Today's post is inspired by the recently written posts on motherhood by Blackgirlinmaine and Raw Dog Buffalo. I have been wanting to write a post on motherhood and how I was mothered in, what I call, triplicate.
My childhood rearing was a group effort. I was jointly raised by my mother, grandmother, and aunts (and uncles) on both sides of my family. My mother's side was more intense because I lived with her, however when I visited my father his mother and sister took up where my mother and her folks left off. My childhood rearing also included a few guest appearance by the villagers, you know the ones it takes to raise a child, telling me to sit up straight, stop chewing gum in church, and making phone calls to members of The Triplicate when I was spotted engaging in shady behavior.
My grandmother's network of villagers was so extensive she had me shook by the time I was 5 or 6. I would not and did not do many things because I was afraid of the report ( I was pretty sure there would be one) of me doing something shady would beat me home, like the time I almost got run over by my neighbor, Mrs Boots (big ups to Mrs. Boots a kind, widowed, elderly, white woman who often entertained the madness of a 5 year old who was always trying to sell her some kind of silly wares to make money. You know like knocking on her door and asking her did she want to buy the page from my jumbo coloring book that I had colored as if it was a lost Monet! or hanging around her garden as she picked tomatoes or going into her backyard, uninvited, to pick up the pecans that had fallen of my grandparent's pecan tree.
Before my shaken to the core soul stepped foot into my grandmother's house to gain some composure from my NDE, my grandmother already knew I was illegally riding my big wheel in the street, not following the rules for being extra cautious when riding near cars and driveways on the sidewalk (which I was NOWHERE NEAR- yep I was all up in the streets like I had a motor), and that I had come literally with in an inch of being a photo in the forgotten loved ones slide show at my family reunion (we really don't have a slide show, but literary license people). The fact that she knew all that in the span it took for me to thank God for my safety and deciding to run one door down and around the corner to the back door, and then run one house down around the corner to and through the back door, had me shook. It became apparent to me that my grandmother had eyes and ears EVERYWHERE and I was not smart enough to detect when those spies where amongst me. Man Mrs. Boots betrayed me, I mean we had PB&J together I thought she was my dawg... why'd she have to do me like that and rat me out to the ring leader of The Triplicate, of all people.
Anyway much of who I am has to do with the things that were imparted into me by that triplicate. Even those things that I at first didn't want to do, but later realized, usually after phucking up a few times doing it my own hard headed way, were the right things to do or ways to live. The triplicate imparted within me the knowledge and hard headed lessons of many women and not just one. And I think that really helped me in who I am today. You know the manners and the attitude. The think I can do anything attitude, the lack of fear, well exccept the true fear of my grandmother. It took me years to shake that and I still have a few cousins who haven't shaken that fear.
Raw Dog's post was about the deterioration of co-raising, especially of our young girls, in the black community. It is true you don't see the Ma'Deas and Big Momma as commonly as you once did. I actually think it has all but dissipated in the north exccept in the communities of black immigrants who venture over here to start a better lives, but still keep their culture of communal raising alive. We have somehow assimilated ourselves to a new style of raising our kids absent of our mothers input. The abandonment is the antithesis of our culture, roots, and origins, where children were often raised communally. Now don't get me wrong I am not advocating meddling, however I do think healthy co-parenting from someone who has manage to make it through parenthood and raise you to be a overly cautious parent you are today, could have some good advice every now and again. It seems we are too busy and too independent to listen to the advice of elders who have been through "it" already.
Too busy to get hugs and words of encouragement that say you will survive, might not seem like it now but you are not a weirdo or bad mother but just going through and you will make it through. I made it through, survival is in you. Or baby maybe you should talk to someone about how you are feeling (the blackequivalent of seek some type of mental council which is usually a pastor or elder member of the village, you know how the black community feels about traditional mental health care -AB4AD) I wish we could somewhat return back to the time of co-parenting and our children having their own triplicate and being contributing members of a a triplicate and/or village raising a child.
Blackgirlinmaine's post was more about how we have seemed to move from letting childhood be childhood and more towards it being an experiment in creating super adults who speak four languages, went to the best colleges, and have earning potentials as high as the current deficit (Yes, that was a pot shot). When I read her post, I immediately reflected back to my childhood. My mom was never a homeroom mom, she never signed up to go on field trips or to bring cookies to the Valentine's Day party. By today's standards she would have been considering lacking by many and a bad mother by a few. Her help with homework wasn't needed because by the time she got home I had already finished my homework, chores, played, and bathe for the night, under supervision of one of The Triplicate members.
You see, my mom was a single mother so she didn't have the luxury to school me extra or pay for summer math, basketball, and science camps or spend time just loving on me. She loved on me by providing for me as if I had two parents. As a child of a single mother I didn't want for any of my needs and sometimes was indulged in my wants. Blackgirlinmaine had a point there is something to be said about just letting your kid be a kid, instead of forcing them into adult worries and struggles about always succeeding, winning, being better than. I think there has to be a happy middle ground. And I pray if I ever become a parent I will find a mix between discipline and pure unadulterated childishness, after all such childish behavior is only acceptable from children. I'd hate to have my child miss out on being a child.
I also hope if I ever become a mother, I won't even go into the fear of failing as a parent psychosis I have, that I will also be able to employee the service of my own triplicate and village. I have to tell you I most certainly LOVE that I was brought up by a triplicate that raised me somewhere in the middle.
The main picture is of me and 2/3rds of my triplicate, Mom OG, and GG (the real orignal!!). GG is short for great grandmother, it has now replaced her previous monikers of Grandmother Rachel, Granny Rachel, and Granny. Yes, I called my grandmother Grandmother Rachel for many years! Don't laugh at the juxtaposition of my country azz using the most proper term for her grandmother there is. Blame my aunt, she taught me to say it as a kid. Sure, I was also the only grandchild of the 14 that called her Grandmother Rachel, before she went all Prince on us and changed her name to GG. After all, I was the first grandchild I got to do what I wanted (or what others coaxed me to do!). Coaxed I love that word too.
The other is my one of the many variations of the triplicate/villagers in my family, my lil' cousin mothers. They are second cousins, my grandfather and their grandmother were brother and sister. Extended family it is one of the few residues of slavery that we have that was somewhat positive and a cultural tradition that survived despite slavery.
Long live The Triplicate and the villagers!