jonubian

The Pain of Mothering

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.  ~ James Baldwin

I sat kissing every one of Nailah’s fingers and toes, crying, after watching the video of Derrion Albert being brutally and fatally beaten.  A mother’s love is almost masochistic. It is unwavering. It requires every fiber of your being to love someone so much that even as she sleeps peacefully you worry and weep.  As a mother, you are somehow saddened by her happiness, fully understanding that one day she will learn the truth about this bitter earth.

My mother passes down stories of our mothers, one being that of my grandmother, who bore eleven children as the wife of a sharecropper in rural Louisiana during Jim Crow. The story goes that she could never shut her eyes until every last one of her babies was safe in her arms…or her home, which was very much like her arms- made up of hopes, timber and tears. At that time, in those moments, My grandmother knew that there was no safety for black boys and girls. Her heart would race, frantically counting those eight boys and three girls, praising God that none were raped, beaten, lynched, made an example of.

As I recall those stories I think of the mother of Derrion Albert. How she also, at some point, kissed fingers and toes. How she loved her son until it hurt her heart. How she also gave to him every fiber of her being in increments of years, tears, and fears. She is my grandmother, and every mother who has loved a child- but somehow exalted because she has to now figure out how to live without the being that made her God.

I also think of Emmett Till as I think of Derrion Albert, the courage it takes to bury a child, all the years that have passed between their deaths and the fundamental difference between their murders. You see, Mamie Till Mobley could direct her anger, outrage, and grief towards cowardly White men. Derrion’s mother somehow has to grieve for her son, and the mothers of the boys who murdered him.  Knowing, I’m sure, that they all lost their sons that day.  She unfortunately does not have the privilege of dreaming of a white sheet to tear to shreds.

I gather that all of these tears and ramblings lead to one supreme consciousness- the look on my grandmother’s face if, for any reason, I would have to explain to her that more so than keeping our children safe from White neo-slave masters, we have to keep them safe from other children, who look just like them.  I imagine her astonishment as I sit with my own.  I’m glad that she has met her Maker and does not have to contemplate such atrocities.

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  1. just heard of this story today. it is devastating to know that almost nowhere is safe. i am not a mother, but i have the same fears and i understand the fears that cause folks not to bring children into this world because of them. awful…

  2. “I gather that all of these tears and ramblings lead to one supreme consciousness- the look on my grandmother’s face if, for any reason, I would have to explain to her that more so than keeping our children safe from White neo-slave masters, we have to keep them safe from other children, who look just like them. I imagine her astonishment as I sit with my own. I’m glad that she has met her Maker and does not have to contemplate such atrocities.”

    indeed…

  3. I’m at a lost for words on this one. Really, I’m at a lost for words on this situation.

  4. This is a beautiful post. Even when our children grow into adults, we mothers never forget those tender moments when we held them in our arms. Yesterday I saw Derrion’s mom try to do a CNN interview. Tears streamed down her face and she could hardly speak. Unimaginable pain. I do know the pain of losing children you love. I didn’t birth the two girls I know were murdered, but certainly loved them as I believe they did me. I still cry for them and will miss them always.

    Every day I’m grateful that my sons are alive and able to pursue their dreams and desires. It seems to demonstrate something very wrong in this society that even after all this time, some take for granted what others cannot. -Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Sorry if this is confusing. Lots of emotion flowing on this one.

    P.S. You are a wonderful writer.

    🙂 Cheri

  5. “Derrion’s mother somehow has to grieve for her son, and the mothers of the boys who murdered him. Knowing, I’m sure, that they all lost their sons that day.” Truer words were never spoken!

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes. I can’t even imagine the love a mother has for their child. As a sister and protector of 4 younger siblings, I felt the pang of fear that comes with realizing I can’t be everywhere to keep my siblings from everything. But even that does not compare. The day my brother told me he was going to Afghanistan, the first thing that came to mind was that I would no longer have to beg drug dealers on the block to leave my brother alone and not to offer him a way to make money. But that now, I must be worried about hazing in the military, his spirit, war, artillery, bombs, desperation.

    Such a powerful post. Thanks for sharing

  7. To succumb to violence and have NO remorse for who’s life you take should warrant your future will be horribly cut short. I would be the paent to take that other person or people’s life for my son’s. Period. That’s my two. Great blog.

  8. Very powerful, Jo. Thank you

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