For me there is no childhood which to return.
We are all possessed with the God given the right to live, love and create. Procreation is a gift, with golden strings to your heart. One that comes with the price of sacrifice but the reward is great.
It is time for me to make a difficult decision about becoming a mother. I am not getting younger. Should I or shouldn’t I be a parent? If the answer is yes, how should I become one? Should I have my own child? Someone that is of me and looks like me? A little Afrocity? A tiny person whose eyes are like my mother’s. Or should I give a home to a child that needs one?
For quite some time now, I have spent my Sunday mornings writing to you about my misadventures. The events surrounding my childhood fell far from Kodak worthy accolades. Mother and I endured tough times. Now deceased, she still is alive in me and represents the most difficult relationship of my life. I am still drowning in her womb. The question remains can I save myself in order to save another?
It stings to think that I stole for a woman who should have been stealing for me. There was nothing legal about the way I was raised. The pattern of neglect demonstrated by my mother was hidden behind a façade of withdrawal and aloofness. Working together as a team, we never let anyone in too close for fear of being exposed as a parental sham. You would see us on buses, riding until the conductor told us it was the end of the line. We would sit in Greyhound bus stations, while waiting for nothing but daylight. I was the child that stuffed a package of Oscar Meyer Bacon in my coat as my mother pushed a shopping cart containing a purse with no money. “Big Business owes us,” she would tell me. “not the other way around. It is not stealing when you stick it to the corporations. They steal everyday from little people like us.”
One time she got caught. We were in a store called Zayre’s. Mother had a package of Rice a Roni in her pants. The door beeped as we left the store. As the security guard came over, she urinated on herself right in front of me and everyone else. In the security room, the officer examined the contents of my mother’s TWA flight bag. Out came the Double Stuff Oreo cookies and Wyler’s drink mix.
“How old is your child?” the guard asked.
“Twelve.” Mother’s head was down. She would not look at me. Her pants were wet. I knew she must be uncomfortable.
The guard looked at me. She felt sorry for me. “You know I could send you to jail and this child would have to be sent to Child Protective Services?”
Say something mommy. No go. She was silent, almost in a state of shock so I spoke.
“Please don’t I would have to go into foster care and I might get raped by some old woman’s husband.” Mother told me never to go to the authorities for food, shelter or anything. The alternative was foster care where I would be beaten or raped. Many of the foster mom’s were frigid barren women who secretly loathed children and wanted us for the government check. Their husbands were sexually frustrated men hoping for young girls like me. Virgins, no less to molest. My relationship with mom was sacred. She would never forsake me as long as I kept our secrets safe from meddlers.
“What?!?” exclaimed the guard.
Tears went down my face. “I can’t go to foster care! I want to take my mother home with me!!!!” Heat came all over my body. “Why are you doing this to us and you are black too. You got your cookies back.”
I went to my school bag. The guard had not checked it. I pulled out a box of Nilla Wafers , a toy doll figurine, a bottle of Flintstones vitamins, a small salami roll and a jar of apple butter.
Suddenly mother came out of her self induced hibernation. “I did not know she had those things.”
The guard discovered that we were fucked up enough all on our own without her interference. We promise to never do it again and she let us go warning us to never come to the store again.
The lesson I learned that day was threefold: 1. Never get caught. 2. Never put my mother in jeopardy 3. Never let them see you pee.
On the way home, mother uttered nothing for a long time. We were embarrassed for each other. Also that was our meal for the next week that was stolen from us by the guard. Bitch. What did she care? It was not like we were hurting the company. Why couldn’t my mother be a security guard? These were all the stupid thoughts of a bitter young girl who had just been busted for stealing a box of Nilla Wafers.
Mother, touched her pants, now dry from the July heat. A faint unpleasant odor wafted my way. The familiar smell from Chicago subway stations. A sign that we had become nothing more than bums, just more functional at concealing our dysfunction. We would have to clean her up later, but something was poking her in the side. It was a Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar- something that I could not have because I was allergic to nuts. Handing it to me she said I could pick the chocolate from the nuts. I shook my head and went into my own little stash. Everything had not been completely emptied from my school bag. There was still a box of Uncle Ben’s condensed rice and a bent can of Carnation milk.
She smiled at me. Yes we were damaged goods.
Autographed Letter Signed,