The boundless love a parent has for their child is matched only by their capacity to embarrass them.
After two prior abusive relationships, Sandra didn't know if she would ever find the love and happiness she longed for. She had been mentally abused for almost two years by the last man she had been engaged with, and the one prior to that was an eight year relationship with a man who had physically abused her more times than she could count.
Motherhood. When people say that word, what comes to mind? A woman, maybe yourself, holding a lovely baby in your arms, full of love and full of hope. You could even picture the future where the children or child is older, where you are all so happy together. Sitting on a picnic blanket having lunch under a beautifully lager tall tree, with luscious green leaves. Soaking in all the warm sunshine rays peaking through the clouds, the rays that happen to just sneak past the leaves. You could even see a little dispute between you and your partner, or even maybe between you and your child. Regardless, everything is full of love, hope, innocences and peace.
The week before the big day, my son, like most 10-year-olds, is super excited about Christmas. He began December with subtle questions about how many days there were before the day and had I begun to think about the decorations for our apartment. I guess seeing that I had not started like I mentioned I would pull out the infamous celebratory red, green, gold, and silver right after Thanksgiving, gave him pause.
One of the biggest things I have noticed: How much unwanted advice you get when you become a parent. Now I understand a lot of people will give you advice in about every single thing you will do in life, but there is nothing that annoys me more than when people try to tell me what I should do with my kid. Especially when they don't like what we are doing.
The barn stands alone in the field, forlorn, empty, waiting for the owl that lives in the loft. As if on cue, the owl screeches into the night. It reminds me of my father, clamoring for attention, flying off into the night, screeching to get the ladies to notice. And notice they did, when he was young, all the young Asian ladies noticed Rob. And he bragged about those nights, bragged to his young daughter.
Now, if you don't have a black mother or weren't raised by a black woman, this story may not resonate with you. In fact, for some of you "other" folks this story might leave you flabbergasted and feeling like this is your opportunity to stand on your soap box and judge. But, if you've personally had the "Black Mama Experience", well then this story will probably have you laughing out loud as you reminisce about something similar happening to you.
Blood is thicker than water- but the long version, where the people that created you just fooled around one night, and you come out of the water and into the world 9 months later. Where the people you choose to be around you, your blood brothers, those ride-or-die, better than family, loved ones in life are more important than where you came from.
All mothers are gifted with concealed claws and fangs upon entry into the profession. Accessories for an instinct hardwired into the job description so that with the force akin to a Mama Bear or Tiger, we can decisively rip any perceived threat to shreds that gets too close to the cubs.
The barn owl, native to California, runs an average wingspan of 16 inches. In ancient Greek mythology, it is said that Athene, Goddess of Wisdom, was so taken by the owl it became her favorite creature of flight. The owl became a protector of Greece. During war the bird soared alongside Greek armies and served as a muse to the people. If an Owl flew over Greek Soldiers before a battle, they took it as a sign of victory. I was ten or so the first time I saw my owl, my protector.
The waves rolled onto the rocky shore, more quietly than you might expect. They'd been doing it for so long they knew the way and didn't need to think twice. But they didn't sweep the shore sleepily - they had intention. This was their work as well as their nature and they wanted to do it well.
When I was a sophomore in high school I received a notice while in my biology class that there was a call for me at the front office and I should be ready to go home for the day. I grabbed my backpack, book and notebook and was ushered towards the office by some receptionist person that I had never seen before. I was getting sweaty walking the halls with this unknown woman, struggling to put my things away in my pack as we were walking. Part of me was excited to leave school, but another part of me felt like the reason I could be leaving might be serious so I was getting more anxious as we approached the office. Upon entering, I was instructed by the principal to pick up the phone on the counter. I picked up the phone and said hello, it was my mother letting me know she was going to pick me and my sister up to take us home and to be ready outside the school in 15 minutes. I hung up the phone and turned around and there was my sister, just as anxious as I was. She asked me what was going on, and I shrugged my shoulders and told her mom was coming to get us and we needed to meet her outside.
Today I am going to take you back to when I was about 15-16 years old give or take. I remember like it was yesterday. I love my mom, but, I would lying if I said there were times in my life, on multiple occasions where I felt less than loved. One would even argue that I was seemingly uncared for. The thing about familial relationships, especially those with our mothers, they tend to be complex. When you’re like me and understand people almost to a fault. You tend to not lay blame on them, and more so, turn the blame, guilt and shame on yourself. If you ask me what circumstances were leading up to this event in my life. I would not be able to tell you because there was no “moment”. There was not a single thing I did wrong to anger my mom as much as I did that day or need to go through that situation as young teenager. I remember we were talking in her room one moment, and another moment passed and it was like someone flipped a switch and my mom was gone. She was replaced by an angry, hateful women in front of me who seemingly was filled with rage. She made a comment and I responded, and I remember specifically that she lifted her hand to slap me, and I caught her wrist. I could feel the sensation of terror creeping up on me, realizing what I had just done. Defend myself, because in the Puerto Rican culture, god forbid you defend yourself from abuse. Let’s call it what it is, it’s not corporal punishment, it’s abusive behavior. After I caught her hand, any chance of my mom being in there had all but deminished by now. She kept at me and put both hands around my neck. She was now choking me and holding me against the wall. I was fucking terrified. I just started panicking thinking to myself “why the fuck didn’t you just let her slap you”. Her grip was tightening and I was choking. It started to really set in. Oh shit, my mom is choking me. I grabbed at her wrists until she let me go. I caught my breath for a second and ran to the phone. “If you fucking touch me again, I will call the cops on you for abuse”. My mom got this frightening look in her eyes like she might really hurt me, as though, hurting me might bring her some actual joy. She looked crazed, like she snapped. My stomach sank at her response “oh yeah you little bitch ? I’ll you a reason to call the cops. She kept at me again, we struggled against her bed because she was trying to pin me down, and, was just swiping at me and hitting me. I jumped on to the bed and grabbed her chair that was in front of her vanity. At this point I was fucking absolutely terrified. My mom had been long gone in this moment. Replaced by what I would later find out was likely the irrational, abusive behavior of a cocaine addict. Which, was not uncommon in my family, I was just a kid though, and, I didn’t know any better. I held the chair up to her, shaking, and yelling for my brother or sister. I was holding the chair with one hand with the legs facing towards her like a lion tamer trying to hold off a lion. I used the other hand to bang on the wall as hard as I could until my scared brother and sister ran across the street to get my grandparents. They showed up about 5 minutes later, which felt like an eternity. They escorted me out of the house, sobbing, and a mess. While I listened to my mom say awful things about me and how ungrateful I was. Me being an ungrateful little bitch, is a pattern in my family, you’ll learn more about that in another article. But for now, I wanted to share this experience because it is one that traumatized me, and stayed with me into adulthood. I can recall this as though it happened yesterday. I have had to examine a lot of not only friendships but familial relationships after having my daughter, because, it has triggered me into wondering what kind of parent I will be and want to be. Could I ever do those things to my own daughter ? Probably not. It also leads me to question, why, culturally this is acceptable behavior. Why is it that Puerto Rican parents are so suffocatingly controlling ? Why are you treated like an extension of them and not your own person ? So many questions and no real logical answers. The only thing I can do because I cannot change the past, is move forward and be a better parent, and, break the cycle. My daughter will NEVER know such pain, such guilt, such unresolved anger towards me. I will not put her through that, ever.