In January 2014 my life was forever changed when I gave birth to my first child, a son. My 26 years of experience growing, learning, and maturing up until that point had not fully prepared me for the mamahood journey that was ahead. On that day, my husband and I fully understood the meaning of a parent's unwavering love as we looked upon my son's face. In a moment I knew that I would do anything and everything within my power to keep this precious person safe and protected.
At the same time, though, a million questions raced through my mind. Would I truly know how to raise a son although my own father had never been present? How would he be perceived as an African American child in today's judgmental, and sometimes cruel, society? How do I adequately prepare him to understand that one day people may hold misconceptions or fears about him and his intentions due solely to the hue of his skin? It didn't seem fair to me that as a new, young mother I had to rack my mind with these questions while others elsewhere, born into a different race or ethnicity, may never have to tackle the same thoughts. I thankfully came to a momentof peace when I realized that all of my fears, whether rational or not, were beyond my control. All I could do was put my trust and faith in God and let everything else go. My job as a mama was not to predict the future for my son, but instead it was to equip him with the tools and support needed to become an amazing man and father one day...just like his dad.
As a first step to accomplish this, over the past two years I've tried to teach my son his worth. As a community, we often spend ample time equipping young girls of color to understand and fully embrace who they are by teaching them their value which may be why African American males in cities like Chicago have a 50% greater chance of failing one or more major courses during their first semester of high school when compared to their female counterparts. Do not get me wrong, this is such a crucial lesson for our girls to learn, but sadly we rarely do the same for our boys.
To combat this trend, I try to focus on showing my son just how smart, inquisitive, and beautiful he is. Whether that's through spending time with him exploring at a local children's museum, drawing pictures and images of characters who resemble him during art or listening to the sounds of talented African American artists during music time...I try to encourage him to embrace his unique interests and personality on a daily basis. He is indeed a strong willed child (I believe he gets that from me, haha), so helping to guide him can sometimes be difficult, but I have to remember that his will is not something for me to change or stifle. Instead, it is my job to help him use this characteristic in a positive manner. Outlets, such a Happy Hair and others focused on building up this generation of African American children, have provided me with ideas and examples of how to show my son his value in a society where it's sometimes forgotten...and for that this mama will be forever grateful.
Thank you so much and please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions!