Not Like the Rest of Them

I had a conversation with my mother about Nana’s biological family.  I am uncomfortable that Nana’s mother has no idea where her child is.  She doesn’t know that her child been adopted, that she’s being loved, that she’s happy and thriving.

My mother’s response was something along the lines of, well, you don’t really know that she grieves for her, some people prefer to just forget.  Besides, if she wanted her daughter, she would have worked harder to get her back.

I don’t know much about Nana’s mother.  I just have scattered field reports from a social worker about the circumstances of the incident, her responses to questions, her absences to visits, and what looks like her reluctance to participate.  In sum total,  the information that I have about her might fit on two pages, front and back.  So I have a real hard time making her fit into the narrative that society has created about parents that have their children taken from them by CPS.

In all honesty, I was surprised by my mother’s response.  I had expected my mother to be empathetic, considering that her children, yep, my sister and I, spent time as wards of the state. At that point, to anyone looking from the outside in, she was just another poor, neglectful, uneducated and most likely, lazy ass bio-mom.  She too had to follow the rules, jump though the hoops and finish a program in order to get her children back.  Interestingly, she didn’t see herself in that narrative at all.  Perhaps because she had succeeded in getting her children back.

We talked a bit about her experience.  It was hard.  She had to divorce her husband. She was required to go to parenting classes.  She didn’t have any money but needed to get a lawyer. Of course, the lawyer required a down payments with no guarantee of success.  But it was her only option.  So she worked nights cleaning buildings on top of her day job in order to get money for the lawyer.  She said it was one of the most difficult times in her life.  In her mind, she sacrificed and worked hard for her children, so others should be able to do it.

Interesting how privilege works, even in the most challenging of times.  She didn’t see any privilege that she had in that situation.  To her she was a poor, black, single woman, just coming out of an abusive relationship, with no close friends or family.  No privilege in that.

So I broke it down:  You were educated and could understand the directions that were given to you and the steps you needed to follow. You had stable employment with a defined schedule so that you could attend meetings at night or schedule visits with a lawyer.  You had a car to get to classes and to a second job.  You were able to find a second job to earn additional money.  You owned the house so that you could make your abuser leave versus having to get enough money together and find another place to live that was appropriate enough to meet CPS standards. Your children were placed in the same city and state so you could visit them regularly.  You had insurance and access to mental health counseling should you have chosen to use it to deal with your situation.

By the end of my spiel, she was adding on things like how the social worker didn’t treat her badly because she could speak proper English, how she didn’t have to ride the bus at night and she could get to her parenting classes on time.  How she could come and pick us up or call us whenever she wanted. She never thought of these as privileges that helped her deal with the foster care system.

I have a feeling that I’ll be having many more of these types of conversations. Most people don’t understand why I’m interested in contacting Nana’s biological family. They already have a story written about parents with children in foster care, a negative one.  I have no idea how this story will end.  We haven’t started conversations with Nana about her being adopted, let alone decided if we even want to initiate contact with her biological family.  Stay tuned.

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This Actually Happened: Adoption Day

Our day started out with a photography session.  We were late because we didn’t anticipate parking issues and so we had to walk those long downtown blocks, me with heels.  Our session went long and then we were late to the courthouse.  We were stressed and rushing and out of sorts with ourselves, all because Mimi needed to have some pictures.  But we made it, talked to our lawyer, signed our papers and were sent back into the hallway to wait.

I was too stressed to focus on my feelings, mainly worrying about getting our clothes changed, and Nana’s hair fixed.  We were overdressed for the occasion, most people in the hallway had on very casual clothes, like jeans. It was noisy and chaotic with so many people waiting their turn.

At some point we were ushered into the courtroom and seated in the back to wait our turn. Our photographer was taking pictures of us randomly while we were waiting, often exclaiming, “this is so cool!” The word of the day was expedient because the judge was approving adoptions right and left, taking pictures and calling the next name in a matter of minutes.  I was distracted by Nana and my husband playing, but was trying to ear hustle and find out about the other situations.

In one case, a huge party of around 30 people came to witness the adoption. That was pretty cool. In another case, the judge asked one boy what did he call his adoptive parent and he said “Grandma.”  He asked him if he was going to change that and the boy was like, “Uhmm, no.”  It seemed a strange question from a judge who probably has seen his fair share of kinship adoptions.

Sometime during our wait, a teenage boy was brought in with handcuffs on his hands and feet. It was a crazy juxtaposition, families coming together while he was being sent away on his own. I wondered where his parents were.

When it was our turn, our name was called.  Wood, Nana and I shuffled to the front.  Our CPS worker and our agency worker stood at our sides.  The judge said something about reading our file and knowing what it took to get her.  I was like “huh?”  Then he asked if Nana was a Daddy’s girl, and I answered “yes” to Wood’s chagrin.  He asked if we were sure we wanted to adopt her and I answered “absolutely!”  It seemed like he was directing his questions only to me even though Wood was holding her.  After those few questions he was like, okay, let’s take a picture.  He let Nana pick out a stuffed animal, which she promptly named Peanut Butter and we took a picture.

It was over. There was no gavel banging, no decree, no dramatic presentation of us as a family.  We stood outside, talking a little bit with the adoption workers.  I could feel myself getting teary.  Everyone started to go out of focus and their conversations became background noise. The significance of the day was starting become more apparent.  The journey was over.  We were officially parents of this beautiful little girl.  We now all belong to each other for life.  I’m a mom.

I couldn’t hold it anymore.  I started sobbing and was immediately enveloped by our case workers. I was holding Nana and she started wiping my face and telling me not to cry.  I heard Wood tell her that Mommy was crying because I was happy.  And I was…I am.  Because we are now officially a family of three!

The Night Before: Thoughts on the Eve of Adoption Day

On the eve of Nana’s adoption and the formalization of our family, I’m reflecting on our future as a family.  I want so many good things for Nana but like any parent, I worry that I’ll be able to provide them for her.  Here are just a few thoughts that I had on the night before.

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I believe that God is the master planner.  If you’ve been following the blog, you know that this has been a journey from infertility to adoption.  And while we felt the wait was long between getting our license and Nana being placed with us, in reality, it wasn’t.  When we saw Nana’s profile, we kind of shrugged.  Who knew?  We had been in a couple of other RAS and weren’t selected.  It felt like the luck of the draw.  No point of getting excited.

But from the moment we met, we knew this was a good fit.  She wasn’t born to be our child, but since she was in need of parents, it seemed we were a perfect fit.  She is such a wonderful little girl, happy in spirit, loving and giving.  She giggles, dances, counts, sings and makes her mommy and daddy laugh every day.  She is curious and creative.  She hugs spontaneously and with abandon.  She is everything that we ever wanted in a child and more and I know that God was working that out for us.

I hope that one day in the near future we can communicate with Nana’s biological family in some way.  I think about her family quite a bit, much more than I would have anticipated.  I have no doubt that her mother grieves for her in her own way. I know her siblings wonder what happened to her.  It makes me feel uncomfortable that her family is completely out of touch with her and has no idea what is happening in her life.

My hope for Nana is that she grows up knowing her family and having some sort of relationship with them.  I want her to be able to ask questions about her medical history, to know some of their family customs, to feel comfortable with her mother and siblings.  My hope is that she never feels like she has to choose, but that she has a whole host of people that love her.

I’m blessed to see Wood as a father in action.  Ten years ago, when Wood and I were dating, we took a road trip to Chicago. We were happy and in love.  Our road trips were always good times filled with music, stories and laughs.  I happened to glance backwards into backseat and I saw a vision of two little kids, a girl and a boy, sitting in the backseat, playing with each other and giggling.  It was so real.  I remember feeling content with that version of my life because I knew in my heart even then, 10 years ago, that Wood would be an excellent father.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Wood grow from his initial hesitance with the entire process, to reluctant participant, to present, active, and full-time dad.  I appreciate that he has an understanding of who he wants to be as a husband and father and works towards that every day.  He is a true partner in all of the household and parenting duties, loving and nurturing with Nana, stern when he needs to be, but wholly forgiving afterwards. I’m so proud of him.

I pray that Nana and I have a good mother-daughter relationship. I realize that healthy relationships are often the result of seeing other positive relationships and in the absence of good role-models, history can repeat itself.  Since my mother and I had such a contentious relationships, and she was distant from her mother,  we have quite a bit of history to overcome.

Even now I see a distance forging between us.  Wood is the fun parent and Mommy is the stern one.  I accept that girl children are often drawn to their fathers but sometimes, her natural preference for him feels like a rejection of me.  I hope that I am able to overcome my own insecurities and create space where we can forge our own closeness.

I worry about how Nana may see her adoption when she gets older.  You can never know how an adopted person will view their reality, how it will affect their daily lives, their relationships with others or their ideas of family. It is my goal that Nana will always know that she is adopted – it will just be something that she knows, just like she knows she is right-handed. We will treat it as normal,

At the same time, I want to be a supportive parent, aware that she may have feelings that aren’t particularly grateful.  If and when she wants to forge closer relationships with her biological family, I pray that I provide an open heart and a listening ear.  I want her to feel able to explore her history while knowing that she always has a safe space with us.

All in all, I feel thankful to be here, ready to affirm to the judge and everyone that Wood and I are willing and able to be Nana’s parents – forever.

What I Won’t Miss

As we draw near to finalizing our adoption, I’m thinking of all the things that I won’t miss about the foster care system:

  • Written monthly reports: Each month we (read: I) detail her learning milestones, how she is getting along with us, at school, doctor’s appointments and their advice, and any issues.
  • Monthly shopping listing:  I’m required to detail everything we buy Nana – shoes, clothes, toys, coats, etc.  There is a tiny tinge of anxiety as I wonder if our listing look like we were taking good care of her.  Some months we didn’t buy too much.  *shrug*
  • Medicine Logs: Oh, how these are the bane of my existence!  A list of every time that you give your child medication and different logs for each medicine.  Can I just write it once and then write ditto down the page?
  • Caseworker visits: I actually didn’t mind these monthly visits.  The caseworkers from both my agency and CPS were so accommodating. They would often work with me and schedule their meetings on the same date and time.
  • Education requirements: I don’t mind learning but getting all those hours or education can be difficult.  While my agency participates in an education partnership with some other agencies, the number of sessions are still limited.  Some of the sessions don’t provide child care and some sessions go pretty late during the week.
  • Caregiver restrictions: The main reason why self-care lacks around these parts is because we cannot choose and hire our own babysitters.  Anyone that watches Nana (including  our family) needs to have FBI-fingerprint check, CPR certification and some other training required by our agency.   Respite providers don’t really live close to us AND we want to know who we would be letting our child spend time with.  So many hoops so we just stay home.
  • Name differences: Nana’s name and the name we call her are different so there is always this discrepancy that we have to explain to doctors, social workers, day care, etc.
  • Travel requests: we have gone on enough trips that Nana has her own frequent flyer number.  But each time we want to go we have to ask permission (which has not been a problem), wait for the paperwork and travel with it on our person.

When I really look at, this list is sooo short. Our process has been fairly simple and our caseworkers have been responsive, helpful and accommodating.  We have had no medical issues that require state intervention, no family visits, no additional therapists, no investigations.  All in all, we’ve been pretty blessed.  But I still can’t wait until it’s done.

What things won’t you miss about the foster care system?

Saying No

Today we got a call about a 12 year old boy.  I could hear the caseworkers emotion through the phone.

“Can you take him?”

I started to get anxious at the thought of taking in another child when I feel like I’m still getting used to mothering one.  But I listened.

She told me how this is his second adoption disruption but that he is just a young man that needs direction.  His current home was just so strict with handling him.  They were so focused on education that the only reward he got was alone time to read a book. He needed someone to be active with him, play basketball or video games.  This home was supposed be perfect because they had a 13-year-old son too, but it was their other child who had special needs that they were concerned about.  He was hoarding food, you know, just normal teenage stuff.  He was interested in sports but they had traveled twice to track meets without him.  They isolated him.   The last straw was that he opened a window and they felt they put their child in danger.    They had given their 30 day notice.

I listened to the story but what I heard was not the caseworker’s words but everything she didn’t say.  Like what type of behavior led to two families disrupting, did he have any history of sexual abuse, what was his story?  Why would an adoptive placement not take him on vacation?  What therapies was he in?  So many unanswered questions.

I asked her why she was considering us.  She said he needs someone like your husband in his life.  And honestly, she was reaching out wherever she could.  She didn’t want him to go to a shelter.  And my resolve started to dissipate, because I didn’t want him to go to a shelter either.  At least two families that had disrupted on him…how defeating for a child to feel like no one wants him.

But still – I reminded her that we were new parents of a two-year-old and this would be challenging for us.  She said, “yes, I know you have your prized possession already.”

Now you know I felt some kind of way about that.

I talked to Wood about it because I felt bad for this child.  A child whose behavior was most likely and outward expression of fear and loneliness.   Wood was more practical, citing real concerns about logistics, my workload, lack of support systems and a whole host of other concerns.

Who was I kidding?

Therapeutic fostering is hard.  And I just don’t feel equipped to give him what he needs without stronger support in place.  The best I can do is send a prayer for him, that he finds a family that has what he needs and can really incorporate him into their forever family.

 

Over my head

On Saturday, after experiencing all those emotions about finding Nana’s family on Facebook, we went back to life as usual.  We were planning to go to the circus after Nana woke up from her nap.  But that day, Nana woke up with an attitude.  She cried as she woke up (on her own), cried when she went to the potty, cried as I washed her up, cried as I combed her hair.  And not just a mew, mew, mew cry, but an out and out scream cry complete with repeatedly saying, ‘I want my Daddy!!”

And I just. couldn’t. take it.

She was inconsolable and acted like I was harming her…from the moment she woke up.  I have no idea what was wrong with her but she wasn’t having any of me.  She didn’t want hugs, kisses, touches.  She didn’t want me to talk to her.  She just screamed for her father.  I lost it.

I told Wood that the circus was off and to take her away.  She’s calling you over and over, obviously she doesn’t want me so just take her and leave.  I wanted her out of my face. I wanted them to leave.  I wanted my mother. I felt overwhelmed by the screaming and just flat-out REJECTED.

Wood, being the perfect husband and father, took Nana for a ride to Target. I took off my clothes and sunk into the bed.  Tears.

I called my mother and my mother-in-law just to get their stories of feeling like you had enough.  Neither one of them answered.

More tears.

The rest of the evening and the next day, I was a mess.  It became clear to me this weekend that I needed a self-care regimen.  I needed to make time for myself on a regular basis and to be honest, talking to a counselor wouldn’t hurt.  A two-year-old doing two-year-old things shouldn’t have made me take to my bed for the rest of the weekend.  I felt like a woman in a novel from the early 1900’s – “taken to her bed.”  Where they do that at?

When Nana wakes up from her nap on Sunday, it’s just mother and daughter in the house.  I’m wary about how this is going to go since she has been stuck to her father like glue all weekend.  I drag myself from my bed and go into her room.  She immediately says, “I need a hug.  I want a kiss.”  She’s especially touchy, sitting right next to Mommy, hooking her arm through mine in unnatural ways in order to stay close to me.  Clearly she feels the distance between us and wants her Mommy back.  I give her all the hugs and all the kisses because I need the distance to dissipate also.  We play and giggle and then go to do our favorite bonding activity.  Cooking – me with real food, her with Playdoh.  Wood returns to laughter and hugs and a home-cooked Sunday dinner of smothered pork chops, turnip greens and a salad.  All is well again between his girls so he’s good.

Except that it isn’t.  This is the second time that I’ve had one of these episodes and it scares me.  As the adult, I should be able to pull back my emotions and just deal with what was essentially a tantrum.  But instead, I pulled back and depended completely on Wood to handle everything.  I sometimes feel like maybe I am over my head with this motherhood thing.

Finding Family on Facebook

I try to keep it together but man…this weekend.  It seems that the weekends provide the time for my greatest mothering fails.

On Friday, the CPS caseworker and our agency worker stopped by for their monthly visit. Since we are getting close to adoption placement, the final stage before completing our adoption, the CPS worker has been doing some family tree work at my request.  She said that the whereabouts of Nana’s siblings were unknown. She even started storytelling, information that didn’t feel right or based on fact, about the mother and her other children.  Her statements seemed surprising to both me and my agency worker and seemed like a fairly easy things to confirm versus stating things not found in any official documents.

It continued to knaw at me so on a whim, I went on Facebook and found them – the siblings and some extended family. I’ve read on forums of other people find biological family members on Facebook after CPS makes it out like they can’t be found.  I wonder why CPS can’t find folks when a quick google search finds just about anyone that has a social media account.

I looked through their Facebook pages and surmised that were regular teenagers doing regular teenage things.  But then, scrolling through pictures, I found something that made my heard beat fast.  A smushy faced baby with a nose like Nana’s with the comment, “My B _you_Tee Ful lil Sistahh” My heart caught in my throat. What else?  Would they say something about her?   I scrolled a bit more and found a picture of Nana at a couple of months old.  I thought, oh my goodness.  My child looks like Audre Lorde in this picture.  Fascinating.

Even thought I was happy to see those pictures, finding them hurt my heart.  It was proof of what I already knew in my heart – her siblings loved her.  Her family loved her.    These pictures were posted when she was still with her family. She was loved and adored and I’m sure her siblings wonder from time to time what happened to her.  I wonder what was told to them about her disappearance from their life.  I wonder how her parents are dealing.  Have they just shut that part of them away to never discuss again.

So now that I know how to find them, I can never go back to not knowing. And this is the thing: as adoptive parents,we have the power to determine at least the initial trajectory of the relationship between Nana and her biological family. As we contemplate how to tell Nana about her adoption, we’ll also be asking ourselves if we have the courage to share her with other people who probably love her just as much.

NOTE:  This wasn’t my parenting fail and there is another part of this story

Redact this

I finally read (thoroughly skimmed through 649 pages) Nana’s redacted files.

In the adoption process, a consolidated file of all the paperwork related to the child’s case is provided to the prospective adoptive parents, with specific personal and identifying information removed to maintain privacy. The purpose of providing the files is to ensure that adoptive parents are aware of the history of the child, the full story of why they were taken into care and any documented medical or behavior issues. My file included medical reports, legal documents and every monthly CPS report.  Based on my review, it only seemed to remove information related to previous caregivers.  All of the information related to her family and other witnesses were there in black and white.  Too much black and white in my opinion.

A tenuous connection

These PDF files are our only connection to Nana’s early years.  We only know when she started walking, talking, when she started teething, how her personality developed through monthly paragraphs written by the CPS caseworker.  We don’t have a birth picture and very few pictures of her as a baby and early toddler.  While the number of pictures is probably comparable to what I have of myself at those ages, the loss somehow seems greater.

Reading between the lines

These files don’t tell the whole story.  There were phone calls that weren’t documented, emails sent, visits scheduled, meetings held. I’m trying to read in between the lines to figure out the story based on case notes.  There is so much missing.

Perhaps not having to deal with court appearances where no one is prepared, semi-hostile workers, a overwhelming roll of red tape and family visits allows me to be empathetic to the family. I wonder how much agency they had, how much support was given to her mother, how expediency played a part in decisions that were made considering this was a inter-state case. There are relatives mentioned as possible caretakers but no details on if/when/how they were eliminated. I’ve read stories about how fathers are not fully informed when rights are terminated and honestly this paperwork doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies.

One day she will read this

And she may question why decisions were made, why weren’t more questions asked, why it seems like her family didn’t want her. Seeing the the termination of parental rights paperwork and reading the court proceedings, signatures on legal documents and the final orders from the judge made me cry.  What if she asks me why?  What can I possibly tell her that will provide her some semblance of comfort or understanding.  By the time she is able to connect with them, this will all be black history, the details of what actually happened pushed to the edges of their memories, colored by time and the human impulse to paint one’s self in the best possible light.

I’m grateful

That I have the files because I they include the names of her biological parents, siblings and other family members.  I have a copy of her original birth certificate.  It’s more than many adoptees have and at least gives her a starting point should she ever want to search.

You know, I couldn’t write 649 pages of my life to this point if I wanted to, yet Nana has all of this for two and a half years.  I so wish it wasn’t needed.

Add some WOW to your life (and other random updates)

Nana is teething.  How do I know this?  Because she was feverish this weekend and kept saying, my  mouth, my mouth and complaining that the food was too hard.  Nana NEVER complains about food.  Seriously, she will eat every grain of rice on her plate if you don’t take it away fast enough. So if there is food left, there MUST be something wrong.

What is this two-year old teething thing that is happening and why didn’t I know that she was missing teeth?  I need to sign up for Babycenter or something because we are failing at knowing the milestones.  Apparently, in comparison to Jessamy’s genius baby,  she is behind in knowing her colors too.  Right now she always says her shirt is pink and everything else is blue.  Pray for her, God is not through with her yet.

We went on a date.  Whenever Nana makes a mess, like smashing banana into her face or dropping rice on the floor, even though she has a personal placemat, a bib, a booster seat and a mouth, but whatevs, maybe the food is falling through the gaping hole in her mouth where her teeth should be.  Anyway, when she makes a mess, she will point at it and say very matter-of-factly, “Mess.”  To which we answer, “Yes, it’s a mess, sweetie.  But it’s okay.  Let’s clean it/you/the entire living room up.”  We are very nice and patient parents.

This weekend, Wood and I had the opportunity to go out for the first time in THREE MONTHS.  So I put on a frilly dress and attempted to beautify myself.  Nana helped me to apply my makeup by following me around the bathroom and saying, “I want some.  I want some,” repeatedly until I thought my head would explode.  Instead, I grabbed the chapstick, applied it delicately to her lips, told her to smack them together and to run and show Daddy.  Sigh.  Finally, I can put my Maybelline BB Creme on in peace.  I’m so fancy.

I applied some eye shadow, which I never do because I have to watch a Youtube video every time and my eyelids still end up looking lopsided, probably because I have to keep stopping to rewind the video which kind of messes up the flow.  Well, I totally rocked it without the help of  Youtube, added some mascara and was kissy-facing in the mirror in my selfie pose, pretty proud of myself.  Until Nana came into the bathroom, pointed at my face and said very matter-of-factly, “Mess.”  To which I replied, “Hmph, what do you know?  You don’t even know your colors, girl.”  We are very nice and patient parents.

She kind of had me shook though.  I asked Wood if he thought I looked like mess.  He said no, just like a good husband should.  I’m not even sure that he knew that I had on eye shadow. *shrug*

Did I mention that Wood and I had a date for the first time in THREE MONTHS.  After three months, I could have been wearing jogging pants and a ratty t-shirt and I still would have looked GOOD.  I was cute though.  I even wore Spanx to make it an official date.  We ate food and danced a jig.  Then we yawned, excused ourself early because, you know, kids *rolls eyes and shakes head to indicate life is so hard while restraining ourselves from running out the door*, picked up Nana, and went home.  We did stop and get snacks from Buc-ees.  Fresh beef jerky, hot cheetos and sunflower seeds.  A perfect end to a perfect night.  We are so middle-aged (and hood). When did that happen?

We received Nana’s redacted records.  Woohoo!  We are so excited about it that the disk is still sitting in its envelope untouched.  Education: before you can move to adoption placement, you have the opportunity to read every piece of paper filed related to your child’s case, but names of people, address, places that are not relevant, not directly related or provide too much information about the biological family and previous caretakers are redacted, or removed.

We are so not looking forward to reading any of this.  Who wants to sit with a big ball of burning anger  in their chest right before a holiday weekend?  We do!  Woo-sah.  So yeah, in the folder it shall sit.

We recorded a podcast.  Yes, AdoptiveBlackMom (ABM) and I did!  If you haven’t heard it, you need to listen to all of our goodness. It’s called Add Water and Stir because you know how when you make instant oatmeal you just add water and you have a meal, but with adoptive families you add a child or maybe you add the parent(s), who knows, it’s a metaphor because nobody is actually adding water or stirring, we are human beings, duh, but we make an instant family just like instant oatmeal, or something like that.  Of course ABM will word it very nicely and make it pretty and I will just copy and paste it on my blog, but until then you can:

a.  Check out the Youtube video:

b.  Listen to us right now:

c.  Go to our podcast blog where you can listen to the podcast AND check the show notes: http://addwaterandstir.libsyn.com/

This is the inaugural episode of Add Water and Stir, a new podcast devoted to exploring adoption in communities of color.  Hosts AdoptiveBlackMom (ABM) and ComplicatedMelodi (Mimi) share how they came to be adoptive parents, and they delve into how their adoption stories differ from the mainstream adoption conversation.  Show highlights include receiving the child’s disclosure records, “passing” in same race adoptive families and the shade associated with parenting children of trauma.  (NOTE:  See how pretty this is?  It was written by ABM).

If you’ve read to the bottom of this blog, you obviously have some time on your hands so go ahead, listen right now and add some WOW to your life.

Better than Beyonce

blueivy

A few weekends ago, the family spent a lazy Saturday inside.  Nana played around the house in her pajamas, hair uncombed, happy and free.  Around 4PM, we decided to make a run to the Wal-Mart.  I threw on some leggings and shirt.  Wood threw on a t-shirt and jeans.  I didn’t really feel like getting out the lotions and potions, barrettes and bobbles to do Nana’s hair so I brushed her hair and threw it into a bushy ponytail on the top of her head.  The ponytail was tangled, hair was falling out of the sides, it needed some moisture – basically a total hair failure.

I mean, we were just running to the store for a few things so that we could continue our lolly-gagging.  Plus I was planning to wash it later that evening.  Why go through all of that only to take it down in a couple of hours?  All of that includes getting her to sit still (no easy feat), moisturizing, parting, combing, brushing, banding, twisting or braiding, barrettes, ribbons, and what not.

Well, a week or so ago, pictures surfaced of Blue Ivy – Beyonce and Jay-Z’s child with her hair looking out of order.  So much so that someone took it upon themselves to create change.org petition calling for Beyonce to comb her child’s hair.  Yes, really.  I know.  Bonkers.

So here’s my take to add to the fifty-leven think pieces on the subject.  There has been quite a bit of churn on the interwebs with many saying that Blue Ivy’s hair looked fine, natural hair looks different and yadda yadda yadda.  But from my perspective, Blue Ivy’s hair (on that day) was tangled, matted and in need of some moisture and attention.  Basically it looked like a toddler’s hair after she got a good sleep and then was allowed to run around happy and free. Which is probably what happened.

And since they were getting off a plane and in transit to another destination, Beyonce, like me and like other mothers who’ve considered straightening combs when an afro is enuf, made a quick calculation – wrestle this child’s hair into compliance for public consumption or keep it moving.

Now the difference is that I only had to deal with Wood continually smoothing Nana’s hair and mumbling under his breath about Mommy not doing anything to the baby’s head and perhaps a few swift side-eyes from other shoppers.   Beyonce had to deal with the whole entire world watching, commenting, and petitioning about a decision that she probably didn’t put that much thought into.

We are sooo hard on parents and perhaps mothers in particular.  Every day, mothers are checking faces, combing hair, straightening clothes (hipster chic), cooking organic meals and well-balanced snacks, organizing extraordinary play dates, volunteering for PTA, attending every game/recital, crafting etsy-like stuff and posting on pinterest, giving choices, moderating tantrums, nurturing, loving, giving, and all while we are dancing backwards in heels.  The worst part of this is that even while we complain about trying to measure up to impossible standards, we are still appraising other mothers, checking off where they fall short, smug in knowing that we are better.

Perhaps Blue Ivy’s hair is just one way folks could feel like at better than Beyonce in at least one thing – motherhood.