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If I knew then…

November 17, 2010

Moments before our finalization with the judge, 2005

I look at this photo and I don’t know what I feel.

The me in the photo was all anxious. All worried that the judge was somehow going to find a “t” not crossed and tell me to come back next year. The me in the photo had no idea about Black hair care, (please don’t look too close!) or racial identity, really. I don’t have a much better handle on any of that today, but I’ve got willingness to figure it out. No, I have a DRIVE to uncover my lacks, to meet his needs. To meet their needs.

I look at this photo, and wish I had been told strait up; “Being a new mom, and being the mom of a child of another race require two different guide books Mama. You will not find the answers to raising this one, in the book written about raising that one. That book, has yet to be written. Here’s a pencil. You might have a few things you want to record in the margins of those pages yet to be written..”

I look at this photo, and recall the eighteen people waiting inside the makeshift chamber ready to remind me, I wasn’t going about this alone. I look at this photo, and remember that Sam was the only one who was not white in that room.

I know a lot now. But not a hell lot more then I did then. I know that being his Mama, and his Mama, has transformed, consumed, and pushed me more than I know. Mama love is mine times two. Six years ago, that was on the edge of consideration. Today that is staring at the next forty or so years in constant awe and anticipation.

What do you know now, that you didn’t know then? Or what did you think you knew then, and feel otherwise now?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2010 2:11 pm

    What an amazing post, as usual, Mama! With our finalization having just happened two weeks ago, I can relate to some of the feelings you were talking about. In fact, at the last minute, all the cases in the Baltimore courthouse for that day were cancelled (b/c of the sudden death of the circuit court’s chief justice, sadly)…except ours. That was enough to tell me that the Universe is finding favor with us as Matthew’s parents, and this really was meant to be. I don’t know what I would have done had that finalization day been postponed. I walked into that courthouse with so many feelings and fears…and unlike what others have said, about that day not really meaning much to their families b/c it was “really just a formality,” I found the opposite to be true. I will always hold Adoption Day dear to my heart, and we will always celebrate it and reflect upon it every year, in the same way that my amazing friend Mama C. and her family does. You are a wonderful mother, and your energy inspires me. Thanks for being in my blogosphere! I’m sure other parents feel the same.

  2. Anne permalink
    November 17, 2010 8:39 pm

    Love this post! I can very much relate to ALL of your feelings. We are white parents raising a black son — the responsibility of it all is overwhelming. And exciting. And overwelming 🙂 We are doing over very best. That’s all we can do. ( @annewinfrey on Twitter )

  3. November 18, 2010 3:11 am

    So well put (*sniffs* again). I guess we’re all writing our own manuals. I feel like I’m writing the openness/transracial manual. One tiny step at a time.

  4. Lesia permalink
    November 18, 2010 8:16 am

    I love these lines: “I know a lot now. But not a hell lot more then I did then. I know that being his Mama, and his Mama, has transformed, consumed, and pushed me more than I know. Mama love is mine times two. Six years ago, that was on the edge of consideration. Today that is staring at the next forty or so years in constant awe and anticipation.”

    I love the laying bare of the naked truth, the conviction, the starkness, and the universal in the personal. We are all struck by the magnitude of what we’ve undertaken in raising children, and by how they’ve changed our lives and us, utterly.

    I love these questions: “What do you know now, that you didn’t know then? Or what did you think you knew then, and feel otherwise now?” I love how you ask what our experiences and insights are.

    We’re all learning and still have so much to learn about identity and everything else. There’s no guidebook that’s been written for most of us. I’ve given away the ones I had because they had little to teach me about mothering, my children, or myself. Everyday we all write another page of our own book, whether it’s literally or metaphorically. I knew nothing at the start and, like you, know little more now even though I know a lot about who my kids are and who I am. Those “who’s” – the conceptions of identity/ies and its lived experiences – are complex and always changing. Knowing that is the only way to mother children of any race; knowing that is the only way to live.

  5. November 19, 2010 7:07 pm

    I think one thing is apparent here: Sam was then, and is now, in good hands. And in case you were wondering, those hands are your hands Mama. Just as Lesia mentioned, the self doubt you may have had in the beginning and may still have a bit of is the same self doubt that any new mother has. Because each child brings forth a different experience, what you thought you knew, you soon find out only goes so far, lol. Where the guide ends in one area, we have to turn the page, dip our pens in ink, and start a new chapter.

    I think that is what I now know – that, with each new year, with each new milestone, with each new unique characteristic that Emma develops and allows me to be a part of, my mothering will transform – that, sometimes, the rules are made up as we go along, because that’s how greatness is created =).

  6. December 24, 2010 4:56 am

    Such a great picture!

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