Friday, December 19, 2014

Everyday I Have The Power To Change The Future: Black Mamas Of Sons, Diahann Caroll, & The Deer


From time to time, I will take in some television. I have rules about it. The show has to have Black characters. They can't be seriously jacked up stupid. (I don't watch a lot of tv.) There are more rules, but, that's something else.
Never have I ever had a Forewarned Is Forearmed television moment until tonight. The below monologue is what the mother of a very handsome (Black) surgeon said right after she meets his girlfriend.
"Of course, you'll choose a less time consuming specialty once you marry Character-Name-Sounds-Like Winston. I don't know a young woman who wouldn't want to marry my Character-Name-Sounds-Like Winston ~ given half the chance. He's handsome. And he's brilliant! He's the best thing I've ever done in my life. He's the most important thing in the world."

& in that moment, I knew I had the power to change the future.

The woman in my show was played by Diahann Carroll. Same vocal cadence I would have used. Same imperious bearing. For a moment I thought I was in a televised time travel moment.  

This story is all about how that Mother character could very likely be me one day and how I really need to not be like that in the future. 

That tv time traveling moment evoked strange thoughts. So much of the way in which I parent necessitates being in the moment.  I do my best to attend to what is happening right now, between us.  It is important for me to be present with my son. 

The news stories of Now makes that difficult.  It creates hyper-vigilance, a second guessing reflex; an over the shoulder neck cramp; a continuous urge to furtively glance around.    (That is the default coping mechanism for persons who have been repeatedly traumatized.  And every Black mother has been routinely and systematically traumatized since we set foot on the shores of this country.) Black mothers are always on guard.  And because of this, we love our sons into cliche. Beyond reason. Beyond logic. Beyond politics. Beyond life, Black mothers love our sons.

That’s why I laughed so hard when I watched Diahann Caroll give that monologue.  But, for the grace of God/dess, go I.  I could hear that coming out of my mouth. I could.  She made me look around at what I think I’m trying to do here as a parent.  And how easily the tricknology of Heteronormative Patriarchal White Supremacy can take us out of ourselves.  So, I find myself on notice to be observant.

We recently moved. Here on The Acre, the deer here just don’t care. They are bold. They will watch me come outside on  my patio. They will wait for me to take their picture. Sometimes, I even think they pose for me.  They have no fear.  Those deer are White mothers.

I think about the deer back home in Pennsylvania.  They bolt if they hear a twig crack. They flee when you open a door. They run. They never saunter. They eat with one eye watching. They eat quickly. They are scared.  Those deer are Black mothers.  But, we don't have to be.  No Black mother has to be.

Everyday, I have the power to change the future.

I like to think my new deer friends reflect the emotional space I’m trying to occupy as a Black mother.  This here grass is good. I’ll eat it.  This here shade feels nice. I’ll be in it.  There is another energy. I see you.  This here fence is big and I’m strong enough to jump it, if the energy shifts. But, the energy here. It is good. And the grass. It is tasty. So, I’m here. Eating grass.

I think the deer are reminding me to keep holding onto these right now moments.  I imagined the Diahann Carroll character to have been a very similar mother.  A mother for whom the survival of her son was never the goal, but, the side effect of a daily celebration.  A mother who has built an impregnable castle around her son made out of the tiniest simple victories.  One stone is tying shoes. Another is a successful project. The next is learning a new song. We just keep adding stones.  Only seeing the stones.  Until one day she is confronted with the surprise that it is done. It is magnificent. 

A living son doing the work he is called to do who navigates his world safely and successfully is rare and precious. That can do something to a woman.  It can turn her into Diahann Carroll’s character - unconcerned for anything or anyone but her son.  Ready to challenge anything.  Acting subconsciously on the fear that everyone is going to try to undo everything she has done.  That all of it, all of it, all of it has been a waste of time.  

She has history on her side when she worries.  Any (Black) mother - especially bright, talented Stay-At-Home and/or home educating mothers - are told that mothering their children is a waste of time. They could be out blazing new paths, having careers, doing anything. Anything except listening and loving. And when all too often our sons are violently transgressed upon, we wonder.

But, I’m thankful for better role modeling.  I used to be a little skeptical of the way my Grandmother doted on my father.  How she and my mother had a carefully nuanced Understanding. (I would say detente, but, that would not convey the warmth and mutual respect they shared.)  I think my Grandmother and the deer would understand each other.   This right now, right here is good.  This woman. This life.  His choice.

And I can only hope, that I have the privilege to see that letting go, being here moment with my own son.  To experience what must be the most heady, exhilarating, adrenaline charged moment of any woman’s life.  That moment when you simply have to let go and trust your child to have their own life.  

In the meantime, I’ll just keep building my castle, listening to the deer and asking the ancestors to keep me open to the always of right now.

Everyday, I have the power to change the future.

1 comment:

IdiaDega said...

Lovely insight Thanks for this.