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Mama’s Writing | Celeste C. Smith

 

Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.


Are there days when you feel like a mother who writes, and others when you feel like a writer who is a mother?

No. I would have to say, I always feel like a mother who writes. For me, my writing has never taken first place or even shared first place. My life’s work, for the last 20+ years, has been in service to supporting artists who are artists first. Whether through communicated encouragement or financial support, my work has always centered on showing folks they can.  Funny how sometimes you don’t see it so clearly for yourself. But when I do, I like to imagine living in a beach house adjacent to the Atlantic, writing in balmy 87 degree weather exorcising this novel out of me. I am patient and believe that the time for me to write full-time is coming and it will be abundantly clear. 

What three words describe you as a mother?

Mindful, apologetic, and open.

What fictional mother gets on your nerves?

Kate McAllister [from the movie Home Alone]. Not that she should have to face the brunt of leaving her child home alone all by herself…the Dad can definitely catch these hands too…but the question was about moms.

What are three words your kid(s) would use to describe you?

Empathetic. Black. Kind. 

What’s the worst motherhood advice you’ve ever gotten?

I was once told that mothers raise the boys until seven and then it’s the fathers turn. This is patriarchal bullshit. If both parents are available, willing, and able, both parents should raise the children the entire time. Functioning under this ideology put a lot of undue stress and responsibility on the mother. If a mom doesn’t have a partner, she still needs the entire tribe from the get go.  

Knowing that your children will read your work at some point, how does that impact your candor when writing?

It doesn’t. I am very candid with my children. I don’t write, say, or do anything that I wouldn’t want them to know about, because it’s all going to come out anyway. If I write something that I think would embarrass or be misunderstood by them, I talk to them about it. My oldest is 20, so if he runs across something, he will ask.

What makes you a bad-ass mother?

I don’t think I’m a bad-ass mother. I think I try just like all the other mothers. I admit my mistakes and try to let my children choose their own paths. I think, if anything, my acute understanding that you can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do has shaped the type of mom I am. I remember trying to get our youngest child to go to sleep and he was so damn stubborn.  He wouldn’t go to sleep until he was ready. My daughter is queer, though she was raised Muslim. My oldest has always found ways to do exactly what he wanted to do, supported or not. So, my practice is to support them. To give them the best advice we can. Be here for them in the way you would have wanted your parents to be. 


Photo credit: sarah huny young

Celeste C. Smith is senior program officer for Arts and Culture for The Pittsburgh Foundation where she is working to advance racial justice, center the voices of people and communities most impacted by racism, and respond to critical community issues. She is a national 2018 SXSW Community Service Award honoree with deep experience as a non-profit and community leader, arts administrator, individual artist, and activist. She is the co-founder and prior chief executive officer of 1Hood Media whose mission is to build liberated communities through art, education, and social justice. She is also the manager of Pittsburgh-based hip hop artist Jasiri X. Celeste is a graduate of Chatham University and has served on the Transformative Arts Process Advisory Board at The Heinz Endowments, the Pittsburgh Symphony Community Advisory Council, and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Equity in Arts Funding Research Committee, and was appointed to the national Grantmakers in the Arts’ Support for Individual Artists Committee and to the Americans for the Arts Arts Education Network Advisory Council. She is a frequent invited panelist and presenter at local and national events and conferences. Celeste continues to produce her own artistic works, most recently appearing in the literary anthology, Tender: a literary anthology and book of spells: evidence.

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Walking Into Uncertainty After Stillbirth

I never knew I wanted to become a mom. In my worldview, I thought it was just the natural progression of becoming a woman. It was modeled for me. Go to school, get a good education, graduate, find a good paying job, find a spouse (or let him find you— “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” Proverbs 18: 22 NKJV), get married, and have a baby. I followed this trajectory for my life almost to a tee. 

My husband and I didn’t rush to get pregnant. Although the first question people ask as soon as you jump the broom is, “When will you start having children,” we didn’t let the external pressure get to us. We dated long-distance the entire four years of our courtship and didn’t live in the same state, let alone the same city or home, until after we said our “I Dos.” There was no rush to expand our family right away because we wanted to enjoy one another’s company to the fullest as newlyweds. After three years of wedded bliss, we finally decided it was time to start growing our family. To our surprise it happened fairly quickly.

The first time I saw my son’s heart flicker on the monitor, and heard the steady soothing sound of his heart pumping at my 7-week gestational appointment, was when I fell in love. This tiny little being growing in my womb had captured my heart and would not let go. The weeks flew by without a hitch. That is until we reached week 28—a week I will never forget. I went into my doctor’s office on Friday, January 15, 2016. The waiting room was bustling with pregnant mamas with various sized baby bumps, waddling around with anticipation. I remember arriving at the office and being asked to drink the sugary solution to test if I had developed gestational diabetes while expecting. 

While I waited for testing, as the sugary drink was flowing through my body, the sonographer called my husband and I back to the ultrasound room. I remember being extremely excited to see my munchkin on the screen for the first time since 8-weeks prior at our gender revealing ultrasound. 

The sonographer laid me back on the reclined table, placed the cold gel on my tummy, turned on the ultrasound machine, and began the anatomy scan of my son. The room was dark, illuminated only by the light from the ultrasound screen. I recall the ultrasound tech, with her thick Georgia-southern accent saying very early in the scan that my son didn’t have a lot of fluid around him. As a first-time mom I had no clue what that meant for the health of my baby, but I figured it was something I could improve with the help of my medical team. I didn’t know that tiny indicator, of not having a lot of fluid, would be the small snowball that accelerated downhill, causing an avalanche of heartache. As the sonographer continued my scan, she again mentioned my fluid levels and excused herself as she announced she wanted the doctor to take a look at me. 

At that very moment, I knew something was wrong. But because of my inexperience as a first-time mom, I didn’t put much stock into her declaration that my son no longer had a lot of fluid surrounding him. The next time the ultrasound technician came into the room, she quietly cleaned off the gel on my belly, pulled my shirt back down and asked my husband and I to follow her across the hall where two doctors awaited our arrival. The following nine words that ensued folded me like a table: “We’re sorry, your son no longer has a heartbeat.” In that very instant, my world came crashing down. I let out a piercing scream from the pit of my soul. The doctors excused themselves and alerted us that they would give us a few minutes to process the bombshell they had just dropped in our laps.

After the doctors reentered the room, they told us our next steps. We decided to go home for the night to mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare for our impossible task of delivering my son who had succumbed in my womb—the very place that was supposed to be his shelter and protection. The doctors scheduled us to check into the hospital for induction the following day, Saturday, January 16, 2016. The drive over to the hospital was somber. I remember riding in silence as gospel music softly played in the background. When we got to the hospital and the receptionist asked me to fill out the intake forms, I wept. I could barely see the forms as tears welled up in my eyes. 

I had been tasked to do the impossible. The uncertainty about how I would deliver a dead baby, how he would look, how I would react once I saw him, plagued my mind. But I knew the task I was sent to do, and I was equipped with a prayer asking God to give me strength and peace to carry out the assignment of birthing my precious angel. 

I labored for three days. At 5:48 a.m. on January 18, 2016, my little prince was born on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He was born into silence but his presence spoke volumes. He was tiny in frame, but the love I felt for him filled the room. The moment the nurses placed him into my arms, the room stood still. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, even though his eyes were closed, his body was limp, and he made no sound. It may seem weird or even crazy to want to interact with a baby that died. You’re literally staring death in the face. But that moment taught me death is inevitable and it is not as scary as we make it out to be. My son was everything I needed in that moment. 

To this day my husband and I are unclear about how much time we actually spent with our son. But what I do know is that the time we spent as a trio was extremely special, even priceless. We took pictures, had his fingerprints and footprints taken, talked to him, examined every inch of his 1.5 pound body, took in his scent, and more. As his lifeless body began to grow cold and stiff, we knew we were on borrowed time. We prayed for our precious baby and dedicated him back up to God, then called our nurse to come retrieve him. As she wheeled his body out and we said our final goodbyes, I cried. 

I again faced uncertainty as I was asked to leave the hospital empty-handed and broken hearted a few short hours later. I couldn’t believe that I had to leave my baby behind. I was completely devastated. I didn’t know where this journey would lead me. But here I am today, five years later—still here, still standing.

I promise you as you travel down the road of uncertainty that your journey may lead you to detours of anger, jealousy, envy, heartbreak, numbness and more,  but in spite of all this, you will keep going. Not because it is easy, or that you know what is in store for you in the future, but because you hold within you a fountain of resiliency steeped in your DNA by your ancestors who endured the unthinkable. Even when you feel like you won’t be able to take another step or face another day, YOU WILL. Because you are a warrior. As you take a step each day and begin to move forward, you will one day turn around and marvel at how far you’ve come. Healing is a muscle. The more you exercise sitting in grief, confronting it head on, and experiencing the emotions that arise with it, the more it begins to shrink; you find yourself moving one step closer toward breakthrough. One day your loss and grief will not consume your mind as it once did. It will be the white noise in your consciousness. But that doesn’t mean you can’t remember your angel baby in their absence or parent them in a way that honors their life and legacy. 

This journey is one of great uncertainty, but you can come out victorious as long as you never give up and continue fighting each day for a sliver of hope.


Illustration by Cassandra Orion

Promises for You is a column that gives voice and space to those who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, and child loss at any age. We need open conversations on a continuous basis to dispel shame, give room to grief, and nurture understanding.

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Mama’s Writing | Medina Jackson

Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.


What surprised you about motherhood? 

I’m not sure if anything surprised me but the life adjustment was huge. Knowing that my son was going to nap for two hours and having to decide if I was going to cook, clean, sleep, do some work, sit and stare off into the distance, etc. Looking back, I would have always chosen sleep!

Who are your writer-mama heroes? 

Writing comes from a very personal place for me.  My writer-mama hero would be my mother, Shirley Jackson. Getting to know her woman to woman over the years, when I asked her what she wanted to be, she told me she always wanted to be a good mother and to give her children the affection and emotional support she didn’t receive as a child. She broke that generational pattern and is my #1 example for mothering.  

My mother doesn’t consider herself to be a formal writer, but she, to this day, writes handwritten notes and letters. When she has to speak and address a crowd, even if it’s a group of friends, she’ll write it out, and she takes pride in her writing and thoughtful, care-filled communication. Her beautiful cursive handwriting is a visceral connection to her for me everytime I receive a care package in the mail from her.

What’s your least favorite thing about being a mother? 

My least favorite thing was losing myself for a while. I stopped writing, I stopped engaging my creative side and dove deep into the juggling act of being a working mother. It took me five years to start coming back to myself and my own identity as a sovereign being with wants, needs, desires and the belief in myself that I could pursue and fulfill them. That’s still a work in progress but I’m a lot further along. One step at a time.  

I’d also say now, having an adolescent Black boy and all of the fears that come with that, and balancing having an awareness of but not leading my parenting with those fears, is a fairly consistent source of tension. The work I do around positive racial identity has helped me with this, but it’s still not easy.

What are three words your kid(s) would use to describe you? 

I think he would say loving, tough at times, and talented

How does engaging with your children creatively influence your own creative process?

When I engage my son in play (games, imaginative, etc), it takes me back to my own childhood when the stakes didn’t feel so high, freedom, laughter, joy, and the possibilities of doing and being anything, which fortifies my “why not” in life and as a creator. When we freestyle together in the car, it’s fun; we laugh and it’s a moment of connection.  My son has come to two of my performances, and it was wonderful having him there, because it allowed him to see me outside of what I can do for him as his mother, and he could appreciate me as a talented, creative person who is also his mother. His support made me feel a lot of joy and validation, which gives me more “umph” to keep going, as I see fit. I also wanted him to see me pursuing my goals and dreams so that he not only has my words and encouragement to do it for himself, but sees me do it, modeling this value.

Knowing that your children will read your work at some point, how does that impact your candor when writing? 

Honestly, I don’t even think about that, aside from being mindful about what I may write about him. There are details of his life that belong to him, not to the world, unless he wants to share them one day, so I honor that. That aside, I write and perform what and how I want. My creative expression is a personal liberatory practice for self. I think of legacy and what I’m leaving behind in my writing, but don’t think about how my child will perceive or respond to it. I’m trying to teach him that people, including himself and his parents, are multitudes…made of many things and many ways of being known, and to allow all of those spaces and places to grow.

How has parenting bolstered (or inhibited) your creativity? 

It has done both…taken me in and out of practice. Going out of and being out of practice in early motherhood made me miss that part of myself, appreciate it, pursue it, and hold on to it, because I know life without it. It’s also given me grace in knowing that there are seasons for everything and sometimes everything can’t be done in one season, just like that two-hour naptime window I mentioned earlier. So I’d like to continue to hold a loosely structured discipline with going with the flow of writing or not-writing. During childbirth, there was a moment when other people were around me but I tuned everyone out, and it was just me and my son, trusting that my body and will would bring him into this world. We were aligned, in tune and worked together. He was my collaborator in his birth. That was a lesson and practice for me getting in tune with myself when it comes to writing, because whatever it is…a book, a blog, a poem, a project, I’m birthing something, and the relationship between me and what I’m striving to birth matters most. The things we write are living, pulled from what we see, know, feel and imagine. I can say to that thing [that I’m writing], the same thing I said to my son as he was traveling into the world through me: “It’s just me and you now…what would you like to be? How would you like to come into being?” Then I get in tune and birth that baby!


“I Medina” Jackson is a poet, spoken word and Hip Hop artist, writer, mama, community educator, vegan culinary arts enthusiast. She is a member of the facilitation team for the Black Transformative Arts Network, an equity consultant for Shifting Power in Educational Research and Development, and a participant in the Poetry Partnership of Pittsburgh’s Spring Workshop Series, among other projects. I Medina is also the Director of Engagement for The P.R.I.D.E. Program (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education), an initiative out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Office of Child Development, where she organizes annual Pop Up Mini Art Festivals in multiple Pittsburgh neighborhoods and other family and community engagement projects.  P.R.I.D.E.’s mission is to help young Black children ages 3-8 understand race and embrace their heritage, by sharing knowledge, skills and developing resources with the primary adults in their lives (educators, artists, parents and caregivers, community professionals) to counter the impact of racism in America. Originally from South Berkeley, CA, I Medina moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to obtain her Master’s Degree in Social Work (Community Organization and Social Administration concentration) from the University of Pittsburgh and has been committed to the city ever since. A poet since age 17, she is proud to have been published for the first time in the book TENDER: a literary anthology and book of spells: evidence, and is currently working on her second album, Minimalist Mob Music. Her poem, “They Always Come: A Note to My Son” was published on Sampsoniaway.org as their Poem of the Week. You can primarily find her on Facebook (Medina Jackson) and contact her at medinajackson78@gmail.com for booking inquiries.

***

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Meet Julia Mallory, Senior Poetry Editor

Meet our Senior Poetry  Editor, Julia Mallory (she/her). We asked her to share a bit more about herself in a new series we’re running for our editors. Here are Julia’s 10 questions.

What are your writing rituals?

Generally, I start writing only under the influence of inspiration which means that I have to get started as soon as possible to capture the wave of words while they are still fresh. This could also mean that if I interrupt the flow with any additives, I might miss some of the message as it’s coming to me or even dull the feeling that it’s traveling through. 

But, when it’s time to build the writing beyond the initial inspiration or revise the writing, particularly if it feels stuck or slow to come, I might light a candle and/or incense to clear my space and invite clarity or insight. I might also create a soundtrack from existing music to support the world I am building with my words. And if I am really, really stuck? I do something else. I always have some creative iron in the fire I can retrieve. 

Who is a writer who inspires you and why?
There are so many but for the sake of this question, the Toni’s (Morrison and Cade Bambara). Morrison because she unapologetically centered Black people in her work and supported other Black women writers, from encouraging them to write to editing their writing. Cade Bambara because she honored the humanity of Black folks in her work and was a multi-hyphenated artist (writer, teacher, filmmaker, cultural worker, etc.).

Living folks: Kiese Laymon because of what he does with the essay and Deesha Philyaw because of what she has done with the short story while centering the pleasure and desires of Black women. 

What book has a significant influence on you/your writing?
I like to return to Claudia Tate’s collection of conversations, Black Women Writers at Work (1984). It’s really inspirational to hear insight from people such as Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Nikki Giovanni, and others. There is insight from the writing process to managing the daily responsibilities of motherhood.

Describe to your dream submission.
This is such a tough question. I love quiet poems. I love loud poems. I’m honestly open to it all. I love when a poem grabs me from the begin and doesn’t turn me loose until the end. I love poems that end with a strong gut-check. I love when a last line lingers on me. It makes me want to run to the top again just to see how the writer achieved that ending. I love word play and internal rhyme. I just want to be where the writer is when they wrote it.

Why does writing matter to you?
Writing matters to me because it has saved my life many times over.  

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading everything and nothing! Every day I add a new book to my list. I read poetry daily. I currently have the following books on a special pile and am making my way through them:

Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being (Black Outdoors: Innovations in the Poetics of Study) by Kevin Quashie

Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds by Jayna Brown

Some of Us Did Not Die by June Jordan

How do you create joy?
I’m not sure I can create it so much as I do what feels good and yield to the outcome. Joy for me can be something as ordinary as eating or laughing ferociously. 

How do you create space to write?
These days, I usually have access to the physical concept of space to write, including time. What is trickier, however is energy and focus. Sometimes it feels like my attention is carved up into one hundred tiny pieces and reassembling them towards one particular thing can be tough. While the majority of my writing takes place solo, there is something about having a well-rounded life to fuel the writing and the sheer desire to write, that pandemic has limited.

What do you love about Raising Mothers?
I love that Raising Mothers provides an opportunity for people like me to see themselves reflected and have their work supported. I love that Raising Mothers is ever-evolving to center the needs of our contributors and community. I love that Raising Mothers embodies the concept that there is no single story and offers space to explore the nuance of our many stories. 

What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a textile project that utilizes capes to represent the ways that Black women navigate life through caretaking, labor, and access to resources, including time. 

This summer I will be launching Sensual Sonku Sundays which is a pleasure-filled space to explore poetic craft and create stanzas modeled after the sonku, the form invented by Sonia Sanchez. 

I’m also writing more fiction that might one day become a collection. 


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Keep Up With Your Stuff

When my twelve-year-old daughter, Adelia, lost her wallet on the public city bus, I was actually pretty proud of her. For several weeks, she had been taking two trains in the morning (with a transfer at one of the busiest central transit stations in the country) to get to her new middle school and then two buses to get back home, and not a water bottle nor a notebook had been left behind. Her father and I marveled at her punctuality, and an attentiveness so attuned that she had recently found time to grab a donut while waiting for the second train.

But Adelia was distraught when I picked her up that afternoon, her voice edged with tears as she recounted leaving the wallet on the seat next to her.  I listened to her wail and then gently hushed her, saying “Honey, it’s fine! It’s just a wallet.” It was a plain brown wallet that used to belong to her dad, and it only contained her school identification, her trans-pass, and $12, all items that we could thankfully replace with ease. But still, she was so disappointed in herself. 

Three weeks later, she called me from school, this time her voice full of delight. “Mom! They found my wallet- can you believe it?!” When I picked her up from school, we were both giddy with joy as we drove to the regional bus depot address that the school administrator had written on a yellow sticky note. The building was a massive and imposing industrial brick structure with faded lettering and square stone steps. So, we were surprised when we stepped inside to find a break room paradise for bus drivers, replete with a flat-screen television showing an Eddie Murphy movie, tables where people were eating lunch or drawing or reading the newspaper, an exercise bike, and even a pool table. It was a driver waiting for his turn at the table who, upon catching us slack-jawed and gawking, smiled and gestured to a glass partitioned area with office cubicles behind it. 

Behind the partition sat a Black woman in her 50’s, her auburn-colored bun perfectly centered atop her head, her bangs framing deep eyes that were unreadable. 

“Hi!” I exclaimed, a little too eager. “We are here to pick up a lost wallet.”

My daughter and I exchanged glances of glee as we slid the yellow sticky note with the information on it under the glass. It was as if we were on a long-lost adventure, complete with a dazzling break room of wonders, and we were about to hit where x marks the spot. The woman looked at us, unsmiling. Thinking she couldn’t hear me through the glass and over the high volume of the movie, I started to repeat why we were standing before her when she got up, walked behind some shelving, and after a few minutes returned with the wallet. The woman removed a 3×5 manila tag that had been attached to the wallet and slid the wallet, the tag, and a pen under the glass. 

“Fill this out,” she said and motioned to the lines and spaces on the tag.

We were so excited that we picked up the wallet first and opened it and yes, Adelia’s identification was still there and so was the $12.

We couldn’t believe it! What good luck!

I looked up at the woman to see if our enthusiasm was penetrating through the thick glass and the woman’s indifferent eyes. It was not. I grabbed the pen and began to fill out the name and date lines when I was interrupted. The woman began speaking, her stare now sharp, and her voice commandingly clear. 

“I like to make them do it themselves.” 

Her gaze was sharp and locked on Adelia’s face.

“She lost it, so she needs to do it.”

The woman slowly looked back at me, her eyes in a slight squint, asking if I understood her directive.

“Oh,” I responded, “Sure, OK.”

Suddenly everything felt quite serious. 

I handed the pen over to Adelia, and she began filling out the tag. As the tag seemed to be produced before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I quietly pointed out how she should fill out the date in the tiny lines provided, keeping my movements small in case I got admonished. Adelia slid the tag back under the glass, and before I could finish saying “Thank you,” the woman turned on her heel and left. 

***

The coldness of the woman behind the glass and my desperate desire to connect with her reminded me of the time I lost my wallet. I was about the same age as Adelia, and I loved that wallet. It was made of yellow nylon with a rainbow across it and it had a Velcro closure. I had one crisp $20 bill in it which was all of my Christmas and birthday money, and a few quarters in the zippered section. While my mom shopped, I ran to the back of the store to the mini arcade to play Centipede. When I ran out of quarters, I found my mom in line paying for her items and we left the store. 

My mom was driving out of the parking lot when I remembered I left my wallet on the game console, leaned up against the screen. My mom braked hard, turned the car around, parked, and we both jumped out of the car, with me way ahead of her, flying through the aisles to the back of the store. I got to the video game, but my rainbow wallet was gone. The crisp bill I was so proud of was gone. I looked at my mom, tears streaming down my face, full of apologies and fear. Her face was hard as she shook her head. She was beyond disgusted with me and we silently walked out of the store. 

Back in the car and out of earshot of the white people who might think ill of us, my mom let me have it all the way home. 

“I told you not to keep all that money in your wallet! You are so irresponsible. That’s why you shouldn’t have had it with you in the first place. You don’t keep up with your things. You never keep up with your things.” 

And on and on it went. I had made a mistake. I let my mother down. And because my mother was my world, it felt like I had let the whole world down. There was nothing I could say or do to make any of it better. Only the reappearance of the wallet would prove what I so desperately wanted to be.

Someone who could keep up with her stuff, who was worthy of having things.

Losing a wallet should not be a value judgment of one’s character, but this world can make Black women feel that we cannot afford to lose anything. To have something of one’s own means you are no longer just a middle child wearing your brother’s shirts in the segregated south. You are not just a little girl riding an overcrowded bus to an under-resourced school. You are someone and you matter. You count. To lose that wallet, to not keep up with your stuff, can feel like validation that you are unworthy or undeserving. 

When I look back at my sad and sobbing twelve-year-old self, I see a young girl who made a mistake, nothing more than that. Though it has been a lifelong journey to be patient with my own mistakes, I can freely give that grace to my twelve-year-old daughter. And while I recall my angry mother ranting while driving me home, I also see a resolute Black woman doing her best to navigate a life that she fears will be as unkind/unforgiving to her daughter as it has been to her. 

Adelia and I caught each other’s eyes and after waiting for a few moments, realized the woman behind the glass partition was not coming back. We had been dismissed. We both took a deep breath and turned back to the break room of delights and the joy crept back upon us as we laughed that the money was still in the wallet and how lucky it was that she wouldn’t have to replace her school id and should we get some custard at Rita’s to celebrate. We stepped outside when our revelry was then interrupted by a woman’s alto voice. 

“You ARE lucky.”

Behind us, also leaving the depot was a Black woman, in her 50’s. She was wearing her driver uniform, but with a bedazzled cardigan around her shoulders, and a shimmering wine lip color. We held the door for her, and she continued.

“That bus driver was the one who found it and turned it in, that’s why you have it.   You need to keep up with your stuff because it’s not always gonna end like that.”

“Yes,” I responded, wanting to seem like her obedient daughter. “You are absolutely correct. She will keep up with her stuff from here on out. Thank you.”

Once buckled up in the car, I turned to Adelia. “You know those women were just trying to help, right?”

“Right,” she grinned. “So can we still go to Rita’s?”


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