Why I Abhor Family Portraits

My mother in law is a saint. She has a heart of gold and is overall just a good person. But like most saints and good-natured people, she is blind to the ugliness of this world. Whether it’s because these folks choose not to see it, or lack the ability to see the darkness coming, they lack the wherewithal to dodge the bolts of lighting that accompany these proverbial storms.  This darkness..this evil…extends to the long honored tradition of sitting for a  family portrait.

Christmas 2009, my mother-in-law gleefully announced that she would like all of us to sit for a portrait Sears. “All of us” includes her and her husband, me and my husband and our 3 kids, and my sister-in-law and her 9 month old son. (Her husband had to work Christmas and could not make it. He should count himself lucky.) That’s nine people in one photo. When she told me that she wanted a family portrait, I knew it was all going to go very badly. I knew this because my kids are crazy. But you can’t tell old people nothing, and you especially cannot dash a sweet old ladies hopes, so I dutifully trekked with my children to Ohio for what would have been a good Christmas, outside of the sh*t storm that I knew was coming.

Mrs. Grant happily got the girls ready for the photo.

“I haven’t decided if they have a press and curl or if we should get braids,” she mulled.

She had already purchased the most darling red dresses for them, and holiday sweaters for the boys.

“I’d like everyone to wear red/black/white for the picture,” she cooed. It was all very sweet.

The girls were ecstatic over their new hair-dos and everyone was showered and powdered for the portrait, which was scheduled at 4pm. Mistake number one.

We encountered Mrs. Grant’s best friend leaving the portrait studio with her family. They were all clad in jeans and white shirts, the pre-teen girls looking sassy with their press and curls. A look of envy swept over my mother-in-law’s face. After she and Henrietta (her best friend) exchanged pleasantries and family introductions and were out of earshot, she turned to me and said “We’re going to do jeans and white shirts for our next picture too!”

I could hardly wait.

As soon as we got into the portrait studio, Stone took a massive green dump. We had to wait 10 minutes while I wiped him down and made sure the stench of baby guano wasn’t clinging to either of us. When that was done, I found the family sitting sullenly, trying to choose the appropriate background for the shot. I stepped in and it was decided that it would be gray. The girls gasped when they walked in and saw all the props and toys in the portrait studio. Nadjah made a beeline to one of the stools and declared that that’s where she wanted to sit for the picture. When the photographer explained that Grannie had to sit there and she must stand in front, a torrential cascade of tears followed.

“Stop it,” I seethed.

The rest of the family was more compassionate, offering her praise and encouraging her to smile for the picture. Satisfied that the fate of this photo rested in her grubby 5 year old hands, my daughter the wannabe model smiled graciously for the picture. The next 20-30 minutes was spent taking several shots of the same pose, some with the babies looking elsewhere, some with my left eye half closed, some with Marshall refusing to smile. After much toil, we got the money shot!

“I’d like one with just the grand kids,” Mrs. Grant decreed. Oh how cute, we all agreed.

Suddenly, Aya began to cry.

“Why are you crying???” I asked, visibly irritated. Of course being 3 years old, she had no good explanation why. I supposed she might have been tired or hungry, but there was nothing to be done about either at that point.

As the photographer tried to convince her that the felt covered box she was sitting on was a princess bed or a magic carpet, Aya just began to shriek harder. Her cries only succeeded in irritating her otherwise peaceful baby brother whose watery grin transformed into a confused facade of terror.

“Aya,” said her grandmother. “Please smile. Don’t you want to make Grannie happy?”

Aya vigorously shook her head and screamed “No!!!”. Grannie sat forlornly on her stool, unsure whether to be angry or saddened by this announcement.

That little heathen.

With 2 shrieking children and Nadjah preening model-esk poses worth of Vogue, it was decided we would take the picture and capture the moment. This was the result:

After it was over, Pop-Pop took the kids out for ice-cream and the rest of us went home to recoup our streght, like weary soldiers bloodied from an uncalled-for battle.

And it is for this reason, folks, that you will never see a complete family portrait proudly portrayed anywhere in my home!

White Power!

Quick! What was your first reaction when you read that title? I bet you images of skinheads and men in long white robes flashed in your mind. Maybe even a burning cross on a Black family’s front lawn. “White power” means a lot of things to different people, and I wager it is most closely associated with physical pain and fiscal ruin. As a Black mom/woman, White power means something completely different to me, and I’m almost ‘shamed to admit it:

“White power” is the sound of my beautiful little Brown daughter asking me when she will be White.

Nadjah turned 5 last December. As I understand it, this is the typical age when Black girls growing up in America try to look more mainstream and model themselves after their heroines on TV and/or in books. Nadjah has had a color complex since she was 3. One day, just out of the blue she said “Mommy, am I white?”

“No, baby,” I said. “You’re Black.”

“I don’t want to be Black,” she said. “I want to be white!”

Of course I was taken aback. I looked around the house to check for any contraband that so negatively influence my daughter’s thinking.

  • Self-affirming Black baby dolls: Check
  • Self-affirming Black girl books: Check
  • Regaling stories featuring her Ghanaian heritage: CHECK for sure
  • Affirmations that her curly hair was beautiful and NOT nappy or kinky: Check and double check!

What on earth could it be? Suddenly the voice of a little red-headed character on Playhouse Disney announced she was going to “slap her cap” and go sleuthing. Na spent a good part of the morning watching Playhouse Disney. A quick run down of all the shows reminded me that there were no little brown heroines running around magic forests solving problems. Ugh. Malaka, you idiot!

I then began to wonder who had introduced the topic of race to my eldest anyway? My husband and I had never referred to anyone by skin color or ethnicity as far as she was concerned. I had also been very careful to include dolls and toys of all races in her toy box. The world is neither purely white or all black. Who was responsible for this line of questioning? Who was the culprit?? My frustration slowly turned to fascination as I decided to gauge Nadjah’s dissatisfaction with her blackness. I conducted the Kenneth Clark doll test.

  • “Show me the doll that you like best or that you’d like to play with,” – She picked up the white doll.
  • “Show me the doll that is the ‘nice’ doll,” – Again, the white doll
  • “Show me the doll that looks ‘bad’,” – She picked up the black doll
  • “Give me the doll that looks like a white baby,” – White doll
  • “Give me the doll that looks like a Black baby,” – Black doll
  • “Give me the doll that looks like you.” – Black doll

Nadjah’s face suddenly registered confusion and mine heartbreak. It was as though some dirty family secret had been revealed and we were left to deal with it. Yes, sadly, Nadjah was Black AND she was evil and no one would want to play with her.

This same subject came up again just a few months ago when she went over to a friend’s house for a playdate. She bounded back from Jennifer or Vanessa’s house (or whatever that blond lady’s name is) and asked me expectantly

“Mommy when will I be White?”

“Never Nadjah! You hear me? N-E-V-E-R.”

“But I want to be white, ” she wailed.

Lawd, why did she do that? Half the ride home was a lecture on several things including  how she was thumbing her nose at God for making her the way she was; which is Black, baby. BLACK.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is what real white power is. Convincing scores of generations of girls and women around the globe that if your hair isn’t straight and their is any hint of melanin lurking in your DNA, somehow, you are not good enough.

Something New

Typically when I hear the phrase “Something New”, I think of interracial couples and the angst they face a-la Sanaa Lathan and that very yummy blonde guy whose name always escapes me. But as of last week, the phrase “something new” means something completely different. It means the birth of a new child. Yes, I will bring a new brown baby into the world in the new decade.

Now before you all break out the celebratory confetti and congratulatory champagne, I must tell you I just had a baby 5 minutes ago; May 29th 2009 to be precise. It was a blessed event and one that I was looking forward to repeating in 4 years, not four months, which is when my new child was conceived. My newest loin fruit will make his/her debut somewhere between July 6 – 8th of this year. No one knows for sure, because the whole thing is still a mystery: The conception date, the mechanics (well, not so much the mechanics. I know how it happened, I just don’t know how it happened), the actual delivery date.

I have already endured surprised looks and a good scolding from an elderly health aid professional by the name of Astrid. Astrid (whom I’d never met prior to the meeting we’d had to confirm my pregnancy) told me very matter-of-factly that I was putting my life in danger and could die on the delivery table. Why was I putting my life at risk she asked? I endured her tirade for a full 20 minutes. After all, I was recently unemployed and in a position of need, sitting there in a dreary government office looking to suckle off the government’s Medicaid teat. Had I not been secure in my numerous accomplishments including a tertiary education, I might have felt like the low life ghetto guttersnipe she assumed me to be. I endured the diatribe for as long as I could before I asked her what she would have me do? Have an abortion?

“Don’t you worry Ms. Astrid,” I assured her. “I’ll be getting my tubes tide after this delivery and you won’t have to worry about another Black baby being brought into this world.”

Her eyes widened. In a flurry of sentences, she assured me that that’s not what she meant at all.

“I just want you to be safe,” she said.

Uh-huh.

So there you have it folks! Something New. Apparently, folks don’t conceive babies within four months of delivering another. It’s not en vogue and SO 19th century. I just wish someone had sent me the bloody memo!

On the other hand, I could stand and accept your applause for making what was old new again. Yay for my new baby.

This post is an entry for the My Brown Baby writing contest at http://mybrownbaby.blogspot.com/search/label/Taste. For all my writing friends, feel free to join in the fun! There are fabulous prizes at stake.

Navigating the mine field that is a Black Woman’s womb

When I was growing up in Ghana in the home of a Black radical (my mother) and a regular dude (my dad), I was taught by my mother and other radicals of her ilk that “civilization was carried on the womb of the black woman”, that her children were “kings and queens”, that her “feet were shod with truth and beauty”. You get the picture; and anyone who was born between 1968-81 and raised in a home of “Black consciousness” knows what I’m talking about. For a short stretch of time, it was a good and honorable thing to raise a Black family with two parents, some kids, maybe even a dog. There was a time, and not too long ago, that if a Black man wanted to have sex with a Black woman, by God he was going to have to marry her. We had that much respect for ourselves, our bodies and the concept of family. I turned the page of this Black book and suddenly being “Black” in the new century means a life style of promiscuity, immaturity and irresponsibility. If you turn on BET, it’s like our women have fought for exclusive rights to exhibit whoredom. Sex is pervasive in our community, and generally when people have gratuitous and unprotected sex, they make a baby.

It gets to be a slippery and dangerous slope when you begin to discuss abortion amongst feminists and black folks, but that’s exactly where I’m headed. Folks get fidgety and indignant because you may be attempting to trample on their “rights” and “choices” with this kind of talk. But when a soldier in Iraq has an 80% higher chance of making it home from war than a Black baby has of making it alive out of his mother’s womb, I have to speak on it. Before I get started, I’ll tell you I’ve heard all the arguments before:

What do you say about children who are a product of rape and incest, Malaka? Should a woman be forced to keep the baby in those cases, just to fit into the scope of your narrow Christian ideals?

My answer is:

Ideally, there would be no rape or incest, but I’m going to go ahead and take a leap and say that the over 1400 Black babies being aborted every day are not all the result of ‘rape or incest.’

For anyone who thinks that I’m removed from the sensitivity of abortion because I’m married, go to church and can “afford” my three kids, let me assure you I am not. I have relatives and friends who have had several abortions…killed their babies like they were squishing an irritation, like an ant. For some women, it’s the men in their lives that coerce/convince them into having the procedure, and for others it’s a very easy decision to make. For my own part, my father and current father-in-law wanted me to have an abortion because my first child was conceived and born out of wedlock. My dad called Nadjah at 10 weeks old in the womb “just a fetus” and Mr. Grant Sr. called her “a collection of cells.” Was it an easy decision for me as a single, scared 26 year old working a crummy job to keep the baby? No, but I could never fathom the burden of destroying a human life. Have you ever seen or read Horton Hears a Who? The Whos ask Horton (who, though he cannot see them, is able to hear them quite well) to protect them from harm, which Horton happily agrees to do, proclaiming throughout the book that ‘‘even though you can’t see or hear them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small’’. The entire movie is centered around this maniacal kangaroo who is trying to get Horton to admit that Whoville doesn’t exist because she can’t hear or see the Whos. Eventually, she tries to (unsuccessfully) boil Whoville in a vat of boiling oil.

The point is, my baby was not and never was a “collection of cells”. From the night of her conception to this morning when I dropped her off at pre-school, she was and is my ‘Nadjah-bear’.

Has anything I’ve said today going to change anyone’s views on abortion? Maybe…but probably not. As a race, we’ve bought hook-line-and-sinker the concept that who gets to live outside of or die in the womb is a matter of choice. There’s a whole cultural movement in that direction and li’l ol’ me is not big enough to fight against it. And let’s be honest. The decision to abort a baby has everything to do with lifestyle and convenience. It is neither glamorous nor convenient to have a child, be it 1 or 5 in tow while you try to do groceries or get your hair done. It’s an economic decision, because if you are a good parent, the majority of your funds will inadvertently be redirected towards those kids. Is it easy to go to school, conduct business or work when you have an unwanted/unintended pregnancy? No, but it’s not impossible. If you don’t want to face grown up consequences, stop playing grown up games and make the “choice” not to get in bed without a condom, a pill, or here’s a novel idea, NOT AT ALL unless you’re prepared to face the fact that you might make a baby that day.

In 1970, Louisiana judge Leander Perez said “The best way to hate a nigger is to hate him before he is born.” Our ancestral mothers had their babies ripped from their arms on auction blocks all around the south, had them tossed overboard ships during the middle passages, and watched, cried and screamed in agony while slave masters sold them off for profit. I daresay they would be disappointed in our women today and their “choices.” There’s a whole lot of nigger hating doing on today, and it seems to be us niggers that’s doing the hating.

Look here African Ladies – Let me tell you something

Hmmm. Let me tell you something about motherhood and marriage that they don’t tell you when you are growing up. I’m about to go on a rant here, so be warned! You won’t make it to the end. I have much to say.

Don’t listen to you parents and grandparents!! They are all liars and crooks; and that includes any meddling aunties and “aunties” in your life. These people. They want you to get married and have kids so quickly, but they lie to you with their silence.Let me tell you something African ladies. Your friends and family don’t want you to have kids because it is a joy. it is because they want revenge! They want you to suffer as they have suffered.

Marriage. Tweeeeaaa! Nobody tells you that when you get married, that guy that kept his house/dorm room so clean suddenly becomes a SLOB when you move in together. They don’t tell you how not only does he not put the toilet seat down, he occasionally pisses on the floor for you to find and clean up. Or how he leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor for you to trip on in the night as you make your way to that bathroom and fall INTO the toilet…because he left the seat up! These women, your mothers and aunties, they are all WICKED!! They don’t inform you how a man suddenly becomes incapable of doing his own laundry once you are “blissfully wedded”, how he brushes his teeth and leaves GLOBS of toothpaste on the counter for days. He shaves his facial hair and leaves particles on the floor. As he get older in age, he becomes even more careless. He’ll take a shower and blow his nose, only to leave SNOT on the shower walls.

African ladies: You stop and ponder about your own father. How neat and genteel he is. How caring. Why does YOUR man behave so??? It’s because your mother spent 30 years whipping him into the man you see and are so fond of today!!! You think he started off like that? Kai!!

And children. Those ungrateful little b@astards. I have never taken the Lord’s name in vain until I had kids. I’ve recently begun to utter “God D@mnit!!” under my breath at their vicious little antics. They are terrors, and these women who claim to love you only want you to suffer.

Being a mother is a miserable and difficult existence. It is even more difficult and miserable if you live in the West. At least in Africa, we have the comfort of having your friends and sisters in close proximity. There is strength in numbers. But when you are outnumbered 2 or more to one in this forsaken place they call America, you have no hope. Worse yet, you can’t reason with your husband to locate the family somewhere closer to OTHER family because he is “an eagle” and he wants to strike his own destiny. So what do you do? Do you move with the and be happy and leave him behind, or do you suffer on as a good little wife should?

And let me tell you something about religion. Unfortunately, religion and social structure are not what they used to be. There’s a reason 60% of all marriages end in divorce. it’s because people don’t fear God and the shunning of the church, mosque, whatever anymore, and because women can WORK and make their own money now. Don’t let the trappings of religion fool you. The other 40% of couples that are still married are basically together because they feel guilty or obligated to wake up next to that jerk day and and day out for the rest of their lives for fear of some social reprise.

Back to kids. They are INGRATES. Think about how YOU treated your parents growing up. The only reason they want you to have kids is so that you can feel what they felt, and the only people who can do this are your kids. You buy them a doll, and 3 days later it’s naked and missing all its clothes and a few limbs. You take them on outtings and when you get home, exhausted from hours of play they ask you where “we are going again”. To take a nap of course! And then they scream to their rooms and complain that you never take them anywhere. After days spent washing, folding and ironing laundry for these little harpies, you dress them neatly for school and they tell you “I don’t want to wear that”. Another 6 minutes fighting over what shoes they can or CANNOT wear because it’s 18* outside, and they tell you that you NEVER buy them any new clothes. Subconsciously your eye shifts to the closet bursting with clothing and you wonder what the HELL they are talking about???

Eventually, all you want for them to do is to get good grades in school so that they can go to college and get a decent job so they can get the f**k out of YOUR house, but they won’t even do THAT. After spending upwards of 80K on their tertiary education, they COME BACK. Why the HELL are you back in my house?? Those of you living with your parents should pay attention here. Be nice to them, because if it was me, I’d kick your ass right out the door after I prayed with you and wished you luck.

Oh yeah! Motherhood is a blast. You spend the first 2 years wiping their noses and crappy backsides and the rest of their lives putting up with the rest of the sh*t they make up on their own.

AND that, my friends is what they don’t tell you on OPRAH and Good Day America. Lying b@astards.

It's been 13 months and I'm still pregnant

Peeing, peeing, peeing. I’ve been pregnant with the SAME child for over a year it seems, and my nights and days are spent peeing. 80% of the time spent after I lay my head on the pillow is spent lumbering to the toilet to pee, 10% wishing I didn’t have to pee, and the other 10% laying in bed in excruciating pain from holing in said pee.
That’s what it’s like to be 8.65 months pregnant.

All I want to do is SLEEP, but this man beside me WON’T STOP SNORING! For the love of all things good and pure, would he roll over or loose some weight so that I can get some sleep??!

Wait a tick. That’s not him. It’s ME! I’ve actually snorted myself into consciousness. Poor hubby. I’m sorry.

Sweet Jaysus. What is that SMELL?? Ugh. I’ve got the farts again. Is there any odor more foul than a pregnant woman’s flatulence? If I crack another one like that off again, hubby may leave me. I mean, I’d leave HIM if he stank like that. Smells like a herd of cattle died in my bowels. Ugh.

2 months ago, the women I would encounter in polite circles (church, the grocery store and the like) would say “Oh! I knew you were pregnant! You’re GLOWING!!”
Now I get concerned nods and asked questions like “Oooh girl, how are you FEELING??”
I know I look hit. I feel hit. Don’t rub it in.

Even as I sit here typing in my 15th month of pregnancy, I know I should be asleep. It’s 5 freakin’ AM! In 2 hours, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (my two toddlers) will scamper and stomp into my room demanding “nilk” and “jewse”. I will have no strength to go down to the kitchen to retrieve either of these. They will whine, and my day will begin with a headache. It’s a sure banker.

Most of the things that keep me awake at night (apart from the constant deluge from my bladder) are concerns for my family’s financial future. Are we going to be so broke that I WILL indeed have to dress my son in his sisters’ pink discards? Will this business I’m venturing into actually work? Will my children shut their yackity traps long enough during the day so that I can call some potential clients??? Dang it! I have to pee again. You know what would be awesome now that I’m 23 months pregnant? A catheter. That way I could pee and never have to leave the spot I’m sitting or laying in. There’s a freedom in there that only the very old and very sick get to experience.

So now that it’s 7 am and I’ve been asleep a total of 15 minutes, I feel a hand suggestively rub my back. You can’t be serious. After the night I’ve had?

“No, no,” I say. “It will hurt the baby.”
I hear a rebuttal.
“Yes, I know it’s been 3 months.”
More objections.
” I don’t CARE what the doctor said, I SAID it will hurt the baby!!”

Suddenly, there is a pounding of four feet down the hall. *Sigh*. Time to get up and get drinks for my mistresses. I can’t wait to have this baby so I can get a 2 day vacation at Northside Hospital.

Va-ca-shon!!

I’m about to go on vacation at Hotel de Northside Hospital. Train pulls out of the station at 7 am sharp! I can’t wait!

No more screaming kids for two whole days. The next child I hear crying will be the one being yanked from my womb, and even he will be whisked away by some chick in surgical scrubs whose responsibility it is to comfort him.

I will sleep through the night uninterrupted. I will finally get to watch Full Metal Jacket on dvd without having to pause it because Sgt Hartman is cussing up a storm, calling black people “Snowflake” and it’s too early to expose my kids to that type of reality. It’s going to be glorious.

I plan to be the most obnoxious hospital “guest” ever. I can see it now…

“Mrs. Grant, can you drink this solution so we can monitor XYZ please?”
“Naw! I can’t drank a d*mn thang…unless you put the cup to my lips YOURSELF. I’m on va-ca-shun!!”

Oooh! Wait. Here’s the best part. I won’t have booty-duty for the 2 days I’m in the hospital. In FACT, after I (stress on “I”) take a dump, I’m going to ring one of the nurses to come wipe MY arse.

“Hey Nurse so-and-so. I can’t reach my crack because I’m on va-ca-shun. Can you get a wet wipe and tighten it up back there fore me… Please?”

I will then refuse to wear grown up people panties and request a pair of Depends or an extra mattress pad. I plan to pee in the bed, just like one other member of my household. And Northside can’t kick me out! If they try, I’ll just lay out on the floor and crap myself like an 93 year old invalid. If they’d just left me in the bed, there would be no poo all over their precious hardwoods, now would there?

Stupid hospital security team…

MUAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!

Every morning I will call up the charge nurse and tell her I (stress on “I”) want cranberry juice to drink with my delectable drug buffet. There is nothing tastier than Percocet and Oxycontin in de morning! If there’s not enough ice, I’ll wait five minutes an call her back to inform her that “my drank ain’t cold enough.” She may put a little Shug Avery pee in there before I take a sip, but I figure it’s a fair trade. A little pee in your mouth never hurt anyone. Ask all the people who partake in Golden Showers. Yeah, you know who you are. You freaks.

So goodbye FB byiatches! I’m taking a trip to a better place. When next you see me, I’ll be 8-10 lbs lighter, hooked on drugs and 15% more ignorant than I am as of the writing of this note.

MUAHAAHAHAHA *SNORT* HA!

I AM ON STRIIIIKKKEEE!!!!

THAT DOES IT!

I will no longer try to improve the well being and hygiene of my family. I give up on that part of motherhood. From now on, my obligations are only the newborn and myself.

From THIS DAY FORTH, I vow to be as NASTY as these muthas running around in this house.

I will no longer look to see if the dishwasher is empty and put dirty dishes in there. I’ll just leaves my plate, cup spoon and fork on the desks and living room. Maybe I’ll just leave my dishes on the little counter space we DO have, and add an extra cluttered look.

When I drop food on the floor, I won’t pick it up. I’ll just leave pesto, icing and herbs on the ground for hours because after all, MALAKA, will clean it up.

I’ll purposely throw my dirty clothes NEAR the laundry basket and not in it. Heck, why not really follow the crowd. I’ll just leave my dirty shorts in the middle of the bed room floor, right next to my shoes where someone can easily trip over them!!

From now on, I will NOT clean up after myself in the bathroom. I’ll leave my toothpaste stains all over the sink and mirror. If I HAD a beard, I’d also leave my facial hair all over the sink and floor. But what I CAN do is this: When I douche, I’ll just leave the empty container in the tub and wait. Wait until someone says something. But since that sh*t only bothers ME, I guess no one will object.

When I take a piss, I will aim for the floor and seat AND WALK AWAY. When I take a dump, I WILL leave skid marks on the rim.

Oh yeah, this is war!!! Y’all think you’re the only ones who can play this game??? You didn’t grow up with me. You can’t win.

Is having a boy different, you ask? For Nana Appiah-Korang

Nana,

You asked me a few months ago to let you know how different it is to have a boy after having two girls. Your son’s conception, like mine, was unplanned. In FACT, my brother refers to my son as “False Start”, as he was not due until June of 2010. But he’s here now, and that’s all that matters!

Now that the boy is nearly 3 months old, I feel that I have enough time spent with him under my belt to appropriately answer your query. Yes, there is TOTAL difference. Let me lead you in by saying this:

There is a reason the last 3 or 4 generations of men have been hedonistic, narcissistic douche bags, and it’s because of women like me…and the men who leave women, with similar behavioral patterns to mine, to raise boys. THERE IS NOTHING MY BOY CAN DO WRONG.

The first 2 weeks he was home he peed on me a total of 8 times, including a chest shot and a whiz between my legs. I delight in every soiled diaper, even if it’s at the expense of a new dress that I’ve worn only once. He’s not permitted to cry more than 43 seconds. When I feel something hot and runny coursing down my back, the alarm I feel after being unwittingly puked on turns to joy when I see that milky grin on his face. The other night my husband put his foot down and said the boy MUST sleep in his bassinet from now on, and not in the bed with us. You should never sleep with your baby, I know, but we have a super-king size bed, big enough for 4 people. If HE (Marshall) would move his country fed self over to the left some, then maybe my boy would have more room without fear of being crushed! I had perfected the art of sleeping perfectly still…why couldn’t Marshall??? All these thoughts raced through my mind, until I found myself about to suggest that MARSHALL go downstairs and sleep on the sofa bed so that Stone and I could get a good night’s sleep without his grumbling about “safety”.

I felt these things, in appropriate moderation, for my girls, but I can unequivocally say I did not delight in changing their poo soiled layettes. In FACT, I am pissed that at the ages of 4 1/2 and 3 they do not get all the stains out of their little cracks after taking a poo, and am ashamed to say that I will happily check behind my boy at the age of 23 if he needed me too. That’s what’s wrong with these men today. They think they can take a crap all over women and they’re just supposed to take it and like it. It’s my fault, and I don’t care. There is no shame in ruining your boy with your love, because it’s his DAD’S job to toughen him up and lead him on the straight and narrow. It’s why the Spartans separated sons and mothers at age 10 to sent them to warrior training camp. A mother like me is sure to raise a punk. And it doesn’t help that other women coo and fuss over him and give him pet names as well. One lady said his smile and demeanor helped brighten her whole day and made her forget that she was on medication.

“He’s a healer!” she proclaimed. And no, that “he” was not Jesus Christ, but my mere mortal son Stone.

So, if you find yourself confused by this new range of emotions and subject to some level of disregard for your girls’ well-being, take comfort in the fact that you are married to a wonderful man who is there to cover your back and take up your slack; whose JOB it is to turn the boy into a man. It’s the only thing that lets me rest easy at night when I fall asleep holding my own dear boy in my arms.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

When I was getting ready to go to college in 1996, that was the big interview question we couldn’t wait to be asked from a potential employer. We had whole sessions about the appropriate answers to give, interview gems and catch phrases that would wow the interviewer and land you the job. Yep, that was during the boom years of the Clinton presidency. I fully expected to get a job earning $45-50K, right out of college, with little more than a bachelor’s degree, as my predecessors had done. Most likely living it up in some fast paced cosmopolitan metropolis with my equally cosmopolitan friends. I had lofty goals in those days. I’d be a svelte size 10, with a weave down to my butt, driving a red Mercedes Benz convertible. 10 years after graduation I’d be in Ghana as the head of my own media company. I couldn’t wait to hit the real world!

Fast forward 10 years later.

I don’t even think most corporations ask the question “Where do you see yourself if 5/10 years” anymore. Most Fortune 5000 companies’ balance sheets are riddled with more holes than a pitted pomegranate. Many of them don’t know if they will be in business next MONTH. The dot com bubble burst, making paupers out of millionaires overnight; Al-Qaeda decimated the stock market when they took down the WTC; and the freaking Pirates in Somalia and Nigeria finished up the job by affecting oil supply and jacking up prices. No one saw this coming. And I certainly didn’t foresee myself where I am today, either.

Nearly 10 years after graduation, I am a tired mother of three. I have an afro puff and am a hefty size 18. It has taken me 6 hours to sit down and write this note, because I can’t get a private moment to myself. Even now, someone screams “Mommeeee!!” incessantly in the background. My lofty goals of media domination have been reduced to just being happy if I can crank out one good story for my online newspaper sometime during the week. I pray daily that readers will find it in their hearts to click on a few ads to beef up my Google AdSense and generate some revenue. No one is on my payroll. In fact, I am vulnerable to the whims of the federal government, who at any time can stop my unemployment payments and leave me gobsmacked and one check away from homelessness.

What is the point of this drivel? It’s to ask myself again, where do I see myself in five years: As one of the happiest frikkin’ women on earth, that’s what.

If 5 years, my oldest child will be 10, able to do laundry and make a mean pitcher of Kool-Aid. The second born will be 8 and able to read a book to HERSELF. Both will be in school all day. The youngest will just be beginning kindergarten and I can feign the sort of sadness at his departure that makes your kids TRULY believe that you “wish they could stay at home with you all day, you really do, but the system won’t allow them to.”

In short, I’ll be a free woman. Free to write, free to think, free to go number 2 without someone bursting through the door and standing between my legs while I try to deliver a sinful payload to the porcelain throne below. Free to dream again.

Ms. Celie couldn’t have said it better: I may be black, skinny (hopefully), and ugly (most likely), but dear God, I’ll be here…and FREE!