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Acknowledgement: A Response to My Sisters 40 and Childless

I am many things: Black, woman, writer, poet, performer, educator, speaker, wife, mother.  That last one, mother, has taken an immense amount of time, energy, blood, sweat and motivation to manage let alone master.  I have been the married mother, the divorced mother, the single mother, step-mother, godmother, and the “40 and pregnant” mother.  I am tremendously grateful to say that I have managed with the help and support of many.

 

My AuntieMamas circle is wide.  I used to tell my children religiously, “Watch yourself, baby!  Mama’s got eyes in the back of her head.”  Those eyes were the many family and friends (blood and soul relations) whose hands, heads, and hearts supported us when my own hands, head and heart were fuller than full, spilling over into what could have been catastrophic but was not because of loving, consistent support.

 

There were so many aunties that we lost count: aunties in the kitchen, on the playground, at school, living upstairs, around the corner, and even with us from time to time. AuntiesMamas with quick eyes and even quicker hands that were my backup when needed spending the night, sharing meals, love, laughter, and lessons.  There were porch parties, crab boils, birthday celebrations, movie nights, and pajama parties, and pancake breakfasts.  I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them all.

 

We are all now over 40.    

  

Tamara J. Madison with Sulonda smith (left) and Sage Crump (right)

                   at my MFA Graduation; New England College 2010                    

 

Some of them have chosen not to have children at all. I have never cared or questioned their choices.  With the challenges of parenthood and partnership that I have both endured and observed as a married, divorced, and single parent, I understand and sympathize easily with them choosing to not have children and have never thought to question or convert them because of it.  Their decisions have not caused distance or shift in our growth and experience together as women. As a matter of fact, they remind me of who I was/am without my children.

 

Between toddlerhood and puberty, principle visits and proms, broken furniture/glass and broken hearts, bandages and bandits, it is easy to forget who I am as a woman, just a woman rather than the “mother who just happens to be a woman.”  You know her.  You see her all the time in the grocery, at the malls, stores and church, at PTA meetings, soccer/basketball/baseball tournaments, in the office, on the job looking disheveled with eyes darting talking on the cellphone to her child’s teacher while writing the shopping list, eating jellybeans for lunch and typing up the report for work.  Your know her. You may even be her like me more often than not.

 

She has forgotten how much she loves watching the sunrise with a glass of wine.  She can’t remember the last time she soaked in a tub full of bubbles while eating mangoes and chocolate.  She has no idea when was the last time she danced all night or even part of the night. Rarely does she reflect upon how many degrees she has or the time she studied and traveled in Europe or that punk band she sung with for a few years, or the partially painted canvas tucked in the closet waiting for the next brush stroke.  She has her own unique form of amnesia while navigating the frantic matrix of “mommydom.”  

 

But her sisters without children are there to remind her.

 

My own sisters without children keep me sane and in check when it comes to my womanhood in a world that easily abuses and conveniently would have me to forget.  As a mother, it is effortless to feel like at any time anything and everything is my fault especially when it comes to relationships.  After all, don’t I hold the key to the magic that fixes everything?  What would our world be without that image of a mournful Virgin Mary or Eve baring the curse of everything, and weren’t they both mothers? 

 

Beyond the religious context, for black women there is the haunting image of the black mammy who nursed her master’s children as well as her own. She also kept the master’s house and her own in order. Isn’t that what we do?  Carry the weight, clean the mess, serve, birth and raise children? This image runs rampant in the media with various faces and circumstances from vintage cinema to contemporary variations.  I am not angry with her or what created her.  I am not ashamed of her either.

 

I am grateful that I have my sisters without children to remind me that I simply don’t have to be her

 

My sisters without children remind me that my worth is simply who I am and not who or what I produce! They remind me of my many accomplishments when I feel like a failure.  They remind me that I don’t have to solve the problems of the world, my husband, my children.  They encourage me to laugh, eat chocolate, and soak in the tubwhen I feel like it, and sometimes even when I don’t.  They take me dancing and keep me up until the sunrises.  They pull my children aside and school them with a wisdom that a mother’s fears may not have.  They motivate me to be dauntless. They speak a language that I understand and show me when I am wrong without scolding me or fixing problems for me.  They listen to my tantrums and venting and then tell me to grab my big girl panties off the floor and wear them!  I would simply be a hot mess without them.

 

To all of my sisters who have courageously chosen differently despite the misunderstandings, obtrusive interrogations, and ignorant bullying, to be childless and over 40, I salute you and your choice.You are mindful of your worth beyond the womb and confident in your contributions to life and humanity regardless of naysayers.  Most of all, while the other and AuntieMammas, are consumed and caring for their own children,I am grateful for you are there simply being you and honoring yourself reflecting what I need, when I need it most.

 

If you this post leaves you inspired, please leave a response below and plus, tweet, tag, and like to share with someone else!

 

As always,

Be Joyful,

Be Creative,

Be Inspired,

Tamara

Tamara J. Madison with Sulonda smith (left) and Sage Crump (right)

at my MFA Graduation; New England College 2010

NOTE:  This post was written in response to "40 and Childless: Reflections on the Societal Expectations of Black Women and Motherhood" written by DuEwa Frazier, published on-line in For Harriet. Click here for more.

 

Comments

Taffether March 16, 2015 @01:26 pm
 

Thank you...I needed that. Taffether

Tamara J March 11, 2015 @04:20 pm
 

Thank you both! Your comments are confirmation that I am doing EXACTLY what I am supposed to do! YES!

Shawn Higgs March 11, 2015 @03:56 pm
 

Thank you Tamara! This made me feel good!

Sulonda March 11, 2015 @10:54 am
 

I'm in tears and awe!!! My heart is full overflowing into pools of gratitude and love. Thank you my beautiful sister. The photos are magnificent. I was honored to be with two powerful, graceful, loving, sacred, sexy intelligent goddesses. Love you both soooooo much!!!!

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