Friday, May 29, 2009
Last week, Saturday made himself welcome in my bedroom. Blood orange suit clinging to the corners of my eyes. I rose, energized and welcomed the sun to my private party. Born day # 29 began slow-like you always want Saturday to be.
Savored it. Went for a walk, just because there’s no better way to kick off a birthday than to get the blood pumping. When I got home, my little son sang his birthday wishes.
“Happy birthday to mommeeeeee, happy birthday to yooooooou, happy birthday to mommeeeee! Now, let’s eat cake!”
He was so pleased with himself. He’d been practicing the song for weeks, usually singing it to himself in preparation for his birthday, 6 months away. His infectious smile made me laugh, and he gave me my present: lots and lots of juicy birthday kisses.
I didn’t have any special plans for my birthday. Choosing, instead, to celebrate it with my family enjoying the breezy, bright Saturday afternoon. We had lunch, strolled around the Grove looking in store windows, watched the koi swim in the pond, and tried to keep my little one from going in after them. Relaxing.
Birthdays demand reflection. I spent Saturday, and the ensuing long Memorial day weekend, being thankful for all that I have been blessed with. Yes, my life isn’t perfect. My beloved is locked up and will be gone for 9 more summers and I might be unemployed by the end of June, but I have my health, my life, and my beautiful son who is somehow able to put a smile on my face even when I’m in the midst of the deepest funks.
Lincoln once wrote, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” I’m trying to live every single day to its fullest and appreciate all that I’ve been blessed with because for some, their years have run out.
Tomorrow, I will attend a funeral for a woman I’ve known for over 10 years. She’s been a mentor to me, especially during my teaching years. For over 40 years she dedicated her life to educating little brown girls and boys before it was cut short Monday night. When someone so loving, supporting, and down right fun passes unexpectedly, it forces me to be thankful. I am more thankful for everything, especially every woman in my life that has molded me into the mommy, teacher and woman I am today.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:12 PM 4 comments
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Listening to President's Obama's speech today, made we instantly think of Slim Charles' reaction to Stringer Bell's death in the Wire. In this episode, Bell is cut down in a hail of bullets because of his shady business dealings amid a drug war between the Barksdale and Marlow crews. Although Bells death has nothing to do with Marlow, and everyting to do with his compadre Barksdale, Slim Charles recognizes that the war, however misguided, will wage on.
Litening to President Obama chastise the Bush administration's blatant disregard for the rule of law and practice of torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, while asserting that he too will, in essence, sidestep the law through "continued prolonged detention" of detainees that pose a threat even though the evidence does not warrant prosecution, was sort of mind-blowing. Yes, I understand some of the detaines pose a threat, but to assert that you're going to uphold the law & our moral standing in the world, while holding people indefinitely seems like some slick double-talk.
I like President Obama. I feel more hopeful with him in office, but I do expect more. I know he's in a tough spot. I know closing Gitmo and finidng a safe and sensible soulutin to this issue of dealing with terror suspects will not be easy, but I'm a bit disheartened. I know that this situation is extremely complexand probably can't simply be solved by "doing the right thing," but I wish that someone would just step up and make those tough choices.
What do you think?
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:37 PM 4 comments
Saturday, May 16, 2009
(but so true)
(but so true)
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:19 PM 2 comments
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The first time my son met his father was in jail.
Blistering cold out, I wrapped my almost two-month-old son in a baby-blue snowsuit, and a hand knitted blanket and walked to the train station. We took the E train in Queens, then transferred to a bus that would take us to Rikers Island.
When the bus crossed the bridge onto Rikers Island, I didn't know what to expect. Even though I was somewhat of an around-the-way girl and had cousins who had been in an out of the prison, I had never set foot in a jail. My experience with jail was only what I'd seen on Law & Order, and from the looks of the show, Rikers was like the ninth circle of hell.
When I got off the bus gripping my newborn son, I didn't know I'd have to go through three sets of metal detectors, leave everything I carried for the baby—except for a blanket—in a locker, remove my shoes, shake out my bra, and take off my socks just to spend an hour with my beloved and introduce him to his son. It was a humbling experience, and I never wanted to do it again, but it's been three years, and this is our life…for now.
Raising a child is an arduous task. Raising a child alone is even more daunting. Because his father is away, I am in the precarious situation of being a not-so-single, single mother. Although his father tries to father our son through visits, phone calls, and letters, he is not able to be with us on a day-to-day basis, which means it's up to me.
I never planned on being a single mother. When my beloved was locked up, we were a week away from ushering our son into the world. We had bought all of the necessities, celebrated with two baby showers, and were happily awaiting his arrival. One night, our lives changed in an instant, and I was thrust into the difficult role of being another single, black girl with a baby.
When my son was first born, I vowed that even though he was being raised in the absence of his father, he wouldn't want for anything. I have made it my mission to give my son every advantage, every opportunity, and every indulgence that is feasibly possible. And even though we now live 3000 miles away from his father, I have made a conscious effort to keep our family intact and make sure we see him as much as humanly (and financially) possible. Even at three, my son knows both his mommy and daddy love him fiercely, and he is happy.
Solo-parenting my son has been both rewarding and very lonely. When we venture out to the park or to the movies or anywhere and see complete families, a hint of sadness curls around my heart because I am reminded of what is lacking in our life. Although beloved and I are together, I am still the one parenting our son alone, making sure he doesn't feel as though he has missed out on anything just because mommy's raising him by herself.
Since becoming a parent, I've become acutely aware of how I'm viewed, and have gone out of the way to make it known I'm not the stereotypical single mom. Even though single parents are raising more children, there is still a huge stigma that looms above our heads. And for black women, it's even worse.
I am not your stereotypical single mom. I have both a Bachelor's and Masters degree, I'm a professional, and I make a decent living. I am not on welfare, I'm not out having multiple babies by multiple fathers. I am young, black, and gifted and a mom.
As my son grows older and becomes more aware of his father's absence, I know I will have to explain the situation and reiterate that he is loved truly, deeply, and completely by both of us. He will have questions, and I pray we will have the answers. But for now, I am enjoying having my son all to myself. I am blessed to experience all his funny faces, silly dance moves, and I loves yous and not feel selfish one bit.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:03 PM 8 comments
Friday, May 01, 2009
First Lady Michelle Obama was recently honored by People Magazine as one of 2009's the most beautiful people. We all should have seen this one coming. The media has been in an absolute frenzy since the Obamas got to Washington, and the first lady has been mentioned by nearly every magazine and tabloid on the planet. What I enjoyed about her nod in this year's list, however, were her words. She states,
"I had a father and a brother who thought I was beautiful, and they made me feel that way every single day...I grew up with very strong male role models who thought I was smart and fast and funny, so I heard that a lot. I know that there are many young girls who don’t hear it."
I echo Mrs. Obama's sentiments. Although my family wasn't perfect, my parents made me feel as though I was smart enough and beautiful enough to conquer the world. Without Mrs. Obama's parents and my own, who knows what sorts of pressures we could have fallen victim to. Many of my peers did not make it to college. A few had babies before we even walked across the high school stage humming "Pomp and Circumstance," and even more still are just out there "hustling." Having someone in your corner that has your back is amazing. It's empowering, and it makes you think you can accomplish anything you want.
Unfortunately, many kids do not have someone they can count on. I run a support group for kids at my school and today we were discussing resources (people) we could count on in a crisis situation. The kids in my group have a myriad of things going on in their lives. One girl feels completely alone, says her parents are "bad parents" and opts to keep to herself because she's depressed. Another just lost his grandfather, is angry at his own father because he hasn't seen him since he was two years old, gets into fights a lot, and cuts himself to deal with his pain/anger. Yet another is VERY angry with his father for leaving him for his stepmother and cries and lashes out in anger to compensate for his pain. Heavy. Although they deal with very different issues, the tie that binds each of their stories is that they do not have an advocate they feel comfortable with. Despite their problems and imperfections, I have learned that they are great kids, yet they don't have someone that has their back and tells them it's ok to dream and work to reach those dreams. It's sad, but if they are going to make it, they will need some help.
I've struggled all year not to get too attached to my students. This year, it has been easier to not let their issues become my issues, but this support group is another animal. I wasn't expecting the kids to come with issues so raw and deep, nor was I expecting them to be so willing to open themselves up and share their wounds. If we are going to raise more Shashas, Malias, and Michelles--we are going to have to step in the gaps for our kids.
What can we do to help? Mentor OUR children. Even if parents can't be there, if families are dysfunctional, even if you don't feel like it's your responsibility...it is. Who else can help our kids but us?
For more information on how you can get involved, check out The National CARES Mentoring Movement.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:49 PM 3 comments