My daughter, in her role as the family soothsayer, cautioned me that early one morning in the not too distant future, some woman was going to kick in my door, point a trembling finger at me, and cry, “You! I hold you responsible for creating this baby-boy I married!”
I doubt that’ll ever happen, and if it did she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. I have my disclaimer already prepared for any woman crazy in love enough to marry my son. It reads:I, the besotted one, do hereby acknowledge that Terris McMahan Grimes, soon to be know as the “Mother-in-law” and eventually to be know as “that woman,” did nurture, instruct, discipline, and raise said son, Jared Grimes, according to the highest standards of the African American community. I do hereby indemnify and hold harmless Terris McMahan Grimes should said son forget his raising, lose his ever loving mind, act a fool, or show his behind.
I’m no lawyer, but I think that’ll cover me.
I’ve heard it said that we black mothers raise our daughters, but spoil our sons. I try to be objective about how I parented my son, which was the same way I parented my daughter. I raised them both and spoiled them some. I don’t believe in parenting with pain, so I didn’t whup them, but I taught them right from wrong. My son’s a caring, loving, compassionate person. What more could you ask?
I admit I parented out of fear. Some people fear the things that go bump in the night, I feared the evils that all too often befall black boys. So I might have hugged him more than his father, bless his heart, thought appropriate. His dad thought a hug would make him weak, I thought the lack of hugs wouldn’t make him strong. I thought we should build a hedge around him, lavish as much love on him as we did his sister, because the world out there was waiting for him with a beat down.
And besides, I was raising a child, not a ghetto-bred pit bull.
And besides, I remember Emmett Till.
I was just seven-year-old when Emmett was murdered, but I remember it like I was forty the day it happened. My parents wept. It was all over Jet Magazine. Pictures, articles, I was drawn to them. I couldn’t turn away. They told me a frightful truth—it wasn’t safe to be a black boy and the joy of being a mother of one was tempered with fear.
More tomorrow unless you’d like me to change the subject…