naturally, with two teenage boys, the conversation eventually segues to video games and smack talk reigns.

I listen to and watch the both of them, but mostly my youngest for a long moment. Tall, though still a couple of years from his eventual 6’3″ height, his once high-pitched voice now very much a tenor. My silly little boy was very much still in there, but this man-child, now bounding up the stairs with his big brother, was anything and potentially everything, but he was not my baby anymore.

<>==========<>

It’s Day 28 of the 2020 Slice of Life Writing Challenge – come see how others are slicing it up this Saturday.

Slice of Life logo

Within The Folds

Within the folds of her mind
For every seam there is assigned
A memory that is now canned
That which became her life’s brand
It girds the maze that is confined
Within the folds of her mind

Within the folds of her mind
Dislike of coffee now enshrined
Each water fountain where she was banned
Indignities suffered firsthand
Nightmares you hope never to find
Within the folds of her mind

Within the folds of the mind
Is reciprocity outlined
She loves all things small or grand
Friends and family with equal demand
Even her cruel words were still kind
Within the folds of her mind

Within the folds of her mind
Are holiday dinners all refined
Homegrown ale that she manned
To be anything thing but bland
Secret recipes for which we pined
Within the folds of her mind

Within the folds of her mind
Where her faith was divined
Her heart the first to understand
The touch that is the Master’s hand
God’s grace was her soul defined
Within the folds of her mind

Within the folds of her mind
Thoughts not working as designed
She sometimes simply does not understand
I’m the adult whose hide she occasionally tanned
She’s slowly losing the ties that bind
Within the folds of her mind

Within the folds of her mind
An unfair fate, to one who shined
Now a fading cerebral quicksand
All that it held and could withstand
Just enough there to remind
Within the folds of her mind

<>==========<>==========<>

dverse

dVerse ~Poets Pub | Open Link Night – 159

Good-bye

She hears someone
ask a question,
but ignores it
only having eyes for the man
lying before her

Fingers
once plump with life’s bounty
are now long and slender
the joints so pronounced
In her hands his grasp
is now a far paler shadow
of the bone-crushing grip they once bore

The last vestige of thicker memories
his hair, in its continued unruliness,
belies its current state of thinness
as she gently pushes it back from his brow
Just as she used to do
in much younger days

Like his fingers,
his once round face
has been redrawn
into an austere beauty
She ignores the breathing tube
resting against the now sharp lines
of cheekbones and jawline

She looks up at the nurse
finally hearing his question
Yes, she nods slowly, she will be okay,
eventually
Then with a violent shake of her head
belies that
and feels her husband’s arms
quickly surround her
when the tears flow
as she looks back once more
at their son

The pain gone, his eyes
are amazingly clear
as they no longer stare back
into her red rimmed ones
until she reaches up
and gently closes them

Forever

<>==========<>==========<>

It’s Open Link Night | Week 145here at dVerse ~Poets Pub. My now three day old mood has clearly affected my muse as well. I’m out of town for the weekend, hopefully a different scene makes a better attitude.

 

Easy Does It – A Lullaby

I found this in an old composition book. I wrote this many years ago for a baby who is turning 33 minutes from now. Time flies indeed…

Easy does it, my child, my sweet delight
Be not afraid of the deep dark of night
Even in the dark His love shines so bright
Do not let bad dreams fill you with such fright

Trust that your Father’s arms do hold you tight
He holds you in His palm and in His sight
Close now your eyes and have faith in His might
Easy does it, my child, ’till morning light

<>==========<>==========<>

8th-annualc2a0slice-of-life-story-challenge-invite

Two Black Suns

.
.
In light of the weekend’s Micheal Dunn verdict in Florida, I feel the need to bring this post to the forefront again.

NY Daily News: NYPD Allegedly Assault Staten Island Family – Killed Parakeet

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns in this country, this United States of America.

My late-husband and I together did our best to navigate them through the minefields.

In their Sesame Street days, they are taught – this is the land of opportunity. They learn, that the color of your skin shouldn’t matter. And we said shouldn’t matter because even at that young age of theirs, neither of us as black parents could get past the ugly truth lodged in our throats and say that it ‘doesn’t matter’.

In their grade school days, they are taught – this land of the free. They learn that some of us have to work twice as hard most times to afford it. When in stores, they learn do not touch anything unless you have the money to buy it. We do not yet teach them that they are not being watched because someone might think they will break it, but because someone might think they will steal it, but they learn.

In middle and high school – they are taught this home of the brave. They learn as long as they are brave within the accepted boundaries, and those boundaries are fluid. They learn that the police officer who was their friend in day care and grade school, may not be so now that their voices have dropped and their awareness of the world at large has risen. They learn this even when sometimes that officer is an officer of color.

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns in this country, this United States of America.

Our parents and my generation learn for the all the Martin Luther Kings and Malcom X’s there were the Emmitt Tills. That for the Rosa Parks there were the Eleanor Bumpers, for the Jesse Jacksons there were the Michael Stewarts, Yusef Hawkins and right around the corner from where my parents used to live when my sons were still children, Anthony Baez.

And as my sons made their way to manhood they learn that there are too many Rodney Kings, Amadou Diallos, Patrick Dorismonds, Abner Louimas, James Byrds, Sean Bells and now Jordan Davis.

In between what they are taught in school they are taught manners and respect and pride and faith, yes because it is the right thing to do. But they learn it may also keep them alive.

Yes, we were strict. Yes, we had rules. They learn to think of others as well as of and for themselves. They are taught responsibility and, like all children/teens/young adults, begrudgingly learn it.

They eventually learn curfews are not because I did not trust them to go out into the world, but because I did not trust the world to give them back to us. With one son sometimes too nice for his own good and the other sometimes too hot-tempered for his, if they are in the house, I am not worrying at 1am, at 2am, at 3am. I am not worrying if this will be the night, the night that the nightmare comes true and we get the call. The call that is the nightmare of every parent that must raise black boys to black men.

The nightmare that became the unfortunate reality for Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin – because like Stewart, Hawkins, Baez, King, Diallo, Louima, Dorismond, Byrd, Bell and Davis we know there are far, far, far too many Trayvon Martins out there never heard about in the news.

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns in this country, this United States of America.

They were taught that red of our flag is for the valor in fighting for the right to live free; the white for the purity and innocence of our thought and purpose and the blue for the justice to protect those rights. Though as black men those inalienable rights wouldn’t be put to paper for them for another 100 years, and to some form of actuality for another 100 years hence. They learn it can also be the red of their blood on a baton, the bullet from a gun, the edge of a blade or a fist from the white-hot rage of someone having his or her worst day that encountered them having one of the worst of theirs and the blue of their body growing cold in the morgue from the result of that confrontation long before I get the call.

They learn that their All American names will get the door to open. Then they learn that their not so all American looks will sometimes have those same doors close in their faces.

They are taught that though it is certainly better than it has ever been, they learn that there is still quite some ways to go.

My suns are now adults, living their lives as men. My late-husband and I did the best we could with what we had. We got them through the minefield to black adulthood relatively unscathed. I no longer have nightmares of the call. I go to sleep at night trusting we will all safely see the morning unharmed. However, I am guessing, so did did Evelyn Lugo when chaos crashed through her door.

Things like this happen and a mother’s worry does crop up again on such occasions – after all…

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns living their lives as black men in this country, this United States of America.

<>==========<>==========<>

Go see what others are slicing about today:
Write, Share, Give: Slice of Life | Two Writing Teachers



Slice of Life - Two Writing Teachers

Orphan

He was my first Deity, my Lord
All I knew encircled Him
He was the sun and I followed in path
Capitulated to His moods,
Prayed for His mercy
Lived in fear of His wrath

After all he was My Father

But he bowed to a deity
Of his own
That either kept him cold and aloof
or filled with the spirit
of liquid hellish fire
of various proof

We tried to be as quiet as a church
In the middle of the night
But we never found a peace to be still
When I can be whipped awake
At any moment
For some ages old forgotten ill

And where was she you ask
When his fist and my face
Were making connections
How could she save me when she herself
Was in dire need
Of her own protection

Where do I go
This was my shelter
It was all I’ve ever known
I’m taught never to be where I’m not wanted
But what do I do when I’m a child
And where I’m not wanted is home

Well the first time I ran
I was soon returned
For I was very under aged
But I aired laundry in the process
And now both of them
Were enraged

Straight A’s brought not a praise
Chores lack brought not a reproach
His indifference became such
That I would push his buttons
With a cheeky little laugh
The only way to feel his touch

Knowing it was all
A fucked way to feel
Just added to vicious revolution
a penance to pay
For which there was never
an absolution

So when I broke out
And ran away part four
I just started living wild
No one ever said a word
what could they say
I am my father’s child

I’m told I should still love him
Pray for him
And wish him well
I say I do in the mere fact
that I simply
never wished him to hell

Some called me cold
Some called me tough
can handle any shit
But I grew up where
whining didn’t change a thing
so what was the point to it

My mother died first
and she I do miss
She did the best that she could
The next I saw him was to bury him
keeping a promise
he knew I would

He’s been gone
nearly a year
without any impact
I was an orphan
deep in my soul
long before I was in fact

====================

Mining the Memory–dVerse ~ Poets Pub Meeting The Bar :

I’ve Got The Look…

All mothers have a certain look in which their children instinctively comprehend to mean  stop and desist NOW.  I do not care how “no mannered”, “fresh”, “no home-trained” et cetera the children may be, all instinctively understand the most powerful wrath short of the Lord Almighty’s is about to reign down upon their little souls and behinds should they continue with the offending activity.

There are the mothers whose look will only work on their own progeny. There are the mothers in which the look not only works on their children,  but other family members’  children and sometimes the neighbors’ children.  And then there are the mothers. Those special mothers who can utilize the look with such force, that even the children of complete strangers will take heed.  It does not happen often, for I realize I have to be in a certain mood and the child involved must have seriously crossed my invisible line of intolerance for it to be at maximum force, but I am definitely among the last group.

That being said, while all mother are capable of that look, not all mothers have the ability or the desire to use to its full potential and that is a shame. Mothers who cannot put the fear of Mom unto their little darlings at a very early age are soon victimized by the tiny terrors they’ve brought forth unto this world.  I ran into one of those unfortunate types this morning.

I heard the mother already pleading with the child the moment the subway doors opened.

“Sweetie won’t you please sit down.”
“You’re going to hurt yourself!”
“Didn’t I say sit down, Sweetie?”
“You’re going to get a pow-pow.”

The mother did not say “Sweetie” I’m using it  instead of the child’s actual name to protect the little hellion more so than the parent.  I also cringe when parents of young children use cutesy names for things. If you are about to discipline your child, the child should fear it. It is not a “pow-pow” it is a “spanking”.  Children do not fear the cute, especially when spoken in that sing-song sugar coated speak most adults reserve just for young children. Sweetie was not that young and I’m guessing having heard such idle threats all his young life, this child was no exception.

I partially read my book, partially listened to my music and partially watched as I sat across from them.   The little boy climbed up and down from the seat, swung on the pole and yelled back at his mother in turns. Several people were giving the mother the stink eye as Sweetie ran among them nearly causing one passenger to spill her coffee and causing another to trip. Mother would apologize, yell at her child, the child would be still for all of two seconds and then the boy was off again.  Even as the train became crowded he still misbehaved, just contained his mini-mayhem to a smaller area.

At some point a woman who had had enough touched Sweetie on the arm and nicely suggested that perhaps the child should sit. Sweetie turned around, screamed at the woman from the top of his lungs on how she is not his mother and hit the woman with the plastic bat he had in his hands.  The mother grabbed the bat from him and apologized to the woman. This was twenty minutes after I first embarked and now even I had had enough. I took off my ear buds and put my iPod and the book I’m reading in my purse and stood just as Sweetie turned around and started to run.   Right on cue Sweetie accidentally ran into me. He spun around and raised his hand as though to hit me and I’m guessing that was the moment it happened.

The Look had made its appearance.

I raised an eyebrow at him and whatever he was thinking about doing, he rethought it as his hand slowly came down to his side.

“Say ‘I’m sorry. Excuse me.’”  I looked down on him.

“I-I’m sorry, excuse me.” He echoed contritely, taking a step back.  I heard someone exclaim “Daaaamn!” as I pointed at the boy and then at the seat next to his mother. Without another word exchanged, he picked up a toy that was on the floor and sat down close to his mother looking at me penitently.  The mother looked at me balefully as though she was about to say something and I looked at her waiting for it.  She thought better of it also, putting a protective arm around Sweetie as I returned to my seat.  There was a small bout of applause as I sat down, put on my iPod and returned to my book. The man sitting next to me looked from me to the kid and back “How’d you do that? And can you please teach my wife?” I just smiled, shrugged and returned to my reading.

A chapter or so later I realized it was still quiet. When I looked across the aisle from me Sweetie was fast asleep. The mother still looked like she wanted to do me bodily harm, but I was not worried about her. A few stops later, she and Sweetie disembarked.

Someday, someone is going to be there when I give some unfortunate soul “The Look” and have his or her cell phone camera ready to capture the moment. Obviously, I have no idea what I look like when I use this unique expression, but it apparently has some mystical power in it and I would really like to see it for myself.

<>==========<>==========<>

Slice of Life Story Challenge

Slice of Life Weekly Story Challenge

30/30 – 11 | Three Litte Words

I’ve rehearsed it all in my head for days now. I still wasn’t ready to face her. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have an idea of what her response would be. It is just three little words to the most important woman in my life.

Carla D’Scalia – the world knew the single mother, put herself through college, achieved her masters and then her doctorate all the while raising two children. Now an ordained minister, she was well loved and respected in her church. But I knew Carla D’Scalia the woman. For instance, I am one of maybe three people maximum who know, reverend or not, she can cuss up a might fine blue streak in the privacy of her own home, to relieve tension on those rare occasions she gets majorly upset. My love for her and all that she has done for herself, her children and her community, knows no bounds, yet I’ve been ducking her for a while now and considering how close we were she’s understandably confused and upset by the distance I inexplicably put between us.

But I can’t do this any more. I need her in my life. I had to be honest with myself, with her, that this is the path I wanted / needed to take. She knows how I feel, I know she knows, but I still need to say the words aloud. And once I do – well, that’s on her. After nearly six weeks of being chicken shit, I finally called her up for dinner at my place. Ate some serious crow to get her here, but I had it coming.

So here we are sitting on my couch face-to-face. The only sign of her nervousness of the moment is the rapid tapping of her pinky against the stem of her wine glass as she patiently waits for me to get on with it.

It’s just three little words I had to say right? So I take a deep breath and say them…

“Mama I’m gay.”

Precious

Mama holds me in her arms
She doesn’t mind the newborn mess
She takes my measure in her mind,
With a prayer to God to Bless

People mill all around her
The major and minor doings of birth
She tells them all to mark her words
I will make my mark upon this earth

She imagines me dressed for church
Sending pictures of me in the mail
She notes the quiet baby I am
Saying smart babies don’t need to wail

She says I will map new ways
Or maybe I will find new cures
Service is my family’s mantle
Of that she assures

The nurse wants to take me
But Mama holds me tight
They convince her to let go
That it’s going to be alright

My dad bursts through the door
Comes face to face with his fears
His face belies the truth
And Mama bursts into tears

She says my name is Precious
That’s what I am to them you see
That my very life was precious
Because I never came to be
====================

dVerse Poets Pub – Unexpected Poetics

Mirror of Time

A girl in a market catches my eye

She of the sculpted tee and yoga pant
A rebel streak of cerulean dye
Nearly hidden under mostly raven locks
She’s of age to know to care about the streak
But not yet of one to totally hide the independence

A modern-day hippie
Sans loose sundress and strength of floral

She combined natural scents
Creating heady herbals of patchouli and sandalwood
Which wafted through the air
Stirring serenity

Across the street at a karaoke café
Sipped my usual personal serum
Of a raspberry espresso concoction
Nearly as heady an opiate as the incense

I drummed perfectly painted
but wildly colored talons on the table
Reminiscing my days of youth as such
Before age, if not necessarily maturity
Rained down on me
When I gave birth to her

Her head rose for a moment
And she waved and smiled
Before making her purchase
And just short of skipping
Crosses the street to join me
Her older mirror

A mirror secretly hoping
that those same rains
Take its sweet time
Before they vale upon her

====================

Monday Melting (Week 21)

Write an original poem using the words listed below:
Market, yoga, café, dye, serum, patchouli, sandalwood, raspberry, opium, herbal
natural, espresso, sundress, serenity, rain, rose, sculpt, drum, karaoke, hippie