Portraits of Motherhood [3]

Motherhood3

Caramel Kids

My husband John is white and I am black. Our first daughter was conceived after a lot of body heat measurements, lovemaking, and consultant fees. As a newborn, she looked nothing like me but everything like John—dark blue eyes under straight black hair, set in pale skin dusted with freckles. Twenty-two months later, her sister was born.

My beautiful girls have always seen and described themselves as caramel. They say caramel is the mixture of white and black. I also see them as caramel. However, I refuse to raise them as caramel. I am raising them as strong black African women to give them a sense of belonging.

When my seven-year old (who had played all day), wanted to play with her friends some more instead of studying, I said no despite her tears. Her friends in question are white, middle-class, and privately educated. She is mixed race, middle-class, and in a state school. In May, my daughter writes her SATs, her first exams.

Because I worry about my daughters’ academic potential, I constantly emphasize the importance of working hard at school. Only this time, her naïvety irritated me. I told her, “You will have to work twice as hard as your white friends to get where you deserve to be.”

In England, caramel is closer to black, and society regards them as mixed black Africans and not mixed white British. People see their sex and race first. They are not immune to this reality. As a warrior mum, I want them to know who they are and I want to give them every advantage they need to succeed.

Still, my main parenting ethos is to ground them in the kind of love I never experienced. Love, which is professed. Love, which cuddles. Love, which kisses. Love, which makes us spend time together. Because knowing you are loved and accepted unconditionally is a bulwark against ‘colour’ coding and separation.

Yvonne is crazy about retro and vintage fashion. She writes passionately about things that get to her at RealYvonneBlog

 

#Electiongate

E1 ran for house prefect last term. Three girls and a boy competed for the two positions. She wrote a speech and campaigned round school. After the elections, E1 came second. The highest vote was nine. She scored eight, the boy scored three, and the other girl one. E2 excitedly told her sister, “Well done, you got it.”

Imagine my shock a couple of days later when E1 reported that the other spot had gone to the boy.

I let off steam at the school office and emailed the secretary expressing my displeasure. A meeting was scheduled with the head teacher where she confirmed that because a boy and a girl traditionally filled the positions, the second post had gone to the boy.

I contended that since the candidates were not informed upfront, the entire process was a mockery. I decided to pursue the matter further as I felt E1 was robbed. Outlining my grievances in a letter, I pointed out that by denying my daughter equal opportunity the school was teaching her that gender is a deterrent to success in a society where gender discrimination is illegal.

It was a lonely and long fight. Well-meaning people asked, “What’s the big deal?” In the meantime, E1 was offered other positions. I told her it was okay to accept another position, as long as she made it clear she was still holding out for her elected post.

Countless emails and acknowledgements wearied me to the end of my tether. Then one Friday, at the close of school, the secretary handed me a letter. I ripped it open once we got to the car. E1 had been awarded the prefectship!

I turned to her, “You see why it’s important to stick to your guns and fight for your rights?” She nodded, joy brimming from her eyes.

I am trying to raise my daughters to believe that there are no limits to what they can achieve or how far they can go. They know that sometimes, they will have to fight. And I want them to know I will always have their backs as God gives me strength.

Joxy, wife, mother, bookworm, bookaholic, ardent Scrabble player, tennis fan, and foodie, writes at Justjoxy’s blog.

 

A Heart of Gold

My thirteen-year-old son is not special needs. He has special needs and barely qualifies to have some of them met in school. If you met him, you would not imagine that my well-spoken boy struggles in school. This challenge began in pre-school and has now progressed to annual team meetings with teachers.

The meetings always start with, “What are your concerns about Damon?” I exhale before I rattle off the same yearly list, lack of focus and mathematical comprehension, poor grades, etc. His teachers smile sadly and nod because they see it every day. In that moment, I don’t feel alone even though they are witnesses for only nine months.

What happens next is my favorite part and it happens every time. Sure, their faces drop when they describe how Damon hunches over his paper, so they won’t know he hasn’t written anything. But they then mention how his hand shoots up above his brown curly hair to volunteer to read; and my mind travels to the years he cried because he hated reading but persevered until he loved it. They smile as they recount his eager participation in class discussions, which elevates the conversation. We all laugh at the way he smiles and assures us that he’s, “Got this!”

And yes, Damon’s got this, this being the heart of life. He carefully scoops up infants in the church nursery where he volunteers each week. He emanates warmth as he greets homeless people whenever we hit the streets to hand out supplies. You see, I mother a child who on his best day puts in twice the effort to receive half the grade and has done so for nine years. Yet his perspective of the world and himself is untainted. Once when I checked his phone for inappropriate content, I saw a text from a friend who stated he wants to be incredible like Damon.

So yeah, parenting an out-of-the-box kid isn’t easy when it comes to schooling, but witnessing his spirit shine in the face of obstacles is better than perfect marks.

Brina Harwood, recent returning full-time student, aspiring writer, and working mother of four, blogs on occasion at My Life in Crowd Control.

 

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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48 thoughts on “Portraits of Motherhood [3]

  1. Hi Timi,

    All three potraits touched me deeply. I am intrigued by motherhood, I wonder how one is able to love another so fiercely, almost unconditionally.

    I look forward to it, I am curious about how well I’ll do, my own mother will be my yardstick and she’s absolutely wonderful.

    I saw a message recently, “Mom is simply Wow written upside down”. So apt!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know if this is altogether encouraging, but it is the single most effortless thing I do, but, at the same time, impossibly difficult. I highly recommend it! Haha! So glad to hear about a wonderful mom!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Loved reading about your son. You enabled me see him, recognize his struggle and celebrate him as he is, blessed with what is most important: love, joy, resiliency, and for survival in the world particularly- perseverance. My grand-daughter with Autism and my great-grandson who struggled with Dyslexia. Both graduated from high school this year. I have a post celebrating their journey: Ode to Those Who Climb the Mountain of Disabilities.

        I share your hopes and joy for your son.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for taking the time to read about him! I love sharing about him and hope that all people have someone like him in their lives. It is wonderful hearing of individuals who are do not fit the traditional educational mold succeeding! It gives me hope! I will make sure to check out your post. It sounds encouraging!

          Liked by 1 person

    2. “I wonder how one is able to love another so fiercely, almost unconditionally.” I wonder too …. a mother’s heart can be as big as Texas! Wow! 🙂
      Wishing you the very best on your journey.

      Like

  2. I almost missed this post! Beautiful, personal stories on what it is like to parent. The strength of these mothers shines through as is their commitment to advocate for their kids’ best interests. Drives home the point that mothers can be nurturing and fierce without one taking away from the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you didn’t 🙂
      I like the picture the words, nurturing and fierce, paint in my mind. I learnt that in mothering as well as in other areas of life, some persistence is definitely required.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Three different but powerful stories. I like warrior woman! My wife Peggy had to fight to get an academic position that her grades justified but politics denied her, and my daughters son is a bright young man who had to fight to overcome difficulties with reading. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know! I loved to read of Joxy’s tenacity! I know that my spirit to stand up for myself and my own children was passed down from my mother, and for a few generations before that. I hadn’t really considered it until I read that story. We truly do lead by example.

      Overcoming reading difficulties can be so frustrating, mountainous even. I love to hear about others who have fought and overcome as well! Reading is so incredibly important, more than most may realize. When it’s a struggle, it can easily become disdained. May we encourage each other!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We heard from our daughter yesterday, and our grandson was reading above average, after so many years of struggling with it. Our daughter is a teacher (a good one) and had poured hundreds if not thousands of hours into working with her son outside of the class room.

        There is nothing more fierce than a mother standing up for her children– for both humans and animals. I led wilderness trips for years through bear country. One of the things I always taught the people I was leading was to never get between a mother bear and her cub. 🙂 Curt

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m so glad to hear her persistence and his determination paid off, Curt.

          I like ‘warrior woman’ too. Many times I don’t feel like one. But love can bring out the ‘mama bear’ in me. 🙂

          Like

    1. He really is a sweetheart! I have told him on numerous occasions that his experiences will uniquely prepare him to help people as he grows. He has indicated that it doesn’t seem fair at the moment. I know that he will feel differently when he is passed this season of his life. Thanks for taking the time to read his story!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Timi, I love the last story, “A Heart of Gold.” It made me cry. If I could only get to a fraction of how this mother deals with her son’s special needs, then I’ll be very happy (coming from a mom who home schools her aspie and freaks out – then regrets it – way too much).
    Thanks for sharing.
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stacilys – Oh, I totally freak out and regret it, more than I’d like to admit. But, I’m big on apologies without excuses, so maybe that helps. Haha! I’m so glad his story touched you, I know that it amazes me every day!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s great Brina. I’m super big on apologies too. It seems like I’m apologizing a lot lately to my son. He is so gracious though, and full of forgiveness. Good thing.
        Oh yes, it was a beautiful story. When I see advancements in my little guy, I get so proud of him.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Check out the Blog: Autistic not Weird His blog is incredibly helpful.

      I have a granddaughter with Autism and a great-grandson with Dyslexia……Both graduated from high school this year. My post about their journey is “Ode to Those who Climb the Mountains of Disabilities.”

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It is hard to say what us right or wrong with society where we still need to emphasize our differences.
    I have 5 Caucasian grand babies and one who has a daddy with black father and white mother. Sadly people ask Micah if his tan father with kinky hair is a terrorist. He does appear eastern or Iraq or Iran like. Why ask a 6 year old? Makes me sad.

    Like

    1. From reading your blog Robin, I know your grandkids add colour to your life.

      Hmmm who asks your 6-year old grandkid if his father is a terrorist? Other 6-year olds, older kids, or adults?

      Like

  6. Reblogged this on Mélange and commented:
    Hi Again!

    I believe this is the final installment of my friend Timi’s Motherhood series on her blog livelytwist.
    It’s been so much fun reading all the stories. What I find even more fun is the way technology has compressed and bridged the gap of geographical inhibitions. For example Timi, Afi (one of the contributors from series 1) and I went to High School together but we haven’t set eyes on each other in yonks! Brina, (another contributor form series 3) and I attended church together here in Fresno CA and I love her. Joxy, contributor on #3 whom I know but have never met but I got acquainted with her when I heard about the magic she creates with Shea butter and desperately wished she would ship to California.

    I can see where Timi and Afi got connected but what a lovely coincidence to see Brina guest blogging on Timi’s page and Joxy too. I’m rambling now but what I want to say is I love this! A LOT!

    Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reblogging Elaine :). Blogging has a way of bringing people together, I find that if a person’s writing resonates with you, there is a high chance that you’d get on well in real life. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a few people via my writing, we’re like family now. The shea butter thing is in its infancy….Cali? One day, one day! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I love you and I loved your piece! Thank you for introducing me, however unofficially, to Timi! Proof that when we share things we love, the world grows a little smaller in the best of ways!

      Liked by 2 people

    3. I’ve been thinking about technology… social media has received a bad rap, and some of it is justified. But it’s wonderful for bridging distance, hearts, and hopes through the stories we share.

      I’ve so enjoyed reading your stories and the process of bringing your stories to this forum.
      “I’m rambling now but what I want to say is I love this! A LOT!” Roger that! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am not a mum (yet), but I am looking forward to becoming one soon and I have loved/am loving this series. Thank you Timi for having the idea, and thank you to all the contributors too!

    Like

    1. I’m really glad you are. There’s always the ‘danger’ of alienating certain readers with a series like this. But I hoped readers would look beyond the title, sample the stories, and be entertained or informed. Thanks Jill.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Brina, yes, Damon’s got this! XD
    I’m one of those people who stress the value of a good education. But schools don’t equip us with all we need to navigate life, like compassion for example, and a healthy self-image. Kudos to you and your husband for raising him to ‘get’ what’s important in life.

    I know a little about meetings with teachers regarding a child who won’t conform to the script written by the school. So, the annual meetings you have resonates with me. I like how you magnify the positives. One can easily get caught up in what’s not working.

    Thank you for sharing Damon’s heart of gold with us!

    Like

    1. Thank you for including my story. It’s been wonderful reading all of the contributions. Regardless of geographic location, women can always find commonality in the area of motherhood.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. I have two beautiful dual heritage granddaughters. Their mother is English and white. Their father is English of black Jamaican parents. I think they are learning the best of both black and white, and I love all four members of this family.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you. I do too. By an amazing co-incidence, son-in-law Errol’s Jamaican uncle was a friend of ours. He returned to his homeland before daughter Louisa had even met Errol. We had lost touch and asked Louisa if the new man she had met knew friend Frank. The rest is history

        Liked by 2 people

  10. “I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t ‘losing’ a part of who they are by being raised as ‘strong black African women’ whatever that entails….”

    The answer to this, I don’t know. But for now, they are being grounded in love and that is what matters. As the saying goes “Amor Vincit Omnia” (“love conquers all things”)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. After seeing that black mother stop her kid from rioting and adding to violence, I think all of us of any age, gender, race…….need to become more like that kind of strong black African Mother.

      Like

      1. Hi Eileen, thanks for your comment. As a African woman living in the UK and married to a white British man, My husband and I made a very conscious decision to ground our kids in one culture. It’s already very confusing for children who have two parents who look different. It is even more confusing for these children to learn two completely different cultures! (most of them feel they are not accepted by both sides).

        So we picked my African roots.

        Why?

        1) They will always been seen as black girls. Obama is mixed race but he is described as black.

        2) My Yoruba culture is what I know best. Some of it is what has shaped me into the woman I am today. And I consider myself a strong black woman.
        plus, I am doing well in life so, I am passing the part of my culture that has helped me to my daughters. The parts I don’t like (there are lots of them) I have thrown out.

        And my daughters are doing very well emotionally, physically and mentally. They are not losing out in anyway. I see great characters in them. So I am pleased with my work so far.

        Now, going back to the controversy caused by the coloured woman who stopped her child from rioting, In my opinion, that is not a cultural or race issue, it is what any mother who does not want lose a child would do.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. In the US with our current permissive society, I’m not sure how many mothers would or could stop their son. it may not be race related, but I think it is a culture related example. Our missionaries in Africa tell us that the Christians there pray for Americans because they think we have lost our souls. I fear they may be right.
          Perhaps that is my age speaking,but because I have a son teaching orphans born HIV positive in Cambodia and a grandson that has taught in Indonesia and Afghanistan, I do have hope for future generations of Americans. And I think that the internet is giving them a chance to connect across cultures and see beyond their own narrow lives.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hi Eileen, one would imagine that any mother’s protective instinct would rise to the fore in such instances though how it is expressed would differ.

            Yes, in general, in my native Nigeria, the culture is less permissive.

            The internet can help us emulate the best from other cultures, if we are willing 🙂

            Like

  11. Hi Joxy, I admire your determination. Okay, I’m ashamed to admit it, in your shoes, I might have given up! I may have been one of the people who said, “What’s the big deal?”
    Your statement, “It was a long and lonely fight,” is pregnant with meaning. But you’ve taught me a thing or two. I’m beginning to realize that sometime the ‘fight’ is about the bigger lesson we teach our kids. E1 and E2 know mum’s got their backs.

    How can one voice be heard? By not giving up! 🙂

    I hope E1 is enjoying or enjoyed her prefectship.

    Thanks for showing me the value of perseverance through your story. There are no limits to what we can achieve…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Timi, if it had been my fight, I might have given up to be honest. The fact that it was for her, and by default, her sisters, gave me the impetus to carry on. E1’s loving her role, her sisters are happy basking in her reflected ‘glory’, so it was worthwhile in the end. Once again, thank you for giving me, and others who mother, an outlet to share our stories 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Yvonne, grounding kids in love sounds like the best protection against any prejudice they may face. I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t ‘losing’ a part of who they are by being raised as ‘strong black African women’ whatever that entails….

    I am laughing at the picture in my head of the ‘determined’ lovemaking of a couple that very much wants to conceive. I hope you can both laugh now… XD

    Thanks for giving me a peek into your world, one that I’m not altogether acquainted with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Timi. See my response to Yvonne… 🙂

      I’m still not getting emails of your posts. I’ve signed up three times. Thanks for letting me know yourself.
      I loved all these.

      Once again I am so thankful I lived long enough to be connected to people from every race, gender, country, age, and religion. Your posts on Motherhood have opened doors to others’ very different life experiences and circumstances, to prove once more that we are in our deepest most important ways…..alike. Communicating our shared humanity can bridge all the chasms if we will just let it.

      Thanks for being a bridge for me across so many surface differences to connect on such a personal level. Bless you.

      Liked by 1 person

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