I came across an Instagram post yesterday by a beautiful Black woman, with a crying child sitting next to her, that talked about the very real reality of an unplanned pregnancy. It happens, ALL THE TIME. Anyway, I did something I almost never do on posts like these… yep, you guessed it, I read the comments.
One comment stood out:
Sorry not sorry Bryson, but you are an asshole! And this right here is a lesson to the likes of you:
1. NO WOMAN IN HISTORY… in HISTORY… was really ready to be a MOTHER!
Lemme say it once more time… NO WOMAN IN HISTORY was really ready to be a MOTHER.
Even those of us who dreamed of our lives with a family, a dog, and a white picket fence. Even those of us who loved on our Cabbage Patch Dolls and changed our Baby Alive with tenderness, like she was real. Even those of us who doodled the names we wanted to scar our children with. Even those of us who held our baby sisters, brothers, cousins, whatever… and even those of us whose parents used us as stand in parents for our siblings (another topic for another day)… whether you pushed the baby through that tiny canal, were split open from here to there, and even if you signed the adoption papers. Let me tell you what is real, there is no preparation for it. After you have had one or two, sure, you have a much better idea of the reality of motherhood. But with your first child, no matter if the child was planned or unplanned, ready is not a word I would EVER use to describe that mother.
I was certainly not ready. I thought on several days that I’d be happy if he made it out of infanthood alive and with all his limbs. I remember him falling off the bed, and thinking for sure I was going to jail because his little skull was crushed, panicking as I looked over the edge, to see him smiling and showing that one little tooth. I picked him up and made sure everything worked, and he just went on telling me about his day in baby talk. I forgot once that I had him in a sling, and caught the grocery store door with my hip… really his head. Again, he was there cooing and smiling. I was sure he was going to be learning disabled because of my frequent mishaps. It’s amazing he’s as smart as he is. And as much of a joy as he was, and really a great baby in retrospect, at that time, I was overwhelmed. I think he was about 2 when I finally felt like I had things under control, and even that readiness did not last. I was unprepared for 8, when he started to be a whiner and each and every single day, I realized the many more decibels my voice could go. I am currently unprepared for teenage-hood… and I am stuck right at the beginning. He mumbles when he talks to me yet yells about everything else, in fact everyone is always yelling. He’s still too attached to bodily noises yet not attached enough to a shower. I’m still concerned he’s gonna be brain dead, but now from Fornite, as he’s too big for me to drop at this point… shit, I am still not ready.
BUT as unready as I am, I am there. EVERYDAY. Every single day. And based on that, I am free to say whatever is true about my experience. If no one has taken up residence in your body for 3/4ths a year, your boobs have never leaked, your nipples haven’t been gnawed raw, your tummy is forever striped, peas and carrots stains can be found on all your favorite blouses, and your name hasn’t been replaced by what eventually becomes an annoying ass two syllable words (Mama, mommy, etc)… don’t let patriarchy get you embarrassed.
2. When the OPEN sign lights up, there is no short of folks tryna get in!
When a woman’s legs open, chances are there is someone positioning himself to take up residence. And that someone is JUST AS responsible for any life that is conceived as the person who has to carry that life. The misconception is that it is the woman who is primarily responsible. Wrong! We are often forced to take on the primary responsibility… but that in no way relegates us to a life of parental servitude and fathers to a life of judging our actions, especially when they don’t know a thing about projectile poop, the stench of 10 year old socks, or the multitude of eye rolls a 12 year old girl can launch at you at one day. While I signed up for servanthood, servitude is an entirely different matter, one in which I am completely uninterested.
The other misconception is that being a MOTHER is in some way more important than being a WOMAN. WRONG AGAIN. One does not give up her womanhood to be anyone’s mother. A mother is both a caregiver and one in need of care. A lover and a person in need of love. She gives as a mother but also needs to be given to as a woman. We are both. And while perhaps in the Gilead of your mind, Ofbryson opens her legs to you on call to bear your children… no woman under His eye who has read that garbage, with prints, florals, or colors other than red in her closet, will be opening her legs to you anytime soon! (I love a The Handmaid’s Tale reference… can you tell?)
Patriarchy is built upon male insecurity, and misogyny is built upon male sexual/emotional insecurity. Anything that speaks up for women and their sexual/emotional health is considered a battle threat to insecure men… and their only weapons are name-calling, belittling, oppression, and toxicity. But we shall not be pushed into silent depression because you are too weak to support us. Speak up and tell your stories ladies… it is amazing the support and camaraderie you can feel simply from being in a number of other women who share your story. And the men who are about something will listen and support you as well.
3. Motherhood is…
it’s an ever evolving set of monolithic hurdles that you seem to get over sometimes in perfect form and other times by falling, on your face. It’s a relationship, a reality, a vocation, a spiritual journey, and a lifestyle. It tends to get a bit easier with time, but it isn’t just new mothers who feel unprepared, lost, confused, and like running away. I need a solid two days of alone time per month to do whatever I want, quietly, and child-free. I won’t apologize for it, and I’m going to ask for it. 48 hours out of 720 is not too much to ask. But there are people who think that as a mother my entire life and every single second of it, should be 100% dedicated to my child. I say NO! No one would ever make that comment or demand on his father. Mothers are women, with needs, wants, desires, and dreams beyond motherhood, first and foremost. We are also the bearers of life… and we give ourselves over to bring life into the world. Motherhood is not just this thing that women do… it’s a commitment of body, heart, mind, spirit, money, time, energy, and love that is complicated and fantastic and stressful. But it’s our experience and our commitment. We shall not be silenced.
So Bryson, keep your mouth closed until you are ready to be a man!
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