Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Dear Sugar: Thank God for Black Moms Among Us
I've written extensively on my need for affirmation from and communication with Black moms. I simply cannot rightly raise my children without Black mothers.
Pride used to say: Rachel, that is SO desperate. Maybe even pathetic. You are MOM ENOUGH for your babies. You were CHOSEN to be their mom. Just DO IT.
Reality says: It takes a village. You are mom enough BECAUSE you have help from Black mothers. Because you listen to them and learn from them. BECAUSE you do what you should, as a mom who adopted transracially, you are a BETTER, STRONGER, WISER mommy.
A few weeks ago, I took two of my kids to a lab so one of my girls could have some labwork done. It was unseasonably warm day. I was sweating even before I left the house despite wearing a t-shirt and shorts and blasting the air conditioning. Bad sign. We got the lab, and thankfully we had an appointment. So no waiting. I had the baby in the sling and my older daughter's hand in mine. The tech called us back, and my daughter lost. her. shit. Normally she's tough as nails. Her nickname is Scrappy because she can outrun the boys and outplay them on the basketball court. She is fierce and strong.
But she hates her quarterly lab appointment. No matter how much I prepare her, remind her, and bribe her.
She began to yell at the tech, tears brimming in her eyes and spilling over onto her basketball tee. "DON'T HURT ME!" she screamed. The tech was patient but persistent. I tried a few tricks, reminding her she had fruit snacks (sacred in our home) waiting for her as soon as she was done. I spoke calmly and firmly that she needed to get the lab done. I made eye contact. I held one of her hands.
It wasn't working. And because I had a baby strapped to me, I couldn't let my older daughter, who was beyond being comforted, sit on my lap. Torture.
After what felt like days, the Black woman who had been doing the intake forms came in. She picked up my daughter, sat in the chair, and put my daughter on her lap.
My daughter, as fierce as she is, is very introverted. She doesn't enjoy a stranger's look or compliment much less any sort of touch. She hates attention from even people she knows.
At this point, my shirt was soaking in sweat and the baby was stirring (probably all that sweat!). I was simultaneously annoyed, embarrassed, and sad. I hate seeing my child scream NO (in fear, not in disobedience)---yet she NEEDS this lab done.
But you know what happened?
Though my daughter was not happy about the lab, she allowed the tech to swab her arm with an alcohol wipe (third time is a charm). I was able to slide in and hold my daughter's hand. The tech did her work, my daughter protesting but at least sitting still, while the receptionist spoke softly and confidently to my daughter.
And then it was done. Over.
Together---the tech, the receptionist, and myself took care of the situation. But it changed, it all changed, when the Black woman walked in.
You see a lot about #BlackGirlMagic. I'm a firm believer in promoting it, empowering my girls, and pointing out all the magic in fellow Black girls and women. But I feel like in that moment at the lab, we experienced it.
And this wasn't the first time, as I've written about before. There have been angels everywhere, women who stepped in and helped me and my family.
If you have/are/did adopt transracially, you can't do it alone. Nor should you. Your kids have needs. It's your job to meet them.
Shut down the pride. Embrace the reality. Do it, mama!
For more on parenting Black children you adopted when you are White, check out my first book.