Martyr May I.

The conversation usually goes like this:

Person: Wow! Congrats on getting into NYU! That’s an incredible opportunity.

Stacey: Aww, Thank you. I’m really excited.

Person: Is your son going?

(Here, as we say in theatre, is a “beat”. The length of the “beat” usually depends on how many times I’d been asked that question within 48 hrs. The extent to which I go to explain my choice is directly proportional to the level of maternal guilt I’m feeling that day, but it all boils down to this:)

Stacey: No, He’s not going (… insert excessive rambling here as needed.)

(Next, the reaction. It varies and is typically some combination of: 1. A “beat”, some type of facial grimace, followed by an expulsion of air … usually from the mouth and then 2: Oh … )

Person: … who is he staying with?

Me: …my mom.

(Now, the conversation either ends here or rambles on in some awkward dance between my guilt and the other person’s judgement/the judgement I perceive them to have, then dies an even more awkward death in pregnant silence.)

This post is not an explanation of why my son will not be moving to New York with me. This post is about the fact that this question is always the first to be raised with mothers pursuing lofty goals.

I have watched my mother, and countless other mothers “sacrifice”, martyr their peace, happiness, and in some cases their physical existence for children who didn’t benefit one way or the other from said sacrifice. In some cases this “sacrifice” was ultimately the child’s downfall. Why? Because all that additional motherly love was enabling, that’s why. Mothers and specifically single mothers have for far too long worn the badge of the martyr, forfeiting any dreams or potential they had before they gave birth. It’s as if your goals and desires for yourself can’t exist in the same space as parenthood, or if they can, those goals and desires had better damn well be minimal and involve a papoose. (I just pictured my 5’8” 155lb 14 year-old strapped to me as I navigated Washington Square and died a little.)

Ye verily I say unto all the mothers who think they have to give up happiness and personal satisfactions in order to be a “good” mother … fuck all of that … in its entirety. I am a 37 year old woman with a lot of life left (hopefully), and a lot of shit I want to do. I love my son immensely and will not cease to handle my basic parental responsibilities, while also continuing to do everything within my power to guide him into a successful life. That, for me, is what parenthood is about. I refuse to give up my life as a testament to what a wonderful mother I am. I would rather live a full and purposeful life that can serve to inspire and empower my child into a better way of living. My pursuit of a full and purposeful life just happens to involve me being away from my kid for a while. This is not an ideal situation, but it is not Life’s job to serve up ideal situations. Besides, I’m pursuing graduate education for baby Jesus’s sake, not smoking crack. (Unfortunately, the latter in the eyes of some, seems to be a more acceptable reason for a maternal hiatus :/.)

Then there’s the shitty male/female double standard. If I were a father, even a single father, I don’t think anyone would give a second thought to me taking off to school or even better enlisting with the military and leaving my son with family. In fact, it’d be encouraged. This, in the eyes of some, makes a father joining the army, potentially being deployed to war, and killed a better choice than me, a mother, pursing higher education. I don’t blame fathers. Hell, I don’t even blame the people who ask me this question. It’s kind of just the way things are. We exist in a patriarchal society where the man goes out hunts the meat, clubs us over the head then …

Maybe you think I’ve written this assuage my guilty conscious and maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t give a fuck* what anyone thinks. Maybe I do, but I shouldn’t because it’s my life. Square biz, I don’t know a parent who doesn’t have regrets about choices they’ve made raising their children. I know I will have regrets a plenty, possibly with the decision to leave him in Charlotte for two years topping the list. Time will inevitably reveal the decisions that will land my ass in a shitty nursing home per my son’s request. However, If I look at my parenting job so far I can honestly say the danger of me stewing in my own juices while medical staff is on break is pretty remote. All I can do is check with my gut, check with Sonny Jim, and pray for the best

Rosie.

*Please read the linked article ad nauseum. You will either become completely reckless, stop being afraid of what people think and live, or both. Shouts to KNKYTHT for sending it to me, it was the highlight of my week.

Wait … Am I Your “Magic Nig -ga -ger -roe”?!

Start here:

This, by the way, was and still is some of the most potent realness I’ve seen in a film. Ever.

Now on to the:

Magical Negro: The Magical Negro is typically but not always “in some way outwardly or inwardly disabled, either by discrimination, disability or social constraint,” often a janitor or prisoner.[7] He has no past; he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist.[8][9] He usually has some sort of magical power, “rather vaguely defined but not the sort of thing one typically encounters.”[8] He is patient and wise, often dispensing various words of wisdom, and is “closer to the earth.”[4]
-courtesy of Wikipedia

Now the post:

This morning as I  nodded in and out of post third shift consciousness, I perused the good old face space to see what the people in my virtual (and a few in my real) life were up to and I see friends of mine “liking” shit like this:

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and I’m like:

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I pride myself in knowing and embracing a wide variety of people who represent varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, and political ideologies. It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to understand how it is that people who I work and socialize with can be so unwavering in their “conservative” views,  “conservative” views that have them peeking through the curtains of racism, sexism, and classism’s bedroom window if not sitting in their living room, but still “love” me in the way they say they do. Then it hit me … am I filed away in the minds and hearts of these folk as not being one of those kinds of blacks?! Am I their “Magic Nig -ga -ger -roe” like the Magic Johnson’s, Prince’s, and Oprah’s that have come before me?!

I simply cannot understand how people who show me so much genuine love, concern, and camaraderie can co-sign policies and ideologies that are aimed square at the disenfranchisement of people just like me.  YES, as magical as a nig -ga -ger -roe as I may appear to be, I am or have been the 47% at some point in my life. Let’s check my qualifiers shall we?

Rosie’s top ten “those” people qualifiers

1. Grew up in low-income housing to …

2. A single mother who …

3. While working and during brief periods between children received food stamps.

4. I am a single mother who had a child …

5. Out of wedlock! O_O (no dead husband, no failed marriage [that came after the kid … and he wasn’t the father x_x] , just good old fashion fornication with no intention of extended dedication.)

6. I have immediate family members in jail (that I actually maintain contact with and love very much because contrary to what your “conservative” media outlets would have you believe, people don’t cease being human because are incarcerated! … take all the time you need to process that one.) hell I’ve even …

7. Been arrested! (no jail house tats though, but my street cred is up and that is GOOOD), Oh and I …

8. Don’t like working! (for other people, that is), and I …

9.  Have been on Medicaid as an adult (quite shamelessly, I paid into that shit for 12 years prior, what?! So know that when I was on it, you’re conservative dollar was technically still free willy), but worst of all I …

10.  Voted for Obama to ensure my continued leaching from the great America built by the Founding Fathers off the backs of my ForeFathers!

Again, take a moment, a day if you need to process.  There are more qualifiers, but those may bust your heart wide open and leave you with no hope for savage… I mean American minorities. Think I’m overreacting and “making it racial”? Stop and take a look at the “conservative” base and tell me what you see? I may be going out on a limb, but I think to some point I represent some type of saving grace to my conservative friends (who I actually love and accept despite what their views are). I am, I believe, in their eyes “a credit to my race.” I am well spoken, fairly well read, and goddamn it I make them laugh! What they don’t realize is that it’s not always comfortable for me to be the funny nig -ga -ger -roe. What they don’t realize  is that there are many times that their sweeping indictments of  people who “leach off the system”, or how their tax dollars are paying for this ones healthcare, or the cadence with which they say our president’s name … as if trying to scrape shit off their tongue, often leaves me hating their asses for brief intense periods.

But then I let it go, because my intense hatred will do nothing to elevate the their mind state about the broader reality of minority life, and it’ll run my blood pressure up which we know all black folks suffer with anyhow. So, I just try to live honestly as possible, calling “bullshit” when I see it … when I have the energy to do so,  and serving as an example of the many varieties of  “those people” who exists.  I know I seem angry, well fuck it, I am, but underneath this anger is a pressing need to be understood in the same ways I seek to understand.

If I can manage to separate the political ideology from the living breathing person that I know, then why is it that so damn hard for some to conceive of the fact that I might not be that magical. Maybe, just maybe, blacks and other minorities are not just some mass of bottom feeders that seek to drain an innocent America of all its xenophobic glory. Iono, one day it’ll all make sense I suppose. In the meantime, for those who are ready, consider this an open call to conversation. It’s a call that I will continue to make until I’m no longer able to speak. If we want change we can believe in, we have to believe we can change, and speak that change into existence.

Rosie.

Now go laugh at racism’s sting dammit!

Mom too much?

When I gazed upon the recent cover of  Time Magazine, my initial urge was to vomit.  The churning of my guts was not however due to the overgrown child latched firmly to his mother’s teet.  That was unsightly enough. No, my disgust was brought on by the title of the cover story “Are You Mom Enough?”

Hell, on most days I wonder I’m human being enough, now I have to worry about if I’m mom enough?! Geez!  Okay Let’s see:

  • I don’t cook for him nightly.
  • I DO provide unhealthy fast food substitutes. (*wonder if I should just breast feed :/ )
  • I use foul language around him.
  • BUT I use that language in complete sentences.
  • I’m short tempered with him.
  • That temper usually flares up when he’s not doing what he should in school.
  • I’m ALWAYS busy.
  • I’m ALWAYS willing to drop everything when he needs me.

Well mom judges,  How am I looking? Did I mention I’m a single parent?! That’s gotta get me a bye!

Dammit! Motherhood has been turned into a high stakes game with no clear winner. Do I win if my kid goes to college? If he doesn’t go to jail? If he does both? If he goes to jail, but comes out and is a productive citizen there after? If he goes to college, but his entire life is meaningless? There are just too many damn variables.  I love my son dearly, but I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this Motherhood Hunger Games shit.

So here’s what, I hereby advocate for self honest guilt free parenting (okay… maybe guilt lite).  I don’t need detailed instructions from a some highfalutin MD either.  I’m going to raise my son to the best of my abilities. I will make mistakes, but try my best to avoid the biggies (e.g. neglecting to feed, clothe, or nurture him). Even if I fall on my ass I will vow to get back up and continue giving him all the love and support that a selfish self centered letch like me can :).

Rosie.